Most of the plants alive today are angiosperms. Angiosperms are flowering plants that account for the majority of plants we produce for food and plant in our gardens. There is such a wide variety of angiosperms today because of their unique ability to adapt to their enviroment. Angiosperms have intricate relationships with pollinators which can range from birds and insects to wind and water.

Explore nature-inspired artwork of flowering plants.


The Baxter Process

Commercial color printing was a new process in 1855. Before 1855, color plates in books like Pratt’s The Flowering Plants were hand-colored. Pratt worked with William Dickes, an award winning lithographer at his time. Dickes was licensed to use The Baxter Process of printing. The Baxter Process, invented by George Baxter, is considered the first commercially viable color printing process and was patented in 1849.

Baxter’s process for producing color prints combined relief and intaglio printing methods. Multiple plates were used to produce color. Each plate was hand inked and therefor can account for differences in color, as seen below, from one print to the next.


Botany, also called plant sciences, plant biology, or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist, or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field.

Botanical refers to plant material

Explore botanical prints by botanist James Edward Smith’s Introduction to Botany.


Chromolithograph or Chromolithography

The process involves printing each color individually. The colors are oil-based, and when multiple colors are applied, the outcome is a vibrant print with a depth that is similar to a painting.

Anne Pratt’s Flowering Plants uses the Baxter Process.

See also The Baxter Process


Chromoxlography is a printmaking process which was popular from the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth century, by which colors were printed from hand-engraved wood blocks.

Lowe’s Ferns: British and Exotic used this process to create prints of ferns.

Class (Taxonomy)

In biology, a class is a taxonomic rank above the order and below the phylum. In a phylum, there may be numerous classes. Similarly, a taxonomic class may have one or more groups referred to as orders.

The woodcock and sora are pictured in this Alexander Wilson print.


Dicots or Dicotyledons

Dicots make up 85% of flowering plants or angiosperms, and are comprised of a pair of embryonic leaves in each seed. Dicot leaves have branched veins and flowers most often have floral parts in multiples of four or five. Magnolias, roses, and sunflowers are examples of dicots.

Explore Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, the longest running botanical publication from Kew Gardens.


Entomology, or the Study of Insects

Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of zoology. In the past the term insect was less specific, and historically the definition of entomology would also include the study of animals in other arthropod groups, such as arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans. This wider meaning may still be encountered in informal use.

Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle Des Insectes is an early representation of entomology.

Etching or Engraving

Etching and engraving are both printmaking techniques in which the lines in the copper or steel plate are chemically etched into the plate by either immersing it in acid or otherwise applying acid to the surface. The plate is first coated with a solid ground of resin or wax. This ground is then scratched away with a needle that selectively exposes the copper in those areas. The ground resists the acid, allowing it to “bite” into only the areas that have been drawn on with the needle. The depth of the line is dictated by the duration of exposure of the plate to the acid.

The method of printing an etching is identical to that of printing an engraving although the technique of making the plate differs.  Both engraving and etching show the characteristic plate mark in the paper. The quality of the line created, however, is quite different and distinguishable to the trained eye. This uncolored engraving is from James Edward Smith’s An Introduction to the Study of Botany.


A species introduced by humans into a place where it was not previously found. Many exotics thrive in their new environment when freed from their natural enemies, allowing them to displace native species.

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine started as a way to highlight exotic species from around the world. 


Family (Taxonomy)

In taxonomy, the family ranks below the order and above the genus. Members of the same taxonomic family are more closely related to each other than they are to other members of the same order.

Jardine’s Naturalist Library volumes are separated by animals in the same family. 


Ferns are vascular plants with leaves called fronds. Ferns do not have seeds or flowers and reproduce by releasing dust-like spores.

Explore antique prints with ferns.



A genus is a taxonomic rank of related species. The species of a genus are the same kind of organism and likely have similar features. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family.

Thornton’s Elements of Botany divides plants into categories.


Giclée is a printmaking process also called digital printing, inkjet printing, or archival pigment printing.

The term giclée means “to squirt” and refers to the application of the ink to the paper. Costs widely vary to create giclée prints. Highend giclée prints require an ultra high resolution file, digital manipulation to color correct the image, and archival papers and inks.


The oldest seed bearing plants still alive today are called gymnosperms. Although gymnosperms produce seeds, they do not create flowers. Seeds of gymnosperms are called cones. Conifers are the largest group of living gymnosperms.


Hand-colored Engraving or Lithograph

Before color printing was commerically viable, engravings and lithographs were hand-colored by colorists using watercolor paint. Hand-colored prints offer a depth of color range not found in early printmaking.

The prints from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine were hand-colored into the mid-twentieth century much longer than many similar publications.



Ichthyology is a branch of zoology that deals with the study of fish.


