Linnaeus' attitude towards cultivated plants.

D.O. Wijnands

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Linnaean concepts and sources on the taxonomy of cultivated plants and their development are outlined. The necessity of a stable nomenclature of cultivated plants is stressed and ways to reach this goal by means of lectotypification are indicated. Time is a major factor in connection with Linnaeus's taxonomic concepts. Three aspects of time can be discerned: Linnaeus's own perception of time. The one decisive moment in time is that of Creation. The Almighty brought all living creatures into being, the entity of Creation is the species. This species therefore should be the basic entity of taxonomy. The task of the taxonomist is to unravel the plan of Creation. Development after Creation is not excluded by Linnaeus, but such development can only lead to (cultivated) varieties, not to new species. Changes in Linnaeus's taxonomic concepts during his lifetime. Gradually Linnaeus's ideas on the entity of Creation changed from species via genera to orders. This gave room for the raising of cultivated taxa to species level. Present-day nomenclature for many (cultivated) taxa refers to Linnaean names from 1753 onwards. Some discrepancy often exists between the taxonomic concept of Linnaeus and that of present-day taxonomy, although these are symbolized by the same scientific plant name. The following discussion of Linnaeus's attitude towards cultivated plants, presented in the form of 7 assertions, is based partly on an analysis of 100 Linnaean protologues of cultivated plants. These taxa are listed in appendix B with notes on the typification of these names. Discussions on typifications in this paper and in the appendix are not intended as formal typifications. Cultivated plants are developed from wild plants under human influence. In many cases the wild species is, or was to Linnaeus, unknown. Such species only consist of cultivated plants. An indication of the distribution is therefore lacking in the Linnaean protologue: habitat - - -. This is the case in 13 of the 100 analysed protologues. The diagnostic characters for these domesticates can often be recognised as markers of domestication. The nomen specificum legitimum of 25 species out of a sample of 100 was drafted by Linnaeus anew. Often this indicates that Linnaeus's concept of such a species differs from that in his earlier publications. However, in nearly all cases these new descriptions are mere editorial rewordings to bring earlier diagnoses in line with the format of Species plantarum.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)67-78
    JournalActa Horticulturae
    Publication statusPublished - 1986

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