Historical Background of Classification

Beginnings by Preliterate Humans
Classification partly based on the useful and harmful properties of plants 
Use plants for food and medicine  Use plants for fish or arrow poisons  Use plants for narcotic or hallucinatory purposes

Folk taxonomies ± classifications that developed within the society through the need of the society and without scientific efforts

Early Western Civilizations
³Father of Botany´  2 botanical discourses ± Enquiry into Plants and The Causes of Plants  Classified plants into 4 major groups ± herbs, undershrubs, shrubs and trees  Described approximately 500 different species of plants  Noted many differences in plants ± corolla types, ovary positions, inflorescences, flowering and nonflowering plants, plant tissues

Early Western Civilizations
Caius Plinius Secundus, ³Pliny the Elder´ 
Compile an extensive 37-volume encyclopedia entitled Historia naturalis (Natural History), wherein 9 volumes were devoted to medicinal plants

Early Western Civilizations
Pedanios Dioscorides 
Roman military surgeon  Prepared a book ³Materia medica´ ±describes some 600 species of medicinal plants
No drug was recognized genuine unless named in the book Contained less botany than the works of Theophrastus, but its usefulness in medicine caused it to be considered the definitive work of plant knowledge until the end of the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages
During the European Middle Ages, little progress was made in original scientific study of plants. Wars and decay of the Roman Empire caused the destruction of much literature. Manuscripts were lost at a faster rate than they could be laboriously copied in the newly founded monasteries. Botanical knowledge was largely confined to the previously known works of Theophrastus, Pliny and Dioscorides.

The Middle Ages
Islamic Botany (610 ± 1100 AD) 
Inspired by the works of Aristotle and other Greek scholars  Interests ± practical nature, pharmacy, medicine  Produced practical lists of drug plants but developed no original schemes of classifications

The Middle Ages
Albertus Magnus 
³Doctor Universalis´  His botanical work ³De vegetabilis´ not only dealt with medicinal plants but also provided descriptions of plants  Attempted a classification of plants based on the stem structure and the differences between monocots and dicots

revival of scientific spirit, invention of printing ± 1440 botanical books produced  Herbals ± botanical books with descriptions and illustrations made from woodblocks or metal plate engravings; used for identifying medicinal plants  Herbalists ± gatherers or diggers of medicinal plants; forged an important link in the evolution of botany and taxonomy as well as in the development of pharmacology (the science of drugs)

German Herbalists 
Germany in the 16th century was a center of botanical activity  Outstanding contributions in the form of herbals by Otto Brunfels (1464-1534), Jerome Bock (1489-1554), Valerius Cordus (1515-1544), and Leonhard Fuchs (15011566). They are sometimes called the ³German herbalists´

Herbals of other countries or civilizations 

English, Dutch, Italian botanists China India Aztecs of Mexico
Botanical gardens ± cultivated plants for food, ornamentals, medicine Badianus Manuscript (1552)

The Italian Renaissance
Luca Ghini ± inventor of herbarium Andrea Cesalpino ± philosophical rather than utilitarian approach Caspar Bauhin ± synonymy of plant names John Ray ± classify species in the terms of morphology and reproduction Joseph Pitton de Tournefort ± ³Father of genus concept´

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