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LIFE SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR
GERT CORNELIUS NEL (1885-1950)
The sudden death of Professor Nel on February 16, 1950, was a very great shock to his friends who lived in close touch with him and to those who knew him through his publications on succulents, especially his magnum opus, “Lithops
.” In the summer vacation on January 16th, 1950, while he was still actively and ambitiously engaged on research on the succulent Aizoaceae
, he was suddenly taken ill and was sent to the Volkshospitaal in Cape Town, where it was soon ascertained that his chances of recovery were very meagre.
Gert Cornelius Nel was born on a farm at Greytown, Natal, in 1885 on Foundation Day (April 6th). In this “Garden Province” of South Africa he was first imbued with his love for the South African veld and flora — a love which grew and became more deeply rooted in Franshoek where he matriculated and in Stellenbosch where he studied for his B.A. degree. At the latter two places in the Boland he came in touch with the botanically rich and varied flora (with its geophytes, Proteaceae, etc.) of the winter rainfall area — a flora very much different from the subtropical and savannah flora he became acquainted with in Natal. He could not have realized at this stage that he should later spend several years in the Orange Free State in the grass steppes (grasveld) of South Africa and that his future research would lead him to an intimate experience, love and knowledge of the flora of the vast, arid regions of Southern Africa, such as the Klein Karoo, Groot Karoo, Namakwaland and South-West Africa.
After studying in Halle and Berlin
he obtained the Ph.D. degree in 1914 on a thesis on the Amaryllidaceae-Hypoxideae, embodying the results of his research under the well-known A. Engler. After filling responsible educational posts in Lindley and Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, he was appointed in 1921 to the newly-
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