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Biographical entry Holtze, Maurice William (1840 - 1923)


8 July 1840
Hanover, Germany
12 October 1923
Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia


Maurice Holtze was Government Gardener of the Palmerston (later Darwin) Botanic Gardens 1878-1891 and Director of the Adelaide Botanic Garden 1891-1917. He trained in botany and horticulture in St Petersburg, Russia, and worked for a number of years in Europe before migrating to Australia with his family and settling in Palmerston (now Darwin) in the Northern Territory of South Australia. On appointment as Government Gardener in 1878 Holtze designed the Garden drawing on his European experience, although few of his planting survived later cyclones. With his son Nicholas, Holtze continued the work of William Hayes in trialling agricultural crops including sesame, opium, tapioca, arrowroot, bananas, cotton, jute and rice. During his time in the Northern Territory, Holtze collected many plant specimens which he sent to Ferdinand von Mueller in Melbourne, where they remain in the National Herbarium of Victoria. In 1891 Holtze was appointed Director of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens where, despite having fewer resources than his predecessor, he redesigned much of the Garden, developed a considerable collection of aquatic plants, and established a "type orchard" in the Mount Lofty Ranges with over 2000 varieties of apple and pear. The genus Holtzea (Fabaceae) was named in his honour.



Life event - Migrated to Australia with family
1872 - 1878
Career position - Gaol warder, Palmerston, Northern Territory of South Australia
1878 - 1891
Career position - Government Gardener, Palmerston, Northern Territory of South Australia
1888 - 1891
Career position - Forester for the Northern Territory
1889 - 1923
Career position - Fellow, Linnean Society of London
1891 - 1917
Career position - Director, Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Award - Imperial Service Order (ISO)

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

State Records of South Australia

  • Maurice William Holtze - Records, c. 1891 - 1917, 111/A1; State Records of South Australia. Details
  • Maurice William Holtze - Records, c. 1891 - 1917, 112/A1; State Records of South Australia. Details
  • Maurice William Holtze - Records, c. 1891 - 1917, 1047/125; State Records of South Australia. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Bisa, Deborah, Remember me kindly: a history of the Holtze family in the Northern Territory, Historical Society of the Northern Territory, Casuarina, N.T., 2016, 421 pp. Details
  • Ruediger, Wynnis J., The Holtze saga, The author, Morgan, South Australia, 1988. Details

Book Sections

  • Kraehenbuel, Darrell N., 'Holtze, Maurice William (1840-1923), Botanist', in Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle (eds), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 9, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1983, pp. 353-354. Also available at Details

Online Resources

McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn