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Prospero Alpini

Physician and botanist (1553-1617)

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Alpini, PROSPERO, physician and botanist, b. at Marostica, in the Republic of Venice, November 23, 1553; d. at Padua, February 6, 1617. He studied medicine at Padua from 1574 to 1578, taking his degree as doctor in the latter year. After two years spent at Campo San Pietro, he was appointed physician to the Venetian Consul in Egypt (1580), which gave him a much desired opportunity of pursuing his chosen study of botany under conditions more favorable than he could find in Italy, and of which he took the fullest possible advantage. On his return to Venice, in 1586, he became physician to Andre Doria, Prince of Melfi, and was looked upon in Genoa, where he resided, as the first physician of his age. He returned to Padua in 1593, where he filled the chair of botany for many years. He wrote a number of medical and botanical works in Latin, the most important being “De plantis Aegypti liber” (Venice, 1592). It is said that his earlier work, “De Medicina Aegyptiorum” (Venice, 1591) contains the first mention, by a European writer, of the coffee plant.


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