Valerius Cordus

The Herbal of Valerius Cordus

Today is the anniversary of the death of the German botanist Valerius Cordus who died on this day in 1544.

Cordus was the author of one of the most influential herbals in history. In fact, centuries later, the botanist Thomas Archibald Sprague re-published "The Herbal of Valerius Cordus" with his older sister, who he considered to be the best botanist in the family. After the book was published, Sprague gifted her with a personal and gorgeous bound copy. He had the book dedicated to her in Latin: "M. S. Sprague praeceptrici olim hodie collaboratrici d.d. T. A. Sprague" - basically saying that she had taught him and collaborated with him.
Cordus died young, at the age of 29, likely from malaria. He had botanized in Italy over the summer of 1544 with two French naturalists. At some point, he had waded into marshes in search of new plants. When he became sick a short time later, his friends brought him to Rome, and then, they continued on to Naples. When they returned for him, they found Cordus had died.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the Swiss botanist Konrad Gesner who had the sense to collect Cordus' prolific writings and preserve and publish them.
One expert once said,

"There was Theophrastus; there was nothing for 1,800 years; then there was Cordus."

The genus Cordia is named in honor of Valerius Cordus.

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Valerius Cordus
Valerius Cordus

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