Plant Trivia TimeLine: 1450 – 1700

Gutenberg through Tate

1450 Born in the 1450s: Aldus Manutius (who first  edited and published so very many ancient manuscripts), Giovanni Coboto, (John Cabot, the explorer), Hieronymus van Aken (Hieronymus Bosch, the artist who created “The Garden of Earthly Delights”), Cristoforo Colombo (Columbus, who led expeditions from Europe that first opened the Americas to discovery and settlement), Leonardo da Vinci (the artist and visionary), Amerigo Vespucci (who demonstrated the New World was separate from Asia, and gave his name to the Americas), and Petrus Martyr (Peter Martyr, an early historian of the Americas).

1450 Nicolaus of Cusa wrote De Staticus Experimentis, in which he proposed a plant physiology experiment similar to the van Helmont work of 1648.   (David Hersey, Misconceptions about Helmont’s Willow Experiment, 2003,  in Plant Science Bulletin on line, 48(3): 78.)

1455 Gutenberg printed a Bible, the first produced utilizing moveable type. His innovation proved of immediate significance. Ancient texts, available previously only in hand scribed versions, would now be printed. Publication of new herbals and simples advanced quickly. [See Theophrastus, c300 BC]

1460 Born in the 1460s: Vasco de Gama (the Portuguese explorer who was the first European to establish a sea route to India) and Disderius Erasmus (Renaissance Philosopher and early Christian Humanist)

1471 The Opus Ruralium Commodorum was published, based on a manuscript written a century earlier by Peitro Crescenzi of Bologna. Compiled from works of Varro, Columnella, and Cato, with an admixture of Crescenzi’s own thoughts, this book was translated into various languages and read extensively. It could be considered the foundation of modern western gardening. (Camp, Boswell, & Magness, 1957)

1478 Publication of the first incunable edition of Aulus Cornelius Celsus‘s De Medicina, in Florence, based on text published by the German, Niccolò di Lorenzo, but said to be compiled by Niccolò Fonzio and edited by his brother Bartholomeo. The two earliest and most significant examples of De Medicina are the Florentine and Vatican codices, each incomplete and informing the other. [See TimeLine entry AD c47] Additional Note regarding Bartholomeo Fonzio: “Fonzio was a fraud, the worst kind of humanist huckster, as lickspittle as a Chihuahua and as derivative as a dictionary. His works don’t deserve to survive in a world bereft of the Botticellis his bonfire-friendly heroincinerated. Alessandro Daneloni has created… the definitive English-language edition of the “Letters to Friends,” and readers owe him thanks for that. But they don’t owe Fonzio anything, least of all an afternoon’sreading-time.” Stephen Donoghue, in his 19 Sept 2011 Book Review of Martin Davies English translation of Daneloni’s Bartholomeo Fonzio Letters to Friends.

1480 The dry garden at the monastery of Ryoan, in Kyoto, was built during this decade, apparently reaching completion by 1490.

1485 Gart der Gersundheit, in translation, the concluding words of Preface: “Now fare forth into all lands, thou noble and beautiful garden, thou delight of the healthy, thou comfort and life of the sick. There is no man living who can fully declare thy use and thy fruit. I thank thee, O Creator of heaven and earth, Who has given power to the plants…contained in this book that thou has granted me the grace to reveal this treasure, which until now has lain buried and hid from the sight of common men.” (Agnes Arber, 1953; Stannard, 1999, II: 220)

1487 Diaz worked his way around Africa in search of spice & trade for the Portuguese.

1492 Columbus left Spain, sailing west to search for new routes and sources for importing spices from the East. He returned with corn (Zea mays) and other crop plants. Over a decade, he led four several voyages, returning to Spain with cargo and information documenting many plants utilized by natives of the new land for food & flavoring, medicine, dyes, fiber, etc. Convincing themselves of proximity to Asia, the explorers were perplexed by the diversity of unfamiliar plants: “There are trees of a thousand types, all with their various fruits and all scented. I am the saddest man in the world because I do not recognize them, for I am sure they are of great value in Spain for dyes and as medicinal spices. I am bringing specimens of them to Your Highness.”  Regardless, the explorers were determined to interpret plants encountered as presumed representatives of valuable sources of exotic medicines, spices, and materials. Columbus returned from his first voyage with a load of Agaves he thought were Aloes, Bursera exudate he was convinced to be mastic (from Pisticia), Moringa, a small tree thought to be Rhubarb, and Canella believed to be a form of Cinnamon. Columbus is the first European to report on tobacco use (though it sounds as though there could have been other psychotropic additives): “Men and women were crossing to their villages, the men with half-burned wood in their hands and certain herbs in order to take their smokes, which are dry herbs put in a certain leaf, also dry, in the manner of a musket made of paper; and having lighted one part of it, by the other they suck the smoke inside with the breathe by which they become benumbed and almost drunk.” George B. Griffenhagen, 1992. “The Materia Medica of Christopher Columbus”, Pharmacy in History 34(3): 131-145, American Institute of the History of Pharmacy – Stable URL:

1493 Sugar cane was introduced to Santo Domingo during Columbus’ second voyage. The crop was soon established and a settler named Aguilón is reported to have harvested cane juice by 1505 (Thomas, 1999). By 1516 the first processed sugar was shipped from Santo Domingo to Spain. Soon afterward, Portugal began importing sugar from Brasil. (Sugar cane would become a driving force for the slave trade.) On this voyage, Columbus also carried seed of lemon, lime, and the sweet orange to Hispaniola. He returned to Europe with pineapple. (Viola & Margolis, 1991)

1493-94 Peter Martyr wrote that Columbus brought “pepper more pungent than that from the Caucasus.” These capsicum peppers were first introduced in Spain, but were knownin England by 1548, and grown in Central Europe as early as1585.

1494 Columbus introduced cucumbers and other vegetables from Europe to Haiti.

1494 The Papal Treaty of Tordesillas (formalized by the 1529 Treaty of Zaragosa) established a line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, granting Spain exploration and trade to the west (including the Philippines) and Portugal the eastern half – which included the routes around Africa to Asia and the Spice Islands. (Andrews in Foster & Cordell, 1996)

1497 Vasco de Gama opened Portuguese trade around the Cape of Good Hope. Having left Lisbon on 8 July 1497, under orders from the King of Portugal, he followed the route (discovered by Diaz 11 years before) around the Cape of Good Hope. On 20 May 1498 he arrived at Calicut, on the west coast of India, marking the first voyage to that region from Europe. This trip and the subsequent voyage of Cabral broke the Venetian monopoly on the sugar and the spice trade established across the Arabian Peninsula. (Rosengarten, 1969; Root, 1980)  See  1572 for reference to “Os Lusíadas”, an epic poem written by Luís Vaz de Camões.

1499 In his Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Francesco Colonna described dream-like scenes (some illustrated) of mansion, forest, and garden that influenced writers, artists, architects, and designers well into the 17th century. (Thacker, 1979)

c1500 Bean and lima bean, crops native to America, became known to Europeans. By the late 1700’s the lima bean was grown in Africa, Europe, India, and the Philippines. By this year also, the sweet potato (also native to South America) had been taken to Spain, where it was in cultivation at mid-century. This root was soon cultivated in China, India, and Malaya. [See 1526; 1648]

1500 The native population of Brasil numbered about 2.5 million before European settlement. At the close of the 20th century, that population base was less than 200,000. (Ponting, 1991)

1502 Death of Murata Shuko (b 1423), who shaped the Japanese tea ceremony as essentially Buddhist, as the way of tea (chado). With this evolution, Japanese ceremonial tea moved to simple surroundings and the use of more rustic objects. (Hohenegger, 2007)

1502 The island of St. Helena was encountered by J. de Nova, and soon became a garden site for cultivating fresh provisions to break the several month voyage between Portugal and Mozambique. At the end of the century, James Lancaster would take with him bottled lemon juice and “by this means the Generall cured many of his men, and preserved the rest.” (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1502 During Columbus’s 4th voyage (as written in an account by his son, Ferdinand), the explorers encountered and captured a Mayan trading canoe on 15 August. Among the goods carried by the Mayans were seed of cacao (which Ferdinand called almonds) that seemed to hold great value: “For their provisions they had such roots and grains as are eaten in Hispaniola [these would have been maize and manioc], and a sort of wine made out of maize which resembled English beer; and many of those almonds which in New Spain [Mexico] are used for money. They seemed to hold these almonds at a great price; for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen.”

1505 Enslaved Africans were first brought to the New World. Trade in slaves would steadily rise, driven at first by gold mining, the harvest of natural resources, and increasing agricultural demand. In the end, at least 9.5 million African slaves were brought to the New World, fully 2.5 million of whom were deployed in the Caribbean where they worked substantially in the sugar industry. For 360 years slavery was the key labor source for New World sugar production. (Mintz in Viola & Margolis, 1991) By another breakdown, approximately 13,000,000 slaves were exported from Africa between 1440 and 1870. Of those people, about 6,000,000 were deployed initially to work in sugar plantations, 2,000,000 to coffee, 1,000,000 to mining, 1,000,000 for domestic labor, 500,000 for cotton fields, 250,000 for cacao walks, and 250,000 for construction. (Thomas, 1999)

1505 The Portuguese settled Ceylon. Their exploitation of the cinnamon forests led to a system of slavery and a monopoly on trade in this spice. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1506 A Suzhou author described Chinese potted landscapes (pinjing, or pan jing) in the following manner: “The people of Tiger Hill are excellent at planting strange flowers and rare blossoms in a dish. A dish with pine or antique flowering plum, when placed on a table, is pure, elegant and delightful.” (Clunas, 1996)

1511 Western explorers discovered the Molucca Islands (the Spice Islands) to be the source of cloves. See Root (1980) for detail of intrigue that followed. Eventually [see 1773] one tree planted by Pierre Poivre parented orchards in Madagascar and Zanzibar. These countries nearly provide the world supply today.

1511 Having won battles over Muslim forces, the Portuguese advanced their control over spice producing areas of India, Ceylon, Java, Sumatra – and by 1514, the Spice Islands. For nearly 100 years great Portuguese wealth would flow from control of the spice trade. [See 1605] (Rosengarten, 1969)

1513 Afonso de Albuquerque communicated with the Portuguese monarch: “If your Highness would believe me I would order poppies…to be sown in all the fields of Portugal and command opium to be made…and the laborers would gain much also, and people of Indi are lost without it, if they do not eat it.” Musgrave & Musgrave, 2002.

