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Karl Nikolas Fraas (8 September 1810 – 9 November 1875), German botanist and agriculturist, was born at Rattelsdorf, near Bamberg. After receiving his preliminary education at the gymnasium of Bamberg, he in 1830 entered the University of Münich, where he took his doctor's degree in 1834. Having devoted great attention to the study of botany, he went to Athens in 1835 as inspector of the court garden; and in April 1836 he became professor of botany at the university. In 1842 he returned to Germany and became teacher at the central agricultural school at Schleißheim. In 1847 he was appointed professor of agriculture at Munich, and in 1851 director of the central veterinary college. For many years he was secretary of the Agricultural Society of Bavaria, but resigned in 1861. He died at his estate of Neufreimann, near Munich.


His principal works are:

  • Synopsis florae dassicae (Munich, 1845);
  • Klima und Pflanzenwelt in der Zeit (Landsh., 1847);
  • Histor. encyklopad. Gründriss der Land-wirthschaftslehre (Stuttgart, 1848);
  • Geschichte der Landwirthschaft (Prague, 1851);
  • Die Schule des Landbaues (Munich, 1852);
  • Baierns Rinderrassen (Munich, 1853);
  • Die kunstliche Fischerzeugung (Munich, 1854);
  • Die Nalur der Landwirthschaft (Munich, 1857);
  • Buch der Natur fur Landwirthe (Munich, 1860);
  • Die Ackerbaukrisen und ihre Heilmittel (Munich, 1866);
  • Das Wurzelleben der Cultur-pflanzen (Berlin, 1872); and
  • Geschichte der Landbau und Forstwissen-schaft seit dem 16 Jahrh. (Munich, 1865).

He also founded and edited a weekly agricultural paper, the Schranne.

Karl Marx's references to Fraas

Karl Marx took an interest in Fraas's work, writing to Engels on 25 March 1868 that he found Fraas's 1847 work Climate and the Vegetable World throughout the Ages, a History of Both "very interesting, especially as proving that climate and flora have changed in historic times". [1]

Marx calls Fraas "a Darwinist before Darwin" and goes on to say:

This man is both a thoroughly learned philologist (he has written books in Greek) and a chemist, agricultural expert, etc. The whole conclusion is that cultivation when it progresses in a primitive way and is not consciously controlled (as a bourgeois of course he does not arrive at this), leaves deserts behind it, Persia, Mesopotamia, etc., Greece. Here again another unconscious socialist tendency!

These references to Fraas are of interest to recent scholars of Marx's ecological ideas.[2]


  1. ^ Marx and Engels Collected Works, reproduced at
  2. ^ Peter Dickens, "Marx and the Metabolism between Humanity and Nature", Alethia 3 (2) (November 2000): 40-45.(review article of books by Paul Burkett and John Bellamy Foster).


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