Marloth Digital Collection

A precious collection of the original botanical illustrations prepared for printing between 1912 and 1932 in Rudolf Marloth’s Flora of South Africa, has now been digitalised by the Stellenbosch University Library.

The collection of 176 plates contains the original illustrations by botanical artists such as Ethel May Dixie (1876-1973), Esther Smith (1878-1954), Florence Amy Thwaits and Peter McManus, with handwritten notes and instructions for the printers by Marloth.

Marloth (1855-1931) is regarded as one of South Africa’s greatest early botanists. He was a chemist and pharmacist who emigrated from Germany to the Cape of Good Hope in 1883. It is said that on the very first day of arriving in the Cape, he climbed Table Mountain and started collecting plants. Marloth’s association with Stellenbosch University started in 1888, when he was appointed as lecturer in Chemistry and Experimental Physics at the then Victoria College, the forerunner of Stellenbosch University today. In 1922 Stellenbosch University awarded him with an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his contribution to the understanding and knowledge of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Over the years, the Marloth family donated several of the original illustrations and plates to the Stellenbosch University Library. This collection has now been taken up in the SUNDigital Collections of the library. The Special Collections Division of the library also hosts many of his personal documents, correspondence and photographs.

Visit the digital collection at


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