The History of TAXONOMY

< 1583-1690                       1694-1789                      1812-1926 >
With Augustus Quirinus Rivinus dividing by flowers, many new groups were founded, and the systems got more complex. Species, family and class had been introduced, now followed genera and order. Rudolf Jacob Camerer idea of sex in plants made the way for Carl Linnaeus, which added the binomial nomenclature and a good graphic display. Michel Adanson divided by more characteristics than flowers, and created a great natural system. de Jussieu brought it together.


 Joseph Pitton de Tournefort  (1656-1708), who introduced an even more sophisticated hierarchy of class, section, genus, and species, used an artificial system based on logical division which was widely used until Carl Linnaeus. His first major work was Eléments de botanique, ou Méthode pour reconnaître les Plantes from 1694. Here, he describes fungi and puts lichen in a distinguish group, and his flower characters was innovative. Further more, he made a clear distinction between genus and species, and give descriptions of the genera.  He used this method to classified the 7,000 plant species into 700 genera, a work Carl Linnaeus had great help of.

 Joseph Pitton de Tournefort  was born in Aix-en-Provence, France, and studied medicine at Montpellier, but was appointed professor of botany at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 1683.


Sophisticated hierarchy of class, section, genus, and species. The first to give descriptions of the genera. Describes fungi and separates lichen. New way of describing flower characters.

Main groups:

1694  Rudolf Jacob Camerer (Camerarius) (1665-1721) Published a letter entitled De sesu plantarum epistolaon in 1694, where he described how pistillate flower form seeds. He were the first to present a clear and definite picture of sex in plants. Camerarius based his conclusions on careful experiments and observations, and described the stamen as the male organ and the ovary as the female organ and emphasized their relationship to the formation of seeds. This is a direct line to John Ray' work.


 Rudolf Jacob Camerer was born in Tübingen, Germany. He became a professor at the Univercity of Tübingen in 1688, and was director of the botanic gardens.


Sex in plants.

Main groups: ?


 Carl Linnaeus' system, published in Species Plantarum 1753 was a toughly milestone in taxonomy, where the binomial nomenclature were introduced. He abandoned the long descriptive names of classes and orders and two-word generic names. Species Plantarum presented a complete list of all the plant species known then, ordered for the purpose of easy identification.

 A plant's class was determined by its stamens (male organs), and its order by its pistils (female organs). Even though only 11 of Linnaeus families are in use to day, it was a solid ground for the coming taxonomy. The down side by this was the groups seems "unnatural".  For instance, Linnaeus' Class Monoecia, Order Monadelphia included plants with separate male and female "flowers" on the same plant (Monoecia) and with multiple male organs joined onto one common base (Monadelphia). This order included conifers such as pines, firs, and cypresses (the distinction between true flowers and conifer cones was not clear), but also included a few true flowering plants, such as the castor bean. "Plants" without obvious sex organs were classified in the Class Cryptogamia, or "plants with a hidden marriage," which lumped together the algae, lichens, fungi, mosses and other bryophytes, and ferns.

 The system contained 24 classes (Greek numbers). The first 13 are divided on their equal long and separated stamens, the next two by uneven length, five with stamens  grown together with them selves or the pistils, three classes with single sex plants and one class with plants without flowers.

 The force about this system is; it is easy to classify a plant right away, when you find it - if it flowers. The downside is; it may not necessarily be related to the other plants in that bigger group. What has survived of the Linnaean system is its method of hierarchical classification, a good graphic display and custom of binomial nomenclature.

 Strangely enough, Carl Linnaeus did not assume plants evolved, but that they were given by God. Despites that, his grouping by their sexual organs lead to an grouping, not that fare from modern DNA based evolutionary systematic.
 Personally, I can't let go of the thought Carl Linnaeus did have the thought of evolution, but being son of a priest and living in those time let him keep those thoughts for him selves. Even a hundred years later, the thought did not alien with other scientists thoughts and good Christian fait.

 Read more about Carl Linnaeus' life on Carl.


Binomial nomenclature. Divides by the male and female sexual organs alone. Easy to use in the field.


