The plan for Flora Danica

indbyd01_400The plan for Flora Danica described in the prospectus was ambitious. Flora Danica was to consist of both the engraved plates and a series of texts.

The copper engraved plates
The plants were in principle to be depicted life-size, and there was - with the exception of a few mosses - to be only one plant per plate.  This would give the owners the option of sorting them systematically, when a sufficient number had been published. Oeder made a direct comparison with an herbarium.

Large plants did however have to be depicted in reduced size with life-size details.  A magnifying glass had to be used for small plants. The parts of the plant that distinguish the species from other species were to be depicted in separate drawings. Each part contained a sheet on which the names of the species in that part were listed. These sheets ended up with both the names and the locations of the plants.

Oeder's botanical artist and his engraver were father and son: the father, Michael Rössler (1705-77) was the engraver and the son, Martin Rössler (1727-82), the painter. They were recruited from Nuremberg in Germany.

The Texts
The texts were to treat both the botany as such as well as the useful and harmful plants (applied botany). The prospectus only gave detailed information on the purely botanical aspects, which were to cover:

  1. An introduction to botany 
  2. A list of the plants that had been found 
  3. Thorough descriptions of the plants

As for the treatment of the applied botany, this was to be dealt with by a society of which Oeder was the secretary. Whereas the plates were completed, the texts remained for the most part mere ideas. Oeder published his introduction to botany, and part of the plant list (the cryptogamous, or flowerless, plants). The rest was never written, not even the texts that were to describe the applied botany.