The Father of South African Botany
#OTD Today is the day that the botanist Carl Peter Thunberg died in 1828.
Thunberg has been called by many names – the father of South African botany
Carl Linnaeus had actually taught Thunberg, and Linnaeus encouraged him to continue his work in Paris and Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, Thunberg met the Burmans, a father and a son, and both botanical experts.
From there, Thunberg joined the Dutch East India Company, and he botanized in South Africa for three years. After South Africa, he traveled to Japan, where he stayed for a little over a year.
Before he went to Japan, Thunberg needed to learn Dutch. The Japanese were not about to convert to Christianity, and so they had closed the country off to all European nations except for Holland to learn more about medicinal plants.
When Thunberg went to Japan, he was posing as a Dutchman instead of a Swede.
In fact, during the 18th century, Thunberg was Japan's only European visitor, and his Flora japonica published in 1784 was a revelation to botanists around the world.
During his time in Japan, Thunberg discovered the Easter Lily growing near the city of Nagasaki. He also found Forsythia in Japan, and he named it to honor William Forsyth.