Carolus Linnaeus- Father of Modern Taxonomy

Carolus Linnaeus (23 May 1707-10 January 1778), also referred to as Carl Linnaeus was a Swedish scientist who laid the foundation of modern scheme of Taxonomy. As a boy Linnaeus was to be groomed to be a churchman as his father and maternal grandfather were, but he showed little interest in the profession.LinnaeusWeddingPortrait

On the other hand he showed a deep love for plants and fascination with their names from a very early age. This disappointed his parents, but they were consoled when he  entered the University of Lund in 1727 to study medicine.A year later, he transferred to the University of Uppsala, the most prestigious university in Sweden. However, its medical facilities had been neglected and had fallen into disrepair. Most of Linaeus’s time at Uppsala was spent collecting and studying plants, his true love. During this time Linnaeus became convinced that in the stamens and pistils of flowers lay the basis for the classification of plants, and he wrote a short work on the subject that earned him the postion of adjunct professor. In 1732 the Academy of Sciences at Uppsala financed his expedition to explore Lapland, then virtually unknown. The result of this was the Flora Laponica published in 1737.

Linnaeus went to the Netherlands in 1735, promptly finished his medical degree at the University of Harderwijk, and then enrolled in the University of Leiden for further studies. That same year, he published the first edition of his classification of living things, the Systema Naturae.Linnaeus continued to revise his Systema Naturae, which grew from a slim pamphlet to a multivolume work, as his concepts were modified and as more and more plant and animal specimens were sent to him from every corner of the globe.

Linnaeus was also deeply involved with ways to make the Swedish economy more self-sufficient and less dependent on foreign trade, either by acclimatizing valuable plants to grow in Sweden, or by finding native substitutes. Unfortunately, Linnaeus’s attempts to grow cacao, coffee, tea, bananas, rice, and mulberries proved unsuccessful in Sweden’s cold climate. His attempts to boost the economy (and to prevent the famines that still struck Sweden at the time) by finding native Swedish plants that could be used as tea, coffee, flour, and fodder were also not generally successful. He still found time to practice medicine, eventually becoming personal physician to the Swedish royal family. In 1758 he bought the manor estate of Hammarby, outside Uppsala, where he built a small museum for his extensive personal collections. In 1761 he was granted nobility, and became Carl von Linné.

Lingering on for several years after suffering what was probably a series of mild strokes in 1774, he died in 1778.

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