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Biographical entry L'Héritier de Brutelle, Charles Louis (1746 - 1800)

Born
15 June 1746
Paris, France
Died
16 August 1800
Occupation
Botanist and Collector

Summary

It was Charles L'Héritier who described the genus Eucalyptus and named the first eucalypt specimen, Eucalyptus oblique, in 1788. This specimen had been collected in Tasmania by botanist David Nelson on Cook's third expedition in 1777 and brought to Kew Gardens, London, where L'Héritier was working at the time. L'Héritier coined the generic name Eucalyptus from the Greek roots eu and calyptos, meaning 'well' and 'covered', in reference to the operculum of the flower bud. In 1788, L'Héritier's Sertum Anglicum was published in Paris. This work included the description of Eucalyptus obliqua. L'Héritier was murdered by an unknown assailant. He left a herbarium of approximately 8,000 species and a large botanic library. The herbarium was added to the French national collections.

Details

Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle was a French botanist and magistrate. The connections of his wealthy upper-class family secured him a position of Superintendent of Parisian Waters and Forests. Starting as an amateur and developing into a self-made scientist, he studied native trees and shrubs, gaining interest in exotic flora. He soon corresponded with other important botanists at the time, among them Joseph Banks and James Edward Smith.

Events

1786 - 1787
Career event - Studied Kew Botanical Gardens collections
1788
Taxonomy event - Eucalyptus obliqua L'Herit.
1788
Taxonomy event - Described the genus Eucalyptus L'Heritier
1788
Career event - Botanist on Australian expedition commanded by Bruni D'Entrecasteaux

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Books

  • L'Heritier de Brutelle, Charles-Louis, Sertum Anglicum 1788 : facsimile with critical studies and a translation, Hunt Botanical Library, Pittsburgh, 1963, 36 pp. Details

Online Resources

See also

  • Hall, Norman, Botanists of the Eucalypts: short biographies of people who have named eucalypts, whose names have been given to species or who have collected type material, CSIRO, Melbourne, 1978, 101 pp. Details

Christine Moje & Neville Walsh