Olof Peter Swartz (21 September 1760 – 19 September 1818) was a Swedish botanist and taxonomist. He is best known for his taxonomic work and studies into pteridophytes.

Olof Swartz
Olof Peter Swartz00.jpg
Olof Swartz
Born21 September 1760
Died19 September 1818 (1818-09-20) (aged 57)
Alma materUniversity of Uppsala
Known forpteridophytes
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorCarolus Linnaeus the Younger
Author abbrev. (botany)Sw.


Olof Swartz attended the University of Uppsala where he studied under Carl Linnaeus the Younger (1741–1783) and received his doctorate in 1781. He first traveled in 1780 to Lapland in the company of several other botanists.[1][2]

In 1783 he sailed for North America and the West Indies, primarily in the area of Jamaica and Hispaniola, to collect botanical specimens.[3] His botanical collection, of an impressive 6000 specimens, is now held by the Swedish Museum of Natural History, as part of the Regnellian herbarium.[4][5]

Dr. Olof Swartz: drawing of Malaxis umbelliflora

By 1786 he left for London to prepare his collection. There he met naturalist Joseph Banks (1743–1820), who was impressed with his knowledge of Botany. He was offered a position with the British East India Company as a travelling physician, but turned it down, and returned to Sweden in 1787. Ten years later he proposed to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (of which he became a member in 1789) the idea of a permanent travel grant, based on the methods he had seen employed by Joseph Banks within the British Empire. In 1791 he became Professor Bergianus at the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm.[6] He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1805.[7][8] He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1806.[9]

Swartz was the first specialist of orchid taxonomy, who published a critical review of orchid literature and classified the 25 genera that he recognized through his work. He was also the first to realize that most orchids have one stamen, while slipper orchids have two.[10]

The genus Swartzia (Caesalpiniaceae, Fabaceae or Leguminosae) was named in his honour by Schreber. Then Schwartzia, which is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Marcgraviaceae was named in 1829 by Vell.[11]

Selected worksEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Olof Swartz Archived 2004-12-25 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on June 27, 2006.
  2. ^ Louise Petrusson. "Carl Linnaeus fil". Department of Phanerogamic Botany Swedish Museum of Natural History. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  3. ^ "Swartz, Olof" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 26 (11th ed.). 1911.
  4. ^ Swedish Museum of Natural History; The Regnellian herbarium Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on June 27, 2006.
  5. ^ "Regnellian herbarium". Swedish Museum of Natural History. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Bravo, Michael; Sorlin, Sverker (May 1, 2002). Narrating the Arctic. Watson Pub Intl. ISBN 0-88135-385-X. Page 130.
  7. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Banks, Sir Joseph, Bart." . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 03 (11th ed.). 1911.
  9. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  10. ^ Pridgeon, Alec M, et al. (December 16, 1999). Genera Orchidacearum. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850513-2. Page 3.
  11. ^ Burkhardt, Lotte (2022). Eine Enzyklopädie zu eponymischen Pflanzennamen [Encyclopedia of eponymic plant names] (pdf) (in German). Berlin: Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, Freie Universität Berlin. doi:10.3372/epolist2022. ISBN 978-3-946292-41-8. S2CID 246307410. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  12. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Sw.

Further readingEdit

  • Kurt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel (1823) Memoir of the life and writings of Olaus Swartz (Edinburgh: A. Constable)


External linksEdit

Digitised versions of works by Swartz

  • BDH Flora Indiae Occidentalis :aucta atque illustrata sive descriptiones plantarum in prodromo recensitarum
  • BDH Lichenes Americani : quos partim in Flora Indiae Occidentalis descripsit, partim e regionibus diversis Americae obtinuit Illustrations by Jacob Sturm
  • BDHNova genera & species plantarum; seu, Prodromus descriptionum vegetabilium, maximam partem incognitorum quae sub itinere in Indiam Occidentalem annis 1783-87
  • BDH Observationes botanicae :quibus plantae Indiae Occidentalis aliaeque Systematis vegetabilium ed. XIV illustrantur earumque characteres passim emendantur
  • BDH Svensk botanik