STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Places on the moon are named after him. His face appears on Swedish currency, and an era of scientific history bears his name. But Carl Linnaeus is best known for creating the system of classifying living organisms that became the international standard.
Sweden yesterday began yearlong celebrations of the 300th anniversary of its most famous scientist's birth, launching festivities with music and fireworks in Linnaeus' hometown of Vaxjo.
"He has meant an incredible amount to the world because by systematizing just about every plant and animal, he helped organize it," said Kajsa Eriksson, spokeswoman for the Linnaeus 2007 celebration.
Often called the father of taxonomy, Linnaeus laid the foundation for a classification of plants and animals based on their reproductive systems. His famous book, Systema Naturae, classified 4,400 species of animals and 7,700 species of plants.
He is also credited for distinguishing humans as Homo sapiens and as primates in the class of mammals.
Linnaeus' ideas have influenced generations of scientists, including Charles Darwin, and even those opposed to the philosophical and theological roots of his work.
Celebrations began with music, art and fireworks in Vaxjo, a town 275 miles south of Stockholm where Linnaeus attended primary school. A national inauguration will begin today in the presence of Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.
The premiere of a special Linnaeus symphony composed by the Swedish pop star Ola Salo will also mark the opening, along with an art exhibition, presentations, lectures, and other musical performances.
The scientist's birthday on May 23 will strike a high note with the visit of Japan's Emperor Akihito.
Events will extend beyond Sweden, with the Chelsea Flower Show in London showcasing a modern Linnaeus garden designed by landscape architect Ulf Nordfjell.
The Linnaeus Expedition, a film by Mattias Klum and Folke Ryden, is also among the projects that will take place this year to honor him.