Christian Hendrik Persoon     (1761 - 1836)

Photo of Amanita muscaria var. formosa by Leon Shernoff
Amanita muscaria var. formosa

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Other Web Sources
Selected publications


1761     February 1st, born in South Africa

mother disappears (probably dies, but there is no record of what happened to her, or when)

1775     his father, Christian Daniel Persoon, sends him to school in the Netherlands, at Lingen-on-the-Ems

1776     April 22 his father dies in South Africa. Persoon inherits 833 ryxdaalders, plus some fancy clothes and ornaments, out of an estate of 20,690 ryxdaalders

studies theology at Halle/Saale

studies medicine at Leiden and Gottingen

1799     graduates with a PhD from the Leopoldina Academy; stays on in Gottingen as a private scholar

1802     moves to Paris, where he stays for the rest of his life

1836     November 16, dies

Photo of Tremella foliacea by John Denk
Tremella foliaceaIt's difficult to talk about Peroon's life, because not much happened in it. Even the few dates we have for him are in doubt: for instance, I've gone with Isley on the year of his move to Paris; this is a convenient middle ground between the 1803 given by Dörfelt & Heklau and the 1801 given by The Dictionary of the Fungi. I'm using the birth and death dates given (and calculated) from a notice of his death given in a South African newspaper and reproduced in Lloyd; but one of Isley's sources says that there really are no trustworthy sources for those dates. He had no career. He doesn't seem to have ever held a paying job, or even to have ever sought one. I have yet to see any plausible explanation for how he managed to eat for all those years, let alone fund the publication of his books. The rest of his father's estate, by the way, went to his two sisters. Presumably they needed big chunks of cash for dowries, while Persoon was expected to make his own way. If so, his father was sadly mistaken...

Persoon was the first successful mycological systematist. Linnaeus' taxonomy of the fungi sucked: it was overly general and tended to lump species into huge piles, with no indication of what their important features were or how to make better sense of their relationships. Persoon created a system that could handle everything in a rational and understandable way. He used, roughly, Linnaeus' division of the kingdom by type of hymenophore, but then broke those divisions down into genera which mostly still survive today (and are very familiar: see the list below). While Fries' spore-color system took over for the gilled mushrooms (and, oddly enough, the other Hymenomycetes), Persoon's taxonomy is still the starting point for the nomenclature of the Ustilaginales, Uredinales and the Gasteromycetes.
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Duane Isley (1994) One Hundred and One Botanists

Geoffrey Clough Ainsworth, D. L. Hawksworth & P. W. James (1971) Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi

Curtis Gates Lloyd (1898 - 1925) Mycological Notes

Heinrich Dörfelt & Heike Heklau (1998) Die Geschichte der Mykologie
      (Die Geschichte der Mykologie)

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Other Web Sources

Persoon page

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Selected Publications

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1794) "Neuer versuch einer systematische Eintheilung der Schwämme" (New research towards a taxonomic separation of the fungi) in Römers Neues Magazin für der Botanik 1 p. 109

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1796 - 1799) Observationes mycologicae (Mycological Observations) 2 vol.

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1797) Tentamen dispositionis methodicae Fungorum

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1798 - 1800) Icones et descriptiones Fungorum minus cognitorum (Pictures and descriptions of Less Well-known Fungi) 2 vol.

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1801) Synopsis Fungorum (Synopsis of the Fungi) 2 vol.
or Synopsis Methodica Fungorum

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1803 - 1808) Icones pictae specierum rariorum Fungorum (Illustrations Depicting Rare Species of Fungi) 4 vol.

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1805) Icones pictae rariorum fungorum (Pictures of rare fungi)

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1818) Traité sur les Champignons comestibles (Treatise on the Edible Mushrooms)

Christian Hendrik Persoon (1822 - 1828) Mycologia Europaea seu completa omnium fungorum in variis Europaeae regionibus detectorum enumeratio, methodo naturali disposita, descriptione succincta, synonymia selecta et observationibus criticis additis (Fungi of Europe, being a complete listing of all the fungi in the various regions of Europe, plus a natural method for handling them, succinct definitions, selected synonyms, and critical observations) 3 vol.

