S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Meyer*, Reverend Louis Gottlieb (plant collection, insect collection)

Born: 16 October 1867, near Kleine Marpe, Detmold, Germany.
Died: 16 September 1958, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Louis Gottlieb Meyer (sometimes identified as G. Meyer), son of a farmer, was interested in natural history, particularly plants, from childhood. Initially he trained as an agriculturalist, but then studied at Barmen to become a Rhenish missionary. He arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on 7 November 1894 and was sent to Komaggas, a settlement some 50 km west-south-west of Springbok in Namaqualand. He opened a shop there in 1896. At some time after 1910 he was transferred to Steinkopf, where his responsibilities included the Richtersveld. Dr H.W. Rudolf Marloth* used Meyer's mission station at Steinkopf as his headquarters on his collecting trips to Namaqualand, and they sometimes collected together. Meyer also collected on his own, sending plants to Marloth in Cape Town and to A.G.J. (Hans) Herre* at Stellenbosch. He collected insects too, which were sent to Dr H.K.C. Andreae*, Marloth's assistant, and were later incorporated in the collections of the South African Museum, Cape Town.

Meyer was interned at Pietermaritzburg for some time during World War I (1914-1918). In 1919 he returned to Steinkopf, where he stayed until his retirement in 1934. He was the last Rhenish missionary to work at Komaggas, and also the last to work at Steinkopf. After his retirement he settled at Stellenbosch. He studied the early history of missions in Namaqualand and published this work as a booklet entitled Uit die verre noordweste (From the distant north-west).

The plant genus Meyerophytum (by G. Schwantes) and a number of species were named after him. His specimens are in the Compton Herbarium, Cape Town, the National Herbarium, Pretoria, and the Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape Town. Meyer was accompanied on many of his collecting trips by his wife, Anna Bertha Luise (born Olpp), born at Gibeon, Namibia, on 1 June 1873. Her father, Johannes Olpp, was a pioneer missionary who settled in Namibia in 1868. The species Conophytum meyerae and Ruschia meyerae were named after her by Schwantes, though both type plants were attributed to Reverend G. Meyer. Luise died at Stellenbosch on 23 March 1956. They had seven children.

An unmarried daughter of Reverend Meyer and his wife, Luise Pauline Marie, born at Komaggas on 15 October 1905, also sometimes accompanied her parents on collecting trips. The species Conophytum luisae was named after her by Schwantes. A son, Helmut Ernst, born at Komaggas on 8 November 1908, became a horticulturalist at Stellenbosch.

List of sources:
Codd, L.E. & Gunn, M. Additional biographical notes on plant collectors in southern Africa. Bothalia, 1985, Vol. 15, pp. 631-654.

General directory of South Africa 1903, 1908, 1911: Ecclesiastical directory.

Zoellner, L. Nasate van die Rynse sendelinge in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council, 1991.

Compiled by: C. Plug