Main groups:
        Class Monandria
        Class Diandria
        Class Triandria
        Class Tetrandria
        Class Pentandria
        Class Hexandria
        Class Heptandria
        Class Octandria
        Class Enneandria
        Class Decandria
        Class Dodecandria
        Class Icosandria
        Class Polyandria
        Class Didynamia
        Class Tetradynamia
        Class Monadelphia
        Class Diadelphia
        Class Polyadelphia
        Class Syngenesia
        Class Gynandria
        Class Monoecia
        Class Dioecia
        Class Polygamia
        Class Cryptogamia

The full Taxon



 The next system was created by Michel Adanson (1727-1806). In Histoire naturelle du Senegal 1757, he bases his system on shells. He founded his classification of all organized beings on the consideration of each individual organ, and not only the flowers, like Carl Linnaeus. As each organ gave birth to new relations, so he established a corresponding number of arbitrary arrangements. Those beings possessing the greatest number of similar organs were referred to one great division, and the relationship was considered more remote in proportion to the dissimilarity of organs. This made a much more natural system, than Linné's.

 In 1763, he published his Familles naturelles des plantes, where he uses the multi-characteristic system. The success of this work was hindered by its innovations in the use of terms, which were ridiculed by the defenders of the popular sexual system of Linnaeus. Never the less, his way of classification opened up for more precise groupings, made by coming taxonomists. His systematic were inspired by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort's system from 1694. As a system, his work is brilliant, but his big mistake was to refused to use the new binomial nomenclature. Never the less; it open the way for the establishment, by means principally of Antoine Laurent de Jussieu's Genera Plantarum (1789), of the natural method of the classification of plants.

 Michel Adanson was born at Aix-en-Provence, Franc. He worked with  Bernard de Jussieu, and in the Jardin des Plantes. In 1748, he went on on an exploring expedition to Senegal, where he remained for four years, describing plants and animals. Some of the material he collected in Senegal were used in the creation of his Histoire naturelle du Senegal from 1757.

 In 1774 Adanson submitted to the consideration of the French Academy of Sciences an immense work, extending to all known beings and substances. It consisted of 27 large volumes of manuscript, employed in displaying the general relations of all these matters, and their distribution; 150 volumes more, occupied with the alphabetical arrangement of 40,000 species; a vocabulary, containing 200,000 words, with their explanations; and a number of detached memoirs, 40,000 figures and 30,000 specimens of the three kingdoms of nature (animal, plant , mineral). The committee to which the inspection of this enormous mass was entrusted strongly recommended Adanson to separate and publish all that was peculiarly his own, leaving out what was merely compilation. He obstinately rejected this advice; and the huge work, at which he continued to labour, was never published.

 He never recovered financially or mental over this blow, and his last years were lived in misery on a small pension from the Academy of Sciences. He was without doubt the first Neo-Adansonian!

 His work on the baobabs results in the Adansonia commemorating Adanson.

Divides by more characteristics than flowers. Created a great natural system. Uses the old names.


Main groups: ?
53 families.


 Antoine Laurent de Jussieu (1748–1836) and his uncle Bernard de Jussieu (1699-1777), also used a classification system that distinguishes relationships between plants by considering a large number of characters, generally invented by Michel Adanson in 1757, and combined it with Carl Linnaeus' binomial nomenclature.  In Genera Plantarum secundum ordinesnaturalis disposita ,1789, they  distinguished 15 classes and 100 families (called Orders). 76 of his 100 families remain in botanical nomenclature today!

      Antoine Laurent de Jussieu.

 Antoine Laurent de Jussieu was born in Lyon, France. He got his M.D. in Paris 1770, and was professor of botany at the Jardin des Plantes from 1770 to 1826.

 Bernard de Jussieu got his M.D. at Montpellier and began practice in 1720. In 1722, he became the sub-demonstrator of plants in the Jardin des Plantes. Their famous system were basically made by the older Bernard, sorting out the plants in the royal garden of the Trianon at Versailles in 1759.

 Many characters; natural system. 76 remaining families! Adanson's system, Linnaeus' names.

 de Jussieu.

Main groups:
Acotyledones (Fungi, Algae, Hepaticae, Musci, Filices, Najades)
Monocotyledones; three Classes
    Monoclinae; one Class
    Apetalae; three Classes      
    Monopetalae; four Classes
    Polypetalae; three Classes
    Diclinae; one Class

 With 15 classes and 100 families

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