Collecting localities



Biographical data


Noroña, Francisco


(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 8: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement II)


Born: c. 1748, Sevilla, Spain. Died: Jan. 12, 1788, Mauritius.



(mostly wrongly cited as Fernando do Noronha)

Spanish physician and botanist who resided for some time at Manila, Luzon (P.I.), where he took much trouble to bring into order and to stock with valuable plants the Royal Botanic Garden. In 1786 he came to Java for a botanical exploration, and was granted permission by the Governor General Alting to travel in Priangan. Four Indonesian ‘Medicos-Herboristas’ and a Dutch draughtsman would accompany him. At Bandoeng Noroña was at odds with the latter who evidently wrote a furious letter to Hooijman (see below); as a result the journey was broken off. When back at Batavia he sent a bill, amounting to 14200 ducats, to the Batavian Society for Arts and Sciences, for travelling expenses, copies of his work, etc. As this was thought exorbitant, Noroña decided to leave as soon as possible and to take his manuscripts with him. He left behind an alphabetical list of plants.2 He sailed for Mauritius in Febr. 1787.1

From his MSS4 it is evident that he must have worked like one possessed, and it is very probable that the draughtsman could not keep step with him. Besides, Noroña was ill with malaria and dysentery, which will not have improved his temper. Does he speak at first of his friend and benefactor Hooijman, this later changes into ‘feigning protector’, the Dutch were good for nothing, and when homeward bound on the French ship he soon had high words with the captain.

He is commemorated in the genus Noronhia Stadm. and in several plant species by Blume and Reinwardt. On the ground belonging to the Manila garden a monument to his memory was later erected (no traces of it have been found in recent times).


Collecting localities:4

The Philippines: stay at Manila (till March 1786); sailing (March 18) for W. Java: Batavia (Apr. 15); stay at Batavia, making the acquaintance of Jan Hooijman, J.C.M. Radermacher (see there), Dr Med. Stützer, etc.; for some time the guest of Hooijman at the latter’s country-house near Batavia, from where setting out on his journey on Sept. 5 to Chiluar (= Tjiloear); Boghòr (sometimes written Bèrgen-soòr or Beutensoòrg = Buitenzorg) (8-28); via Batu-tulis to Pondoc-ghedè (staying 18 days), and proceeding to Ciceroa (= Tjisaroea) and Chapannas (= Tjipanas), making trips in the vicinity, staying at least 15 days (mention is made of G. Cazur = Kasoer, which was not climbed, however); Tjian(d)jo(e)r and environs, making trips to Chilagon (= Tjilakoe), Chaligàn and Gagac; proceeding to Chibulagon, Beaban, Chitarum (= Tjitaroem) River, to Rachamandàla (= Radjamandala) ((Nov. ? 5); to Churucagòn and Bandom (= Bandoeng) via Chimay (= Tjimahi); at odds with his draughtsman and after correspondence with Hooijman (evidently in unfriendly terms) returning via Bracamuntiang, Samodang (= Soemedang) and Cheribon to Batavia (in 8 days, ? Dec.); stay at Batavia; embarking on a French vessel (Febr. 18, 1787).



His herbarium came to la Billardière through the intermediary of Cossigny.3 It is not known with certainty that Java or Manila specimens were included. In Herb. Deless. (Geneva [G]): Madagascar plants; Herb. Paris [P]: few specimens from Madagascar.

Part of his collection was sent to M. le Comte d’Angiviller, who presented it to the ‘Jardin du Roi’ on Nov. 5, 1788.9 A list of 119 nos from Manila (Luzon) and Java, but from Île de France (= Mauritius) and Madagascar too, accompanied the case in which it was packed. The contents consisted of seeds, flowers and fruits, all mixed up, as many of the packets were torn; it included flowers of ‘rasamala’ (Altingia), fruits of Casuarina, guttapercha, etc.

At Noroña’s death M. Cossigny became heir to all his drawings and manuscripts, which he originally committed to the charge of la Billardière with the intention to have them published.4 Later they were presented to the then Acad. of Sci. at Paris and finally they came to the Libr. of the Nat. Hist. Mus. there. From a letter to Billardière (see Lit. 4, MSS no 43) it is evident that Cossigny received the plates at least in two consignments (the 2nd time 66!).

Three sets of his water-colour drawings of Javan plants are extant; they are not completely identical.10 In an introductory essay to an unfinished flora of Java L.A. Deschamps wrote (in MS., Bot. Dept Brit. Mus.) that Noroña when he left Java, left some drawings with the clergyman J. Hooijman (deciphered by Britten in Journ. Bot. 41, 1903, p. 283 seq. as: Jan Predicat Diman ( ? )) his maecenas and friend. The rights of the matter is that Noroña was very mysterious about his collections etc., but Hooijman had the drawings copied without his knowledge, and planned to add descriptions himself.8 Noroña mentions in his diary (see Lit. 4, MS. no 42) to have deposited a set of drawings at Hooijman’s.

In the report of ‘Her Marineschool’ at Semarang for 1792, a communication is made, that the pupils . of the said school made drawings of some 100 Javan plants on behalf of the ‘Bataviaasch Genootschap’.7 In April 1796 Governor van Overstraten sent a set of Noroña’s drawings to L.A. Deschamps (see there) with the request to return them, as he intended to have ‘the unique set’ copied. In June of the latter year the copies, made in ‘Her Marineschool’ again, were ready, as appears from some letters from the said Governor to Deschamps, which are included in the latter’s manuscripts in the British Museum.