1513 Gabriel Alonso de Herrera published his Obra de Agricultura compilada de diuersos auctores…, a book in vernacular Spanish of agricultural practice. The Obra remained current for more than three centuries, in Spain and as well as its many colonies. (Pinney, 2017; Ciencia Y Humanismo: La Obra de Agricultura de Gabriel Alonso de Herrer (1513, CRITICÓN, 46, 1989, PP 95-1098, ecopy, WWW,)

1514 Alvarez commanded the first European vessel to reach China by sea. In the region of Canton the Portuguese crew encountered oranges superior in sweetness and fragrance even to those brought from India and Ceylon. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1515 “The Malay merchants say that God made Timur for Sandalwood and Banda for mace, and the Moluccas for cloves, and that this merchandise is not known anywhere else in the world except in these places; and I asked and enquired very diligently whether they had this merchandise anywhere else and everyone said not” – the introductory quotation in The Spice Route, taken from a translation of The Suma Oriental by Tomé Pires. Keay, 2007

1516 The banana was introduced to the New World from Africa. (Heiser, 1981) [See 1804]

1518 Duarte Barbosa, in An Account of the Countries bordering on the Indian Ocean and their Inhabitants described sweet oranges in Ceylon. A later book by Garcia da Orta, 1562, one of the earliest European books printed in India, commented that the oranges of Ceylon “are the best of the whole world in regard to sweetness and abundance of juice.” Prior to the discovery that Asia harbored sweet oranges, Europeans considered citrus more valuable for fragrant oils. (Tolkowsky, 1938) [See 1550]

1519 Magellan began his circumnavigation of South America, exploring new trade routes. Nearly 3 years later, on 8 September 1522, the journey ended when 18 of the original 250 crewmen (lacking Magellan, who died on the isle of Mactan in April, 1521) returned to Seville, with 1 of the 5 ships that started (only the Victoria made the entire voyage). Even given such great losses, the cloves (26 tons), sacks of nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon, and load of sandalwood returned to Spain from the very last legs of the voyage covered the entire expedition cost. The returning captain, Sebastian del Cana, was given a pension and awarded a coat of arms that displays two cinnamon sticks, three nutmegs, and 12 cloves. A journal detailing exploits of this voyage was maintained by Antonio Pigafetta, gentleman- adventurer, and published subsequently as Primo Viaggio Intorno al Mondo. (Rosengarten, 1969; Boorstin, 1983) [See 1522]

1521 Hernando Cortés conquered Mexico. While on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico, his soldiers were the first Europeans to discover the delights of the Aztecan spice, vanilla. (Rosengarten, 1969) Among the people in Cortés’ party was a free, black African, Juan Garrido. At his farm in Coyoacán, Garrido later would become the first European to plant wheat in Mexico. (Thomas, 1999)

1522 Pigafetta, following three years on the Magellan voyage to the Moluccas, wrote that “in all the islands of the Moluccas there are to be found cloves, ginger, sago which is wood-bread, rice, …pomegranates, both sweet and sour oranges, lemons…” He also wrote that: “the betel-nut is a fruit which they keep chewing together with flowers of jasmine and orange,” and” the cannibals of the islands…eat no other part of the human body but the heart, uncooked but seasoned with the juice of oranges and lemons.” (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1524 Representatives of Spain and Portugal met to review maps and charts in an attempt to agree over ownership of the Spice Islands (first controlled by Portuguese in 1511); five years later Portugal paid 350,000 gold ducats to Spain for relinquishment of claims. (Milton, 1999)

1525 Rycharde Banckes published his English Herbal with the introductory phrase: “Here begynneth a newe mater, the whiche sheweth and treateth of ye vertues and proprytes of herbes, the whiche is called an Herball” (Sanecki, 1992)

1526 Peter Treveris published The Grete Herbal, an English translation of a popular French herbal. The book appears to be the first illustrated herbal published in English. (Sanecki, 1992)

1526 Oviedo reported having often transported sweet potato (batata or camote in Spanish) from the Caribbean to Castile. During the 16th century, Portuguese traders carried the crop to all of their shipping ports, and the sweet potato was quickly adopted from Africa to India and Java. To this day, confusion exists between the sweet potato (Ipomea) and the true yam (Dioscorea). Confusion began with the first Western encounter of the plant during Colombus’ voyages, when sweet potato was introduced to the Spanish court as similar to the yam (i.e. Dioscorea, which is native to West Africa and already familiar to Europeans.) (Sauer, 1993) A member of the morning glory family, sweet potato originated from South America and the Caribbean.

1530 Brunfels published Herbarium Vivae Eicones, the first newly written and printed botanical book/herbal. The “German fathers” were working with the North European cultivated and natural flora, which presented regional challenges for traditional Dioscoridean texts that continued as the basis for both materia medica and floristic plant studies.

1530 Poet and Physician Girolamo Fracastoro published his discursive poem on the French Disease, introducing the term Syphilis (which seems already to have been in use in his region). Some of his verse extols the tree itself: “Hail great tree sown from a sacred seed by the hand of the Gods, with beautiful tresses, esteemed for your new virtues: hope of mankind, pride and new glory from a foreign world; most happy tree, if only the holy powers had wished you to have been born under our heaven and to grow amid this race of men belonging to the Gods, sacred with everlasting wood. Yet you yourself shall be known even in these parts and you will also be sung under our heavens, wherever through our song the Muses can make you travel by the lips of men.“ (copied from Piechocki, 2016)

Other verses relate the transfer of wood for extracts of Guaiacum as treatment:

But not forgetfull of their Country's good,
They fraight their largest Ships with this rich Wood,

To try if in our climate it would be
Of equal use, for the same Malady:
The years mild Season seconds their desire,
And western Winds their willing Sails inspire,

Iberian Coasts you first were happy made
With this rich Plant, and wonder'd at its Aid;
Known now to France and neighbouring Germany
Cold Scythian Coasts and temp'rate Italy,
To Europe's Bounds all bless the vital Tree.

That English version comes from another curious book, Poetical History of the French Disease, which is the English translation of Fracastoro’s poem, published by Nahum Tate in 1685 in London. (Robert S. Munger, 1949. “Guaiacum, the Holy Wood from the New World” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Volume IV, Issue 2, Spring 1949, Pages 196–22. More information on Frascotoro’s poem is presented in Katarina Piechocki’s article Syphilologies: Fracastoro’s Cure and the Creation of Immunopoetics, 2016, Comparative Literature 68(1). Duke Univ. Press.

1531 A decree issued in Castile under the Spanish Crown established good terms for loans to allow purchase of slaves by settlers for establishment of sugar mills. (Thomas, 1999)

1532 Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru.

1533 A professorship in botany, created at the university in Padua, established plant study as a discipline separate from medicine. That position was filled by Francesco Bonafede. The following year Luca Ghini became a lecturer in botany at Bologna. (Morton, 1971) [See 1543; 1545]

1533 Wen Zhengming authored an album including a lengthy written Record as well as numerous paintings and poems documenting the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician in China’s garden city of Suzhou. Codifying the history of one of the world’s most famous built landscapes, his concluding descriptive statement gave a panoramic view of the site: “In all there is one hall, one tower, six pavilions and twenty-three studios, balustrades, ponds, terraces, banks and torrents, making a total of thirty-one, by name the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician.” (Clunas, 1996)

1536 Spaniards completed the conquest of Peru, soon utilizing potatoes as cheap food for sailors. The earliest English publication describing potatoes was Gerard’s 1597 herbal.By 1700 potatoes were important in Germany, and by 1800, important in Russia.

1538 The word “carnation” first appeared as a royal reminder (coronation) of this plant’s ancient Greek name Diosanthos, which translates as “the flowers of Zeus.” The scientific name for these plants, Dianthus caryophyllus, yields yet more etymological charm. We are reminded of its clove-scented flowers through the specific epithet (caryophyllus). The term for clove spice comes to us from the Arabic (quaranful) to the Greek (karyophillon) to the Latin (caryophyllus). (Grimshaw, 1998)

1541 Jacques Cartier introduced cabbage to Canada on his third voyage. The first written record of cabbage in the US is 1669.

1541 A book to promote cooking with sugar was available in Venice. Later Nostradamus wrote the first French book on this topic. (Root, 1980)

1541 Thomas Elyot, in his book The Castel of Helth summarizes growing realization that Classical herbs might not apply to plants and cures in more northerly Europe with his observation that ancient texts bring “no little profyte concernynge myne owne helthe.” (Stannard, 1999)

1542 Fuchs published De Historia Stirpium Commentarii. By 1543 he had published the German version, New Kreüterbuch. Illustrations for his herbals were based on studies of living plants, rather than on the simplified images that had become common in various scribed editions of the Apuleius herbal. [See c. 350] The text, however, was taken essentially from Dioscorides. (HNT) Much later, the plant genus Fuchsia was named in his honor.

1543 One of the earliest botanical gardens, a garden of “simples,” was established by Luca Ghini at the University in Pisa – on a site different from that of the present garden.

1545 A botanical garden was established at Padua, Italy.

1545 A Nahuatl document of commodity prices in Tlaxcala estimated values based on cacao beans: “one good turkey hen is worth 100 full cacao beans, or 120 shrunken cacao beans; a turkey egg is worth 3 cacao beans; a small rabbit is worth 30; an avocado newly picked is worth 3 cacao beans; one large tomato will be equivalent to a cacao bean; a tamale is exchanged for a cacao bean.” (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1550 Introduced to China by 1550, corn (maize) grew so quickly in importance that the crop became a significant factor in the 18th century increase in the Chinese population, particularly in inland areas where rice was not prolific. (By the end of the 20th century, China was the world’s second largest producer of corn.)

1550 By this year, tomatoes (introduced from the New World) were regularly consumed in Italy. [See 1554] (Morton, 1981)

1550 Damiao de Goes described orange exports from Portugal to Spain. The mention was made shortly after J. de Castro’s return from India, a voyage from which he is said to have brought a sweet orange tree that he planted at his country home of Penh Verde. His tree is thought to be the original source of Portuguese sweet oranges. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1551 Jerome Bock published his Kreüterbuch, one of the first herbals to include the author’s own plant descriptions from first-hand observations – rather than copying the work of Dioscorides. (HNT)

1554 Rembert Dodoens published his herbal, Cruydeboeck, complete with 714 plates. The book was very well-received throughout temperate Europe, and soon translated to other vernacular languages – into French by Charles de L’Ecluse in 1557 and English (from the French) by Henry Lyte in 1578, and into Latin in 1583. The Latin translation was called Stirpium historiae pemptades sex, which explains the many simple references to this work- as Cruydeboedk, Pemptades, and Stirpium   Claims are that in its time Dodoens’work was a most translated book, second only to the Bible, and remained in use for two centuries. (Wikipedia, 2015)

1554 First written record of the tomato. Italians grew the plant by about 1550. Thomas Jefferson was the first American to grow tomatoes, in 1781. Tomatoes were eaten in New Orleans by 1812. George W. Carver dedicated himself to promoting the tomato, in addition to his work onpeanuts.

1554 Though the first description in Europe of kohlrabi was in this year, it was not grown commercially (that was accomplished in Ireland) until 1734. Records of this vegetable in the US date from1806.

