Didactics in a botanic garden: garden plans and botanical education in the ‘horto
medicinale’ of Padua in the 16th century
Elsa M. Cappelletti*, Andrea Ubrizsy Savoia**
* Centro di Ateneo Orto Botanico, Università degli Studi di Padova, Via Orto Botanico, 15 –
I 35123 Padova (Italy)
** Orto Botanico, Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”,
Largo Cristina di Svezia, 24 – I 00165 Roma (Italy)
In the sixteenth century, the principal concern of scholars interested in botany seems to have
been the problem of identifying the plants that were described in the ancient writings on
‘Materia medica’. Their opinions were often contradictory, with the result that very different
plants were sometimes called by the same name, and that different names were given to the
Chaotic botanical nomenclature was often the cause of errors in the identification of
the plants (‘simples’, ‘i semplici’) used in medical treatment, and could result in the incorrect
administration of plants, even of very poisonous ones, thus causing the deaths of patients, as
has been pointed out by the historian Robert Palmer.1 Moreover, uncertainty in plant
identification led to fraudulent practices of the adulteration of drugs, especially of the
expensive exotic ones which were imported from the Indies and the Middle East.2
This situation was the main reason for the foundation, in 1545, of a ‘Horto medicinale’
(later on called ‘Horto dei semplici’) in Padua for the cultivation of native and exotic
medicinal plants which were collected on field trips in Italy and other parts of the
Mediterranean or received (or bought) through trade with the Middle East, Arabia, and the
coastal areas of North Africa and Central and South America.
According to the Venetian Senate, the ‘Horto medicinale’ would increase the
knowledge of simples and reduce errors and fraud, since the plants cultivated in the garden
could be useful reference material for herbalists and apothecaries, and make it easier to detect
falsified drugs. At the time universities were in keen competition for students, and the garden
would also improve the quality of medical teaching and thereby increase the prestige of the
‘Studium’ at Padua.
University teaching in the ‘Horto medicinale’
During Melchiorre Guilandino’s (ca. 1520-1589) prefecture of the Padua garden from 1561 to
1589, medical students had to attend two courses on medicinal plants: the ‘Lectura
1 Richard PALMER: The Influence of Botanical Research on Pharmacists in Sixteenth Century Venice.
In: Naturwissenschaft, Technik und Medizin. Schriftenreihe Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und
Technik, Leipzig, 21, 1984, pp. 69—80. Richard PALMER: Medical botany in northern Italy in the
Renaissance. In: Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 78 (1985), pp. 149-157.
2 Elsa M. CAPPELLETTI: I Semplici a Venezia nel secolo XV: sofisticazioni, succedanei ed errori di
interpretazione. In: International Conference proceedings Piacenza, 23-25 September 1988. Le piante
medicinali e il loro impiego in farmacia nel corso dei secoli. Accademia Italiana di Storia della
Farmacia, Piacenza 1989, pp. 89-93.
simplicium’, which concerned theory (the lectures mainly dealt with Dioscorides’ (1st century
AD) ‘Materia medica’, and the ‘Ostensio simplicium’, which consisted of practical teaching
in the botanic garden, where each plant was shown to the students. In order to learn to
distinguish living plants and not only read about them in uncritical compilations (often
without illustrations) which substantially derived from re-examined ancient texts, there were
two possibilities: bringing the plants to the students or taking students out to see them.3
The University of Padua chose the first option. At least, there is no evidence that Luigi
Anguillara (ca. 1512-1570), first prefect of the garden and ‘Custodia horti’, ever took a group
of students with him to the countryside as part of the formal teaching plan, although he did
undertake relatively frequent botanical excursions both in the environs of Padua and to areas
farther away.4 Anguillara had been a student of Luca Ghini (1490-1556) at Bologna, and
Ghini did indeed take students out with him to see and collect plants in situ, and to bring these
back for the demonstration.5 To see and recognize plant species in their original environment
is, in fact, a good teaching method where knowledge and identification of plants are
concerned. Moreover, these excursions guided by the professor also served to gather
specimens for enriching the garden’s collection of plants. We do not know, however, whether
this activity was officially part of Ghini’s teaching. In Padua the complications connected
with taking students out to the countryside in order to look at plants in situ were avoided by
creating a teaching garden. Documentary evidence shows that the prefect who succeeded
Guilandino, Jacopo Antonio Cortuso [1513-1603] (in function between 1590 and 1603) had
obtained the appointment of a young assistant from the university governors.6 This was
Johann Hertel [1565-1612], a Hungarian by origin (native of Kolozsvàr in Transylvania,
today Cluj in Rumania), who had graduated in medicine in Padua. One of his tasks was to go
to the “neighbouring mountains” and collect plants for the botanical garden.7 During the years
1592 to 1593 Hertel brought in rare species for botanical teaching and for the collection.8
The recent discovery of several sixteenth-century manuscript ground plans of the
garden of Padua, on which the names of the plants cultivated in each bed are written by hand,
throws light on the educational methods of this period. Two ground plans of the Padua garden
are conserved at the University Library of Bologna among the manuscripts of Ulisse
Aldrovandi (1522-1605), founder of the botanic garden of Bologna in 1568.9 The first plan
3 Guilandino was of Prussian origin (his original name was Wieland) and he is regarded as the second
prefect after Luigi Anguillara, since Pietro Antonio Michiel, a Venetian nobleman and amateur
botanist, had only briefly acted as a temporary replacement for the first prefect.
