Ferdinand von Mueller

Ferdinand von Mueller (1825 – 1896) physician, geographer, botanist
From 1857 to 1873, Ferdinand von Mueller was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. He corresponded with Charles Darwin, whom he venerated, but when Darwin published Origin of Species Mueller could not reconcile evolution with his devout Lutheran religious views. Mueller was decorated by many foreign countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal.

Ferdinand von Mueller was appointed Government Botanist for Victoria by Governor Charles La Trobe in 1853 (a post that was newly created for him), and examined its flora, and especially the Alpine vegetation of Australia, which was previously unknown. He explored the Buffalo Ranges, then went to the upper reaches of the Goulburn River and across Gippsland to the coast. The neighbourhoods of Port Albert and Wilsons Promontory were explored, and the journey of some 1,500 miles (2,400 km) was completed along the coast to Melbourne.

In the same year, he established the National Herbarium of Victoria, which can still be visited today. It has many plants from Australia and abroad, many of which were collected by Mueller. Also, his large private library in Melbourne can still be visited.

Then, as phytographic naturalist, he joined the expedition sent out under Augustus Gregory by the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for the Colonies. He explored the Victoria River and other portions of North Australia, was one of the four who reached Termination Lake in 1856, and accompanied Gregory’s expedition overland to Moreton Bay. Mueller, for his part, found nearly 800 species new to Australia. He published in this year his Definitions of Rare or Hitherto Undescribed Australian Plants.

From 1854 to 1872, Mueller was a member of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science, which later became the Philosophical Institute of Victoria. He was President of the Philosophical Institute in 1859 when it received a Royal Charter and became the Royal Society of Victoria. He was an active member of the Society’s “Exploration Committee” which established the Burke and Wills expedition of 1860. Mueller promoted the exploration of Australia, and as one of only two members of the Exploration Committee with any experience of exploration, he made several speeches to the Society on the topic. He did not favour the selection of Burke as leader and, unfortunately, had little say in the establishment, provisioning and composition of the exploration party due to factionalism in the committee.

From 1857 to 1873, he was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, and not only introduced many plants into Victoria, but made the excellent qualities of the blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) known all over the world, and succeeded in introducing it into the south of Europe, North and South Africa, California, and the extratropical portions of South America.

For these services, Mueller was decorated by many foreign countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal. He was appointed Fellow of the Royal Society in 1861, and knighted as KCMG in 1879.

Complete article : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_von_Mueller

Ferdinand von Mueller started corresponding with other botanists, Sir William Hooker at Kew and Asa Gray at Harvard. He also corresponded with Charles Darwin, whom he venerated, but when Darwin published Origin of Species Mueller could not reconcile evolution with his devout Lutheran religious views. A prolific author, he soon became a botanist of international repute, reaping a great harvest of titles, decorations and honorary degrees – of which he was thought to be inordinately fond. In 1860 he became a member of Royal Society of London at the unusually young age of 36, and won its Gold Medal in 1888. He was supported by Lois Pasteur for election to the Institute de France. He was created a hereditary baron by the king of Wrttemberg in 1871, and he received a British knighthood in 1879. He wrote 2,000 letters per year and exchanged thousands of seeds and plants with other botanists. His distribution of Eucalypt seeds modified environments and created new micro-climates in every continent of the world. Said to be the father of forestry in Australia, he planted 30,000 trees and was the first to plant Marram Grass to anchor coastal sand dunes.

Complete article : http://www.pacsoa.org.au/places/People/mueller.html

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