Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Charles de L'Ecluse
Charles de L'Ecluse, L'Escluse, or Carolus Clusius (Arras, February 19, 1526 - Leiden April 4,1609), seigneur de Watènes, was the Flemish doctor and pioneering botanist, perhaps the most influential of all 16th century scientific horticulturists. He studied at Montpellier with the famous medical professor Guillaume Rondelet, though he never practiced medicine. In 1573 he was appointed prefect of the imperial medical garden in Vienna by Maximilian II and made Gentleman of the Imperial Chamber. After leaving Vienna in the late 1580s he established himself in Frankfurt am Main, before his appointment as professor at the University of Leiden in 1594. He helped create one of the earliest formal botanical garden of Europe at Leyden, the Hortus Academicus, and his detailed planting lists have made it possible to recreate his garden near where it originally lay.
In the history of gardening he is remembered not only for his scholarship but also for his observations on tulips "breaking" — a phenomenon discovered in the late 19th century to be due to a virus — causing the many different flamed and feathered varieties, which led to the speculative tulipomania of the 1630s. Clusius laid the foundations of Dutch tulip breeding and the bulb industry today.
His first publication was a French translation of Rembert Dodoens's herbal, published in Antwerp in 1557 by van der Loë. His 1576 Iberian flora, Rariorum aliquot stirpium per Hispanias observatarum historia, initiated his fruitful collaboration with the renowned Plantin printing press at Antwerp that permitted him to issue late-breaking discoveries in natural history and to ornament his texts with elaborate engravings. Clusius, as he was known to his contemporaries, published two major original works: his Rariorum plantarum historia (1601) is the first record for approximately 100 new species and his Exoticorum libri decem (1605) is an important work on exotic flora, both still often consulted. His 1576 Spanish flora is one of the earliest known books on Spanish flora. He contributed as well to Abraham Ortelius's map of Spain. Clusius translated several contemporary works in natural science.
In botanical naming, the abbreviation Clus. is used to represent him.
Hunger, Friedrich Wilhelm Tobias. Charles de L’Escluse (Carolus Clusius) Nederlandsch kruidkundige, 1526-1609. 2 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1927-43. (Text in Dutch and German, documents in Latin.)
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