Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linne)


Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, botanist, zoologist, and physician, was the founder of modern scientific nomenclature used to label and classify plants and animals. Linnaeus’s designed a system of binomial nomenclature with each element in the system classified and named in terms of its general category or genus and its specific category or species. This led to what was to be known as systematics—a hierarchical organization of species. For example, humans belong to genus “homo” and species “sapiens”. Before the invention of binomial classification by Linnaeus, animals were classified according to their mode of movement.

Linnaeus’s taxonomies consist of three kingdoms, divided into classes, that are subdivided into orders, genera (singular: genus), and species (singular: species).

Species are subclassified in a ranked hierarchy, starting with domains. Kingdoms are divided into phyla (singular: phylum) — for animals; the term division, used for plants and fungi, is equivalent to the rank of phylum (and the current International Code of Botanical Nomenclature allows the use of either term). Phyla (or divisions) are divided into classes, and they, in turn, into orders, families, genera (singular: genus), and species (singular: species).

Linnaeus used his classification system not only to classify animals and plants, but also human diseases.

Linneaus’s writings, arranged chronologically

Systema Naturae (1735)—in this book Linneaus presents his system of botanical nomenclature which he uses to classify plants, animals and minerals.

Fundamenta Botanica (1736)

Genera Plantarum (1737)—here Linneaus explains his system for classifying plants. He based the classification on the number of stamens and pistils in the flower.

Critica Botanica (1737)—he used is “sexual system” of classification based on the number of flower parts.

Flora Lapponica (1737)—his findings about the plants found in his explorations of the Swedish Lapland.

Flora Suecica and Fauna Suecica (1745)

Philosophia Botanica (1750)

Species Plantarum (1753) (2 vols). Here Linneaus described plants in terms of genera and species.

Genera Morborum (1763) Linneaus classifies diseases in this volume.

Writings about Linneaus

Egdahl, Anfin (1907). Linnæus' “Genera Morborum,” and some of his other medical works, Medical Library and Historical Journal. 5, 3, 185–193.

Weinstock, John (1985) Contemporary perspectives on Linneaus. University Press of America.