S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Bojer, Mr Wencelas (plant collection)

Born: 23 September 1795, Resanice, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).
Died: 4 June 1856, Port Louis, Mauritius.

Wencelas (Wenzel) Bojer, horticulturalist and naturalist, was the son of Simon Bojer and his wife Barbara Staub. He was born in a region that was then part of the Austrian Empire. The year of his birth is uncertain. From 1810 to 1813 he was trained as a horticulturalist on the estate of Count Caspar von Sternberg at Radnitz (now in the Czech Republic, southwest of Prague). He then worked in the Imperial Museum at Vienna, Austria, until 1820, when he was employed as a plant collector by the botanist Franz W. Sieber* and sent to Mauritius. On his way there he appears to have collected some plants at the Cape.

Bojer arrived in Mauritius in July 1821 and remained there for the rest of his life. He collected extensively on the island, but also explored the west coast of Madagascar (1822) and Zanzibar, the Comoros, and the coast of East Africa (1824), collecting many plants and minerals. From 1826 to 1832 he taught natural history at the Royal College of Mauritius, and from 1842 was curator of the Natural History Museum. In his later years he gave much attention to the island's sugar industry. Between 1830 and 1846 he published 12 papers, in French, with descriptions and illustrations of the plants he discovered on Mauritius, Madagascar and other islands, in the Annales des Sciences Naturelles... and other natural history journals. His most important publication was his Hortus mauritianus (Mauritius, 1837, 456p), an enumeration of the flowering plants of Mauritius, both indigenous and exotic, with localities of growth or cultivation. Some of the plants originally came from the Cape of Good Hope.

Bojer was elected joint vice-president of the Natural History Society of Mauritius (later the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Mauritius) when it was founded in 1829, and was re-elected to this position a year later. He described, named and illustrated a variety of new plant species at its monthly meetings, including the island's numerous varieties of mangos, and identified plants sent in by others. He also several times exhibited birds of the island. In June 1830 the emperor of Austria awarded him a gold medal and grant in recognition of his contributions to natural history. The plant genus Bojeria and many species were named after him. His original specimens are in the Naturhistoriesches Museum in Vienna, with duplicates in the Natural History Museum in London, the Botanical Museum of the University of Copenhagen, Kew Gardens near London, and other herbaria.

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

Natural History Society of the Mauritius. South African Quarterly Journal, 1831, No. 5, pp. 122-140.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org

Compiled by: C. Plug