S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Preiss, Ludwig (plant collection, zoological collection)

Born: 21 November 1811, Herzberg am Harz, Germany.
Died: 21 May 1883, Herzberg am Harz, Germany.

J.A. Ludwig Preiss, German naturalist, graduated as Doctor of Philosophy (Phil Dr). His thesis dealt with bile and was published as Dissertatio inauguralis medico-practica, sistens tractatum de aqua bilinensi (Prague, 1841, 70p). In 1843 he was a private scholar in Hamburg and became a member of the Academia Caesarea Leopoldino-Carolina Naturae Curiosorum at Halle. He settled at Herzberg am Harz in 1844.

From 1838 to 1841 Preiss undertook a journey to Australia and the Middle East to collect plants and other natural history specimens. He touched at the Cape in October 1838 and collected in the neighbourhood of Cape Town, including Table Mountain and the Cape Flats, and as far north as the Groot Winterhoekberge, north of Tulbagh. During his three years of travel he collected some 200 000 plants (including duplicates), 200 species of insects, 181 species of birds, and 60 to 80 different reptiles, almost all in Australia.

The plants he collected in Western Australia (including some islands near Perth) were described by Johann G.C. Lehmann, with several collaborators, in Plantae Preissianae... (2 vols, Hamburg, 1844-1848). The authors described many species as new, and the work was an important contribution to the botany of Western Australia. One of the collaborators was Otto W. Sonder*, who appears to have had a nearly complete set of Preiss's plants. Part of Sonder's herbarium, including most of the Cape plants, was purchased by the Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Stockholm; another part went to the Victoria National Herbarium, Melbourne. The species Eucalyptus preissiana and other Australian plants were named after Preiss.

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

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Stearn, W.T. Lehmann's "Plantae Preissianae". Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, 1936-1943, Vol. 1, pp. 203-205.

Compiled by: C. Plug