Monthly Archives: December 2022

The pursuit of interesting specimens in the LMS herbarium

By Neus Nualart, Museu Ciencies Naturals Barcelona (Institut Botànic de Barcelona)

LMS is the acronym of a large collection of 100,000 plant specimens preserved in the reserves of Le Musée Vert of Le Mans (Fig. 1). As its curator, Nicolas Morel, explains to me, the main part of the herbarium contains plants collected in the Sarthe region by local botanists. In 2017 the catalogue of all the collections from the Sarthe region was published with a description of each collection (more information of this project is available online, HerbEnLoire). According to this catalogue there are 65 herbarium collections preserved in Le Musée Vert with plants collected between the 18th and 20th centuries. The largest collection is the one of Monguillon with 17,150 specimens of cryptogam plants which was, in part, studied by my colleague Neus Ibáñez during her stay in Le Mans (a report is available in the SciCoMove blog).

Figure 1. Reserves of Le Musée Vert where the herbarium collections are conserved. © Le Musée Vert

Since one of my research fields is the nomenclature of plants and the typification of new names (to stabilize their interpretation), I was interested in finding some original material in LMS herbarium. In one of my visits to the reserves, two post-it notes included in the Chevallier collection with the indication of type material caught my attention (Fig. 2). Nicolas Morel told me that they were duplicates of specimens of the National Museum of Paris where the holotypes (original material used by an author to describe a new taxon) were preserved. This collection was formed by a bundle of 107 specimens collected between 1898 and 1904 in Algeria. My interest of North African plants encouraged me to learn more about this author and the taxa he published.

Figure 2. Chevallier collection with post-it notes indicating the existence of type material. © Le Musée Vert

Louis Pierre Désiré Chevallier (Melicorne, Sarthe, 1852–Précigné, Sarthe, 1938) was a French clergyman and botanist who worked as a professor. Although his main herbarium was from plants collected in Sarthe, his naturalist interests and his curiosity for the exploration brought him to study the flora of Algeria, a French colony in that time, where he carried out different trips between 1879 and 1904 (Fig. 3). During all his life he collected 50,000 specimens in a herbarium organized in more than 600 volumes. According to the African Plant Database ( he proposed ca. 30 new taxa including species, subspecies and varieties. He published three notes about Saharan Flora in 1900, 1903 and 1905 explaining the trips and describing the new taxa he found. He also created an exsiccata to distribute 650 plants in different herbaria and botanists from the entire world, the “Plantae Saharae-algeriensis”.

Figure 3. Chevallier in Ouargla (Algeria) preparing plants for his herbarium collection. Extracted from a La province du Maine 19 (1939) p. 61. © Archives départementales de la Sarthe

Two specimens labeled as types corresponds to Helianthemum brachypodum that was described by Chevallier in page 767 of his “Deuxième note sur la Flore du Sahara” (Chevallier, 1903) but without mentioning any locality or date. In page 678 he explained that he found this new species in Oum-el-Klab on 19th March 1902. In JSTOR portal web ( there are many specimens indicated as type or original material tough collected in 1904; they were distributed by Chevallier in the exsiccate “Plantae Saharae-algeriensis” with the number 543. Only two specimens in JSTOR are actually the original material collected in 1902 (P00086041, P00086042) and preserved in the National Museum of Paris. Both are part of a single collection, one bearing the original label handwritten by Chevallier (Fig. 4) and the other with a transcription of this original one.

Figure 4. Label handwritten by Chevallier of the specimen preserved in P herbarium of Helianthemum brachypodum. @ MNHN Paris

The two specimens conserved in Le Musée Vert were also handwritten by Chevallier and were collected in Oum-el-Klab on 19th March 1902 (Fig. 5). It is surprising to me that these specimens have less information than the ones preserved in P herbarium, maybe because the former remained in Chevalier’s personal collection for a long time.

Figure 5. Label of the specimen preserved in Le Musée Vert that can be considered original material of Helianthemum brachypodium. © Le Musée Vert

The other specimen labeled as type corresponds to Salvia pseudojaminiana, which was described by Chevallier from Hadadra and collected on 10th April 1904 (Chevallier, 1905). This specimen was distributed in the exsiccate “Plantae Saharae-algeriensis” with the number 602 as it is indicated in the original publication (Fig. 6).

Figure 6. Original description of Salvia pseudojaminiana with the locality, date and exsiccate number of the original material used to describe this new species. Extracted from Chevallier (1905) p. 442. © Biodiversity Heritage Library

In JSTOR portal web ( there are different specimens indicated as original material and preserved in Jena (Germany), Leiden (the Netherlands), Madrid (Spain), Montpellier (France), Washington (USA) and Melbourne (Australia); all of them bear the label of the exsiccate, either handwritten or typewritten (Fig. 7).

