Early modern study of plants blossomed in a network of observation, exchanges, collaborations, and epistolary discussions. Following Baconian methodology, Dutch scholars combined the labor of listing and describing plants with botanical experimentation. This empirical approach was a suitable context for Descartes, who exchanged information and performed observations on plants in collaboration with Dutch experimenters. In this article, I focus on (1) the reception of a few botanical experiments of Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum in Huygens and Reneri, with whom Descartes was in contact, and (2) Descartes’ collaboration with Reneri. While performing observations on plants together, Reneri acquired Descartes’ theoretical framework (as it arises in his disputations) and influenced the latter with a Baconian approach to the study of living nature. This combination of experimental knowledge and a theoretical framework shaped a Cartesian study of plants, as it later surfaced in Regius and ultimately paved the way to a modern science of plants.

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