Pancic's investigations of the flora of the surrounding of Belgrade

In 1853, Pancic was appointed to be a teacher in the Lycée in Belgrade, and immediately after that, in addition to other activities, he started detailed floristic surveys of Belgrade region, which lasted continuously for almost 25 years. However, after the first 10-year period, Pancic brought together his research results and in 1865 published them in his monograph entitled Flora in the surrounding of Belgrade- according to analytical method. The fact that it has seen as many as 6 editions over 27 years testifies that this is one of Pancic’s most significant floristic works, which had left indelible mark in botanical literature.

In outlining the region of his survey Pancic says ”For the surrounding of Belgrade I assumed the irregular quadrangle extending between Belgrade, Ostružnica, Avala and Vinca; it has natural boundaries on three sides: the Sava, the Danube and the The Beli Potok Stream, the fourth boundary was assumed to be from the top of Mt Avala over the Streams of Pinosava and Rušanj  and the villages of Rušanj, Sremcica and Železnik down the stream, which flows into the Sava near Ostružnica.

 Pri tome, Pancic posebno definiše razlicita staništa na sledeci nacin:

1.- "po baštama, oko drumova, po putovima i drumovima"; 2.- "po njivama, prelozima"; 3.- "po utrinama, sušnim livadama"; 4.- "na pesku, po prljužama"; 5.- "po šumama, u japadu"; 6.- "po kamenjarima, na zidinama"; 7.- "po lukama, na bujnim livadama"; 8.- "po mlakama, u vodi, na obali od reka i potoka". 

Among the localities where, as he says, “the rarities of our flora should be searched for” of particular interests are Topcider, Košutnjak, and monastery forest in Rakovica, Bele Vode, Ciganlija, Makiš, Železnik, Ostružnica, Kajaburma (around ponds), Višnjica, Slanci, Smederevo road, Kaludjerica, Kumodraž,  valey near village Mokri Lug,  Banjica and Torlak, Mt Avala etc.

Over the first 10 years of flora’s investigations in the surrounding of Belgrade, Pancic recorded 1,057 flowering plants, classified into 427 plant genera. Among them a few are new species to science, such as Thlaspi avalanum Panc., discovered in Mt Avala. In addition to this species, which is also today considered as good species in almost all contemporary floristic works, Pancic recorded in the surrounding of Belgrade Iris serbica Panc, Rosa belgradensis Panc., Rosa Vrncensis Panc., Rosa slancensis Panc and Triticum virescens (Panc) Panc. and described them as new to science, but  at present they have different status in botanical literature .

Another 5 editions of “Flora in the Surrounding of Belgrade” were published in the period by 1892.The sixth edition, published after Pancic’s death, contained 1,156 plant species growing in the surrounding of Belgrade.

Pancic conceived this book to serve as a useful manual from/on nature, intended primarily for school and student youth,  aimed at keeping informing them, at stimulating their research spirit and at educating them as much as possible in natural sciences. For this reason it was published as pocket edition, suitable for field research. Though this work may be considered as Josif Pancic’s specific textbook, it is of permanent value given that it contains new species, till that time unknown to science. Besides, it furnished  an exceptional basis for all future  investigations of the flora and vegetation of the surrounding of Belgrade. Currently  it is considered as a prime source of  information for comparative investigations of the dynamics of flora and vegetation, particularly those of endangered plant species and ecosystems.

Most of Pancic’s original herbarium material of Belgrade flora, containing 767 of preserved exsiccates, is in the collection Herbarium Pancicianum, in the Institute of Botany and Botanical Garden.