Update: 2012-12-31 05:28 PM +0630



03. History of Classification: Theories


by George H. M. Lawrence, Professor of Botany at the Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University, 1951

Photo-copied by Maung Kan Tun from the original text.
Edited and set in HTML by U Kyaw Tun (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA), Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) and the staff of TIL. Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL  Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , http://www.softguide.net.mm , www.romabama.blogspot.com

index.htm | Top

Contents of this page

UKT: Shin Nagathain aka Theinbyu Sayadaw whom I quoted in MMPD from time to time was one of the noted modern herbalists. He had written four volumes with drawings of various indigenous medicinal plants. -- UKT121225

Period 1. Classification based on habit
- Theophrastus : Father of Botany
- Albertus Magnus
- Otto Brunfels
- Jerome Bock
- Andrea Cesalpino : First Plant Taxonomist 
- Jean Bauhin
- Joseph Pitton de Tournefort : Father of modern genus concept
- John Ray

Period 2. Artificial systems based on numerical classifications
- Carolus Linnaeus or Carl Linné : Father of taxonomic botany and zoology
- Pehr (Peter) Kalm
- Fredrick Hasselquist



UKT notes
Dr Burman : a physician of Amsterdam with connections to Ceylon
UKT: Was Dr. Burman whom Linnaeus (1707-1778) met, from Myanmarpré - one of the alumnus of the College set up by Father Sangermano (1758-1819), in Rangoon in the days of King Bodawpaya (1745-1819)?
Flower & inflorescence
Omnipotent Creator 
Theophrastus (371-287 B.C.) :
  cf. to Alexander's exploits in India 327–325 BC.
  Quote from Theophrastus: " life is ruled by fortune, not wisdom."

Contents of this page

[{p014 continue}]
Organized systems of classification fall readily into one of four types and periods. The earliest systems were based on the habit of the plant; these were replaced by a widely adopted system based on numerical and sexual parts of the plant, a system abandoned in favor of others in which relationships of form provided the central focal point. The more recent and contemporary systems are those based on presumed phylogenetic relationships. Only those of the last period pretend to be phylogenetic systems or to be systems based on the synthesis of all discoverable evidence.

Contents of this page

Period 1. Classification based on habit

The systems of classifications propounded by the Greeks, and by herbalists and botanists for a period extending over 10 centuries, were based primarily on the habit of plants. Trees, herbs, vines, and so on constituted major groups of plants. Systems of this character were dominant during a period from about 300 BC to the middle of the eighteenth century, a period during which philosophers, herbalists and botanists devised numerous, often crude, systems of classification considered by them to represent natural affinities.

Contents of this page


Theophrastus was a student of Aristotle and known as the Father of Botany, reflected the philosophy of his teacher and of Plato, Aristotle's teacher, when he classified all plants on the basis of form or texture: trees, shrubs, undershrubs, and herbs, and distinguished between annual, biennial, and perennial duration. Theophrastus also differentiated between centripetal (indeterminate) and centrifugal (determinate) inflorescences, recognized difference in ovary position, and in polypetalous and gamopetalous corollas. [UKT ¶]

Although he brought plants together by these groupings, making possible more generalized and [{p015}] intelligent discussion, he recognized only vaguely relationships among them, and the groups he established were strictly artificial. In his Historia plantarum he roughly classified and described about 480 kinds of plants.

UKT: Theophrastus though known as the Father of Botany, undoubtedly came much later than the Indian "Botanists" of the Rig Veda time-period and their successors. One such person was Parasara who authored Vriksayurveda 'Life of Trees'.

Contents of this page


(UKT: parallel period in Myanmar: Pagan {pu.gän}),

Albertus Magnus: Bishop of Ratisbon and sometimes known as Albert of Bollstädt, was a scholar who is believed to have been the first to recognize, on the basis of stem structure, the differences between monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants -- an unusual observation in view of the crude lenses then available. In other major respects he accepted the classification of Theophrastus.

Contents of this page

OTTO BRUNFELS (1464-1534)

Otto Brunfels was one of the first of the group of renowned herbalists who described and to some degree illustrated the plants of the world then known. Particularly were they interested in the purported medical values and domestic uses of plants, assumed attributes that were greatly confused by superstitions, misconceptions, and sorcerous folklore. [UKT ¶]

Brunfels, a German, was first a Carthusian monk, then a school master, a Protestant theologian, and ultimately a physician. He produced one of the first illustrated herbals (comprising largely material from the works of Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and Pliny) and is to be rememberd as the first person to recognize the Perfecti and Imperfecti, groups of plants based on the presence and absence of flowers, respectively, and as observable by the naked eye when the plant or flowering branch was held at arm's length.

UKT: Note that Otto Brunfels (1464-1534) and his contemporaries worked in a time-period when books could be easily printed. See Gutenberg, J., German printer (1400?-1468). The printing press came to Myanmar only in the eighteenth century
(fact to be checked with peers).

The herbalists as a group are important for their contributions to the descriptive phases of systematics. Many genera commemorate their names, as for example, Brunfelsia for Brunfels; Fuchsia, for the Bavarian physician Leonard Fuchs (1501-1566); Lobelia for the Dutch herbalist Mathias de L'Obel (1538-1616); Gerardia for the English barber, surgeon, and botanist John Gerard (1545-1611/22); and Clusia for the the Flemish botanist Charles L'Ecluse (1526-1609).

UKT: Don't be misled by the description of the occupation of the English botanist John Gerard as "barber". During his time, barbers practised surgery as well, and the red-white signs in front of barber-shops were from that period to show that "blood-letting" -- a form of medical practise was also done inside. See my note on John Gerard

Contents of this page

JEROME BOCK (1498-1554),

Jerome Bock, who wrote also under the Latinization of his Hieronymus Tragus, was also an herbalist. He was in successive periods a schoolteacher, Lutheran minister, and a physician who indulged in botanical studies as a hobby. In his herbal he classified plants as herbs, shrubs, and trees, but endeavored to bring together related plants within these categories, for in the preface of his herbal he stated (fn015-01): "I have placed together, yet kept distinct, all plants which are related and connected, or otherwise resemble one another and are compared, and have given up the former old rule or arrangement ... For [{p016}] the arrangement of plants by [these older methods] occasions much disparity and error." [UKT ¶]

In addition to originality in arrangement, Bock, unlike some of his plagiarizing predecessors and contemporaries, based his plant descriptions largely on personal and critical observations. In addition he provided notes on the natural distribution of many plants, and denied the validity of much of the folklore and superstition associated with presumed virtues of plants.

