Carl von Linné (May 13, 1707 – January 10, 1778)

carl von linnCarl von linnLatinised as Carolus Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné , May 13, 1707 – January 10, 1778)   was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of nomenclature.

He is known as the father of modern taxonomy. He is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology .

Linnaeus was born on the farm Råshult, located in Älmhult Municipality, in the province of Småland in southern Sweden, on May 23, 1707. He was groomed as a youth to be a churchman, walking in his father's path, but showed little enthusiasm for it. There are accounts that he learned Latin as a mother tongue along with Swedish rather than at school.

In 1717 he was sent to the primary school at the city Växjö, and in 1724 he passed to the gymnasium there, but with meager results in the clerical faculty. Instead his interest in botany made an impression on a local physician, who realized there might be a future in the field for the young Linnaeus, and on his recommendation Linnaeus's father sent his son to study at the closest university, Lund University.

Linnaeus studied in Lund and tried to make something of the botanical garden there, but because it had been neglected, it was suggested to him that he would have better prospects at the Uppsala University; Linnaeus left for Uppsala within a year.

During this period, he came upon a work which ultimately led to the establishment of his artificial system of plant classification. This was a review of Sébastien Vaillant's Sermo de Structura Florum (Leiden, 1718), a thin quarto in French and Latin. Through this, he became convinced of the importance of the stamens and pistils, about which he wrote a short treatise on the sexes of plants in 1729. This caught the attention of Olof Rudbeck the Younger (1660-1740), the professor of botany in the university, who subsequently appointed Linnaeus his adjunct. In 1730, Linnaeus began giving lectures in the faculty.

In 1732 the Academy of Sciences at Uppsala financed Linnaeus on an expedition to Lappland in northernmost Sweden, then virtually unknown. The result of this was first The Florula Lapponica (the first work to use the Sexual System) and later the Flora Lapponica published in 1737. His journey to sub-Arctic Lapland is notable for exotic and adventurous episodes.

In 1735 Linnaeus moved to the Netherlands, where he was to spend the next three years. Here he earned his only academic degree, at the University of Harderwijk, in 6 days. This degree in Medicine consisted of a three day printing job of his botanical notes in Latin. He met with Albertus Seba, a drugist, and the botanist Jan Frederik Gronovius and showed him a draft of his work on taxonomy, the Systema Naturae.

This was published in the Netherlands the same year, as an eleven page work Linnaeus stayed in the Netherlands for 12 months, until he made a journey to London in 1736, where he visited Oxford University and met several highly regarded people, such as the physicist Hans Sloane, the botanist Philip Miller and the professor of botany J. J. Dillenius. The journey lasted a few months, after which he returned to Amsterdam, and continued the printing of his Genera Plantarum, the starting point of his taxonomy.

In 1737 Linnaeus spent a year studying and working on the Heemstede garden of George Clifford, a wealthy Amsterdam banker introduced to him by Herman Boerhaave. Clifford had many business connections with Dutch merchants and collected plants from around the world. His garden was famous. Linnaeus published the description of Clifford's garden as Hortus Cliffortianus. In 1738, the work was done, and he started his journey back home. On his way he stayed in Leiden for a year, during which he had his Classes Plantarum printed; then travelling to Paris, before setting sail for Stockholm.

He lived abroad between 1735–1738 where he studied and also published a first edition of his Systema Naturae in the Netherlands. He then returned to Sweden where he became professor of botany at Uppsala. In the 1740s he was sent on several journeys through Sweden to find and classify plants and animals.

At the time of his death, he was widely renowned throughout Europe as one of the most acclaimed scientists of the time.


A life of Linnaeus Brightwell, C. L. (Cecilia Lucy), 1811-1875 Publisher London : J. Van Voorst 1858