Figure 7. Typewritten label of the specimen distributed by Chevallier in the exsiccate “Plantae Saharae algeriensis” with number 602. © MPU herbarium (Montpellier)

In contrast, the specimen preserved in Le Musée Vert of Salvia pseudojaminiana has a handwritten label with only some information about the locality and the date of collection (Fig. 8). As in the case of the original specimen of Helianthemum brachypodum it seems that this specimen was included in his personal collection.

Figure 8. Label of the specimen preserved in Le Musée Vert that can be considered original material of Salvia pseudojaminiana. © Le Musée Vert

A review of all 107 specimens that compose the Chevallier collection of Le Musée Vert has allowed me to find some original material of some varieties described by this author in Algeria. Six specimens are type material of the following names: Artemisia judaica var. sahariensis, Chrysanthemum macrocarpum var. aureum, Fagonia latifolia var. pinguis, Lippia nodiflora var. suborbicularis, Mentha rotundifolia var. longispicata, and Retama raetam var. pallens.

Although none of these names are accepted today (except Salvia pseudojaminiana), their study is necessary to improve the knowledge about the taxonomy of Algerian plants. Moreover, none of the names proposed by Chevallier for Algerian plants have been studied yet from a typification point of view. Therefore, all original material of this author is important to understand his interpretation for the new taxa he described. In short, the material found in Le Musée Vert can be of great interest of taxonomists interested in North African flora.


Chevallier, L. 1903. Deuxième note sur la flora du Sahara. Bull. Herb. Boiss., sér. 2, 3: 669–684. 

Chevallier, L. 1905. Troisième note sur la flora du Sahara. Bull. Herb. Boiss., sér. 2, 5: 440–444. 

Introducing SciCoMove in Palma, Mallorca

Aina Trias – Verbeeck, José Pardo – Tomás, Institució Milà i Fontanals – CSIC, Barcelona

This past Friday, November 18th the Catalan Society for the History of Science and Technique held its biannual conference in the city of Palma, in Mallorca. The meeting took place in an old building, now hosting courses form the Universitat de les Illes Balears, but formerly part of a big architectonic unit built in the early 1900’s to host several cultural and education institutions of the island.

This eclectic style complex was constructed upon the new gained ground resulting from the deviation of a water stream which gives it name: Sa Riera (The Torrent). Besides the university area, the same building still hosts the Balearic Art and Design school and the Ramon Llull high school, successor of one of the pioneer secondary schools of the country. Inside, ancient scientific collections of botany, zoology, mineralogy, physics, meteorology and chemistry -including pedagogical models, instruments and apparatus- are preserved and displayed in classrooms and laboratories that still retain the atmosphere and furnishings of more than a century ago.

Such a special place welcomed a heterogeneous group of a hundred people (historians, mathematicians, biologists, physicists, philosophers, among others) presenting the results of their research, publications, and individual or collective projects related to the history of science, medicine and technology.

One of the sessions was dedicated to “Spaces, museums and material culture of science”, organised by José Pardo-Tomás. The presentations focused on two study cases: the retrieval of the pharmaceutical spaces and objects at the Militar Hospital built in the XVIII by the British army on a tiny island called Illa del Rei (The King’s Island) in the natural harbour of Maó (Minorca) and the research lines about the cabinet of curiosities of the Salvador family in Barcelona developed by SciCoMove researchers and colleagues.

In this framework, the Scientific Collections on the Move project was presented to the attendees as a work in progress example of the importance of networking and connecting histories, places, persons and things circulating and constructing knowledge, in the past and nowadays.

Being it a reunion of a local society on an even more local and peripheral place as an island, the project aroused enthusiasm and interest among the public.

Herbarium specimens exchange network at the end of the 19th century: the case of Frederic Trèmols

By Laura Gavioli, Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona (Institut Botànic de Barcelona), University of Barcelona.

During my visit at the herbarium of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (P) I was able to find a good number of specimens collected by Frederic Trèmols (Cadaqués 1831–1900). Trèmols was professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Barcelona, and also pharmacist and botanist. He was member of important scientific organizations, including the Real Acadèmia de Ciències i Arts de Barcelona, the Société Botanique de France (of which he was also president between 1880 and 1885), and the Société Helvétique pour l’Échange des Plantes. He played a prominent role in the Societat Botànica Barcelonesa, being its secretary from its creation until the cessation of activities (1872–1878). As a botanist, his masterpiece was an herbarium of 12,951 specimens that he completed thanks to his own collections and the contributions of international botanists and botanical societies with which he collaborated. This herbarium, kept at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona, is one of the first herbaria in Catalonia, largely made up of European plants.

