Oldest existing herbarium specimen

John McNeill johnm at ROM.ON.CA
Fri Jul 25 17:58:01 CDT 1997

Mary Barkworth wrote:

>Does anyone know how old the oldest existing herbarium specimen is?
>And, of course, what additional information is there about it (e.g.,
>where, of what, by whom).

By chance, I happened to-day to be reading chapter 4 (Macrotaxonomy,
the science of classifying) of Ernst Mayr's "The Growth of Biological
Thought" and in it (p. 165), he says that "The idea to press and dry
plants seems to hav originated with Luca Ghini (1490-1556), among
whose pupils were Cibo (whose herbarium from 1522 is still extant),
Turner, Aldrovandi and Cesalpino, all of whom made herbaria."

I am writing this at home and do not have Index Herbariorum or TL-2 at
hand to check on Cibo, or any of the others, but Luca Ghini worked at
Pisa (establishing there the first botanic garden in 1543-44).

Others I am sure will have more precision.


  John McNeill, Director Emeritus, Royal Ontario Museum,
  100 Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C6, Canada.
  Tel. and fax # 416-586-5744  e-mail: johnm at rom.on.ca

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