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Stephan Endlicher

Stephan Endlicher Austrian botanist, linguist and numismatist

Austrian botanist, linguist and numismatist
Stephan Endlicher
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Austrian botanist, linguist and numismatist
A.K.A. Stephan Ladislaus Endlicher, Endl.
Was Botanist Scientist Pteridologist Bryologist Archaeologist Sinologist Numismatist Educator
From Austria
Type Academia Biology Science Social science
Gender male
Birth 24 June 1804, Bratislava
Death 28 March 1849, Vienna (aged 44 years)
The details


Stephan Ladislaus Endlicher a.k.a. Endlicher István László (24 June 1804 – 28 March 1849) was an Austrian botanist, numismatist and Sinologist. He was a director of the Botanical Garden of Vienna. He was born in Pressburg (Bratislava) and died in Vienna.


Endlicher studied theology and received minor orders. In 1828 he was appointed to the Austrian National Library to reorganize its manuscript collection. Concurrently he studied natural history, in particular botany, and East-Asian languages.

In 1836 Endlicher was appointed keeper of the court cabinet of natural history, and in 1840 he became professor at the University of Vienna and director of its Botanical Garden. He wrote a comprehensive description of the plant kingdom according to a natural system, at the time its most comprehensive description. As proposed by Endlicher, it contained images with text. It was published together with the reissue of Franz Unger's Grundzüge der Botanik (Fundamentals of Botany).

Endlicher was fundamental in establishing the Imperial Academy of Science (German: Akademie der Wissenschaften), but when contrary to his expectations the Baron Joseph Hammer von Purgstall was elected its president in his stead, he resigned. He presented his library and herbaria to the state, and passed several hours every week for 10 years in the society of the Emperor Ferdinand, but he received no other reward than the title of councillor (German: Regierungsrath).

As a known liberal, Endlicher was asked to act as mediator during the revolution of 1848, but eventually was forced to leave Vienna for a time. In 1848 he also became a member of the Frankfurt Parliament and the assembly at Kremsier (Kroměříž).


Endlicher made valuable contributions to the science of old German and classic literature, and pointed out new sources of Hungarian history, publishing Fragmenta Theotisca Versionis antiquissimae Evangelii Matthaei (edited with Hoffmann von Fallersleben, 1834), an edition of two poems of Priscian (1828), and Anonymi Belæ Regis Notarii de Gestis Hungarorum Liber (1827). His linguistic publications comprise Analecta Grammatica (with Eichenfeld, 1836), and Anfangsgründe der chinesischen Grammatik (Foundations of Chinese grammar; 1845).

His Verzeichniss der japanesischen und chinesischen Münzen des kaiserlichen Münz- und Antikencabinets (Catalog of Japanese and Chinese coins in the imperial coin and antique collections; 1837) and Atlas von China nach der Aufnahme der Jesuitenmissionäre (Atlas of China after the arrival of the Jesuit missionaries; 1843) are finely executed, and deserve mention as specimens of his great liberality.

The majority and the most valuable of his works are on botany. Foremost among them are his Genera Plantarum (1831–41), in which he lays down a new system of classification, Grundzüge einer neuen Theorie der Pflanzenerzeugung (Foundations of a new theory of plant breeding; 1838), and Die Medicinalpflanzen der österreichischen Pharmakopöe (Medicinal plants in the Austrian pharmacopoeia; 1842). The principal of his other botanical works are: Ceratotheca (1822), Flora Posoniensis (1830), Diesingia (1832), Atacta Botanica (1833), Iconographia Generum Plantarum (1838), Enchiridium Botanicum (1841) and Synopsis Coniferarum (1847).

Endlicher established the botanical journal Annalen des Wiener Museums der Naturgeschichte (1835 and on). He began the work Flora Brasiliensis with Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius. He also published early works on the flora of Australia, including the plants collected by Carl von Hugel and Ferdinand Bauer.

He wrote several works in conjunction with other scholars, and many of his minor writings are scattered among the periodicals of his time, especially in the Annalen des Wiener Museums. Endlicher described many new plant genera, including the genus Sequoia. Although Endlicher never offered an explanation for the name, later writers speculated that he must have been inspired by the achievements of the American Indian linguist Sequoyah. John Davis credited Endlicher with naming the new species of redwood Sequoyah gigantea in 1847, to honor Sequoyah's invention of the Cherokee syllabary. Recent scholarship has convincingly rebutted this hypothesis; Endlicher appears to have been thinking of the Latin for "sequence."

The genus Endlicheria of the family Lauraceae was named in his honour.

Important works

  • Flora Brasiliensis
  • Genera Plantarum Secundum Ordines Naturales Disposita (1836–50)
  • Synopsis Coniferarum (1847)
  • Die Medicinal-Pflanzen der österreichischen Pharmakopöe: ein Handbuch für Ärzte und Apotheker. Gerold, Wien 1842 Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf
  • Enumeratio plantarum quas in Novae Hollandiae ora austro-occidentali ad fluvium Cygnorum et in sinu Regis Georgii collegit Carolus Liber Baro de Hügel
  • Prodromus Florae Norfolkicae (Flora of Norfolk Island), available online at Project Gutenberg ebooks

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