Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions

Andrea Cesalpino, biography, contributions, botany, biology, contributions, taxonomy, blood circulation, physiology. Andrea Cesalpino (Latinized as Andreas Cæsalpinus) (June 6, 1519 – February 23, 1603) was an Italian physician, philosopher, and botanist.

Each person has a goal and a mission to accomplish while passing through this life. For Andrea Cesalpino, his love for botany led him to make a great discovery. Join us to learn about his contributions!

Andrea Cesalpino
Andrea Cesalpino

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Life of Andrea Cesalpino

Cesalpino was born in Arezzo, Tuscany.

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. For his studies at the University of Pisa his instructor in medicine was R. Colombo (died 1559) and in botany the celebrated Luca Ghini. After completing his course, he taught philosophy, medicine, and botany for many years at the same university, as well as conducting botanical explorations in various parts of Italy. At this time the first botanical gardens in Europe were installed; the first in Padua, in 1546; the next in Pisa in 1547 by Ghini, who was its first director. Ghini was succeeded by Cesalpino, who was in charge of the Pisan garden from 1554-1558. When well advanced in years, Cesalpino accepted a call to Rome as professor of medicine at the University of Rome La Sapienza and physician to Pope Clement VIII. It is not at all certain whether he also became the chief superintendent of the Roman botanical garden, which had been designed around 1566 by one of his most celebrated pupils, Michele Mercati.

Who was Andrea Cesalpino?

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. Within botany, Cesalpino became known because he was able to establish a classification for flowers and the number of seeds each plant had. It became more widely recognized by focusing on seed number as it was something that had not been attempted to be studied before.

Andrea Cesalpino was born on June 6, 1524 and died on February 23, 1603. He was known as an important botanist, anatomist, and even physician from the Arezzo region of Italy. He was a student at the University of Pisa where he had the opportunity to learn from important teachers such as Realdo Colombo and Luca Ghini.

He graduated in 1551 and 3 years later, he took the position of director of the University Botanical Garden. He even taught medical reading classes just as he became a professor of medicine. As an anatomist, he is credited with the first discoveries of blood circulation.

What did you discover?

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. Cesalpino discovered that the heart is in charge of blood circulation. He refuted the theory that the liver was in charge of the movement of blood through the body. Through a series of studies, he managed to find that the heart is in charge of the movements of blood in the body and that it is the beginning of the rest of the arteries and veins.

He was able to verify this thanks to the fact that he showed that the veins are united in any part of the body and that by obliterating it is possible to see how they spread from the periphery to the center. Also, by opening the veins, bloodshed begins and first the dark “venous” blood comes out and then the red “arterial” blood.

Andrea Cesalpino was so good at everything he did, especially medicine and anatomy, that Pope Clement VIII appointed him as his personal physician in 1592.

Likewise, Cesalpino was unstoppable. Despite having a great passion for medicine and anatomy, he continued to study other disciplines and that’s when he came to botany.

Contributions for Botany

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. Cesalpino made several publications in botanical magazines of the time. The most important was made in 1583 and was called “De plantis libri XVI”. Before Carl Linnaeus, this had been the most important publication and is worthy of study. It does not contain illustrations and its first section is the most relevant of all.

For botany, the greatest contribution made by Cesalpino was the Plant Classification System. To this day, this system is still used as it represents a great classification of the morphology and physiology of flowering plants. Cesalpino looked at the contributions made by Aristotle to create this work that had a quite original stamp.

The publication of the classification system of Plants has:

  • Detailed observations of a large number of flowering plants. Emphasizing fruits, flowers, seeds.
  • Use of the microscope to observe the fruiting organs.
  • Presentation of a philosophical perspective related to the material observed and presented.

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. This publication of the Plant Classification System had an additional publication in 1603 called “Appendix to the Plant Books and Peripatetic Equations”. Andrea Cesalpino introduced a quite particular style of observation that presented a philosophical perspective that sought the general and the sensual of what was observed.

The natural conditions helped to make philosophical deductions to conclude that the fruiting organs were the perfect morphological aspect to classify and build a more organic system to understand plants. Andrea is considered to be one of the most ingenious scientists of his time by establishing 5 classifications:

  1. group of trees
  2. fruit group
  3. Sufrices group / shrub herbs).
  4. detlerhae group
  5. Group of seedless plants: here mushrooms, mosses and even ferns were added.

Contributions to Herbariums

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. He was one of the first botanists to have a herbarium. He organized them between 1550 and 1560 by order of Bishop Alfonso Tornabono. It consists of 260 pages that are distributed in 3 volumes covered by a red leather binding. There are more than 760 species of plants and its herbarium is even considered to make contributions towards chemistry, geology and the study of minerals.

