Linnaeus and Chinese plants: A test of the linguistic imperialism thesis

Abstract
It has been alleged that Carolus Linnaeus practised Eurocentrism, sexism and racism in naming plant genera after famous botanists, and excluding ‘barbarous names’. He has therefore been said to practise ‘linguistic imperialism’. This paper examines whether Linnaeus applied ‘linguistic imperialism’ to the naming of Chinese plants. On the basis of examples such as Thea (¼Camellia), Urena, Basella, Annona, Sapindus (¼Koelreuteria), and Panax, I conclude that Linnaeus used generic names of diverse origins. However, he misidentified Chinese plants’ habitats, and acted on these misapprehensions.
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