Johannes Elias Teijsmann

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Johannes Elias Teijsmann

Johannes Elias Teijsmann (June 1, 1808—June 22, 1882) was a biologist botanist and plant collector. He was born in Arnhem, Netherlands. His surname is sometimes spelled Teysmann, although he himself spelled it Teijsmann.

Teijsmann travelled to Java in 1830 as gardener of Governor General Johannes van den Bosch. He was appointed the hortulanus of the Buitenzorg Botanic Gardens the following year, a post he held until 1869. He took part in important botanical expeditions throughout maritime Southeast Asia. Teijsmann was also part of a Dutch fact-finding mission to Siam (presently Thailand).

He is notable for the introduction of the cassava (from the island of Bantam, near Sumatra) as a food source to alleviate famines in the then Dutch East Indies, and for his efforts, together with his collaborator Hasskarl, with regard to the cultivation of the cinchona tree (from Peru) for the production of quinine to treat malaria (ca. 1852/1854). For his bitter controversy with J.E. de Vrij and Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn about the relative merits of the various species of Cinchona (C. calisaya versus C. pahudiana) see the successive issues (from 1862) of Natuurkundig tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indië. His personal interest in palm trees led him to introduce to Indonesia the oil palm (from West Africa) which remains a significant export earner for the country’s economy.

Teijsmann died in 1882 in Buitenzorg (now Bogor). In recognition of his service to "'s Lands Plantentuin", a monument was erected for him by his friends following his death in what is now called the Medan Teijsmann in the Garden (Kebun Raya Bogor). His correspondence was voluminous and much of it is still extant and awaits an editor.

The genus Teysmannia (since the work of Harold Emery Moore more correctly called Johannesteijsmannia) is named in his honour, together with several plant species. He was also commemorated in the periodical Teysmannia, which was published between 1890 and 1922. In 1925, it was incorporated into De Indische Culturen-Teysmannia.