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Circulation of algae in exsiccatae: James Lloyd’s collections

By Louise Couëffé, University of Angers

James Lloyd was an amateur botanist author of local floras in western France. He gathered an important herbarium from 1838 to 1895 and was in correspondence with several important botanists of this period, such as François Crépin (1830–1903).

James Lloyd, 1865. Gadeceau, “Notice sur les travaux et la vie de James Lloyd » in Annales de la Société académique de Nantes et du département de la Loire-Inférieure, vol. 7 sér.7, Nantes, Mellinet, 1896, p. 205.

James Lloyd was born in England in 1811. When he was six years old, he left England to live in France, in Thouaré near Nantes, where James’s mother, Elisa Lake, married M. Ranson. Very interested in music and horticulture, he begun to study botany on his own in Nantes in 1835, using De Candolle’s flora.

In 1844, on the basis of his herbaria and the plants sent by many amateurs of botany, he published a local flora (Flore de la Loire-Inférieure). In 1854, this flora was extended to western France with the Flore de l’Ouest de la France.

James Lloyd was very interested in algae. His library contained several books on algae, published by European specialists between 1818 and 1850. He probably collected his first algae with his stepfather, M. Ranson. He collected algae for exsiccatae.

Exsiccatae were part of the process of the commodification of sciences. They enabled botanists to gather plants from all over the world without travelling and to access types confirmed by specialists without going to national museums. Exsiccatae were a specific type of collection created at the end of the 18th century to increase the circulation of types of botanical specimens.

The exsiccata is a specific genre of scientific output between the herbaria and the book. It would be edited by a botanist who produced several identical herbaria, containing the same set of species. They were considered scientific references because plants’ names were confirmed by well-known botanists or because they contained descriptions and types of new species. Unlike books or scientific illustrations, exsiccatae contained real plants, presenting both the characteristics of the species and the idiosyncratic particularities of the specimen. They enabled more precise observations and comparisons. Below each plant, a printed label indicated the title of the collection and its author’s name, the name of the species, it’s author, and sometimes the place and date of collecting.

Muséum de sciences naturelles d’Angers. Fonds James Lloyd – Algues de l’Ouest de la France, n°209 – Gloiosiphonia capillaris Glam

James Lloyd contributed to the exsiccata Algues marines du Finistère edited in 1852 by two brothers, Pierre-Louis (1798–1871) and Hippolyte-Marie (1802–1871) Crouan, pharmacists from Brest. This exsiccata was published in 50 exemplars and contained 404 species of algae. Some of its content was collected by James Lloyd, who was at the same time making his own exsiccata, Algues de l’Ouest de la France, began in 1847.

This collection was composed of twenty-four volumes of herbaria and made on subscription: buyers had to pay before receiving it, partly to finance James Lloyd travels to gather algae. He collected 83 percent of the specimens published in this collection. Fourteen collectors took part in the project. Some of them were specialists of algae, such as Gustave Thuret and Edouard Bornet; others were amateurs or Lloyd’s friends.

Specimens were carefully collected: they had to be similar, collected at the same phase of development (flowers, fruits, etc.), with visible organs. To make the various exemplars of the exsiccatae, collectors had to pick up many specimens of the same species (sometimes 50, sometimes several hundreds). This was a problem for rare species: some of them were collected in different places in order to get enough specimens without damaging or threatening the presence of the species in the localities. It was the case for the Nytophyllim punctatum var. ocellatum collected in Belle-Ile and le Croisic, even if the number of specimens from le Croisic were finally sufficient.

This exsiccata was published in few exemplars, from 1847 to 1894. Some of them were bought by local amateurs (Bourgault-Ducoudray, Mme Mosneron du Pin, etc.); others were acquired by well-known botanists, such as Gustave Thuret. One teacher of botany at the University of Uppsala, Johan Erhard Areschoug (1811–1887), asked James Lloyd to send him an exemplar of the exsiccata, but no exemplar is conserved in Uppsala now. Nowadays, some of them are conserved at Harvard, Oxford, Paris, Autun, Nancy, and Montpellier. Those collections increased the circulation of specimens collected by amateurs.


DAYRAT B., Les botanistes et la flore de France, trois siècles de découvertes, Paris, Publications scientifiques du Muséum, 2003, pp. 407–416.

DIXON P.S., “Notes on important algal herbaria”, British Phycological Bulletin, 3(2), 1967, pp. 213–218.

LAMY D., « Le savoir botanique par les herbiers », Colloque « Voyages en botanique », 16 et 17 juin 2005, Besançon, en ligne sur, pp. 1–13.

LAMY D., « Les herbiers de plantes cryptogames : méthodes, emplois, perspectives » in PIERREL R. et J.-P. REDURON (ed), Les herbiers : un outil d’avenir. Tradition et modernité, Actes du colloque de Lyon, 20–22 novembre 2002, Villers-lès-Nancy, 2004, pp. 30–39.

ROUILLARD T., BAZAN S., et COUEFFE L., « L’exsiccata des Algues de l’Ouest de la France du botaniste nantais James Lloyd », Bulletin de la Société d’éetudes scientifiques de l’Anjou, 2019, pp. 153–181.

STAFLEU F. A. and R. S. COWAN, 1976-1988 Taxonomic literature: A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, vol. III Lh-O, Utrecht, Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, 1981, pp. 127–128.

STAFLEU F. A. and R. S. COWAN, 1976-1988 Taxonomic literature: A selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, vol. I A-G, Utrecht, Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema,1976, pp. 569–570.

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