4 Elsa M. CAPPELLETTI: Plants cultivated at the time of Anguillara. In: Alessandro MINELLI (ed.): The
Botanical Garden of Padua 1545-1995. Venice 1995, pp. 163-171.
5 David E. ALLEN: Walking the swards: medical education and the rise and spread of the botanical
field class. In: Archives of Natural History 27 (2000), pp. 335-367.
6 Concerning the history of the Padua botanic garden see the volume edited by Alessandro MINELLI
[see note 5].
7 Jacopo FACCIOLATI: De gymnasio patavino syntagmata. Padua 1752.
8 Andrea UBRIZSY SAVOIA: The contemporary influence of the first botanical garden. In: Publicationes
Universitatis Horticulturae Industriaeque Alimentariae (Budapest) 59 (1999), pp. 7-14. Andrea
UBRIZSY SAVOIA: Metodi e soluzioni documentati per la distribuzione delle piante negli orti botanici
prima della fondazione dell’orto botanico di Camerino. In: Atti del Convegno “L’Orto Botanico di
Camerino (1828-1988)”, L’uomo e l’ambiente (Università di Camerino) 35 (2000), pp. 23-46.
9 Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna, further B.U.B., fondo Aldrovandi, ms. 124, volume 40, cc. 82-
85. See Andrea UBRIZSY SAVOIA: The Botanical Garden of Padua in Guilandino's Day. In: MINELLI
dates from 1571 and was offered to Aldrovandi by Hugo Blotius (also Plotius, Blotz, de
Bloot; 1533-1608). Blotius was a humanist from the Netherlands who completed his studies
with a stay at the University of Padua during 1570 to 1574, where he also acted as ‘preceptor’
of rich students. This ground plan represents one of the four compartments (‘spaldi’) of the
garden. The names of the plants cultivated in each bed are written on it; these plants have
been identified and given their modern names by Ubrizsy Savoia.10 The handwriting seems
not to be by Blotius (who was not a medical student), and is probably by a member of the
garden team or a student of the medicine course. The second ground plan (dated 1579) shows
all four compartments of the Padua garden and was prepared by and offered to Aldrovandi by
Lorentz Scholz (Laurentius Scholz von Rosenau, 1552-1599). This Prussian studied medicine
first in Padua, where a chair of ‘Lectura Simplicium’ (medical botany) had been founded in
1533 and was held by Francesco Bonafede [1474-1558], and later in Bologna (Fig. 1). Scholz
finished his studies, became a physician, and created a garden of medicinal plants in the town
of Breslau (today Wrocław, Poland) which was modelled after the Padua garden, as is
documented in his ‘Hortus Vratislaviae situs et rarioribus plantis consitus cum catalogo
botanico’ (Breslau 1587).11 The plant names on this second ground plan were filled in by
Scholz himself, since the handwriting of this map corresponds with that of other autographed
documents by Scholz. These plants too have been identified and given their modern names by
Aldrovandi attended medical courses at the University of Padua in 1549 to 1550, but
he obtained the ground plan of the Padua garden only in 1571, when he was already a
professor of botany in Bologna and had already founded the botanical garden there in 1568.
Taking also into account that Aldrovandi was in contact with Anguillara, the first prefect of
the Padua garden from its foundation in 1545 up till 1561, we may assume that the four
compartments were given their complicated geometric forms only during Melchiorre
Guilandino’s prefecture (1561-1589), or that blank maps of the garden compartments were
not yet used as educational tools under Anguillara’s prefecture.
