One of the most significant items in the Slovenian Museum of Natural History is the Herbarium of Janez Krstnik Flysser from Ljutomer. This exhibit was made to order by Janez Gabrijel Gallermayer in 1696. Although not much is known about Flysser and Gallemayer, the herbarium bears witness to the influence of the Renaissance in the Slovenian territory, when man’s interest in nature was revived.

Originally, the term herbarium referred to books on medicinal plants. It was as late as around 1700 that the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708) used this term to describe a collection of dried plants, which was eventually utilized by Karel Linnaeus himself. Under his influence, the word was brought into general use, replacing other terms for collections of dried plants, such as hortus siccus (“dried garden”). The first collections, which are this day understood as herbaria, were generated in the 16th century. Their creation is mainly related to the development of paper production techniques, which made it possible to purchase paper at a low price. Luca Ghini (1490? -1556), the Italian botany professor at the University of Bologna, was allegedly the first to start drying plants under pressure and attaching them to paper bound into a book. Although his herbarium did not survive, this technique was also applied by his students, who eventually spread it throughout Europe. In the time of Karl Linnaeus (1707-1788), the technique of herbarium bookmaking was already well known. Linnaeus realized that it was easier to classify plants if the sheets were not bound in a book, but were separated from each other. So the first collections consisting of separate herbarium sheets were created. Herbarium books, however, were created not only by botanists but also by people of means who collected predominantly exotic plants for their natural history libraries.

The Flysser Herbarium, too, is a large book with wooden, leather-bound covers. It comprises 204 pages, on which 993 plants are presented, probably collected in the area of the former Republic of Venice, as well as some ornamental and cultivated species. The plants carry Latin names, with German names added here and there. The herbarium was owned by the Zois brothers and the books first came, as part of their legacy, to the Lyceum Library and from there in 1838 to the former Provincial Museum. Karel Zois wrote a list for it, which is also housed in the Slovenian Museum of Natural History. Flysser’s herbarium is the oldest in Slovenia, and with it, our museum can pride itself alongside other world institutions, which hold the oldest herbariums in the world.

Have a look at our collection of notable items.

Have a look at Flysser’s herbarium in digital form
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