Contents of this page


Andrea Cesalpino was an Italian botanist and physician who has been referred to as the first plant taxonomist. In his one important botanical work, De plantis (1583), he included an introductory book or chapter that provided the basis for his classification of about 1500 plants. [UKT ¶ ]

Cesalpino was an Aristotelian scientist in that his conclusions were based on reasoning rather than an analysis by observation. Teleology was accepted by him and treated as of major importance. [UKT ¶]

UKT: See my note based on my own's experience on Reasoning vs. Observation 
   tel·e·ol·o·gy n. pl. tel·e·ol·o·gies 1. Philosophy The study of design or purpose in natural phenomena. 2. The use of ultimate purpose or design as a means of explaining natural phenomena. 3. Purposeful development, as in nature or history, toward a final end. [Greek teleios, teleos perfect, complete ( from telos end, result) -- AHTD
   Questions you may come to have: (for the Christians): Does the Christian God had a purpose when he started to "create"? (for Theravada Buddhists): Is your ultimate aim of achieving Nibbana your own design or the design imposed on you by some entity?

He believed leaves to have been provided for the protection of buds, flowers, or fruit, denied the existence of sex in flowers (fn016-02), treated the pith of dicots as homologue of the spinal column of vertebrate animals, and contended that plants had a nutritive soul. [UKT ¶]

Taxonomically he classified plants first on the basis of habit, dividing all into trees and herbs and subdividing them on the type of fruit and seed produced. Second, he recognized and used as classifying characters, those of the ovary being superior or inferior, the presence or absence of bulbs (fleshy rootstocks or of milky vs. watery sap, and the number of locules in an ovary. Cesalpino wrote his opinions in narrative form and they were not arranged in any outline or synopsis. This may account in part for their not having been adopted by his contemporaries or immediate successors. On the other hand, the views of Cesalpino did influence the thinking of such later men as Tournefort, Ray, and Linnaeus.

Contents of this page

JEAN (JOHANN) BAUHIN (1541-1631),

Jean Bauhin, a French and Swiss physician, is important for his excellently illustrated Historia plantarum universalis published posthumously (1650) in three volumes by his son-in-law J. H. Cherler. This was a comprehensive work and dealt with the synonymy of about 5000 plants. In addition, it included descriptions, which for the first time in botanical history were good diagnoses of the species he treated. Earlier his brother Gaspard [Casperr] (1560-1624) published a Pinax (1623), a work containing names and synonyms of about 6000 species and one that remained dominant for over a century. [{p017}]

Like his near-contemporaries, the herbalists, Gaspard Bauhin classified plants on the basis of texture and form. He is to be remembered also as one of the first to distinguish nomenclaturally between species and genera. To many of the plants and classified and described by him, he gave a generic and specific (trivial) epithet. This binary nomenclature, with which Linnaeus is usually credited, was founded, therefore, by Bauhin more than a century before its use by Linnaeus in his renowned Species plantarum.

Contents of this page


Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, continued the long-standing form classification of plants and devised his own modifications earlier systems. [UKT ¶]

He divided flowering plants into 2 large categories:

- trees, and
- herbs.

Each of these was subdivided into groups based on characters such as:

- flowers petal-bearing or nonpetal-bearing,
- flowers simple or compound
     (groups akin to the polypetalous and gamopetalous subdivisions of later authors), and
- flowers irregular or regular. [UKT ¶]

His system was adopted widely throughout Europe. It prevailed in France until superseded by that of de Jussieu (1780) and in the rest of western Europe until displaced by that of Linnaeus (about 1760). This system exerted great influence but was considerably inferior to that published a decade later by John Ray.

In addition to developing a system of plant classification, Tournefort is known as the father of the modern genus concept. Many of his generic names were validated by later botanists and remain well known to the present. They include (to mention only a few) Salix, Populus, Fagus, Betula, Lathyrus, Acer, and Verbena. Although not the first to use generic names (cf. under Bauhin), Tournefort was the first to set the genera apart, treating the genus as the smallest practical unit of classification, and considering the species as variants of the genus.

Contents of this page

JOHN RAY (1628-1705)

John Ray was an English philosopher, theologian, and naturalist. He proposed a system of classification, long before that of Linnaeus, which took the best from such predecessors as Albertus, Cesalpino, Malpighi, and Grew and grouped plants together on the basis of relationship of form. As presented in its last revision (Methodus plantarum, 1703), Ray proposed a classification accounting for nearly 18,000 species, and under the main divisions of woody and herbaceous plants, he recognized the taxa of monocots and of dicots, the classes based on fruit type (cone-bearing, nut-bearing, bacciferous, pomiferous, pruniferous, and siliquous), and subdivided these on the basis of leaf and flower characters. It was a system based on form and gross morphology [{p018}] of plant structures, and in many respects was superior to the artificial Linnaean system that came later. Ray's classification was the direct antecedent of the system later devised by Bernard de Jussieu. It was the basis of the philosophical approached used by Linnaeus in his Critica botanica and his Philosophia botanica and (as pointed out Svenson 1945) "the technical approach of Species plantarum, the methodus, is modeled also on the work of Ray."

Contents of this page

Period 2. Artificial systems based on numerical classifications

This period was characterized by systems of classification that were designed deliberately to be artificial and to serve solely as aids to identification. In this period of plant classification, the botanists did not follow the classification of form that had been prevalent since the era of Aristotle, yet in arriving at their conclusions of relationships they were influenced by the type of reasoning so forcefully put forward centuries earlier by Aristotle.