Yet another copy of the complete ground plan of Padua, with plant names filled in on
four sheets, has come to light among the manuscripts of Giovanni Vincenzo Pinelli (1535-
1601) (a humanist from Naples who lived in Padua from 1558 until his death) and is now
conserved at the Ambrosiana Library in Milan.13 Pinelli was a literary figure with a great
interest in botany and gardening. The four sheets with the drawings of the four garden
compartments are not dated, but the plant names of the first compartment on Pinelli’s map are
almost the same as those on Aldrovandi’s plan from 1571, and very different from those on
the 1579 one. The display of the flower beds on the maps of Pinelli and Aldrovandi is also
[see note 5], 172-195.
10 UBRIZSY SAVOIA [see note 10].
11 Denuta NESPIAK: Wawrzyniec Scholz (1522-1599) twórca pierwszego ogrodu roślin lekarskich we
Wrocławiu i wydawca źródrł do historii medycyny [Laurentius Scholz (1522-1599). Schöpfer des
ersten Heilkräutergartens in Breslau und Herausgeber von Quellenstoffen zur Geschichte der
Medizin]. In: Kwartalnik Historii Nauku i Techniki 22 (1977), pp. 535-548.
12 UBRIZSY SAVOIA 1995 [see note 10].
13 Lucia TONGIORGI TOMASI: Geometric schemes for plants and gardens: a contribution to the history
of the Garden in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries. In: Irving LAVIN (ed.): World Art, Themes
and Unity in Diversity. Washington 1989, pp. 211-217 (Acts of the XXVIth International Congress of
the History of Art. Washington, 1986); Else M. TERWEN DIONISIUS: Date and Design of the Botanical
Garden in Padua. Journal of Garden History 14 (1994), pp. 213-235.
quite similar. They include some exotic species which had only recently reached Europe, such
as the tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum), date plum (Diospyrus lotus), tobacco (Nicotiana
tabacum), lilac (Syringa vulgaris; since 1565 in the Padua garden), sunflower (Heliantus
annuus, since 1568 in the Padua garden), Jew’s mallow or jute (Corchorus olitorius) and so
on. Therefore, the Pinelli map can be dated probably to around 1571, or more precisely, to
before 1571 but after 1565.
On the plan owned by Aldrovandi (dated 1571) as well as the one owned by Pinelli a
number is written close to almost every plant name. These numbers do not refer – as might at
first be imagined – to some numbered list of the plant collection of the garden, but indicate
the numbers of the pages on which those particular plants were illustrated in the 1565 edition
of the ‘Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anarzabei de medica materia’ (Venice
1565) by Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501-1578), the physician of the Habsburg Archduke. These
page references to Mattioli’s work indicate that the students used it as a reference book, even
though it seems unlikely that it was adopted as an official textbook, given the quarrel between
Padua’s prefect Guilandino and Mattioli.14
Plant collecting and the distribution of plant species in the Padua garden
The plant species on the ground plans did not follow the sequence adopted by Mattioli’s
work, however. The Aldrovandi and Pinelli plans show that the medicinal plants in the Padua
garden were only occasionally laid out in a way which reflected the traditional sequence in
which they were discussed in Dioscorides’ treatise, that is, according to their medicinal uses.
We should take into account that the garden was a public garden, open to all citizens of the
city and to foreigners visiting Paduan scholars. Therefore, the distribution of the plants had to
have an aesthetic effect and not only a didactic and practical one within the physical
conditions of the location. In fact, the four compartments were framed by flowering plants (of
medicinal use) such as, for example, irises.
Another feature of the Padua garden revealed by the manuscript ground plans, is that
the same plant species could be found in more than one place in the garden. There were
various reasons. One reason must have been to get enough seed to propagate the plant the
following year, or to have enough specimens and seeds for exchanges with other gardens and
scholars. It is also possible that students received cuttings, which had to be dried as a
herbarium specimen and kept for comparison with descriptions and illustrations in printed
books. To have more than one exemplar of some important plant species and keep them in
different parts of the garden, could also help to make observation and inspection more
comfortable when many students were present in the garden at the same time; it would help to
prevent crowding around a single plant, and thereby also reduce the risk of ruining the
adjoining beds. A further reason could lie in experiments with the acclimatisation of non-
native species; in this respect microclimatic local conditions and the accommodation of the
sympathy and antipathy which were at that time supposed to exist between some plant species
played a part. The repetitive arrangement of certain species could be used to highlight the
14 About this quarrel see: Carlo RAIMONDI: Lettere di P.A. Mattioli ad Ulisse Aldrovandi. In:
Bullettino Senese di Storia Patria XIII (1-2) (1906), pp. 121-185; Giovanni Battista DE TONI:
Spigolature Aldrovandiane XI. Intorno alle relazioni del botanico Melchiorre Guilandino con Ulisse
Aldrovandi. In: Atti dell’Imperial Reggia Accademia di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti degli Agiati in
Rovereto, series 3, XVII (2) (1911), pp. 149-171.
