The plants on this plate all have a specific type of dry fruit called a legume, it is characteristic of the peas, beans and clovers. This is one example of a group of plants created by Morison based on the fruit that is recognised as a group today – the Fabaceae (pea family). Morison devotes numerous plates to members of the pea family. On this plate the fruits are all held upright.
This plate is sponsored by the experimental natural philosopher Robert Boyle (1627-1691). Together with a heraldic device, the accompanying statement emphasises Boyle’s position as the ‘Chief of Natural Inquiry’. As an alchemist Boyle believed in the transmutation of metals but identified elements as the fundamental parts of natural materials, making a clear distinction between mixtures and compounds. In 1655/56 Boyle arrived in Oxford, joining the group of natural philosophers clustering around John Wilkins (1614-1672) at Wadham College. This was a very productive period in Boyle’s life. Boyle was at the inaugural
meeting of the Royal Society on 28th November 1660, and active in the early years of the Society’s existence. Boyle is one of many Fellows of the Royal Society to sponsor plates.