Genera Plantarum eorumque characteres naturales secundum numerum, figuram, situm, et proportionem omnium fructificationis partium
During his times a number of well-deserved titles were bestowed upon Carl Linnaeus (he was Royal Physician, Professor of Medicine and Botany, a member of various Academies and so forth). His greatest achievement though is having synthesized an organic and functional system of classification that was used by scholars for nearly two centuries. Midway through the 18th century brilliant intuitions pertaining to floral structure allowed Linnaeus to come up with a truly ingenious taxonomic system for the plant kingdom which, amongst the confusion of infinite similar and dissimilar forms, took into account a fundamental property of living organisms - their reproduction. The core of his system of classification consists of some 22 propositions that he presents in the Ratio operis, first among which is the conviction tht Omina genera & Species naturalia sunt. The taxonomic characteristics were to be sought precisely in the natural elements that distinguished plants. The work illustrates the genera assigned to the 24 classes, in accordance with Linnaeus’s system based on the number of stamens (monandria, diandria, triandria, etc.) and subdivided into subclasses according to the number of pistils of each flower (monogyna, digynia, trigynia, etc.). For each genus the essential and determining characteristics are the various floral parts - the calyx, the corolla, the stamens, the pistil, the pericarp and the seed. In all, 953 genera of higher plants, 16 genera of algae, 11 genera of mushrooms and, curiously enough (today, but certainly not in Linnaeus’s time), 8 genera of lithophytes, including corals, madrepores, and sponges. The work, however, ends with a 25th class formed by the addenda, with various genera belonging to often quite different classes. An Index in Latin and another of names in French conclude the opus.