Vladimir Komarov

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Komarov, Vladimir Leont’evich


Born Oct. 1 (13), 1869, in St. Petersburg; died Dec. 5, 1945 in Moscow. Soviet botanist, geographer, and public figure. Academician (1920; corresponding member, 1914), vice-president (1930–36), and president (1936–45) of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Hero of Socialist Labor (1943). President of the Ail-Union Botanical Society (1930) and honorary president of the Geographical Society of the USSR (1940).

Komarov graduated from the University of St. Petersburg in 1894 and began teaching there in 1898. He became a professor at the university in 1918. In 1899 he began working simultaneously at the St. Petersburg Botanical Gardens (since 1931, the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR).

Komarov made a number of botanical expeditions and gathered extensive collections: to Middle Asia in 1892–93, to the Far East, Manchuria, and Korea in 1895–97, to the eastern Sayans in 1902, to Kamchatka in 1908–09, and to Iuzhno-Ussuri Krai in 1913. His principal research was devoted to the higher flora of the Far East, China, and Mongolia (The Flora of Manchuria, 1901–07; An Introduction to the Flora of Manchuria and China, 1908; Types of Vegetation of Iuzhno-Ussuri Krai, 1917; An Introduction to the Study of the Vegetation of Yakutia, 1926; Flora of the Kamchatka Peninsula, 1927–30; A Guide to Plants of the Soviet Far East, vols. 1–2, 1931–32, with E. N. Klobukova-Alisova).

In addition, Komarov wrote on questions of the evolution of the plant world and classification theory (The Life and Works of Carl Linnaeus, 1923; Lamarck, 1925; The Origin of Cultivated Plants, 1931; The Origin of Plants, 1933; A Theory of Species in Plants, 1940—State Prize of the USSR, 1941). In 1932, Komarov was in charge of a group of Soviet botanists working on the 30-volume Flora of the USSR (1934–64), which served as the basis for subsequent works on the use of wild flora to the national economy.

In the 1930’s, Komarov was active in restructuring the Academy of Sciences of the USSR into the nation’s leading scientific organization. He was also active in introducing the principles of planning to scientific research. His role was especially great in the organization of the field stations and branches of the academy. For his participation in a collective work of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR entitled On the Development of the Economy of the Urals Under Wartime Conditions he was awarded his second State Prize of the USSR in 1942.

Komarov’s name has been officially attached to the Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Leningrad and to the mountain-taiga station of the Far Eastern Scientific Center of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Ussuriisk. A prize in his name was established by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, to be awarded once every three years. Komarov was a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR at its first convocation. He was awarded three orders of Lenin and a number of medals.


Izbr. soch., vols. 1–12. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945–58.


Russkie botaniki: Biografo-bibliograficheskii slovar’, vol. 4. Compiled by S. Iu. Lipshits. Moscow, 1952.
Pavlov, N. V. Vladimir Leont’evich Komarov. Moscow, 1951.
Lebedev, D. V. “V. L. Komarov.” In Liudi russkoi nauki, book 3: Biologiia, Meditsina, Sel’skokhoziaistvennye nauki. Moscow, 1963.


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The mementos also included medals commemorating pioneering Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin, who had died in flight in 1967 and 1968, respectively; goodwill messages from 73 world leaders; and a small gold pin shaped like an olive branch, a symbol of peace.