Historia botanica practica, seu plantarum, quae ad usum medicinae pertinent, nomenclatura, descriptio, et virtutes, cum ab antiquis, tum a recentibus celebrium auctorum scriptis desumptae, ac aeneis tabulis delineatae, atque ad vivum ex prototypo
The Historica Botanica pratica, seu Plantarum quae ad usum medicinae pertinent opens with an illustration on the frontispiece replete with symbolic meaning. In it we see agricultural implements, books, brushes, shoots, a crown and everything under the sun. On the backs of some of the books the names of botanists are clearly legible. As a preamble there is a dedicatory letter to the cardinal Giuseppe Puteobonello, archbishop of Milan, and a letter to the reader. There is also a table of names with abbreviations of the authors cited in the work. The text itself consists of a systemic schematization of the plants in which the modern taxa are divided into Distributiones and Stirpes. For each distributio (35 in all) there is a list of the general characteristics of the group relative to all of the parts of the plant, from vegetative to floral. There then follows a listing of the genera contained in the distributio, and, finally, separated according to ordines (ordo I, II, III, etc.), a detailed description of each genus. The aim is to create a sort of analytic key, first of the distributiones and then of the ordines, useful for the recognition of the plants and for their taxonomic grouping. At this point comes the text dealing with the description of the "medicinal" plants (the author when he speaks of Botanica pratica is alluding to therapeutic uses). It follows the order of the analytic schematic with the addition of information on the differences between species and above all on the temperamentum and vires, that is to say, on the properties and uses. The organization of the distributiones is as follows: Plantae submarine, P. terrestri semplicissime (fungi), P. simpliciores (mosses), P. capillares (ferns), P. gymnospermae (not in the modern sense, since he includes what for us are ranunculaceae, rosaceae, plantaginaceae), P. gymnospermae umbelliferae (a very homogeneous group composed of the modern umbrellifers), P. gymn: flore semplici, P. gymn. Flore planipetalo, lattescentes et papescentes, P. discifloae, then corymbiferae, capitatae, capitate squamosae, stellatae, verticillatae, asperifolae, tetraspermae, terapetalae, diangiae polyspermae, triangiae polyspermae, tetrangiae, pentangiae, poliangiae, multisiliquosae, tetrapetalae criciformes siliculoses et siliquoses, leguminosae trifoliatae, leguminosae poliphyllae, bacciferae, pomiferae, apetalae, monocotyledones, all of which are interspersed by plates of the plants. As can be seen there are some ingenious intuitions that are still valid today, but the work’s best feature is the images, contained in 65 b/w plates and executed with care and a high degree of fidelity. An appendix follows with three plates on a group of anomalous Plantae and the star anise. At the end of the Appendix we find a thanksgiving to God and the Trinity that nearly becomes a prayer.