Johann Christian Buxbaum

Physician, botanist
Born: Merseburg, Germany - 5 October 1693
Died: Wermsdorf, Saxony - 7 July 1730

Buxbaum was born in Merseburg, the son of a well-known doctor and studied medicine at the Universities of Leipzig, Wittenberg, Jena, and Leyden. However, he never completed his medical education, turning instead to the study of botany in Halle, where he published in first treatise in 1721.

In the same year, Peter the Great invited Buxbaum to come to St. Petersburg to manage the Apothecary's Garden of the Medical Collegium on Aptekarsky (Apothecary) Island - what is now the Botanical Garden. He began to examine and catalogue the flora of St. Petersburg and its surroundings. He was among the found members of the St Petersburg Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Professor at the Academic Gymnasium in 1721.

Because of the fact that he was not only a botanist but a physician as well, Buxbaum was called upon to accompany Alexander Rumyantsev to Constantinople in 1724 as part of a Russian diplomatic mission to Turkey. He used this opportunity to visit Greece as well. On his way back from Constantinople, he travelled through Asia Minor, visiting Baku and Derbent. He was charged on his journey to collect medicinal plants, as well as zoological and geological materials. He also collected on his own initiative antique objects and coins for the Kunstkammer.

During his travels, Buxbaum contracted tuberculosis, and was recalled to St. Petersburg, arriving back in the city in 1727. As his health worsened, he retired from his post at the Academy of Sciences in 1729 and returned to Saxony, where he died in 1730. In total, he described around 500 species of plant, and there are four species named in his honour.