Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle

Father of Geographical Botany

Today is the birthday of the botanist Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle, who was born on this day in 1806 the year Linnaeus died.
He was the son of the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle.
Candolle's ground-breaking book, Origin for Cultivated Plantsbegins,

"It is a common saying, that the plants with which man has most to do, and which rendered him the greatest service, are those which botanists know the least [about].”
Candolle set about correcting that gap in understanding, which had persisted for 50 years. In 1885, The Glasgow Heraldreminded readers,
"At the commencement of the present century but little was known respecting the origin of our cultivated plants.... Alexander von Humboldtin 1807 said :
'The origin, the first home of the plants most useful to man, and which have accompanied him from the remotest epochs, is a secret as impenetrable as the dwelling of all our domestic animals. We do not know what region produced spontaneously wheat, barley, oats, and rye. The plants which constitute the natural riches of all the inhabitants of the tropics the banana, the papaw, the manioc, and maize have never been found in a wild state. The potato presents the same phenomenon.'"

Candolle named growing regions and came up with climate classifications. Gardeners use them today when we refer to growing zones. Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle is known as the father of geographical botany, and Harvard botanist Asa Gray remarked,

"De Candolle's great work closed one epoch in the history of the subject and [Sir Joseph] Hooker's name is the first that appears in the ensuing one."

Alphonse devised the first code of botanical nomenclature - the International Code of Botanical Nomenclatureis its descendant. These laws ensure that no two species of plants have the same name. The botanical name is always in Latin.

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Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle
Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle

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