Editorial introduction

Das Dokument enthält die Antworten des Botanikers und Forschungsreisenden Robert Brown auf einen im Spätsommer 1816 in Paris verfassten Fragenkatalog Humboldts zur Pflanzengeographie. In seinem Dankschreiben (Paris, 18. April 1817, British Library, Correspondence and Papers of Robert Brown, Add MS 32440, fol. 144) geht Humboldt insbesondere auf die ausführliche Liste in Antwort Nummer 14 ein, in der Brown Pflanzen aufführt, die sowohl in den Tropen der Alten als auch der Neuen Welt heimisch sind. Die zahlreichen Bearbeitungsspuren Humboldts in Form von Notizen und angeklebten Zetteln belegen eine immer wieder aufgenommene, mindestens bis in die späten 1840er Jahre reichende Beschäftigung mit diesem Manuskript.

Sticked note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) | 5rBrown m’a dit que le Goodenia littoralis
de la Nouv Holl. a été décrit
par Cavanilles (Sellière) de l’Amérique
(la même espèce)[.] Il y a de
vrais Wintera à la Nouv Zéel [.]
Voyez Remarks p 57. | 5v empty (1 pages)[...]

| 6rAnswers to Baron A. Humboldt’s queries
on Botanical Geography.

Note the addressee (inserted within the line) par Mr Brown

 N 1. I have no reason to believe that any
species of Pinus is found in the Southern

– 2[.] The Araucaria of Brazil (no doubt the
Pino of the inhabitants) of which we have
seeds and specimens with young female aments,
appears to be the same as that of Chili..

– 3[.] There are at least two species of Pinus
in India. P. longifolia of Roxb. & Lambert,
and P. Deodwara of  Eine erste Edition der Flora Indica gab William Carey zwischen 1820 und 1824 heraus (Roxburgh/Carey/Wallich 1820–1824).

Roxbs. unpublished flora indica
which is nearly allied to P. Cedrus..

Neither of them are known to grow within the
tropic.. of P. longifolia[.] Roxburgh says that it
is found among the mountains of Nepaul and
on those north of the plains of Bengal, Oude &c[.]
P. Deodwara
is a native of the mountains
North of Rohilcund[.]

– 4[.] I possess no correct information concerning
the Pines of Thibet nor even of those of China
except Pinus Massoniana of Lambert, of which

| 6vthere are specimens in Sir Joseph Banks’s Herbarium
from Danes Island near Canton.

– 5[.] Pinus occidentalis is not native of Jamaica.
only specimens in Sir Joseph Banks’s herbarium
are a branch without fructification from Dr. Swadtz
and two cones lately received from Hispaniola.
 Vgl. Humboldt an Brown, Paris, 18. April 1817: „Le cône de Pinus occidentalis ressemble beaucoup à celui du Mexique, mais il me paroît bien singulier que ce Pin ne se trouve pas sur les hautes montagnes de la Jamaïque, tandis qu’il est si commun à l’Île des Pinos au Sud de la Havane presque au niveau de la mer.“ British Library, Correspondence and Papers of Robert Brown, Add MS 32440, fol. 144.

of these I send one for your inspection begging it
may be return’d by M. Von Buch

6. I have no means of answering this query there
being no Japanese specimens of the genus Pinus
here. it is however I think quite as likely that
Thunberg may be mistaken as correct on this
subject.. & it is not unlikely that P. Massoniana
may be his [Pinus] sylvestris.

– 7[.] Dr Roxburgh (in flora indica inedita) regards his
Cactus indicus as distinct from [Cactus] cochinelli-
and [Cactus] Opuntia and believes it (chiefly from
information of its being very general, and from
its having a native name) to be indigenous
in India: of the probability of this I have
no good means of judging. but it appears
somewhat unfavourable to the opinion that
there is no Sanscrit name for the plant[.]

In the same work Dr Roxburgh has also
a second species from China which he considers
new and which indeed both from his description
and figure may very well be distinct from Sticked note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) | 7vPlantes socciales [sic] M Brown dans un célèbre mémoire sur
les Protéacées  Brown 1810, 23: „The celebrated traveller Humboldt is the first who has expressly pointed out a remarkable difference in the distribution of the species of plants. He observes that, while the greater number grow irregularly scattered and mixed with each other, there are some which form considerable masses, or even extensive tracts, to the nearly absolute exclusion of other species.“

