The Twinflower

1686 Today is the birthday of the Dutch botanist Jan Gronovius.
Gronovius's story is inextricably bound to the Virginia botanist John Clayton.
Clayton botanized Virginia. In the early 1700s, Clayton sent specimens to Gronovius both directly and indirectly through the English naturalist Mark Catesby.
Gronovius was a little in over his head as he attempted to make sense of the overwhelming amount of specimens from Clayton. So, he did what most of us would do; he asked for help - and he got it from Carl Linnaeus.
In a brazen move, Gronovius used Clayton's specimens and documentation to put together a Flora of Virginia in 1739. He published the work without notifying Clayton, and he certainly didn't seek his permission before he started the endeavor.
Other than the Clayton situation, Gronovius is remembered for the many plants that he named.
After seeing the Twinflower, it was Gronovius who suggested naming the plant after Linnaeus. Without Gronovius, Linnaeus probably wouldn't have had a plant named for him during his lifetime; Linnaeus was very modest.
And, bless his heart, Gronovius was sensitive to Linnaeus's need to keep the honorary naming low key. So Gronovius wrote that,
"[The Twinflower was] "a plant of Lapland; lowly, insignificant, disregarded, flowering but for a brief space - after Linnaeus who resembles it."
Thus, the Twinflower is the only plant named for the Father of Taxonomy, Linnaeus, and has the botanical name is Linnea Borealis.
Another plant that Gronovius named was the genus Gerbera which was named after the German botanist Traugott Gerber.
Finally, in 1739, It was Gronovius, who combined the words for water and jug - hydro and angeion; put them together, and you get hydrangea which translates to water jug.
 


This post was featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

helping gardeners find their roots,
one story at a time
Jan Frederik Gronovius
Jan Frederik Gronovius