One set of 108 numbered drawings (incl. 2 animals) accompanied by a list ‘Plantae indicae a Norogna collectae, descriptae et pictae’ (115!) in Libr. Nat. Hist. Mus. Paris. We assume that this was Noroña’s private set, brought by him to Mauritius. Another one in Libr. Herb. Berlin: ‘Icones ineditae 110 plantarum javanicarum servantur Samarangae in schola navali’.5 It is unknown to the present author how this set found its way to Germany, while no set is known to be extant in either Java or Holland. The 3rd set, identical with the 2nd, of 111 water-colour drawings (1 species represented by 2 drawings) of Javan plants were included among the MSS and drawings of L.A. Deschamps (see there), they were sent to him by Governor van Overstraten in 1796; presented to the Libr. Brit. Mus. in 1861.6

A letter (to M. van Marum, dated March 29, 1819; in Arch. Dutch Society of Sciences at Haarlem) from C.G.C. Reinwardt (see there) in Java, it is evident that the latter had the disposition of a set of Noroña’s plates. As the Rijksherbarium at Leiden and Herb. Bog. have no set, it is probably that set which was presented to Berlin, presumably by Reinwardt or later by Hasskarl.



(1) cf. Verh. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 5, 1790, p. (23)-(26).

(2) In Verh. Bat. Gen. K. & W. 5, 1790 (this volume contains also elaborate descriptions of Altingia excelsa and Ranghas javanica!) under the title ‘Relatio plantarum Javanensium iter factione usque in Bandong recognitarum a Dne. F. N Noron(h)a’ (comprising c. 700 spec.); 2nd edition in l.c. 1827, p. (64)-(86); the list was revised and illustrated by J.K. Hasskarl in Tijdschr. Nat. Gesch. & Physiol. 11, 1844, p. 209-228. Transl. of the Altingia paper in Ann. Bot. 2, 1805, p. 325-330.

(3) cf. Deutsche Naturzeitung N.F. l, 1855,p.69.

(4) cf. Konig & Sims Ann. Bot. 2, 1806, p. 380-381; Deleuze, Hist. et descript. Mus. Roy. Hist. Nat. 2, 1823, p. 696-697; Lasègue, Mus. Bot. Deless., 1845, p. 189-190.

The MSS in the Nat. Hist. Mus. Paris consist of:

No 42. Note-books 1-3: Diary of his voyage to Java ‘Quaderno 1°-3° de mi viage à la Isla de Java (desde el mes de Marzo de 1786)’. Note-books 4-12: ‘Descriptiones plantarum ex Java’.

No 43. Letter from Cossigny to la Billardière, dated May 9th, 1791. Acknowledgement of receipt of drawings of plants from the inheritance of M. Noroña.-’Plantae indicae a Norogna collectae, descriptae et pictae’ (List referring to 115 plates. Other folio list referring to the note-books with descriptions, Noroña’s handwriting ? ).-’Classificatio-plantarum a me scriptarum in Java, secundum ordinem familiarum naturalium’.-’Nomenclator Javanensium a domino Noroña descriptarum, iterfactione ei permissa insule Java, ab illustrissimo domino prefecto generali ordine alphabetico dispositus’.-’Prodromus plantarum Javanensium a me descriptarum (Nova genera).’- Noroña. Botany of the island of Java (108 coloured plates).-Other MSS concerning the flora of Madagascar, his stay in Mauritius; a Spanish-Javanese dictionary, and coloured drawings of Javan animals.

No 1340. ‘Notes sur les espèces de plantes décrites par Noroña’ by la Billardière.

No 1341. ‘Description des plantes de Java’ by ? la Billardière.

(5) cf. Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872, p. 234.

(6) Accompanied by a list of vernacular names in Dutch: ‘Notitie der Planten door den heer Noroña gevonden in de Jacatrasche Bovenlanden zoo als dezelve bij den Inlander genaamd worden’ (cf. Journ. Bot. 41, 1903, p. 283).

(7) Statement of the lieutenant in the navy M.M. Merens (letter dated Oct. 12, 1941).

(8) cf. F. de Haan, Priangan 4, 1912, p. 560.

(9) In the ‘Archives Nationales’, Paris:

Papers originating from André Thouin, including:

‘État des objets contenus dans une caisse qui fesoit partie de la collection de M. Noroña, envoyée a M. le Comte d’Angivillier, qui 1’a donnée au Jardin du Roi, le 5 Novembre 1788’ (AJ15 511, no 482).

Documents with relation to the history of the “Jardin du Roi”, of the Museum and its library. MSS of Noroña (in April 1949 these could not be found).

(10) C.G.G.J. van Steenis & M.J. van Steenis-Kruseman: ‘The Plates of Javanese Plants of Francisco Noroña with a revised evaluation of his generic names’ (Regn. Veg. 71, 1970, p. 353-380).


biographical data:

Konig & Sims Ann. Bot. 2, 1806, p. 325-326 (footnote), 380-381; Nat. Tijdschr. N.1. 31, 1870, p. 193-195; Journ. Bot. 41, 1903, p. 283-285; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; MSS in London and at Paris; Bull. Acad. Malg. n.s. 35, 1958, p. 13-16; Diet. of Maurit. Biography p. 757.