THE botanic garden connected with the old Würtemberg University at Tübingen is worthy of special notice, because of its history and its importance as a center of research in the biology of plants at the present time.
The university with which it is connected was endowed more than four hundred years ago by the reigning house of Würtemberg, and during the entire period of its existence it has enjoyed the exclusive patronage of the grand ducal and later the royal family, as it is the only higher institution of learning within the kingdom. Set as it is among a hardy and virile people, it has been the scene of many notable mental victories over tradition and superstition. It has always held a position in the forefront of human advancement, and its splendid achievements mark epochs in human thought. Here have originated great schools or methods of thought in the different branches of human knowledge. Bauer in philosophy and von Mohl in botany have each forwarded research in his respective line in a manner that can not be measured or easily estimated.
The subject of botany in this institution received its first attention from the side of medical science. With the introduction of the laboratory method of instruction, actual demonstrations of plants were used to supplement the lectures. To meet the need of material of living plants the garden was founded in due time, and it has at successive periods represented quite accurately the development and extension of botanical science,—a development to which the botanists of Tübingen have largely contributed. The subject of botany here has always been in the hands of workers of the first rank, who each in turn have materially advanced the frontiers of knowledge of the biology of plant life, for a period extending over three and a half centuries.
The first lectures on plants, dealing with their medical properties, were given at the university by Leonard Fuchs, from 1535 until his death in 1566, although it was not until a century later (1662) that the garden was founded. Fuchs occupied a prominent position in the history of ancient botany, since he made the first attempt to establish a system of terminology, and furthermore he was the first to base descriptions of species upon facts obtained from an actual examination of the plants themselves. In his Historia Stirpium about five hundred species are figured