Over the course of five decades, the seventeenth-century naturalist Georgius Everhardus Rumphius assiduously gathered information on the native plants of Ambon Island and its archipelago. By presenting descriptions of the plants and their multiple ...
uses, he succeeded in creating a cultural and scientific treasury of incomparable value not only for his contemporaries but also for today's botanists, anthropologists, ethnobotanists, science historians, medicinal chemists, and other scholars. Rumphius' comprehensive reference, complete with 811 original illustrations, describes in remarkable detail more than 2,000 plants, their habitats, and their economic and medicinal uses. He also records native plant names in Malay, Latin, Dutch, and Ambonese - and often in Macassarese and South Chinese as well. In an illuminating introduction, E.M. Beekman discusses the Herbal's significance for tropical botanical literature, examines Rumphius' influence on Linnaeus' work, and surveys the Indonesian economic and medicinal uses of the plants Rumphius described. Beekman also provides invaluable annotations throughout the Herbal.