Nehemiah Grew (1641–1712) and the saline chymistry of plants

Roos, Anna Marie (2007) Nehemiah Grew (1641–1712) and the saline chymistry of plants. Ambix, 54 (1). pp. 51-68. ISSN 0002-6980

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In a series of lectures appended to his magisterial Anatomy of Plants (1682), Nehemiah Grew (1641–1712) explained the results of his own research into the saline chemistry of plants, following an established tradition in early modern chemistry. Members of the Royal Society such as Daniel Coxe were heavily involved in researching salt chemistry in the latter part of the seventeenth century, analysing the role of salts in spa waters, physiology, and as a fundamental element in iatrochemistry. Such researches of Royal Society members were often based upon the chemistry of Johann Van Helmont (1577–1634). As this paper will demonstrate, Grew's work drew from his microscopic research to elaborate and question some of Coxe's and hence Van Helmont's ideas about the principles of matter. Grew also used the results of his chemical research to draw conclusions about plant structure and colour, and applied his results to other areas in natural history such as meteorology, illustrating that chemistry was the basic analytical tool for seventeenth-century investigators of anatomy and natural history.

Keywords:salt chymistry, Nehemiah Grew, Royal Society, botany, history of science, alchemy
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V214 English History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V382 History of Chemistry
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:8057
Deposited On:18 Mar 2013 12:36

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