1556 Tobacco cultivation began in Europe with an importation of seed by André Thevet. (Simpson, 1989) Introduction to Europe is reported as 1559 by De Wolf. (Punch, 1992)

1558 An illustration published by Thevet documented the harvesting and processing of cashew by natives in Brasil. (Other contemporary writers also had discussed the value of this native American tree.) Within a decade, Portuguese traders had introduced cashew cultivation to India, where this remains an important crop. Its value lies not simply in the cashew nut, but also in the juicy peduncle (the stem, called marañon in Latin America) on which the nut-bearing fruit forms. That fleshy peduncle, resembling a quince or apple, provides astringent, watery refreshment. Moreover, once fermented it yields cashew wine and brandy. North Americans, very aware of the asymmetric roasted cashew seed, are often unfamiliar with the juicy, fruit-like peduncle. (Sauer, 1993) Never make the mistake of eating raw cashew nuts taken from a fresh marañon. The shell (the real fruit) surrounding the seed is invested with toxic compounds that are dispelled with roasting. The cashew tree is related to the mango (Mangifera indica), which is native to the hills of Assam. Many people are allergic to the foliage of the mango, though they may not be affected by the fruit.

1559 Perhaps the first mention of tea is made in western literature, by Giambattista Ramusio, in Navigazioni et viaggi. (Hohenegger, 2007)

1559 In this year Conrad Gesner recorded the earliest known instance of a tulip flowering in cultivation in Europe, in the garden of Johann Heinrich Herwart of Augsburg (Pavord, 1999.) Gesner is said to have received these bulbs himself from Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, ambassador from Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I to the Ottoman court of Suleiman the Magnificent. Busbecq reported to Gesner that the highly colored flowers were called tulipam by their Turkish admirers, though the native word for these plants is lalé. Confusion as to the name could have had something to do with the turban (dulban) shape of the bulbs and flowers. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1559 A wonderful blog by Hannah Marcus reminds us of the church and the 1559 listings of prohibited books. Included was Fuch’s publications, though they were expurged, rather than burned. Search for the Blog cited below, where you will see excellent library examples of this kind of censorship. From Books, Health, and History, The New York Academy of Medicine: “Pope Paul IV published the papacy’s first Index of Prohibited Books. The list banned more than 500 authors and proclaimed that Catholic readers could no longer own or read books written by heretics. Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566) was one of many Protestant authors whose works were banned by the Index of Prohibited Books. And yet, Fuchs was no theologian and his published works were not about religion. Leonhart Fuchs was one of the great botanists and doctors of the 16th century.” On expurging: “Expurgation was meant to correct a book and remove what was harmful, not to destroy the whole object. In a way then, expurgation made it possible for these books to avoid the inquisitors’ bonfires and find their way eventually to the corner of East 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue, bearing on their pages the scars of their histories in Counter-Reformation Europe.” (Blog: “Censoring Leonhart Fuchs: Examples from the New York Academy of Medicine”, by Hannah Marcus; Posted on February 20, 2015 by The New York Academy of Medicine –

1560 Spanish settlers planted three olive saplings in Lima, Peru. An olive from this original introduction was later taken to Chile. This simple introduction formed the basis of today’s South American olive industry. (Root, 1980)

1561 The posthumously published work of Valerius Cordus established wholly new standards for systematic plant description. His was the first work to uniformly address all aspects of a plant, in standard sequence and parallel treatment. (Morton, 1981)

1564 The European grape vine was imported to California via Mexico, brought by priests. 1565 According to popular history, John Hawkins introduced the potato to Ireland.

1568 The New Herball of William Turner was published in completed form (in Cologne), including all three parts. Part 1 had been published in 1551 (in Antwerp), part 2 in Cologne in 1561. (Sanecki, 1992) Though woodcuts were copied from Fuchs, Turner added observations from his own working knowledge of herbs. Turner’s book is often described as the first herbal in the English vernacular, though earlier titles seem to hold this distinction [See 1525, 1526]. (Wikipedia, 2015)

1569 Historia medicinal de las cosas que se traen de nuestras Indias Occidentales, was published by Nicolas Monardes in Seville in many editions (between 1569 and 1574), including an English translation by John Frampton (1577) with the great title: Joyfull News out of the Newfounde Worlde. Many new plants are discussed in this book, including tobacco and sunflower (the first mention). Among plants described, 47 were considered to have medicinal value, such as Guaiac, the resin from Holy Wood (Lignum vitae). Monardes cites early reports: “A Spanyarde that did suffer greate paines of the Poxe, whiche he had by the companie of an Indian woman, but his servaunte beyng one of the Phisitions of that countrie [Santo Domingo], gave unto hym the water of Guaiacan, wherewith not onely his greevous paines were taken awaie that he did suffer: but healed verie well of the evill, with the whiche many other Spanyardes, that were infected with the same evill were healed, the whiche was communicated immediatly, with them that came from thence, hethcr to Sevill, and from thence it was divulged throughout all Spaine, and from thence through all the worlde. . . .” (extracted from Munger, along with the following note: Antonio Herrara, in his Historia general [Madrid, 1723-32], places the date of the romantic episode as 1503, but does not furnish further details.- Robert S. Munger, 1949. “Guaiacum, the Holy Wood from the New World” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Volume IV(2): 196–22)

Joyfull News… seems also to be the first mention in Europe of the American native tree sassafras. [See 1586] Monardes’ plants became prominent, but most went through epochs of popularity. In 1596 John Gerard celebrated the sunflower, which he had grown in his own garden. By 1665 John Ray commented that the flower’s popularity had subsided. See the following citation, in which the author suggests that Monardes’s publication truly constituted the first widespread discussion of the medicinal value of plants from the Western Hemisphere: J. Worth Estes, 1995. “The European Reception of the First Drugs from the New World Author(s)” Pharmacy in History, 37(1):3-23 Published by American Institute of the History of Pharmacy Stable URL:

1569 Pius V determined that chocolate, though nourishing, would be classified as a beverage. Thus chocolate could be taken during periods of fasting. In 1662, Cardinal Francesco Maria Brancaccio determined that though nourishing, beverages, including wine and chocolate, are not to be considered foods. (Bailleux, et al, 1996)

1572 Hernández’s work on the natural history of the New World [in Mexico from

1572-1577, see publication in 1651] led to his description of recipes utilized by the Aztecs for chocolate (cacahuatl). The beverages they made with cacao were highly spiced, the three principal flavorings being hueinacaztli (a petal from the Annonaceous tree Cymbopetalum penduliflorum), tlilxochitl (the processed “bean” of the orchid, Vanilla planifolia), and mecaxochitl (the inflorescence of Piper sanctum, a relative of black pepper.) In line with contemporary European concern over the humor and the nature of medicines and foods, Hernandez classified cacao as “temperate in nature,” but somewhat “cold and humid.” (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1572 Luís Vaz de Camões. published his epic poem “Os Lusíadas” – celebrating Vasco de Gama’s discovery of a sea route around Africa’s cape to India. The following stanzas describe encounters with orchards of sweet oranges (native to China and introduced to India).

A thousand trees are seen towards heaven rising,
With beautiful and sweetly-scented apples;
The orange, wearing on its lovely fruit
The colour Daphne carried in her hair;
Bent low, nay almost fallen to the ground,
The citron, heavy with is yellow load;
And, last, the graceful lemon with its fruit
Of pleasant smell and shaped like virgins’ breasts.

(Tolkowsky, 1938)

1573 The peanut is known to have been cultivated in Chekiang Province, China, probably arriving from Brasil through Portuguese traders.

1573 Clusius became court gardener to Maximilian II in Vienna, remaining in that position until 1587. He later became a professor at the University of Leiden in Holland, where he introduced and popularized the tulip.

1575 Milanese voyager and writer Girolamo Benzoni noted in his History of the New World (in reference to chocolate): “It seemed more a drink for pigs, than a drink for humanity. I was in this country for more than a year, and never wanted to taste it, and whenever I passed a settlement, some Indian would offer me a drink of it, and would be amazed when I would not accept, going away laughing. But then, as there was a shortage of wine, so as not to be always drinking water, I did like the others. The taste is somewhat bitter, it satisfies and refreshes the body, but does not inebriate, and it is the best and most expensive merchandise, according to the Indians of that country.”

1578 Henry Lyte (sometimes awkwardly listed as John Lite or John Lyte) published A niewe herball or Historie of Plantes…, as the English translation of Charles de L’Ecluse’s Histoire des Plantes (1557), which was the French translation of Cruydeboeck(1554) by Rembert Dodoens. Though published nearly two decades prior to Gerard’s Herball, and even though both are essentially translations of Dodoens, Lyte’s version of Histoire never became as widespread or well-known. (Wikipedia, 2015 – note dates for both L’Cluse and Dodoens in the Wikipedia treatment of Lyte were incorrect.) In the Herball, Lyte introduced the word “arborist” to English, based on the Latin arborator. (Campana, 1999)

1578 Bernal Díaz del Castillo observed the devastation of native peoples in New Spain: “Let us turn to the province of Soconusco which lies between Guatemala and Oaxaca. I say that in the year 25 [1525] I was traveling through it for 8 or 10 days, and it used to be peopled by more than 15,000 inhabitants [households], and they had their houses and very good orchards of cacao trees, and the whole province was a garden of Cacao trees and was very pleasant , and now in the year 578 [1578] it is so desolate and abandoned that there are no morethan twelve hundred inhabitants in it.” (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1581 In a series of letters sent from Portugal (1581-1583) Phillip II of Spain wrote to his two daughters about the love of plants and gardening: “The other day I was given what is
contained in this box, being told that it was a sweet lime; and, although I do not believe that it is anything else than a lemon, I longed to send it to you because, should it be asweet lime then I never saw one so big…I also send you roses and some orange blossoms, that you may see there are some here.” It is likely that the Phillip’s sweet lime was what we today would call an orange, for the Portuguese called the Indian sweet orange the limon doce. (Tolkowsky,1938)

1581 Just a few years prior to the battle of the Spanish Armada, the English Parliament banned use of logwood dye (extracted from the tropical American tree Haematoxylon campechianum, and traded through Spanish sources), which had recently come into use for its capacity to yield black cloth. In 1673, with direct access to sources in Central America assured, the bans were repealed. A memory of logwood harvesting was recorded by William Dampier (later to become a prominent English Admiral), who at the age of 22 spent several months in a work camp. The dye comes from heartwood of the trees, some of which were so great in diameter that the workers “therefore are forced to blow them up.” (Finlay, 2002)

1582 Rikyu consolidated the way of tea with construction of the Taian hut for Japan’s ruler, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. (Hohenegger, 2007)

1583 De Plantis libri by Andrea Cesalpino became the greatest botanical book of the 16th century and the first general plant science text to supersede ancient writings. In the preceding 2000 years, little had been added to our knowledge about plants. Like his predecessors, Cesalpino accepted anecdotal information, but he advanced plant study in many areas, particularly in his grouping of plants by their physical characteristics (morphology) rather than by their supposed medicinal properties. (HNT) Cesalpino was a student of Luca Ghini [See 1533; 1543.] The bean genus Caesalpinia was named for him.

