Savich Vsevolod Pavlovich

(06(18).02.1885  25.05.1972)

The largest Soviet botanist-lichenologist, Honored Scientist of the RSFSR, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor.

Born in Belarus in the city of Bobruisk, in the family of a lieutenant infantry regiment.

In 1895, Savich began his studies at the gymnasium in Mazyr, and graduated from a full gymnasium in Minsk in 1904. Immediately after that, he went to St. Petersburg and entered the biological group of the natural department of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the University.Apparently, experiencing financial difficulties, the young man was forced to combine training with work. He worked as an extra on theatrical stage, played minor roles in the theater Yavorskaya and the People's House. He was dismissed from the last troupe for taking part in a 1906 demonstration. The same year began the scientific work of Savich: he was invited by Professor H.Ya. Gobi to work as a preparator of the Botanical Cabinet of St. Petersburg University and the Herbarium curator. The Botanical Garden, later transformed into the Botanical Institute, was associated with all his subsequent scientific activities. Its beginning coincided with the period when domestic lichenology, mycology, phytopathology, algology, bryology took their first steps and passed the period of formation. The young scientist began to specialize in the study of flora and lichen systematization under the guidance of the largest sporologist A.A. Elenkina. The great influence on the formation of the young Savich as a scientist was rendered by V.L. Komarov, with whom in the years 1907-1912 he worked as an assistant at the highest female courses. In 1907, Savich, together with L.G. Ramensky and under the direction of V.L. Komarov conducted his first expeditionary study of the vegetation of the Yamburg and Gdov districts of the St. Petersburg province. In 1908, he read his first report to the Society of Naturalists on the theme "From the life of lichens in the western part of the St. Petersburg province and the adjacent part of Estland". At the same time, Savich's scientific and organizational abilities also became apparent: he was elected secretary of the Student Botanical Circle at St. Petersburg University and secretary of the Inter-Circle Organization of student scientific circles of the University.

Great importance for the formation of Savich as a scientist was led by V.L. Komarov expedition of 1908-1910 on Kamchatka and in the South Ussuri region, in which he took part as a botanical sporologist. He collected a large and valuable collection of lichens, algae (freshwater and marine), mushrooms, mosses. It was here that a serious attitude to herbariums, a reverent attitude to the herbarium as a very important source of scientific information was laid down in it. The extensive lichen collections brought and processed by Savich formed the basis of the lichenological herbarium of the Botanical Institute, which gradually, thanks to his efforts, A.A. Elenkina and some other specialists gradually turned into one of the largest collection funds in the world.

In 1912, Savich graduated from the university, and the following year he was drafted into the army and served there until 1917. During the First World War, he participated in the hostilities on the Austrian front, in October 1914 he was poisoned with combat gases and was declared unfit for military service. Who knows, maybe this poisoning later saved his life, preventing him from being drafted into the Red Army.


Seeing Savich to the front. 1914

(from the archives of the Botanical Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences) From right to left: I.A. Beketov (who worked under Elenkin’s leadership at the time; Afanasy Nikolayevich Danilov (1879–1942), plant physiologist, lichens and fungi , student of Elenkin; VP Savich , one of the founders of Russian/Soviet lichenology, a student of Elenkin; Alexander Aleksandrovich Elenkin (1873–1942)- the founding father of Russian lichenology, is also a specialist in bryophytes and cyanobacteria, man-era; I.A. Ol, a student of  Elenkin, was related to spore organisms


After the end of the Civil War, Savich's expeditionary activity spread widely. From 1920 to 1927, he took an active part in the Olonets, Belarus, Astrakhan, Murmansk expeditions, and in 1930 as a botanist on the famous Arctic expedition on the icebreaker steamer “G. Sedov". This expedition, led by O.Yu.Schmidt, V.Yu.Vize, V.I.Voronin, visited the archipelago of Franz Josef Land, the northern island of Novaya Zemlya, first explored the northern part of the Kara Sea, discovered unknown islands and landed on the island Home four polar explorers headed by G.А. Ushakov, who for two years laid on the map of the archipelago Severnaya Zemlya. Savich produced botanical collections on the islands of Hooker, Northbrook, Bell, Alger, McClintock (Franz Josef Land) and in a number of locations on Novaya Zemlya.


