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Linnaeus, Carolus (1707-1778)

Swedish naturalist and physican who is famous for developing his "Systema Naturae". This was published in 1758 and classified a known plants into groups depending on the number of stamins in their flowers - this provided a much needed international framework for identification.

He also devised the concise and precise system for naming plants and animals, using one Latin (or Latinised) word to represent the genus and a second to distinguish the species. For example, in the Latin name of the daisy Bellis perennis, "Bellis" is the name of the genus to which the plant belongs, and "perennis" distinguishes the species from others of the same genus. By tradition the generic name always begins with a capital letter.

He made few mistakes - but one that springs to mind was confusing turkey (unknown in Europe until after Columbus" time) with guinea fowl; he named the former meleagris, the ancient Roman name for the latter.

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