S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Mund, Mr Johannes Ludwig Leopold (plant collection)

Born: 1791, Berlin, Germany.
Died: 1831, Cape Town, South Africa.

J.L.L. Mund (later in life he signed his name as L. Mund) served as a field apothecary in the Prussian Army during the Napoleonic wars, with Louis Maire* and Carl H. Bergius*. In 1816 he and Maire were sent to the Cape by the Prussian government to collect natural history specimens for the zoological museum and botanical garden in Berlin. Travelling via England, where they met Sir Joseph Banks*, they arrived at the Cape in October 1816. Dr M.H.C. Lichtenstein*, director of the Berlin museum, had given them instructions on how to prepare natural history specimens, with particular attention to birds. At the Cape Bergius, who had been at school with Mund, showed them some interesting collecting localities. Despite this, Mund made no effort to assist Bergius when the latter was ill and in financial difficulties towards the end of 1817.

Mund and Maire collected around Cape Town for some time and Mund was still (or again) there in April 1818, when he collected with L.A. von Chamisso* and L. Krebs* on Table Mountain. The two then moved eastwards and from about the middle of 1819 were in the neighbourhood of George and Knysna, for on 6 January 1820 James Bowie* wrote to Sir Joseph Banks from Knysna stating that they had been in the region for six or seven months and offering the opinion that "the European garden will benetif little or nothing from their labours" (Robinson, 1965/6, p. 91). Maire was then at Plettenberg Bay, while Mund was visiting the Little Karoo. According to Bowie they concentrated more on animal skins than on plants, but had not sent any material to Europe during the previous year. The two collectors probably proceeded as far as Uitenhage.

In March 1820 Dr Lichtenstein complained in a letter that Mund and Maire had not sent him anything of importance yet and that he had not heard from them for two years. In a letter to J.D. Hooker* at Kew Gardens, Dr George Thom* also stated in March 1824 that the two had been waisting their time enjoying themselves in Cape Town. The Prussian government recalled them, but they ignored the order and their contract was terminated in 1821. However, they sent two large consignments of specimens to Europe. One of these, consisting of two wagon loads of natural history specimens, left the Cape in March 1822.

Both Maire and Mund remained at the Cape. In April 1822 Ludwig Krebs wrote to Dr Lichtenstein that Mund was staying with a surveyor, Mr Peterson, in George. He later practiced as a land surveyor, but according to his correspondence with J.D. Hooker he was also still collecting plants during 1827 to 1829. In February 1830 he resided in Swellendam, where he was visited by C.F. Drege*. At that time he had been bedridden for several months as a result of paralysis down his left side, presumably as a result of a stroke. He died the next year, apparently in Cape Town and as a result of a lung complaint. The plant genus Mundia and several plant species were named after him. Herbarium specimens from him are housed at the Botanischer Garten und Botanischer Museum in Berlin, Kew Gardens, the Compton Herbarium in Cape Town, and several other institutions.

List of sources:
Ffolliott, P. & Liversidge, R. Ludwig Krebs, Cape naturalist to the King of Prussia, 1820-1828. Cape Town: Balkema, 1971.

Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. Botanical exploration of southern Africa. Cape Town: Balkema, 1981.

Kirby, P.R. Early professional museum collectors in South Africa. Southern African Museums Association Bulletin (SAMAB), 1942, Vol. 2(16), pp. 393-401.

Robinson, A.M.L. James Bowie, botanical collector, reports to Sir Joseph Banks. Quarterly Bulletin of the South African Library, 1965/6, Vol. 20, pp. 48-49, 89-93.

Compiled by: C. Plug