Carolus Linnaeus or Carl Linné (Fig. 1) as he was known until he reached middle age, is regarded as the father of taxonomic botany and zoology, and is considered by many to have been the most prodigious systematist of all time. Linnaeus, his works, and the extant collections have been and will continue to be the hub from which all serious taxonomic research at the lowest (species) level must emanate. Because of past and present great importance of this titan to systematic botany, every student should become reasonably conversant with his life, his works, and the important works of his students.

Linnaeus was born May 23, 1707, in Råshult, southern Sweden. Early in life Carl developed a germ of interest in plants. At the age of twenty he entered the University of Lund, but transferred to the University of Uppsala a year later. While a student, and under the guidance of Dr. Rudbeck (for whom he later named the genus Rudbeckia), he published (1729) his first paper on the sexuality of plants. The favorable publicity accorded this paper was responsible to a large degree for his appointment as a demonstrator in botany at Uppsala. The following year, promoted to the rank of Docent, he published (under the Latinized title of Hortus uplandicus) an enumeration of plants in the Uppsala Botanical Garden. [UKT ¶]

In this listing the plants were arranged according to the system of Tournefort. However, the number of plants in the garden soon exceed in kinds the number that could be classified readily by Tournefort's system, causing Linnaeus to published a new edition of his Hortus uplandicus. In this new edition the plants were classified according [{p019}] to a system of his own devising -- his so-called sexual system. For the next 7 years he studied primarily those plants not available to him at Uppsala.

The period of 1737 through 1739 was exceeding important in the life of Linnaeus. In the spring of 1737 he went to Germany and in June to Holland where, after a very short term of residence, he received his M.D. degree from the University of Haderwijk. The following month he visited Dr. Gronovius in Leyden, a physician and naturalist of much means and affluence. Gronovius was so favorably impressed by Linnaeus that he offered to publish immediately Linnaeus' manuscript of his later famous Systema naturae, a work providing the foundation for the classification of all plants, animals, and minerals. [UKT ¶]

On his return journey to Sweden in August, he stopped in Amsterdam to meet a Dr. Burman, a physician, who persuaded Linnaeus to remain with him long enough to work over and identify a collection of plants received from Ceylon. [UKT ¶]

UKT: Dr. Burman whom Linnaeus (1707-1778) met in Amsterdam was a physician with connections to Ceylon through the Dutch East India Company. Was Dr. Burman from Myanmarpré - one of the alumnus of the College set up by Father Sangermano (1758-1819), in Rangoon in the days of King Bodawpaya (1745-1819)? -- UKT 121219

While here Linnaeus met Mr. George Clifford, Director of the Dutch East India Company and one of the very wealthy men of Europe. Clifford, a hypochondriac, was a patient of Dr. Burman, and on Burman's advice hired Linnaeus to serve as his personal physician and also to identify all the plants growing on his vast estate at Hartecamp, Netherlands, not far from Leyden. For Linnaeus, the living conditions at Clifford's were the best of his life and not only was he, for the first time in [{p020}] his life, completely free from all financial worries, but was able also to have published, at Clifford's expense, several important manuscripts. It was by these fortuitous circumstances that late in 1737 Linnaeus' now well-known Genera plantarum and Flora lapponica were published. While these works were in press, Clifford sent Linnaeus to visit the botanists and botanic gardens of England. On his return he spent 9 months preparing the manuscript for a sumptuous work, Hortus Cliffortianus, in which were named and described many temperate and tropical plants grown by Clifford. This work is important to present-day systematists because in it were illustrated and amply described many plants treated very briefly by Linnaeus in his later works, including also many plants received by Clifford from America. In April of 1738 Linnaeus again prepared to return to his homeland, making the trip via Paris, where he visited the de Jussieu brothers and went on a week-end collecting excursion with Bernard de Jessieu.

No other period of Linnaeus' life was as productive of botanical work as the approximately three years spent in Holland. During this period he published 14 treatises, many of them prepared or written during earlier years in Sweden. Most of these were the first editions of the books that today make him famous. Only one new work, his Species plantarum, was published after this time. During this stay in Holland he did not learn to speak Dutch. Although he was president of a select organization of Dutch scientists, and a lecturer on many occasions, he consistently delivered his talks in Latin -- the language then well understood and used professionally by all academically educated people.

UKT: Linnaeus lived in the last part of the time-period when Latin was Lingua Franca amongst the intelligentsia in Europe. The speech of the Romans written in Latin script aka the Latin language was the unifying force in Europe. Pali (though written in many scripts) continued to be the Lingua Franca amongst the Buddhists of the Theravada countries, Myanmarpré, SriLanka, and Thailand for many centuries until very recently. -- UKT 121219

On his return to Stockholm, Linnaeus established a very large medical practice, treating among others the Queen of Sweden, and was appointed physician to the Admiralty. Later Linnaeus was appointed Professor of Practical Medicine at Uppsala. This appointment gave him the academic prestige he needed, the opportunity to teach botany, his preferred subject, to conduct field trips, and to direct the administration of the botanic garden. He held this position until 1775, when he was retired at his own request on a small pension. During this extended period his classes were well attended, and it is recounted that on the days of field trips the class would often number 200 or more. These field trips were well organized. According to Jackson's account (1923), Linnaeus was always at the head of the troop, followed by an "Annotator" to take dictation as directed, as directed, "another was Fiscal who had supervision of the discipline of the troop, ... others were marksmen to shoot birds, etc." At the conclusion of the trip "they marched back to town, the Professor at their [{p021}] head, with French horns, kettledrums and banners, to the botanic garden where repeated 'Vivat Linnaeus' closed the day's enjoyment.' After the first 20 years of this appointment, Linnaeus' popularity as a teacher waned appreciably, and no longer did he continue to attract the number and quality of students. He died January 10, 1778 after an illness of two years. He was buried during an impressive candlelight service 12 days later and, at his own request, his body was "unshaven, unwashed, unclad, enveloped with a sheet." Interment was in a crypt in the Cathedral at Uppsala.

