Ludwig Karl Georg Pfeiffer

Ludwig Karl Georg Pfeiffer, also known as Louis Pfeiffer (4 July 1805 – 2 October 1877), was a German physician, botanist and conchologist.

Ludwig Karl Georg Pfeiffer

Ludwig Georg Karl Pfeiffer.jpg
Louis Pfeiffer in 1856
Born(1805-07-04)4 July 1805
Died2 October 1877(1877-10-02) (aged 72)
Alma materUniversity of Marburg, University of Göttingen
Louise Philippine von Nathusius
(m. 1811; div. 1841)
Wilhelmine Friederike Wagner
(m. 1842)
AwardsPRU Roter Adlerorden BAR.svg 4th Class, Order of the Red Eagle
Scientific career
Thesis"De Phlegmatia alba dolente quaedam, adnexa huius morbi historia" [1] (1825)
Doctoral advisorGeorg Wilhelm Franz Wenderoth
Author abbrev. (botany)Pfeiff.
Author abbrev. (zoology)L. Pfeiffer
L Pfeiffer Signature.png

Early life, Education & Medical CareerEdit

Louis Pfeiffer was born in Cassel, the eldest son of the jurist Burkhard Wilhelm Pfeiffer and his wife Louise (née Harnier).[2] Pfeiffer received his primary education in the Cassel Lyceum, where he distinguished himself academically, and by the age of fifteen was already at the top of his class.[3] In 1820, political tensions forced his father to relocate the family to Lübeck, but Louis continued to excel, reaching the top of his class there as well. At the age of sixteen, Pfeiffer entered into university to study medicine, first at the University of Göttingen, and finally at the University of Marburg, where he studied under such prominent scientists as Georg Wilhelm Franz Wenderoth and Ernst Daniel August Bartels, graduating in 1825.[1] He spent the next year in Paris and Berlin, continuing his education, and returned to Cassel in 1826, where he entered into general practice and obstetrics.[4] During his short interlude in Kassel, Pfeiffer was engaged in many artistic pursuits, particularly musical ones, and his lyric baritone was remarked on often by his brother Carl's friend (and later, his brother-in-law) Louis Spohr. The Pfeiffer brothers performed often with Spohr and his singing groups, even pairing up to perform in the opera of Pietro von Abano that Carl had adapted and Spohr composed.[5] At the outbreak of Polish rebellion of 1831 he took the position of staff surgeon at the Alexander-Hospital in Warsaw, lending support to the beleaguered Polish partisans.[6] In addition to the war-wounded he treated at the hospital, he also took a special interest in caring for the many thousands who were stricken with cholera as a result of the upheaval cased by the conflict. In September 1831, the Polish rebels were forced to capitulate to the overwhelming Russian military force, but Pfeiffer had developed such a close feeling of kinship and support for the Poles that he refused to stay on and work with the Russians.[7]

Louis's return to Cassel was overshadowed, however, by the untimely death of his elder brother Carl, who succumbed to the very same cholera that Louis worked so hard to fight in Poland. As a result of the outbreak of cholera across Prussia, Louis was kept in quarantine before he could enter Cassel, which prolonged his and his family's grief, until he was finally permitted to return home and bury his brother.[8] Upon his return home, Pfeiffer undertook his first publication, a personal recollection of his experience entitled Erfahrungen über die Cholera, gesammelt in dem Hospital zu Warschau im Sommer 1831.[9]


Louis Pfeiffer was married twice. His first marriage was to Luise Philippine (née Nathusius, 2 September 1811 - 18 September 1891), daughter of the industrialist Johann Gottlob Nathusius. They were married on May 19, 1832, and divorced in 1841.[10] This union produced three children, all of whom died young:

  • Gottlob Wilhelm Richard Paul (13 April 1834 - 9 March 1835)
  • Louise Marie Anna (5 January 1836 - 29 May 1840)
  • Johanna Caroline Marie (25 October 1837 - 1 June 1840)

Louis Pfeiffer married his second wife, Wilhelmine Friederike (née Wagner, 10 April 1823 - 26 June 1900), on October 9, 1842.[11] Their marriage lasted until Pfeiffer's death, and produced six children:

