Biologia

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botanic gardens and herbaria

W. T. STEARN F.L.S. 1
  1 Department of Botany, British Museum (Natural History), Cromwell Road, London, S.W.7.

Copyright 1971 The LinneanSociety

Botany is the study of living plants in the garden and the wild and of dead plants in the herbarium and laboratory. The value of a botanic garden for teaching purposes becameevident in the 16th century with the founding between 1543 and 1600 of botanic gardens at Pisa, Padua, Florence, Bologna, Leyden, Leipzig, Paris, Montpellier and Heidelberg: indeed most ofthe major European botanic gardens were founded during this and the next two centuries. Associated with the study of living plants in botanic gardens was the invention of theherbarium by Luca Ghini (1490–1556) and the subsequent making of many private herbaria, out of which have developed the large institutional herbaria, mostly in the 18th and 19th centuries.The continuous enrichment of European gardens by the introduction of new plants resulting from European exploration and colonization created many problems of classification and naming,and so led to the development of taxonomic methods and the adoption of consistent binomial nomenclature for species, following Linnaeus, during the 18th century.
The fashion forcollecting in the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in the amassing of big private collections which later became the basis of institutional collections. The increase of such publiccollections by making available material for study from all over the world has, in turn, increased the publications relating to this. Thus the botanic garden and the herbarium, with theirassociated libraries, have become complementary repositories of botanical information invaluable to the taxonomist, the plant geographer, the economic botanist and the student of evolution.
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