Foremost students
of Malpighiaceae
Carl Sigismund Kunth

17 June 1788 – 22 March 1850

The account of the rich plant collections gathered by Humboldt and Bonpland during their epic voyage was to have been written by Humboldt's friend C. L. Willdenow, the director of the Berlin Botanical Garden. After Willdenow's untimely death, the task fell to his student Carl Kunth, who in 1813 left Berlin to join Humboldt in Paris. Most of the Humboldt & Bonpland collections are now kept at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, and some are part of the Willdenow Herbarium housed at the Botanical Garden in Berlin. In 1829 Kunth returned to Berlin as professor of botany, where he continued his taxonomic studies and published influential articles and books on diverse families.

In Paris, Kunth produced the 7-volume "Nova genera et species plantarum" (1815-1825), a landmark work in New World botany. The genera are arranged according to the "natural system," in the spirit of A. L. de Jussieu. In addition to descriptions of new taxa, Kunth's exemplary study of the Humboldt & Bonpland collections as well as his review of earlier specimens and literature resulted in clarification and amplification of many genera and species.

In his treatment of the Malpighiaceae (v. 5, 1822), Kunth described many new species and proposed four new genera (Bunchosia, Byrsonima, Gaudichaudia, Heteropterys).