Brunfels, Otto (Brunfelsius Otto) 1464-1534

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Brunfels was a Carthusian Monk who later turned Lutheran. He finally became a school teacher and still later a physician. His herbal, Herbarum Vivae Eicones, was published in Latin about 1530. It adopted the ancient classification of plants as woody and herbaceous. Brunfels rejected the alphabetical sequence of genera in favor of an association based on agreement in medicinal value but he gave no thought to the nomenclature of species. He declared that "for the science of botany there is an initial book, that is, the Historia Plantarum of Theophrastus of Eresus." He borrowed his descriptions, however, chiefly from Italian authors who had associated the plants named by Dioscorides with those growing in the Mediterranean region. He supplied good pictures of plants in the woodcuts of his work. He was chiefly interested in the medicinal use of plants. His work was designed primarily to aid plant collectors who took to the fields for this purpose. The woodcuts were greatly improved over those presented in 15th Century herbals. Although he quoted ancient authorities, he concluded his presentation with his concepts of the plant and its qualities. It has been stated that his work may be considered as a link between ancient and modern botany. The illustrations were lifelike and not copies from earlier herbals. Forty-seven new species were included. Unfortunately some errors are present in which text and figures do not correspond.