This next series of essays provide examples of how Colden’s work was reviewed and cited by the plant taxonomists in the years following his completion of Coldengham. Particular attention is paid to the works of Carl von Linne (Linnaeus) and the influences he had upon medical botany based on the use of American plants. Colden’s influence on the medical profession was greater than his influence upon taxonomy. Even though his greatest impacts began with numerous communications to other botanists around the world engaged in similar activities, long term influences of these communications only lasted one or two decades. With the passage of time however, the lack influence upon the books being published about plant taxonomy in the New York area took second stage to how Colden’s work came to part of the first attempts made by physicians to better understand, interpret, and make new medical discoveries regarding the potential applications of plants in New York and the neighboring colonies or states.
With time, only the primary, most influential botanists of the time (usually indicated by their large number of publications, and coverage of numerous climatic systems worldwide)held the reign with publishing books nad becoming popularly cited by others engaged in the same activities. Cadwallader Colden’s however took a different route amonsst the intellectuals. His Plantae Coldenghamiae remained a major citation for Linnaeans. His medical botany work lived on and would only be replaced by newer, more popular discoveries made about a particular palnt use in the local New York setting. Still, it is important to realize that Colden’s name was very important during the late 18th and very early 19th century. He was the only botanist providing information on New York or Nova-boracensis for the time. Colden’s work at the time was therefore recognized as that of the authority for the region, akin to similar projects subsequently completed by botanists in Philadelphia and throughout the New England and middle to southern Atlantic regions. Several of these more recent botanists to be published ultimately took the place of Colden in the list of most commonly cited American botanists, several of whom performed extensive researches of plants comprising exceptionally large areas of North America, even including sections of the continent west of the colonies, turned states.
Colden’s primary supporters for his findings during the Colonial years were Gronovius and Clayton (Virginia botanists), with possible support for his descriptions and identification also provided by the Bartram family, and perhaps Alexander Garden and Collinson of the Mid-atlantic. A number of much earlier botanists played somewhat of a role in supporting Colden’s work as well, especially those from the Canada borders region. Their previous work on some of the New York plants strengthened Colden’s claims to their taxonomy, identification and potential uses.
The following works are reviewed for this coverage of Colden’s influences on the plant taxonomy field:
- Linnaeus (var. titles, var. years)
- Gronovius (ca. 1739 and ca. 1747)
Colden’s daughter, Jane or Jenny, is reviewed as well, although as part of a completely different section of these published studies, located right after the Cadwallader Colden section.