Cesalpino and Geology

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. De metallicis libri tres (1596) was one of the most notable works that Andrea Cesalpino left to geology. There, studies of mineralogy and geology itself were reflected, so many aspects of the fossils could be understood. Likewise, he achieved this work by proving that the fossil shells had reached the earth thanks to the sea and, once there, they turned into stone over the years.

philosophical works

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. Cesalpino’s perspective in the philosophical area shows him to be quite an analytical one. His works used to present the genius man and the deep thinker who were sitting at the same table debating which to express first. Heavy in style, the beauty of his works lies in how specific and thorough they are.

His most important philosophical work was Quaestionum peripateticarum libri V published in 1569. Here, he completes his establishment as one of the most brilliant and original students of Aristotle in his century. Even so, traits of other philosophers can be found that have also served as an influence for the development of his thought.

Despite having had opponents of his thought or simply opinions about how “dark” his philosophy was, Cesalpino managed to make contributions in this area as important as those he made in anatomy and botany.

Knowing the contributions of Andrea Cesalpino helps you to better understand certain areas and to marvel at the knowledge and passion. And you, have you been inspired by the contributions and life of Cesalpino?

Medical and physiological works

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. Cesalpino’s physiological investigations regarding the circulation of the blood are well known, but even hitherto they have been as often overestimated as underestimated. An examination of the various passages in his writings which refer to the question shows that, while it must be said that Cesalpino had penetrated further into the secret of the circulation of the blood than any other physiologist before William Harvey, he had still not achieved a complete knowledge, founded on anatomical investigation, of the entire course of the blood. In addition to the work Quæstionum peripateticarum already mentioned, reference should be made to Quaestionum medicarum libri duo (1593).

Andrea Cesalpino and circulatory system

Andrea Cesalpino, Biography, botanical contributions. He did not carry out many dissections but wrote about the heart, the chest and syphilis. Cesalpino considered the heart as the center of circulation; he described in detail the anatomy of the aorta, vena cava, and heart valves; he highlighted the differences between peripheral arteries and veins; and suggested that there may be small connecting channels between them.

By applying tourniquets to the arm, he concluded that the blood was flowing to the heart and first passing through the lungs. He was the first to use the term circulation, but developed a theory that fell short of postulating a complete circulatory system.

Plant classification system

From the early seventeenth century to the present day, botanists have agreed with the view that Cesalpino in this work, in which he took Aristotle to his guide, laid the foundations of plant morphology and physiology and produced the first scientific classification of flowering plants. Three things, above all, give the book the stamp of individuality: the great number of original and acute observations, especially on flowers, fruits and seeds, made, moreover, before the invention of the microscope, the selection of the fruiting organs . for the foundation of his botanical system; Finally, the ingenious and, at the same time, the strictly philosophical handling of the rich material gathered by observation. Cesalpino published a complementary publication to this work, entitled Appendix to the books of peripatetic plants and quasions (1603).

The basis of his scientific research was philosophy. Consequently, in his botanical research he went beyond the individual description of plants and sought to find the general in the individual, the important in the sensual given. He strove to classify plants on the basis of natural conditions, and through Aristotelian philosophical deductions he came to the conclusion that only the fruiting organs were suitable for the construction of the most natural system. This led him into highly unnatural groups. But he was the first scientist to establish an ordered system of plants, which he divided into 5 classifications: 1. the group of trees (trees); 2. the group of frutices (shrubs); 3. the group of sufrices (shrub herbs); 4. the detlerhae group (herbs) and 5. the group of seedless plants, which was told about fungi, ferns, mosses and algae, among others.


Andrea Cesalpino is also famous in the history of botany as one of the first botanists to make a herbarium; one of the oldest herbaria still in existence is the one he organized between 1550 and 60 for Bishop Alfonso Tornabono. After many changes of fortune, the herbarium is now in the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze in Florence.

It consists of 260 folio pages arranged in three volumes bound in red leather and contains 768 species of plants. A work of some value for chemistry, mineralogy, and geology was published by him under the title De metallicis libri tres (Rome, 1596). Some of his subject matter is reminiscent of discoveries made in the late 18th century, such as those by Antoine Lavoisier and René Just Haüy, he also shows a correct understanding of fossils.

The Franciscan friar Charles Plumier gave the name Cæsalpinia to a genus of plants and Linnaeus retained it in his system. Today this genus includes approximately 150 species and belongs to the family Fabaceae, subfamily Cæsalpinioideae, which contains a large number of useful plants. Linnaeus in his writings often cites his great predecessor in the science of botany and praises Cesalpino in the following lines:

Quisquis hic exstiterit primos concedat honors
Casalpine Tibi primaque certa dabit .

The standard author abbreviation Cesalpino is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.


As mentioned above, De metallicis libri tres (Rome, 1596) was valuable for mineralogy and geology, showing a correct understanding of fossils. Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology states that in 1596,

Cesalpino, a famous botanist, conceived that the fossil shells had been left on the land by the sea, and had turned to stone during the consolidation of the soil.”

Various editions.

Read also: What is Chemistry video

Useful external resource: Wikipedia

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