Flora of Oxfordshire
A translation of the preface to Sibthorp’s Flora Oxoniensis of 1794 will be published on the internet with a spreadsheet of species mentioned and their localities. This data will help us to locate rare species in the county, and to estimate when species have become extinct.
John Sibthorp FRS (1758-1796) was the youngest son of Humphrey Sibthorp, Sherardian Professor of Botany at
He studied at Oxford Lincoln College, Oxford and
then as a travelling Fellow of University College at Edinburgh
His Flora Oxoniensis, exhibens plantas in
agro Oxoniensi sponte crescentes, secundum systema sexuale distributas was published when he
was 36, shortly before his untimely death. Montpellier
The Preface begins “Long ago
Flora for itself. Indeed more than a century has elapsed since Ray, easily the
foremost botanist of his time, led the way and has been successfully followed
by celebrated men in our time. However up to now Cambridge , though often trodden by the
botanist’s foot, has as yet found none who would identify its plants and
reference them by their currently legitimate names. Yet a great of multitude of
species have localities here, thanks to the diversity of landscapes and soils.
In the shady beech woods we can find Monotropa, Pyrola and Seraphis, which
appear rarely in other regions. Alpines indeed we don’t have, as our area is
not adorned with mountains. However close to Oxford Shotover Hill is not
without subalpines. Selago and Oreopteris adorn the northern slopes, and even
Drosera grows surrounded by soft mossy carpets. Below in the peaty fen of Bullingdon
Green in summer the sedge beds burst with flowers of Pinguicula and Parnassia reaching for the sun; among
them even the scarcely known creeping Sium can be found.” Oxford
Though available in Latin, it seems no translation of the work has been produced, perhaps because the main text is readily accessible since it uses Linnaean plant names and most of the localities given are extant village names.
Only the vascular plants will be attempted at this stage. The mosses and fungi etc would require more expert knowledge, and are probably less informative since many of the Linnaean taxa will have been subdivided later.
Help on the preface is being obtained from Claire Barnes, Christopher Preston and Philip Oswald who have recently completed the second translation of Ray’s Flora of Cambridgeshire!
Using the Internet Archive of the original, volunteers will adopt a number of pages and transcribe the data into a spreadsheet with the following column headings:
Species number in Sibthorp
Linnaean name in Sibthorp
English name in Sibthorp
Latin name in Stace 3rd edition
English name in Stace 3rd edition
Family in Stace 3rd edition
page in Sibthorp
Habitats if mentioned
Flowering month as given by Sibthorp
Woody, perennial, biennial or annual as in Sibthorp
Locality as in Sibthorp
Locality modern name
Comments by Sibthorp
Comments by transcriber
Tetrad or monad grid reference
checked by transcriber
The data will then be checked by another person and entered into the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre database, and submitted for publication on the Fritillary website.
To help with this project please contact Camilla.email@example.com