Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck

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Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck in 1855

Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck (February 14, 1776 – March 16, 1858) was a prolific German botanist, physician, zoologist, and natural philosopher. He was a contemporary of Goethe and was born within the lifetime of Linnaeus. He described approximately 7,000 plant species (almost as many as Linnaeus himself). His last official act as president of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina was to admit Charles Darwin as a member. He was the author of numerous monographs on botany and zoology. His best-known works deal with fungi.


Nees von Esenbeck was born in Schloss Reichenberg near Reichelsheim (Odenwald). He showed an early interest in science and, after receiving his first education at Darmstadt, he went on to Jena, obtaining his degree in medicine in 1800. He practiced as a physician for Francis I (Erbach-Erbach), but he had developed a great interest in botany during his university studies, and eventually he returned to academia. In 1816 he joined the Leopoldina Academy, which was one of the most prestigious institutions in Europe. In 1817 he was appointed professor of botany in Erlangen. Three years later he became professor of natural history in Bonn, where he established the Botanische Gärten der Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, and in 1831 he was appointed to the chair of botany at the university of Breslau. In 1818 he was elected president of the Leopoldina Academy. He continued as president of the academy for the rest of his life. In botany he achieved notoriety for, among other things, contributions to the Acanthaceae and Lauraceae families. In 1848 he became politically active. In 1851 due to conflicts with the government he was deprived of his professorship and pension at Breslau. Seven years later Nees von Esenbeck died essentially penniless in Breslau. He was an older brother to botanist Theodor Friedrich Ludwig Nees von Esenbeck (1787-1837).



  1. IPNI.  Nees.

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Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck
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