Gotthilf Muhlenberg, Botanist

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Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg

Also Known As: "Goltilf", "Gotthilf"
Birthdate: (61)
Birthplace: Trappe, Montgomery, PA, USA
Death: May 23, 1815 (61)
Lancaster, Lancaster, PA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Heinrich 'Henry' Melchior Muhlenberg and Anna Maria Muhlenberg
Husband of Mary Catherine Muhlenberg
Father of Frederick Augustus Hall Muhlenberg
Brother of Gen. Peter Muhlenberg (Cont. Army), U.S. Senator; Eve Elizabeth Shulze; Hon. Rev. Frederic Muhlenberg, First Speaker of the House; Margaret Henrietta Kunze; Mary Catherine Muhlenberg and 6 others

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About Gotthilf Muhlenberg, Botanist

A Patriot of the American Revolution for PENNSYLVANIA. DAR Ancestor # A082596

Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (17 November 1753 – 23 May 1815) was an American clergyman and botanist.


The son of Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg, he was born in Trappe, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle starting in 1763 and in 1769 at the University of Halle. He returned to Pennsylvania in September 1770 and was ordained as a Lutheran minister. He served first in Pennsylvania and then as a pastor in New Jersey. He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Princeton University.

He served as the pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1780 through 1815. In 1787, he was also made the first president of Franklin College. 1779 he retired and devoted himself to the study of botany. He is best known as a botanist. Muhlenbergia, a well-known genus of grasses, was named in his honor. His chief works are Catalogus Plantarum Americae Septentrionalis (1813) and Descriptio Uberior Graminum et Plantarum Calamariarum Americae Septentrionalis Indiginarum et Cicurum (1817).

Muhlenberg discovered and identified the bog turtle while conducting a survey of plants in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The turtle was named named Clemmys muhlenbergii, or Muhlenberg's tortoise, in 1801 in his honor. However, the species' common name was changed to bog turtle in 1956, as the practice of naming an organism's common name after individuals became less popular.

The standard author abbreviation Muhl. is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.


Muhlenberg was the brother of Frederick and Peter Muhlenberg, father of Henry A. P. Muhlenberg and Frederick Augustus Hall Muhlenberg, a physician, who was the father of Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, the first president of Muhlenberg College.

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Gotthilf Muhlenberg, Botanist's Timeline

November 17, 1753
Trappe, Montgomery, PA, USA
Age 41
May 23, 1815
Age 61
Lancaster, Lancaster, PA, USA