elaborate symmetry of the compartments (as an aesthetic effect). For example the plan of
1571 shows that each of the eight triangular beds around the central square had an oleander
tree. Those beds with trees and shrubs often had species of Crassulaceae which were chosen
deliberately to hide the bare soil. The repetitive arrangement of the very attractive flowers of
the Liliaceae and Iridaceae around the ‘spaldi’ created a charming frame for the whole, whilst
the trees planted in the four central beds gave a three-dimensional rhythm to the geometry of
the parterre. In the distribution of the plants their different shapes, the colours of the flowers,
the flowering periods and so on were likewise taken into account, and this increased the
recreational and aesthetic value of the garden. The beauty of the plants was thus highlighted
by the mathematical-geometrical symmetry of the plan and vice-versa.
In the case of the Padua garden the practical purposes are the most evident: this
university garden of the Venetian Republic was basically designed as a reference collection
for the Venetian trade in medicinal plants. The main purpose of its plant collection was the
cultivation of simples for students and scholars interested in their therapeutic uses. The
garden, which was supervised by a scholar-professor, was primarily intended for students and
for educational purposes. But it also served to present examples of the drugs that served as
standards for apothecaries. These main purposes lent a specific medical-therapeutic aspect to
the collection, but did not influence the plant distribution in the garden, at least not during the
period to which the Aldrovandi and Pinelli maps refer. These maps enable us to better
understand why plant species were distributed in the garden the way they were.
Neither Blotius not Pinelli was involved in medical studies at Padua, but it is
reasonable to assume that each student of medicine at the time had his own copy of the plan,
taken from a blank master (hence the slight variations between versions), on which he then
filled in the names of the plants cultivated in each bed. This suggests that yet other, similar
plans may still come to light among the papers of contemporary scholars who were former
medical students in Padua. For instance, another blank map of the Padua garden has been
discovered: a drawing of the four compartments made around 1580 by a Dutch medical
student at Padua, Bernardus Paludanus (Berent ten Broecke, c. 1550-1633).15 He received his
doctorate in medicine in 1580 and took the ground plan of the garden with him when he
returned home. As physician of the town of Enkhuizen (to the north of Amsterdam) he
organized a private botanical garden and a large collection of ‘Naturalia’. He was invited to
become the first prefect of the Leiden botanic garden, which was founded in 1591, but did not
accept. The Southern Netherlandish botanist Carolus Clusius (Charles de l’Ecluse, 1526-
1609) had been invited to become prefect of this botanic garden in 1587, but he only arrived
in Leiden in 1594.
The discovery of several, very similar manuscript ground plans of the Padua garden –
the variations, for instance, between the two plans owned by Aldrovandi are probably only
due to free hand copying – suggests that each student received a hand-written map (or himself
transferred the design of the four compartments from a blank master copy) on which he had to
write the names of the plants observed in each bed. A blank hand-written copy of the four
compartments (‘spaldo’ or ‘spalto’) was found in the manuscript archive of the Flemish
Joseph Goedenhuize, who is known in Italy as Giuseppe Casabona (died 1595) or Benincasa,
and who was the director of the botanic garden of Pisa from 1591. This copy is conserved
today at the University Library of Pisa together with other similar designs dating no earlier
15 Else M. TERWEN DIONISIUS: De eerste ontwerpen voor de Leidse Hortus. In: J.W. MARSILJE (ed.):
Uit Leidse bron geleverd. Leiden, 1989, pp. 392-400.
than 1588.16 A drawing (now at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence) showing four
compartments which are very similar to the Padua ones, together with a list of herbs to be
planted in the single beds, was done by Bartholomeus Memkins [for Sabine: no dates
available, but please delete this remark] from 1579 to 1588.17
Printed ground plans, which can be regarded as an improvement on the hand-written
ones, were used later on. A guide to the garden by Girolamo Porro (1520-1606?), ‘L’Horto
dei semplici di Padova’ (Padua 1591), contains the ground plan of the whole garden. The plan
of each compartment consists of beds marked by numbers, and each plan is followed by
several blank sheets on which the students had to (and visitors could) write the plant names as
they walked around trying to identify the plant species cultivated in the 576 individual beds in
the four central ‘spaldi’ of the ‘Hortus sphaericus’ (which means the core of the Padua
garden). It is assumed that the prefect Cortuso compiled the index of plants in Porro’s edition.
