CarlLinnaeusManuscript.jpg

Camelina recorded in Carl Linnaeus’s early manuscripts

David Roberts Blog 0 Comments

Included among a handwritten list of plant genera in Carl Linnaeus’s Manuscripta Medica Tom. I (1727 – 1730) we find Camelina!

A distinguished scientist and doctor, the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus developed the binomial naming system of plants and animals with which we are all familiar. His work provides the fundamental framework for knowledge of the biota of the Earth, supporting effective conservation measures and the sustainable use of biodiversity.

A digital archive of Linnaeus’s specimens, manuscripts and letters, including morphological details and written data, is held by the Linnean Society of London. The Manuscripta Medica was compiled during his student days, and contains a wealth of excerpts (250 folios) from various different authors. In these early manuscripts, Linnaeus employed at least three methods to display and digest information: lists, dichotomous diagrams, and tables.

Housed in a purpose-built underground strong room, The Linnean Collections comprise the specimens of plants (14,300), fish (158), shells (1,564) and insects (3,198) acquired from the widow of Carl Linnaeus in 1784 by Sir James Edward Smith, founder and first President of the Linnean Society. They also include the library of Linnaeus (of some 1,600 volumes) and his letters (c. 3,000 items of correspondence and manuscripts).

It is worth noting that while reference to Camelina Alyssum is found on p. 39 of Linnaeus’s Manuscripta Medica it is the German physician Heinrich Johann Nepomuk von Crantz who is considered to be the first botanist to regularly use the genus Camelina in his classifications of 1762.

The Linnean Society of London website: The Linnean Collections

Here’s a bit more on Linnaeus and the enormous volume of information he was able to ingest and organize: Natural History and Information Overload: The Case of Linnaeus

For more on Camelina agronomy, industrial applications, crop risk assessment and production sustainability, Join Us: Smart Earth Seeds Library

Leave a Reply