Bauhin, Caspar


Pinax Theatri botanici: Sive Index in Theophrasti, Dioscoridis, Plinii et botanicorum qui a seculo scripserunt opera plantarum circiter sex millium ab ipsis exhibitarum nomina cum earundem synonymijs & differentijs methodice secundum genera & species proponens: opus XL. annorum summopere expetitum ad autoris autographum recensitum.

2nd ed. Basileae: Impensis Joannis Regis, 1671. References: Hunt 318. "Appendix. Aliquot plantarum descriptiones adponere lubet": p. 516-18. Errata on recto of final leaf.

The 2nd ed. was used by Linnaeus. This landmark work classifies 6,000 species of plants. Caspar Bauhin grouped them by a combination of characters, so that grasses, mints, legumes, etc. are classed together. Most previous herbals simply listed plants alphabetically by name. He also provided more standardized names for plants, with usually one to four descriptive words. Linnaeus followed Bauhin in providing standardized nomenclature for plants. Many list Bauhin's works as the last of the herbals, since all works following it split into works on medicine or floras of specific areas. The Pinax is also valuable in providing reference from the name of a plant found in many previous herbals to his own name for the plant.

Nearly twenty years younger than his brother Johann, Caspar Bauhin was a delicate, slow-developing child. It was reported that he was five years old before he could speak plainly. Despite early handicaps, he became a professor of anatomy, botany, and medicine. Inspired by his brother, he tried to master everything known about systematic botany. In his early travels he observed and collected widely and met botanists all over Europe. He formed a herbarium of 4,000 plants including species from remote countries. The collection is still preserved in the Univeristy of Basle. He produced new editions of Mattioli's Commentarii and of the herbal of Tabernaemontanus. Pinax [meaning chart or register], which is considered his main work, contains a complete concordance to the names of over 6,000 species and helped to lay a foundation for the study of modern botany. Linnaeus, after receiving a copy of Bauhin's work, used it constantly, adding 3,000 "determinations" [i.e. the fixation of the nature of morphological differentiations] to the margins.

Subjects: Botany--Pre-Linnaen works.


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