1583 Clusius is said to have taken the yellow-flowered Rosa foetida to Holland from Vienna, where it became known as the Austrian Briar (the orange-red cultivar ‘Bicolor’ is still known as ‘Austrian Copper’.) (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1900]

1584 Richard Hakluyt, friend of Walter Raleigh and ardent supporter of the potential of North America, published A Discourse of Western Planting, which promotedestablishment of plantations through settlement. Though he lobbied Elizabeth I for support, such a project would not be advanced until 1606, when James I issued the First Charter of Virginia. Hakluyt participated in that charter as part of the London Company, which managed the Virginia Company (a separate group formed the Plymouth Company.) At his death, in 1616, Hakluyt’s son inherited his two shares of the Virginia Company, valued at 21 pounds. Hakluyt had predicted remarkable exports of raw materials from North America, with great emphasis on wood and forest products. At his time, construction of a large warship required about 2,000 oak trees, clearing approximately 50 acres of forest. In final analysis, lumber was not a major export, but he was on target in regard to naval stores. By 1609, 80 ship masts had been shipped to England. This trade would continue, eventually engendering a new charter governing management of trees for use in shipbuilding. [See 1691] The newly established regulations would mean English shipbuilders became dependent on this source for masts until 31 July 1775, when the final shipment of white pines was delivered, In the intervening period, England received over 4500 masts from the colonies. (Rutkow, 2012)

1585 The first commercial shipment of cacao seed arrived in Spain, having been sentfrom Veracruz.(Bailleux, et al,1996)

1586 Francis Drake, on landing at Roanoke Island, North Carolina (Rupp states it was Roanoke, VA) heard tales from colonists who had survived on soup made from sassafras. He returned to England with what may have been the first shipment of this plant. As early as 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold (who named Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard) had shipped material of Sassafras to England, and by 1607 Sassafras was in great demand, sold in English coffeehouses and even on the street. The tea was said to cure a wide range of diseases; the wood, thought to repel insect attack. Today we know that oil of sassafras (out of use since the early 1960s) is substantially the chemical safrole, once used to flavor root beer, but now considered carcinogenic. The most significant commercial use for sassafras today is the manufacture of filé, which is a powder made from young, dried leaves and an important ingredient to gumbo recipes. (Rupp, 1990) [For more on colonists who survived on “a pottage of sassafras leaves” – visit the National Park Service Heritage Education website on RoanokeRevisited.]

1587 In early October, Rikyu hosted the great Kitano tea meeting (Kitano dai chakai) through patronage of Hideyoshi. Followers of tea converged in the Kitano pine grove, where they constructed hundreds of tea huts for temporary use. In succeeding years, Rikyu’s heirs would come to establish three main schools of tea (Urasenke, Omotesenke, and Mushanokojisenke), each based on principles of wa (harmony), kei (reverence), sei (purity), and jaku (tranquility). (Hohenegger, 2007)

1587 First written description of Brussels sprouts, a form of cabbage. Common in Belgium, this vegetable crop was known in the US by 1800.

1587 Joseph du Chesne published Great Mirror of the World (five parts,, later expanded to six), a massive poem expounding on Paracelsan ideas of alchemy. In the fifth part, he discusses earth, air, fire, and water, and the three principles (mercury, sulfur, salt), which he describes as drawn from distilling oak powder.

1590 José deAcosta noted, in his Natural and Moral History, that: “The main benefit of this cacao is a beverage which they make called Chocolate, which is a crazy thing valued in that country. It disgusts those who are not used to it, for it has a foam on top, or a scum- like bubbling……….. It is a valued drink which the Indians offer to the lords who come or pass through their land. And the Spanish men – and even more the Spanish women – are addicted to the black chocolate.” Acosta also tells of a time in the port of Guatulco (Mexico) when the English burned more than 100,000 loads of cacao (a load contained 24,000 beans). (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1590 Adriaen Collaert published his Florilegium, a book for flower illustrations and seemingly the first to utilize the term ’florilegium.

1591 On 28 February, at age 70, Sen no Rikyu, the tea master said to have established the character of today’s Japanese tea ceremony, committed ritual suicide at the behest of Hideyoshi. (Hohenegger Beatrice, 2007)

1593 Carolus Clusius, having relocated to Leiden, established the Hortus Academicus, said to be the first botanical garden dedicated to ornamental plants. The valuable collection of tulips he cultivated there provided much of the material for the growing Dutch tulip industry – apparently through theft as much as sale or gift. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1594 Through 1597 a great famine struck Europe, caused by four bad harvests. (Ponting, 1991)

1595 Bakers in Montpellier, France were forced to use bushes to fire their ovens because there remained no forest in the area to supply firewood. Europe would continue to face energy shortages based on dwindling forest reserves. Eventually reliance would move to coal, then to petroleum (remember, even these fossil fuels are based on plant life), which would mark a major shift in the history of civilization, from renewable to non-renewable energy sources. (Ponting, 1991)

1595 John Davies penned his Epigramme 36,” Of Tobacco” (from The Complete Poems of Sir John Davies, ed. Rev. Alexander B. Grosart, 1876)

Moly, the gods’ most souveraigne hearb divine,
Nepenthe, Heaven’s (Helen’s) drinke, most gladnesse brings, Heart’s griefe expells, and doth the wits refine.
But this our age another world hath found,
From whence an herb of heavenly power is brought; Moly is not so sovereign for a wound,
Nor hath Nepenthe so great wonders wrought:
It is Tobacco, whose sweet substantiall (subtle) fume, The hellish torment of the teeth doth ease,
By drawing down, and drying up the rheume, The mother and the nurse of each disease:
It is Tobacco which doth cold expell, And clears the obstruction of thearteries,
And surfeits threatning death, digesteth well, Decocting all the stomach’s crudities:
It is Tobacco, which hath the power to clarifie The cloudy mists before dimme eyes appearing: It is Tobacco, which hath the power to rarifie
The thick grosse humour which doth stop the hearing; The wasting hectick, and the quartaine fever,
Which doth of Physick make a mockery;
The gout it cures, and helps ill breaths for ever, Whether the cause in teeth or stomack be;
And though ill breaths were by it but confounded, Yet that vile medicine it doth farre excell,
Which by Sir Thomas Moore hath beene p ropounded: For this is thought a gentleman-like smell.O, that I were one of those Mountebankes,
Which praise their oyles and powders which they sell!
My customers would give me coyne with thanks; I for this ware, for sooth a tale would tell:
Yet would I use none of these tearmes before; I would but say, that it the Pox will cure:
This were enough, without discoursing more, All our brave gallants in the towne t’allure,”

Also, see a more contemporary translation by Christopher Marlowe,

1596 L. Shih Chen published Pen Ts’ao Kang Mu, the most well-known and praised of Chinese herbals. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1596 Gerard included in a catalog of plants in his Holborn garden what may be the first mention of the garden Nasturtium (probably Trapaeolum majus). A much later publication, Aiton’s Hortus Kewensis, notes that Lumley Lloyd introduced this plant to horticulture, in 1686. (Halliwell, 1987)

1597 Gerard published the first edition of his Herball, followed eventually by a second edition in 1633, which was edited and expanded by Thomas Johnston. Titled The Herball orGeneral Historie of Plants, the text relied heavily on an English translation of Dodoens’ Stirpium. (Sanecki, 1992). See Jackson, 1876 in this TimeLine, for more information. Jackson describes the Herball as an English translation of Dodoen’s Stirpium Pemptades (the Latin translation of Cruydeboeck) that Gerard reorganized along the lines of L’Obel’s work.

1597 The Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius (Michał Sędziwój) insisted: “Therefore when there is Rain made, it receives from the Air that power of life, and joyns it with the Salt-nitre of the Earth…, and by how much more abundantly the Beams of the Sun beat upon it, the greater the quantity of saltnitre is made, and by consequence the greater plenty of Corn grows.”  (Leigh, 2004)  What is this telling us?  The era of alchemy has much to do with the work of Paracelsus, and his intention to discover the chemistry of medicinal cures (iatrochemistry). Embedded in alchemical thought is the observation that air is necessary for fire, and for life. A truly important mineral, saltpeter (potassium nitrate), was used to manufacture gunpowder, but was also known to improve soil fertility. There must have been, by this reasoning, an aerial form of nitrate (nitre) that could be fixed into solid form through rain and sun. Sendivogius is sometimes called the Father of Oxygen,because his many studies presage the existence of a flammable component in theatmosphere.

1598 In Ben Jonson’s play “Every Man in His Humour”, Captain Babodil extols tobacco, claiming: ”I could say what I know of the virtue of it, for the expulsion of rheums, raw humours, crudities, obstructions, with a thousand of this kind; but I profess myself no quacksalver. Only this much: by Hercules I do hold it and will affirm it before any prince in Europe to be the most sovereign and precious weed that ever the earth tendered to the use of man.”

1599 Thomas Nashe, known for his bawdy writings, commented on the vaunted use of guaiacum in treatment of syphilis: “Physicians deafen our ears with the honorificabilitudinitatibus of their heavenly panacea, their sovereign guiacum, their clysters, their treacles, their mithridates, compacted of forty several poisons, their bitter rhubarb, and torturing stibium.” Nashe’s guiacum is resin from Lignum vitae, the wood of small trees in the genus Guaiacum, which had been highlighted as a powerful medicinal in Monardes descriptions of useful plants from the New World (1569-1575).The fragrant resin is also harvested from the similar, related Bulnesia sarmientoi. Syphilis, an infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, became recognized as a scourge in Europe following Columbus‘ first voyage. Having been diagnosed in Naples around 1494, it was initially referred to as the “French disease,” assuming France to be the source. That association was memorialized in 1530, when Girolamo Fracastoro penned the name Syphilis in his epic poem “Syphilis sive morbus gallicus” (Syphilis or The French Disease), creating a myth about the generation of the disease and the roles of fomes (infectious agent). Fracastoro’s poem notes mercury and guaiacum for treatment. One general assumption today gives the true origin of T. pallidum as the New World.NOTES: [Source of the Nashe quote: “Praise of the Red Herring” (Nashe’s Lenten Stuff – Containing the Description and the First Procreation and Increase of the Town of Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk: with a new play, never played before of the PRAISE OF THE RED HERRING – Fit for all clerks of the noblemen’s kitchen to be read; and not unnecessaryby all Serving-men who have short Board-wages and to be remembered… faman peto per undas.” If you are loaded with cash, you can pay $45 to Oxford University for 24-hour access to an article published in 1949, Robert S. Munger, “Guaiacum, the Holy Wood from the New World” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, VolumeIV, Issue 2, Spring 1949, Pages 196–229, A good, accessible article is: J. Worth Estes, 1995. “The European Reception of the First Drugs from the New World” Pharmacy in History 37(1): 3-23 American Institute of the History of Pharmacy Stable URL:   PS: also Search honorificabilitudinitatibus inWikipedia,
the longest English word, even once-used by Shakespeare,:

1600 Britain’s East India Company was founded. (Rosengarten, 1969) 1601 Jean Robin published a catalog for his medicinal herb garden.

