Jónas Hallgrímsson og grasafræðin

Skrifað um November 16, 2012 · in Almennt · 138 Comments

 

Skáldið og náttúrufræðingurinn Jónas Hallgrímsson.

Skáldið og náttúrufræðingurinn Jónas Hallgrímsson.

Á degi íslenzkrar tungu, fæðingardegi Jónasar Hallgrímssonar, er ekki úr vegi að huga að náttúrufræðingnum Jónasi og þá einkum því, er lýtur að grasafræði.

Sem kunnugt er lagði Jónas stund fyrst á lögfræði, þegar hann kom til Kaupmannahafnar 1832. Hann varð afhuga henni og sneri sér að náttúrufræði, aðallega dýrafræði og jarðfræði. Á hinn bóginn virðist hann lítið hafa kynnzt grasafræði, enda var hún aðeins kennd við læknadeildina en ekki heimspekideild eins og hinar greinirnar.

Af verkum Jónasar á sviði náttúrufræða má ráða, að hann hefur lítið sinnt grasafræði. Segja má, að grasafræðin hjá Jónasi birtist helzt í ljóðum hans, og þar leynir sér ekki skynbragð hans. Það er rétt, sem Steindór Steindórsson segir (Rvík 1981): »Enginn vafi er á því, að skáldskapargáfa hans hefir verið honum ómetanlegur styrkur til að skapa honum skilning á ýmsum þeim fyrirbrigðum, er fyrir augu hans bar, og þá er hitt jafnvíst að náttúrufræðiþekking hans og ferðalög, og ekki síst aðdáun hans og lotning fyrir dásemdum náttúrunnar, hafa frjóvgað skáldgáfu hans, og sjást þess merki í yrkisefnum hans og meðferð þeirra.« Þetta á ekki sízt við, þegar hann yrkir um »smávini fagra«.

 

Í ævisögu Jónasar (Páll Valsson, 1999) segir meðal annars (bls. 338), að Jónas hafi tínt mosa á Þingvöllum … fyrir Salomon Drejer. Í ritinu Íslenskir náttúrufræðingar (Rvík 1981) segir Steindór Steindórsson svo í þættinum um Jónas Hallgrímsson (bls. 152): »Ekki verður heldur séð, að hann [Jónas] hafi safnað plöntum, og getur hann þó víða um hluti þá er hann safnaði. Hið eina, sem ég hefi tekið eftir í því efni, er að hann í bréfinu fræga um alþing segist hafa farið að safna mosum fyrir Salomon Drejer.«

Af þessu tilefni kannaði höfundur þessa pistils, hvort einhverjir mosar væru til á söfnum í Danmörku, sem rekja mætti til Jónasar. Niðurstaðan varð sú, að hvergi finnst neitt tengt Jónasi.
Á hinn bóginn var Japetus Steenstrup jafnaldri, skólafélagi og einlægur vinur Drejers. Steenstrup safnaði mosum á Íslandi 1839/40 eins og greint er frá í ritinu The Botany of Iceland eftir August Hesselbo (The Bryophyta of Iceland. Part II 1918: 395-677). Í þessu sambandi er Jónasar Hallgrímssonar hvergi getið eftir því, sem bezt er vitað, og í Kaupmannahöfn finnst ekkert merkt Jónasi. Safn Jónasar hefur því annaðhvort aldrei skilað sér til Drejers eða verið sent þangað undir nafni Steenstrups. Rétt er þó að geta þess, að Salomon Drejer dó óvænt aðeins 29 ára gamall 1842 (af eitruðu neftóbaki), að því Þorvaldur Thoroddsen segir í Landfræðisögu Íslands (bls. 191 IV b.).

 

Vert er þó að geta þess, að að minnsta kosti um 20 nöfn á háplöntum má rekja til Jónasar. Oft er ekki auðið að segja, hvort Jónas hafi búið til nafn eða haft það eftir alþýðu manna.
Brekkusóley, fjallaljós og krossgras eru þekktustu plöntunöfnin og koma fyrir í kveðskap hans. Brekkusóley er án efa þrenningarfjóla (Viola tricolor). Fjallaljós er bein þýðing á Lychnis alpina, sem nú heitir nú ljósberi (Viscaria alpina); má þó vera, enda sennilegra, að þarna eigi skáldið við náskylda tegund, lambagras (Silene acaulis). Hins vegar hefur vafizt fyrir mönnum við hvaða tegund er átt, þar sem segir í Ferðalokum:

 

Grétu þá í lautu
góðir blómálfar,
skilnað okkarn skildu.
Dögg það við hugðum,
og dropa kalda
kysstum úr krossgrasi.

Í Grasatali Jónasar er krossgras haft um brjóstagras (Thalictrum alpinum), en það er af og frá, að um þá tegund sé að ræða. Til greina koma að minnsta kosti tvær aðrar. Hin fyrri er maríustakkur (Alchemilla vulgaris), en á kyrrum og rökum nóttum safnast vatn, sem plantan tekur upp gegnum rætur, í stóra dropa á blöðunum. Þetta kallast táramyndun (guttation). Vatnið streymir út um æðar á röndum blaða og og rennur saman í skál blaðsins og myndar þessa glitrandi dropa á vaxþöktu yfirborði blaðsins. Síðari tegundin er lyfjagras (Pinguicula vulgaris), en annað þekkt nafn á því er einmitt krossgras og krosslauf. Það er þó heldur ólíklegt, að dropar safnist í þau blöð.

Fjallað verður um önnur plöntunöfn Jónasar Hallgrímssonar í sambandi við Grasatal hans, sem verður birt hér síðar.

ÁHB / 16.11.2012

 

Leitarorð:

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