Ancient Botanist

 “Historia Plantarum” was written by Theophrastus in Treviso, Italy in 1483. In the third century B.C. he was one of the first botanists of the Western world. He took the time to catalog the plants of ancient Greece, creating the first known classifications of plants from his part of the world. He studied shrubs, trees, dwarf shrubs, and herbs making notes of how these grew and how they were used. 


The Latin version of this text was printed in northeast Italy in the 15th century. The book passed through various owners and in the early 20th century it became the property of an orchid specialist who donated the book to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. In 2002 the Chicago Botanic Garden purchased the society’s rare book collection. 


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  1. This is a great and important work, Rasma. Thanks for posting about it. Your first sentence confused me, though. You say,
    “Historia Plantarum” was written by Theophrastus in Treviso, Italy in 1483.
    while in the next sentence you tell us that he lived over a thousand years earlier in Greece! What actually happened in 1483 in Italy was a translation into Latin (from the original Greek) was published. Unfortunately we have no complete, accurate surviving text of Theophrastus’s original work.


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