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Post-Linnaean & contemporary taxonomy (28-Jan-03)1


Linnaeus' immediate influence on plant taxonomy, other than through his own works, lay in the activities of the students who (for the most part) defended theses that he prepared, and who then went on to more or less independent careers as botanists themselves.  
  • Some of these students were cabinet botanists like Linnaeus himself, botanists who remained in Europe assembling collections and teaching botany, such as Linnaeus' son Carl. Not all of these students actually took a degree with Linnaeus; one of these was P. D. Giseke, who prepared the "genealogical-geographical" (1792) map to show relationships between families (Judd et al. 2002, Fig. 3.1).
 
  • Other students of Linnaeus achieved fame as travellers or, as Linnaeus himself referred to them, as his "apostles" (Stafleu 1971). Several of these men died while travelling, like Christopher Tärnström (1703-1746) who left behind a wife and children when he set out for China with the Swedish East India Company, only to die off Vietnam. Pehr Kalm (1715-1779) visited Québec, botanized along the St. Lawrence with Gaultier; also visited Niagara Falls (travelling there from New York), where he discovered a Hypericum that was subsequently named in his honor by Linnaeus, H. kalmianum (the genus Kalmia, illustrated at the right, was named in his honor later). Kalm gave Linnaeus duplicates of his North American specimens, and these can be seen in Linnaeus' herbarium today. Other famous pupils include C. P. Solander (1733-1782), who sailed with Cook on the Endeavour 1768-1771 and C. P. Thunberg (1743-1828), who visited Japan. A student of Linnaeus' son, O. P. Swartz (1760-1828), explored parts of Jamaica that had not been botanized previously, and described the vegetation of the island as a whole.
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Natural Systems

In France, on his way back to Sweden from Holland in 1738, Linnaeus met the the French botanists (and brothers) Antoine (1686-1758), Bernard (1699-1777), and Joseph de Jussieu (1704-1779). Antoine was Professor of Botany at the Jardin du Roi, but it was Bernard who showed Linnaeus Paris and its botanical treasures, including Tournefort's herbarium. Bernard de Jussieu was an inspired teacher and passionately concerned with botanical systematics. Unlike Linnaeus whose approach was deductive, proceeding from theory to confirmatory observation, Bernard de Jussieu took an inductive approach in searching for a natural system of classification.

Taxonomy after Darwin

Taxonomy in the 20th century

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Sources

Blunt, W. (2001). Linnaeus - The compleat naturalist. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Morton, A. G. (1981). History of botanical science. London, Academic Press.

Stafleu, F. (1971). Linnaeus and the Linnaeans. Utrecht, International Association for Plant Taxonomy.

 


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