Historic plant reproductive variation diagrams or art
October 1, 2010 10:18 PM   Subscribe

"That plants employ many different strategies to engage in sexual reproduction was used, from just a structural perspective, by Carolus Linnaeus (1735 and 1753) to propose a system of classification of flowering plants." - I would very much like to find period diagrams/drawings that depict this (as many of the varying sex types/methods possible)

re: inevitable- Why??


Botanists have devised all sorts of terms to explain plant sexuality including unisexual, bisexual, asexual, self-fertile, self-sterile and polygamous
...


I imagine it played havoc on the private worldviews of people of this era to learn how varied plants are in their... business of life (at a time when Hoomon sex was kept so... quiet).

I would very much like to be able to try to "see what the public saw at the time".

Or am I way off base, am I looking too early? To late? Was it less "diagrams" in the era, used to make the point to people? were arguments made mostly with words? From some cursory reading of a few articles, it seems like there was definitely somewhat of a popularization of some concepts of "Plant Reproductive Variation" in this early Linnaean period- and I have seen some reference to diagrams...

I have found these... (which seems to be very much what I am looking for) but alas, who has $26 000 laying around to check?



any and all forms are welcome, earlier time frames welcome, as are more contemporary depictions of Plant Reproductive diversity.

Flower —
Spore —
Flowering plant —
Fertilisation-

Book recommendations will be appreciated certainly also (in my search I have found only several articles on "the history of the science of studying Plant Sexuality".. this has been my guess as to how to find what I seek

Thanks in advance.
posted by infinite intimation to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Here is the free, full Google Books copy of the 1779 edition of Miller's Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus; lots of beautiful color plates in there if you click through. This is only volume 1; Google does not appear to have a full-view copy of vol. 2. Hope this helps!
posted by cirripede at 10:42 PM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Oh, and in response to this:

Or am I way off base, am I looking too early? To late? Was it less "diagrams" in the era, used to make the point to people? were arguments made mostly with words? From some cursory reading of a few articles, it seems like there was definitely somewhat of a popularization of some concepts of "Plant Reproductive Variation" in this early Linnaean period- and I have seen some reference to diagrams...

In response to this, the late 18th century and onward is probably the perfect time frame for finding diagrams that illustrate the Linnean system; that's exactly when natural history books and journals saw their first full flowering, thanks to advances in printing technology.

My scholarly background is much deeper in zoological classification of that period, unfortunately, so I won't be a great help; but one text you might look at for the bibliography alone is Peter F. Stevens' The Development of Biological Systematics. Stevens' book is probably a lot denser than you need, but he is especially interested in botanical classification from Linnaeus onward, and his source list would be chock full of the stuff you're looking for. (Also, Google Books is fantastic for old natural history books and journals.)

I'll see if I can't dig up some more materials for you tomorrow.
posted by cirripede at 10:51 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I can't think of any sources off-hand, but no, you're not wrong in your assumption that some people did make the connection between plant and human sexuality. As for "Hoomon sex being kept so quiet," I don't think that's the right way to look at it. By all accounts the eighteenth century was just as dirty as our own, and it was not afraid to admit it--and it certainly didn't need to hide behind plants to talk about sex. (Take a look at Fanny Hill or Boswell's London Journal, for instance.)
posted by nasreddin at 11:33 PM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Regarding the inevitable why--I assumed you were interested in publishing a botanical Kama Sutra. I hope someone does.
posted by littlegreenlights at 1:40 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: 1) you may be interested in the poetry of Erasmus Darwin. There's an essay partly on him by Stephen Jay Gould, "Ordering Nature by Budding and Full-Breasted Sexuality" collected in Dinosaur in a Haystack. Actually, that essay probably speaks very closely to your interests.

2) Charles Darwin's complete works are easily available online at http://darwin-online.org.uk/, including a great deal of botanical work. This may be a bit late for what you're looking for, but of a similar genre.
posted by endless_forms at 5:25 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: OK, here's a smattering of further information, if you're still interested. I would second endless_forms's suggestion that you follow up on Erasmus Darwin, particularly his long (and very weird) poem "The Loves of the Plants," which adapts the Linnean sexual system into rhyming couplets. You can find the full text online at Project Gutenberg.

Illustrations:

- William Curtis, Linnaeus's System of Botany (1777): illustrated, full PDF available.

- Thomas Martyn, Thirty-Eight Plates, with Illustrations: Intended to Illustrate Linnaeus's System of Vegetables (1799): more beautiful color illustrations, full PDF available.

Scholarship:

- Janet Browne, Botany for Gentlemen: Erasmus Darwin and "The Loves of the Plants" (1989): A fine study of the Darwin poem that may interest you re: botany and human gender relations. Available in full-text PDF.

- Ashton Nichols, The Loves of Plants and Animals: Romantic Science and the Pleasures of Nature: Check out the footnotes for some nice sources on the more scandalized reactions to Linnaeus and Erasmus Darwin, e.g., the Rev. Samuel Goodenough's comment that "A literal translation of the first principles of Linnaean botany is enough to shock female modesty." Works cited here.

- Samantha George, "Not Strictly Proper for a Female Pen": Eighteenth-Century Poetry and the Sexuality of Botany (2005) and Linnaeus in Letters: "Botany in an English Dress" (2005): I have only skimmed these articles, but they appear well-researched, and I think they would speak well to your interests. Both available in full-text PDF.
posted by cirripede at 5:32 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: You are all my favorites.
Seriously, thank you all for these answers (Best*), and an amazing answer in under 15 minutes after posting, and all around great responses, honestly, these are beautiful images, and points; I am going to try to copy some of these in painting.

-Someone should call out askmetafilter for being amazing!
Barnacles all around!

../Puts glasses on..
Its reading time!

My first book will definitely now be titled Ars Erotica: Kama Sutra and the secret lives of plants. (with proper dedications to the folks in this green garden of knowledge. [it is a pop up book])
Thank you all for giving me such useful brain candy!
posted by infinite intimation at 9:46 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Just to follow up here, these links have provided very very interesting reading, and helped resolve (well, I suppose nothing is ever resolved totally), but deeply and thoroughly have you all assisted in finding answers to my question and also helped me to find further resources, thank you to all who gave answers!
posted by infinite intimation at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2010


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