Any analysis of Linnaeus' works must take into account the conditions of the times in which they were produced. They can be compared with botanical works of our time no more than one can compare modes of travel of that era with those available in this one. Linnaeus' so-called [{p022}] sexual system of classification was revolutionary and probably exerted more influence than any other of his contributions. The strength of the system lay in its relative simplicity, in the fact that it was a schema whereby plants could be arranged and could be found again. That a plant unknown to the average botanist could be identified and named by the system, and not merely classified by it, was an innovation of importance. As Jackson (1923) has stated,

It was put forward at a time when such a plan was most required; when earnest searchers for two centuries had amassed so many plants of various forms ... for the disentangling of which no thoughtful and practicable plan had until then been laid down. Now when all this material threatened to overwhelm the builder, the sexual system was produced, by which plants could easily be examined and thus determined.

In brief, Linnaeus' sexual system provided 24 classes for all plants: the plants were sorted into most of these classes on the basis of number, union, and length of stamens. [UKT ¶]

The modern way of identifying a plant by its flower is totally useless when you have to ask a lay person to collect a plant. Many plants do not flower all year long, and I have to resort to describing the vegetative parts. My great grandfather U Yan Shin was also practicing medicine -- the indigenous kind -- and he and his assistant, Ko Sein, usually went into the jungle to collect what he wanted. I wonder how they had identified the plants? I suppose mostly by the leaves and bark. He would surely crush the leaves and identity by the smell, and by tasting a small portion. He might have dug up its root or tuber, and crushed it, smelt it and tasted it. My father (who held his grandfather in great esteem) told me that his grandfather was so familiar with the jungle stretching along the western side of Pegu Yoma, that when he had to flee for his life (ca. 1880) from his native village in Salé area to Gyobingauk he took to the jungle paths in the dead of night. He was an excellent horseman, but in all probability he had to walk leading his horse. -- UKT 121225

The classes were subdivided into orders on the basis of the number of styles in each flower (fn022-03). The system was presented first in the second edition of his Hortus uplandicus (1732) and was expanded and served as the basis for his Genera plantarum (1737). This latter work is of importance in modern taxonomy as a source of description of 935 genera. It was published in five editions (that of 1754 being [{p023}] of nomenclatorial significance today) plus two supplements called Mantissae, and in all a total of 1336 genera of plants were diagnosed. [UKT ¶]

The Species plantarium published by Linnaeus in 1753, and chosen by modern botanists as a starting point of present-day nomenclature, has become the work most important in the systematics of vascular plants. Linnaeus intended it to serve as a reference work to the plants of the world, classified artificially for ease of identification according to the Linnaean (or sexual) system. In a sense, it was "a revision of Bauhin's Pinax in which the unit of classification was to be the species." In it (see Fig. 2) Linnaeus listed plants by his classes (see footnote 4) giving for each species:

(1) its generic name;

(2) its trivial name (or specific epithet, which, when combined with the generic name, formed the binomial);

(3) a specific phrase name (considered by Linnaeus as its specific name) in the form of a polynomial descriptive phrase, intended to serve as a "definition of the species ... corresponding to the distinctions in dichotomous keys of our current manuals" (Svenson, p.276), a polynomial that was not a description by Linnaeus' standards nor was it based on herbarium specimens before him;

(4) abbreviated references to previous publications, specimens in his own herbarium, and citations of figures of the species; and

(5) the region of nativity of the species. [UKT ¶]

The 2-volume work (paged consecutively) was a "recension of previously published work (of comparatively recent authors) in which species were for the first time differentiated." It represented the first assignment of a binomial to practically every species of plant, although Linnaeus himself did not intend this to be a primary function of the work (fn023-04). In this work varieties were first distinguished (by Greek-letter prefixes) from species. Linnaeus was not the first to employ binomials, for Bauhin (1596) did so but without basic philosophy concerning them, and Rivinus proposed (1690) that no plant name should consist of more than two words. In recognition of this and of earlier works, Linnaeus was knighted (1753) and later (1761) granted a patent of nobility, from which latter date he was known as Carl von Linné. [{p024}]

Linnaeus' system of classification was artificial. It is commonly titled a sexual system, but this is a misnomer; it was not fundamentally a sexual system, for the emphasis was largely on the numerical relationships of the sex organs (see footnote 3). It was a system based on differences rather than on similarities, and one so artificial that related elements often fell in widely separated classes. Linnaeus recognized this weakness, acknowledged that his system was designed as an aid to identification and attempted to devise a system based on more natural relationships. In the sixth edition of his Genera plantarum (1764) he appended a list of 58 natural orders together with their included genera. [UKT ¶]

Greene (1909) presented numerous examples to support his view that Linnaeus believed in a natural order of Creation, not represented by his sexual system, and had a clear concept of a natural classification. Linnaeus acknowledged (1731) that "all species number their origin first from the hand of the Omnipotent Creator ...", but accepted the continuity of the species by sexual reproduction, for he wrote (1757) "... this hypothesis [transmutation of species] endured until the time of Harvey, who dared to assert that all life came from the egg, and was similar to the mother ..." (fn024-05). As Copeland (1940) has written "it is not he [Linnaeus], but the smaller men who followed him, who may have said to have delayed the development of the natural system by an uncritical acceptance of his artificial system."

Linnaeus' importance in the history of taxonomy rests not only upon his researches and published works, but also upon the enthusiasm he instilled in his many students. Several of these became important botanists in their own right and were responsible also, by their extensive collections in foreign lands, for adding appreciably to the number and range of plants known to Linnaeus.

Contents of this page

PEHR [PETER] KALM (1716-1779)

Pehr (Peter) Kalm,  a Swede, was one of Linnaeus' more important students. He had already demonstrated his ability as a collector and traveler by expeditions in Finland and Russia when the Universities of Åbo and Uppsala sent him on a trip to America. At the time of his return, Linnaeus had been confined for some time to his bed as a result of a heart attack but, on learning of Kalm's arrival with many bundles of American plants, he left his bed and transferred his concern from his heart to Kalm's collection.

