Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants

Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants is a complete reproduction and restoration of Elizabeth Twining’s celebrated 1868 catalogue of botanical illustrations, enhanced with interactive descriptions, diagrams and posters. Each of the 160 illustrations has been restored from the original scans to be coloured to match the plants they depict, which involved careful colour adjustment and the cleaning of stains and other marks on the scans to produce clean images without affecting the original illustrations beneath. After restoration, each plant referred to in the legends of the original illustrations was carefully outlined to create hotspots that matched the accompanying descriptions. This process alone took one to four hours per image and the entire project took four months to complete. The posters were designed as a tribute to Elizabeth Twining’s dedicated efforts to illustrate the natural orders of plants in ways that invite exploration.

I am a web designer and data artist. I have been building websites, data visualisations and creating data art for more than 20 years. I create and sell data-driven artwork on a variety of topics such as science, music, literature, transportation and more. My work has been featured in publications and museums around the world.


Nicholas Rougeaux

Malvaceæ – The cotton tribe

Malvaceæ - La famiglia del cotone

Trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. The leaves are alternate, more or less divided, and have stipules at the base of their stems. The flowers generally grow from the base of the leaf stalks and are often surrounded by an involucre of various shapes. The sepals of the calyx are five, very rarely three or four, more or less united at the base. The petals are of the same number as the sepals, twisted in the bud, distinct or adhering to the tube formed by the stamens. The stamens are numerous, all perfect, the filaments joined together at the base of the pistil; the anthers are unicellular, bursting transversely. The ovary is formed by the union of several carpels or seed-vessels around a centre, from which depart as many styles, united or distinct, with variable stigmas. The fruit is a capsule, as in Hibiscus, or a berry, as in Achania; the seed-vessels are united, as in Mallow, or distinct, but crowded together, as in Malope: each contains one or more seeds, sometimes hairy, like those of Gossypium.

Iridaceæ – Saffron tribe

Iridaceæ - La famiglia delo zafferano

Herbaceous plants and some undergrowth, usually smooth; the hairs, if present, are simple. The roots are tuberous or fibrous; the leaves grow one on top of the other. The flowers grow directly from the root or on terminal spikes, panicles or clusters. The bracts are sheathing and sometimes membranous. The calyx is usually coloured, sometimes herbaceous; the three sepals and three petals are adherent, partially coherent or completely separated, sometimes irregular. The petals are very short. The stamens arise from the base of the petals, the filaments are distinct or united; the anthers are bicellular, bursting longitudinally and attached to the base. The ovary is tri-cellular, with many seeds, the stylus single with three stigmas, often petalous in nature, and sometimes with two lips. The capsule is tri-cellular and with three valves, open when mature. The seeds are attached to the inner corner of the cells, and sometimes to a column that loosens. They are round, angular, oblong or winged, and contain horny or densely fleshy albumin.

Zingiberacee – Ginger tribe

Zingiberacee - La famiglia dello zenzero

Herbaceous plants with jointed, creeping root stems; the stem is formed by the united bases of leaves, usually single and sometimes branched. The leaves are simple, sheathing at the base, with a single central rib and numerous fine veins diverging towards the margin. The flowers arise between membranous bracts, usually in pairs. The calyx is above the ovary, tubular, trilobed, short; the corolla is tubular, irregular, six-pointed, in two rows, one petal usually larger than the rest, often trilobed. There are three stamens, the central one only perfect. The filament is often extended beyond the anther, sometimes petalous; the anther is single or bicellular, opening longitudinally, its lobes often enclosing the upper part of the style, sometimes spurred. The ovary is one to three cells, the style thin or expanded. The stigma is dilated, hollow or hooded. The fruit is usually a capsule, tri-cellular, with many seeds, or imperfect and unicellular, occasionally a berry. The seeds are round or angular, with or without aril; they contain floury albumin.

Lamiaceæ – Lavender tribe

Lamiaceæ - la famiglia della lavanda

Under shrubs and herbaceous plants: the stems are four-cornered, with opposite branches. The leaves are opposite, divided or undivided, without stipules, covered with aromatic oil receptacles. The flowers are almost sessile, opposite, sometimes in a circle around the stem, sometimes solitary. The calyx is tubular, below the ovary, with two lips, the upper one entire or bifid, overlapping the lower one in the bud. There are four stamens, two long and two short, placed on the corolla alternately at the lobes of the lower lip, the upper two sometimes missing; the anthers are bicellular or unicellular at the tip. The ovary is quadrilobed, sitting on a fleshy disc; the single style proceeds from the base of the ovary, the stigma is acutely bifid. The fruit is one or four with small nuts, enclosed in the calyx, but uncovered. The seeds are erect, with little or no albumen.

Musaceae – Banana tribe

Musaceae - La famiglia della banana

Plants without stems or having one formed by the sheathing bases of the leaf stems. The leaves are simple, with fine parallel veins diverging regularly from the midrib towards the margin. The flowers grow in a spathe; the six petals are in two distinct rows, more or less regular in their arrangement. In Strelitzia the three inner petals form a cover for the stamens and pistil. There are six stamens, one or more usually imperfect, inserted on the petals. Anthers are linear, inward facing, bicellular, often with a petal-like crest. The ovary is under the petals, three cells, with a simple style and a trilobed stigma. The fruit is a capsule with three cells and open, or succulent and closed; it contains three or many seeds. The seeds are sometimes surrounded by hairs, and have a crustaceous covering; the embryo is often mushroom-shaped, placed on the floury albumen.

Urticaceae -Nittle tribe

Urticaceae - la famiglia dell’ortica

Trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, some of which have rough stems. They do not contain milky juice. The leaves are alternate, simple or lobed, usually covered with asperities or prickly hairs; the stipules are usually membranous and deciduous. The flowers are herbaceous, inconspicuous; the stamens and pistil are usually in separate flowers, which are in catkins, or close heads, or scattered. The calyx is membranous, loved, or in single scales, persistent. The stamens are in definite numbers, distinct, inserted at the base of the calyx and opposite its lobes; the anthers, often curved inwards in the bud, turn backwards with elasticity as the flower expands. The ovary is above the calyx, the stigmas single and fringed. The fruit is a simple closed nut, surrounded by the membranous or fleshy calyx, containing a seed, which has a fleshy albumen or none at all.

 Nympheaceæ – Victoria Amazzonica tribe

All herbaceous plants growing from a prostrate stem in still water, with leaves of a thick, heart-shaped or peltate substance, attached to the leaf stalk from the centre. The young leaves are usually rolled inwards; when fully grown they lie perfectly flat on the surface of the water, or rise above it. The flowers consist of four or five sepals and numerous petals, some of which gradually change into stamens: both petals and stamens are inserted into the large fleshy disk surrounding the ovary, except in Nelumbium, where they are arranged in several rows at the base of the disk. The filaments of the stamens are petal-shaped; the anthers burst inwards with a double longitudinal slit. The ovary contains many cells and numerous seeds, mounted by radiating stigmas. In Nelumbium the ovary is very large, and stands high in the centre of the flower, having on its top several short styles and simple stigmas. The kernels, which contain one or rarely two seeds each, lie half-buried in the hollow cells until they ripen, when they fall off. Nymphea and Euryale seeds are wrapped in an aril.

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