Philosophia Botanica (Part 2)
The beginning of the 18th Century was for botany a considerable change moving form description to an experimental approach. The discovery of the microscope and its uses by anthony van Leewenhoek provided much needed discoveries. It is worth mentioning the observations of Robert Hooke and Marcello Malpighi in his Anatome Plantarum. The Englishman from the Royal Society Nehemiah Grew with his Anatomy of Plants together with the other two botanists mentioned before were the heralders of the study of plants anatomy and morphology.
From here we move to plants physiology where Jan Helmont, Stephen Hales, Joseph Priestly, Jan Ingenhousz and Nicolas Theodore de Saussure´s Recherces Chimiques sur la Végétation marked an example of scientific exactitude for future studies on plants respiration, fixation of carbon dioxide, nutrients, transpiration, leaf suction and imbibition. But it was Rudolf Camerarius the scientist who first identify and experimentally established plant sexuality. He declared in 1694: no ovules of plants could ever develop into seeds from the female style and ovary without first being prepared by the pollen from the stamens, the male sexual organs of the plant”.
Other scholar researching plant sexuality to be mentioned are Wilhelm Hofmeister who’s studies initiated a new field of research called Comparative Morphology. On Comparative Morphology we follow William Farlow (1844 –1919), Nathanael Pringsheim and Eduard Strasburger. Finally Joseph Kölreuter noted the function of nectar in attracting pollinators and the role of insects in pollination. Christian Sprengel described therole of nectar guides in pollination and the prevalence of cross pollination (1750 – 1816).
The 19th Century brought a change in divulgation and science moving from authoritative individuals sometimes described as “gentlemen scientists” to newspapers publications and research schools that questioned conventional wisdom. The first botany text book is that of Matthias Schleiden (1804 – 1881) titled Principles of Scientific Botany. And the works of Antoine Laurent de Jussie and Augustin de Candolle where reflected in the project called Prodromus Systematis Naturallis Regni Vegetabilis who run during almost 20 years and involved 35 authors containing 58000 species in 161 families.
The 19th Century encapsulated as well the principles surrounding the concepts of ecology and plant community basically linking climate and plant distribution. Seeds dispersal and distribution were studied by Carl Willdenow (1762 – 1812). alexander von Humbolt (1769 – 1859) and Aime Bonpland (1773 – 1858) gave publicity to their research done on their travels in a 30 volume illuminary peace of work. Similarities between florals of different contents were studies by Robert Brown while Joakim Schouw studies plant distribution of teemperature, soil factors and light. Joseph Hooker went to Antarctica, India and the Middle East to study endemism (state of being unique to a particular geographic location) while August Grisebach research focused on physiognomy all explained in his work Die Vegetation der Erde (1872).
With regards to the concept of Ecology it is worth mentioning Eugenius Warming and hus book Plantesamfund (Ecology of Plants) benign, a book devoted to plant communities and environmental influences. Warming book was followed by another marble titled in english Plant-geography upon a physiological basis translated by W.R. Fischer, written in 1901. (End of Part 2)
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