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  • Collected by Tytus Chałubiński
  • Labelled by Tytus Chałubiński
  • Revised by Ryszard Ochyra (1998)
  • Date of production mosses collected in the period of 1876–1885
  • Place of discovery Tatra Mountains
  • Dimensions height: boxes: 35 cm, length: boxes: 23 cm, width: boxes: 21 cm
  • Bags with specimens usually 8–12 x 6–7 cm
  • Microscopic preparations 7.8 x 2.8 x 0.1 cm
  • ID no. B/19/MT (“Herbarium of Tatra mosses”), B/20/MT (Microscopic preparations)
  • Museum The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane
  • Subjects mountain, famous people , nature, written
  • Object copyright The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane
  • Digital images copyright public domain
  • Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
  • Tags 2D , mountains , plants , herbs , book , photographic camera
Print description

Tytus Chałubiński’s herbarium of Tatra mosses is the most valuable botanical collection at the Dr Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum. 

Doctor Tytus Chałubiński (1820–1889), a man of broad horizons and multiple interests, a great physician with a passion for botany, is one of the legendary figures of Zakopane.


Tytus Chałubiński’s herbarium of Tatra mosses is the most valuable botanical collection at the Dr Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum. 

Doctor Tytus Chałubiński (1820–1889), a man of broad horizons and multiple interests, a great physician with a passion for botany, is one of the legendary figures of Zakopane. Distinguished in the field of Polish culture and science, and endowed with general respect, he will stay in the memory of future generations mostly as the “discoverer” and promoter of curative and tourist values of Zakopane, a great friend of highlanders and an enthusiast of the Tatra Mountains. Few people know that he had great achievements in the scientific exploration of nature in the Tatra Mountains, and that he was Europe’s renowned bryologist, that is a moss explorer. Tytus Chałubiński donated his herbarium of mosses, together with the herbarium of vascular plants and the collection of Tatra rocks, to the Tatra Museum upon its establishment in 1888. The botanical and geological collections of Tytus Chałubiński, and the zoological collections of Antoni Kocyan gave origin to the natural collections of the Tatra Museum.
A herbarium (from Latin) is a collection of dried, properly classified and described plants. It was invented in the 16th century, but, even today it is the basic document of a botanist’s work. It is an unquestionable, objective source archive of botanical information that can be repeatedly and independently verified. In 1998 the labels were revised by Professor Ryszard Ochyra from Władysław Szafer’s Institute of Botany of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków.
The entire collection of mosses gathered by Chałubiński in the years 1876–1885 has been preserved in good condition and, with a few exceptions, contains all the specimens quoted in the two major works by Chałubiński: Grimmieae tatrenses (1882), and Enumeratio muscorum frondosorum tatrensium, hucusque cognitorum (1886).
The mosses are stored in small rectangular paper bags of various dimensions, depending on the size of specimens, but most frequently they are 8–12 cm long and 6-7 cm wide. Inside there are small, hand-written, original labels containing the name of the species (in Latin), site, and date of gathering. The specimens of the same species are placed in paper fold-outs with dimensions of 20 x 29 cm. In the fold-outs the right fragment of the list of mosses is glued and included in the work: Enumeratio muscorum frondosorum tatrensium, hucusque cognitorum. The collection is kept in 14 cardboard boxes pasted over with black bookbinding fabric. The herbarium of mosses contains 2,735 specimens representing 368 species. Presently, the flora of the Tatra mosses has about 450 species. The scientific value of the collection is determined by the inclusion of nomenclature types, selected specimens on the basis of which certain taxons (such as species, subspecies, type) were defined.
Tytus Chałubiński’s herbarium is an excellent example of the 19th century method of herbarium making, accuracy and diligence in securing and describing the collection. It is an excellent starting point for further exploration of the moss flora of the Tatra Mountains.
The collection is stored in the warehouse while its fragments are on display only at temporary exhibitions.
Doctor Chałubiński probably climbed all of the Tatra peaks and passes visited by the tourists in the 19th century. His “trips without an agenda” were widely discussed. Chałubiński travelled in the Tatra Mountains accompanied by his family and friends, well-known artists, writers and scientists. They were led by highlander guides who were also musicians and dancers, which made the stops and camps more pleasant with their song, dance, and witty story-telling by the bonfire. During these trips, Doctor Chałubiński was on the constant lookout for new moss species, gathered them and carefully describing them right there in the field. The doctor was often accompanied by his “aide de camp,” a young clever boy, Józek Roj, who carried his herbarium and moss cans, and could look for plants in a difficult area himself.
The story of Tytus Chałubiński’s travels in the Tatra Mountains is recorded not only in the memories of the participants, but also in the herbarium with great detail. The chronologically set places of moss gathering constitute an interesting source material for researchers of the history of tourism and the life of Tytus Chałubiński. When combined with the known descriptions of these trips and other archival materials, this data offers a fuller image of his travels in the Tatra Mountains and shows their routes very accurately. As indicated in Chałubiński’s own notes at the metrics, he climbed not only the highest peaks of Gerlach, Kołowy, Lodowy, Krywań, Rysy and Łomnica, but he also liked to go on shorter trips in the Tatra Mountaints to the peaks of Nosal, Giewont and Sarnia Skałka, wander in the village of Zakopane along the streams of Bystra and Cicha Woda, and in the Regle area. He liked to gather mosses on the marshes of Krupówki; marshes that do not exist anymore. He wrote that this “botanical interest” was a source of respite for him.
The presented herbarium of Tatra mosses is not only material proof of the occurrence of the individual species of these plants in certain places that can be used by botanists for various specialist analyses (e.g. taxonomical, morphological, anatomical; research on flora history and biodiversity), but also a kind of record of the mountain paths, routes and roads in the Tatra Mountains frequented by Tytus Chałubiński, the best known doctor of 19th century Warsaw and then Zakopane.

Elaborated by Grażyna Cisło (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane), © all rights reserved

Grażyna Cisło, Wycieczki Tytusa Chałubińskiego zapisane w zielniku mchów, “Rocznik Podhalański” 1997, v. VII;
Jacek Drobnik, Zielnik i zielnikoznawstwo, Warsaw 2007;
Ryszard Ochyra, Grażyna Cisło, Mchy w zielniku Tytusa Chałubińskiego w Muzeum Tatrzańskim w Zakopanem, “Polish Botanical Studies Guidebook” 1999, nº 22;
Barbara Petrozolin-Skowrońska, Król Tatr z Mokotowskiej 8. Portret doktora Tytusa Chałubińskiego, Warsaw 2005.


“Herbarium of Tatra mosses” of Tytus Chałubiński


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