Botanica e micologia

Das Herbarium Rupert Huter.

Brugger et al.

Rupert Huter (born 1834 in Kals am Großglockner, died 1919 in Ried near Sterzing/Vipiteno), priest by profession, was a hard-working plant collector and explorer of the flora of the Eastern Alps who left to posterity a large herbarium of high scientific value. The herbarium, owned by the Episcopal Institute Vinzentinum in Brixen/Bressanone, is in the custody and under scientific supervision of the Museum of Nature South Tyrol in Bozen/Bolzano (BOZ) since 2010. After 20 years of restoration work and digitizing specimen data, the Huter Herbarium has been completely recorded since late 2016. The Huter Herbarium encompasses 74,025 specimens, and may be divided into four parts of different arrangement. Its core collection, handed over by Huter in 107 fascicles with an accompanying catalogue following the system of Nyman’s “Conspectus Florae Europaeae”, accounts for 69% of the total herbarium and includes exclusively vascular plants. The exsiccata series “Flora exsiccata Austro-Hungarica”, which Huter helped to establish and distribute, contains 6% of the herbarium. A third part (16%) comprises the cryptogam collection of Hieronymus Gander, a prominent expert in the mosses of Tyrol. The remaining 9% of the Huter Herbarium include small fascicles that either became part of the Vinzentinum collection without Huter’s involvement or were taken over by him after completion of work on his core collection. Huter did not or was no longer able to integrate these fascicles into his core collection. They are subsumed here under the category “accessory fascicles”. There are specimens from 1,585 historically documented collectors in Huter’s Herbarium, with the total number of all collectors amounting to c. 1,900. Hieronymus Gander contributed most to the collection, with 6,419 specimens (among them 5,833 moss specimens), followed by Huter himself (6,282). Other well-represented collectors are Pietro Porta from Valvestino (4,149) and Gregorio Rigo from Torri del Benaco (1,908), his trusted partners and travel companions during some collecting excursions. These significant collectors are responsible for the geographic focus of the herbarium: 87% of the plant material is of European origin, where Italy (28% of the European specimens) and Austria (26%) contribute the majority from the 41 European countries represented in Huter’s Herbarium, which coincides with the professional sphere and the main exploration area of the leading collectors, i. e. the Old Tyrol. With regard to the amount of specimens, the collecting trips carried out by the “botanical triumvirate” Huter, Porta and Rigo in southern Italy and Spain have proved particularly successful. Rupert Huter, who himself obviously did not collect outside of Europe, came into possession of numerous non-European specimens through his excellent networking with other botanists of his time and through his excessive practice in exchanging herbarium specimens. This material accounts for 7% of his herbarium and originates from 54 countries, concentrating on a few, like Turkey (1,266 specimens, mainly from the Orient travellers Joseph Friedrich Bornmüller, Paul Ernst Sintenis and Thomas Pichler), Russia (785 specimens, main collector Alexander Becker), the former French colony of Algeria (619, Gaetano Leone Durando, Elisée Reverchon) as well as the United States of America (470, predominantly duplicates from the Biltmore Herbarium). Looking at the plant groups contained in the Huter Herbarium, the vascular plants constitute the dominant portion with 83%, the Asteraceae (10,286 specimens) being the most represented family. Huter dedicated himself with particular passion to the genera Hieracium and Cirsium, and he granted them considerable space in his herbarium. Other important families, although with far fewer specimens than the Asteraceae, are the Poaceae (4,074 specimens) and Fabaceae (3,858). Mosses are the second largest plant group in Huter’s herbarium, contributing 15%, whereas lichens, algae and fungi are only marginally represented (altogether 2%). The number of currently accepted taxa (species, subspecies) from all specimen records in the Huter Herbarium totals 14,886, which corresponds to 80%–90% of the taxa originally determined by Huter himself. This discrepancy is due to the conspecificity of many taxa that were earlier recognized as distinct. Huter not only built a comprehensive herbarium but developed his own concepts, by means of sharp observation skills, and made important contributions to taxonomy, published in his “Herbarstudien” between 1903 and 1908. His expertise and appreciation by the scientific community of his time is reflected in the description of several hundred taxa and in the naming of new taxa after him, respectively. Since completing the restoring and recording of the Huter Herbarium, a declared aim of an ongoing project is to determine and record all type specimens in the Huter Herbarium. Indeed, the collection presumably includes several hundred of type specimens, a part of which has already been identified from the genus Hieracium, amongst others.

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