(24 May 1803 – 1866)

Aleksandr Davidovich Nordman was born in Finland on 24 May 1803. His father, David Anton von Nordman, was a colonel and commandant of Fort Yekaterinoslavl'. His mother was Mariya Yekaterina Gesling. He was an elder son and, from childhood, had a damaged kneecap. Thanks to one of his secondary school teachers being a botanist and another an entomologist, he became a naturalist.

At the age of 29, he published the first volume of his dissertation, in which he described 70 species of helminths parasitizing man and other vertebrates. On 22 January 1832 he was appointed as a teacher in the Chair of Natural History at Richellie Lyceum. During his first and second years of study, he took lectures on plant morphology, plant physiology and taxonomy. In 1833, he travelled across Crimea and its mountain meadows (known as yailas). The same year he married his cousin Anna Helen Blunk.

Odesa Botanic Garden was founded in 1820 on the initiative of Governor-General Alexander Fedorovich Langeron, a renowned expert in Sharlem Dessementom rose' culture. In 1833 he handed the post of director to the silviculturist, F. Yenits. Then, in 1834, the post was taken up Nordman. Initially the Botanic Garden supplied the town with saplings of fruit trees and other ornamental plants. Under Nordman, a Central School of Gardening with a Department of Sericulture was organized. The Garden occupied an area of 195.25 acres (or in the old tsarist period measurements, 71 dessiatinas, 1 dessiatina being approximately 2.75 acres) with an additional 4,000 square m (or in the old measurements, 1704 square sazhens, 1 sazhen being 2.13 m). Furthermore, it measured about 4,000' from east to west (or in old measurements, 1 verst [equal to 3500'] and 110 sazhens). In the Garden, Nordman created a botanical parterre which included 500 species of perennial plants from southern Russia in systematic order, and rare plants which he brought from Bessarabia (now the Republic of Moldova), Crimea and the Caucasus.

He routinely exchanged with the botanical institutions in St Petersburg, Berlin, Paris and Vienna, and during his directorship different institutions and persons were supplied with over 236,000 leaves. From 1841 onwards, regular meteorological observations were carried out (measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, and precipitation). Under Nordman the Botanic Garden was moved into the care of the Ministerial Department for Principalities, and was annually reviewed by the main Inspector of Agriculture, Kh.Kh. Steven. Nordman and his wife lived happily at their lodging in the Botanic Garden during this 15 year period, and had 5 daughters and a son.

Nordman was interested in the floras of Hungary, Serbia, Zmeiny Island (Finony), the Prut valley, and the towns of Reny and Ismail. In 1846 he discovered deposits of fossils at Nerubajskoye. He also produced various works on helminthology. In 1852, in a publication devoted to the vegetation of Odesa he described some fungal species for the first time. For a long time he was a professor of the university of Novorossiysk (now Odesa). As a teacher he enjoyed popularity among students: his lectures were vivid and intelligible, although it was claimed that he sometimes tried to say too much at once. The plant genus Nordmania was named in his honour, as was the Caucasus fir, named Abies nordmanniana by that other great botanist, Steven. After his wife's death from cholera in 1848, Nordman moved from Odesa to Helsingfors (now Helsinki).

Collections. H. Kirk & Ansell form of name: Nordm.

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