Luco Ghini (1490 - 1556)
Back to Author Index Biography
Biographystudies medicine at Bologna
1527 gives first lectures on medical uses of plants
becomes professor at Bologna
1544 moves to Pisa, is professor at the university there
1554 returns to Bologna
Ghini was the supreme teacher and collaborator of his time. This, plus enthusiastically unselfish personality, led to most of his research results being published by other people without giving him credit (most notably Mattioli, whose entire fame rests on a work for which Ghini did all the research). This may have been just as well, as it left him time to do what really interested him: work physically with his specimens. His concrete contributions to botany (the ones he gets official credit for, anyhow) are both of this nature: Ghini established and popularized the use of the botanical garden and herbarium as aids in the study of plants and fungi.
There may have been an earlier botanical garden at Padua, but Ghini was the first to realize "the convenience of having live plants growing close to home and easily available for study." He was also the first person to press and dry plants to have them available for reference purposes and to exchange them with other botanists. Both of these are still essential to be sure that botanists in different places are talking about the same organism, and they were even more important back then, when the descriptions and illustrations in books were so atrocious.
Back to top
Duane Isley (1994) One Hundred and One Botanists
Back to top