How Did The Gerbera Get It’s Name?

On September 12, 2011, in Silk Gerber Daisies, by Lesley

Image via Wikipedia

The Gerber Daisy is said to have been given its name in 1737 by Jan Fredrik Govonius the Dutch botanist in honor of the German doctor Traugott Gerber, but who was he and what do we know of him? Very little I’m afraid.

He was born into the family of a Lutheran minister on what is now the border of Poland, where he spent his childhood and youth. Not a lot of facts are known about his life but we do know that he studied medicine at the University of Leipzig and upon receiving his doctorate he became ‘the first private physician’ to the Czarina of Russia who when she discovered his interest in botany, commissioned him to create a medical garden in Moscow and to educate the medical students in herbology. Between 1739 and 1741 he lead expeditions to look for medicinal plants and herbs in Russia and went to Finland as a doctor to the Russian army. He died at the age of 33 in 1743.

No pictures of him exist and it is well known that all of the documents and dissertations of his trips, are written in his own hand and are still in archives in Russia. Perhaps when the contents of these documents are revealed more may be known about him.

It is still a mystery today just why Jan Fredrik Grovonius named a South African plant species after Gerber.


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