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John Ray and Francis Willughby herborising around the lighthouse in Genoa in March 1664

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The English naturalists John Ray (1627–1705) and Francis Willughby (1635–1672) spent part of the spring of 1664 collecting plants around the lighthouse (Ital. lanterna) in Genoa. This paper is about the geography of that site and in particular the evidence for the continuity of plant species collected there from 1664 until the present day. This research is based on the archival and printed material which Ray and Willughby left behind, the notebook at the Chelsea Physic Garden Library in London, the dried specimens at the Natural History Museum in London and the printed volume of their European Tour (1663–66), Observations Topographical, Moral, & Physiological Made in a Journey Through part of the Low-Countries [...] (1673), all concerning the species collected around the so-called Pharos – a landscape that has partially survived until the current day. Whilst the plants found at the site today are few, those that remain can be compared with their past botanical ancestors through some historical artefacts, including nineteenth-century herbaria held in Genoa.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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