The herbaria of The Natural Sciences Museum of Angers

Botany grows in Angers during the creation of the Association of Botanophiles in 1777, but mainly after the establishment of a Plants Garden in 1789. Illustration of the work of botanists who succeeded in Angers, the herbarium museum (350,000 collections), revolves around three significant collections: the general herbarium, that of Alexandre Boreau (1803-1875) and that of James Lloyd (1810-1896).

The heart of the general herbarium is formed by the De Lens collection, a parisian botanist author of a Flora of Paris in 1812. Given in 1846, it contains mainly other revised collections: Lallemand, Bory de Saint-Vincent, Chaubard, Thuillier, Kunze and Centuries such as Unio Itineraria and those of Sieber. We discover inside the different pieces of the herbarium, types from Reunion Island, collections of Commerson (travel of Bougainville), La Billardière (Entrecasteaux expedition), Poiteau (Saint Domingue) and even some rare samples of the 17th century.

The Alexandre Boreau herbarium is purchased by the municipality in 1875, it contains around 100,000 collections, items that were used for the writing of the Flora of the Center of France, the most famous regional flora of its time. Although still inventorying, this herbarium reveals a major network of correspondent botanists, more than 400, and an impressive number of types, generated by the “Jordanienne” approach of Boreau. Because of this reason at list, the Boreau herbarium has its place in the botanic history of France.

The herbarium of James Lloyd, is bequeathed to the city in 1897, by friendship to Boreau and Bastard. Huge (also 100,000 collections), it keeps 24,000 species, basis of the West France Flora. Accompanied by an impressive bookcase, it is accessible to the public on September 15, 1898.

The other sets interest departmental botany instead, even if they spread across France. We find herbaria of Georges Bouvet, Toussaint Bastard, Jean-Baptiste Guépin or those of Ernest Préaubert. Around 50 sets of smaller size form the residual part of the city herbarium, often outside the department: Corroy, Decluy, Duroux, Legros or Giraudias for example.

We also find some groups collection on which botanists reflected belatedly: mosses (Bouvet, Bruneau), lichens (Decuillé, Thuillier), fungi (Gaillard, Guépin, Rabenhorst) or algae (Lloyd, Bory, Corillion). Specialized botany is not left out because one of the most important bathology collections in Europe (a Rubus herbarium, brambles) is kept in Angers.

The fruits and seeds library comprises in one part, samples mostly for pedagogical use (about 1,000 french and 200 tropical species) and in other part, the Vilmorin collection of tree seeds from the early 20th century which gathers collections of the National Museum and collections of Prince Bonaparte (about 1,100 samples).

The xylotheque is also composed by two parts, it gathers harvests of trees felled in the Jardin des Plantes and Arboretum Allard and a collection of precious Guianese wood (1803).

Recent inventory works highlight how associated documentation is critical for works based on collections. The library is also open to the public.

Patrin Eugène, plants of Siberia, 1780. ©The Natural Sciences Museum of Angers

Precious wood ordered by Toussaint Bastard for the Jardin des Plantes of Angers in 1803.
©The Natural Sciences Museum of Angers

Lloyd James, Solieria chordalis, Morbihan, 1849.
©The Natural Sciences Museum of Angers