Who is the father of botany? People have been studying, using, naming and growing plants for as long as human beings have been in existence, but two men in particular are credited with fathering this field of scientific study.
Theophrastus was born in 372 B.C. and was a student of Aristotle. He was a scholar who wrote the earliest recorded books of botany, titled The History of Plants and The Causes of Plants. These books documented types of plants commonly used at the time, and described the attempts to cultivate wild plants.
Theophrastus developed his own vocabulary to describe plant processes and horticultural and agricultural efforts. He was concerned about the many species of unidentified and unknown plants of the wilderness. He commissioned his students and staff to collect specimens and conduct experiments as they worked, which helped to determine which plants could be put to various uses.
Carl Linnaeus was born in 1707 in Sweden. Carl fell in love with plants as a child, but his true love for the scientific study of plants began when he was in medical school. All medical students of that time studied the medicinal use of plants and diet, but Carl Linnaeus felt the classification system used at the time was incomplete and difficult to use.
After leading two botanical expeditions, Linneaus decided to create a formal classification system for all living things, using genus and species to create binomial names. When he presented this classification system to his contemporaries, he received input from various botanists, who, like himself, believed it was important to construct a comprehensive structure for recording plant type and use. Linnaeus' classification system grew and grew, and soon his contemporaries were sending him specimens for him to name, record and classify. He spent his life searching for new plant species, documenting specimens and experimenting with crop production.
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