Carl Niclas Hellenius – Demonstrator in Botany at old Åbo Akademi, later Professor in Economy and Natural History
Carl Niclas Hellenius was the Demonstrator in Botany at old Åbo Akademi 1778–1786, as nominated title Professor 1780–1793 (with the salary since 1786), Professor in Natural History 1793–1816 until retiement. As a Demonstrator, his main duty was to instruct medical students on the subject of medicinal plants. In his research, he was the first in Finland to focuse on taxonomy, inspired by Carl von Linné and Carl Peter Thunberg in Sweden. He described as new to science vascular plant taxa Hippuris maritima, Hisingera nitida (also a new genus), Tropaeolum quinatum, Turraea pubescens, and also a beetle Serepalpus striatus and a liver parasite of Lota lota, Taenia lotae. As a director, his major achievements were building the Botanical Gardens and Herbarium. Collections of the Åbo Akademi were destroyed in the Great Fire of Åbo in 1827, but at least 435 specimens once at his private herbarium have been preserved, as part of Professor Carl Reinhold Sahlberg’s private collection, to whom Hellenius donated specimens. Those specimens are today part of Herbarium Antiquum, Finnish Museum of Natural History, Botanical Museum (H). The era of utility is a term used of the era of freedom in Sweden. It marked the rise in the appreciation of natural sciences in relation to classical sciences. The period is often limited to the years 1718–1772. However, Hellenius continued this school until his retirement. This was due to repeated famine in Finland and the establishment of Suomen Talousseura ”Finnish Economy Society”. This society was established to enhance the Finnish agriculture and forestry, e.g. the cultivation of potato. As Professor, Hellenius particularly encouraged research and education in this field, following the development initiated by his predecessor Pehr Kalm. However, Hellenius must be regarded as the first taxonomist in Finland.