Elias Magnus Fries
Born(1794-08-15)15 August 1794
Femsjö, Hylte Municipality, Småland, Sweden
Died8 February 1878(1878-02-08) (aged 83)
Alma materLund University
Known forFounder of modern fungal taxonomy
AwardsForeign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Scientific career
FieldsMycology, Botany
InstitutionsLund University
Uppsala University
Author abbrev. (botany)Fr.
Elias Fries in old age
Building containing historical information on Elias Fries located in Femsjö.

Elias Magnus Fries FRS FRSE FLS (15 August 1794 – 8 February 1878) was a Swedish mycologist and botanist. He is sometimes called the "Linnaeus of Mycology".[1] In his works he described and assigned botanical names to hundreds of fungus and lichen species, many of which remain authoritative today.


Fries was born at Femsjö (Hylte Municipality), Småland, the son of the pastor there.[2] He attended school in Växjö.

He acquired an extensive knowledge of flowering plants from his father.[3] In 1811 Fries entered Lund University[3] where he studied under Carl Adolph Agardh and Anders Jahan Retzius.[4] He obtained his doctorate in 1814. In the same year he was appointed an associate professorship in botany. He was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and in 1824, became a full professor. In 1834 he became Borgström professor[3] (Swed. Borgströmianska professuren, a chair endowed by Erik Eriksson Borgström, 1708–1770) in applied economics at Uppsala University. The position was changed to "professor of botany and applied economics" in 1851. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1849.[5] That year he was also appointed director of the Uppsala University Botanical Garden. In 1853, he became rector of the University.[6]

Fries most important works were the three-volume Systema mycologicum (1821–1832), Elenchus fungorum (1828), the two-volume Monographia hymenomycetum Sueciae (1857 and 1863) and Hymenomycetes Europaei (1874).[7]

Fries is considered to be, after Christian Hendrik Persoon, a founding father of the modern taxonomy of mushrooms. His taxonomy of mushrooms was influenced by Goethe and the German romantics. He utilized spore color and arrangement of the hymenophore (pores, gills, teeth etc.) as major taxonomic characteristics.[8][9] He was one of the most prolific authors of new fungal species, having formally described 3210 in his career.[10]

Fries died in Uppsala on 8 February 1878.[11] When he died, The Times commented: "His very numerous works, especially on fungi and lichens, give him a position as regards those groups of plants only comparable to that of Linnaeus."[12] Fries was succeeded in the Borgström professorship (from 1859 to 1876) by Johan Erhard Areschoug,[13] after whom Theodor Magnus Fries, the son of Elias, held the chair (from 1877 to 1899).[14]


Botanical Reference

The standard author abbreviation Fr. is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[15]


His wife was Christina Wieslander (1808-1862), with whom he raised nine children. His son Theodor Magnus Fries became a botanist and lichenologist, eventually holding the Borgström professorship himself, and another son, Oscar Robert Fries, became a physician in Gothenburg while maintaining a keen interest in mycology.[16] Theodor "Thore" Magnus's sons Thore Christian Elias Fries and Robert Elias Fries also became botanists.[17]


  1. ^ Bevan, R.J. (1981). "Aspects of mycological history". Bulletin of the British Mycological Society. 15: 20–25. doi:10.1016/S0007-1528(81)80003-X.
  2. ^ "Fries, Elias Magnus". Nordisk Familjebok (in Swedish). Vol. 8 (2 ed.). 1908. pp. 1393–1397. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fries, Elias Magnus" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 229.
  4. ^ "Elias Magnus Fries". Nature. 17: 343. 1878. doi:10.1038/017343a0.
  5. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter F" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  6. ^ Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Fries, Elias Magnus" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  7. ^ Gulden, Gro; Eckblad, Finn-Egil (2007). "Elias Magnus Fries". In Henriksen, Petter (ed.). Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
  8. ^ "Elias Magnus Fries (1794 - 1878) - a brief biography". First Nature. Archived from the original on 16 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Elias Magnus Fries". Encyclopedia.com. 18 May 2018.
  10. ^ Lücking, Robert (2020). "Three challenges to contemporaneous taxonomy from a licheno-mycological perspective". Megataxa. 1 (1): 78–103 [85]. doi:10.11646/megataxa.1.1.16.
  11. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  12. ^ The Times, Thursday, 21 February 1878; pg. 6; Issue 29184; col C
  13. ^ Areschoug, John Erhard in Herman Hofberg, Frithiof Heurlin, Viktor Millqvist, Olof Rubenson, 1906, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm, pp 42-43. (In Swedish)
  14. ^ Fries, Teodor (Thore) Magnus in Herman Hofberg, Frithiof Heurlin, Viktor Millqvist, Olof Rubenson, 1906, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Albert Bonniers Förlag, Stockholm, pp 361-362. (In Swedish)
  15. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Fr.
  16. ^ Petersen, Ronald H.; Knudsen, Henning (2015). "The mycological legacy of Elias Magnus Fries". IMA Fungus. 6: 99–114. doi:10.5598/imafungus.2015.06.01.04.
  17. ^ Anders Backlund (3 February 2006). "The Fries Family of Botanists". Uppsala University. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2008.
Cultural offices Preceded byErik Gustaf Geijer Swedish Academy,Seat No.14 1847–1878 Succeeded byCarl Rupert Nyblom