Olga Reifschneider 1900-1978

Olga Reifschneider was born Olga Augusta Wuertz on a farm in Illinois in 1900. She grew up and attended school in St. Louis , Missouri , reaching the eleventh grade. She then married John C. (Jack) Reifschneider, and in 1920 the two moved to Ukiah , California . Nine years later they settled in Reno and opened an auto body shop, which prospered.

Reifschneider took occasional college classes, and enrolled full-time at UNR in 1944, the year her daughter Nita (Reifschneider) Spangler graduated with a journalism degree. The elder Reifschneider gained a bachelor's degree in botany in 1949.

Although occupied as financial manager for her husband's business until his retirement in 1968, Reifschneider maintained a second career as botanist and nature writer until her death in early 1978. Her interest in the historical and biographical aspects of botany resulted in her book, Biographies of Nevada Botanists, published by the University of Nevada Press in 1965.

Reifschneider lectured and wrote articles on wildflowers, desert biology, and the environment, as well as Nevada history, and petroglyphs. In the field she was an avid plant collector and photographer. One small mimulus she collected near Pyramid Lake in 1956 was identified as a new species, and given the name "Reifschneiderae".

The Olga Reifschneider Collection of papers, photographs, and other materials covers the years 1862-1978. It was donated to the Special Collections Department by Olga’s daughter, Nita Reifschneider Spangler.


For further information about the Reifschneider Collection, contact the Special Collections Department:

About the Collection

This collection contains 1580 color slides of plants and trees taken in the northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe region. The slides were taken by Olga Reifschneider from the 1940s-70s. An indexed, numbered, and labeled collection of 850 slides of plants created for scientific study and classroom use is part of the collection and is the basis of what is presented on this website. This collection presents an expansive view of the botanical life of this region and is exclusively devoted to native plants.