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Monograph on Melastomataceae 野牡丹科專論

Monograph on Melastomataceae has two authors. One is the renowned German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (also known as the “Second Columbus” and the “Prince of Science,” 1769-1859), and the other is the French botanist Aimé Bonpland (1773-1858). This monograph includes botanical illustrations of the tropical plants seen by the two scholars during their 5-year expedition to Latin America.
Between 1799 and 1804, Homboldt and Bondpland set out on a trip across the Atlantic Ocean, trekking across Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, the Andes, the Orinoco, and the Amazon River. In this trip, Humboldt sought to “measure the world” and attempted to discover the mysteries held by mountains, the sky, the stars, the climate, and spread throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. Not only did he literally measure the height of the lofty Andes and traced the source of the Amazon River, but he predicted that the world would suffer great consequences from the excessive logging.

During the five years in Latin America, he took note of many things that were rarely known to Europeans, and published an encyclopedic series encompassing such topics as physics, chemistry, geography, mineralogy, botany, zoology, climatology, astronomy, archeology and even ethnography, demography and politics. His most widely known work is the voluminous Le Voyage Aux Régions Equinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, fait en 1799-1804 (Expedition to Tropical Areas of the New Continent in 1799 ~1804). Monograph on Melastomataceae is one part of the masterpiece. It describes and illustrates the morphology and characteristics of Melastomataceae plants that grow in equatorial regions in Latin America. Bonpland, who took this trip together with Humoldt, was in charge of editing this book. Both of them collected about 6,000 species of plants, 3,500 among which were unknown to Europeans. Of these new species, most were discovered by Bonpland.

Monograph on Melastomataceae includes 64 pieces of illustrations sketched by the then most renowned French plant painter, Pierre Jean François Turpin, who captured his subjects with lively and ornate detail. These botanical illustrations stirred up romantic ideas about the new continent within Europeans and spurred them to explore this unknown world.

Note. Published in 1823, the copy preserved at Forestry Research Institute is the only surviving version in Taiwan.


Digital Archives Project of TFRI's Library of Forestry Literature in The Period of Japanese-Database of TFRI’s Forestry Literature in the Period of Japanese Colonization