Linnaeus in London

I was interviewed on Japanese television this morning about eighteenth-century gardens.   I was asked if I knew about the response to Linnaeus when he visited London.   I didn’t.   The answer is that he came to London in July 1736 to visit Sir Hans Sloane, the founder of the British Museum, and Philip Miller, who was chief gardener of the Chelsea Physic Garden.   Apparently neither of them was impressed by Linneaus’s new system of classification, since it was too obviously sexual.   They preferred the taxonomy of John Ray.   Thomas Knowlton, who was Lord Burlington’s gardener at Londesborough, thought the Linnaean system ‘altogether whimsicall and ridiculous’.   But I could find no confirmation of the suggestion that Linnaeus called a particularly prickly plant after Miller in revenge.


2 thoughts on “Linnaeus in London

  1. Adam Waterton says:

    There is a genus Milleria L. which is in the Asteraceae family (daisies) – rather weedy perhaps, but not particularly spiky. Here’s an image:

    According to my colleague in the the Linnean Society library, although Miller was initially uncooperative when Linnaeus visited the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1737, he later warmed to Linnaeus and gave him a fine parcel of plants to take back for George Clifford’s garden in the Netherlands.

    Linnaeus did though name Siegesbeckia, an “unpleasant small-flowered weed”, after Johann Georg Siegesbeck, one of his harshest critics!

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