Adolpho Ducke

Botanist, Academic

1876 – 1959


Who was Adolpho Ducke?

Adolpho Ducke, was a notable entomologist, botanist and ethnographer specializing in Amazonia. According to family records, he was an ethnic German with roots in Trieste Austro-Hungary. German was his first language; that is, the German commonly spoken in Trieste in the 19th century. Most of his books were written in German.

Recruited by Emílio Goeldi, Ducke began his work in Amazônia as an entomologist for the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, but due to the influence of botanists Jacques Hüber and Paul Le Cointe, he switched to botany. He traveled throughout Amazônia to study the complicated tree system of the rainforest. He published 180 articles and monographs, primarily on the Leguminosae, and he described 900 species and 50 new genera. In 1918, while continuing his work for the Paraense Museum, he collaborated with the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden and the Instituto Agronômico do Norte. In the first half of the 20th century, he became one of the most respected authorities on the Amazonian flora. In 1954, his concerns about the future of the Amazonian forest led him to make a suggestion to the National Institute of Amazonian Research for the creation of a nature reserve. He died in Fortaleza in 1959 before witnessing the fulfillment of his dream: In 1963, the Reserva Florestal Adolpho Ducke was established and named in his honour. Also named in his honour is a botanical garden east of Manaus,and the phytochemical research laboratory at the museum in Belém.

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Oct 19, 1876
  • Brazil
Jan 5, 1959

on July 23, 2013


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