Georg Wilhelm Schimper

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Georg Heinrich Wilhelm Schimper (19 August 1804 – October 1878) was a German botanist and naturalist born in Reichenschwand. He was a brother to naturalist Karl Friedrich Schimper.


Wilhelm Schimper studied natural history in Munich, and for a short period of time worked with geologist Louis Agassiz as a draftsman and illustrator. In 1831 he undertook a botanical collection trip to Algiers, about which, he published Reise nach Algier in den jahren 1831 und 1832.[1] A few years later he conducted botanical research in Egypt and the Sinai,[2] eventually settling in Ethiopia in 1836.

During his time spent in Ethiopia he had residences in Tigray and Semien provinces. For a period of time he was governor of Enticho, a district in Tigray, under the rule of Dejazmach Wube Haile Maryam, who had him marry Mirritsit, a woman from a prominent family in Adwa, who bore him several children. Although he was imprisoned at Magdala by Emperor Tewodros II, otherwise he suffered no serious losses during that unsettled time.

While in Ethiopia, he maintained correspondence with botanists in Europe, and made valuable contributions to natural history collections in Paris and Berlin, and was a collector for Unio Itineraria in Württemberg. During the years 1864 to 1868 he wrote an extensive report on his observations made in the course of his botanical trips through Tigray in northern Ethiopia. The manuscripts came to the British Museum in 1870 and are now kept in the British Library. They are available online in the public domain.[3]

Schimper died in Adwa.

Georg Wilhelm Schimper: In Abyssinia. Observations on Tigre[edit]

There is a detailed and extensive website dedicated to the unpublished work of Schimper, created in 2015 by the German Historical Institute London, the British Library, and Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. This project provides online access to unpublished manuscripts and maps of Schimper, one of the principle collectors of the flora of Ethiopia.

The site includes a very detailed biography, a bibliography, maps, a portrait, an index to plants cited in the manuscript and collected by Schimper, and full images of the manuscripts with OCR text, including an English translation of the original German.[3]


His name is commemorated by the botanical genera Schimpera, Schimperella and Schimperina. The species epithet schimperiana is attached to a number of plants; a few examples being Habenaria schimperiana, Pyrrosia schimperiana, Festuca schimperiana and Kalanchoe schimperiana.[4]


  1. ^ Google Books Wilhelm Schimper's Reise nach Algier in den jahren 1831 und 1832
  2. ^ ADB:Schimper, Wilhelm at Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
  3. ^ a b Schimper, Georg Wilhelm: In Abyssinia. Observations on Tigre. Ed. by Andreas Gestrich and Dorothea McEwan. Critical online edition, 2015
  4. ^ Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Kalanchoe schimperiana
  5. ^ IPNI.  G.W.Schimp. 

External links[edit]