Anguillara, Luigi

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Anguillara, Luigi

(real name, Luigi Squalermo )

(b. Anguillara, Sabazia, Italy, ca. 1512; d. Ferrara, Italy, September 1570)


Little is known of Anguillara’s early life. In 1539 he became associated with Luca Ghini at the latter’s private botanical garden, first in Bologna, then in Pisa in 1544. Two years later, on 20 August 1546, Anguillara became the first director of the botanical garden in Padua, the oldest of its kind in Europe. He remained at Padua, supervising a garden that received favorable notice from many distinguished visitors, until 1561; then, having incurred the displeasure of Aldrovandi and Mattioli, he moved to Ferrara. He became herbalist to the duke of Ferrara and continued his botanical travels; whether he also taught medicine at Ferrara is unclear. He probably died of the plague, notwithstanding his efforts to prepare an antidote of theriaca.

Anguillara’s only known book the Semplici, was written over a long period (1549–1560). It is divided into fourteen Pareri (“opinions”), each of which is dedicated to a contemporary Italian physician. Following the usual procedure of the times, the book is devoted principally to the identification of the plants known to Dioscorides and the other ancient writers on materia medica. Because of his travels in Greece, Italy, France, and Asia Minor an dhis great personal knowledge of plant life throughout the Mediterranean basin, Anguillara was among the best-equipped of sixteenth-century botanists to make such a study.

Approximately 1,540 plants are discussed by Anguillara, but in no discernible systematic order. Each plant is described, its classical name established (often with vernacular synonyms appended), and its medical and alimentary uses mentioned, along with its habitat, literary references, and the location where Anguillara found it. The descriptions are sufficiently full and accurate that the majority of his plants have been identified by modern historians of botany. Frequently cited by seventeenth-century botanists, the Semplici still remains an important source for historical nomenclature and floristic studies. He is commemorated today by the genus Anguillaria (Liliaceae) named in his honor by Robert Brown (1810).


Anguillara’s only known work is Semplici... liquali in piu pareri a diversi nobili huomini scritti appaiono, et nuovamente da m. Giovanni Marinello mandati in luce (Venice, 1561); trans. into Latin, with notes, by Gaspard Bauhin (Basel, 1593).

Works on Anguillara are Ettore De Toni, “Luigi Anguillara e Pietro Antonio Michiel,” in Annali di botanica, 8 (1910), 617–685, an identification of the plants in the herbarium of P. A. Michiel (1510–1576), the dedicatee of the second pareri, based on Anguillara’s Semplici, whose nomenclature was often used by Michiel; Giovanni Battista De Toni, “Nuovi documenti intorno Luigi Anguillara, primo prefetto dell’ Orto Botanico di Padova,” in Atti del Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 70, no. 2 (1910–1911), 289–307, which contains eleven letters by Anguillara and a legal document concerning his salary; and “Luigi Anguillara,” in Aldo Mieli, ed., Gli scienziati italiani dall’inizio del medio evo ai nostri giorni, I, pt. I (Rome, 1921), 76–78, a biographical account, with secondary bibliography (p. 77 contains a reference to two unpublished MSS of Anguillara in Bologna); Ludovic Legré “La botanique en Provence au XVIe siècle,” in Bulletin de la Société botanique de France, 46 (1899), xxxiii–lxi, pp. xxxiii–li devoted to the identification of some of the more notable plants described by Anguillara on his botanizing expendition in southern France; and La botanique en provence au XVIe siècle: Louis Anguillara, Pierre Belon, Charles de l’Escluse, Antoine Constantin (Marseilles, 1901) . Vol . V in a series of books by Legré, pp. 9–34 a reprint of the author’s earlier article; Ernst H. F. Meyer, Geschichte der Botanik, 4 vols. (Königsberg, 1854–1857), IV, 378–383; and Kurt Sprengel, Geschichte der Botanik, 2 vols. (Altenburg–Leipzig, 1817–1818), I, 289–293.

Jerry Stannard