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Gaspard Bauhin
Gaspard Bauhin, or Caspar Bauhin (January 17, 1560 – December 5, 1624), was a Swissmarker botanist who wrote Pinax theatri botanici (1596), which described thousands of plants and classified them in a manner that draws comparisons to the later binomial nomenclature of Linnaeus. He was a disiciple of the famous italian physician Girolamo Mercuriale and he also worked on human anatomical nomenclature.

His brother, Johann Bauhin (or Jean), was also a physician and botanist.

Jean and Gaspard were the sons of Jean Bauhin (1511-1582), a French physician who had to leave his native country on becoming a convert to Protestantism. Gaspard was born at Baselmarker and studied medicine at Paduamarker, Montpelliermarker, and in Germanymarker. Returning to Basel in 1580, he was admitted to the degree of doctor, and gave private lectures in botany and anatomy. In 1582 he was appointed to the Greek professorship in that university, and in 1588 to the chair of anatomy and botany. He was later made city physician, professor of the practice of medicine, rector of the university, and dean of his faculty.

The Pinax theatri botanici (English, Illustrated exposition of plants) is a landmark of botanical history, describing some 6,000 species and classifying them. The classification system was not particularly innovative, using traditional groups such as "trees", "shrubs", and "herbs", and using other characteristics such utilization, for instance grouping spices into the Aromata. He did correctly group grasses, legumes, and several others. His most important contribution is in the description of genera and species. He introduced many names of genera that were later adopted by Linnaeus, and remain in use. For species he carefully pruned the descriptions down to as few words as possible; in many cases a single word sufficed as description, thus giving the appearance of a two-part name. However, the single-word description was still a description intended to be diagnostic, not an arbitrarily-chosen name (in the Linnaean system, many species names honor individuals, for instance).

In addition to Pinax Theatri Botanici, Gaspard planned another work, a Theatrum Botanicum, meant to be comprised in twelve parts folio, of which he finished three; only one, however, was published (1658). He also gave a copious catalogue of the plants growing in the environs of Basel, and edited the works of Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1500-1577) with considerable additions. His principal work on anatomy was Theatrum Anatomicum infinitis locis auctum (1592).

Linnaeus honored the Bauhin brothers in the genus name Bauhinia. The standard author abbreviation C.Bauhin is applied to species he described.

References

  • Duane Isely, One hundred and one botanists (Iowa State University Press, 1994), pp. 49-52


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