Because of its small size this booklet could easily be carried along during a visit of the
garden. We can not exclude that this work was published not only for students but for all
visitors, since the university gardens were public gardens open not only to scholars and
students, but also to apothecaries, drug traders, amateur gardeners, and even simple citizens.
Whatever its other functions may have been, the booklet also bears witness to the didactic
methods used at Padua for the ‘Ostensio simplicium’. One copy of Porro’s booklet, partially
filled in by hand, is held at the Biblioteca Civica of Padua (Fig. 2) and for comparative
purposes also offers a complete list of the plants cultivated in the same year in the garden.18
Therefore, Porro’s guide can be regarded as a real exercise-book.
The didactic method of the Porro – Cortuso booklet was followed in Italy in a slightly
later period by Pietro Castelli (1574-1662; of Flemish origin), first director and founder (in
1638) of Messina’s botanic garden: his ‘Hortus Messanensis’ (Messina 1640) was a
description of the garden containing the ground plans of each compartment with numbered
plant beds and the relevant list of plants.
The example of the Padua garden and its influence
For the period just after the maps of Aldrovandi and Pinelli some examples have been found
of the use of drawings showing plant beds of geometrical symmetry and a connected plant
In the above-mentioned Memkins manuscript (of 1579-1588) there is no explicit
reference to Padua, but the Florentine Dominican monk and keen botanist Agostino Del
Riccio (1541-1598) does name the Padua garden in his manuscript treatise on experimental
agriculture, which contains observations made between 1565 and 1591. It is now conserved at
the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence and has only been recently published.19 In his
16 The blank Benincasa copy in the University Library of Pisa is Ms. 464, cc. 30r-33r. See Lucia
TONGIORGI TOMASI: Projects for botanical and other gardens: a 16th-century manual. Journal of
Garden History 3 (1983), pp. 1-34.
17 Lucia TONGIORGI TOMASI: Francesco Mingucci "giardiniere" e pittore naturalista: un aspetto della
committenza Barberiniana nella Roma seicentesca. In: Atti dei Convegni Lincei 78 (1986), pp. 277-
18 The plant species have been identified by Cappelletti). Elsa M. CAPPELLETTI: Living collections in
the Botanical garden at the time of Cortuso (1591). In: MINELLI [see note 5], 197-242.
19 The original manuscript is: Agostino DEL RICCIO: Agricoltura Sperimentata (1595), Biblioteca
general instruction Del Riccio explains how to set up a garden, emphasizes the importance of
labelling each garden compartment with letters of the alphabet, and describes how to number
the plant beds from one “up to three hundred”. The numbers had to correspond to the plant
names, which should be written down in ordered lists. He states that20:
“all this is done so that, with your book thus arranged in the same way as the garden,
you can find which plants are in all the numbers of each letter [of the alphabet] [...] [as
in] many other gardens and collections of simples, as for example the fine Garden of
Pisa recently made by the Flemish Giuseppe Benincasa, or the Padua Garden”.
Shortly afterwards, other botanic or ornamental gardens profited from the experience gained
in Padua with the use of hand-written maps and printed booklets (hand-written inventories of
collections, on the other hand, were normally used by gardeners). A good example is the 17th-
century hand-written map of the ‘secret garden’ of cardinal Antonio Barberini (1607-1671) of
Villa Barberini at Castelgandolfo.21 To this map a list of plants has been added, mainly
naming cultivated bulbs and ornamentals in each numbered bed. As a very special feature
drawings in colour of each flower cultivated in the garden were attached to this map and the
The most important influence of the Padua garden did not concern Italian territory,
however, but the botanical garden of Leiden in the Northern Netherlands. Paludanus, as we
have seen above, had been a medical student in Padua. Returning to the Netherlands, where
he would be invited to become prefect of the Leiden garden (although he did not accept), he
carried home with him his experience of the Padua botanical garden, as is demonstrated by
the copy of the Padua garden plan which is still conserved in Leiden. Paludanus made two
ground plans of the Padua garden available to Leiden University: in 1591 he had copies made
of them for the University and for Jan van Hout (1542-1609), the secretary of Leiden
University. The notes in Paludanus’ diary testify that these drawings showed the plan of the
Hortus of Padua. The Municipal Archive of Leiden has a drawing made by Carel van
Liefrinck [1559-1624] in Leiden in 1591, which is copied from the original owned by
Paludanus and shows the four compartments.22 These plans could be used in planning the
layout of the Leiden Hortus making use of the experience of Padua. Paludanus’ drawings
Nazionale Centrale, Florence, ms. Targioni Tozzetti 56, 2. 1. See also Agostino DEL RICCIO: Del
giardino di un Re. In: Giovanna RAGIONIERI (ed.): Il giardino storico italiano: problemi di indagine,
fonti letterarie e storiche. Florence 1981 (Atti del convegno di studi, Siena - San Quirico d'Orcia, 6-8
20 “Così in tutti questi scompartimenti si ha da fare i numeri a quanti arrivino; se arrivassino bene a
trecento, […] Tutto si fa acciò che poi con il tuo libretto, a uso di repertorio che ha tal ordine che ha il
giardino, tu possi trovare che piante son in tutti i numeri della lettera. […] i grandi alfabeti di molti
semplicisti et giardini, come per via d'esempio il gran giardino di Pisa fatto nuovamente da messere
Giuseppe Beneincasa fiamingo, overo il giardino di Padova”. DEL RICCIO [see note 22] pp. 74-76.
