Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The importance of the linden tree in biology
Interesting fact I just learned from Taxonomy of the American Species of Linden (Tilia), an Illinois Biological Monograph (1965):
In the late 1600s, the custom among the emerging literary/artsy/sciencey classes in Sweden (as in many other places) was no longer to derive a surname from the father's first name (Anderson, e.g.) but instead to create an entirely new surname, usually "fresh appellations from natural objects". The father and other relatives of Carolus Linnaeus lived in a village with a "lofty Linden-tree". Two branches of the family thus named themselves Lindelius and Tiliander (for Tilia), while Linnaeus' father devised the name Linnaeus. The "von Linné" that many intro biology books say was his original name, later Latinized for extra cachet, was derived from Linnaeus.
So, my genus of study actually gave Linnaeus his name, a fact worth approximately a paragraph in the dissertation.