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Carolus Linnaeus

Linnaeus, Carolus (kärōˈləs lĭnāˈəs) [key], 1707–78, Swedish botanist and taxonomist, considered the founder of the binomial system of nomenclature and the originator of modern scientific classification of plants and animals. He studied botany and medicine and taught both at Uppsala. In Systema naturae (1735) he presented his classification of plants, animals, and minerals, and in Genera plantarum (1737) he explained his system for classifying plants largely on the basis of the number of stamens and pistils in the flower. Despite the artificiality of some of his premises, the Linnaean system has remained the basis of modern taxonomy. Species plantarum (2 vol., 1753) described plants in terms of genera and species, and the 10th edition (1758) of Systema naturae applied this system to animals as well, classifying 4,400 species of animals and 7,700 species of plants. These two works are therefore considered the basis of binomial nomenclature, although the early herbalists had used a binomial system before Linnaeus. Among his more than 180 works were several books on the flora of Lapland and Sweden and the Genera morborum (1763), a classification of diseases. After Linnaeus' death his priceless botanical collection was removed to England (see herbarium). Linnaeus was also known as Karl (or Carl) Linné (of which Carolus Linnaeus is a Latinized version); when he was ennobled in 1761 he formally adopted the name Karl von Linné.

See T. Frangsmyr et al., ed., Linnaeus (1983); J. Weinstock, Contemporary Perspectives on Linneaus (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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