1602 Shareholders formed The United (Dutch) East India Company, with bad consequences for Portuguese traders. [See 1605, 1799] (Rosengarten, 1969)

1603 Spigelius published instructions on making dried herbarium specimens (in his Isagoges in Rem Herbarium) – a technique that had only come into practice during the previous 50 years. The collecting, exchange, archiving, and study of pressed, dried plants that are mounted to sheets of paper engendered a quiet revolution in taxonomy, floristics, and systematics. (Morton, 1981)

1603 At the age of 18, Federico Cesi (meeting with three friends in his Umbrian home) founded the Academy of Linceans (the Academy of the Lynx-eyed), the four members devoting themselves to “the keen exploration of the minutiae of nature.” Each member assumed a specialty; Cesi was devoted to botany. By 1610, Giovaanni Battista Della Porta had become the 5th member, and in 1611, Galileo Galilei was enrolled. For a span of time, “astronomy and botany went hand in hand,” with such additions to the membership as botanists Nicol Antonio Stelliola and Fabio Colonna. (Freedberg, 2002) [See 1624]

1604 “Man was created of the Earth, and lives by virtue of the air; for there is in the air a secret food of life…whose invisible congealed spirit is better than the whole Earth – without which no mortal can live, and without which nothing grows or is generated in the world.” These words are taken from the works of Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius, and (according to Lane) constitute an early reference to the relationship between the “ether” and life – presaging discovery of the substance known today as oxygen – (Lane,2002)

1605 James I issued letters of incorporation to London’s Worshipful Company of Gardeners.

1605 The Dutch began seizing control of Portuguese-held trade with the Spice Islands (historically called the Moluccas, today the three widespread groups of islands that make up the Indonesian province of Maluku), gaining full control by 1621. By 1681 a plan to eliminate trees in most areas of the Moluccas and to concentrate cultivation of nutmeg and cloves on only two islands had the desirable effect of raising prices and tightening management of supply. (Rosengarten, 1969)[See 1770; 1860; 1886]

1606 A million black mulberry trees were imported to England, another step in an effort to start a silk industry. Production of silk in England was never successful. (Lewington, 1990)

1607 Joseph du Chesne (also called Quercetan, see Digby,1661) Diaeteticon Polyhistoricon,Opus rails against sugar: “Under its whiteness, sugar hides a great blackness and under its softness an extremely large acrimony which equals that of strong water. So much so that it could dissolve and liquefy the sun itself.” (Oddy, Atkins & Amilien, 2009. The Rise of Obesity in Europe: A Twentieth Century Food History)

1608 Jean Robin and Pierre Valet published the first European florilegium, Jardin du Roy tres Chrestien Henri IV. It was followed closely by Florilegium Novum (1611-1614) and Florilegium Renovatum(1641) by Jean Theodore de Bry, Besler’s Hortus Eystettensis (1613), Emanuel Sweert’s Florilegium (1612), and Hortus Floridus by Crispin de Passe (1614). These books covered extensive numbers of horticultural floral forms. For example, Besler’s work included 660 species and more than 400 variants (doubles, variegates, etc); 400 of his plants had medicinal value, 180 were used in cooking, and 250 were grown principally for ornament. Besler’s book included numerous forms of lilies, campanulas, delphiniums, hollyhocks, scabiosas, iris, tulips, narcissus, roses, hyacinths, and anemones.

1609 Jamestown colonists planted cucumbers and carrots in their gardens. 1610 First apparent importation of tea to Europe. (Hohenegger, 2007)

1610 The practice of drinking tea was first introduced to Europe, and to England in 1644.

1610 By this year, huge sugar plantations in the province of Bahia, Brasil were run by 2,000 white settlers, 4,000 black slaves, and 7,000 Indian slaves.

1610 Tea was imported to Europe (apparently the first time) through the Dutch East India Company. It was not until September 1658 that an advertisement appeared in England for this commodity. (Coe & Coe, 1996)

1611 John Tradescant, gardener at Hatfield House, submitted a bill for various plants purchased in Holland, including 80 shillings paid for 800 tulip bulbs. At that price, the bulbs represented a gardener’s salary for about six months. (Pavord, 1999)

1612 In his De Orbe Nove, Peter Matyr commented concerning chocolate (cacao): “But it is very needfull to heare what happie money they use, for they have monye, which I call happy, because for the greedie desire and gaping to attaine the same, the bowelles of the earth are not rent a sunder, nor through the ravening greediness of covetous men, nor terrour of warres assayling, it returneth to the dennes and caves of the mother earth, as golden, or silver money doth. For this groweth upon trees.” (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1612 The 225 square mile, 13 foot deep Lake Beemster in Holland was drained to create 17,000 acres of fertile land. The draining required 43 windmills. In the hundred years from 1550 to 1650, nearly 400,000 acres of Dutch land were reclaimed for agriculture. (Ponting, 1991)

1612 John Rolfe is said to have introduced the Orinoco strain of tobacco from Venezuela, giving Virginia colonists their first commercially successful agricultural export crop. (The tobacco native to Virginia was not popular in Europe). The value of tobacco was so great that Virginia governor Thomas Dale was forced to require that each farmer plant 2 acres of corn also. About 500,000 pounds of tobacco were produced in 1627; and 35 million pounds by 1700. The eventual demands of tobacco as a crop resulted in institution of slave labor in about 1674. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1613 Basilus Besler published Hortus Eystettensis, a highly illustrated codex documenting plants in the garden (hortus) of Johann Konrad von Gemmingen, the Bisho of Eichstätt Organized based on the four seasons, Besler’s team of artists and writers worked over 16 years to produce and publish the hundreds of engravings.

1619 The Virginia Company of London (having been founded through a land grant in Virginia in 1606) instituted the headright system, a means of granting land (in 50 acre parcels) to farmers. The original working arrangement had been a seven-year indenture period for settlers, with the expectation farmers would continue as share-cropping tenants. The headright system of land disposal established a precedent for other colonies in eastern North America. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1620 Although some advances in the study of natural phenomena had been made in the previous century, Francis Bacon’s call for method in scientific inquiry in his Novum organum (HNT) prompted a new spirit of investigation. His method rejected “the dogma and deduction” of ancient philosophers who ignored the value of observation.

1621 A thanksgiving feast was held in mid-October by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims in appreciation of assistance from members of the Massasoit tribe and celebration of the first harvest. (Milestones, Pen, 1974) The gift of corn in 1620 proved critical to the survival of half of the 102 Pilgrims who had arrived on the Mayflower. A brass plaque at Truro (Corn Hill) quotes Governor Bradford: “And sure it was God’s good providence that we found this corne for we know not how else we should have done.” – and reveals the Western hubris of superiority. Several thousand years of native New World agricultural talent produced the corn those colonists enjoyed. Galinat in Foster & Cordell, 1996)

1622 Native Americans killed a third of the Virginia population of European settlers in apparent retaliation for the encroachment of these immigrants on Indian cornfields. (Root, 1980)

1623 Gaspard Bauhin produced the Pinax, a monumental compilation that pulled together uncoordinated plant names and descriptions that had appeared in Theophrastus and Dioscorides, as well as in later herbals and other plant records. By accepting Bauhin’s compilation, Linnaeus was able to avoid many of the complications of the ancient literature. (HNT)

1623 Carrying through with the barbarous cruelty of Dutch Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen in establishing control over spice producing islands, Dutch representatives committed a brutal massacre of the British and Japanese working on Amboyna. (Milton, 1999)

1624 Galileo sent an occhialino (an early term for microscope) to Cesi, with the conclusion: “But your Excellency will have a huge field in which to observe many thousands of specimens. I beg you to notify me of the most interesting things you observe. In sum, it gives us the possibility of infinitely contemplating the grandeur of nature, how subtly she works, and with what indescribable diligence.” By 1625, Colonna had called the instrument an enghiscope, while another Lincean, Johannes Faber, termed it the microscope. (Freedberg, 2002) [See 1603]

1624 John Smith’s incredible recounting of English colonization in the midst of the extant native culture (of what we call Virginia today) is worth reading. Here he describes a typical native village: “Their houses are in the midst of their fields or gardens, which are small plots of ground. Some 20 acres, some 40. some 100. some 200. some more, some lesse. In some places from 2 to 50 of those houses together, or but a little separated by groues of trees. Neare their habitations is little small wood or old trees on the ground by reason of their burning of them for fire.” – Source: THE GENERALL HISTORIE OF Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles… (See Also, see:

1625 Francis Bacon published his essay ‘Of Gardens,’ in which he imagined anideal garden, a princely 30-acreEden.

1627 Thomas Morton (in his book The New England Canaan of Thomas Morton) reported on use of fire to clear forests: ““The Salvages are accustomed to set fire of the Country in all places where they come, and to burne it twize in the yeare,viz; as the Spring and the fall of the leaf. The reason that mooves them so to doe so, is because it would other wisebe so overgrowne with underweedes that it would be all coppice wood, and the people would not be able in any wise to passe through the Country out of a beaten path.” (for this and further info, see Williams,2006)

1629 John Parkinson published Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris.

1632 Natural Philosopher (and literary executor for the estate of playwright Ben Jonson), Kenelm Digby is credited with manufacturing and later patenting (1662) the first prototypes of the modern glass wine bottle – narrow-necked and fired under elevated temperatures, the “English” bottles could be stoppered with corks, laid down, stored, and shipped more effectively than earlier types.(Taber, 2007) Digby, an alchemist by nature, also published a book on plants, see 1661 – Discourse Concerning the Vegetation of Plants.

1633 Jesuit Father Antonio de la Calaucha reported antimalarial properties of extracts from a Peruvian tree. The use of the extract, quinine, spread quickly in Europe, where malaria (called ague) had always been a major source of sickness and death. Availability of quinine during a 1655 papal conclave was likely the reason none of the cardinals attending died – the first time this had happened. Because of the way the dried extract was introduced to Europe, it became known as Jesuit’s powder. Other stories about quinine refer to the miraculous cure of Francisca Henriques de Rivera, wife of the Count of Cinchón, the Spanish viceroy to Peru. From this event, people began to refer to the fever tree as Cinchona. Europeans did not know the true source of the bark until 1735, when Joseph de Jussieu collected samples of the tree. (Le Couteur & Burresson, 2003) Linnaeus named the tree Cinchona officinalis in his 1753 Species plantarum.

