Joseph Pitton de Tournefort
|Born||5 June 1656|
|Died||28 December 1708 (aged 52)|
|Alma mater||University of Paris|
Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (5 June 1656 – 28 December 1708) was a French botanist, notable as the first to make a clear definition of the concept of genus for plants. Botanist Charles Plumier was his pupil and accompanied him on his voyages.
Tournefort was born in Aix-en-Provence and studied at the Jesuit convent there. It was intended that he enter the Church, but the death of his father allowed him to follow his interest in botany. After two years collecting, he studied medicine at Montpellier, but was appointed professor of botany at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 1683. During this time he travelled through Western Europe, particularly the Pyrenees, where he made extensive collections.
Between 1700 and 1702 he travelled through the islands of Greece and visited Constantinople, the borders of the Black Sea, Armenia, and Georgia, collecting plants and undertaking other types of observations. He was accompanied by the German botanist Andreas Gundelsheimer (1668–1715) and the artist Claude Aubriet (1651–1742). His description of this journey was published posthumously (Relation d'un voyage du Levant), he himself having been killed by a carriage in Paris; the road on which he died now bears his name (Rue de Tournefort in the 5ème arrondissement).
Tournefort's principal work was the 1694 Eléments de botanique, ou Méthode pour reconnaître les Plantes (the Latin translation of it Institutiones rei herbariae was published twice in 1700 and 1719). The principal artist was Claude Aubriet, who later became the principal artist at the Jardin des Plantes. The classification followed was completely artificial, and neglected some important divisions established by earlier botanists, such as John Ray's separation of the phanerogams from the cryptogams, and his division of the flowering plants into monocots and dicots. Overall it was a step backwards in systematics, yet the text was so clearly written and well structured, and contained so much valuable information on individual species, that it became popular amongst botanists, and nearly all classifications published for the next fifty years were based upon it.
Tournefort is often credited with being the first to make a clear distinction between genus and species. Though he did indeed cluster the 7,000 plant species that he described into around 700 genera, this was not particularly original. Concepts of genus and species had been framed as early as the 16th century, and Kaspar Bauhin in particular consistently distinguished genera and species. Augustus Quirinus Rivinus had even advocated the use of binary nomenclature shortly before Tournefort's work was published.
List of selected publications
- Tournefort, Joseph Pitton de (1694). Éléments de botanique ou methode pour connaître les plantes (Élémens de botanique ou methode pour connoître les plantes) (in French). Paris: Imprimerie Royale., trans. as
- Tournefort, Joseph Pitton de (1719) . Josephi Pitton Tournefort Aquisextiensis, doctoris medici Parisiensis, Academiae regiae scientiarum socii, et in horto regio botanices professoris, Institutiones rei herbariae (in Latin). Vol. I. Paris: Typographia regia.
- Tournefort, Joseph Pitton de (1719) . Josephi Pitton Tournefort Aquisextiensis, doctoris medici Parisiensis, Academiae regiae scientiarum socii, et in horto regio botanices professoris, Institutiones rei herbariae (in Latin). Vol. II. Paris: Typographia regia.
- Institutiones rei herbariae (in Latin). Vol. 3. Paris: Imprimerie Royale. 1719.
- Histoire des plantes qui naissent aux environs de Paris, 1698
- Relation d'un voyage du Levant, 1717
- Traité de la matière médicale, 1717
- Histoire des plantes qui naissent aux environs de Paris (in French). Paris: Imprimerie Royale. 1698.
- Relation d'un voyage du Levant, fait par ordre du roy (in French). Vol. 3. Lyon: Bruyset, frères. 1727.
- Chisholm 1911.
- Sachs, Julius von (1890). Balfour, Isaac Bayley (ed.). . Translated by Garnsey, Henry E. F. Oxford at the Clarendon Press. pp. 76–78.
- "Herbarium J.P. de Tournefort (1656–1708)". brill.com. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "Pittoniotis Griseb. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
- public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tournefort, Joseph Pitton de". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 106. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
- Isely, Duane (2002). One Hundred and One Botanists. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press. pp. 71–73. ISBN 978-1-55753-283-1. OCLC 947193619. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
- KUL Digital version of Elemens de botanique ou methode pour connoitre les plantes 1694–1695.
- Digital edition of Institutiones rei herbariae, University and State Library Düsseldorf
Media related to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort at Wikimedia Commons