Forskal or Forrskal (or something else) ?

Ib Friis ibf at BOT.KU.DK
Tue Mar 7 11:47:45 CST 2000

Dear Colleagues subscribing to TAXACOM,

The spelling of Forsskål's name is controversial, as he himself was not very
consistent in this matter and died in Arabia before his large works were

However, since the 12th International Botanical Congress in Leningrad in 1975, it
has been unanimously agreed by systematic botanists that the spelling "Forsskål"
should be adopted.

This spelling was written into the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature,
Art. 23(6), where it has been accepted ever since. More recferences to Forsskål
and his work has come into later versions of the International Code of Botanical
Nomenclature, using the same spelling.

Together with a Swedish colleague I reviewed the situation in a note in the
botanical taxonomic journal, "Taxon." The reference is: Friis, I. & M. Thulin,
1984. The spelling of Pehr Forsskål's family name. - Taxon 33: 668 - 672.

The subject has also been touched upon in a publication by the RBG, Kew. The
refernce is: Hepper, F. N. & I. Friis. 1994. The Plants of Pehr Forsskål's `Flora
Aegyptiaco-Arabica' - collected on the Royal Danish Expedition to Egypt and the
Yemen 1761-63. - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (pp. i-xii & 1-400).

There is also a book in large folio on the expedition on which Forsskål died:
Rasmussen, S.T. (ed), Den Arabiske Rejse, 1761-1767. Munksgaard. 2. ed. 1997.
(there is also a French translation which should have been published recently,
but I do not have the reference; an English translation does not exists as yet).

However, in spite of publications in languages unknown to the typical English or
American reader, the main point is that in Rasmussen's work, the zoologist (the
marine biologist Torben Wolff) and the botanist (myself) agree on the spelling
"Forsskål". Obviously, other zoologists, including the Finnish Pekka T. Lehtinen,
may have a different opinion.

Ib Friis
Botanical Museum and Library, Copenhagen
(where we have Forsskål's botanical collctions)

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