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Matthias de L’Obel (also Mathias de Lobel or Lobelius ) was a doctor, and a flamenco botanist (* 1538, Lille – March 3, 1616, Highgate, Great Britain.
He studied in Montpellier with Guillaume Rondelet who held him in high esteem. He practiced medicine from 1571 to 1581 in Antwerp and Delft, where he was Prince Orange’s physician. In 1584, he moved to the Netherlands, fleeing civil war and then moved to England where he would remain until his death. He was superintendent of the Botanical Garden of Hackney, founded by Lord Zouch, and botanist of the crown, with James I of England.
In collaboration with Pierre Pena, he published Stirpium adversaria nova in 1571, and in 1576, Plantarum seu stirpium historia, which was translated into flamenco, in 1581, under the title of Kruydboeck.
Taxus of Icones Stirpium, 1591.
In his Stirpium, l’Obel described 1,500 species accurately, indicating the locations where those species were collected; It was the flora existing in the surroundings of Montpellier and also describes plants from Tyrol, Switzerland and Holland. This work was accompanied by 268 engravings in carved wood.
His second work, Plantarum seu stirpium historia, was more than a simple adaptation of the first: it contained an index in seven languages and more than 2,000 illustrations (mostly from works by Clusius, R. Dodoens and Pierandrea Mattioli). De l’Obel was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was printed by Christophe Plantin and had a great success. It shows the principle of a more correct classification than in previous authors; He gathered with precision the Rosaceae, grasses and cereals and, in another group, the legumes and the genus Oxalis, for their leaflets subdivided into three. He is credited with the first attempt to classify the plants according to their natural affinities, instead of their medical uses.
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