Pehr Kalm

Pehr Kalm, botanist (b in Sweden 6 Mar 1716; d in Finland 16 Nov 1779). Kalm was educated in Finland and Sweden. He met the leading European naturalist, Linnaeus, in 1741, and under his influence became an expert on botanical applications to agriculture.

Kalm, Pehr

Pehr Kalm, botanist (b in Sweden 6 Mar 1716; d in Finland 16 Nov 1779). Kalm was educated in Finland and Sweden. He met the leading European naturalist, Linnaeus, in 1741, and under his influence became an expert on botanical applications to agriculture. Linnaeus proposed a trip to North America to discover plants that might be viable in Scandinavia and chose Kalm, who reached Philadelphia in September 1748, to meet the foremost American naturalists. Arriving in New France in July 1749, he botanized near Lake Champlain before moving on to Montréal and Québec. His work there was financed by the French as a favour to Sweden. He met the leading scientific lights, including Jean-François GAULTIER and Governor LA GALISSONIÈRE.

He returned to New York that autumn but made a botanical foray to Niagara during the summer of 1750. Returning to Sweden in 1751, he took up a professorship at Åbo. Kalm's record of his visit to New France, published 1753-61, offers one of the best studies of intellectual and social life during the final years of the French regime. Besides providing new botanical information, it brought Canada to European attention. In his diary he stated that the scientific interest exhibited by the French was superior to that of the British Americans.


Further Reading

  • P. Kalm, The America of 1750: Peter Kalm's Travels in North America, ed A.B. Benson (1927, repr 1966).