Symbol in old botany books

Could someone help me with a notation I see in some old botany books?

What does the H. plus the symbol for Jupiter mean?

Image below.


Per Stearn, 1962:

“In order to save space Linnaeus employed the astronomical symbols of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the Sun to denote woody, herbaceous perennial, biennial and annual plants respectively…”


Ha! I knew one of you would know. You are such smart people. Thank you!

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At least in my German botany books the Jupiter symbol for perennial plants is still used even in the newest books. In every book I have looked through it is also explained on the pages with the abbreviations. The meaning of H is unknown to me. If you have the complete book at hand you will probably find the meaning on the abbreviation pages.

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Maybe H. is short for habit or habitus? I agree it is probably at the end of their book or wherever symbols are explained (sometimes at the beginning).


Regarding the “H” portion, these resources on botanical nomenclature may be useful. It appears the H could mean a variety of things, but it looks like “H.” is indicative of a hybrid.

The book is Aiton 1789 Hortus Kewensis, or, A catalogue of the plants cultivated in the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. I was in Volume III. I went to Volume I and behold:


DOI for Vol 1

Unless I’m missing it, I don’t see such a key in Linnaeus.

Wonder what a ‘dry stove’ could be as opposed to a ‘green hous(f)e’? I’d love to get my hands on an old plants catalog like this, very interesting to see how things change over time.

Seems like ‘green’ refers to tender here, since it’s set opposite to ‘dry’; maybe herbaceous vs. woody?

If my supposition above is correct, it forever changes how I think about the word ‘greenhouse’!


Or as opposed to just ‘stove’.

You can find many of these old books and journals at Some of them are in Latin. This one is.


Keys as we know them did not exist at the time of Linnaeus. The first true key in the modern sense was published in 1803. (I wrote my PhD on this and on the development of field guides).


What was the first field guide?

Presumably the greenhouse is UNheated, since there are two stove options. Can take light frost?

Great resource! Thanks for that link:

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Welcome to the Forum, @bsnodgrass-il :)

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Awesome, thanks! I had no idea this was available. Great for searching through the old Madroño journals alone!

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There were lots of books that kind of worked as field guides, but the first modern one in terms of organization – that is, introductory material, key, section with descriptions of organisms arranged by similarity (because phylogeny was not a concept yet), illustrated glossary and index – was F.-N.-A. Dubois, Méthode éprouvée, avec laquelle on peut parvenir facilement, et sans maître, à connoître les Plantes de l’intérieur de la France, et en particulier celle des environs d’Orléans. Ouvrage infiniment utile aux personnes qui passent une partie de l’année à la campagne, et aux jeunes gens auxquels on veut inspirer du goût pour l’Histoire naturelle. Orléans: Darnault-Maurant, 1803.


What a great title! Google Translates:

Proven method, with which it is easy, and without a master, to get to know the Plants of the interior of France, and in particular that of the surroundings of Orleans. An infinitely useful book for people who spend part of the year in the countryside, and for young people who want to inspire a taste for natural history.