1633 In the same year of Galileo’s famous Inquisitional trial and conviction,Giovanni Battista Ferrari (of Sienna) published De Florum Cultura, an early book dedicdated to ornamental flowers and horticulture. Among the illustrations by Dutch artist Cornelis Bloemaert were examples of the double-flowered Chinese Hibiscus. Of significance, Ferrari and the artist decided to include illustrations of the seed, as examined through a microscope and labelled: “Idem semen triplici ad microscopium aspectu repraesentatum.” This appears to constitute the first published plant illustration that takes advantage of microscopy (32 years prior to Hooke’s Micrographia.) The use of microscopes in Italy had been popularized by Galileo (a member of the Lincean society) as: “that kind of lens in a tube which makes very small bodies look very large, and can show each part distinctly.”(Freedberg, 2002)

1634 Until 1637 the zeal of collectors inflated values of tulip cultivars. This Tulipomania eventually fell victim to a market collapse that affected the entire Dutch economy.

1634 William Wood published the first account of New England ecology, highlighted by the following poem (Rutkow, 2012):

Trees both in hills and plaines, in plenty be,
The long liv’d Oake and mournefull Cypris tree,
Skie towring pines, and Chesnuts coated rough,
The lasting Cedar, with the Walnut tough;
The rozin dropping Firre for masts in use,
The boatmen seeke for Oares light, neate growne Sprewse,
The brittle Ash, the ever trembling Aspes,
The broad-spread Elme, whose concave harbours waspes…
The Diars Shumach, with more trees there be,
That are both good to use, and rare to see.

1635 The Jardin des Plantes was established in Paris through monarchal edict.

1635 Two decades of hostility between the Portuguese and the English East India Company along the east coast of India ceased. By 1639 the East India Company had established factories for production of cotton cloth at Madras, and by 1651 in Bengal. In 1661 England acquired Bombay and the Company established factories there. Over 150 years would pass before industrial processes yielded cotton fabrics of the delicacy produced in India by hand. (Musgrave & Musgrave, 2002)

1636 The Portuguese were expelled from Deshima, their Japanese trade island; the Dutch were allowed on-going contact with Japanese traders, through Hirado and eventually Deshima in 1641.

1636 The Dutch occupied Ceylon, forcing villagers to supply quotas of cinnamon, as had the Portuguese previously. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1636 John Shawe was rewarded patent #95 for ‘Diverse Wayes and Meanes for the Better Manuring and Improveing of Grounds of all Sort nor formerly Found Out nor Practiced by Any.” It is left up to future researchers to determine what Shawe was claiming as his discovery. (Leigh, 2004)

1637 Tradescant f. (the son, filius, of elder Tradescant) made his first trip to Virginia, returning to England with living material of bald cypress and American sycamore. Tradescant f. made his second trip to Virginia in 1642. John Tradescant introduced Mimosa pudica, the South American sensitive plant, to cultivation in England. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1640 John Parkinson published his Theatrum Botanicum in which plants are classified according to 17 classes or tribes; i.e. 1. Sweet smelling Plants; 2. Purging Plants; 3. Venemous Sleepy and Hurtfull plants and their Counter Poysons; 4. Saxifrages; 5. Vulnerary or Wound Herbs; 6. Cooling and Succory Herbs; 7. Hot and Sharpe Biting Plants; 8. Umbelliferous Plants; 9. Thistles and Thorny Plants; 10. Fearnes and Capillary Herbes; 11. Pulses; 12. Cornes; 13. Grasses; 14. Marsh Water and Sea Plants and Mosses and Mushroomes; 15. The Unordered Tribe; 16. Trees and Shrubbes; 17. Strange and Outlandish Plants. (Sanecki, 1992)

1642 Samedo Alvaro recounted stories to Europeans about the Chinese healing root called jin-chen, or ginseng. (Emboden, 1974)

1643 Expressing belief in alchemy and the concept of palingenesis, Thomas Browne wrote in his Religio Medici that: “A plant or vegetable consumed to ashes, to a contemplative and school Philosopher seems utterly destroyed, and the form to have taken his leave for ever: But to a sensible Artist the forms are not perished, but withdrawn into their incombustible part, where they lie secure from the action of that devouring element. This is made good by experience, which can fromthe ashes of a plant revive the plant, and from its cinders recall it into its stalk and leaves again.” See also Jorge Luis Borges and his short story The Rose of Paracelsus.(Wikipedia)

1644 A recipe for preparation of chocolate in Spain was published by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma. The mixture included: 100 cacao beans, 2 chilis, a handful of anise, ear flower, 2 mecasuchiles, 1 vanilla, 2 oz cinnamon, 12 almonds and as many hazelnuts, 12 lb sugar, achiote to taste. This was beaten into hot water, to a froth. (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1646 Giovani Battista Ferrari published his 500-page compendium of all known information on citriculture, Hesperides, sive De Malorum aureorum Cultura et Usus Libri Quator (Hesperides, or Four Books on the Culture and Use of the Golden Apples). He relates a fable of citrus in which the three daughters of Hesperus, the Hesperides, fled to Italy from Africa. Aegle took her citrons to the country near Lake Garda, Arethusa bore her lemons to Liguria, and Hesperthusa sowed seed of oranges in the Campania Felix. Among his many woodcut illustrations is figured the navel orange, a form we tend to think of as modern. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1647 Rice was introduced into cultivation in the Carolinas. Today California, Arkansas, Louisiana, & Texas are the main rice producing states. (Heiser, 1981)

1647 Correspondence from the Caribbean to Gov. Winthrop of Massachusetts confirmed that workers at sugar plantations would require food provisions from the outside, because the production of sugar was more profitable than the production of other provisions. The most important export for Massachusetts was salt cod sold to feed slaves in West Indian plantations. Returning ships brought quantities of sugar and molasses sufficient to spur the New England rum industry. (Root, 1980)

1647 Garancières: “It is clear that sugar is not a food, but an evil spell; that it is not a preservative but a destruction, and that we should send it back to India, for before its discovery the consumption of the lungs was not known but was brought to us with the fruit of our labor.” (Oddy, Atkins & Amilien, 2009. The Rise of Obesity in Europe: A Twentieth Century Food History)

1648 French doctor Guy Patin was critical of a thesis on tea, stating: “One of our doctors who is more celebrated than able, named Morissot, wanting to bestow favor upon that impertinent novelty of the century… has had presented here a thesis on tea. Everyone disapproved, some of our doctors burned it….” (Hohenegger, 2007)

1648 Sweet potatoes were in cultivation in Virginia.

1648 Jean Baptiste van Helmont reported on his experiment in plant physiology and nutrition. A five pound willow tree was planted in 200 pounds of dry soil. It was watered and allowed to grow for five years. At the end of this period, the total gain in weight was one hundred and sixty-nine pounds and three ounces, while the soil had lost only two ounces. As an alchemist,Van Helmont assumed that water is a complex substance which is changed into plant material. Van Helmont did not mention publication of the idea for such an experiment two centuries earlier by Nicolus of Cusa [see 1450; also see John Woodward, 1699], or make associations between plant growth and gas exchange. David Hersey, Misconceptions about Helmont’s Willow Experiment, 2003, in Plant Science Bulletin on line, 48(3): 78.

1649 Nicholas Culpeper published his herball, The English Physician or an Astrologo- physical Discourse of the Vulgar Herbs of this Nation Being a Compleat Method of Physic Whereby a man may preserve his body in health or cure himself being sick for thee pence charge with such things onely as grow in England, they being most fit for English Bodies. The English Physician dealt considerably with astrology and the signatures of plants. (Sanecki, 1992)

1650 By this year coffee had arrived in England. In 1675 one could take the beverage in over 3,000 coffee houses in that country. (Simpson, 1989)

1650 From this time until the 20th Century the Caribbean was the world center for growing sugar cane.

1651 Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae… (HNT) was published, 80 years late. This work resulted from one of the earliest explorations of the natural history of the New World, made in 1570 by Francisco Hernández, private physician to Philip II of Spain. He was sent to assess natural resources and reported on more than 1000 plants that were considered medicinally important by the natives of Mexico. Some of the plants he described and preserved as botanical specimens are now extinct.

1651 Britain’s Navigation Act required that all imports from the colonies be received on British ships.

1652 Pasqua Rosée, a Greek who settled in England, opened his London coffeehouse with a printing of “The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink” summarized as: “a simple innocent thing; composed into a Drink, by being dryed in an Oven, and ground to Powder, and boiled up with Spring water, and about half a pint of it to be drunk, lasting an hour before, and not Eating an hour after, and to be taken as hot as possibly can be endured.” (Pendergrast, 1999)

1652 The first New England pine trees were felled for British ship masts. Before the end of the century, British warships were built in North America. By 1775 easy sources of wood for masts had been stripped from Eastern North America. (Ponting, 1991) The pine tree was used as one of the symbols on the first American-made coins, issued in Boston. [See 1652; 1761]

1652 John Hull of Boston, Massachusetts was selected to establish a New England mint. His first coins bore inscription only, but his second set was ornamented with a willow, his third with an oak, and his fourth (the largest issue) with a pine. These Boston shillings are sometimes called the tree coins. John Hull grew wealthy through this process and became the subject of an apocryphal tale, which claims that the marriage of his daughter to Mr. Samuel Sewell was settled with a dowry of 30,000 shillings, the amount determined as equivalent to her weight. (Connor, 1994)

1652 Capetown was founded. The Dutch sent two ships to Table Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa to establish a garden to provide fresh foods and fruits for sailors on their voyages by the Cape of Good Hope. By 1679 the garden included ornamental plants from upcountry regions of Africa, as well as edible and decorative plants from China, Java, Zanzibar, etc. By 1700 plants native to Table Bay had become common in Holland. Among those plants were the calla (Zantedeschia aethiopica), bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae, named in honor of Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of George III), and impatiens (Impatiens holsti). [See 1772]

1653 In his Anatomical Exercitations, William Harvey reminds us of the importance of hands-on study: “For although it be a more new and difficult way, to find out the nature of things, by the things themselves; then by reading of Books, to take our knowledge upon trust from the opinions of Philosophers: yet must it needs be confessed, that the former is much more open, and lesse fraudulent, especially in the Secrets relating to Natural Philosophy.”

1654 Tradescant f. made his third trip to Virginia. On earlier voyages he had introduced tulip poplar and red maple to England.

