Illustrated Catalogue of Plants 植物名实图考长编
In ancient China,Illustrated Catalogue of Plants(《植物名实图考长编》zhíwù míngshítú kǎochángbiān) is a botanical monograph or flora of medicinal plants with high scientific values, and its compiling system is quite different from those of Chinese materia medica masterpieces in the past generations and actually belongs to the category of botany. The book was proofread and published in 1848, one year after the death of Wu Qijun( Wú Qíjùn吴其濬), the author of the book.
The book has 71,000 words and 38 volumes in total, covering 1,714 different kinds of plants with detailed description of their names, shapes, colors, scents, varieties, life habits and uses, as well as more than 1,800 pictures attached.
The book is also featured by its abundant texts complete with illustrations based on field observation and supplementary with document references. The author had consulted farmers and peasants in an open mind wherever he came across a problem about the plants in field investigation and drew pictures of the plant samples he had collected, which could also be used as important evidence for the identification of the family and genus of plants today.
The book is compiled mainly based on material object observation, rather accurate and delicate at that time as a kind of plant illustration and marked a big progress in drawing of material objects. The book not only provides detailed description of the properties, scents, curative effect and usages of plants recorded in it from the perspective of pharmacology, but also examines and corrects the categories of different plants, especially those with the same names but refer to different plants and those with different names but refer to the same plant. Additionally, the book also mentions their morphologies, life habits, uses and places of origin. The records of plants in the book are not limited to the description of their medical properties and uses but also involve flora of medicinal plants. It is the first large flora of medicinal plants in China.
In 1884, Japan copied the book for the first time. Keisuke Ito spoke highly of the book in the preface he wrote for the book. In 1940, Tomitaro Makino from Japan drew a great deal from the book to compile his Illustrated Handbook of Japanese Plants. Besides, Loaf Mirri and Walker from the United States also have ever quoted and held in esteem the book in their masterpieces.
Illustrated Catalogue of Plants is the first large flora of medicinal plants in China，and it has been kept in many countries all around the world in their national libraries today.