Plant Diversity

Historical Interest in Plants

What early botanists published the first plant classifications?

English naturalist and botanist John Ray (1627–1705) was the first scientist to base plant classification on the presence of multiple similarities and features. His Historia Plantarum Generalis, published between 1686 and 1704, was a detailed classification of more than 18,000 plants. The book included a distinction between monocotyledon and dicotyledon flowering plants.

Other scientists added to the lists of early plant classifications. The French botanist J. P. de Tournefort (1656–1708) was the first to characterize genus as a taxonomic rank that falls between the ranks of family and species and included 9,000 species in 700 genera. The French botanist Antoine Laurent de Jussieu (1686–1758) published Genera Plantarum. The tome Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis was started in 1824 by the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyrame de Candolle (1778–1841) and completed fifty years later. Yet another classification work, Genera Plantarum, was published between 1862 and 1883 by the English botanists George Bentham (1800–1884) and Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911).


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