John Evelyn's (1620-1706) plate

John Evelyn's (1620-1706) plate

The plants on this plate have a similar type of dry fruit to those shown on the plate sponsored by John Danvers; they belong to the same family – the cabbage family (Brassicaceae). In contrast to those on Danvers’ plate, the species on this plate have short, fat fruits, rather than the long, thin fruits. The image in the top right of the plate is of the familiar garden plant, honesty.

This plate is sponsored by writer John Evelyn (1620-1706), one of the founder members of the Royal Society. Evelyn was known for his interest in gardens and the cultivation of plants. By 1680, Evelyn had published Sylva (1664), a pioneering work on tree cultivation, A philosophical discourse of earth (1676) about soils and Kalendarium hortense (1664). He spent his life preparing Elysium Britannicum, but the manuscript was not published until the twenty-first century. In 1669, along with other influential members of the Society, Evelyn was in the audience that heard the public orator (Robert South, 1634-1716) of the University, reinforce his views at the Society was a ‘company of lewd, shallow-brained huffs’ (South, 1823: 374): ‘it [South’s sermon] was very long, & not without some malicious & undecent reflections on the Royal Society as underminers of the University, which was very foolish and untrue’. Three years later, South sponsored a plate in Morison’s Plantarum umbelliferarum distributio nova (1672).


South R 1823. Sermons preached upon several occasions, Vol. 1. Oxford, The Clarendon Press.

de Beer ES 2006. The diary of John Evelyn. London, Everyman’s Library.