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Catharina Helena Dörrien facts for kids

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Catharina Helena Dörrien
Catharina Helena Dörrien.jpg
Born 1 March 1717
Died 8 June 1795
Scientific career
Fields Botany

Catharina Helena Dörrien (1 March 1717, in Hildesheim – 8 June 1795, in Dillenburg) was a German botanist and teacher, recognized as "the most celebrated German-speaking female naturalist of the period". She was a talented artist who painted over 1,400 watercolor botanical illustrations, and published a catalogue of plants of the Principality of Orange-Nassau in 1777. She was also the first woman to name a fungal taxon.

Early life

Dörrien was the daughter of Pastor Johann Jonas Dörrien and Lucia Catharina (née Schrader), and was the second of their four children. The pastor educated his children at home, including in botany. Dörrien took over the running of the family home after her mother died in 1733, but her father died four years later.


Dörrien left Hildesheim and started working as a governess in Dillenburg for her childhood friend Sophie Anna Blandina (née von Alers) in 1746, when she was 30. Dörrien initially painted for pleasure, but was encouraged by Sophie's husband, Anton Ulrich von Erath, to create an illustrated flora of the principality of Orange-Nassau. Dörrien produced the catalogue in 1777, being one of the first Germans to use the Linnean system of classification. In the catalogue she introduced two varieties, becoming the first woman to name a fungal taxon.


Dörrien was an honorary member of numerous societies: honorary member of the Societatis Botanicae Florentinae (Botanical Society of Florence, from 1766), the Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin (Berlin Society of Friends of Nature, from 1776), the first female member of the Berlinischen Gesellschaft (Berlin Society, from 1776) and the Botanischen Gesellschaft zu Regensburg (Regensburg Botanical Society, from 1790).

Doerriena, a genus of chickweeds is named after Dörrien.

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