Collecting localities



Biographical data


Mertens, Karl (or Carl) Heinrich


(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 8: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement II)


Born: 1796, Bremen, Germany. Died: 1830, St Petersburg, Russia.



Volunteered in the army, fighting against Napoleon from 1813-15; studied classic languages at Bremen, and practised botany too; in 1817 he went in for medicine, first at Göttingen, later at Halle. Surgeon on a Russian expedition under command of Captain Lütke (see below). Subsequently Assistant at the Petersburg Academy; author of some zoological papers in the Mémoires of that institution.

The genus Mertensia H.B.K. and other plants were named in his honour.


Collecting localities:

Voyage in the ‘Senjawin’ (or Seniavin), 1826-29.1 Leaving Kronstadt (Sept. 1, 1826), sailing via Portsmouth, Teneriffe, Rio de Janeiro, the Canaries, Cape Horn, Valparaiso, Sitka, New Archangel (staying 5 weeks), the Carolines (Dec. 4, 1827-early in 1828), discovering Ponape, Mortlock Islands, the Marianas (Guam), the Carolines, Bonin-Sima Islands, Kamschatka (June), the Carolines again; arriving at Manila (Luzon, Philippines)2 on Jan. 13, 1829, weighing anchor again on Jan. 30; passing Sunda Straits (9 days! Febr. 13-22), and via St Helena back to Kronstadt (Sept. 6).



2500 Herbarium specimens from the voyage, incl. many ferns, and numerous Algae too. According to A. Decandolle (Phytographie, 1880) herbarium of Mertens fil. (Henri) of the Kotzebue expedition in Herb. Roy. Acad. Petersburg (= Acad. Sci. Leningrad [LE]). This statement is wrong, in so far as Mertens did not accompany Kotzebue’s expeditions (cf. resp. A. von Chamisso and J.F. Eschscholz), but that of Lütke.

His collection is partly in Herb. Acad. Sci. Leningrad [LE] (1000-1200 sp.) and partly in the Bot. Gard. Leningrad.3 Dupl. in Herb. Lindemann (U.S.S.R. [LECB]): 16 nos; in Herb. Munich [M] (with Herb. Zuccarini); in Herb. Oxford (with Herb. Fielding [OXF]); dupl. Bonin Is. in Herb. Leiden [L] (pres. by von Siebold).



(1) Fr. Lütke: ‘Voyage autour du monde sur la corvette “Le Séniavine” 1826-29’ (Paris 1835-36, 3 vols + atlas, transl. from Russian). Herein K.H. Mertens: ‘Notices sur les îles Carolines’ (l.c. vol. 3, 1836, p. 132-144).

F.H. von Kittlitz: ‘Vierundzwanzig Vegetations-Ansichten von Küstenländern and Inseln des Stillen Oceans aufgenommen in den Jahren 1827-29 auf der Entdeckungsreise des Kais. Russischen Corvette “Senjawin” unter Capt. Lütke’ (Siegen, 1844-45, + atlas pl. 1-24). Transl. by B. Seemann: ‘Twenty-four views of the vegetation of the coasts and islands of the Pacific, with explanatory descriptions, taken during the exploring voyage of the Russian corvette “Senjawin” under the command of Capt. Lütke, in the years 1827, 1828 and 1829’ (London 1861, w. pl. 1-24) (pl. 23-24 relating to Luzon).

cf. also some papers (copied from letters) in Linnaea 4, 1829, p. 43-73 and 5, 1830, p. 60-71 (not dealing with the Malaysian region).

For Alaska see Bot. Not. 1940, p. 299.

(2) A certain Mertens is cited by Merrill in Bull. Bur. of Agr. Manila no 4, 1903, p. 30, as the collector of botanical material in the Philippines. This one?

(3) cf. Hook. Comp. Bot. Magaz. 2, 1837, p. 343; Bull. Acad. Sci. Petersb. 7, 1864, suppl. 2, p. 1-10; Engl. Bot. Jahrb. 9, 1888, p. 442.


biographical data:

Bull. Acad. Sci. Pétersb. suppl. 1, p. 8; Compt. Rend. Acad. Pétersb. 1830, p. 11; Lütke, Voyage l.c. 3, 1836, p. 337-352; Bull. Soc. Nat. Mosc. 462, 1872, p. 83; Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872; Bretschneider, Hist. Bot. Discov. China, 1898, p. 322; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb , 1936 (gives 1795 as year of birth).