Joseph Pitton de Tournefort

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort ( born June 5, 1656 in Aix -en- Provence, † December 28, 1708 in Paris) was a French botanist and explorer. Its official botanical author abbreviation is " Tourn. "

  • 4.1 Literature
  • 4.2 Notes and references

Life and work

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort was born on 5 June 1656 in Aix -en- Provence and was baptized on 13 June 1656 in the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral of Aix -en- Provence. He came from a family of the lesser French nobility, who owned a small property in Aix. His parents were Pierre Pitton Écuyer Seigneur de Tournefort and Aimare de Fagoue. He had two sisters, Anne (* 1654) and Magdeleine (* 1659).

His first training was Tournefort at the Jesuit College in Aix. He should be trained according to the will of his father, a clergyman, but showed little interest in the study of classical languages ​​and theology. Secretly, he studied the philosophy of René Descartes and enthusiastic early on of Botany. When in 1677 his father died, Tournefort could turn all of botany. He undertook an excursion in the mountains of Dauphiné and Savoy, where he collected a number of plants that formed the basis for his herbarium. In 1679 he went for nearly two years to Montpellier, where he attended anatomical and medical courses, but also the botanical lectures of Pierre Magnol. Subsequently, another excursion took him to the Pyrenees in Catalonia, where Charles de l' Ecluse since no botanist more plants had collected. The end of 1681 he returned to Aix, to arrange his collected plants and classify.

Tournefort, whose reputation had spread as a botanist in France, was invited in 1683 by Guy- Crescent Fagon to Paris and took over the succession Fagons on the Department of Botany at the Jardin du Roi. Despite his teaching duties, he continued his extensive travels. In Spain he botanized in Andalusia and then in Portugal. Shortly afterwards he visited England and the Netherlands, where trying to win for the University of Leiden him Paul Hermann. On November 21, 1691 he became a member of the French Academy of Sciences.

1694 appeared with Éléments de botanique, ou pour method connoître les plantes his major work, which he dedicated to King Louis XIV. The more popular and revised, Latin translation of the three volumes appeared six years later under the title Institutiones Rei Herbariae. In the first volume about 7000 plant species are described. In the other two volumes, 451 plates by Claude Aubriet are included on the details of the flowers and Fruchtbaues a class- typical specimen are shown. Similar to August Quirinus Rivinus Tournefort used the flower as a basis for a subdivision of the plant, which included 22 classes with him. He did not put his focus on the symmetry and the number ratios of the flower structure, but on the adhesions of the flowers. Today's generic term for plants has its origin in this work Tournefort, as it explains all genera have been described with a brief diagnosis. In his diagnostic system he referred also the fungi. The genera fungus fungoides, Boletus, Lycoperdon, coralloides, tubers and Agaricus described by him are the first fungal genera in the modern sense. In the lichen Tournefort recognized an independent systematic group. Until the appearance of Carl Linnaeus' Species Plantarum of this work was Tournefort, which was questioned by John Ray asked, leading the way for the botanical systematics.

Only in 1696 was Tournefort in Paris the academic degree of doctor of medicine. In 1698 he published a directory on the growing plants in the environs of Paris, dedicated to Fagon.

At the suggestion of Louis Phelypeaux (1643-1727), he received late in 1699 by King Louis XIV commissioned to explore the area of the Levant. On March 9, 1700, he set out, together with the German physician Andreas von Gundelsheimer and the artist Claude Aubriet to Marseilles, where they embarked on 23 April 1700, in the port city of Chania, Crete, Greece arrived on May 3. In Crete they visited the cities of Candia and Retimo and the maze at Gortyn. The group examined numerous islands in the Aegean Sea and finally came to Constantinople Opel. Accompanied by a retinue of Pasha from Erzurum they continued their journey along the south coast of the Black Sea from the coastal towns of Sinop and Trabzon to Colchis. On June 15, they arrived in Erzurum. From there Tournefort undertook several excursions into the Armenian mountains. With a caravan we went to Tbilisi, and finally to Yerevan, from where ascended Tournefort in August Ararat to the snow line. He later compared the height levels of Ararat with the Armenian, Mediterranean, French, Scandinavian and Arctic fauna. On September 12, 1701, the return journey, which led the company travel by land via Tokat, Angora, Bursa to Ephesus and Smyrna began. On April 13, started from Smyrna a 40-day trip with the Golden Sun, which brought them first to Livorno before they again reached Marseilles aboard a felucca on June 3, 1702.

From the two year journey brought Tournefort 1356 different plant species belonging to 673 genera and 1703 he in a supplement of Institutiones Rei Herbariae, the corollary, described. His letters, written in description of the trip, Relation d'un Voyage du Levant, was not published until after his death.

1706 Tournefort was a professor of medicine at the Collège Royal in Paris. In 1708 he was seriously injured in the Rue Lacépède before the Jardin du Roi from a passing carriage. A month later, he died at age 53 from the effects of this injury.

Taxonomic ceremony

Charles Plumier named in his honor the genus Pittonia. Linnaeus later rejected this name and called the genus Tournefortia. It belongs to the plant family Boraginaceae ( Boraginaceae ).


  • Elemens de botanique. Paris, 1694, 3 volumes; online
  • Histoire des plantes qui naissent aux environs de Paris. Paris 1698
  • Institutiones rei herbariae, editio altera. Paris 1700; Band 2, Band 3, ( English version: The compleat herbal: . Or, the botanical institutions of Mr. Tournefort 2 volumes, London, 1716-1730. ) 1st Ed. 3, iuxta copy Parisiis, e type. Regia / appendicibus aucta from Antonio de Jussieu in 1719 as Digitized edition of the University and State Library Dusseldorf
  • 2nd Ed. 3, iuxta copy Parisiis, e type. Regia / appendicibus aucta from Antonio de Jussieu 1719
  • 3rd Ed. 3, iuxta copy Parisiis, e type. Regia / appendicibus aucta from Antonio de Jussieu 1719

Journal Papers (selection)

  • Description d'un mushroom extraordinaire. In: Mémoires de l' Académie royale des sciences. 1692, pp. 101-103; online
  • Reflexions sur la production Physiques du Champignon dont il a été parlé dans les Mémoires du mois dernier. In: Mémoires de l' Académie royale des sciences. 1692, pp. 119-126; online
  • Conjectures sur les usages of Vaisseaux dans certaines Planetes. In: Mémoires de l' Académie royale des sciences. 1692, pp. 191-197; online
  • Observations Physiques touchant les muscles certaines de Plantes. In: Mémoires de l' Académie royale des sciences. 1692, pp. 406-415; online