1658 Oliver Cromwell died of malaria, refusing to take the only known treatment (quinine from cinchona), because it was introduced by Jesuits. As a result, Amsterdam “was lighted up as for a great deliverance and children ran along the canals, shouting for joy that the Devil was dead.” (Durant) [See 1633, 1820] By 1681 cinchona was universally accepted as antimalarial. (Simpson, 1989)

1658 First English translation of Giambattista della Porta’s Natural Magick, a century following the first Latin edition (1558). You can follow the link below to gain access to the English and Latin versions. The text is amusing, but repetitive and mostly irrational. There is absolutely no way any human ever tested the great bulk of ideas presented, so one is left with the steady assumption that this is a vanity press book meant for purchase but not use. It would certainly be considered malarky by members of the Royal Society, which was founded just two years later. 

1659 France’s first chocolate maker, David Chaliou, obtained a patent letter from the French king (signed in 1666) for “the exclusive privilege of making, selling and serving a certain composition known as chocolate” in the form of chocolate liquor, pastille, and other ways. Another Frenchman had opened the first chocolate house in London two years earlier. (Bailleux, et al, 1996) (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1660 On 25 September, Diarist Samuel Pepys recorded his first taste of tea, which he had ordered at one of the many coffeehouses of London where tea was initially served to the English. Coffeehouses were still new, the first one having just opened ten years prior, and served coffee, tea, and chocolate. (Hohenegger, 2007)

1660 Under Charles II, England established an excise tax of 8 pence on each gallon of tea that was sold. The tax would eventually be levied on tea leaf, as it was too easy for merchants to manipulate the numbers. (Hohenegger, 2007) This year also marks the Restoration, when Charles II returned.  His birthday, 29 May, is celebrated each year as Oak Apple Day, or Royal Oak Day, an association tied to his having hidden in an Oak tree to escape capture, and his having been greeted (on return) by people brandishing clusters of Oak leaves. The Stuart reign was marked with Oak leaves as an emblem. (Stafford, 2016/2017)

1660 Cacao saplings were transported to the Philippines to begin plantations for production of raw chocolate. (Bailleux, et al, 1996)

1661 Robert Boyle carefully experimented with increase in plant biomass (as had van Helmont). In an effort to determine what had happened to the water taken up by plants, he actually boiled the liquid away from the plant tissue and found a coal-like residue. On pages 192-195, Boyle specifically describes spirits isolated (methanol, or wood alcohol) isolated through distilling Buxus.(The sceptical chymiste..., HNT) It was not until 1834 that “methylene” was named.

1661 KenelmDigby, a natural philosopher and member of the Royal Society, published his Discourse Concerning the Vegetation of Plants (which was translated to French in 1667.) Digby’s book was of great concern to other members of the Royal Society, and never made in-roads, though the philosopher touched on several subjects that one could say hinted at future topics, such as respiration and photosynthesis. In reality,the Discourse is a remarkable example of how alchemists thought about plants and life, and is an excellent example of the state of understanding (in 1661) as to how plants grow and metabolize. In his text, Digby recounts a resurrection fable related to the corporeal essence of a plant residual in the ash (once water was driven off), which related to his ideas of palingenesis: “Let us come back to our Plant, and enquire if it be not possible to render it perpetuall, or rather to convert it into a permanent substance and state, no longer subject to the Vicissitudes of time; and outward Agents, that destroy all things: So to bring it to a kind of glorifyed body, such as we hope ours will be after the Resurrection. Quercetanus the famous Physician of King Henry the fourth telleth us a wonderfull story of a Polonian Doctor that shewed him a dozen glasses Hermetically Sealed, in each of which was a different Plant; for example, a Rose in one, a Tulip in another, a Clove-Gilly-flower in a third; also of the rest. When he offered these Glasses to your first view, you saw nothing in them but a heap of Ashes in the bottom. As soon as he held some gentle heate under any of them, presently there arose out of the Ashes, the Idaea of a Flower; the Flower and the Stalk belonging to those Ashes; and it would shoot up and spread abroad to the due height and just dimensions of such a Flower; and had perfect Colour, Shape, Magnitude, and all other accidents, as if it were really that very Flower. But when ever you drew the heate from it, as the Glasse and the enclosed Aire and matter within it grewto cool by degrees, so would this Flower sink down by little and little, till at length it would bury itself in its bed of Ashes. And thus it would doe as often as you exposed it to moderate heate, or withdrewit fromit. I confesse it would be no small delight to me to see this experiment, with all the circumstances that Quercetan (Joseph du Chesne) setteth down. Athanasius Kircherus (Athanasius Kircher) at Rome assured me he had done it; and gave me the processe of it. But no industry of mine could effect it.”(Taber, 2007; William Lynch, Chapter 9, “A Society of Baconians?: The Collective Development of Bacon’s Method in the Royal Society of London”, inSolomon and Martin, 2016, Francis Bacon and the Refiguring of Early Modern Thought…)

1662 Notes from lectures by Joachim Jung appear as De Plantis Doxoscopiae Physicae Minores and Isagoge Phytoscopica (which was not formally published until 1679). These publications express an increasingly modern approach to the study of plant morphology, including a strikingly contemporary definition of plant: “A plant is a living, non-sentient body, attached to a particular place or habitat, where it is able to feed, to grow in size, and finally to propagate itself.” Jung’s thoughts appear to have had great influence in later works, such as those of Ray, and eventually the publications of Linnaeus. (Morton, 1981)

1664 John Evelyn published Sylva: Or a Discourse on Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majestie’s Domain. Evelyn’s Sylva was the first book published by London’s Royal Society (founded in 1660.) Sylva remained the dominant English treatise on forestry for over a century. [See on-line: Gabriel Hemery, Nature 507, 166–167 (13 March 2014) doi:10.1038/507166a, Published online 12 March 2014] (Campana, 1999)

1665 Simon Paulli, a German physician, claimed: “As to the virtues they attribute to it (tea), it may be admitted that it does possess them in the Orient, but it loses them in our climate, where it becomes, on the contrary, very dangerous to use. It hastens the death of those who use it…” (Hohenegger, 2007)

1665 In his Micrographia, Robert Hooke detailed the structure of cork and described “cells” as studied through a microscope that had been constructed for him. This is recognized as the first time the word cell was applied to what we now understand is the basic unit of life, though the cork Hooke studied was composed of dead cells, and he had no idea as to the contents and organization future research would reveal.

1666 Isaac Newton selected Indigo as one of seven colors he distinguished in the spectrum, thus indigo became a color of the rainbow, the midnight blue between blue and violet. (Finlay, 2002)

1666 The Great Fire of London is said to have originated in the King’s Bakery on Pudding Lane. (see the History of Wheat, at

1666 Work began on The Great Garden (the Großer Garten) atHerrenhausen. The 50 hectare garden grew impressively and reached its current aesthetic under the patronage of Sophie of Hanover, between 1696 and 1714. In addition to this Großer Garten, the Royal Gardens today include the Berggarten, the Georgengarten and the Welfengarten. (Herrenhausen Garden website, 2017)

1667 The English East India Company, having begun importing tea in 1664, gained a monopoly when the English government declared Dutch imports illegal. (Hohenegger, 2007)

1667 John Ray was admitted as a Fellow to London’s Royal Society.

1667 The Treaty of Breda provided for cessation of hostilities between Holland and England, with each country retaining all foreign properties controlled at the time, regardless as to how recently or shamelessly those lands were conquered. England retained control over New Holland, i.e. New York; a primary gain for Holland was final recognition of their control over Run, the one island in the spice-yielding Banda archipelago with English credentials dating back to 1603. (Milton, 1999) As part of this bargain, the Dutch gained control of sugar plantations in Surinam. (Tannahill, 1988)

1668 Friedrich Jacob Merck acquired Angel Pharmacy (Engel-Apotheke) in Darmstadt, Germany. By 1827, his descendent Emanuel Merck had expanded the business through experimenting with various alkaloids (notably morphine, which was first extracted by 1805). The Merck business grew, giving rise to an American branch that was seized during WWII. Through steady acquisitions, by the late 20th Century, the American Merck had grown larger than the original Merck, thogh both remained pharmaceutical heavy hitters. (Wikipedia, 2017)

1669 Robert Morison was named Professor of Botany at Magdalen College, apparently the earliest recognition of botany as an academic discipline in England. Morison (a Scotsman) was not popular with John Ray, having criticized Ray’s plant table created for (Bishop) John Wilkins’ Essay towards a Real Character and Philosophical Language (published by the Royal Society in 1668). This was spelled out in Ray’s 1669 letter to Martin Lister: re: Morison “Nevertheless I despise that particular writer with good cause. Although he is so ill-equipped that he cannot even write decent Latin, he flatters himself in such bad taste and is so impenetrably conceited that he scorns men a thousand times more learned than himself and thinks himself unfairly treated because he has not been promoted long ago to a professorial chair. But as long as he sneers so fatuously at the Royal Society, he makes himself ridiculous to all sane and decent-minded people.” (C. Raven, 2009)

1670 Thomas Garaway opened a shop where tea was served until its closing two hundred years later. Garaway had actively advertised and promoted tea for a decade, stating “that the Vertues and Excellencies of this Leaf and Drink are many and great is evident and manifest by the high esteem and use of it … among the Physitians and knowing men in France, Italy, Holland and other parts of Christendom.” (Hohenegger, 2007)

1671 Nehemiah Grew published The Anatomy of Plants Begun and Marcello Malpighi published Anatome Plantarum Idea. These independent studies are the first important descriptions and statements on the subject of plant internal structure (Anatomy). Both researchers continued to work in this field for several more years, resulting in new editions

by Malpighi and, in 1682, Grew’s Anatomy of Plants. The studies of Malpighi and Grew proved of such quality that little was added for over 100 years. These men explained the structure of buds, the organization of wood, the character of flowers and their separate parts, the generation of seed and embryo, and many other topics that had never been explored before. (HNT) (Morton, 1981) [See 1682]

1672 Robert Morison published the first scientific study of a single plant group (the carrot family) [the first monograph.] (HNT)

1673 Property for what would become the Chelsea Physic Garden was leased by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. Hans Sloane purchased the adjacent manor, Chelsea, in 1712, and by 1722 the garden was on the Chelsea property, with Sloane heavily involved in its activities,, including the appointment of Philip Miller as the garden supervisor. (Sanecki, 1992)

1674 The institution of the London coffeehouse was all-male, generating considerable distaste among women for the practice and the society it engendered. The Womens Petition Against Coffee commented: “We find of late a very sensible Decay of the true Old English Vigour…Neverdid Men wear greater Breeches, or carry less in them of an Mettle whatsoever.” It is blamed on: “the Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called Coffee, which…has so Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our morekind gallants… They come from it with nothing moist but their snotty Noses, nothing stiffe but their Joints, nor standing but their Ears.” (Pendergrast, 1999) Pendergrast reports encountering a response, that coffee “makes the erection more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, adds a spiritual escency to the Sperme.”

c1675 Slave traders brought cowpeas to Jamaica. A native of India, this pea has many varieties important in the southeastern US, particularly the black-eye and the crowders.