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Agrocybe praecox (Persoon: Fries) Fayod
Albatrellus cristatus (Persoon: Fries) Pouzar & Kotlaba
Amanita fulva (Ja.C. Schaeffer: Persoon) Persoon
Amanita muscaria var. formosa (Persoon: Fries) Bertillon
Amanita rubescens (Persoon: Fries) S. F. Gray
Astraeus hygrometricus (Persoon) A. P. Morgan
Bjerkandera fumosa (Persoon: Fries) Karsten
Bolbitius reticulatus (Persoon: Fries) Ricken
Bolbitius vitellinus (Persoon: Fries) Fries
Boletus giganteus Persoon
Calocera viscosa (Persoon: Fries) Fries
Calvatia gigantea (Batsch: Persoon) Lloyd
Collybia cirrhata (Persoon) Quélet
Coltricia cinnamomea (Persoon) Murrill
Coprinus disseminatus (Persoon: Fries) S. F. Gray
Coprinus niveus (Persoon: Fries) Fries
Cortinarius argentatus (Persoon: Fries) Fries
Crepidotus applanatus (Persoon: Fries) Kummer
Cyathus olla (Batsch) Persoon
Cyathus striatus W. Hudson: Persoon
Daedalea quercina Persoon: Fries
Disciotis venosa (Persoon: Fries) Boudier
Ganoderma applanatum (Persoon: Wallroth) Patouillard
Geastrum quadrifidum (Persoon) Persoon
Gloeoporus taxicola (Persoon: Fries) Ryvarden & R. L. Gilbertson
Grifola umbellatum (Persoon: Fries) S. F. Gray
Gymnopilus liquiritiae (Persoon: Fries) Karsten
Gyromitra esculenta (Persoon: Fries) Fries
Hebeloma mesophaeum (Persoon: Fries) Quélet
Hericium erinaceus (Fries) Persoon
Hypoxylon fragiforme (Persoon: Fries) Kickx
Inocybe pyriodora (Persoon: Fries) Kummer
Inonotus obliquus (Persoon: Fries) Pilát
Lacrymaria velutina (Persoon: Fries) Singer
Lactarius piperatus (Linnaeus: Fries) Persoon
Langermania gigantea (Batsch: Persoon) Rostkovius
Lentinus torulosus (Persoon: Fries) Lloyd
Leotia lubrica Persoon: Fries
Lycoperdon echinatum Persoon
Lycoperdon perlatum Persoon
Lycoperdon pyriforme Ja.C. Schaeffer: Persoon
Marasmius cohaerans (Persoon: Fries) Cooke & Quélet
Megacollybia platyphylla (Persoon: Fries) Pouzar & Kotlaba
Melanoleuca melaleuca (Persoon: Fries) Murrill
Mutinus caninus (Persoon) Fries
Myriostoma coliforme (Persoon) Corda
Panaeolus foenisecii (Persoon: Fries) R. Kühner
Panellus mitis (Persoon: Fries) Singer
Peziza repanda Persoon
Phallus hadriani (Venturi) Persoon
Phallus impudicus Persoon
Phellinus torulosus (Persoon) Galzin & Bourdot
Pisolithus tinctorius (Persoon) J. N. Couch & Coker
Pleurocybella porrigens (Persoon: Fries) Singer
Pleurotus dryinus (Persoon: Fries) Kummer
Pleurotus porrigens (Persoon: Fries) Kummer
Polyporus badius (Persoon) Schweinitz
Polyporus giganteus Persoon: Fries
Polyporus umbellatus Persoon: Fries
Psathyrella foenisecii (Persoon: Fries) A. H. Smith
Puccinia graminis Persoon
Russula alutacea Persoon: Fries
Russula rosacea (Persoon: Secretan) Fries
Scleroderma cepa Persoon
Scleroderma citrinum Persoon
Sphaerobolus stellatus (Tode) Persoon
Tremella foliacea Persoon: Fries
Tricholoma flavovirens (Persoon: Fries) S. Lundell
Tricholomopsis platyphylla (Persoon: Fries) Singer
Tubaria furfuracea (Persoon: Fries) C. C. Gillet
Tulostoma brumale Persoon
Xylaria polymorpha (Persoon: Mérat) Greville
Xylobolus frustulatus (Persoon: Fries) Boidin

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Albugo (Persoon) Roussel: S. F. Gray
Amanita Persoon: W. J. Hooker
Ascobolus Persoon: Fries
Battarrea Persoon
Bovista Dillenius: Persoon
Clathrus Micheli: Persoon
Coprinus (Persoon: Fries) S. F. Gray
Corticium Persoon: S. F. Gray
Cortinarius Persoon: S. F. Gray
Craterellus Persoon
Cyathus A. von Haller: Persoon
Daedalea Persoon: Fries
Fuligo A. von Haller emend Persoon
Geastrum Micheli: Persoon
Geoglossum Persoon: Fries
Geopyxis (Persoon) Saccardo
Geotrichum Link: Persoon
Gomphus Persoon: S. F. Gray
Gymnopus Persoon: S. F. Gray
Hericium Persoon: S. F. Gray
Isaria Persoon: Fries
Lactarius Persoon: S. F. Gray
Leotia Persoon: Fries
Lepiota Persoon: S. F. Gray
Lycoperdon Persoon
Mitrula Persoon: Fries
Mycena Persoon: S. F. Gray
Odontia Persoon: S. F. Gray
Onygena Persoon: Fries
Phallus Micheli: Persoon
Physarum Persoon emend Rostafinski
Poria Persoon: S. F. Gray
Puccinia Micheli: Persoon
Russula (Persoon: Fries) S. F. Gray
Scleroderma Persoon
Serpula Persoon: S. F. Gray
Spathularia Persoon: Wallroth
Sphaerobolus Tode: Persoon
Stereum Persoon: S. F. Gray
Stictis Persoon: Fries
Tulostoma Persoon
Ustilago (Persoon) Roussel

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