Charles Plumier (20 April 1646 – 20 November 1704) was a French
botanist, after whom the Frangipani genus
Plumeria is named. Plumier
is considered one of the most important of the botanical explorers of
his time. He made three botanizing expeditions to the West Indies,
which resulted in a massive work Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera
(1703–04) and was appointed botanist to king Louis XIV of France.
3 List of selected publications
4 See also
6 External links
Born in Marseille, at the age of sixteen he entered the religious
order of the Minims. He devoted himself to the study of mathematics
and physics, made physical instruments, and was an excellent
draughtsman, painter, and turner.
On being sent to the French monastery of
Trinità dei Monti
Trinità dei Monti at Rome,
Plumier studied botany under two members of the order, and especially
under the Cistercian botanist, Paolo Boccone. After his return to
France, he became a pupil of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, whom he
accompanied on botanical expeditions.
He also explored the coasts of
Provence and Languedoc. His work began
in 1689, when, by order of the government, he accompanied the
collector Joseph Donat Surian to the French Antilles, as Surian's
illustrator and writer. They remained a year and a half. As this
first journey, written up by Plumier as Description des Plantes
d'Amérique (1693), proved very successful, Plumier was appointed
royal botanist. In 1693, by command of Louis XIV of France, he made
his second journey, and in 1695 his third journey to the Antilles.
While in the West Indies, he was assisted by the Dominican botanist
Jean-Baptiste Labat. The material gathered was prodigious: besides the
Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera it filled the volumes of Plumier's
Filicetum Americanum (1703) and several shorter pieces for the Journal
des Savants and the Memoires de Trévoux.
In 1704, with his Traité des Fougères de l'Amérique in the press
and about to start on his fourth journey, intending to visit the home
of the true cinchona tree in Peru, he was taken ill with pleurisy and
Puerto de Santa Maria
Puerto de Santa Maria near Cadiz.
At his death Plumier left thirty-one manuscript volumes containing
notes and descriptions, and about 6,000 drawings, 4,000 of which were
of plants, while the remainder reproduced American animals of nearly
all classes, especially birds and fishes. The botanist Herman
Boerhaave had 508 of these drawings copied at Paris; these were
published later in a hommage by Burmann, Professor of
Amsterdam, under the title: "Plantarum americanarum, quas olim Carolus
Plumerius botanicorum princeps detexit", fasc. I-X (Amsterdam,
1755–1760), containing 262 plates. Plumier also wrote treatises
Journal des Savants
Journal des Savants and for the Mémoires de Trévoux. Through
his observations in Martinique, Plumier proved that the cochineal
belongs to the animal kingdom and should be classed among the insects.
All natural scientists of the 18th century spoke of him with
admiration. Tournefort and Linnaeus named in his honour the genus
Plumeria, which belongs to the family
Apocynaceae and is indigenous in
about forty species to Central America.
Plumier identified and described Fuchsia, which he discovered on the
Hispaniola in the
Caribbean in 1696-7. He published his
first description of
Fuchsia triphylla, flore coccineo) in
The French explorer and botanist
Louis Feuillée was one of his
His first work was Description des plantes de l'Amérique (Paris,
1693); it contained 108 plates, half of which represented ferns. This
was followed by Nova plantarum americanarum genera (Paris, 1703–04),
with 40 plates; in this work about one hundred genera, with about
seven hundred species, were redescribed. At a later date, Linnaeus
adopted in his system, almost without change, these and other newly
described genera arranged by Plumier. Plumier left a work in French
and Latin ready to be printed entitled Traité des fougères de
l'Amérique (Paris, 1705), which contained 170 excellent plates. The
publication "Filicetum Americanum" (Paris, 1703), with 222 plates, was
compiled from those already mentioned. Plumier also wrote another book
of an entirely different character on turning, L'Art de tourner
(Lyons, 1701; Paris, 1749); this was translated into Russian by Peter
the Great. The manuscript of the translation is at St. Petersburg.
List of selected publications
Plumier, Charles (1703). Nova plantarum americanarum genera. Parisiis:
Description des plantes de l'Amérique on Botanicus.
Plantarum americanarum...on Botanicus.
Traité des fougères de l'Amérique on SICD Universities of
L'Art de Tourner en Perfection edition of 1749 digitized by Christian
LAVIGNE (Ars Mathematica), from the copy in the Bibliothèque de
Verdun (Meuse, France)
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Charles
Plumier". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics
The standard author abbreviation Plum. is used to indicate this person
as the author when citing a botanical name.
^ Ronald H. Petersen, New World Botany: Columbus to Darwin (2001:155).
^ Petersen 2001:155.
^ Pietsch, T. W. 2001.
Charles Plumier (1646–1704) and his drawings
of French and American fishes. Arch. Nat. Hist., 28(1):1–57.
^ Journal des Savants, May 1756:314, advertises the first installment.
^ IPNI. Plum.
Plumier on JSTOR
Plumier's works at BHL
ISNI: 0000 0000 6300 6849
BNF: cb12560169s (data)