Collecting localities


Biographical data


Surbeck, Heinrich


(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 5: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement I)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 8: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement II)


Born: 1876, Hallau, Schaffhausen Canton, Switzerland.

Died: Nov. 1945, murdered at Pematang Siantar, Sumatra.



Chemical engineer, educated at the Technical College, Zürich (1895-1900); subsequently he got lung tuberculosis, took a cure in the Swiss mountains, and in 1904 went to Sumatra (Indragiri) where he recovered completely; in about 1906 he founded the first gambir factory in Asahan; at Pematang Siantar (Sum. East Coast) he had a power-station, an ice and lemonade factory (built in 1916) and a hotel; at Padangsidimpoean (Tapanoeli) he also owned industrial property.

According to his daughter, Mrs L. Otto-Surbeck, Pematang Siantar, he came to Sumatra in 1902. During the Japanese occupation he started making water-colour drawings of insects and plants, in total they consist of 400 sheets.


Collecting localities:

Sumatra East Coast. 1914. Sg. Taroean and Kasoengai bridge (June 5); Asahan (Aug. 30); Ayer Sakor, Asahan (Nov. 11); Bangkalak, slope Bangkalak, and Soemporoo (16); Ayer Sakor (25), Negaga marsh (Paja) (29), Simpang Toba (30).-1915. Oelak Boetar (Jan. 31); Asahan ice factory on Asahan River (Febr. 3, Apr. 28).-1917. Sg. Loda Ravine at the junction with Sg. Lodibo (Jan. 29); Kabandjahe (Toba Plateau) (Jan. 30, Febr. 18); Asahan (Apr. 16, May 15); G. Malajoe (Asahan) (May 16, June 18); Djamboedolok, Batoerangin, 1000 m alt. (June 24); summit of Mt Ria Ria, Toba, 1700 m alt. (28); ridge of Mt Soeroengan, 2000 m alt. (July 1); Aek Korsek, pass to Pagar Batoe, 800-900 m alt. (2).-1941. Some days on the plateau of Tele (NW. Tapanoeli. W. Sumatra) at an altitude of c. 1850 m (beginning of the year), and in the neighbourhood of Sidikalang in the same residency (Apr. 5)-N. Sumatra (Sept.).



He offered his collections 1914-17, comprising about 400 nos (of which c. 200 ferns), to the Technical College at Zürich, but the offer was refused by Prof. Schröter, as the latter pretended that all species were already represented in the herbarium by his own collections. Subsequently Surbeck had the collection for several years at Schaffhausen (Switzerland), but previous to 1940 offered it to teacher E. Oberholzer at Samstagern (Canton Zürich). The latter kept a set of the ferns for himself, and the remaining part came, after all, the Herb. Techn. Coll. Zürich [ZT], where it will be inserted. Prof. Dr Walo Koch promised duplicate sets to Leiden [L] and Buitenzorg [BO]. 1941 collection also in E.T.H. (Techn. Coll.) Zürich [ZT].

The material collected in 1941 is probably lost.


biographical data:

Du (Swiss periodical), Juni 1953 (n.v.).