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HISTORY OF BOTANY During early human culture, plants seem to have been looked at only from the point

of view of utility and medicinal use. But in the following they were, too, studied to get to know them and their way of function better. They were compared to animals and man and their interconnections started to be noticed.

EMPEDOCLES He taught that plants, just like animals, had not only a soul that could be longing or saddened, but that they, too, had reason and common sense. The branches and leaves, that are directed towards the sun and soon regain this direction after having been bent down, seemed to confirm his view. He thought that plants came into being earlier than animals and that their organism formed no integrated whole, but that every part lived on its own. ARISTOTLE [384 BC (Stagira) - 322 BC (Chalkis)] In his view, plants ranked in the middle between inanimate and animals and he believed in the existence of transitions from plants to animals. Thus, he was not sure about the assignment of some marine creatures to one or the other group. Till after the renaissance the word "soul" recurred often

in this context and would today probably be replaced by "life" instead. Which gives a new expression to an old question: What is life? Why do plants belong to the living and how do they differ from the inanimate? ARISTOTLE ascribes the living the ability to think and to feel, to move and to grow. He was aware of the connection of ingestion (with plants through the roots) and growth.

THEOPHRASTUS (371-286 BC), a pupil of ARISTOTLE. He inherited both his teachers library and unpublished works and continued to work on them. He spent, just like his teacher, the decisive years of his life in Athens, where he gathered a lot of pupils and was in charge of the first existing botanical garden, of whose size, different plant species and time of existence nothing came down on us. THEOPHRASTUS is the author of two remaining works: De historia plantarum (A History of Plants) De causis plantarum (About the Reasons Vegetable Growth) of

The Natural History of Plants


Consists of nine books: 1. The anatomy of plants: Flowers, catkins, leaves, fruit, sap, fibres, and heartwood Trunks: great differences concerning heights and strength, composition, layering and the flake of the bark Inner structures: woody or fleshy, knots, and thorns Roots: numerous as in cereals or single taproots, deep roots or superficial ones, differing in smoothness and strength, with frequent or rare rooting; in the case of many garden plants thickened as turnips; airy roots (as with Indian fig tree) Leaves: great diversification concerning shape, direction, position and composition Seeds: need humidity and warmth, otherwise no germination; directly beneath the outer shell, individually or numerous. Sometimes enclosed by flesh or shells, sometimes in a capsule or a skin (wheat, millet) or in an ovary capsule as in poppy. Flowers: small and simple (wine, mulberry tree) or leafy; sometimes uncolored petals, sometimes different colors for petals and sepals; blossoms are mostly simple and whitish, with the exception of the pomegranate tree and some varieties of almond trees; some flowers are sterile.

Trees and plants grow in general out of seeds, roots, runners, branches, sprigs and some even out of the trunk, if sawn into discs. THEOPHRASTUS remarks that cultured trees generally impair when grown out of seeds and that they tend to align with the wild types, while wild type trees do not change and thus conserve their species. The ability to germinate decreases with the age of the seeds. In general it is gone within their fourth year, though peas and beans keep it longer. Insects support the ripening of fruits and habitat and climate have an impact on plant growth. Cultured plants are often infested with diseases, while this hardly ever occurs to wild plants. This depiction is followed by a systematology of plants. THEOPHRASTUS groups them in trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennial plants and herbs. 2.-5.: Wooden plants 2. "Tame" plants and their cultivation 3. Wild plants 4. Foreign trees and shrubs, their lifespan and diseases 5. Characteristics of wood and how to treat it. Natural ways of reproduction and propagation. Artificial insemination of a female palm with the inflorescence of a male plant. Propagation of seeds (by way of rainfall, flooding and birds) 6. Herbaceous perennial plants: Wild ones, where differences are made between those with and

without thorns, and "tame" ones (among them ornamental plants) 7. Vegetables and their cultivation: wild plants; plants of the field that are used as vegetables; herbs 8. Cereals: standing grain and peas and beans (the latter being counted as cereals) 9. Saps and medicine:

About the Reasons of Vegetable Growth


This work consists of six books: 1.: An overall view of the different ways of coming into being; propagation and growth of plants. Plants develop out of seeds, by themselves or out of parts of another plant. Some plants use only one of the mentioned ways, while others use some of them. Grafting and budding. The ripening of the fruits involucres has to be distinguished from that of the fruit itself and from that of the seed. The first make the plant desirable as foodstuff, the latter are important for the preservation of the species, which makes them conflicting processes. 2. About the changes in environment by forces of nature, those plants, especially trees, have to suffer:

meteorology and geology trees growing in dense woods without sun or wind become weak

the influence of one plant on another: benefits and damage caused by nearby plants movement of leaves, flowers etc at certain times of the year or the day

2. About the changes caused by culture that plants have to cope with. Tree plantations: choice of a suitable soil, space between single trees. Trimming of the roots after watering, choice of the fertilizer; rhythm of fertilizing; breaking up of the soil, weeding. Plants growing too close have a negative impact on each other due to the arising shortage of nutriments. But plants may, too, be cultivated between grapevines to get rid of too much soil humidity. Cereals: diseases, rust of wheat, barley, peas and beans. Importance of sowing in due time. 4. Origin and propagation of cereals 5. Artificial and unnatural influences; disease and death 6.: About the odor and the taste of plants

Botany under Roman Reign

The Romans were a practical people. Agriculture and horticulture were developed and well-tended. To get through cold periods without damage, for example, plants were grown under glass in patches that were enriched in manure. They also covered upper parts of plants in order to protect them against frost. PLINY writes that it was possible, due to these methods, to harvest cucumbers throughout the year. M. PORCIUS CATO mentiones six different varieties of pears, several varieties of apples and quinces and some varieties of grapevine of different origins in his work on agriculture. Three varieties of cabbage were known. The best-known Roman author dealing with plants, was DIOSKORIDE. For more than sixteen centuries he was supposed to be the superior authority in pharmacology. His work was illustrated and this was widely attacked by PLINY and others. PLINY criticized wrong colors, differences in the abilities of the painters who did the copying and the fact that the look of plants changes through the course of the year. It was not before the invention of letterpress that drawings gained real importance as a means of representing observations. DIOSKORIDE's work cannot be compared to that of THEOPHRASTUS. It pays almost no regard to general

botany, though THEOPHRASTUS describes about 500 different plant species and thereby leaves the widest list of plants of antiquity.

SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT (1193 (?) - 1280) From Laningen upon the Danube were a widely travelled clergyman and scholar. He is thought to be the rediscovered of scientific botany. In his work, that deals only in a small section with plants is the body of thought of antiquity mirrored; still, it does represent the first descriptional work on the flora of Europe and it became both model and precursor of western literature (not only in the subject of botany). More knowledge was gathered by the numerous travellers. The crusades made the cause. In the second half of the 13th century, the Venetian MARCO POLO travelled through large parts of Central Asia and China and thus increased the knowledge of plants, countries, people and animals: bamboo, clove, ginger, cotton, sugar cane, indigo, rhubarb, camphor, pepper and nutmeg got to Venice. During the 14th century, monks and merchants travelled often to the Orient, but they gained only little knowledge. Partly because they had no exact powers of observation and lacked the necessary

previous knowledge, partly because the travels were often badly prepared.

Renaissance
Botanical research was still mostly done in the service of medicine. After the invention of letterpress, scientific literature became accessible to a broader public. The 16th century saw thus a new spreading of botanical knowledge including the publications of a number of floras of different countries.

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