Azolla and Bougainville’s Voyage Around the World

  • Francisco Carrapiço


Azolla is a worldwide aquatic or semiaquatic fern that was herborized for the first time in 1767, by Philibert Commerson and his co-worker Jeanne Baret, during Bougainville’s voyage around the world. It was in Montevideo and Buenos Aires and not at the Strait of Magellan, as it was referred by Lamarck in 1783, that this plant was collected for the first time for science and prepared for herbarium. Following Commerson’s death in Mauritius, his herbarium and manuscripts, including all biological specimens collected by him and Baret, were shipped to the Jardin du Roi in Paris and distributed among several other scientific institutions. The importance of this herbarium in the history of botany is mentioned, namely, what happened to the first Azolla samples and the other biological specimens collected by these two naturalists, which were though often used without proper attributions by the established scientific community of their time.


Azolla Bougainville’s voyage Philibert Commerson Jeanne Baret 



The author is grateful and expresses his sincere thanks to Caroline Loup from the Herbarium of the Institut de Botanique de l’Université de Montpellier (MPU); Frédèric Danet from the Herbarium of the Jardin botanique de Lyon (LYJB); Christine Habashi and Isabella Valette from the Herbarium of the Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques (CJB) de la Ville de Genève; and Cécile Aupic, Gérard Aymonin and Germinal Rouhan from the Herbarium of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris (MNHN) for the facilities to study the historical Azolla samples existing in their institutions and also for the information sent on the issue. A special thanks to Jeannine Monnier for the information on Philibert Commerson’s life and work; to Jonathan Bujak (The Azolla Foundation) for the discussion and comments on the Azolla fossil data; to Roberto Rodríguez-Rios, Universidad de Concepción, Chile, for the discussion on the ecological conditions on the Strait of Magellan related to Azolla; to Mariano Montaño from SCIAPLI, Ecuador, regarding the use of Azolla in South America; to Pedro Costa of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the New University of Lisbon on some of the light microscope observations; to Telmo Nunes for the support in the SEM facilities and observations at the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon; to Ana Luisa Pereira from the University of Coimbra on the research developed on the biology of Azolla during her PhD thesis. And at last but not least, a particular thanks to Maria Helena Costa for the comments and suggestions on the text and to Helena Farrand-Carrapiço for the English revision of the manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Ecologia, Evolução e Alterações Ambientais e Centro de Filosofia das Ciências, Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal

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