An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Fengxianpu 鳳仙譜

Mar 11, 2022 © Ulrich Theobald

Fengxianpu 鳳仙譜 is a book on garden balsam (Impatiens balsamina) written during the mid-Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Zhao Xuemin 趙學敏 (c. 1719-1805), courtesy name Yiji 依吉, style Shuxuan 恕軒, from Qiantang 錢塘, Zhejiang. Zhao is known for his supplement to the famous materia medica book Bencao gangmu 本草綱目. His Bencao shiyi 本草拾遺 adds no less than 716 medical plants not described in the illustrious handbook.

Zhao completed his book around 1800. It is based on a fragmentary draft called Qiuhuazhi 秋花志 and other sources, but written as a record of the author's own experience with the cultivation of garden balsam. The text is divided into two fascicles, the first of which is dedicated to terminological matters and to the classification of various kinds of the fengxian flower. The classification is mainly realized according to the colours of the petals which range from red or purple to blue, white, and yellow. Zhao discerns lo less than 230 kinds. Some of them were very rare and therefore highly estimated among cultivators. The flowers were not just enjoyed because of their coloured beauty, but also because they emanated "rhymes" (yun 韻) which had even a higher importance than colours (shang yun er bu shang se 賞韻而不賞色).

The second fascicle explains methods of cultivation, irrigation, the collection of seeds, and methods of disease prevention and cure. The plant itself had also medical importance, as expounded in the chapter Beiyao 備藥.

The book is included in the series Zhaodai congshu 昭代叢書.

Bi Shuchang 毕庶昌 (1988). "Zhao Xuemin he ta de Fengxianpu 趙學敏和他的《鳳仙譜》", Zhongguo yuanlin 中國園林, 1988(02) Page:19-21.
Bi Shuchang 畢庶昌 (1996). "Fengxianpu 鳳仙譜", in Zhongguo nongye baike quanshu 中國農業百科全書, Vol. Guanshang yuanyi 觀賞園藝卷 (Beijing: Nongye chubanshe), 98.
Shu Yinglan 舒迎瀾, Xia Qimei 夏奇梅 (1999). "Fengyianpu yu fengxianhua yuzhong de chengjiu 《鳳仙譜》與鳳仙花育種的成就", Yuanlin 園林, 1999 (2): 44-45.
Wei Luling 魏露苓 (1996). "Zhao Xuemin ji qi Fengxianpu de kexue chengjiu 趙學敏及其《鳳仙譜》的科學成就", Zhongguo kexue shiliao 中國科技史料, 1996 (19): 56-62.
Yang Mingming 楊明明, Yu Shengxiang 于勝祥 (2014). "Qingren Zhao Xuemin Fengxianpu xianyi 清人趙學敏《鳳仙譜》獻疑", Ziran kexue shi yanjiu 自然科學史研究, 2014 (3): 319-325.
Yi Guangqian 伊廣謙 (2003). "Zhao Xuemin yu Fengxianpu 趙學敏與《鳳仙譜》", Jiangxi Zhongyiyao 江西中醫藥, 2003 (2): 44.