Felix Rawitscher

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Felix Kurt Rawitscher (born January 4, 1890 in Frankfurt am Main , † December 18, 1957 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was a German botanist and university professor in Germany and Brazil.


The son of a judge attended the Kaiser-Friedrich-Gymnasium in Frankfurt from 1899 to 1906 and studied natural sciences at the universities of Bonn, Freiburg and Geneva under the botanists Eduard Strasburger , Friedrich Oltmanns , Robert Chodat (1865-1934), Hans Kniep and Martin Möbius , the zoologists August Weismann and Alfred Kühn , the chemist (botany), Ludwig Gattermann and the mineralogist Carl Alfred Osann .

After completing his dissertation, he moved to the University of Leipzig at Wilhelm Pfeffer's institute and in 1914 became an assistant to Oltmanns at the University of Freiburg, where he dealt intensively with algae in the years that followed.

His scientific work was interrupted by his participation in the First World War from 1914, where he was deployed first in Flanders , later in Russia and most recently on the Somme and Verdun and was seriously wounded.

Because of his Jewish descent, he was no longer able to work at the University of Freiburg after 1933 due to the law to restore the civil service and he accepted the invitation from Theodoro Ramos to take over the botanical department at the University of São Paulo , where he resigned on June 30, 1934 arrived together with Professors Ernst Ludwig Breslau, who later became director of the Zoological Institute, and Heinrich Rheinboldt, who accepted a professorship for chemistry at the University of São Paulo.

In 1952, Rawitscher fell seriously ill and traveled to Germany, where he was no longer able to conduct active research, but made contact with specialist botanists at congresses.

Rawitscher was married and had a daughter and a son, the future physicist George Rawitscher .

Scientific interest

Rawitscher's research covered large areas of botany, including mycology . He dealt with smut fungi in Freiburg and was awarded a doctorate in 1912 with a dissertation on the subject of “Sexuality of the Ustilaginaceae”. phil. PhD. In this work Rawitscher described the nucleus pairing in a Basidiomycete for the first time .

With another thesis on the Ustilaginaceae, he qualified as a professor in 1921. He then conducted research on the movement physiology of plants, especially climbing plants. In addition, work on nastism and geotropy prove his research in this area. In 1932 he published the textbook “The Geotropism of Plants” and in 1937 wrote a summarizing article in “Botanical Review” about the state of knowledge of geotropism at the time.

In 1927 he was appointed associate professor for forest science botany at the University of Freiburg, where he dealt with vegetation ecology and summarized his research results in his book "Die heimische Pflanzenwelt".

Although he first had to set up his botanical institute after his arrival in Brazil, he gradually resumed his research and in 1937 reported on the results of the studies on leaf symmetry and in 1942 and 1943 published a two-volume work on plant-ecological problems with special attention to southern Brazil, where In the first part he dealt with the influence of temperature and water, in the second part with the light, oxygen and carbon dioxide balance and the effects of wind and soil on vegetation. The results of his research were not only theoretical, but also of practical importance for agriculture and forestry in Brazil.

Around 1950 Rawitscher's scientific interest focused on ecological problems and so he was appointed chairman of the “International Committee for Tropical Ecology” by UNESCO .

Memberships and honors

  • Brazilian Academy of Sciences
  • Botanical Society of Cuba
  • Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science
  • Botanical Society of Brazil (co-founder)
  • Brazilian Geographical Society
  • German Botanical Society
  • Argentine Society of Botany
  • American Geographical Society
  • Brazilian Society of Biology
  • Honorary member of the Biological Society of Rio Grande Do Sul
  • Doctor honoris causa University of São Paulo (1955)


  • Contributions to the knowledge of the Ustilaginees. Freiburg, Univ., Diss. Habil paper (1912)
  • The native flora: in its relationship to the landscape, climate and soil. 238 S. Freiburg i. Br .: Herder (1927)
  • The geotropism of plants. 420 S. Jena Fischer (1932)
  • Experiência sôbre a simetria das folhas ", Bol. II, Fac. Fil., Ciência e Letras, Botânica 1 (1937)
  • Introdução ao estudo da Botânica, la. party. Elementos básicos de Botânica Geral ", Cia. Melhoramentos, São Paulo. 286 pp. (1940)
  • Problemas de fitoecologia como consideracoes especiais sobre o Brasil Meridional 1 a parte. Bot. Fac. Filos Cienc. Sao Paulo Letr. 28 (3) 3-111 (1942)
  • Profundidade dos solos e vegetação em campos cerrados do Brasil meridional. Ac. Brazil. Ciênc. XV (4): 267-294 (1943)
  • with Mercedes Rachid .: Troncos subterraneos de plantas brasileiras. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias 17: 261-280 (1946).
  • The water economy of the vegetation of the "campos cerrados" in southern Brazil. Journal of Ecology, 36: 237-268. (1948)


  • Ferri, Mario Guimaraes: In memoriam: Felix Rawitscher. (Portuguese and German); in: Boletim da Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras , University of São Paulo. Botanica 15: 7–13, 1 photo from 1958. [1]

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Rozman: In memoriam - George H. Rawitscher (1928-2018). University of Connecticut, March 20, 2018, accessed March 20, 2018 .