21 TONGIORGI TOMASI [see note 18].
22 Gemeentearchief Leiden, ms. PV. 12574/2 mf. See TERWEN DIONISIUS [see note 14]. Without proof
or further explanation Mazzi assumes an earlier date for this map, around 1569, referring to the lay-out
of Scholz’s map, which is supposed by Mazzi to be “1569 ante”: see Giuliana MAZZI: Per la
costituzione di un sistema informativo georeferenziato per l’Orto Botanico dell’Università degli studi
di Padova. In: Convegno biennale ‘Patrimoni e trasformazioni urbane’. II Congresso dell'Aisu.
Associazione Italiana di Storia urbana, Roma 24-26 June 2004, pp. 1-10 on:
http://storiaurbana.it/biennale/Relazioni/B9MAZZI.doc , 2006.
show the situation as it was around 1578 to 1580, when he was living in Padua. The
complicated architectonic design of the compartments and beds of the Padua garden was not
replicated in Leiden, however, which only had simple, orthogonal beds, as shown by a
handwritten Index Stirpium compiled in 1594 and still conserved at the University Library,
Leiden. This manuscript consists of a ground plan of the garden with its numbered
compartments and of a list of the plants cultivated in each bed.23
An early printed version of the ground plans with the plant names in each bed as
brought back by Paludanus, can be found in the work ‘Hortus publicus Academiae Lugduno-
Batavae’ (Leiden 1601) by Pieter Paaw (Pauw, Paauw or Pavius, 1564-1617), the director of
the Leiden botanic garden.24 This book also contains pages with blank charts. At the Library
of the Nationaal Herbarium of the University of Leiden a copy of this book is still conserved
in which Paaw himself filled in the blank spaces with plant names. (Fig. 3).
After completing his studies in medicine in Paris, Rostock, and Padua, Paaw returned
to Leiden, and in 1589 at first became professor of medicine. He followed the example of the
medicinal teaching methods he had seen in Padua: in 1593 he created a ‘Theatrum
anatomicum’, the first one closely modelled after the Paduan building as can be seen from a
copper engraving by Willem Swanenburgh (1581-1612) (after a drawing by Jan Corneliszoon
van’t Woudt), Leiden, 1610, and an engraving in P. Paaw’s ‘Primitiae anatomicae’ (Leiden
1615). Afterwards, he became professor of botany, the second one in the history of Leiden
University. His predecessor was Gerardus Bontius (1536-1599), who had promoted the
foundation of a botanical garden. Bontius too had studied and graduated in medicine in Padua,
and he too was engaged in the ‘Ostensio simplicium’, the practical demonstration of
medicinal plants. It is evident, therefore, that the practice used in the botanical garden of
Padua arrived in Leiden via students such as Bontius, Paludanus, and Paaw, and that Porro’s
guide had followers there, in a garden that is still one of the most important university
The assessment and teaching methods of the Padua garden influenced the botanical gardens
founded after 1545 in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Only a few documents are left (or, at
least at this moment only a few documents are known) that testify to this influence, but these
few documents tell us a lot. The use of blank maps to fill in with names of plant species seen
in the botanical garden, and the use of pocket-sized printed manuals in which blank pages
could be filled in during botanical teaching, were new and modern didactic devices.
The didactic methods used at Padua for the university teaching called Ostensio simplicium, a
practical course on plant demonstration held in the Horto medicinale (founded in 1545), are
revealed by both manuscript and printed sixteenth-century ground-plans of the garden.
