Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Was born in Leipzig in 1823, and died at Hamburg in 1889.
He was a worthy successor to the English botanist Lindley as the world's leading authority on Orchids, and one of the greatest Orchidologists of all time. For many years, new Orchids from all lands passed through his hands for naming and describing.
His actual contributions to Australian Orchidology were not very great, as he named only about 15 of our species. He was responsible, however, for the naming and describing of many of our showiest kinds common in cultivation, as during his most active period, Orchid collecting was at its height in tropical countries.
At the time of his death, he was Professor and Director of the Botanic Gardens at Hamburg, which position he had held since 1863. His herbarium and collection of drawings were bequeathed to the Imperial Hof Museum at Vienna, under the extraordinary conditions that the collections were to remain in sealed cases and not to be opened until 25 years after his death. In his will, the reason stated was "in order that the inevitable destruction of the costly collection resulting from the present craze for Orchids may be avoided". It seems hard to follow how the craze for the cultivation of Orchids could so affect the Professor's dried collections and drawings, especially when they were under the care of an institution like the Imperial Hof Museum, one of the leading botanical repositories of its day.
Reichenbach was brought up in a scientific atmosphere, and when a youth, assisted his father in the preparation of the latter's monumental work, lcones F/orae Germanicae et He/veticae (Illustrations of the Flora of Germany and Switzerland). He was an accomplshed artist, and issued many plates in black and white and in colour of Orchids drawn by himself. He was a keen gardener, and a constant contributor for many years to the Gardeners' Chronicle, London.
Source: White, C.T. (1940). A history of Australian Orchids. Australian Orchid Review. 5(4):108-111