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Leonhard Rauwolf (also spelled Rauwolff) (Augsburg, June 21 in either 1535 or 1540 – September 15, 1596, Waitzen, Hungary) was a German physician, botanist and traveller.

He was a pupil of Guillaume Rondelet in 1560. In 1565 he set up a medical practice in Augsburg. In that year he married Regina Jung, daughter of the patrician, Doctor Ambrosius Jung, the Younger.

The genus Rauvolfia Plum. ex L. (Apocynaceae) was named in his honor.

In 1573 he began a three year journey to the Near East. This journey was made possible by his brother-in-law Melchior Manlich. He hoped Leonhard would come back with new plants and drugs that could be traded profitably by his firm that already traded with the Levant. But in addition to his botanical investigations, Leonhard observed and recorded his impressions of the people, customs, and sights of these Levantine trading centers as well. For example, he was the first European to describe the preparation and drinking of coffee: "A very good drink they call Chaube that is almost as black as ink and very good in illness, especially of the stomach.This they drink in the morning early in the open places before everybody, without any fear or regard, out of clay or China cups, as hot as they can, sipping it a little at a time."

Leonhard visited many countries such as Syria and Armenia. In 1573 he visited Constantinople, in 1574 he was in Baghdad and in 1575 he was in Jerusalem. Leonhard was the first botanist of the new era who had traveled this far into Asia. Circa 1576 he published the results of his botanic expeditions in his fourth herbarium "Viertes Kreutterbuech -- darein vil schoene und frembde Kreutter".

In 1582 he published his travel journal "Aigentliche Beschreibung der Raiß inn die Morgenländerin" in German. It also appeared in English and Dutch. Written from the point of view of an early Protestant pilgrim, his depictions of Jerusalem and of religious life in the Near East, both Christian and Muslim, are of particular historical value. John Gill (theologian) refers to this work a number of times in his Exposition of the Bible to show the accuracy of biblical history.

In 1588 the leaders of Augsburg reverted to Catholicism, and Rauwolf, a leader of the Protestant opposition, left. He next served as city physician in Linz for 8 years. In 1975 Linz named a street, the Rauwolfstraße, after him. In 1596 he joined the imperial troops fighting the Turks in Hungary, where he died.


  1. ^ "Author Query". International Plant Names Index.  
  • Karl H. Dannenfeldt, Leonard Rauwolf, sixteenth-century physician, botanist, and traveller. Cambridge (Mass.) 1968.
  • Ray, John. FRS.Collection of Curious Travels & Voyages in two tomes the first containing Dr. Leonhart Rauwolff's Itinerary into the eastern countries ..., the second taking in many parts of Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Arabia Felix and Patraea, Ethiopia, the Red-Sea. Published in 1693.
  • Ludovic Legré, La botanique en Provence au XVIe siècle: Léonard Rauwolff, Jacques Renaudet. Marseille 1900, p. 9-11.
  • Franz Babinger, "Leonhard Rauwolf, ein Augsburger Botaniker und Ostenreisender des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts," Archiv für die Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik, 4 (1913), 148-61.

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