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Reprint and translation of the original edition (Leiden 1736). Translated into English by Stephen Freer. With an Introduction by Staffan Muller-Wille.
Linnaeus's first monograph Musa Cliffortiana describes one of the earliest banana plants ever to bear fruit in Europe. Linnaeus achieved this horticultural feat in 1736 by replicating tropical conditions for a banana plant in a glasshouse in George Clifford's famous garden, the Hartenkamp, in Holland. This garden was considered one of the finest in Europe; Linnaeus was to spend three years there, cataloguing George Clifford's plants, and it was during this stay that he wrote his better-known Hortus Cliffortianus.
Musa Cliffortiana is much more detailed than most of Linnaeus's works and even allows space for his speculation on whether the banana, which he was eventually to name Musa paradisiaca, was the `forbidden fruit' of the Bible.
This is the first modern translation of the book. It contains many pages showing Linnaeus's own handwritten annotations and notes, as well as reproductions of the two plates that accompanied it and eleven additional illustrations from other sources.
Musa Cliffortiana provides a perfect example of Linnaeus's method of describing particular plant species. The first few chapters, concerning the various names given to the banana and how it is to be classified, illustrate the rigor and clarity of Linnaeus's taxonomic methods. The lively story of the growing of the plant at the Hartenkamp then follows; later, there are descriptions of the medical and culinary uses of the banana, and references to it in classical literature, as well as in the Bible.