Hermann August Jacques Gruson was born the son of a Magdeburg citizen where he acquired great recognition in the establishment of the Prussian railway as the engineer Major and construction supervisor of the railroad between Magdeburg and Leipzig. Gruson followed in his father’s footsteps by developing new military and civil applications for chilled cast iron.
In 1854 he became the Technical Director of Vereinigte Hamburg-Magdeburger-Dampfschifffahrtsgesellschaft (United Hamburg-Magdeburg Steamboat Shipping Association). One year later, he opened his own “Maschinen-Fabrik und Schiffsbauwerkstatt H. Gruson Buckau-Magdeburg“ (Engine Factory and Wharf H. Gruson Buckau-Magdeburg) in Buckau. An important pillar of his enterprise was the attached foundry. He improved the solidity of cast-iron by mixing different kinds of unrefined iron, so that Gruson’s chilled cast iron products became a brand. With the production of armaments, Gruson grew to become one of the largest German armament producers.
An entirely different side of his work was his passion for tropical and subtropical botany. He built the world-famous Gruson Greenhouses where he owned the largest collection of cacti in the whole of Europe. In 1896, his widow gave the greenhouses to the city, including a collection of many exotic plants which now belong to some rare and endangered species. Two cacti, Echinocactus Grusonii and Grusonia bradtiana, are named after him.
Hermann August Jacques Gruson became Honorary Citizen of Magdeburg in 1889.