S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Scholl, Mr Georg (plant collection)

Born: Date not known, Weilbach, Austria.
Died: Date not known, Vienna, Austria.

Georg Scholl, Austrian gardener and plant collector, was employed at the Schönbrunn imperial gardens, Vienna. In 1785 Emperor Joseph II of Austria sent the gardener Franz Boos*, assisted by Scholl, to the Cape of Good Hope and Mauritius to collect plants and other natural history specimens. They arrived at the Cape on 1 June 1786 and during the next nine months accumulated a large collection of living and dried plants, bulbs, seeds, birds and other animals. Some of their shorter collecting trips were undertaken with Colonel R.J. Gordon* and Francis Masson*. Boos left for Mauritius in February 1787, leaving Scholl behind. After returning to the Cape in January 1788 Boos soon left for Europe with part of their combined collection, leaving Scholl at the Cape with the rest.

Scholl remained at the Cape even after the colony had been annexed by Britain in 1795, but declined a request from the British authorities to leave the imperial service in order to develop a botanic garden in Cape Town. One of the reasons for his lengthy stay appears to have been the difficulty he experienced in obtaining a passage to Europe with his large collections, including living plants. During these years he made many further collecting trips. From the species of plants collected and later described by N.J. von Jacquin it can be inferred that he (perhaps with Boos) travelled northwards to Namaqualand and eastwards to the Albany district. He sent consignments of dried bulbs and seeds to Vienna from time to time, while the living plants he collected were grown in Gordon's garden in Cape Town.

Scholl finally returned to Vienna in 1799, arriving in October that year with a huge collection that included a stuffed giraffe and a live breadfruit-tree (Encephalartos brachyphyllus). Soon after his return he was promoted to superintendent of the imperial gardens of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, a post he still held in 1806. The species Mesembryanthemum schollii was named after him.

List of sources:
Dictionary of South African biography, Vol. 4, 1981.

Garside, S. Baron Jacquin and the Schönbrunn Gardens. Journal of South African Botany, 1942, Vol. 8, pp. 199-224.

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

Compiled by: C. Plug