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Carl von Linné
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The Botanical Gardens at Uppsala University

A Boyhood Fascination for Plants

Carl von Linné was born in 1707 in the village of Råshult in Sweden’s province of Småland.

Linné inherited a deep interest in plants from his father, but it was only after schooling in Växsjö, medical studies at the University of Lund, and a move to Uppsala University in 1728, that Linné devoted all of his attention to botany.

His gifted work in Uppsala led to official commissions to travel and document the flora and fauna of Sweden’s regions. The first of these trips was to arctic Lappland in 1732. The trip became the basis for Linné’s ground breaking work, the Flora Lapponica, which was published in Holland in 1735, where Linné graduated as a Doctor of Medicine.

Returning to the University of Uppsala in 1738, Linné was instrumental in the founding of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science – today best known as the scientific committee which awards the yearly Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry.

It was not only botany that fascinated Linné. He soon set about expanding his classification system to include animals and minerals. It was Linné who gave modern humankind its scientific designation “Homo Sapiens”, the Latin for “wise man”.

Knighted in 1757, Linné set about increasing our knowledge of the natural world by sending out 17 of his students to gather samples and collect specimens from around the globe.

One, a Swede, Daniel Solander, travelled with the renowned explorer James Cook on his first voyage around the world in 1768. Others travelled to the Americas, South Africa, Java, Sri Lanka and the Japanese archipelago.

The thousands of drawings, descriptions and painstaking observations were collected in Uppsala for study and classification.

Carl Linné’s remarkable life ended in 1778.

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