SAUSSURE, Nicolas Théodore.
Recherches Chimiques sur la Végétation.
8vo, pp. viii, 327, (8), 1 folding engraved plate and 16 folding printed tables. Contemporary green calf-backed marbled boards (rather well rebacked with the original spine laid down), flat spine gilt. A very good copy. Book label of M. Midan-Deschastillon.
FIRST EDITION of the work which “laid the foundations of a new science, phytochemistry. Saussure examined the chief active components of plants, their synthesis, and their decomposition. He specified the relationships between vegetation and the environment and here, too, did pioneering work in what became the fields of pedology and ecology” (DSB, XII, p. 124). In this work, Saussure systematically applied for the first time the quantitative method of chemical research, as founded by Lavoisier, to living subjects. He was able to establish the quantity of oxygen absorbed by a plant at night and also the quantity of water consumed in association with the absorption of carbonic acid that is required for the growth of the plant. He also determined the indispensability of mineral constituents drawn from the soil by the plant. This is the first important scientific work to use the metric system which was introduced in 1801. Duveen, p. 531. Partington, III, pp. 283–284.