Carl Linnaeus. May 23, 1707 – January 10, 1778. Swedish naturalist and physician, founder of unified classification of living organisms. One of the founders and a full member of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, Paris Academy of Sciences and other academies worldwide.
Life and Work:
1. A commoner by birth, Carl Linnaeus was buried in Upsala cathedral, the Swedish kings’ family vault. This is only fair as Linnaeus is considered to be the king of botany.
2. The boy who was given the royal name Carl was born in the village of Rashult in Southern Sweden in the priest’s family.
3. Since his childhood he loved working in the kitchen garden – the parents gave him a plot in their garden that they called Carl’s corner.
4. When the boy was 10 years old, he was sent to school which proved to be a source of permanent disappointment. Though the boy was clever, he did not want to study at all. Carl was nearly expelled from school as he failed to grasp the basics of Latin, but his classmates gave him a prophetic nickname of “botanist” as the plant science was the only subject he worked hard on. There were kind and understanding teachers at that school, too, so instead of Latin grammar Linnaeus received the works of Plinius the Senior, a Roman scientist and naturalist. He easily mastered Latin and did it so well that now all botanists have to study it, too.
5. The child nickname gave made Linnaeus a noble title, made him the most famous scientist of his country and the first president of the Swedish Academy of Sciences.
6. Carl Linnaeus was sincerely convinced that he had been chosen by Providence to properly explain the plan of creation, to clarify the links between phenomena and to present most creations by God as a clear chain. This is what he did: nowadays Carl Linnaeus is remembered as a person who systematized the world created by God.
7. Carl Linnaeus classified all living organisms, including humans, though the latter previously had not been included in the nature. The biggest credit is given to Linnaeus for the so-called binary nomenclature – he applied and introduced the name consisting of two elements in Latin – generic and specific names.
8. Linnaeus’ classification of plants was based on the number, size and location of staminas and pistils as well as the feature of plant monoeciousness, dioecy or polygamy as he considered the reproductive organs to be the most significant and constant parts of plants. Botanists were greatly relieved as it became much easier to describe plants.
9. Linnaeus himself was also noted for the descriptions as he had discovered and described nearly 1500 plants. Concurrently he identified their medical and poisonous properties and thus compiled a 3-volume work titled “Materia Medica.”
10. Linnaeus also enriched the language of science – it is thanks to his good graces that the Ancient Roman goddess Fauna became a scientific term to refer to the animal kingdom.
11. Linnaeus is also famous for creating a clock that works in sunny weather only, when it is cloudy it gets slow and when it rains the clock stops completely. He was the first to plant chicory and briar, potatoes and dandelion, calendula and some other plants in flowerbeds to obtain a flower clock.
12. Even though Linnaeus was a doctor of medicine, his true avocation was classification. He classified soils and minerals, human races and diseases by symptoms. He even classified kitchenware to the great surprise of his spouse.
13. In 1757, Carl Linnaeus was knighted for his contribution to science and he received the right to be called Carl von Linné in 1761.
14. “King of botany” got the recognition in his lifetime and is still much appreciated today. Every Swede knows his face as Linnaeus looks at his compatriots from the 100-Swedish-krona banknote.