Johann Friedrich Gmelin

Last updated

J. F. Gmelin
Johann Friedrich Gmelin.jpg
Born(1748-08-08)8 August 1748
Died1 November 1804(1804-11-01) (aged 56)
Citizenship German
Alma mater University of Tübingen
Known forTextbooks on chemistry, pharmaceutical science, mineralogy, and botany
Relatives Leopold Gmelin (son)
Scientific career
Fields Naturalist, botanist, and entomologist
Institutions University of Göttingen
University of Tübingen
Thesis Latin: Irritabilitatem vegetabilium, in singulis plantarum partibus exploratam ulterioribusque experimentis confirmatam
Doctoral advisor Philipp Friedrich Gmelin
Ferdinand Christoph Oetinger
Doctoral students Georg Friedrich Hildebrandt
Friedrich Stromeyer
Carl Friedrich Kielmeyer
Wilhelm August Lampadius
Vasily Severgin
Influences Carl Linnaeus
Author abbrev. (botany) J.F.Gmel.
Author abbrev. (zoology) Gmelin

Johann Friedrich Gmelin (8 August 1748 – 1 November 1804) was a German naturalist, chemist, botanist, entomologist, herpetologist, and malacologist.



Johann Friedrich Gmelin was born as the eldest son of Philipp Friedrich Gmelin in 1748 in Tübingen. He studied medicine under his father [1] at University of Tübingen and graduated with a Master's degree in 1768, with a thesis entitled: Irritabilitatem vegetabilium, in singulis plantarum partibus exploratam ulterioribusque experimentis confirmatam, defended under the presidency of Ferdinand Christoph Oetinger, [2] whom he thanks with the words Patrono et praeceptore in aeternum pie devenerando, pro summis in medicina obtinendis honoribus.


In 1769, Gmelin became an adjunct professor of medicine at University of Tübingen. In 1773, he became professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of medicine at University of Göttingen. He was promoted to full professor of medicine and professor of chemistry, botany, and mineralogy in 1778. He died in 1804 in Göttingen.

Johann Friedrich Gmelin when young became an "apostle" of Carl Linnaeus, probably when Linnaeus was working in the Netherlands, and undertook a plant-collecting expedition to "Persia" on his behalf. [3] Later in life he published several textbooks in the fields of chemistry, pharmaceutical science, mineralogy, and botany. He also edited and published the posthumous 13th edition of Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus from 1788 to 1793. This contained descriptions and scientific names of many new species, including birds that had earlier been catalogued without a scientific name by John Latham in his A General Synopsis of Birds. Gmelin's publication is cited as the authority for over 290 bird species [4] and also a number of butterfly species. [5]


Among his students were Georg Friedrich Hildebrandt, Carl Friedrich Kielmeyer, Friedrich Stromeyer, and Wilhelm August Lampadius. He was the father of Leopold Gmelin.

He described the redfin pickerel in 1789. In the scientific field of herpetology, he described many new species of amphibians and reptiles. [6] In the field of malacology, he described and named many species of gastropods.

The plant genus Gmelina was named after Gmelin by Linnaeus.

The standard author abbreviation J.F.Gmel. is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name. [7]

The abbreviation "Gmel." is also found. [8]


Gottingen, Cheltenhampark, Grave of Johann Friedrich Gmelin Gottingen-Grave.of.Johann.Friedrich.Gmelin.JPG
Göttingen, Cheltenhampark, Grave of Johann Friedrich Gmelin

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  1. Mainz, Vera V.; Gregory S. Girolami (1998). "Genealogy Database Entry: Gmelin, Johann Friedrich" (PDF). School of Chemical Sciences Web Genealogy. University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  2. "'Irritabilitas vegetabilium in singulis plantarum partibus explorata, ulterioribusque experimentis confirmatam publice proponet' - Viewer | MDZ".
  3. Joseph Kastner, A world of naturalists, 1977, Alfred A Knopf, New York; page 35.
  4. Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "IOC World Bird List Version 5.4". International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  5. Vane-Wright, R. I., 1975. The butterflies named by J. F. Gmelin (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Entomology, 32: 17–64.pdf
  6. The Reptile Database.
  7. International Plant Names Index.  J.F.Gmel.
  8. See for instance: Audubon, John James (1831) – Ornithological Biography : Volume 1, p. 232. Online available at wikisource.