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Carl Linnaeus Edit Profile

also known as Carl Nilsson Linnæus,Carl von Linné

botanist , physician , Zoologist

Carl Linnaeus, the world-famous botanist and scientist, was born in southern Sweden but came to live and work in Uppsala for 50 years. It was here he carried out his life’s work and achievements.


His early interest in botany was channeled by a teacher at Växjö gymnasium, who acquainted him with several important scientific works. One of his teachers at Växjö Gymnasium, Johan Rothman, was a botanist, who broadened Linnaeus' knowledge in botany and helped him develop an interest in medicine.

At Växjö Gymnasium Linnaeus mainly studied Greek, Hebrew, theology and mathematics, a curriculum designed for boys preparing for the priesthood. Most of the teachers doubted that the boy could ever become a scholar. But Rothman, who was also a state doctor, believed otherwise, suggesting Linnaeus could have a future in medicine. The doctor offered to have Linnaeus live with his family in Växjö and teach him physiology and botany.

The botany, zoology, pharmacology and anatomy lectures were not particularly outstanding at Lund University, that is why Linnaeus decided to transfer to Uppsala University which was viewed as a better choice because Linnaeus wanted to study both medicine and botany. Because of his financial situation, he could only visit a few lectures; however, the university professor Olof Celsius granted Linnaeus access to his library. From 1730 to 1732 he was able to subsidize himself by teaching botany in the university garden of Uppsala. During this time he explored the flora of Skåne, together with students sharing the same interests and became convinced that in the stamens and pistils of flowers lay the basis for the classification of plants, and he wrote a short work on the subject that earned him the position of adjunct professor.

To have the right to conduct medical practice, he was obliged to have a doctorate degree in medicine, so he went to the university of Harderwijk which was known for awarding “instant” degrees after as little as a week. First he handed in a thesis on the cause of malaria he had written in Sweden, which he then defended in a public debate. The next step was to take an oral examination and to diagnose a patient. After less than two weeks, he took his degree and became a doctor, at the age of 28.


In 1729 Linnaeus wrote a thesis on plant sexuality which gave the chance to give lectures at Uppsala University although the young man was only a second-year student. His lectures were popular, and Linnaeus often addressed an audience of 300 people.

During his life he led several expeditions, including those to Lapland, Dalarna, Västergötland, Öland and Gotland. His aims were to find and describe rare and unknown species of animals and plants, as well as to catalogue natural resources already known and discover new ones.

After his manuscript (Systema Naturae) describing a new system for classifying plants was published, Linnaeus became acquainted with many famous and distinguished scientists and travelled to many European countries visiting his counterparts and searching for rare animals and plants. His subsequent works exerted some lasting influence on geology, mineralogy, entomology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and embryology. He was also one of the founders of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science; he became the first Praeses in the academy by drawing of lots.

In 1741 Linnaeus was appointed Professor of Medicine at Uppsala University but soon he changed place with the other Professor of Medicine, Nils Rosén, and thus was responsible for the Botanical Garden (which he would thoroughly reconstruct and expand), botany and natural history, instead. His lectures were normally very popular and were often held in the Botanical Garden. He tried to teach the students to think for themselves and not trust anybody, not even him.

After his ennoblement, Linnaeus continued teaching and writing. His reputation had spread over the world, and he corresponded with many different people.

Linnaeus was relieved of his duties in the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in 1763, but continued working there for more than ten years.


  • Carl Linnaeus is sometimes called the Father of Taxonomy. He devoted most of his life to creating a workable naming system for every known plant, animal, and mineral. He was not the first person to try to create such a system, but he was the first one to do it so effectively. His published volumes set the standard for other scientists. His work is the basis for the scientific classification system still used today.

    1747 - Linnaeus was given the title archiater (chief physician) by the Swedish king Adolf Frederick—a mark of great respect.

    1747 - he was elected member of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin.

    1753 - the king dubbed him knight of the Order of the Polar Star, the first civilian in Sweden to become a knight in this order.

    1757 - the Swedish king Adolf Frederick granted Linnaeus nobility, but he was not ennobled until 1761. With his ennoblement, he took the name Carl von Linné.


  • book

    • Systema Naturae

    • Genera Plantarum

    • Hortus Cliffortianus

    • Flora Suecica

    • Fauna Suecica

    • Philosophia Botanica

    • Species Plantarum