Hugo von Mohl
Hugo von Mohl FFRS H
FRSE (8 April 1805 – 1 April 1872) was a German
botanist from Stuttgart. He was the first person to use the word
He was a son of the
Württemberg statesman Benjamin Ferdinand von Mohl
(1766–1845), the family being connected on both sides with the
higher class of state officials of Württemberg. While a pupil at the
gymnasium he pursued botany and mineralogy in his leisure time, till
in 1823 he entered the University of Tübingen. After graduating with
distinction in medicine he went to Munich, where he met a
distinguished circle of botanists, and found ample material for
This seems to have determined his career as a botanist, and he started
in 1828 those anatomical investigations which continued till his
death. In 1832 he was appointed professor of botany in Tübingen, a
post which he never left. Unmarried, his pleasures were in his
laboratory and library, and in perfecting optical apparatus and
microscopic preparations, for which he showed extraordinary manual
skill. He was largely a self-taught botanist from boyhood, and, little
influenced in his opinions even by his teachers, preserved always his
independence of view on scientific questions. He received many honours
during his lifetime, and was elected foreign fellow of the Royal
Society in 1868.
Cell division under
Microscope was first discovered by Hugo von Mohl
in 1835 as he worked over
Green algae Cladophora glomerata.
Mohl's writings cover a period of forty-four years; the most notable
of them were republished in 1845 in a volume entitled Vermischte
Schriften (For lists of his works see Botanische Zeitung, 1872,
p. 576, and Royal Soc. Catalogue, 1870, vol. iv.) They dealt with
a variety of subjects, but chiefly with the structure of the higher
forms, including both rough anatomy and minute histology. The word
protoplasm was his suggestion; the nucleus had already been recognized
by R. Brown and others; but Mohl showed in 1844 that the protoplasm is
the source of those movements which at that time excited so much
He recognized under the name of primordial utricle the protoplasmic
lining of the vacuolated cell, and first described the behaviour of
the protoplasm in cell division. These and other observations led to
the overthrow of Schleiden's theory of origin of cells by
free-cell-formation. His contributions to knowledge of the cell-wall
were no less remarkable; he held the view now generally adopted of
growth of cell-wall by apposition. He first explained the true nature
of pits, and showed the cellular origin of vessels and of fibrous
cells; he was, in fact, the true founder of the cell theory. Clearly
the author of such researches was the man to collect into one volume
the theory of cell-formation, and this he did in his treatise Die
vegetabilische Zelle (1851), a short work translated into English (Ray
Mohl's early investigations on the structure of palms, of cycads, and
of tree ferns permanently laid the foundation of all later knowledge
of this subject: so also his work on
Isoetes (1840). His later
anatomical work was chiefly on the stems of dicotyledons and
gymnosperms; in his observations on cork and bark he first explained
the formation and origin of different types of bark, and corrected
errors relating to lenticels. Following on his early demonstration of
the origin of stomata (1838), he wrote a classical paper on their
opening and closing (1850).
In 1843 he started the weekly Botanische Zeitung in conjunction with
Schlechtendal, which he edited jointly till his death. He was never a
great writer of comprehensive works; no textbook exists in his name,
and it would indeed appear from his withdrawal from co-operation in
Hofmeister's Handbuch that he had a distaste for such efforts. In
1850, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of
Sciences. In his latter years his productive activity fell off,
doubtless through failing health, and he died suddenly at
1 April 1872.
The standard author abbreviation Mohl is used to indicate this person
as the author when citing a botanical name.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hugo von Mohl.
^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF
EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The
Royal Society of Edinburgh. July
2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
^ Karl Mägdefrau (1994), "Mohl, Hugo von", Neue Deutsche Biographie
(NDB) (in German), 17, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot,
pp. 690–691 ; (full text online)
^ IPNI. Mohl.
Julius von Sachs
Julius von Sachs (1890). History of
Botany (1530-1860). Translated by
Henry E. F. Garnsey, revised by Isaac Bayley Balfour. Oxford,
Clarendon Press and Biodiversity Heritage Library. p. 292.
Anton de Bary (1872). "Hugo von Mohl". Botanische Zeitung. 30 (31):
Proc. Roy. Soc., xxiii. 1;
Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, xxii. 55.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Mohl, Hugo von".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
ISNI: 0000 0001 2130 4570
BNF: cb12562999d (data)