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Insight into the German botanical journals collection
Carl Mez (1866-1944)
… was a German botanist, who described 1200 species anew and worked on large plant families like Bromeliaceae, Myrsinaceae, Gramineae and Lauraceae. In his later taxonomic works, Mez applied serological methods, using proteins as biochemical markers for the development of plant genealogy.
Mez was born in Freiburg, Germany, and became a member of the „Botanischer Verein für den Kreis Freiburg und das Land Baden“(botanic society of the district of Freiburg and Baden) at a young age. When he was seventeen, he had already written his first article for the society’s magazine. This article and many others, have been digitised here:
- Mez, Karl (1883): Inula salicina L. & Vaillanti Vill. (Inula semiamplexicaulis Reut.). Mitteilungen des Botanischen Vereins für den Kreis Freiburg und das Land Baden 6/7: 71
Lit.: Butzin, Friedhelm: Willdenowia 4 (1968): 401-417 (JSTOR)
Original descriptions of species - for example from Brazil
The „Zapfenblüthige Stachelähre“, as the plant Acanthostachys strobilacea is named by the authors, is an evergreen bromeliad, with yellow flowers. The plant is related to the pineapple and is originally from Brazil. Today it is cultivated in many botanical gardens and can be grown as a house plant as well.
The volumes of „Icones plantarum rariorum Horti Regii Botanici Berolinensis“ (Berlin: 1841 – 1844) feature numerous coloured illustrations and descriptions of species.gcThe oeuvre was published by the director of the Royal Botanical Institute H. F. Link, the curator of the Royal Herbarium Fr. Klotzsch, and the inspector of the Royal Botanic Garden F. Otto. Today these facilities are known as the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem (BGBM). The BGBM is project partner of the digitisation project. The printed original comes from the library of Herrenhausen Gardens, and has been acquired by the University Library of Frankfurt am Main.
Wilhelm Pfeffer (1845-1920)
Together with Julius Sachs, Wilhelm Pfeffer was a pioneer of modern plant physiology and conducted numerous groundbreaking experiments. He dealt with questions concerning the physiology of plant metabolism and cells, for example, osmosis, the irritability of plants and photosynthesis.
- Pfeffer, Wilhelm (1874): Die Wirkung farbigen Lichtes auf die Zersetzung der Kohlensäure in Pflanzen. Arbeiten des Botanischen Instituts in Würzburg 1: 1-76
In his article “Die Wirkung farbigen Lichts…“ (The effects of coloured light…), he elaborately summarises the findings of other authors and then presents his own results on the impact of different spectral colour lights on the photosynthesis of plants. In 1871 he habilitated on this subject in Marburg.
In „Arbeiten des Botanischen Instituts in Würzburg“ (works of the botanical Institute Würzburg), published by Julius Sachs, other important botanists like Hugo de Vries and Karl Prantl published their works.
Lit.: Pfeffer, Wilhelm Friedrich Philipp (Deutsche Biographie)
Original descriptions of species – including animals
The zoologist Günther Enderlein (1872-1968) gave a short description of the insect Conwentzia pineticola in an article that appeared in the „Bericht des Westpreussischen Botanisch-Zoologischen Vereins“ (Report of the West Prussian society of botany an zoology) in 1905. Even today this characterisation is considered to be the first description.
- Enderlein, Günther (1905): Conwentzia pineticola nov. gen. nov. spec. : Eine neue Neuroptere aus Westpreussen. Bericht des Westpreussischen Botanisch-Zoologischen Vereins 26/27: 10-12
Many of the societies exploring the natural sciences did not only focus on botany, but on zoology as well. One example is the “Westpreußische Botanisch-Zoologische Verein” (West Prussian Society of Botany and Zoology), founded in 1878 in Danzig.
On an expedition to the Baltic coast, set up by the society, Enderlein discovered the net-winged insect. By naming it Conwentzia he wanted to honour Dr. Hugo Conwentz, director of the Westpreußisches Provinzialmuseum (West Prussian Provincial Museum ) in Danzig.
More information about G. Enderlein can be found in the data base of "Biografien der Entomologen der Welt" (Biographies of the Entomologists of the World) of the vifabo project partner Senckenberg German Entomological Institute.
The beginning of federal nature conservation
The founding of the „Staatlichen Stelle für Naturdenkmalpflege“ (National authority for landmark conservation) in 1906 in then Prussian Danzig, is considered to be the starting point of federal nature conservation in Germany. Hugo Conwentz had influenced this development significantly. As early as 1903 he had spoken about „the necessity to create a central authority for the protection of nature” at the 1st free assembly of systematic botanists and geobotanists in Berlin.
- Bericht über die 1. Zusammenkunft der freien Vereinigung der systematischen Botaniker und Pflanzengeographen zu Berlin. Vom 16. - 19. September 1903 (Explanation of Conwentz page 9)
At a later conference of the society in 1907, the botanist Paul Kumm presented the previous achievments in the essay: ”On the progress of securing the residues of original plant formations, presented according to the material gathered by H.Cowentz.”
Kumm, Paul (1907): Über die Fortschritte in der Sicherung von Resten ursprünglicher Pflanzenformationen : nach dem von H. Conwentz gesammelten Material dargestellt. Bericht über die Zusammenkunft der Freien Vereinigung der Systematischen Botaniker und Pflanzengeographen 4: 5-18