Leonhart Fuchs

Inspiration for Fuchsia

Today is the birthday of the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs.
Leonard and his wife had ten children. The genus Fuchsia is named after Fuchs. Leonhart published the first drawing of a corn plant. He also drew one of the first illustrations of the pumpkin plant.
It took Leonard 31 years to write his herbal masterpiece called Historia Stirpium. In the book, he describes 497 plants and 500 illustrations. In 1542, the book was published, and the medicinal uses for each plant were included in the descriptions. His goal was to make the knowledge of herbs accessible to the people. The fact that his book contained so many illustrations definitely helped him achieve his goal.
Leonard’s book described over a hundred plants that had never been written about - like Pumpkins, Chili Peppers, Corn, and Squash. Leonard's Historia Stirpium is regarded as one of the most historically valuable and significant books of all time.
Now, I wanted to share that the cover of the book - which is beautiful - was a bit of a mystery to me. It shows a tree with a coffin in its branches. It turns out it was a printer mark of the printer, Michael Isingrin, who was the printer of Historia Stirpium.
The image of the coffin in a tree forms a Christian cross, and the tree holding the coffin was a holly tree. The inscription "Palma Ising" (i.e., by the hand of Isingrin) is the mark that identifies Michael Isingrin, the printer. " The depiction of a holly tree (Ilex spp. ) was deliberate. Holly is a symbol of eternal life. So essentially, the image represents life and death - the coffin in the tree. Incidentally, the holly tree is regarded as the evergreen twin of the oak.

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Leonhart Fuchs
Leonhart Fuchs


  1. Pamela Barrie on March 9, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    The printer’s mark seems to be Isingin’s variation on an emblem from Alciato,” Obdurandum Adversus Urgentia,” showing a palm tree lifting a log. The notion that the palm could counteract pressure put upon it derives from Pliny. See https://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/alciato/emblem.php?id=A31a025 Insingrin’s printer’s mark in Fuch’s New Kreüterbuch of 1543 does depict a palm rather than holly.

    • The Daily Gardener on October 4, 2023 at 10:43 pm

      Hi Pamela –
      Thank you so much for writing a comment about this very obscure topic. I appreciate you sharing the link as well. I have encountered a few other folks who share the passion for printer’s marks and they are indeed endlessly fascinating.

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