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

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


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.


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.


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

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Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


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


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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 (Melbourne: CSIRO, 1978), 101 pp. Details

Christine Moje & Neville Walsh