1676 Jimsonweed gained its common name (originally Jamestown weed) when British soldiers in Virginia mistook Datura for an edible plant and “turn’d fool” with hallucinations that endured for eleven days. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1676 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, a resident of Delft, reported to the Royal Society in London that through the use of his microscope he had discovered multitudinous tiny animals in pepper-water. Leeuwenhoek had been examining a range of materials. In examining black pepper, he had hoped to “discover the cause of the pungency of pepper upon our tongue.” Black pepper was an imported spice of considerable economic importance. Leeuwenhoek believed microscopic examination of pepper might demonstrate a physical cause, such as corpuscles, that would cause the sharp taste. (Jardine, 1999)

1678 John Banister arrived in Virginia as a missionary. Through connections with Henry Compton (Lord Bishop of London), John Ray, the Botany Club, and (in Virginia) with William Byrd, he received financing to support an interest in natural history. Collections by Banister that arrived in England included Magnolia virginiana and Rhododendron viscosum. He was one of the founders of William and Mary College. In May, 1692, while on a collecting trip, hunched over a wildflower, Banister, was mistakenly killed by a member of the expedition with which he traveled. (Petersen, 2001)

1679 Leeuwenhoek published a scientific letter estimating the carrying capacity of Earth to be 13.385 billion people. His figure was based on total land area as compared to the number of people (120) supported per square kilometer in Holland. (Cohen, 1995)

1680 By this time, the year of his death, Wang Shimin (China) had written in his autobiography concerning his ruinous love of gardens: “Having been amply provided forby my forefathers, I am ignorant of anything to do with a livelihood: I do not even know how to use a scale or handle an abacus. Yet I was fatally addicted to gardens. Wherever I lived I set up rock arrangements and planted treesso as to express my sentiments and amuse my eyes. During the prime of my life I was bent on constructing and planting in heroic proportions. Once I gave in to my extravagant fancy I no longer thought about the consequences.” (Clunas,1996)

1681 Thomas Burnet published A Sacred Theory of the Earth. On the surface, Burnet insists the antediluvial world was more regular and perfect, seemingly regarding the post- Noah world as scarred and ruined. But writing from a fresh background of travel in the Alps, Burnet expressed awe at nature’s sublime beauty (though he seems to have rejected applying the word beauty). A change in philosophical perception of the Creation begins with the sublime, and creates fertile ground for the later development of transcendentalism. (Lothian, 2017)

1682 In his new edition of Anatomy of Plants, Nehemiah Grew reported a conversation between himself and Thomas Millington at a meeting of the Royal Society in which both men agreed that flower pollen represents the male element. (Morton, 1981)

1682 John Ray completed and published his Methodus. From his preface, as translated in

C. Raven: “The number and variety of plants inevitably produce a sense of confusion in the mind of the student: but nothing is more helpful to clear understanding, prompt recognition and sound memory than a well-ordered arrangement into classes, primary and subordinate. A Method seemed to me useful to botanists, especially beginners; I promised long ago to produce and publish one and have now done so at the request of some friends…” (C. Raven, 2009)

1683 William Penn wrote in a letter dated 16 August, from Philadelphia, that all native American plantations included peaches of good quality. (Root, 1980 – Root cites the date as 1663) In his 1682 Carolina, or a Description of the Present State of that Country, Thomas Ashe stated “the Peach Tree in incredible numbers grows wild.” (De Wolf in Punch 1992) This demonstrates how quickly a valuable plant (such as the peach, which is native to Persia) can be distributed and accepted.

1683 Dutchman, Cornelius Decker (aka Dr. Bontekoe) commented: “It must be a considerable and obstinate fever that cannot be cured by drinking every day forty to fifty cups of tea..” (Hohenegger, 2007)

1685 Guy de Tachard and colleagues, on a missionary voyage to China, were outfitted by the French Académie to collect climatic data, make astronomical observations, determine latitude and longitude, and issue reports on natural history and native science. In their voyage, the group was well-received by Simon van der Stel, the Dutch Commissioner of the Cape of Good Hope. Van der Stel made provisions for the group to set up a temporary observatory with the objective of recalculating the longitude of the Cape, and Tachard was allocated a pavilion, “a great Pile of Building” at the entrance to the botanical garden. (Jardine, 1999) [See 1652]

1686 John Ray, in his Historia plantarum (published in volumes through 1704) arrived at an early natural grouping of plants through looking at their many different characteristics. His study dealt with plants worldwide, establishing standards and giving currency to much of our modern botanical terminology and summarizing the current state of botanical knowledge. Ray, unaware of the work by Rudolf J. Camerer, concluded in his discussion on fertility in date palm, willow, and other plants that: “in our opinion the pollen is equivalent to the sperm of animals.” His definition of species was quite modern: “each produces only its own kind; one must distinguish between essential, accidental, and environmental characters.” Ray’s summary of plant physiology was so thorough that he could be considered the founder of that field. (HNT) (Isely, 1994; Morton, 1981)

1689 Abraham Cowley’s Of Plants (The Third Park of the WORKS of Mr. Abraham Cowley… BEING His Six Books of Plants, Never before Printed in English) was published by Charles Harper, London. Buried in Westminster Abbey,his epitaph begins: “Here under lies ABRAHAM COLWEY, The Pindar, Horace, and the Virgil of the English Nation”, Cowley was a poet and playwright of note – one whose reputation faded over the generations. Among Cowley’s productions were poems, in Latin, about plants, published in six small books. Following his death in 1667, Cowley’s Plantarum Liber volumes were translated and republished.

1690 John Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding was first published, giving renewed philosophical basis to scientific investigation. Asserting that knowledge would be improved by experience, Locke encapsulated the working bias of descriptive botany when he wrote “the way to improve our knowledge…is to get and fix in our minds, clear, distinct, and complete ideas, as far as they are to be had, and annex to them proper and constant names.” Locke also presaged evolutionary groupings of plants in his suggestion that one class of relations between species of things might depend on “the circumstances of their origin or beginning, and not afterwards to be altered.” (Morton, 1981)

1691 William III of England granted a charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which established royal ownership of trees over 24 inches in diameter. Trees suitable as masts for shipbuilding were marked with an incision in the shape of an arrow. (Rutkow, 2012)

1693 The first record of the grapefruit in the West Indies was made by Hans Sloane in a catalog of Jamaican plants. It is assumed the grapefruit originated there from chance hybrids between other cultivated citrus. This plant was not introduced to Florida until nearly 1850.

1693 Famine struck northern Europe. By 1694 fully 10% of the population of northern France had perished as a result.

1694 Rudolf Jacob Camerer (in Latin, Joachim Camerarius) wrote a scientific letter (later published by Valentini in his Polychresta exotica, 1700, HNT) that made the first clear case (with solid experimental evidence) for the nature of sex in plants and the actual role of pollen and ovule in this process. The publication documented years of work with plants such as the dioecious Morus (mulberry), Mercurialis, and Spinacia (spinach), as well as Ricinus (castor bean) and Zea (corn), which are both monoecious. In all cases, removal of staminate plants or flowers either greatly reduced or completely eliminated fertility. In his experiments with Cannabis (hemp), removal of staminate plants from a field did not completely deter production of fertile seed, a result “at which I must admit I was quite upset” Camerer reported. (Morton, 1981) [See 1718]

1697 Father Francisco Cupani published the first scientific description of Lathyrus odoratus, a plant from Sicily and the parent stock of today’s sweet pea. Seed that he sent in 1699 to Robert Uvedale, headmaster of Enfield Grammar School near London, resulted in cultivated forms, and by 1731, a famous selection called ‘Painted Lady’ – the exact origins of which are not known. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1699 Dr. Uvedale of Enfield received a shipment of Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) form Father Cupani in Sicily. Due to their form, color, and fragrance these plants became popular and their cultivation spread. A century later many variants were recognized, including the ‘Painted Lady’ which remains in cultivation today. (Fletcher, 1969)

1699 John Woodward reported “Some thoughts and experiments concerning vegetation” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. He had replicated van Helmont’s experiment with willow weight gain, but used much more precise and measured methods, and was not able to replicate Helmont’s results [see 1648, van Helmont) David Hersey, Misconceptions about Helmont’s Willow Experiment, 2003, in Plant Science Bulletin on line, 48(3): 78. (see also, King, 2011)

1699 A decade after his first visit to northwest Australia, William Dampier returned as Captain of the English ship Roebuck. Landing in Shark Bay, in western Australia, the expedition collected what seem to be the first herbarium specimens of Australian plants – 23 of which are extant. Otherwise rather ill-fated, the ship and expedition would be abandoned, the crew rescued, and Dampier would publish the story in 1701 as his second book A Voyage to New Holland. John Ray cited Dampier’s specimens in Historia Plantarum (1704) and (in 1810, more than a century later) Robert Brown studied the specimens, on which he based description of the new genus Dampiera(Goodeniaceae). (Webb, 2003)

1700, 1721 In the second half of the 17th century, England began importing quantities of inexpensive calico and chintz fabrics. This caused serious issues for domestic wool and linen producers, who demanded protection from the cheap imports.. Thus, Britain instituted the Calico Acts, which banned imported cotton textiles. At that time, cotton cloth production was completely manual, and the major exporter was India. With growing industrialization, the acts were repealed in 1774. (Wikipedia, 2018)

1700 Irish Poet Nahum Tate, appointed England’s Poet Laureate in 1692 (though heavily criticized by Alexander Pope, and though his father had been a supporter of Oliver Cromwell), published his Panacea, a Poem on Tea in Two Cantos (HNT 18503; Wikipedia, 2019). His preface tells us: “The Tale in the First Canto of this Poem, was taken {as (Romantic as it may seem) from the Chinese History, and, with Very modest Fiction, accommodated to my Subject ; to make the Discovery and production of the TEA- TREE more wonderful and surprizing. Which, being in it self of most admirable Virtues,and certainly One of the greatest Blessings of Nature, 1 may as well suppose it to have been Miraculously Produc’d,as Fracastorius his West-Indian Tree, which his Poem tells us was Deûm manibus Sata, Semine Sacro,” In the final elements of this preface, Nahum claims the Tea Treeis as marvelous as Fracastoro’s Guaiacum, which is discussed in the TimeLine entry for 1530) Nahum’s verse moves ahead to claim:

Tip Tea sustains, Tea only can inspire
The Poet’s Flame, that feeds the Hero’s Fire.

The two cantos are followed by a shorter poem, “The Tea-Table”, which begins:

Hail Queen of Plants, Pride of Elysian Bow’rs ! How shall we speak thy complicated Pow'rs ?
Thou Wond’rous Panacea, to asswage
The Calentures of Youth’s fermenting Rage, And Animate the freezing Veins of Age.
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