Olof Swartz

Olof Swartz

Olof Swartz
Born September 21, 1760
Died September 19, 1818 (1818-09-20) (aged 57)
Nationality Sweden
Fields botany
Alma mater University of Uppsala
Doctoral advisor Carolus Linnaeus the Younger
Known for pteridophytes

Olof Peter Swartz (September 21, 1760 September 19, 1818) was a Swedish botanist and taxonomist. He is best known for his taxonomic work and studies into pteridophytes. He attended the University of Uppsala where he studied under Carolus Linnaeus the Younger and received his doctorate in 1781.

He first traveled in 1780, to Lapland in the company of several other botanists.[1] In 1783 he sailed for North America and the West Indies, primarily in the area of Jamaica and Hispaniola, to collect botanical specimens.[2] His botanical collection, of an impressive 6000 specimens, is now held by the Swedish Museum of Natural History, as part of the Regnellian herbarium.[3] By 1786 he left for London to prepare his collection. There he met Joseph Banks, who was impressed with his knowledge of Botany. He was offered a position with the British East India Company as a travelling physician, but turned it down, and returned to Sweden in 1787. Ten years later he proposed to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (of which he became a member in 1789) the idea of a permanent travel grant, based on the methods he had seen employed by Banks within the British Empire. In 1791 he became Professor Bergianus at the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm.[4] He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1805.[5]

Dr. Olof Swartz: drawing of Malaxis umbelliflora

Swartz was the first specialist of orchid taxonomy, who published a critical review of orchid literature and classified the 25 genera that he recognized through his own work. He was also the first to realize that most orchids have one stamen, while slipper orchids have two.[6]

The genus Swartzia (Caesalpiniaceae, Fabaceae or Leguminosae) was named in his honor by Schreber.



  1. Olof Swartz. Retrieved on June 27, 2006.
  2. "Swartz, Olof." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.
  3. Swedish Museum of Natural History; The Regnellian herbarium. Retrieved on June 27, 2006.
  4. Bravo, Michael; Sorlin, Sverker (May 1, 2002). Narrating the Arctic. Watson Pub Intl. ISBN 0-88135-385-X. Page 130.
  5. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  6. Pridgeon, Alec M, et al. (December 16, 1999). Genera Orchidacearum. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850513-2. Page 3.
  7. IPNI.  Sw.

Digitised versions of works by Swartz

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