(Tr. of the Lin Soc.
Vol 10 P. I (1810) p 20
adopte mon idée des  inserted at the bottom⎡plantes sociales et ajoute que celles que
l’on trouve sous les tropiques ne se trouvent
presque qu’à de grandes haut. ou sur les
côtes. Protéacées sociales bloß Protea
et P mellifera (Afrika) u
Banksia speciosa (New Holl
Les Protéac. presque exclusives à l’hémisph
austral surtout aux grandes îles (Nouv. Holl.
Nouv Zéel. )[,] pas les petites,  inserted at the left margin⎡pas de  written across the original textà
[,] moins les Continens[,]
ceux de l’Amér ressemblans plus à celles
de la Nou. Holl qu’à celles de l’Afrique[.]
La [sic] plus grandes masses sous les 30– 70°  inserted in between the lines36° [,] Note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) Banksia inte
ze bis 40 lat
lat Sud. Grevillea. Hakea. Banksia[.] Protea  inserted in between the linesPersoonia [.]
À la Nouv. Holl. plus au Sudouest qu’à
l’est. Östl mehr Afrika inserted below the lineAmerik , westl mehr afrik
ähnlich. Gehen in Tropen bis höchste Berge[.]
tournez | 7rBrown bemerkt daß so wie ich Embotr. [sic] emarginat  inserted above the line(Oreocallis grandifl. ) bei Cuenca
so hoch gefunden, so auch er in Van Diemen Embothr.

bis  Foot: Foot (Great Britain), 4.000 Foot is equivalent to 1,22 km4000 engl Fuß hoch[.]
Nur 2 gen. gemeinschaftl den Continenten, ein
nördliches Genus Rhopala in Am. [,] Cochinchine u
Malayisches Archipel. u Embothr der  inserted in between the linesdas südlichste
genus Am. u Neu Holland.
Lieben Seenähe, trokne sandige Klippen[,]
daher wohl selten Orinoco. wenige Salzige Sümpfe von
Embothr ferrug. Cavanilles.
Nach Brown in Amer 2 ächte Embotr.
nemlich E. coccineum Forst tierra del fuego u E lan
 Ruiz/Pavón 1798–1802, I, 62.

Flor Per.
Concepcion de Chili u 3  inserted in between the lines1. Oreo
nemlich: O grandiflora (Emb. grand. Lamarck)
ou Emb. emarginat.  Ruiz/Pavón 1798–1802, I, 62.

Flor. Per
in [collibus] frigidis Tarmi [sic]
u 10 Spec Rhopala Amer. R.  inserted in between the linesin Amer. Rh. montana,
R media[,] R nitida[,]  inserted at the left marginR. peru
 Ruiz/Pávon, I, 63.

Flor Per.
lezte in mont frig
: in Molukken Rh. moluccana[,]  inserted at the left marginR serrata: in Cochin
Rh. cochinchin [.]

| 8r[Cactus] cochinellifer and [Cactus] opuntia to which it most
nearly approaches. This plant it appears
is now growing in the Island of St. Helena.

– 8[.] I know of no approach to American
vegetation in the Azores. but we know
very little of the Botany of these Islands[.]
It is remarkable that Erica vulgaris should
be a common plant on the hills of St. Miguel.

– 9[.] On the subject of the taste of recent Tabasheer
I may refer you to Dr Russels paper in
Philosoph. Transact. vol. 80. p. 274 & seq.
he says that in a semifluid state it had a
slight saline subastringent [sic] taste: that the resi-
duum had a pretty strong saline taste with less
astringency. the substance in a more inspissated
state had a sharp salt taste which it loses in a great
degree by keeping.

Tabasheer was produced in the Hothouse of Dr
in a solid state. the taste of this pebble
is not mention’d.

– 10[.] I have no correct information to give on
the subject of this query.

– 11. None of the plants mention’d in this query
are known to me as natives of Northern India.
In Mr Saunders’s Journal published in Philos: Trans. Vol. 79 [sic]
| 8vVol. 79
and in the appendix to Turner’s Tibet
many European plants are mention’d as natives
of that country. among these are Vaccinium
and V. oxycoccus .. Arbutus Uva[-]ursi
and what is more remarkable still an Erica
of which the specific name is not given but
he can hardly have been mistaken in the genus.

– 12[.] Many european plants are noticed
by Thunberg as natives of South Africa and
of several of these, at least, there seems to be no
reason to doubt. I have myself found at
the Cape Samolus Valerandi and Corrigiola littoralis.

– 13. There appears to me no reason to doubt
Rumph’s Quercus molucca’s from which the
Linnean species so called was established, being
really a Quercus. altho’ Commerson has consider’d
it as more probably a Laurus.. In Sir Joseph
s Herbarium there is more than one
species of the genus from Sumatra, and one
from Java.

 Humboldt vergibt die Nummer 13 in seinem Fragenkatalog versehentlich doppelt. Brown führt die Zählung in seinen Antworten allerdings lückenlos fort. Im Folgenden beziehen sich also Browns Antwort 14 auf Humboldts Frage 13[b] („Plantes communes aux tropiques...“), Browns Antwort 15 auf Humboldts Frage 14 usf.

