Franz Wilhelm Sieber (1789-1844) was born in Prague, Czechia. He gave up his architectural and engineering studies and devoted himself to natural sciences, botany in particular. As he wished to finance his plant-collecting excursions by selling herbariums, he offered plants for sale even before he collected them. In the summer of 1812, Sieber was invited by Žiga Zois to visit him at his home. In return for payment, the Czech botanist was supposed to bring him rare plants from Mt Triglav, but he did not keep his promise. He took the better-prepared plants with him, leaving the rest to Zois. Sieber described his ascent to the mountain in the Czech newspaper Hesperus, this being one of the first printed sources about climbing Mt Triglav (translated by Dr Tone Wraber and published by Planinski vestnik). After returning from an excursion in the Alps, Sieber reported that he had brought back 20,000 specimens from Italy, Carniola and Carinthia, including no less than 500 specimens of the species Dactylis littoralis (today Aeluropus littoralis)! In the herbarium of the Slovenian Museum of Natural History (LJM) we, too, hold some Sieber’s sheets from this particular excursion.
Franc Hohenwart donated about 690 Sieber’s exotic species to the provincial Museum of Carniola, as Sieber also decided to make a few plant-collecting excursions to Crete, Egypt and Palestine, as well as to travel around the world. We were unable to record all the mentioned sheets in the herbarium of the Slovenian Museum of Natural History (LJM), since Sieber had not signed the sheets and used different types of labels. Sieber published several collections, naming them after the places where he had collected the plants. Thus, in LJM we keep the sheets from his travels in Italy (Plantae Neapolitanae et Apulae, Plantae agri Romani et Neapolitani), the Alps (Plantae alpinae), Crete (Flora Creticae), Palestine (Flora Palestina), Egypt (Flora Aegyptiaca), Martinique Island (Flora Martinique), some sheets of his flora of Bohemia (Flora Bohemica) and sheets from his collection Flora mixta, where he included plants from all the previously mentioned collections. Henrik Freyer, the first curator in the Carniolan Provincial Museum, wrote a list of Sieber’s sheets in the LJM from the Flora mixta collection, which is now housed in the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. The Czech botanist corresponded with Fran Hladnik (his letters are kept in the Archives of the RS) and gave him some sheets, as Hladnik added his labels with species synonyms to them.
During the 2015-2017 period, we in the United Herbarium LJM recorded, with the aid of Dr Anton Igersheim from the Natural History Museum in Vienna, 200 Sieber’s herbarium sheets, but this number will most likely increase with careful examination of the material in years to come.