Search by Subject
Search by Institution
Descriptio iconibus illustrata plantarum noverum vel minus cognitarum

This book of botanical illustrations was written by the Danish Botanist Johan Lange (1818-1898), who traversed across the European continent and collected many plants specimens. This book contains illustrations of 35 Spanish plants that were collected during that trip.

Lange worked in the Botanical Library of the University of Copenhagen in his younger days. Starting from 1858, he took the job of compiling the massive series Flora Danica, becoming the final torch bearer in the one-hundred-year-long compiling labor. The person who first proposed compiling the Flora Danica was the German botanist Georg Christian Oeder. A group of Danish botanists later undertook the job and completed 43 volumes of the book. Lange completed the 44th volume with several other scholars and afterwards went on compiling volumes 45 to 51 and two supplements on his own. A total of 600 illustrations were included in the Flora Danica, the writing of which spanned 122 years, running from 1761 to 1883.

Porcelain was high treasured in 18th century Europe. It was an emblem of nobility for royal families and a token of national power. Gifts of fine porcelain were vogue for aristocratic families of the age, who could showcase not only their taste but also the cultural vibrancy of their country. In 1790, a set of fine porcelain tableware bearing images of plants in the Flora Danica was given by Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark to Catherine II, Empress of the Great Russia. This displays that this atlas of botany not only contains academic value, but also inspires the viewer with its artistic worth. To this day, a set of the Flora Danica dinnerware is among the commodities of the world’s famous Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory.

One can imagine how intriguingly elegant the illustrations in the Flora Danica are by just reading the Descriptio Iconibus Illustrata Plantarum Novarum vel Minus Cognitarum. It was partially colored to skillfully bring out certain parts of the plants. Lange’s accomplishments were not limited to creating artistic illustrations of plants. His research extended well past Denmark and Greenland to other countries in Europe, in particular to Spain. He revised the classification system developed by Carolus Linnaeus and wrote a book named Nomenclator Floræ Danicæ, which far-reaching influence on the development of International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. Whether it is the realm of science or art, Lange left substantial contributions for the world.

Note. Published in 1864, 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