The Naming of Names: The Search for Order in the World of Plants

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Bloomsbury, 2005 - Botanical illustration - 471 pages
The Naming of Names traces the search for order in the natural world, a search that for hundreds of years occupied some of the most brilliant minds in Europe. Redefining man's relationship with nature was an important feature of the Renaissance. But in a world full of plaques and poisons, there was also a practical need to name and recognise different plants- most medicines were made from plant extracts.

Anna Pavord takes us on a thrilling adventure into botanical history, travelling from Athens in the third century BC, through Constantinople, Venice, the medical school at Salerno to the universities of Pisa and Padua. The journey, traced here for the first time, involves the culture of Islam, the first expeditions to the Indies and the first settlers in the New World. In Athens, Aristotle's pupil, Theophrastus, is the first man ever to write a book about plants. What should these things properly be called? He asks. How can we sort and order them? The debate continues still, two thousand years later. Gradually, over along period in Europe, plants assumed identities and acquired names. Artists painted the first pictures of them. Plants acquired the two-part names that show how they are related to other plants. But who began all this work, and how was it done?

Sumptuously illustrated in full colour, The Naming of Names gives a compelling insight into a world full of intrigue and intensely competitive egos.

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User Review  - jjwilson61 - LibraryThing

I was expecting a book on the history of taxonomy for plants and what I got was a bunch of brief biographies on mostly medieval, mostly German, herbalists who had printed various volumes listing ... Read full review

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User Review  - AJBraithwaite - LibraryThing

The extent of my awareness of the naming of plants a few weeks ago was 'Isn't that something to do with Linnaeus?'. Well, this book has put me right in a big way. Linnaeus features only in the ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Anna Pavord is the gardening correspondent for the Independent and the author of eight previous books, including the bestselling The Tulip. She contributes to a number of magazines, both in the US and the UK and regularly fronts programmes for BBC Radio 3 and 4. She chairs the Gardens Panel of the National Trust and sits on the Parks and Gardens Panel of English Heritage.

She lives in Dorset, England, where she spent thirty years restoring the garden of an old rectory. She has recently moved to a new house and started another garden. She is married and has three daughters.

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