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Wilibald Swibert Joseph Gottlieb von Besser (July 7, 1784 – October 11, 1842) was an Austrian physician and botanist by birth and Russian by adoption.
He studied medicine and botany in Austria, when he finished practicing medicine since 1809 in Kremenets, (Wolhynien) (Galizia). Then, from 1834 to 1841 in Kiev.
During the time he was practicing as a doctor in “Krzemieniec” he devoted himself to his great passion, which was botany, collecting and classifying specimens from the surroundings, which he would express in his 1809 work “Primitiae Florae Galiciae austriaceae …” .
In the year 1808 he moved as a professor of Botany at the University and director of the Botanical Garden of Kremenets in the Russian Empire. The Lyceum of Kremenets had arisen in this locality to little distance of Kiev with the purpose of decongesting the University of Kiev. Besser was in charge of increasing the extension and equipment of the Botanical Garden, which under his direction as well as several avenues of Arboretum, expanded with several greenhouses.
During the time that Besser was in Kremenets he was creating his great Herbarium, partly with specimens collected by him and others exchanges with other botanists of the time. Its herbarium included specimens from Ukraine, the Black Sea, Kiev, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Siberia, India, Africa, Australia and America, with some 60,000 specimens. From 1832 until his death he was the director of the Kiev Botanical Garden, where he bequeathed his herbarium, which is currently part of the “National Herbarium of Ukraine”.
He was a researcher and taxonomist of the Ukrainian Flora, making great contributions to the development of Botany as a science, in particular to “Florography”, and critical and systematic of vascular plants. Besser made some new descriptions referred to the “endemisms” and where the “relicticas” plants are shown as very descriptive and significant elements for a deep scientific knowledge. His study was the first attempt made to face a Botanical-Geographic analysis of the Flora Volyno-Podolia, considering itself as a scientific breakthrough.
He studied and described several species of orchids that carry their abbreviation in the specific name among them in 1826, Epipactis atrorubens.
Studied the taxonomy of the genres :
- Artemis L.
- Rosa L.
- Veronica L.
He published several taxonomy treatises. He described about 930 new species and varieties.
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