Contents of this page


Fredrick Hasselquist, one of Linnaeus' favorite students, spent 2 years collecting in Levant area and died of [{p025}] fever in Bagda (in or near Smyrna) early in 1752. It was from these collections that Linnaeus learned firsthand of many plants indigenous to Palestine, Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Smyrna. However, the flora of Egypt, especially that of the Cairo area, became better known to Linnaeus through the collections and notes of a Finnish student, Pehr Forsskål (1732-1761) who, once garbed as a peasant to escape persecution from unfriendly Bedouins, found about 100 new species and 30 new genera. Forsskål died in Arabia of malaria, and his collections and manuscripts were sent back to Copenhagen, headquarters of the Danish expedition of which he was a member.

Perhaps none of Linnaeus' students contributed more to his knowledge of plants of other parts of the world than did Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), himself the author of two floras and many scientific writings. At a time when the ports of Japan were closed to all but the Dutch, Thunberg obtained a post as surgeon in the East India Company's service, an appointment that made it possible for him to become one of the first Occidentals to make anything approaching extensive collections of Japanese plants. Prior to his trip and residence at an isolated Japanese port, he spent three years collecting in the Cape of Good Hope area of South Africa and there found 300 species of plants that were new to science. In 1784 he succeeded Linnaeus's son as Professor of Botany at Uppsala. Traveling in foreign lands, especially in the tropics, was exceedingly hazardous, and diseases took their toll of Linnaeus' students, for no less than six of those whose trips he sponsored died in foreign lands. These students of Linnaeus, in addition to increasing the knowledge of plants, added to the fame and importance of their teacher by employing his systems of classification and nomenclature in their own published works.

By 1760 the Linnaean system was adopted to a large extent in Holland and Germany and was coming into prominence in England where it was advocated by Dillenius and Sloane, leading English botanists of that time. It was never received favorably in France, and the only French student Linnaeus ever had (Henri Missa) left Sweden in a pique with his teacher and was not heard from afterwards. The French botanists held to the Tournefortian system until it was replaced by that of de Jussieu.

After Linnaeus' death his collections came into the hands of his eldest son, Carl, who also was a botanist and who was appointed to the chair at the university formerly occupied by his father. On the death of this son (1783), the collection reverted to Linnaeus' widow and daughters. Their sole interest in it was that it be disposed of to the highest cash bidder. [{p026}]

After lengthy negotiations the collections (including the herbarium) were sold to the wealthy and later famous English botanist, James Edward Smith, for the sum of 1000 guineas. These collections were packed in 26 large cases and shipped from Stockholm in September, 1784. The Linnaean collections (including the herbarium) were purchased from Smith's estate by the Linnean Society London (of which Smith was a founder) for 3000 guineas and continue to be administered by that organization (fn026-06). It has been alleged that, in an effort to prevent transfer of this nationally important collection, the King of Sweden dispatched a warship to follow it and bring it back. Despite anecdotes in the the literature, and often presented as statements of fact, there is no evidence to established any bases of fact for this myth.

The Linnaean system of classification remained dominant in many botanical centers for nearly a generation following Linnaeus' death. The last important work employing the system was the fourth edition of the Species plantarum, completely rewritten, and greatly enlarged under the editorship of Carl Ludwig Willdenow (1765-1812), Professor of Natural History at the University of Berlin and Director of the Berlin Botanical Gardens. This edition, of four tomes usually bound in nine volumes, was the last and is its most comprehensive. Willdenow made no significant contributions to or modification of the Linnaean system. In America the Linnaean system was employed by the early and immigrating botanists (Schweinitz, Muhlenberg, Pursh, and Thomas Walter) and was adhered to tenaciously by Amos Eaton as late as 1840, long after it had been rejected by such men as Nuttall, Torrey, and Gray.

Contents of this page


Adanson, M. Familles des plantes. 2 vols. Paris, 1763. [Ed. 2, 1847,by Adanson, A. and Payer, J., contains a biographical account].

Arber,A. Herbals, their origin and evolution. London, 1912; ed. 2,19228.

Bauhin, C. [Phytopinax] seu enumeratic plantarum . . . Basel, 1596,
_____. [Pinax] theatri botanici.Basel,1623.

Bessey, C.E Evolution and classification. contr. Bot.Dept. Nebraska, N.S.7: 1894.
_____. Phylogenetic taxonomy of flowering plants. Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard, 2: 1-155. 1925.

Brongniart, A. T. Essai d'une classification naturelle des champignons. Paris, 1825.

Brongniart, M. A. Historical notice of Antoine Laurent de Jussien. Mag. Zool. Bot. 2: 293-308, 1838. [Engl.transl.].

Brunfels, O. Herbarium vivae icones. Argentorati, 3 tomes in 1530. [{p040}]

Cesalpino, A. De plantis libri. Florentiae, 1583.

Christensen, C. Index to Pehr Forsskal. Flora aegyptiaco-arabica 1775 with a revision of Herbarium Forskallii contained in the botanical museum of the University of Copenhagen. Dansk. Bot. Arkiv 4: no. 3, 1922.

Copeland. H. F.  The phylogeny of the angiosperms. Madroño, 5: 209-218, 1940.

Croizat, L. History and nomenclature of higher units of classification. Bull.Torrey Bot. Club, 72: 52-75,1945.

Daudin, H. De Linné à Jussieu, methodes de la classification et idée de serie. Etudes d'histoire des sciences naturelles, 1: 1926.

De Candolle, A. P. Théorie élémentaire, Paris, 1813.
_____. Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis. 17 vols. and 4 index vols. Paris, 1824-1873.

Eames, A. J. Morphology of vascular plants -- lower groups. New York, 1936.

Eichler, A. B. Blüthendiagramme construirt und erlautert, 2 vols. Leipzig, 1875-1878.

Endlicher, S. L. Genera plantarum. Vienna, 1836-1850.

Engler, A. Führer durch den königlichen botanischen Garten der Universität zu Breslau. Breslau, 1886.
_____. [Ed.] Das Pflanzenreich, Leipzig, 1900 and continuing.

Engler, A. and Diels, L. Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien. E.d. 11, Berlin; 1936.

Engler, A. and Gilg, E. Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien. Eds. 9 and 10. Berlin, 1924.

