Garcia de Orta cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Garcia de Orta

Portuguese botanist

1499 or 1501   -   1568

country of citizenship: Portugal
language of expression: Latin, Portuguese
educated at: Complutense University of Madrid, University of Salamanca
occupation: botanist, physician, university teacher

Ebooks: on Wikisource

Garcia de Orta (or Garcia d'Orta) (1501? – 1568) was a Portuguese Renaissance Sephardi Jewish physician, herbalist and naturalist. He was a pioneer of tropical medicine, pharmacognosy and ethnobotany, working mainly in Goa, then a Portuguese overseas territory. Garcia de Orta used an experimental approach to the identification and use of herbal medicines rather than the traditional approach of using received knowledge. His magnum opus was a book on the simples (herbs used singly) and drugs published in 1563 Colóquios dos simples e drogas da India, the earliest treatise on the medicinal and economic plants of India. Carolus Clusius translated it into Latin which was widely used as a standard reference text on medicinal plants. Garcia de Orta died before the Inquisition began in Goa but in 1569 his sister was burnt at the stake for being a secret Jew and based on her confession his remains were later exhumed and burnt along with an effigy. Memorials recognizing his contributions have been built both in Portugal and India.
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