In 1729, PIER ANTONIO MICHELI from Florence published his botanical work "Nova Genera Plantarum",
which contained not only verbal descriptions of the plants new for science but also showed
beautiful copper engravings of the plants. On page 170 the Floating Moss is verbally described,
and plate 58 shows it as a copper engraving. As name for the Floating Moss MICHELI chose
'Salvinia' according to a sponsor, the Florentine professor ANTONIO MARIA SALVINI, who had given
money for the publication of the book. Also other plants described in this and other books were
named according to sponsors. This was quite common at that time, since the publication of such a book
with pictures was a very elaborate and expensive undertaking.
In 1753, CARL VON LINNÉ published his work 'Species Plantarum', which was a fundamental cut
for botany and zoology, because it established the binary (bipartite) nomenclature,
which is still applied today. Therefore the "International Code of Botanical Nomenclature",
which specifies the rules for the naming of plants, treats 1753 as "year zero", older names are
not used in current nomenclature.
LINNÉ himself had described the Floating Moss, but put it together with the
Four-Leaf Clover Marsilea quadrifolia into genus 'Marsilea'.
When CARLO ALLIONI in 1785 intended to establish an own generic name for the Floating Moss,
which is quite different from the Four-Leaf Clover, the first publication since 1753
had been looked for, which mentioned the Floating Moss under an own generic name.
It was found by the third volume of 'Plantae Veronenses', a flora of the region of Verona (Italy),
published by JEAN-FRANÇOIS SÉGUIER in 1754. On page 52 the Floating Moss is mentioned
for the region, referring to the name 'Salvinia' chosen by MICHELI, as well as to the description
of the plant and to the copper engraving from 1929. As a consequence of the rules of botanical nomenclature,
shortly after his death SÉGUIER became involuntarily the first describer of the generic name 'Salvinia',
which had not been chosen by him, but by MICHELI. The art epithet natans has been taken over by ALLIONI
from the name Marsilea natans which had been chosen by LINNÉ.