Below you will find the botanists who caused the dispersal of Trèmols specimens in different parts of Europe although, nowadays, all of them are again reunited in the P herbarium. For each author different information is given: (i) a brief biographical note, (ii) data about their relationships with Trèmols and, whenever possible, (iii) an explanation of how the samples of the Catalan botanist arrived in their herbaria. To undersand the relationships between each author and Trèmols, I did a search in the Trèmols herbarium looking for samples of these authors. As a result, I am providing all the specimens collected for each author that are preserved in this collection. The aspect I want to highlight is whether there were direct exchanges between Trèmols and these botanists or, alternatively, whether the sending of plants took place through exchange companies.

Claude Albert Gérard (Vittel 1837–Thonon-les-Bains 1904) worked like Conservator des Hypothèques and, as a botanist, he mainly dealt with phanerogams, cryptogams and fungi. He collected mainly in eastern France and in Haute-Savoie, Ardennes and Bretagne assembling an herbarium of over 10,000 specimens. His herbarium, or at least parts of it, was sold in 1935 by Jean Auguste Ambroise Callé (1906–1981) to Bernard Guy Gaston Baron de Retz de Serviès (1910–2004), but it is unknown how J. Callé came into possession of the Gérard herbarium.

In the Trèmols herbarium we find 36 specimens collected by Gérard: 20 specimens that arrived directly by him, and 16 that arrived through plant exchange societies (mainly the Société Helvétique).

Sébastien René Lenormand (Condé-sur-Noireau 1796–Saint-Germain-de-Tallevende 1871) was a French lawyer, sub-prefect of Vire, and an amateur botanist who specialized in the field of phycology. Without ever leaving France he created a herbarium mainly composed of algae species, with a large number of specimens from botanists-travellers around the world. His herbarium was donated to Caen Botanical Garden, and it still survives despite the damage it suffered following the Allied bombings of 1944.

There is no sample collected by Lenormand in the Trèmols herbarium because the years of activity of both botanists only partially overlapped while they interests were different (algae for Lenormand and higher plants for Trèmols). It is likely that the Trèmols specimens arrived to Lenormand through Henry van Heurck, a Belgian botanist who sent and received herbarium samples from all over the world, and who was correspondent for both of them.

Hector Léveillé (Le Mans 1864–1918) was clergyman and botanist, and member of the Missions étrangères of Paris. In 1887 he travelled to India where he became a specialist in the flora of the Far East, mainly China and Korea. In 1891 he returned to Le Mans where he founded the magazine Le Monde des Plantes and the society Académie Internationale de Géographie Botanique of which he became the secretary and director of its journal Bulletin de Géographie Botanique. He also founded the Association Française de Botaniques with Georges Rouy. His remarkable herbarium was acquired by George Forrest, a collector in Yunnan of China, and subsequently by the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Although there are no specimens collected by Léveillé in the Trèmols herbarium, we know that the two botanists were in correspondence thanks to two letters sent in 1895 by Trèmols to Rouy (manuscripts Ms 2617 / 592 preserved in the Correspondance scientifique de Georges Rouy collection of the library of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris). In these two letters Trèmols explains that he is arranging the acceptance of the two French botanists as members of the Reial Acadèmia de Ciències i Arts de Barcelona and that he will send specimens to the Académie Internationale de Géographie Botanique. This fact explains the presence of specimens collected by Trèmols in the Léveillé herbarium, while the absence of specimens collected by Léveillé in Trèmols herbarium can be thought of as non-reciprocity of these shipments.

Emmanuel Drake del Castillo (Paris 1855–Saint-Cyran-du-Jambot 1904) was the heir of a very rich family, and he devoted himself to botany. From 1884 until his death, he was the mayor of Saint-Cyran-du-Jambot. He studied the flora of Madagascar and created an herbarium of more than 500,000 specimens, which his widow donated to the National Museum of Natural History of Paris. He was president of the Société Botanique de France in the year 1900.

There are no specimens of Drake in the Trèmols herbarium; therefore, they did not exchange plants directly and the Trèmols specimens arrived in Drake herbarium through other botanists such as Rouy or van Heurck.

Eugène-Laurent Berher (Épinal 1822–1900) was doctor, botanist and bryologist in Épinal and he specialized in vascular plants, mosses and lichens. He mainly collected in the Vosges department and published a catalogue of vascular plants and one of the liverworts and mosses of Alsace.

