UMass Amherst
Constantine S. Rafinesque

Medical flora; or Manual of the medical botany of the United States of North America. Containing a selection of above 100 figures and descriptions of medical plants, with their names, qualities, properties, history, &c.: and notes or remarks on nearly 500 equivalent substitutes.
Philadelphia, Atkinson & Alexander, 1828-30.
2 v. 100 col. pl. 20 cm.

Call no.: QK99.R13 1828.

Constantine S. Rafinesque (1783-1840) stands as one of the most troublesome and quixotic figures in American science during the early national period. A man of extraordinarily varied interests, eccentric and intellectually combative, Rafinesque was born near Constantinople, but raised in the south of France, where he was largely self-educated.

At 19, Rafinesque moved to Philadelphia and was introduced into that vibrant botanical community, though only a few years later he returned to Europe to carry on a business in medicinal plants. After his return to the U.S., he took a position as professor of botany at the newly founded Transylvania University in 1819. Remarkably prolific, Rafinesque's natural historical work became the target of criticism from fellow scientists for his tendency to be too quick to erect new species and too slow to acknowledge the work of others. Eventually, however, a combination of the criticism of his work, his failure as an instructor, and rumors of his affair with the wife of the university president cost him his position. He returned to Philadelphia

Rafinesque's Medical flora was a popular success, written in the strong American tradition usually summarized by the phrase "Every man his own doctor." In the years before cost-effective printing in color, Rafinesque chose to lend a more naturalistic air to his plates by printing them in green ink rather than have the illustrations hand-colored. His other well known work, a "translation" of the alleged Delaware Indian myth cycle the Walam Olum, is now widely regarded as a forgery.

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Arum triphyllum Arum triphyllum

Gentiana catesbei Gentiana catesbei, named after the English naturalist, Mark Catesby.