LINNAEUS AND MALABAR:
ELEBRATION OF BICENTENARY OF LINNAEUS AT CALICUT
Text of the talk by D.C.S.Raju,F.L.S., Central National Herbarium,Botanical Survey of India,Howrah.
Honourable Vice Chancellor Dr. Purushottaman,Respected Dr. Gopalakrishnan,Dr.Achutan,Prof. Manilal, and Friends of this august meeting ,I have great pleasure to be with you in a wonderful habitat with a glorious past.
I am not going to speak much of Linne as Dr Gopalakrishnan spoke of categories,species and conservation of
natural resources but I wish to mention the role played by people of Kerala during 16th-18th centuries when explorations for trade and scientific knowledge were going on..It is strange enough that Calicut was hospitable to seafarers 500 yrs ago just as it is a travellers paradise today. Spice trade from Cochin encouraged botanical studies by Europeans just as Calicut University is promoting taxonomic research on Flora of Malabar today.
Now coming to the point of plant wealth of Kerala and its relevance to Linnaean Classics I should first make reference to the Dutch East India Company. We very well know that Van Rheede an army officer returned from Holland as Governor of Malabar.He got translations of Sanscrit texts and brought out Hortus Malabaricus 300 years ago.But it was George Clifford the richest Banker of Amsterdam who actually cultivated many trees of Malabar at Hartecamp.He also maintained a zoo as it was a fashion those days.
The young Linnaeus was lucky to be in the employ of Clifford as a physician and pursue his botanical research for over 2 yrs Well,as I am curious about red banana of Kerala ,Linne was also interested in the plantain from Malabar.He grew this plantain in a hot house,got it flowered and fruited and fully described .This work on banana is a rare book as only 500 copies were printed ..One copy is right here as exhibit of 1736.Along with this Linne also gave the world a classification of Nature to distinguish various kinds of plants,animals and rocks.Linne explored Lapland covering 1400 miles and made name in geography.As he was a doctor Linne prepared Materia Medica in 1749 and included many indian plants.He obtained seeds from Aleppo through friends like Russell and pupils like Koenig working in Coramandel.All our plants were classified according to sexual system and given latin names like Sonerila,Areca,Myristica,Oryza,Melastoma etc For many names Linne cited Hortus Malabaricus tables and since 1753 his binomial system became standard for whole world.
Following Linnaean system of nomenclature T.F.Bourdillon wrote the first Forest Flora of Kerala 85 yrs ago which is really an Indian Flora of plant geographers as Malabaria and Coramandelia are natural regions of India The Dutch Professor J. Burman cultivated Cinnamon trees and published Flora Malabarica in 1769 whereas his son N.L.Burman brought out a Flora Indica in 1768 while Linne was revising his Species Plantarum.Incidentally I like to mention here that Loesneriella bourdilloni(Gamble) Raju is a Hippocratea species in honour of Bourdillon. with new status.Dr Buchanan,Cleghorn,Beddome,Wight, Fischer,Gamble,Hohenacker,Rama Rao and others studied rich vegetation of Kerala when this area was quite sylvan and not industrialised and there were no universities.Now the gigantic trees are gradually disappearing before their life histories are known,Habitats are shrinking with unforeseen results after few generations. A single Linnean species in food-chain or ecosystem makes a difference if it is a key species.
Very few botanists in our country know the true nature of Indian vegetation as enunciated by Prof ,Van Steenis. Indian vegetation is part of monsoon forests of Asia with moist deciduous elements dominated by Dipterocarpus family.The evergreen forests of Assam valley with Dipterocarpus turbinatus,,D..manni,Shorea robusta in indo-gangetic plains,Shorea tumbuggaia,Shorea talura in Eastern ghats,Hopea parviflora right near Calicut University ,Vatica sp in Sahyadri range of Western ghats are pointers with their winged seeds as just dipterocarps in relation to regional habitat at macro and micro levels for proper evaluation to ensure conservation of plant resources .
A Flora of Kerala is the immediate need of the day as it was for Linne in 1745 to write a Swedish Flora for many practical purposes.Linne studied Wild Rye (Elymus)and somebody is recently searching wild nutmegs of Kerala for a gene bank.I am myself wondering about Poeciloneuron and Myristica malabarica. as I have not seen them though they are noblest trees of Malabar.Linnaeus cultured pearls,cured cancers,,talked of solar energy. He classified diseases and classified scientists and systems of classification.How many of us know Linnaeus is called Dioscorides 2nd whereas we call him as Prince of Botanists.
I am sure that Prof. Manilal and all his colleagues would simulate a school of Linnaeus in Calicut to unravel mysteries of biology,reproduction and chromosome behavior in the footsteps of Janaki Ammal the great botanist who reorganised Botanical Survey of India..With these few words of enthusiasm I join you all and thank you for the hospitality.
INDIAN ASSOCIATION FOR ANGIOSPERM TAXONOMY
could you please ask … if he means the father or the son when he talks of “YOUNG LINNEAUS”
As Carolus Liinaeus (father) was born in 1707, and went to Holland and Germany in early thirties, the obvious reference is to him only and not the son.
I think … Sir meant Carl von Linné when he wrote “The young Linnaeus”, an account of the same can be seen at – http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/clifford-herbarium/linnaeus.html.
However, the only part i have taken in this shared document is to add a few related links to the content and it is quite possible that a few errors & omissions might have sneaked into the main document due to my sheer ignorance. I bear full responsibility of any misconception created out of those links. I will be very happy to rectify those errors whenever i am brought to notice.
Just to avoid confusion, my thirties means 17 hundered and thirties, when he was in his twenties, and not Linneaus in his thirties.
Wikipedia informs the birthday of Junior Linnaeus is 20th January, 1741 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Linnaeus_the_Younger).
NOW PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT HIS PEARLS< CANCER THERAPY AND such... I quote you....Linnaeus cultured pearls, cured cancers, talked of solar energy. He classified diseases and classified scientists and systems of classification.
I copy here part of an email i received from Raju Sir –
“….As Linnaeus was Prof of Medicine he treated patients with some cancers also. Genera Morborum deals with classification of diseases. He classified systems of classifications which is interesting as this deals with principles of classification as in Davis and Heywood. Another is classification of classifiers since the time of Dioscorides. As these are in Latin some can be easily understood but English books on his biography are essential-one in Indian Botanic Garden and other at BSI Pune……”
I am more late because during the past three hours i was searching the net to see if i could obtain any info from the net-
On Pearl culture & diseases
On history and systems of classification –
Failed to find any info on “classification of scientists”. It maybe related to “systems of classification”.