Sunday, June 24, 2012

Revenge in a name - Sigesbeckia orientalis

Sigesbeckia orientalis
Carl Linnaeus is often called the Father of Taxonomy. While the crtieria he used for taxonomy have largely been replaced, the hierarchical classification and custom of binomial nomenclature that he established remains

While many criteria went into determining the binomial name of a plant, at least in one case, revenge was the main criteria. When Linnaeus announces his discovery that plants produce contain male and female organs and reproduce sexually, some of his contempories responded with shock and contempt. One of them Johann Siegesbeck called his idea "loathsome harlotry" and wondered "who would have thought that bluebells, lillies and onions could be up to such immorality?"  Linnaeus got even by naming St. Paul's wort, an ugly, foul-smelling weed that grows in the mud, Sigesbeckia orientalis.


  1. ...and of whom he thought when he named the titan arum "Amorphophalus titanum"?

  2. Nice reminder. Let's not forget that he also used names as praise for colleagues he liked. Rudbeckia etc etc. And his own Linnaea is very fine.

    1. Oh yes of course! But praise is always less interesting than revenge.

  3. I think it was a good idea for him to do that because Johann Siegesbeck deserved this.

  4. This helped a lot with my science HW! Thanks!

  5. this helped with my science project.