Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer is known as the "father of Texas botany". While he was not the first botanist to collect plants for scientific examination in Texas, his collections are credited with helping botanists around the world to understand the nature, extent, and significance of the diversity of plants in the state.
In partnership with Asa Gray of Harvard University, Lindheimer spent eight years collecting Texas plants to distribute to a list of paying subscribers – including places like the British Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and the Smithsonian Institution. Today, no fewer than 362 plant names are based, at least in part, on Lindheimer collections, and 65 plants have been named in his honour.
Lindheimer was a founding settler of New Braunfels, raising his family on the banks of the Comal River while he continued to collect and ship plant specimens. He was "elected" as the first editor of the Neu-Braunfelser Zeitung (still published today as the Herald-Zeitung), and served from 1852 to 1872. He wrote a number of articles for the Zeitung on topics ranging from plants, climate, and agriculture to Texas Indian affairs, optimism, and teaching schoolchildren.
In the last year of Lindheimer's life, one of his students worked with him to collect an assortment of his essays and articles from the Zeitung. In 1879, the collection was published as Aufsätze und Abhandlungen von Ferdinand Lindheimer in Texas (Essays and Articles of Ferdinand Lindheimer in Texas).
John E. Williams now offers the first English translation of these essays, which provides valuable insight into the natural and cultural history of Texas.
John E. Williams is a former biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and former attorney for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. He resides in Manor, Texas