Title page from 'The History of Plants' by John Ray, 1686.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Title page in Latin from volume one of 'Historia plantarum' (The History of Plants) by John Ray (1627-1705) published in London in 1686. Ray has been called the 'father of English natural history'. In this three-volume encyclopaedic work he describes the structure and function of nearly 18,000 plants using a new system he had evolved. English and exotic plants are treated, as well as those of the Americas and the East Indies.