Scientific Career & Later LifeEdit

After his return to Cassel and his marriage, as well as the death of his eldest son, Pfeiffer had grown unhappy with his medical practice, finding the state of medical science at the time insufficient for his intellectual needs, and gave it up to focus on scientific studies and literary works, particularly in the fields of botany and conchology. His first scientific work, published in 1837, was a book cataloging and describing the various cactus species used in German gardens. It was well received, and as a result, he became known as "Kaktus-Pfeiffer."[6][13] In 1839, Pfeiffer was sent to Cuba with Johannes Gundlach and Eduard Otto in order to study the flora, fauna, and natural history of the West Indies, and it was this experience that piqued his interest in mollusks, conchology, and malacology.[14] he group explored other islands in the Caribbean, but the experience had to come to and end, as the extended absence from home, which coincided with the deaths of his two remaining children, caused a rift between Pfeiffer and his wife that led to their divorce almost immediately upon his return to Europe in 1841. After remarrying, Pfeiffer adopted a sedentary and academic lifestyle, focusing his energy on the specimens and data he had collected in Cuba, classifying more than 20 new genera and species of mollusks.[15] He proved to be a prolific publisher, and expanded his interest from conchology to the botany that had been his first love, writing several treatises on the nature flora of Hesse and its surrounding regions, coedited with the esteemed botanist Johann Cassebeer. Since 1836, Pfeiffer had been a member of the Cassel Society for Natural history, and from 1837 a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Regensburg Botanical Society.[1] In 1868, Pfeiffer and his colleagues Wilhelm Kobelt and Karl Ludwig Fridolin von Sandberger added a further membership with the founding of the German Malacozoological Society.[1] In 1871, Pfeiffer's already failing health was dealt a blow with the death of his youngest son Wilhelm, only 19 years old, on the battlefield in France, one of innumerable casualties of the Franco-Prussian War. In 1874, the increasingly frail Louis Pfeiffer undertook a two month journey to Catalonia, where his eldest son Hermann was in business as a merchant, and the trip appears to have been an uneventful one, despite conceding directly with the coup d'etat that toppled the First Spanish Republic.[16] In 1875, on the 50th anniversary of his doctorate, and the 70th anniversary of his birth, he was surprised by the medical faculty of the University of Marburg, who renewed his doctoral credentials. In addition to the renewal of his medical doctorate, he was also given an honorary doctorate in philosophy by the philosophy faculty, honoring a life spent in pursuit of knowledge. Pfeiffer was also awarded the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle, 4th class, in gratitude for scientific service to the nation.[17]

Ludwig Carl Georg Pfeiffer died of a lung infection on October 2, 1877.[18]

Animals described by PfeifferEdit

He named more than 20 new genera and species, some of which have become synonyms:[19]

Plants described by PfeifferEdit

  • Alziniana (Pfeiff. 1873) is a synonym for Alzatea (Ruiz & Pav. 1794)
  • Cephalocereus (Pfeiff. 1838)
  • Cuscutina (Pfeiff. 1846) is a synonym of Cuscuta (L. 1753)
  • Discocactus (Pfeiff. 1837)
  • Engelmannia (Pfeiff. 1845) is a synonym of Cuscuta (L. 1753)
  • Epilinella (Pfeiff. 1845) is a synonym of Cuscuta (L. 1753)
  • Gymnocampus (Pfeiff. 1874) is a synonym of Stylidiaceae (R. Br. 1810)
  • Hosta (Pfeiff. 1874)
  • Lepismium (Pfeiff. 1835)
  • Terminthia (Pfeiff. 1876) is a synonym for Searsia (F.A. Barkley 1942)
  • Cuscuta hassiaca (Pfeiff. 1843) is a synonym for Cuscuta suaveolens (Ser. 1840)
  • Cuscuta schkuhriana (Pfeiff. 1845) is a synonym for Cuscuta europaea (L. 1753)
  • Engelmannia migrans (Pfeiff. 1845) is a synonym for Cuscuta suaveolens (Ser. 1840)
  • Epilinella cuscutoides (Pfeiff. 1845) is a synonym for Cuscuta epilinum (Weihe 1824)
  • Verbascum ruderale (Pfeiff. 1845) is a synonym for Verbascum nigrum (L. 1753)

Plant life named after PfeifferEdit

Marine life named after PfeifferEdit

Nassarius pfeifferi, a nassa mud snail named in honor of Pfeiffer

In the course of time, 24 marine species have been named after Pfeiffer with the epithets pfeifferi, pfeifferae, pfeifferianus and pfeifferianum, many of which have become synonyms:[21]


Partial list of publications:


  1. ^ a b c d Hodvina, Sylvain. Carl Georg Ludwig (Louis) Pfeiffer, 30 Oct. 2020.
  2. ^ Pfeiffer, August Ludwig (1886). Die Familie Pfeiffer: Eine Sammlung von Lebensbildern und Stammbäumen. Kassel: Druck von Friedr. Scheel. p. 61.
  3. ^ Coan E. V., Kabat A. R. & Petit R. E. (15 February 2009). 2,400 years of malacology, 6th ed. Archived 2018-10-05 at the Wayback Machine, 830 pp. & 32 pp. [Annex of Collations]. American Malacological Society
  4. ^ Casselsches Adreß-Buch. Cassel: Döll und Schäffer, 1854.
  5. ^ Spohr, Louis (1862). Selbstbiographie. Kassel: Georg H. Wigand.
  6. ^ a b Piderit, Franz Carl Theodor. Geschichte der Haupt- und Residenzstadt Cassel, Klaunig, Cassel 1882
  7. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 62
  8. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 63
  9. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 63
  10. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 63
  11. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 64
  12. ^ Bennecke, Wilhelm, ed. (1905). Hessenland: Zeitschrift für die Kulturpflege des Bezirksverbandes Hessen. Kassel: Druck von Fredr. Scheel. p. 144.
  13. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 63
  14. ^ Ernst Wunschmann (1887), "Pfeiffer, Ludwig", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), vol. 25, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 643–646
  15. ^ Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1892). "Pfeiffer, Ludwig Georg" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  16. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 66
  17. ^ „Pfeiffer, Karl Georg Louis“, in: Hessische Biografie <> (Stand: 15.4.2021)
  18. ^ Pfeiffer 1886, p. 67
  19. ^ World Register of Marine Species : species named by Pfeiffer; accessed : 14 February 2011
  20. ^ "Pfeiffera Salm-Dyck". Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  21. ^ World Register of Marine Species : species named after Pfeiffer; accessed : 14 February 2011

External linksEdit