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Franz Xaver Freiherr von Wulfen



Botanist, b. at Belgrade, 5 November, 1728; d. at Klagenfurt, 17 March, 1805. He was the son of the Austrian lieutenant field-marshal, Christian Friedrich von Wulfen. On completing his studies at Kaschau, Hungary, he joined the Jesuit Order in 1745, and resided as student and teacher (chiefly of mathematics and physics) at Vienna, Graz, Neusohl, Gorz, Lailbach, and (from 1764) Klagenfurt. After the suppression of the Jesuits in 1764 he remained at Klagenfurt until his death. The monument erected to him in 1838 describes him as "equally great as priest, scholar and man". From his twenty-second year he devoted himself with special zeal to botany. His unusual talents, his great exactness in observation and description, and his researches, carried on tirelessly for over fifty years, constitute him one of the leading botanists of the post-Linnaean epoch (the last third of the eighteenth century). He was a member of the academies or scientific societies of Berlin, Erlangen, Göttingen, Jena, Klagenfurt, Ratisbon, and Stockholm, and enjoyed a high repute with botanists of all lands, with whom he carried on an extensive correspondence in Latin, German, French, and other languages. The upland and valley flora of the Eastern Alps was his chief study. An excellent alpinist, he was the pioneer in disclosing and exploring the Austrian Alps. He made numerous trips to the south (on many occasions to the Adriatic Sea) and to the north as far as Holland. He was always collecting plants, phanerogamous and cryptogamous (especially lichens). He discovered many new species, of which he gave masterly descriptions in Latin and which he illustrated with excellent plates. The specific name "Wulfenii" was given to many plants in his honour, and N. Jacquin founded the genus "Wulfenia", which is still a botanical curiosity. The mineral Wulfenite (yellow lead ore) recalls his mineralogical studies and rich mineral collection. He published mineralogical, zoological, and botanical treatises in various periodicals and collections. Much of his literary work was printed only after his death, for example, he chief work "Flora, norica phanerogama" (Vienna, Lex. 8vo, 816 pp.), edited by Fenzl and Graf with a detailed biography of Wulfen as introduction, which was published only in 1858. The full list of his treatises and the rich literature dealing with him is given by Wurzbach.

WURZBACH, Biograph. Lex., LVIII (Vienna, 1889); ARNOLD in Verhandlungen der zoolog. bot. Gesellschaft, XXXII (Vienna, 1882).

Joseph H. Rompel.








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