Blank manuscript plans are known. Recently has been found two copies of Padua garden
plans, in which the names of the plants being cultivated in each bed are hand-written: one in
23 Leslie TJON SIE FAT: Clusius’ garden: a reconstruction. In: Leslie TJON SIE FAT and Erik DE JONG
(eds): The authentic garden - a symposium on gardens. Leiden 1991, pp. 3-12.
24 Carmen ANON FELIÙ: La literatura de jardines en el siglo XVI. In: J. Fernandez Perez / I. Gonzales
Tascon (eds): Agricultura de iardines compuesta por Gregorio de los Rios. Madrid 1991, pp. 81-101.
Florence HOPPER: Clusius' world: the meeting of science and art. In: Tjon Sie and Erik de
Jong, The authentic garden. A symposium on gardens. Leiden, (1991), pp. 13-36
the manuscript archive of Ulisse Aldrovandi in Bologna University Library and the second at
Giovanni Vincenzo Pinelli’s archive (today at the Ambrosiana Library in Milan). These
documents suggest that every student had his own copy of the garden plan, which he had to
fill in with the names of the plant species observed in each bed. The identification of the plant
names and the comparison between the two sources give an “instantaneous picture” of the
Padua Botanic garden for the year 1560s – 1570s. This interpretation allows a comparison
with a similar documentation conserved at the Leiden Botanic Garden Library from the 1590s
showing the plan of the Leiden garden.
At the end of the sixteenth century, printed maps were used. In the guide of the Padua garden
published by Girolamo Porro in 1591, a true exercise-book, the ground-plans of the four
garden compartments have numbered beds and are followed by blank pages which students
had to fill in by writing the plant names, as shown by a partially compiled Porro’s booklet
held at the Biblioteca Civica of Padua. A printed version of ground plans with the plant names
for each bed can be found in the work Hortus publicus Academiae Lugdunum Batavae by
Pieter Paaw edited in 1601. Also in this book there are pages with blank charts. At the Leiden
Botanic garden Library is still conserved a copy of this book where Paaw filled in with plant
names the blank spaces.
The Padua’s experience was followed in Leiden and by other Botanic gardens.
David E. Allen: Walking the swards: medical education and the rise and spread of the
botanical field class. Archives of natural history 27 (3) (2000), pp. 335-367.
Carmen Anon Feliù: La Literatura de Jardines en el siglo XVI. In: J. Fernandez Perez, I.
Gonzales Tascon (eds): Agricultura de Iardines compuesta por Gregorio de los Rios. Madrid
1991, pp. 81-101.
Elsa M. Cappelletti: I Semplici a Venezia nel secolo XV: sofisticazioni, succedanei ed errori
di interpretazione. In: International Conference proceedings (Piacenza, 23-25 September
1988). Le piante medicinali e il loro impiego in farmacia nel corso dei secoli. Accademia
Italiana di Storia della Farmacia, 1989, pp. 89-93.
Elsa M. Cappelletti: Plants cultivated at the time of Anguillara. In: Alessandro Minelli (ed.):
The Botanical Garden of Padua 1545-1995. Marisilio, Venice. 1995a, pp. 163-171.
Elsa M. Cappelletti: Living collections in the Botanical garden at the time of Cortuso (1591).
In: Alessandro Minelli (ed.): The Botanical Garden of Padua 1545-1995. Marisilio, Venice.
1995b, pp. 197-242.
Agostino Del Riccio: Del giardino di un Re. In: Giovanna Ragionieri (ed.): Il giardino storico
italiano: problemi di indagine, fonti letterarie e storiche. L. S. Olschki, Firenze, 1981 (Atti del
convegno di studi, Siena - San Quirico d'Orcia, 6-8 ottobre 1978)
Florence Hopper: Clusius' world: the meeting of science and art. In: Tjon Sie and Erik de
Jong, The authentic garden. A symposium on gardens. Leiden, (1991), pp. 13-36.
Giovanni Battista De Toni: Spigolature Aldrovandiane XI. Intorno alle relazioni del botanico
Melchiorre Guilandino con Ulisse Aldrovandi. Atti dell’Imperial Reggia Accademia di
Scienze, Lettere ed Arti degli Agiati in Rovereto, serie 3, XVII (2) (1911), pp. 149-171.
Jacopo Facciolati: De gymnasio patavino syntagmata. Padova, Manfré, 1752.
Pietro Andrea Mattioli: Commentarii in sex libros Pedacii Dioscoridis Anazarbei de Medica
materia. Valgrisiana, Venetiis, 1565.
