John Ray

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John Ray

John Ray (born November 29, 1627 in Black Notley , Braintree , Essex , † January 17, 1705 ibid) was a British theologian , classical philologist and naturalist and is also known as the father of English botany . Before 1670 he wrote himself "John Wray". Its official botanical author abbreviation is " Ray ".

Live and act

John Ray has published important works on the natural history of animals and plants and natural theology .

In his three-volume work Historia generalis plantarum (1686–1704), John Ray summarized the botanical results of his trip through Western Europe from 1663 to 1666 with around 18,000 descriptions of around 6,000 species. His work as an animal and plant systematist provided a basis for the Linnaeus system . In particular, his method of systematising according to morphological characteristics created a new system of botany and established a natural classification. In naming the organisms, he already approached the binary nomenclature . His definition of the species as a reproductive community (1686) was already close to the definition that is valid today.

In 1682 he also differentiated between monocotyledon and dicotyledonous plants and introduced the terms monocotyledons and dicotyledons for them . In zoology he delimited the fish in De Historia Piscium (1686) from the other aquatic animals and thus distanced himself further from the Aristotelian order of habitats. In 1671, Ray was the first researcher to isolate formic acid by distilling large numbers of ants . In an English garden in 1696 John Ray discovered the particularly medicinal peppermint ( Mentha x piperita ).

After Francis Willughby's death , John Ray continued his zoological work.


Charles Plumier named a genus Ian-raia of the yam family of plants (Dioscoreaceae) in his honor . Carl von Linné later changed this name to Rajania . The Ray Society , which publishes books on biology in the UK, was named after him.

Fonts (selection)

  • The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation . 1st edition, London 1691 (7th, corrected edition, London 1717; PDF )
  • L'histoire naturelle éclaircie dans une de ses parties principales, l'ornithology . Paris 1767 ( online ).
  • A Collection of English Words Not Generally Used: With Their Significations and Original, in Two Alphabetical Catalogs, the One of Such as are Proper to the Northern, the Other to the Southern Counties. With Catalogs of English Birds and Fishes; and an Account of the Preparing and Refining Such Metals and Minerals as are Gotten in England. 1st. ed., London? 1674 (online [1] )


  • Edwin Lankester (Ed.): The Correspondence of John Ray. Consisting of selections from the philosophical letters published by Dr. Derham, and original letters of John Ray in the collection of the British Museum . Ray Society, London 1848 ( online ).

Web links

Commons : John Ray  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Charles Plumier: Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera . Leiden 1703, p. 33f.
  2. ^ Carl von Linné: Critica Botanica . Leiden 1737, p. 94.
  3. Carl von Linné: Genera Plantarum . Leiden 1742, p. 479.