Dillenius (1774)

Johanm Jacob Dillenius


We are much nearer home with our next botanist, J.J.Dillenius (1687-1747), because although he was a German he spent much of his life in England, became the first Professor of Botany at Oxford and, for relaxation, enjoyed an occasional trip to Wales to look for plants on Snowdon and Cader Idris. His book at Lampeter is the well-knownHortus Elthamensis.

At Eltham, Middlesex, the eminent botanist, James Sherard, had a botanical garden richly stocked with the world’s plants, and he employed Dillenius to illustrate them. With enormous diligence Dillenius not only made drawings but also engraved the 325 plates with such accuracy that the book achieved great botanical prestige. It was first published in two large folio volumes in London in 1732, and Linnaeus’s comment on it was that ‘the world has not seen anything more perfect’. The Roderic Bowen Library and Archives’ edition, lacking the original text, was published in Leiden, Holland, in 1774. The drawings, nearly all uncoloured, are, as Linnaeus wrote, botanically first class.Shown here is aster grandiflorus aster.