English Botany

English Botany

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English Botany

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English Botany is the title of a major publication of British plants, an enormous set of volumes that was issued between 1790 and 1813. The brief, but formal descriptions were supplied by the founder of the Linnean Society, James Edward Smith, and published and illustrated by the botanical illustrator and natural historian, James Sowerby.

The Periodical was published in 36 volumes over 23 years and was given the full title, English Botany or, Coloured Figures of British Plants, with their Essential Characters, Synonyms and Places of Growth, the descriptions supplied by Sir James E. Smith were illuminated by Sowerby's 2,592 hand-colored plates. The volumes were issued by subscription, as a part work over 23 years, until its eventual completion in 1813. This amounted to 36 volumes which came to be referred to 'Sowerby's Botany', though somewhat erroneously.

While extensive, the work was never intended to be comprehensive; Smith would be the first to do such a survey with his first two volumes of Flora Britannica at the end of that century.The descriptions given are accurate and systematic, in the use of binomial nomenclature, with Latin and English description; but a wider audience was intended with digression into general discussion and cultivation. Combined with increased sales of books, and the amateurs and gardeners enthusiasum for botany, the volumes were to become well known. Identification of the plants, in correspondence with the details in the plates, gave the work...
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