Traditionally conceived of as subordinate bodies in the study of nature, plants gained momentum in the early modern period, when vegetation became a crucial subject for exploring nature and life in detail. This was due both to the new attraction of the specimens collected and accommodated in botanical gardens, whose blossoming condition captivated the attention of scholars, learned people, the rich and the public in general, and to the disconcerting role plants started playing in the definition of life at the time. Indeed, the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century contexts articulated a variegated attention to vegetation, such as the renewed focus on materia medica, the botanical need to provide a more coherent classification of specimens, or the practices of using plants in advance of any learned experiments. At the same time, natural philosophers also showed a growing interest in the field as the study of vegetal bodies in their own right emerged as a meaningful benchmark in understanding nature. As Florike Egmond has recently shown, “more than one type of experimentation [with plants] can be found in sixteenth-century natural science,”1 as clear-cut distinctions difficultly arise, and a more complex integration of observations and (philosophical) systems substantiated work in expanding this field of knowledge into a modern science. In this sense, the intertwining of such diverse approaches slowly resulted in the late seventeenth century physiology and anatomy of plants of Nehemiah Grew (1641–1712) and Marcello Malpighi (1628–1694), generally conceived of as the pioneers in grounding a modern science of plants.

The Seed, the Tree, the Fruit, the Juice: Plants in Early Modern Knowledge

Fabrizio Baldassarri
2022

Abstract

Traditionally conceived of as subordinate bodies in the study of nature, plants gained momentum in the early modern period, when vegetation became a crucial subject for exploring nature and life in detail. This was due both to the new attraction of the specimens collected and accommodated in botanical gardens, whose blossoming condition captivated the attention of scholars, learned people, the rich and the public in general, and to the disconcerting role plants started playing in the definition of life at the time. Indeed, the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century contexts articulated a variegated attention to vegetation, such as the renewed focus on materia medica, the botanical need to provide a more coherent classification of specimens, or the practices of using plants in advance of any learned experiments. At the same time, natural philosophers also showed a growing interest in the field as the study of vegetal bodies in their own right emerged as a meaningful benchmark in understanding nature. As Florike Egmond has recently shown, “more than one type of experimentation [with plants] can be found in sixteenth-century natural science,”1 as clear-cut distinctions difficultly arise, and a more complex integration of observations and (philosophical) systems substantiated work in expanding this field of knowledge into a modern science. In this sense, the intertwining of such diverse approaches slowly resulted in the late seventeenth century physiology and anatomy of plants of Nehemiah Grew (1641–1712) and Marcello Malpighi (1628–1694), generally conceived of as the pioneers in grounding a modern science of plants.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/5003868
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