Fauna japonica, sive, Descriptio animalium, quae in itinere per Japoniam … (Leiden, 1833-1850) is a set of five volumes based on natural-history collections made in Japan by German physician and botanist Philipp Franz von Siebold and his assistant and successor Heinrich Burger, with drawings by the Japanese artist Kawahara Keiga. It is the first monographic series written in a European language (French) on the zoology of Japan, and it introduced Japanese fauna to the West on a large scale.
In the wake of the Quakers’ immigration to North America, a taste for the study of nature came “quietly” into being among descendants from the “tolerant” zones, notably the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
John Torrey (1796-1873) was a preeminent early American botanist. From 1818-1820, Torrey kept a careful record of the plants that he encountered in and around New York City and called his work Calendarium Florae for the Vicinity of New York. The Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden is the proud owner of this remarkable manuscript, which was recently digitized and added to the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
Walk into most any nursery or florist and you will see beautiful orchids of many colors and sizes, with “easy care” instructions attached right to the pot enabling even the brownest thumb success. Want to shake the winter doldrums? Attend an orchid show or meeting – there are over 500 local groups affiliated with the American Orchid Society alone. Orchids are as diverse as they are beautiful, with over 27,000 accepted species living in nearly every corner of the globe. We are not alone in our fascination with orchids. In the nineteenth century, Europe was gripped by what has been named “Orchidelirium.” The collection of orchids from around the world was booming as the industrial revolution continued to change the economy and reach of Europe.
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The Biodiversity Heritage Library is an open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL’s global consortium of natural history, botanical, and research libraries cooperate to digitize and make their collections accessible as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.”
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