Joseph Pitton De Tournefort - Contributions

Contributions

His principal work was the 1694 Eléments de botanique, ou Méthode pour reconnaître les Plantes (the Latin translation of it Institutiones rei herbariae was published twice in 1700 and 1719). The principal artist was Claude Aubriet who later became the principal artist at the Jardin des Plantes. The classification followed was completely artificial, and neglected some important divisions established by earlier botanists, such as John Ray's separation of the phanerogams from the cryptogams, and his division of the flowering plants into monocots and dicots. Overall it was a step backwards in systematics, yet the text was so clearly written and well structured, and contained so much valuable information on individual species, that it became popular amongst botanists, and nearly all classifications published for the next fifty years were based upon it.

Tournefort is often credited with being the first to make a clear distinction between genus and species. Though he did indeed cluster the 7,000 plant species that he described into around 700 genera, this was not particularly original. Concepts of genus and species had been framed as early as the 16th century, and Kaspar Bauhin in particular consistently distinguished genera and species. Augustus Quirinus Rivinus had even advocated the use of binary nomenclature shortly before Tournefort's work was published.

The word "herbarium" also seems to have been an invention of Tournefort; previously herbaria had been called by a variety of names, such as Hortus siccus.

The standard author abbreviation Tourn. may be used to indicate this person in citing a botanical name. As names of plants published before 1 May 1753 have no official status the abbreviation of this pre-Linnaean botanist will seldom be used.

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