If you’re wondering where on earth we got our name from, then look no further. Back in 372 BC, in the beautiful little Grecian village of Eresos, a man who would change the way we make sense of the flowers, plants and the natural world was born. His name was Theophrastus.
A friend and pupil of Aristotle - generally considered one of the greatest thinkers in ancient Greece - between them, they would bring order to our understanding off all things natural, believing that the study of plants (Theophrastus) and animals (Aristotle) were just as important as politics, mathematics and metaphysics). In fact, two of the most important books ever written - Aristotle’s Historia animalium (Enquiries into Animals) and Theophrastus Historia Plantarum (Enquiry into Plants) - were born out of their time working together.
It’s easy to see why Theophrastus was energised and inspired by Eresos and its surrounding countryside. A lush and fertile sanctuary of natural beauty, flora, fauna and tranquillity, Lesbos boasted (and still does) over 1,400 species.
The area was blessed with vast olive groves and impressive forests of trachea pine, black pine and sweet chestnut trees. Rolling pastures supported Asian rhododendrons and aromatic herbs aplenty such as oregano, thyme, sage, mountain tea, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, lime leaves, marjoram, and lemongrass.
But Theophrastus didn’t stop there. He collected and collated information from people who were travelling to far off climes. He is credited for writing the first accounts of cotton, pepper, cinnamon, frankincense, and the Banyan tree. Incredibly, he knew over 500 plants and described them in microscopic detail.
If that’s not enough, his pioneering thinking captured the relationship between plants and environments, as well as the effects of plants on people.
As far as ancient naturalists go, it’s easy to see why he’s known as the father of botany. It’s easy to see why he’s our guiding light. And it all started in Eresos.