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Per Karl Hjalmar Dusén

Dusén's legacy as a plant collector amount to more than 70,000 numbers of vascular plants and 1,000 numbers of mosses.

Per Karl Hjalmar Dusén (1855 - 1926) was born in Vimmerby (province of Småland) in Sweden. He became a civil engineer in 1878, but dedicated himself to this profession only until 1880.

By the influence of his father he started studying Natural Siences between 1881 and 1898, and was employed at Swedish Museum of Natural History as an assistant. Later in 1904, Dusén was awarded a honorary doctorate in Botany at Princeton University.

Botanical expeditions

Dusén made several botanical expeditions in foreign countries: Tropical Africa (1890-92): Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia; North America: Greenland; Central American Continent (Mexico); West Indies (Haiti); temperate South America (1895-96; 1904-05): Argentina (Patagonia), Chile, Paraguay. The expeditions to Brazil started in 1902, during which Dusén dedicated himself extensively to the study of the Paraná state flora, first in 1903 and 1904, later from 1908 to 1912, and again from 1913 to 1916.

Paraná flora

It was not by chance that Dusén extended his stay in Paraná. Allied to the Paraná exuberant flora and the great number of undescribed plants in the region, there was also his friendship with C. J. F. Westerman, the railways director of the Paraná state. To support Dusén, Westerman furnished him with railway wagon turned into a dormitory, which served also as a lab for collections and research.

His own train car

Dusén thus travelled the region in his own train car. When he had collected and exploited a particular area, his sleeping car was hitched to a locomotive, and taken to another place not yet explored. There remained the researcher during a further period, moving along once again when finished his exploration.

Therefore, the vast majority of new species discovered by Dusén can still be found by following the route of the railways, ranging from São Paulo, Paraná and the borders of the state of Santa Catarina (see herbarium specimen S07-7744, type of Cyrtopodium dusenii Schltr.).

Collection

Dusén's legacy as a plant collector amount to more than 70,000 numbers of vascular plants and 1,000 numbers of mosses.

Most of his collections are in the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, but many can also be found in Brazilian herbaria in Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba.

Field notes and drawings

Dusén described almost 250 species, 170 of which have types deposited in our type collections. Judging from Dusén specimens, the picture of a well organized botanical collector emerges. It´s common to find small field notes on the collection labels.

Drawings are also frequent, showing his dedication to botany and his work. Many of Dusén's specimens were described by others, most of which were collected in Brazil (591 types), 53 collected in Argentina, 6 are from Cameroon and another 6 from Chile.

There are also one type from Greenland and one from Sweden, viz. Saxifraga oppositifolia var. elongata Dusén. Per Dusén died in Tranås, Sweden in 1926.

Herbarium in Curitiba

The herbarium Per Karl Dusén in Curitiba (PKDC) was named in his honour. The epinomy is found in both the genus Dusenia O. Hoffm. in the Asteraceae and its nomenclatural synonym Duseniella K. Schum., and in more than 160 species named in his honour through epithets such as dusenii, duseniella, dusenianus, etc.

​Type specimens collected by Dusén

There are three images on the page of type specimens collected by Dusén. From the top of the images, Corytholoma calcarium Dusén ex Malme collected in Paraná; Benthamiella montana Dusén from Argentina; Chrysophyllum dusenii Cronquist.

We are grateful to Museu Alfredo Andersen, Curitiba, Brazil for providing Dusén´s portrait.