Thekla Resvoll

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Thekla Resvoll, photographed in 1891 by Gustav Borgen
Thekla Resvoll (far right) during an excursion with Asta Lundell, Ove Dahl and Axel Blytt.

Thekla Susanne Ragnhild Resvoll (22 May 1871 – 14 June 1948) was a Norwegian botanist – a female pioneer in Norwegian natural history education and nature conservation together with her sister, Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen. She was married to mining engineer Andreas Holmsen (1869-1955).

Resvoll was born in Vågå. She worked as a nurse in an upper-class home in Stockholm before commencing studies of natural history at the Royal Frederick University in Kristiania 1894. She became an adept of the professor of botany, Axel Blytt and, after her graduation in 1899, she was made an associate professor at the Botanical Laboratory in 1902. She obtained the doctorate in 1918 on a thesis entitled On Plants Suited to a Cold and Short Summer,[1] in which she presented studies on adaptations of alpine plants to the harsh environment. These studies were Warmingian of nature, that is they were based on meticulous observations of plant individuals—their clonal and sexual propagation, perennation etc. Thus, it was plant population ecology before that discipline was first conceived. Thekla Resvoll made a visit to Java and the botanic garden in Buitenzorg in 1923-24. She studied Fagaceous trees in the Javan flora. She found that they had hibernation buds and interpreted it as an unnecessary trait – a rudiment from their temperate origin. She remained at the Botanical Laboratory until her retirement in 1936. Her botany classes made a resting impact on generations of Norwegian students. She also wrote a textbook on botany for high school pupils.

Alongside her academic career, Thekla Resvoll took part in the women's equality movement in Norway. She was a head of the Norwegian Female Student’s Club and on the board of the women's suffrage movement (Kvinnestemmeretsforeningen). She was the third woman to become a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

She died in 1948 in Oslo.

Selected scientific works[edit]

  • Resvoll, T. R., 1900. Nogle arktiske ranunklers morfologi og anatomi. Nyt Magazin for Naturvidenskaberne, 38: 343-367.
  • Resvoll, T. R., 1903. Den nye Vegetation paa Lerfaldet i Værdalen. Nyt Magazin for Naturvidenskaberne, 41.
  • Resvoll, T. R., 1906. Pflanzenbiologische Beobachtungen aus dem Flugsandgebiet bei Röros im inneren Norwegen. Nyt Magazin for Naturvidenskaberne, 44.
  • Resvoll, T. R., 1917. Om planter som passer til kort og kold sommer. Doctoral thesis, Oslo.
  • Resvoll, T. R., 1925. Rubus chamaemorus L. A morphological - biological study. Nytt Magasin for Naturvidenskapene, 67: 55-129.
  • Resvoll, T. R., 1925. Rubus chamaemorus L. Die geographische Verbreitung der Pflanze und ihre Verbreitungsmittel. Veröffentlichungen des Geobotanischen Institutes Rübel in Zürich, 3: 224-241.
  • Resvoll, T. R., 1925. Beschuppte Laubknospen in den immerfeuchten Tropenwäldern Javas. Jena.
    • Hibernation buds in Tropical trees.


  • Obituary by Høeg, O.A. in Blyttia 6: 57-61 (1948).
  • Eckblad, F.-E. (1991) Thekla Resvoll og Hanna Resvoll-Holmsen, to glemte? Pionerer i norsk botanikk. Blyttia 49: 3-10.
  • Biography by Inger Nordal & Bredo Berntsen in Norsk biografisk leksikon, Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget (1999-2005)
  • Norwegian biography with pictures