TOURNEFORT Joseph Pitton - France - 1632 - 1723

TOURNEFORT Joseph Pitton Oriented by his family toward theological studies, Tournefort abandoned these to dedicate himself to botany and medicine, taking his degree at Montpellier. He moved to Paris where he taught at the Jardin des Plantes and wrote a copious herbal still to be found today at the Museum of Natural History. It includes plants brought back from voyages to Africa, Asia and all of Europe.

Main work: Institutiones rei herbarie, Typographia regia, Parigi, 1719.

Botanical interests: He offers a classification in his writings based on an examination of the flower and the corolla in particular. Although it is uniquely original, his theory doesn’t take into account the studies of his contemporaries in the fields of plant anatomy (Grew and Malpighi) and of plant sexuality (Camerarius). Nonetheless, Tournefort’s system enjoys great success and his Institutiones rei herbariae (1719) sell well. It is a methodical work with precise distinctions into classes, sections, genera, species and varieties. He describes a total of 11,201 species of which 1,356 were brought from the Orient. There are 489 plates from copper engravings which are excellent at the interpretive level, so much so that the original drawings are still conserved in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.