Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg

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Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg

Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg (* 16 February 1801 in Berlin; † 24 October 1871 ibid) was a Prussian, German entomologist and forest scientist. He is the founder of forest entomology. As an addition to scientific names of insects described by him, his name can be abbreviated as Ratz.


Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg was born the son of a professor at what was then the Berlin Royal Veterinary School. He studied medicine and natural sciences in Berlin from 1821, specialising in botany, and habilitated as a Privatdozent at the university in 1828. He was in contact with Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, and in 1831 Friedrich Wilhelm Leopold Pfeil appointed him professor of natural sciences at the Höhere Forstlehranstalt Eberswalde, which had been founded the year before. In 1832 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina.

Ratzeburg taught at the Higher Forestry School in Eberswalde from 1831 onwards

Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg (4th from left) in the circle of his fellow teachers at the Eberswalde Forestry Academy (from left): Robert Hartig (with Peter Danckelmann in his arms), unknown, Ratzeburg, Bernhard Danckelmann, Adolf Remelé, Wilhelm Schneider and Wilhelm Schütze. Photograph by Adolf Remelé, ca. 1868.

There Ratzeburg also rendered great service in the establishment of the Eberswalde Forest Botanical Garden. In 1869 he retired to Berlin, where he died on 24 October 1871. Bernard Altum came to the Academy as his successor.

In December 1864 he was elected a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg.[1]

Ratzeburg’s entomological writings were significant, with which he became the founder of forest entomology. In his investigations, he already demonstrated a special eye for the parasites of forest-damaging insects. Thus he also became a pioneer of applied entomology. In addition, the versatile natural scientist published other works, above all, together with Brandt, Medical Zoology (1827-1834), which for a long time was the only standard work on this subject in the German-speaking world.


A Ratzeburg monument can be found in the herb garden of the forest botanical garden in Eberswalde.
The plant genus Ratzeburgia

of the sweet grass family (Poaceae) is also named after J.T.C. Ratzeburg.[2] The isopod Trachelipus ratzeburgii was also named after him.

Writings (selection)

Entomological writings

Compilation of forest-damaging hawkmoths and moths from Die Waldverderbniss, Second Volume (1866-68)

  • Die Forstinsekten, Berlin 1837-1844, 3 parts and supplement; 2nd ed., Vienna 1885
  • Die Waldverderber und ihre Feinde, Berlin 1841, 8th ed. by Judeich and Nitsche as Lehrbuch der mitteleuropäischen Insektenkunde, Vienna 1885 ff., with biography
  • The Ichneumons of Forest Insects, Berlin 1844-52, 3 vols
  • The after-diseases and the reproduction of the pine after the feeding of the Forleule, Berlin 1862
  • Die Waldverderbniss oder dauernder Schaden, welcher durch Insektenfraß, Schälen, Schlagen und Verbeissen an lebenden Waldbäumen entsteht, Berlin 1866-1868, 2 vols

Further publications

In addition, Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg was responsible for the continuation of the work Getreue Darstellung und Beschreibung der in der Arzneykunde gebräuchlichen Gewächse by Friedrich Gottlob Hayne.

  • 12 volumes, 1805-1856 (continued by Johann Friedrich Brandt, Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg and Johann Friedrich Klotzsch). Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf


  • Klaus-Jürgen Endtmann: Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg, in Albrecht Milnik (ed.) et al: Im Dienst am Wald – Lebenswege und Leistungen brandenburgischer Forstleute. Brandenburg biographies. Kessel Publishing House, Remagen-Oberwinter 2006, ISBN 3-935638-79-5, pp. 136-137
  • Wilhelm Heß: Ratzeburg, Julius Theodor Christian. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Vol. 27, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1888, p. 371 f.
  • Ekkehard Schwartz:Ratzeburg, Julius Theodor Christian. In: New German Biography (NDB). Vol. 21, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-428-11202-4, p. 185 f. (Digitalisat).
  • Fritz Schwerdtfeger: Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg (1801-1871). Father of forest entomology, pioneer of applied entomology. Monographs on applied entomology, issue 24, Parey, Hamburg and Berlin 1983, ISBN 3-490-10918-X

Individual references

  1. Foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1724.Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg. Russian Academy of Sciences, retrieved 19 October 2015 (English).
  2. Lotte Burkhardt: Verzeichnis eponymischer Pflanzennamen – Erweiterte Edition. Parts I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi:10.3372/epolist2018.

Web links

Commons: Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg– Album with pictures, videos and audio files