Flora Cochinchinensis

by Joao de Loureiro

Languages : Portuguese, Latin

1790 - Digitized by The Internet Archive with the support of University of Toronto, 2010 | via BiodiversityLibrary.org - 389 pages - On-Demand Books Ulyssipone

The author, who had started recensing local medicinal plants for the King of Cochinchina, explored the flora across vast territories of Southeast Asia, including modern Thailand and Cambodia. He developed a great botanical garden himself, in Cochinchina but also Macau, Pondichery, Canton and Mozambique.

Back to Lisbon in 1777, he had previously discovered the works of Carl Linnaeus, in particular the Genera Plantarum published in 1737 in Leiden, through a Captain Thomas Riddell. One of the first botanists to adopt the Linnaeus classification (with his own additions), he was pioneer in describing longan, lychee, species of magnolias and of odoriferous orchids such as Aerides odorata and Renanthera coccinea.

In his 4-volume series, Loureiro gave his own name to many species, for instance Phoenix loureiroi, Cinnamomum loureiroi, Ilex loureiroi, Eleagnus loureiroi, Cryptocarpa loureirii, Justicia loureroana, Dyospiros loureiroana, Clematis loureiroana...

Note that he gave the name 'Genius Cambogia' to one of the subspecies of Monogynia, flowers with only one pistil.

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Full title: Flora Cochinchinensis, sistens plantas in regno Cochinchina nascentes : quibus accedunt aliae observatae in Sinensi imperio, Africa orientali, Indiaeque locis variis : omnes dispositae secundum systema sexuale Linnaeanum.

ADB Input: Loureiro's work has been often compared with the Compendium of Materia Medica or Bencao Gangmu (本草綱目), a Chinese herbology volume complied during 27 years by Li Shizhen during the Ming dynasty, and published in Nanjing in 1596.

About the Author

Joao de Loureiro

João de Loureiro (1710, Lisbon - 18 Oct. 1791, Lisbon) was a Portuguese precursor in botanic, plant taxonomy and natural sciences.

After joining the Jesuit order (Society of Jesus), he became a missionary in Goa and Macau before reaching Cochinchina (Annam) where he stayed (officially as a physician and astronomer, his missionary work being only tolerated by the King) for some 36 years. He also stayed in Gangzhou (China) and, in 1783, spent three months in Mozambique where he once again extensively studied the local flora.

According to Antoine Brébion's Dictionnaire de bibliographie, it was during his return journey to Europe in 1777 that he "landed on the coasts of Cambodia, Bengal, Malabar, then Mozambique, gathering botanical samples in each and every place. He had left Annam aboard The Rumbold, a ship of the English Indies Company, en route to Calcutta."

After his return to Lisbon, the Royal Portuguese Academy of Sciences sponsored the publication of his sum, Flora Cochinchinensis. His work on Southeast Asian flora was highly praised in Europe, to the point that the reputed botanist and taxonomist Carl Ludwig Willdenow annotated the German edition in 1793.

His author's abbreviated name, Lour., appears in numerous botanical references.