Franz Xaver von Wulfen was born in Belgrade. After studies in Kaschau, Hungary, he joined the Jesuits in 1745. (1) In 1753, he became a teacher of grammar at Gorizia, then taught at the Theresianum in Vienna the year after. In 1755, he began theological studies in Graz, and in 1763 he was ordained a priest. The year after his ordination he moved to Klagenfurt, which remained his home until his death of pneumonia in 1805. From 1764 to 1768, he taught physics, mathematics, logic, and metaphysics, although not all at once. Then in 1768 he left teaching to become a pastor.
After 1773, he began extensive travel to Holland, Venice and Trieste, the coasts of the Adriatic Sea, and Istria (the last being the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea). There, he gathered information about rocks, flowers, and animals. He was a distinguished scholar and botanist and known for his exact descriptions of the areas he traveled through and the things he found there. “His floristic studies, which appeared in print, were characterized by good observation and accurate descriptions.” (2)
In 1775, he wrote the first detailed description of the mineral lead molybdenum, complete with colored illustrations of the crystal. In 1845, the mineralogist Wilhelm Karl von Haidinger named the lead molybdate mineral wulfenite after Fr. Wulfen. (3)
Wulfen was a dedicated botanist and distinguished scholar. (3)
Many plants bear the species/subspecies name “wulfenii” in his honor. (3)