Engler, A. and Prantl, H. Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien, 20 vols. Leipzig, 1897-1915; ed. 2, [not completed], 1924-1942.

Forsskål, Pehr. Flora aegyptiaco-arabica . . . post mortem auctoris C. Niebuhr. Hauniae, 1775.

Greene, E. L. Landmarks of botanical history New York, 1909.
_____. Linnaeus as an evolutionist. Proc. Wash. Acad. Sci. 11: 17-26, 1909,
_____. Carolus Linnaeus. Philadelphia, 1912.

Hallier, H. Phylogenetic studies of flowering plants. New Phytologist, 5: 151-162, 1905.

Harvey- Gibson, R. J. Outlines of the history of botany London, 1919.

Hawks, E. Pioneers of plant study. London, 1928.

Hutchinson. J. Contributions toward a phylogenetic classification of flowering plants. Kew Bull. 1924: 114-134.
_____. The families of flowering plants. 2 vols. London, 1926,1934.
_____. British flowering plants. London, 1948.

Jackson, B. D. Linnaeus. London 1923.

Jussieu, A. L.de. Genera plantarum. Paris, 1789.

Klein, L. M. The botany of Albertus Magnus. The Month, 48: 382-396, 1883.
Lindley, John. Introduction to the natural system of botany. London, 1830.
_____. The vegetable kingdom, etc. ed. 3. London, 1853.

Linnaeus, C. Hortus uplandicus, Stockholm, 1730.
_____. Systema naturae. Lugd. Bat, 1735: ed. 2, Stockholm, 1740; ed. 6. 1748; ed. 10, 2 vols., 1758-1759; ed.  12, 3 vols., 1766-1767 [intermediate editions not cited were not edited by Linnaeusl.
_____. Flora lapponica. Amsterdam, 1737.
_____. Hortus cliffortianus. Amsterdam. 1737.
_____. Genera plantarum. Lugd. Bat.. 1737; ed. 2, 1742; ed. 5, 1754; ed. 6, 1764.
_____. Species plantarum. 2 vols. Stockholm. 1753; ed. 2, 2 vols., 1762-1763; ed. 3, 2 vols., 1764: ed. 4,6 vols., 1797-1830 [edited by C. L. Willdenow]; ed. 6, 2 vols. [continued by H. F. Link et al.], 1831-1833.

Contents of this page



Mez, C. Die Bedeutung der Serodiagnostik für die stammesgeschichtliche For schung. Bot. Arch. 16: 1-23, 1926.
_____. Morphologie und Serodiagnostik . . . Bot. Arch. 38: 86- 104, 1936.

Miller, Philip. The gardener's dictionary. London, 1734; ed. 8, 1768.

Mobius, M. Geschichte der Botanik von den ersten Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Jena, 1937.

Pool, R. J. A brief sketch of the life and work of Charles Edwin Bessey. Amer. Journ. Bot. 2: 505-518, 1915.

Raven. C. E.John Ray, naturalist; his life and work. New York, 1942.
_____. English naturalists from Necker to Ray: a study of the making of the modern world. Cambridge, England, 1948.

Ray, J.  Historia plantarum, 2 vols. London, 1686-1688.

Rendle, A. B. Classification of flowering plants. Cambridge, England. Vol. 1,1904; vol. 2, 1925; ed 2, vol. 1, 1930.
_____. George Clifford's herbarium and the "Hortus Cliffortianus." Journ. Bot. 61: 114-116, 1923.

Sachs, J. History of botany (1530-1860). London, 1890.[Transl. by H. E. F. Garnsey; rev. by I. B. Balfour.]

Sargent. C. S. Scientific papers of Asa Gray. 2 vols. Boston, 1889.

Smith, G. M. Cryptogamic botany. Vol. 1. New York, 1938.

Sprague, T. A. The herbal of Otto Brunfels. Journ. Linn. Soe. Bot. (Lond.) 48: 79-124, 1928.
_____. Botanical terms  in Albertus Magnus. Kew Bull. pp. 440-459, 1933.
_____ and M. S. The herbal of Valerius Cordus. Journ. Linn. Soc. Bot. (Lond.) 52: 1-113,1939.

_____ and Nelmes, E. The herbal of Leonhart Fuchs. Op. cit. 48: 545-642,1931.

Svenson, H. K. On the descriptive method of Linnaeus. Rhodora, 47: 273-302, 363-388, 1945.

Theophrasti de historia et causis plantaru . . . T. Gaza interprete. Parisiis, 1529.

Thunberg, C. P. Flora Japonica, etc. Lipsiae, 1784.
_____. Flora capensis, etc. Vol. 1, Upsaliae, 1807-1813. Ed. nova. 2 vols. Hafniae, 1818.

Tippo, O. A modern classification of the plant kingdom. Chron. Bot 7: 203-206, 1942.

Tournefort, J. P. de. Elemens de botanique . . . 3 vols. Paris, 1694.
_____. Institutiones rei herbariae . . . 3 vols. Paris, 1700.

Wettstein, Richard. Handbuch der systematischen Botanik, Leipzig, 1901; ed. 4, 2 vols., 1935.

Contents of this page


fn015-01: English translation from the German, ia Arber., Herbals, p.166.
Go back fn015-01b

fn016-02 It has been alleged that the existence of sexuality in plants was denied by the Church, and that Vatican disciplined communicants who would admit it, but no evidence has been found in support of this.
Go back fn016-02b

fn022-03 An outline of the classes of the Linnaean system of classification is given as an illustration of the mechanics by which it operated, together with a few examples showing the disposition of some typical American plants. (UKT: I've changed the format in the following)

  Klass 01. Monandria. Stamens one. -- Lemna, Scirpus
Klass 02. Diandria. Stamens two. -- Veronica, Salvia
  Klass 03. Triandria. Stamens three. -- Iris, Sisyrinchium
Klass 04. Tetrandria. Stamens four. -- Mentha, Ulmus, Cornus
Klass 05. Pentandria. Stamens five. -- Primula, Myosotis

