Journal of the Botanical Section of the Hungarian Biological Society
Botanikai Közlemények 102(1–2): 27–38 (2015)
Szilárd Schermann botanist, agrobotanist, outstanding expert
Szabó L. Gy.1, Csontos P.2*, Pintér I.3, Szabó M.4
Doctoral School, University of Pécs, Hungary, Ifjúság útja 6., Pécs, H-7624;
Accepted: 16 January 2015
This paper commemorates and salutes the life and success of Szilárd Schermann on occasion of the 120th anniversary of his birth. Szilrárd Schermann was born in the North-Hungarian town Igló (today „Spišská Nová Ves” in Slovakia) on 25 January 1895. In 1913, he was admitted to the Pázmány Péter University (today Loránd Eötvös University) at Budapest and graduated there as a biology and geography teacher in 1920. He earned his university doctorate degree at his „Alma Mater” with a thesis on the Rhizirrhideum section of the genus Allium. After few years spent on short-term work contracts at various institutes, Schermann finally found his life-time job as an agrobotanist at the National Seed Testing Institute (Budapest) in 1923. That time the Institute was led by Árpád Degen, an internationally recognized botanist. In addition to the everyday tasks in the Institute, Schermann Szilárd published a number of scientific papers not only on economically important plant species but also on plants growing in the wild and on native birds. Apart from science, Schermann was a key figure among contemporary Hungarian alpinists. He was the secretary and then vice president of the Hungarian Carpathian Society, and between 1939 and 1941 he was also the vice president of the Hungarian Tourist Association. After retirement in 1958, he started working on his main opus: the seed identification book and seed atlas of the Hungarian cultivated and wild flora. The two-volume book „Magismeret I., II.” (Handbook of Seeds) appeared in 1966 with detailed description of the seeds of 1800 species accompanied by 100 black and white plates showing his original drawings of most seeds discussed in the book. This marvellous masterpiece is still in everyday use in his Institute (now a department of the National Food Chain Security Office), and also functions as an indispensable source for experts working with seeds, e.g. herbologists, archaeobotanists, ecologists studying soil seed banks, and others. Szilárd Schermann has died on 18 July 1977 at Budapest, but he is always remembered when we open the pages of „Magismeret”.