Giuliana MAZZI, 2004 – Per la costituzione di un sistema informativo georeferenziato per
l’Orto Botanico dell’Università degli studi di Padova. Convegno biennale "Patrimoni e
trasformazioni urbane” II Congresso dell'Aisu (Associazione Italiana di Storia urbana), Roma
24-26 giugno 2004, pp. 1-10 http://storiaurbana.it/biennale/Relazioni/B9MAZZI.doc
Alessandro Minelli (ed.): The Botanical Garden of Padua 1545-1995. Marisilio, Venice. 1995.
Denuta Nespiak: Wawrzyniec Scholz (1522-1599) twórca pierwszego ogrodu roślin
lekarskich we Wrocławiu i wydawca źródrł do historii medycyny [Laurentius Scholz (1522-
1599) Schöpfer des ersten Heilkräutergartens in Breslau und Herausgeber von Quellenstoffen
zur Geschichte der Medizin]. In: Kwartalnik Historii Nauku i Techniki, 22, 3 (1977), pp. 535-
Richard Palmer: The Influence of Botanical Research on Pharmacists in Sixteenth Century
Venice. Naturwissenschaft, Technik und Medizin -Schriftenr. Geschichte der
Naturwissenschaften und Technik, Universität Leipzig, 21 (1984), pp. 69-80.
Richard Palmer: Medical botany in northern Italy in the Renaissance. Journal of the Royal
Society of Medicine, 78 (1985), pp. 149-157.
Carlo Raimondi: Lettere di P.A. Mattioli ad Ulisse Aldrovandi. Bullettino Senese di Storia
Patria XIII (1-2) (1906), pp. 121-185, 1906;
Else M. Terwen Dionisius: De eerste ontwerpen voor de Leidse Hortus, In: J.W. Marsilje
(ed.): Uit Leidse bron geleverd. Leiden, 1989, pp. 392-400.
Else M. Terwen Dionisius: Date and Design of the Botanical Garden in Padua. Journal of
Garden History 14, 4 (1994), pp. 213-235.
Leslie Tjon Sie Fat: Clusius’ garden: a reconstruction. In: Lesliie Tjon Sie Fat and Erik de
Jong (eds): The authentic garden - a symposium on gardens. Clusius Foundation, Leiden,
1991, pp. 3-12.
Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi: Projects for botanical and other gardens: a 16th-century manual.
Journal of Garden History 3 (1983), pp.1-34.
Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi: Francesco Mingucci "giardiniere" e pittore naturalista: un aspetto
della committenza Barberiniana nella Roma seicentesca. Atti dei Convegni Lincei vol. 78,
1986, pp. 277-306.
Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi: Geometric schemes for plants and gardens: a contribution to the
history of the Garden in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries. In: Irving LAVIN (ed.):
World Art, Themes and Unity in Diversity. Washington 1989, pp. 211-217 (Acts of the
XXVIth International Congress of the History of Art. Washington, 1986);
Andrea Ubrizsy Savoia: The Botanical Garden of Padua in Guilandino's Day. In: Alessandro
MINELLI (ed.) - The Botanical Garden of Padua 1545-1995, Marsilio Ed., Venezia, 1995, pp.
Andrea Ubrizsy Savoia: The contemporary influence of the first botanical garden.
Publicationes Universitatis Horticulturae Industriaeque Alimentariae (Budapest) LIX (1999),
Andrea Ubrizsy Savoia: Metodi e soluzioni documentati per la distribuzione delle piante negli
orti botanici prima della fondazione dell’orto botanico di Camerino. Atti del Convegno
“L’Orto Botanico di Camerino (1828-1988)” (Camerino 29 Settembre, 1998), L’uomo e
l’ambiente (Università di Camerino) 35 (2000), pp. 23-46.
(Fig. 1) The ground plan (dated 1579) shows all four compartments of the Padua garden and
was prepared by and offered to Aldrovandi by Lorentz Scholz (Biblioteca Universitaria
Bologna, B.U.B., fondo Aldrovandi, ms. 124, volume 40, cc. 82-85)
(Fig. 2: two images) A copy of ‘L’Horto de i semplici di Padova’ published by Girolamo
Porro (Padua 1591) which is partially filled in by hand, is held at the Biblioteca Civica Padua.
(Fig. 3 two images) A copy of ‘Hortus publicus Academiae Lugduno-Batavae’ by Pieter
Paaw (Leiden 1601), owned by the Library of the Nationaal Herbarium, University of Leiden,
where Paaw filled in with plant names the blank spaces.