Constantine Samuel Rafinesque

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque - Schmaltz ( born October 22, 1783 in Galata; † September 18, 1840 in Philadelphia ) was an American polymath. Its official botanical author abbreviation is " Raf. ".


Rafinesque - Schmaltz was born the son of a German mother and a French father and distinguished himself as a genius and eccentric. Its particular importance lies in the study of Maya writing.

Rafinesque - Schmaltz discovered in the 1830s that the number system of the Maya based on a dot -dash notation, and suspected that the writing reflects a language that is still spoken by the Maya and was therefore to decipher. He also noted that the font in the codices and the inscriptions is the same.

Rafinesque - Schmaltz also worked as a botanist and ichthyologist and describer of many plant and fish species, including the stingrays ( Dasyatis ).

After Rafinesque - Schmaltz the plant genus Rafinesquia and the Rafinesque - long-eared is named.

Selected works

  • Specchio delle scienze, Palermo 1814 Volume 1 online at
  • Analysis de la nature, Palermo 1815 ( outlining a new system of classification )
  • Florula ludoviciana, 1817 online at
  • Neogenyton, 1825
  • Medical Flora, a manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America (1828-1830)
  • Atlantic Journal and Friend of Knowledge (eight parts) ( 1832-1833 )
  • A Life of Travels and Researches in North America and the South of Europe, From 1802 till 1835, Philadelphia, 1836.
  • New flora and botany of North America, ( four parts ) ( 1836-1838 )
  • Alsographia americana, 1838 online at
  • Sylva tellurana, 1838 online at