An illustration is a decoration, interpretation, or visual explanation of a text, concept, or process. Throughout history illustrations have been used as a means to spread information. Botanical illustration is used to document plant species and variations. Due to the rise of photography, botanical illustration today is more of a popular hobby rather than a necessity amoung botanists.

Anne Pratt’s Flowering Plants arised from the artist’s love of plants. 



Kingdom (Taxonomy)

In biology, a Kingdom is the second highest taxonomic rank, just below Domain. Kingdoms are divided into smaller groups called Phyla.

There are six kingdoms: Animalia (Animals), Plantae (Plants), Fungi (Funcus and Mushrooms), Protista (Protoctista), Archaea (Archaebacteria), and Bacteria (Eubacteria).

Butterflies, like other insects, are part of the Animal Kingdom. Explore Maynard’s North American Butterflies.



Lepidopterology is a branch of entomology concerning the scientific study of moths and butterflies. Someone who studies in this field is a lepidopterist or an aurelian.

Morris’ Butterflies is a good example of work by a lepidopterist.



Lichens may look like and grow alongside mosses, but are not closely related to mosses or any plant.  Lichens do not have roots that absorb water and nutrients as plants do,  but like plants, they produce their own nutrition by photosynthesis.

When they grow on plants, they do not live as parasites, but instead use the plant’s surface as a substrate. Lichens occur from sea level to high alpine elevations, in many environmental conditions, and can grow on almost any surface.

Lichenology is the study of lichen.

James Sowerby was one of the earliest illustrators of lichen. Lichen illustrations can be found throughout the English Botany series.

Lithograph or Lithography

Lithography is a printmaking technique that uses simple chemical processes to create an image. When printing, the stone is kept wet with water. The water is naturally attracted to the layer of gum and salt created by the acid wash. Printing ink based on drying oils such as linseed oil and varnish loaded with pigment is then rolled over the surface.

Morris’ British Moths was created using lithography.


Mammalogy, or the Study of Mammals

In zoology, mammalogy is the study of mammals. 

Monocots or Monocotryledons

Monocots comprise 15% of angiosperms or flowering plants. Monocot have seeds that contain only one embryonic leaf, leaves with parallel veins and floral parts in multiples of three. Examples of monocots include grasses, palms, orchids, and lilies.

Mycology, or the Study of Fungi 

Mycology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of fungi, including their genetic and biochemical properties and taxonomy. The founding nomenclaturist Carl Linnaeus included fungi in his binomial naming system in 1753, where each type of organism has a two-word name consisting of a genus and species.

Cooke’s British Fungi studies the mushrooms in Britian.



Natural History

Natural history is the scientific study and observation of nature. Findings are presented in popular rather than academic form. Many national, regional, and local natural history musueums and societies maintain records for animals (including birds (ornithology), insects (entomology) and mammals (mammalogy)), fungi (mycology), plants (botany), and other organisms. They may also have geologic and microscopic sections.


Ornithology, or the study of Birds

Ornithology is the branch of zoology that studies birds. Mark Catesby, John James Audubon, and Francis Orpen Morris were famous ornithologists.

Morris’ British Birds are available to buy.

Order (Taxonomy)

Order is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy classified between family and class. Taxonomic rank is used in the classification of organisms and recognized by the nomenclature codes.

Cuvier’s Animal Kingdom is organized by taxonomy. 


Print or Printmaking

Prints can be divided into two categories: original prints and reproductions. Reproduction prints are created after an original piece of artwork like a painting, and are intentionally made to look like the original artwork.

Original prints are unique designs created using traditional printmaking techniques. There are a number of printmaking techniques that have been used and evolved throughout history.

The prints, engravings, from Thornton’s Elements of Botany are original prints with unique illustrations.

Phycology or algology

Phycology is the scientific study of algae. Also known as algology, phycology is a branch of life science.

Explore Hervey’s Sea Mosses.


Phylum (Taxonomy)

In biology, a phylum is a level of classification or taxonomic rank below kingdom and above class. Traditionally, in botany the term division has been used instead of phylum.

See Curtis’s Botanical Magazine images for sale.


Plate (Printmaking)

Plate is a term used in printmaking, specifically engraving, to refer to the copper or steel metal plate used to print the image.

Book plate has also become a term used to refer to a full page image bound in a book. Book plates are usually numbered.





Species (Taxonomy)

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism. In history illustration has been used as a way to spread knowledge and document a species.

Artist like Miss Waring would often include the species habitat.

Stereotype or Stereotype Nature Print

In printing, a stereotype, stereoplate or simply a stereo, is a solid plate of type metal cast from a papier-mâché or plaster mould. When that mould is created using actual organic material like moss or ferns, the print is a nature printed stereotype. 

Hervey’s Sea Mosses used stereotype printmaking to document organic material.



Taxonomy is the branch of science concerned with classification of organisms including plants, animals, and insects. Living things are divided into Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and finally Species classifications.