I entertain myself no doubt that there are
many plants common to the aequinoctial
regions of both Continents: with respect
to the plants mention’d in your query
Sticked note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) | 9r Ausser Tierra del Fuego wo 33 engl
Pflanzen sind[,] ist es falsch dass
analoge Klimate gleiche Pflanzen
hervorbringen[,] lies  Ross 1847, II, 302: „The naturalist who first visited the Fuegian shores felt probably only disappointment when recognising the familiar genera and representative species of his European home: he would naturally infer, with a corresponding diminution of interest, that analogous latitudes produce an analogous vegetation in opposite hemispheres. Experience has proved the fallacy of such a conclusion; and accordingly the Flora of Fuegia claims an additional and peculiar charm, in its being the only region south of the tropics where the botany of our temperate zone is, as it were, repeated to a very considerable extent.“

in Ross Reise  inserted in between the linesVoyage T II p 302
. | 9v empty (1 pages)[...]

| 10r the specimens here are too imperfect to determine
the point. but I subjoin a list of those I consider
the best ascertain’d[.] Note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) Plantes communes aux Rég. tropicales
de l’ancien et nouv.




| 10v– 15. To answer this query it is necessary to go
a little into the history of the two plants mention’d
in it.

1st Asplenium monanthemum. Linn.
Linneus by whom the species was established had his
plant from Prom. b. spei and it is figur’d in Smith 1789–1791, Fasciculus III, 73.

icones ined. 73
.. This plant I have gather’d at the
Cape of Good Hope. the additional loci natales
of „Insulae Philipp. Marian. Peru & Nova Hispania
in  Swartz 1806, 80.

Swadtz’s syn.
&  Linné/Willdenow/Link 1797–1830, 322–323.

Willd. sp.
are first given by
Cavanilles in his demonst. . 1801 p. 258. on the authority
of Nee’s Herbarium and probably adopted by these
authors without consideration.

In Herb. Banks. there is no american species
approaching to monanthemum. there is one however
from the Sandwich Islands nearly related to it which
may very likely be the plant of the Phillippine & Mariane
. The evidence of either this or of true monan-
being american does not appear to me

2d Asplenium [sic] punctulatum Willd. sp. 5 p. 220.
is first established by  Swartz 1806, 46; 245.

Swadtz in syn. fil.
from the Sierra Leone plant which it appears he had
from Afzelius. Though the specific name be taken
from Plumier:  Swartz 1806, 245.

l. c.
[.] I am inclin’d to think Swadtz
has no west india specimen of his punctulatum & if so
its being american therefore will depend on the correct-
ness of his reference. in my opinion a very slender
foundation for identity of species in that tribe or
| 11r section of Nephrodium to which it belongs.

–16[.] I have not yet looked into Strabo for Rhizo-
phora Mangle

–17[.] No Rosa I believe is known to exist in
the Southern hemisphere. Nor is our other national
genus. Carduus.

–18[.] I have nothing satisfactory to say on this

–19[.] I have nothing to add to what I have
formerly said on this subject in my General
remarks &c

–20[.] At present we know little or nothing of the
vegetation of the Galapagoes.

–21. To this I have only to repeat what I have
said respecting 19.

–22[.] In answer to this query I subjoin a
list of plants common to the temperate and
torrid zones of both hemispheres..

Rocc  inserted below the lineAcotyledones

Note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) Plantes
à la Zone équinox
et tempérée
Note the addressee (inserted at the right margin) !!
Viel allgemeines
über Verbreit. gewisser
Spec. S. in meiner
Rel. hist. livre 4 Chap 13
éd 8vo T 4 p. 226–



Note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) Potentilla anserina fast
in der ganzen
Welt  Hooker, J. D. 1840–1860, I.1.

Hooker p 264
Schleiden nennt
Bellis perennis
(Pflanze p 91) und 237
u will auch sie
sei überall[.]

Note the addressee (inserted at the left margin) Pfl. die
sich ersezen
 Hooker, J. D. 1844–1860, I.1: „There are many instances of genera having representatives in those three botanical regions [Südamerika, Australien, Neuseeland, UP], the species being in general mutually more related than to any others [...]. This similarity in some of the botanical productions of countries, otherwise unlike in vegetation, is far more remarkable than a total dissimilarity between lands so far separated, or even than a positive specific identity would be at first sight; because it argues the operation of some agent far above our powers of comprehension, and far other from what we commonly observe to affect geographical distribution.“

Hooker p 230

Note the addressee (inserted at the bottom)  inserted at the right margin

Suggested citation

Brown, Robert: Answers to Baron A. Humboldt’s queries on Botanical Geography (London, Ende 1816 oder Anfang 1817), ed. by Ulrich Päßler in collaboration with Eberhard Knobloch, Ingo Schwarz and Anne Greenwood MacKinney. In: edition humboldt digital, ed. by Ottmar Ette. Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin. Version 6 of 13.10.2020. URL: https://edition-humboldt.de/v6/H0015188


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