  Klass 06. Hexandria. Stamens six. -- Rumex, Alisma, Berberis
Klass 07. Heptandria. Stamens seven. -- Aesculus
  Klass 08. Octandria. Stamens eight. -- Fagopyrum
Klass 09. Enneandria. Stamens nine. -- Rheum, Ranunculus
Klass 10. Decandria. Stamens ten. -- Acer, Kalmia

  Klass 11. Dodecandria. Stamens 11-19. -- Euphorbia, Calla
Klass 12. Icosandria. Stamens twenty or more, episepalous.
    -- Rosa, Rubus, Spiraea
  Klass 13. Polyandria. Stamens twenty or more, attached to axis.
    -- Tilia, Papaver, Nymphaea
Klass 14. Didynamia. Stamens didynamous.
    -- Monarda, Linaria, Linnaea
Klass 15. Tetradynamia -- Members of the Cruciferae

  Klass 16. Monadelphia -- Malvaceae. Geraniaceae
  Klass 17. Diadelphia. -- Lathyrus, Trifolium
Klass 18. Polyadelpha -- Hypericum
Klass 19. Syngenesia -- Lobelia, Viola, Compositae
  Klass 20. Gynandria -- Aristolochia, Orchidaceae

  Klass 21. Monoecia -- Typha, Quercus, Thuja
Klass 22. Dioecia -- Salix, Urtica, Juniperus
Klass 23. Polygamia -- Empetrium, many Compositae
  Klass 24. Cryptogamia -- Algae, fungi, mosses, ferns

Go back fn022-03b

fn023-04. For a thorough analysis of Linnaeus' handling of material and literature and for his use of phrase names and synonymy, see Svenson (1945), who emphasized that Linnaeus looked upon his Species plantarum" as a compendium without descriptions," and that " binomial nomenclature was not intended by Linnaeus to supersede the polynomial specific name." Svenson made it clear that "the term 'specific name' applies only to the phrase-name" (i.e., the polynomial following the trivial name), and the " term 'specific epithet' is sometimes used in place of the Linnaean 'trivial name' ... The term 'diagnosis' ... has been adopted by some as a substitute [term] for the Linnaean specific phrase-name, but in modern usage it may lack entirely the differential character of the Linnaean specific phrase-name." For a second review and analysis of Linnaeus' concepts, see Croizat (1945).
Go back fn023-04b

fn024-05. Quotations from translations from the Latin by Svenson 1945, pp. 280-281.
Go back fn024-05b

fn026-06 By aid of a grant of £2000 from the Carnegie Foundation, the extant botanical, zoological, entomological, and geological collections and manuscripts of Linnaeus were photographed on microfilm in 1939. One set of prints was sent to this country and deposited at the Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, Mass. Negatives were prepared from it and a second set of prints was made for general reference, with another deposited at the Chicago Museum of Natural History. These microfilms of Linnaeus' herbarium specimens are of value to students needing superficial knowledge of Linnaean types.
Go back fn026-06b

Contents of this page

UKT notes:


UKT: 121218

The name Burman had intrigued me since I started studying botany, however, over the years, I have completely forgotten it. The following passage has rekindled my interest.

"he [Linnaeus] stopped in Amsterdam to meet a Dr. Burman, a physician, who persuaded Linnaeus (1707-1778), to remain with him long enough to work over and identify a collection of plants received from Ceylon."

The background to my interest is because I have read somewhere, that a "college" was founded in Rangoon in the 18th century and some graduates, probably 8, went over to Italy, and one of them became a  physician in Italy. In the passage I have quoted, it is stated "a collection of plants received from Ceylon." It shows that this Dr. Burman had a connection to the East. Could he be one of the graduates from the college in Rangoon?

Go back burman-note-b

Contents of this page

John Gerard

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gerard 121224

John Gerard aka John Gerarde (1545 – 1611 | 1612) was a botanist and herbalist. He maintained a large herbal garden in London. His chief notability is as the author of a big – 1480 pages – and heavily illustrated Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes. First published in 1597, it was the most widely circulated botany book in English in the 17th century. Except for the additions of a number of plants from his own garden and from North America, Gerard's Herbal is largely an English translation of Rembert Dodoens Herbal of 1554, itself also highly popular (in Dutch, Latin, French and other English translation). Gerard's Herball is profusely illustrated with high-quality drawings of plants, with the printer's woodcuts for the drawings largely coming from Dodoens' book and from other Continental European sources. [1] A couple of decades after Gerard's death, his Herbal was corrected and expanded (to about 1700 pages), which strengthened the book's position in the 17th century.

The botantical genus Gerardia is named in his honor.

UKT: More in Wikipedia article

Go back John-Gerard-note-b

Contents of this page

flower & inflorescence

-- UKT 121226

Many people, me included, don't pay much attention to flowers. For me, they are something good to look at, things to be smelled, and just things to please a girl with. There are many kinds of flowers, and some plants do not even produce them. When I don't pay much attention to the flower, how would I know what a stamen is?

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower#Inflorescence 121226

A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). [UKT ¶]

The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may facilitate outcrossing (fusion of sperm and eggs from different individuals in a population) or allow selfing (fusion of sperm and egg from the same flower). Some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization (parthenocarpy). Flowers contain sporangia and are the site where gametophytes develop. Flowers give rise to fruit and seeds. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen.

In addition to facilitating the reproduction of flowering plants, flowers have long been admired and used by humans to beautify their environment, and also as objects of romance, ritual, religion, medicine and as a source of food.


In those species that have more than one flower on an axis, the collective cluster of flowers is termed an inflorescence. Some inflorescences are composed of many small flowers arranged in a formation that resembles a single flower. The common example of this is most members of the very large composite (Asteraceae) group. A single daisy or sunflower, for example, is not a flower but a flower head—an inflorescence composed of numerous flowers (or florets).

An inflorescence may include specialized stems and modified leaves known as bracts

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article

Go back flower-inflo-note-b

Contents of this page

Gutenberg, Johann or Johannes

Gu·ten·berg , Johann . or Johannes 1400?-1468? 1. German printer who is traditionally considered the inventor of movable type. His Mazarin Bible (c. 1455) is believed to be the first book printed with such type. -- AHTD

Go back Gutenberg-note-b

Contents of this page

Omnipotent Creator

-- UKT 2008

In 1731, Linnaeus (1707-1778) was 24 years old -- 47 years before his death. So what he thought at such a young age did not necessarily meant that he did "believed in a natural order of Creation".

