Dietrich von Denffer

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Dietrich von Denffer at the age of 90

Dietrich Albertus Enno Alexander von Denffer (born February 8, 1914 in Rostock , † December 22, 2007 in Gießen ) was a German botanist .

From 1958 to 1990 he was one of the main authors of the international standard workTextbook of Botany for Universities” (“ Strasburger ”). He was a university professor at the Georg-August University in Göttingen and held the chair for botany at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen . In Giessen he was also multiple dean and director of the botanical garden . Denffer was instrumental in the nationwide introduction of the diploma - exam for biologists in postwar Germany. He was one of the editors of the contributions to the biology of plants . In 1954 he filmed the multiple tendril movement .

life and work

Magdalenenlust manor, Dietrich von Denffer's parental home

Dietrich came from the originally German-Baltic noble family Denffer . In addition to his scientific work, he played a decisive role in the development of the Justus Liebig University in Giessen and in the reconstruction of the Upper Hessian Society for Natural Science and Medicine after the Second World War .

As director of the Botanical Institute and the Botanical Garden, the member of a Kurland-Russian baron family in Gießen took over an inheritance that had been badly damaged by the devastating war damage. He carried out their extensive modernization and expansion. According to his plans, the complete new building of the Botanical Institute took place. He gave the botanical garden a new face by redesigning the systematic department and building new greenhouses , as well as a historical department and a medicinal and poisonous plants department. He made the oldest botanical garden in Germany, which is still in its original location, more accessible to the general public by carrying out beautifying structural measures and holding public serenade evenings in the open air .

Denffer became dean of the natural science faculty in Giessen in 1955 . He planned and achieved its expansion as a natural science and philosophy faculty on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the university and the associated restoration as a full university . He then became the first dean of the expanded faculty. In 1972 he was elected the first dean of the newly established department of biology .

From 1958 Denffer was one of the main authors of the internationally leading scientific standard work "Textbook of Botany for Universities" ("Strasburger"), which was distributed worldwide and has been translated into several languages; he wrote the introduction and the chapter on morphology . He was given responsibility for the nationwide introduction of the diploma examination for biologists in post-war Germany. From 1970 to 1985 he was one of the editors of the articles on the biology of plants , he chaired the Upper Hessian Society for Natural and Medicinal Science for several years and was a liaison professor for the promotion of gifted children at the “ German National Academic Foundation ” for 20 years .


Dietrich von Denffer is a great-grandson of August von Denffer . His wife Brunhilde († 1992) was the daughter of the Göttingen pianist and choir director Heinrich Henke. The marriage had three children: Angela (* October 5, 1941), Enno (* December 4, 1947) and Christiane (* November 13, 1948).

Works (selection)

  • Textbook of botany for universities , Fischer, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-437-20295-2 (founded by Eduard Strasburger, Jena 1896)
  • Plant hostility - plant friendship (parasitism and symbiosis) Gießen 1954
  • Aging from the perspective of the botanist , Göttingen 1966
  • Tendril movements , Institute for Scientific Film (IWF), Göttingen 1954
    • 1. - Basic phenomena , (black and white film, 16 mm)
    • 2. - Stimulus location, stimulus age and reaction types (black and white film, 16 mm)


  • Ulrich G. Moltmann (Red.): 100 years of Strasburger's textbook on botany . Stuttgart u. a .: G. Fischer, 1994. ISBN 3-437-30768-1 .
  • Hildegard Finke: 100 years of Strasburger's textbook on botany for universities 1894–1994 . Spectrum Academic Publishing House, Heidelberg 1994. ISBN 3-8274-0850-4 .

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