Carolus Linnaeus (also Carl von Linné, 1707–1778) was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist whose work laid the foundations of modern biological systematics and nomenclature. Long before Linnaeus, classical science was important in the shaping of subsequent science in the West. Transmitted through the cultures of the Mediterranean area, classical science was recovered during the Renaissance and ensuing Scientific Revolution and undergirded the search for a new botanical system. Drawing on the work of his predecessors and contemporaries, Linnaeus developed a coherent system for describing, classifying and naming organisms. Linnaeus' students traveled the globe to explore and collect information and specimens. Aspects of the Linnaean system have enabled amateurs and professionals worldwide to identify, name and describe plants for more than two centuries.
Through history the virtues and pleasures of herbs have enhanced our daily lives and connected us to the natural world through all of our senses. Through the centuries herbs have been used not only for medicinal purposes but also to flavor and preserve food, to scent and protect household environments and to dye or stain the skin and textiles. From the countless cultivated or wild herbs with overlapping applications we have chosen a selection within the four categories of physic, flavor, fragrance and dye. Each topic provides highlights of the usage of five herbs at specific points in history. The 20 herbs are illustrated by original watercolors and prints, rare books or manuscript pages from the Hunt Institute's Art, Library and Archives collections.