Go back Omnipotent-Creator-note-b

Contents of this page

Reasoning vs. Observation

-- UKT 121225 : based on my life's experience on Buddhistic meditation

My very first foray into Buddhistic meditation was at the age 16, under the guidance of the group led by Sayagyi U Ba Khin in 1951. I was a junior auditor working at the Pension I section at the Accountant General's Office in Rangoon. U Ba Khin was the Accountant General. I had to discontinue at the insistence of my father U Tun Pe on the grounds that I did not have enough life's experience at such a young age. He insisted that I purify my mind first -- {þi-la.}, and practice on being mindful of all that is happening around me -- {þa.ti.}. He was referring to his own experience and that of his mentor U Kyaw Dun.

The first step in Buddhistic meditation is the concentration of the mind -- a practise that has tremendous potential in changing a person's mental state. He cited U Kyaw Dun's experience, who knew the dangers of the so-called {pa.hta.wi-ka.ma.htaan:} before he embarked on it. U Kyaw Dun's declared to his student that the practice could lead to insanity. And true enough he became mentally unstable and had to leave his teaching post at the Government Technical Institute at Insein. U Kyaw Dun was very ethical and had high morals. What my father was pointing out was the dangers associated with mind-altering practices.

My next foray into Buddhistic meditation was after becoming a Gazetted Officer in the Government's employ   assistant Lecturer in Chemistry -- after my marriage and after my son was born. I was very settled in life and was 26. This time it was under the guidance of the SunLun group. In simple terms U Ba Khin's group insists more on reasoning, whereas SunLun group more on observation.

My main objection to reasoning is unless one starts from a scientifically sound premise, reasoning and more reasoning will carry you to an ill-founded "truth". Because of this attitude, I have accepted the Gautama Buddha's approach. He set aside all the religions of his day, and started out from a search for a universal truth: a law about the cause of human (mental suffering). He arrived at his first law & second law: "No sentient being is free from (mental) Suffering", and "The Cause of Suffering is due to Attachment". By Attachment is meant not only attachment to a person, but to a wrong idea.

At this juncture in life -- at age 78 -- I  hold that the two should go together. They are not compatible enough to be practised at the same time -- at least in Buddhistic meditation. One should lead and the other should follow such as: observation -> reasoning -> observation -> reasoning -> observation ...

Go back Reason-Observ-note-b

Contents of this page


From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stamen 121226

The stamen (plural stamina or stamens, from Latin stamen meaning "thread of the warp") is the pollen-producing reproductive organ of a flower. Stamens typically consist of a stalk called the filament (from Latin filum, meaning "thread"), and an anther (from Ancient Greek anthera, feminine of antheros "flowery," from anthos "flower"), which contains microsporangia. Anthers are most commonly two-lobed and are attached to the filament either at the base or in the middle portion. The sterile tissue between the lobes is called the connective.

A typical anther contains four microsporangia. The microsporangia form sacs or pockets (locules) in the anther. ...

The stamens in a flower are collectively called the androecium (from Greek andros oikia: man's house). The androecium forms a whorl surrounding the gynoecium (carpels) and inside the perianth (the petals and sepals together) if there is one. (The one exception is a few members of the family Triuridaceae, particularly Lacandonia schismatica, in which the gynoecium surrounds the androecium.)

Stamens can be free or fused in various ways. A column formed from the fusion of multiple filaments is known as an androphore.

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article.

Go back stamen-note-b

Contents of this page

Theophrastus, c.371 - c.287 B.C.

-- UKT 2008, 121221

It is now accepted that the Greeks knew of {a.þau:ka.} (now commonly known as Asoka the Great) on whose script the Bur-Myan (Burmese-Myanmar) script is based. Since the traditional Myanmar medicine and the Indian traditional medicine (Ayuveda) are closely related, I expect that many of the Myanmar medicinal plants (or their relatives) would be known to the Greeks.

Theophrastus, c.371-c.287 B.C. 1. Greek philosopher who succeeded Aristotle as leader of the Peripatetics and refined the work of Aristotle in botany and natural history. -- AHTD

Asoka, Known as “ the Great. ” Died 232 B.C. 1. King of Magadha (273-232) who was converted to Buddhism and adopted it as the state religion. -- AHTD

Alexander's military campaign in India 327-325 BC.
Macedonia conquers the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent (now Pakistan)
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_campaign_of_Alexander_the_Great 121221

The Greek and the Indians seemed to be exchanging knowledge long before Alexander's military campaign in India. It is also strange that the Vedas were not found in Greece but only in India. We have no way of knowing for how long the two sources of human knowledge had been in contact. In Greece, there was one who had written about plants. He was Theophrastus the successor to Aristotle. The following is from Wikipedia:

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophrastus 121224

Theophrastus (Greek: Θεόφραστος; c. 371 – c. 287 BC [1]), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death, he attached himself to Aristotle. [UKT ¶]

Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings and designated him as his successor at the Lyceum. Theophrastus presided over the Peripatetic school for thirty-six years, during which time the school flourished greatly. He is often considered the "father of botany" for his works on plants. After his death, the Athenians honoured him with a public funeral. His successor as head of the school was Strato of Lampsacus.

The interests of Theophrastus were wide ranging, extending from biology and physics to ethics and metaphysics. His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants [2] and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on medieval science. There are also surviving works On Moral Characters, On Sensation, On Stones, and fragments on Physics and Metaphysics all written in Greek. In philosophy, he studied grammar and language and continued Aristotle's work on logic. He also regarded space as the mere arrangement and position of bodies, time as an accident of motion, and motion as a necessary consequence of all activity. In ethics, he regarded happiness as depending on external influences as well as on virtue and famously said that "life is ruled by fortune, not wisdom."

UKT: More in Wikipedia article.

Go back Theophrastus-note-b

Contents of this page

End of TIL file