CALL FOR PAPERS: “New Plants and Botany before Linnaeus”. History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Cambridge MA, Nov 20-23, 2003. Session co-sponsored by the Botany Section, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and the National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS).
As a lead-up for the 300th anniversary of Linnaeus’s birth (1707-1778), we propose a session on pre-Linnaean botany and the response to new plants. >From prehistory onwards, people who use plants in their work – physicians, pharmacists, midwives, herb-gatherers, explorers, naturalists, chemists, gardeners, farmers, veterinarians, artisans – have encountered unfamiliar plants. Some of these plants were introduced from other places; some moved into new territory as the result of environmental change; some were sports or hybrids; some had been there all along, but had gone unnoticed. Before Linnaeus, there was no generally accepted way to name, catalogue, and characterize these ‘non-descripts’ – to use John Ray’s term. We invite proposals of papers that analyze the discovery, dispersion, naturalization, uses, and intellectual impact of previously unknown plants before the mid-eighteenth century.