24 June 2009
MORISON, Robert (1620-1683). Plantarum umbelliferarum distributio nova. Oxford: Sheldonian Theatre, 1672.
2o (402 x 260 mm). 8 engraved charts and 12 engraved plates (some very minor soiling, minor worming along gutter). Contemporary calf (rebacked preserving original morocco lettering-piece). Provenance: John Middleton (ca 1608-1674), army officer, the first Earl of Middleton, and governor of Tangier from 1667-1674 (presentation inscription from Morison on front flyleaf); Botanical Institute of Cluj-Napoca, Romania (library stamps on title-page and on plates).
FIRST EDITION presentation copy with contemporary Latin inscription on the front pastedown by Morison to John Middleton and dated "1672." Robert Morison, superintendent of the gardens at Blois for the Duc d'Orleans and the first Professor of Botany at Oxford, wrote Plantarum umbelliferarum in order to provide a sampling of his ideas on the classification of plants. As part of this botanical philosophy, he "argued that plants should primarily be distinguished by the single, key principle of differences in fruit and seed characteristics. He deployed vegetative characteristics for subsidiary taxonomic purposes only and argued that this method reflected the simplicity of the divine ordering of creation, as manifested in the book of nature. Properly observed, plants would reveal the secrets of their taxonomy and their beneficial uses, which had been known to providentially inspired botanists such as King Solomon" (DNB). The text of Plantarum umbelliferarum was later incorporated into Morison's life work Plantarum historia pars Tertia, augmented by Jacob Bobart and posthumously published in 1699. Henrey 262; Hunt 323; Nissen BBI 1411.
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