Botanical Prints - Art or Science?

Botanical Prints are Timeless

Botanical prints, many drawn hundreds of years ago, often by artists who were also botanists, scientists or naturalists. These highly detailed drawings were further classified into two main types – botanical art and botanical illustrations.

Botanical Art

The goal of botanical art was to illustrate parts of plants or whole plants in an aesthetically pleasing way. It was also doing it to be scientifically accurate – to a point. The priority was placed on the aesthetic look of the drawing. While botanically correct, they were not necessarily complete. They may not have shown all the information about the plant needed for identification. 



Botanical Illustration 

On the other hand – botanical illustrations placed the priority on botanical accuracy and scientific recording. These types of illustrations could be used to help identify a plant. These illustrations would include the life cycle of the plant to further aid in identification.

A Rich History in Science & Discovery

Both these types of drawings played an important role in discovery of plants, animals and insects. During the 1700’s and 1800’s explorers would return from their global expeditions with thousands of samples of seeds and plants.

These samples would be then carefully catalogued through botanical drawings and illustrations.



Explorers Didn't Travel Alone

Explorers often had artists and scientists accompanying them. Part of the exploration included the collection of flowers and plants that would then be recorded.

One such travelling artist was Sydney Parkinson (1745-1771). He traveled as a botanical draftsman on the ship Endeavour with Captain Cook. They sailed to locations around the world, including New Zealand, Australia and South America.  Sydney made over 1300 sketches and drawings during this trip. Sadly, he died of dysentery on the way home.



What was Planted in the Garden?

These collected samples from around the world also allowed new plants to be cultivated and provided a vast new range of plants for gardens.

Of course, back then, you couldn’t simply photograph your garden to remember what you had planted.

Landowners would often commission botanical artists to draw their gardens, thereby documenting and cataloguing their collection.




Art and Science Together as Partners

We see botanical art as the melding of art and science, to create timeless works of art with a story to tell.

At Family Botanic, we create customized, framed family trees using historical botanical art. All our designs start with high - resolution vintage botanical prints which we then customize to reflect your family tree. 

Choose from a wide variety of botanical designs (plants, animals, insects) to showcase your own unique family - your story. Thoughtful, custom family gifts, that are framed and ready to hang.






Sources:  Tulip Image: rijksmuseum Tulip, two branches of myrtle and two shells, Maria Sibylla Merian (attributed to); Magnolia Image: Wellcome Collection.  Attribution 4.0 international (CC by 4.0); S. Parkinson portrait:;  Pineapple Image: The Minnich Collection, The Ethel Morrison van Derlip Fund, 1966expand_more P.18, 712, Moth Image: Royal Collection Trust, Custard Apple with Sphinx Moth, 1702-03