The first plates of American fungi.
Table II Merulius, Boletus, Hydnum, Thelephora [copperplate engraving]
Schweinitz, Lewis David von, 1780-1834.
Synopsis fungorum Carolinae superioris secundum observationes ...
[Ed. a D.F. Schwaegrichen ... n.p., 1822]
Image Courtesy of the Farlow Library of Cryptogamic Botany
Lewis David von Schweinitz (1780-1834) was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on 13 February 1780. He was educated by the Moravian Brethren and at eighteen he entered a theological seminary in Germany. Upon graduation he became a teacher in the Moravian academy of Niesky, Silesia and was ordained deacon in 1808. In 1812 he returned to the United States and assumed a position as a church administrator in Salem, North Carolina.
Though his clerical vocation was his life's work, Schweinitz developed a parallel career in botany and mycology. He collected fungi in the eastern states and collaborated with John Torrey, Johannes Baptista von Albertini, and Prince Maximillian II of Weid among many others. His Synopsis Fungorum Carolinae Superioris (1822) and Synopsis Fungorum in America Borealis (1832) are landmark studies in the history of mycology. In his 1832 work alone, he described over 3,000 species of fungi, more than half of which were species new to science.
Schweinitz was also an accomplished illustrator and created watercolor prints and drawings of botanical subjects that supplemented his descriptive work. Lewis David von Schweinitz died in 1834 with an unfinished work in progress.