Plant A Day – Palespike Lobelia

Palespike Lobelia Lobelia spicata

Palespike Lobelia
Lobelia spicata

I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of info about this plant other than the usual: number of petals, inflorescence, leaf shape, etc.  I did learn that the genus name, Lobelia, was named after one of the earliest prominent botanists,  Matthias de l’Obel.

He was born in France 150 years before Linnaeus, but changed the way of thinking about plant taxonomy that Linnaeus eventually formalized into the system we have now.  In fact, Linnaeus kept some of the names and groupings that de l’Obel came up with.

Back in the day, i.e. before 1500, plants were grouped together for various reasons, often medicinal, but mostly for reasons of usefulness to people.  The idea of grouping them together in terms of natural affinities, or evolution (whatever that was), was not thought of until de l’Obel came along and wrote some books.

Icones stirpium, seu, Plantarum tam exoticarum, quam indigenarum :in gratiam rei herbariae studiosorum in duas partes digestae : cum septem linguarum indicibus, ad diuersarum nationum vsum (‘Images of plants, both exotic and native, for students of botany, arranged in two parts: with indices in seven languages for the use of different nationalities’),

Stirpium adversaria nova (A first edition which can be had for a mere $50,000)

Plantarum, Seu, Stirpium Historia

de l’Obel lived an interesting life.  He grew up in France, moved to England, became a physician, served as personal doctor to William the Silent, but spent most of his time collecting plants and writing books.  He lived out his days as gardener to Edward la Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche of Harringworth, Northamptonshire, 12th Baron St Maur.



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