Libraries and Archives, SB 58081 Lin s 2
Linnæus, Species Plantarum, Stockholm 1762-3
biologist Carl von Linné, (1707-1778), also known by the
Latinised form of his name Carolus Linnæus, is best remembered
as a botanist and the founder of modern systems of naming living
published about 180 books and papers in total. His publication
Species Plantarum is one of his seminal works and is considered
the starting point for binomial nomenclature (the use of
just two names to describe any given species). Prior to this
plants and animals were designated by long, descriptive names
(polynomials) that varied from author to author; there was
little agreement on how to group and organise knowledge about
plants and animals. Even determining which organism was being
described in one work and matching it to a similar description
in another was not easy. However, Linnæus’ Species
Plantarum accomplished this in botanical terms.
Plantarum was first published in Stockholm in 1753
as a two-volume work. It contained all plants known
at the time. It allowed easy identification of plants,
by putting every genus in an artificial class and order.
By counting pistils and stamens, even those with little
plant knowledge were able to get to a listing of genera
that the plant in question should belong to. The use
of Latin for describing plants enabled positive identification
of species anywhere in the world, overcoming the use
of differing vernacular names.
edition on display is the 2nd edition and dates from 1762-63.
Species Plantarum ran to many editions with new species being
added to each. This book is important in biological
sciences, not only as it marked the starting point
for binomial nomenclature, but it made botany accessible
to the masses through its simple classification system.
It contributed greatly to the rise in interest in botany
in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
This exhibition is part of the University’s celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of the famous Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus. Visit the Zoology
Museum in the School of Biological Sciences for the main exhibition.