In the Trèmols herbarium there are 52 specimens collected by Berher, mainly coming from the Société Helvétique, just like the specimes of Trèmols preserved in Berher herbarium.

Georges Rouy (Paris 1851–Asnières 1924) was born into a wealthy family, and he became a business administrator, journalist, secretary of a press union and a botanist. He collected plants in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Scandinavia, and Algeria, but he also enriched his herbarium thanks to the plant exchanges with many botanists and by purchase. His herbarium contains more than 500,000 samples; the vascular cryptogams are preserved in the National Museum of Natural History of Paris, and the rest in the University of Lyon. He was director of the Académie Internationale de Géographie Botanique and vice-president of the Société Botanique de France.

In the Trèmols herbarium there are five specimens collected by Rouy and 33 of an exsiccata linked to Rouy (the transcription of the label’s heading of the exsiccate is: Herbier G. ROUY à PARIS 22 PASSAGE SAULNIER). These specimens were collected by ten different botanists like Julien Foucaud (1847–1904), Eugénio Schmitz (collector years 1868–1882), Eugène Jordan de Puyfol (1819–1891), Agostino Todaro (1818–1892), and Édouard Timbal-Lagrave (1819–1888).

There is evidence that the two botanists exchanged letters and plants, thanks to the existence of a letter from Trèmols to Rouy in 1895 in which he announced that he and Levéillé had been accepted as correspondent members of the Reial Academia de Ciències i Arts de Barcelona (manuscripts Ms 2617 / 593 preserved in the Correspondance scientifique de Georges Rouy collection of the library of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris).

Xavier Vendrely (Champagney 1837–1908) was pharmacist and a botanist specialized in the flora of Franche-Comté. He created an important herbarium, with about 30,000 specimens from Western and Central Europe, the Balkans, America, Africa and even Australia and Nepal, now preserved in the National Museum of Natural History of Paris.

The Trèmols herbarium includes 24 specimens collected by Vendrely, mostly coming from the Société Helvétique of which both were members.

Ludovic Giraudias (Saintes 1848–Orléans 1922) was receveur de l’enregistrement [tax collector] in Asprières, composer and amateur botanist. He mainly collected in Aveyron and was the founder of the Association Pyrénéenne pour l’Échange des Plantes.

In the Trèmols herbarium there are 25 specimens sent by Giraudias. The two botanists most likely exchanged their specimens directly, although or exchange through societies (such as Société Helvétique and Académie Internationale de Géographie Botanique) cannot be ruled out.

All this material gives us a clear idea of the amount of exchanges that existed at that time directly between botanists or through botanic societies or academies. All the authors mentioned above were members of these societies, which allowed them to be in relation with other botanists. All these facts explain quite well the presence in the P herbarium of a certain number of samples of a Catalan botanist who probably never went to Paris but was very active in the exchange of plants.

All images of specimens have been taken down from the National Museum of Natural History of Paris and those of the letters have been taken from Central Library of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris. Copyright: © MUSÉUM NATIONAL D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE

Seminario: “Colecciones científicas en movimiento”

El lunes 12 de diciembre de 9 a 14 horas se brindará el Seminario del proyecto RISE SciCoMove “Colecciones científicas en movimiento. Museos provinciales, archivos y practicas coleccionistas (1800–1950)” en el Auditorio Planta Baja de la Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo.

El proyecto SciCoMove se centra en el estudio de los intercambios científicos transatlánticos con el objetivo de compartir ideas acerca de cómo se construye el conocimiento sobre las colecciones de los museos. Este proyecto ofrece una visión más compleja de la historia de las colecciones paleontológicas, antropológicas, entomológicas y botánicas de los museos de Europa y América Latina. Está dirigido por las Dras. Nathalie Richard, Universidad Le Mans, e Irina Podgorny, CONICET – Museo de La Plata.

En este seminario los investigadores extranjeros invitados serán: Cristiana Oghina-Pavie, (Universidad de Angers, Grupo TEMOS-FRE CNRS, Francia), Franck Laurent (Universidad de Le Mans, Francia), Alma Hanning (Universidad de Bonn, Alemania) y Amandine Pequignot (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Paris, Francia).

El seminario es gratuito, sin inscripción y será en español e inglés. Está organizado por el Archivo Histórico del Museo de La Plata y el Proyecto Rise SciCoMove, financiado por la Unión Europea a través de su programa Horizonte 2020 para la investigación e innovación científica y el subsidio Marie Sklodowska-Curie.