Friedrich Welwitsch

Friedrich Martin Josef Welwitsch ( born February 25, 1806 Maria Saal, † October 20, 1872 in London) was an Austrian explorer and botanist. He discovered the eponymous Welwitschia plant. Its official botanical author abbreviation is " Welw. ".


Welwitsch was the only son of the princely Salzburg court chamber - counsel, nurse and Country Judge Joseph Anton Welvich. His mother, Genevieve Mayr died when he was five years old. Already was in his youth, awakened by nature walks with his father and the collection of plants which he nachbestimmte with the help of books, an interest in the natural sciences. He attended elementary school in Maria Saal and then high school in Klagenfurt.

He studied medicine in Vienna and devoted in great detail botany. Particularly affected he was by Augustin- de Candolle Pyrame, who was in Vienna in 1828. Welwitsch appropriated the new movements - natural plant system and phytogeographical approaches - to. He did his PhD on the cryptogams of Lower Austria, which he founded this branch of research in this country. After graduation, he worked as a doctor in Zirknitz ( Krain ) and Jamnitz ( Moravia ), and devoted himself at this time his botanical studies. In 1839 he gave up the medical profession and was planning a scientific collection trip to the Azores.

The Württemberg travel club financed him a botanical collecting trip to Portugal, where Welwitsch but permanently settled. Welwitsch could find in Lisbon as Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens employment. He argued, among other things the Herbarium in Portugal. His Privatherbar the flora of Portugal included 9,000 species. One of his priorities were in Portugal, the cryptogams; as he described about 250 new species of seaweed.

In 1853 he embarked on an eight-year research trip to the new Portuguese colony of Angola. He was the first botanist who systematically explored an African territory. After his acclimatization in Luanda, where he met in October 1854 with David Livingstone, he went to nationals, whose environment he researched for two years. In 1856 he went to Cambamba, 1857, he had to recover from a fever in Luanda. He then traveled by ship to Benguela, after Mocamedes and Baia dos Tigres in the south to. In 1859, he discovered later named after him Welwitschia, the only way an entire order.

1861 Welwitsch returned back to Portugal. Because of better working conditions, he went in 1863 with support from the Portuguese government to London, where he worked his collections at Kew at the Natural History Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens. In the work Sertum angolense alone he described twelve new genera and 48 new species. However, he published his work only partially. Welwitsch died in 1872 and is located at Kensal Green Cemetery in London buried. His simple grave is covered by a stone slab on which the following inscription is:

[ Frederikus Welwitsch, MD] - [ Florae angolensis investigatorum princeps ] - [ Nat. in Carinthia February 5, 1806 ] - [ Ob. Londini 20 Oct 1872 ]

Welwitsch its collections had bequeathed to the Natural History Museum, but the Portuguese government requested the collections on the legal action a. After three years, they agreed on a division of the collection: the first set went to Portugal at the University of Lisbon, the second set remained in London.

Works (selection)

  • Contributions to the cryptogamic flora sub Austria. In: Contributions to the geography of Austria, Volume 4, 1834.
  • Synopsis Nostochinearum Austriae inferioris. PhD thesis, Vienna 1836.
  • Genera Phycearum Lusitanae. Records of the Academy of Lisbon, Volume 2, 1850.
  • Apontamentos Phyto geographicos sobre since Florentino Provincia de Angola na Africa Equinocial. In: Annaes de Conselho do Ultra Marino October 1858.
  • Synopsis explicativa the amostras de Madeiras e drogas de mediciuaes collegidas na provincia de Angola etc.. Lisbon 1862.
  • Sertum angolense. In: Transactions of the Linnean Society XXVII, 1869.
  • Notes on the Bryology of Portugal. In: Flora, 1872.