Andreas Franz Wilhelm Schimper

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Andreas Schimper
Andreas schimper00.jpg
Andreas Schimper
Born 12 May 1856
Strasbourg, France
Died 9 September 1901 (1901-09-10) (aged 45)
Nationality Germany
Fields botanist
Alma mater University of Strassburg

Andreas Franz Wilhelm Schimper (12 May 1856 – 9 September 1901) was a botanist and phytogeographer who made major contributions in the fields of histology, ecology and plant geography.


Schimper was born in Strasbourg, France, into a family of eminent 19th century scientists. His father Wilhelm Philippe Schimper (1808-1880) was Director of the Natural History Museum in Strassburg, Professor of Geology, and a leading bryologist. His father's cousin was Georg Wilhelm Schimper (1804-1878), prominent collector and explorer in Arabia and North Africa and the naturalist Karl Friedrich Schimper.

Andreas studied at the University of Strassburg from 1874 to 1878, acquiring a Ph.D. Thereafter he worked in Lyon and travelled to the United States, staying in Baltimore and Massachusetts. In 1886 he was appointed Extraordinary Professor in Bonn, where he worked largely on cell histology, chromatophores and starch metabolism. He had become interested in phytogeography and ecology, undertaking expeditions to the West Indies and Venezuela in 1882-1883, and to Ceylon, Malaya and Java in 1889-1890, concentrating on mangroves, epiphytes and littoral vegetation. This resulted in his account of the Rhizophoraceae in Engler & Prantl's Naturl. Pflanzenfam.He is best known for Pflanzengeographie auf Physiologischer Grundlage, published in Jena in 1898, in which he coined the terms tropical rainforest and sclerophyll.

In 1898 he accepted an invitation to join the German deep-sea expedition aboard the SS Valdivia under the leadership of Prof. Carl Chun. The trip lasted 9 months during which time they visited the Canary Islands, Cameroon, Cape Town, (where he joined Rudolf Marloth on collecting trips in the southern Cape), Kerguelen, New Amsterdam and Cocos Islands, Sumatra, the Maldives, Ceylon, the Seychelles and the Red Sea.

Returning in 1899, he took up the appointment of Professor of Botany at the University of Basel. His health had been seriously affected by malaria contracted in Cameroon and Dar-es-Salaam and he died in 1901.

Marloth wrote an account of the Cape floral region for Chun's proposed Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der deutschen Tiefsee-Expedition auf dem Dampfer Valdivia 1898-1899. Schimper contributed two chapters on "Gebiet der Hartlaubgehölze" and "Der Knysnawald".

Schimper is commemorated in numerous specific names.


  • Botanical Exploration of Southern Africa Mary Gunn & LE Codd (Balkema 1981)

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