Expedition to "G. Sedov" to Franz Josef Land. 1930

(from the archive of G. A. Voitsekhovsky)

From left to right: R.L. Samoilovich, O.Yu. Schmidt, V.P. Savich, V.Yu. Vize, B.L. Isachenko, V.I. Voronin


In 1925, Savich was elected scientific secretary of the Botanical Garden. From 1932 for many decades he headed the Department of Spore Plant of the Botanical Institute, and until 1937, by appointment of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, combined this work with the duties of deputy director of the institute. In 1934, Savich was awarded the degree of Doctor of Biological Sciences without defending a thesis; in 1939 he was approved as a professor.

A talented scientist, a brilliant organizer, a versatile and experienced editor, teacher Savich belonged to that generation of scientists who laid the foundation for the study of lower plants in our country. He gave a lot of effort and energy to organizing research in all sections of spore plants, thereby contributing to the development of each of them into an independent branch of botanical science. An extraordinary mind, exceptional diligence, great enthusiasm for the object of his research - lichens allowed Savic to become one of the leading lichenologists of our country in a short time.

Savich's special love was work with herbaria, which he always found time, even when he was already a well-known scientist. He handled his own fees, as well as the collection of lichens collected by a number of other researchers - R.F. Niman, I.V. Palibin, R.P. Field, K.V. Regel, B.N. Gorodkov and many others.

Savich was endowed with a quality that is absolutely necessary for any scientist specializing in the field of plant systematics, he had a "good eye taxonomist". Many of the forms and varieties described by him are now, as a result of in-depth studies of monographs, translated into good, universally recognized species.

Savich published numerous articles based on the results of processing a huge amount of factual material. They provide extensive data on the species composition of lichens in various regions of Russia, contain extensive data on the morphology of lichen species, the characteristics of their habitat, and ecology. Savich was among the first lichenologists who began to study lichen communities. Since the early 1950s, he has been primarily engaged in monographic research.

All Savichem published 180 scientific papers. Thanks to his scientific publications, as well as the scientific work of other specialists in the field of spore plants in the first half of the twentieth century, a solid foundation was laid for the development of floristic, systematic, morphological, ecological and biochemical studies in the field of lower plants in our country.

Savich was a great scientific organizer. These his abilities were especially vividly manifested in the post of head of the Department of Spore Plant, which, under his leadership, became a highly authoritative scientific institution not only in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but also abroad. Thanks to Savich’s skilful leadership, a whole series of capital research papers of his department’s staff have been published.


V.P. Savich on the Academic Council

(from the archive of the Botanical Museum of Academy of Sciencies)

Among the staff.

From left to right Piip, N.S. Golubkova, V.P. Savich, K.S. Rassadin

(from the archive of the Botanical Museum of Academy of Sciencies)


Particular attention was paid to V.P. Savich put into practice the data obtained by scientists of the Department of Spore Plant. During the war years, he developed in the Department work on the use of peat moss-sphagnum as a substitute for cotton during bandaging. After the war, together with V.F. Kuprevich organized experimental biochemical studies of lichens in the Department of Sporeous Plants, as a result of which a number of lichen acids were studied for antibiotic properties. These studies ended with the receipt of a new medical drug - the sodium salt of usnic acid, or "BINAN". He also established a creative collaboration with the Department of perfumery production to improve the factory production of resinoid, which is used in the manufacture of perfumes.

The editorial activity of Savich stands apart. From 1933 to 1937 he edited the magazine "Soviet Botany". Thanks to his efforts, such an authoritative publication as “Flora of spore plants” was published. Eight volumes were published, in six of them Savich was a managing editor. He was the editor of the Proceedings of the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Series II — Spore plants. In 1941, Savich restored the serial edition of the Botanical Materials of the Department of Sporeous Plants, BIN of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1926, and brought it to volume XV . He then became executive editor of the annual "Systematic News of Lower Plants", which replaced the previous series in 1964. For 16 years, from 1936 to 1951. Savich was the managing editor of the magazine "Nature".

In 1947, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR awarded Savich the honorary title of Honored Scientist of the RSFSR. His scientific and labor achievements were awarded the Orders of Lenin and the Red Banner of Labor and medals.

Savich lived a long life, he would have lived even if it were not for the tragic incident - he was hit by a car when crossing the Kirovsky (Kamennoostrovsky) avenue. The operation did not help, and two days later Savic died.

He was buried in the Northern cemetery of Leningrad.


Savich Peninsula

(photo by EA Korago)

Peninsula in the Bay of Russian Harbor on the west coast of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya. Named in 1930 by an expedition on the icebreaker steamer "G. Sedov” under the direction of O.Yu. Schmidt.


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