Free Botanical Art

Have you seen those old fashioned 19th Century botanical books with hand drawn color plant specimens drawings? Ever wanted to make some quality DIY framed art or use the digital version for design projects? Or maybe you just want to browse through some awesome old gardening and botany books and journals? Well, now you can, thanks to

Botanicus is a free, Web-based encyclopedia of digitized historic, botanical literature from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library. Since, 1995, they have been scanning and digitizing materials from their library. They focus primarily on beautifully illustrated volumes from their rare book collection. What a resource! Plus they are preserving these one of a kind books and journals before the become deteriorated.


Look at this lovely Foxglove or Digitalis illustration. Before we had photos, they would hand draw these pictures and print them in color as book “plates”. This is from a German book from 1887 Kohler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen. Clearly a title you’d check out right? Basically, it translates to an Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.

To download or browse click here, scroll through the pages list on the left until you get to “Plates”, then click download on the top.  You’ll have to download the whole book and then open in a PDF reader. There are also many more books to scroll through.

I’m planning on making a frame collage. I’ve printed some out and put them into ornate metallic frames I bought at Goodwill for under $5 each. Here is how it is coming along so far.


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