Collecting localities



Biographical data


Koenig, Johann(is) Gerhard(us)


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


Born: 1728, Lemenen, Ungernhof Govt of Courland, Baltic. Died: 1785, Jagrenathporum, Brit. India.



Studied pharmacy, biology and medicine, and for two years was a pupil of Linnaeus; in 1768 he went to India in the employ of the Danish Mission as Surgeon and Naturalist at Tranquebar;1 in 1774 he entered the service of the Nabob of Arcot, and in July 1778 was appointed Naturalist at the Madras establishment of the Hon. East India Comp., to which he was attached during the remainder of his life. He established the once famous botanical society ‘United Brotherhood’ by whom plants were examined and named, and to whom the discoveries by members at a distance were reported. One of the associates was William Roxburgh, whose botanical studies were guided by Koenig.

After visiting various parts of India and Ceylon, he started on an expedition to Siam and Malacca in 1778, returning to India in 1779. In 1784 he went to Calcutta. Though not present himself, lie took his medical degree at Copenhagen in 1773.

He is commemorated in several plant names.


Collecting localities:2

Sailing by boat from Madras (Aug. 8, 1778); via the Nicobars to Malacca (= Malay Peninsula): Selangor (Sept. 20); P. Lumut (22); harbour of Malacca (24-26); by boat to Siam (Bangkok, Inthia, etc.); back in Malacca (Febr. 16, 1779), where he made excursions in the neighbouring country till Febr. 26; Selangor (March 4-6); P. Salang minor (28); past the Nicobars (Apr. 4); P. Kopran (May 1 and 3); several islands (4-6); Tarnah (May 8-30); P. Salang major (31) ; P. Jambu (June 4-5); Tarnah (June 5-12); P. Salang major (15); P. Jambu (June 16, 18, 19, 21), P. Salang major (20); sailing (Aug. 6) to Malacca; staying Aug. 11-Dec. 14 (Sept. 25 visiting the Water Islands); on board (Dec. 15); Quedar (= Kedah) (27-30).



Distributed by Wallich (see there) with the Herb. E.I. Company.3 He bequeathed his manuscripts and plants to Sir Joseph Banks; in due course they became a part of the Brit. Mus. [BM].4 Herb. Lund [LD]: 346 specimens attributed to Koenig. C.E.C. Fischer recorded the results of his examination of these;5 he has correlated them with the descriptions of Koenig’s plants published by Retzius,6 where he quotes a number of specimens which he received from Koenig. Only some specimens from Siam and Malacca were found back.7 Other duplicates in Herb. Linn. Soc. Lond. [LINN], Herb. Vienna [W], Copenhagen [C], and Kiel [KIEL];8 Herb. State Mus. Stockholm [S] (with Herb. Alströmer, etc.); with Herb. Bergius in Herb. Roy. Acad. Sci. Stockholm [SUNIV];9 and in Acad. Sci. Leningrad [LE].



(1) J.G. Koenig: ‘De remediorum indigenorum ad morbos cuivis regioni endemicos expugnandos efficacia’ (D. Hafniae 1773).

(2) A translation of the diary, comprising the Journal and Notes from Aug. 1778, to Dec. 30, 1779, was published in the Journ. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc. no 26, 1894, p. 58-201 and no 27, 1894, p. 57-135, under the title ‘Journal of a voyage from India to Siam and Malacca in 1779’. The MS. diary in Bot. Dept Brit. Museum.

(3) cf. Wallich, Plant. Asiat. Rar. 3, 1832, postscript p. VII.

(4) The MSS are contained in 21 vols (cf. Rendle in Journ. Bot. 1933, p. 143-153, p. 175-187; he gives an Index of Subjects, with reference to volume and page of the MSS in l.c. p. 145-146). Descriptions of the plants and animals observed and collected on the above-mentioned journey occur in several of the volumes of MSS in the Brit. Mus. The ‘Definitiones plantarum novarum, Malacca 1779’, a small separately paged MS., p. 131-294 has been bound up with vol. 19. For other Malacca plants cf. vol. 9, p. 257-316, and vol. 15, p. 137-169 and 171-177.

(5) In Kew Bull. 1932, p. 49-76.

(6) Retzius: ‘Observationes Botanicae’ (Lipsiae 1779-91, 6 prts).

(7) cf. Kerr in Journ. Thail. Res. Soc. Nat. Hist. Suppl. 12, 1939, p. 3-8.

(8) cf. Lasègue, Mus. Bot. Deless., 1845, p. 331 and A. Decandolle, Phytographie, 1880, p. 424.

(9) cf. Bot. Centr. Bl. 47, 1891, p. 232.


biographical data:

Lasègue, Mus. Bot. Deless., 1845,p. 557-558; Bot. Tidskr. 12,1880/81, p. 72, and l.c. 17, 1890, p. 327 (bibliogr.); Biogr. Ind. Britten & Boulger in Journ. Bot. 36, 1898, p. 270, and in 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; Gard. Chron. 18992, p. 252; in TRIMEN, Handb. Flor. Ceylon, pt 5, 1900, p. 373; Christensen, Den Danske botanisks Historie, 1924-26, vol. I, p. 118-119, vol. 2, p. 81-84 incl. bibliogr.; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; Journ. Thail. Res. Soc. Nat. Hist. Suppl. 12, 1939, p. 3-8.