Collecting localities



Biographical data


Billiardière, Jacques Julien Houton (Houtou9) de la


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

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

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


Born: 1755, Alençon, France. Died: 1834, Paris, France.



Surgeon-botanist, graduated at Paris in 1780, who travelled in S. Europe and through the Libation and Syria, and then accompanied the expedition conducted by A.R.J. Bruny d’Entrecasteaux in search of la Pérouse.1 Other partners in the expedition were L.A. Deschamps, Lahaie, Riche and Ventenat (see there). When staying at Soerabaja, d’Auribeau (the successor of the deceased commander) refused to proceed on the voyage in consequence of the situation in France, on March 1, 1794. The ships were transferred to the D.E.I. Government and the crew and 7 members of the expedition, among whom Billardière, Riche and Ventenat, were imprisoned, at first at Soerabaja and then at Semarang. After some time B. was interned in the fortress of Angké near Batavia and obtained permission to walk in the neighbourhood. In 1796 he was back in France and was appointed member of ‘l’Institut de France’ in 1800.

He was commemorated in several plants.


ollecting localities:

Voyage in ‘La Recherche’ and ‘L’Espérance’, 1791-94.1-2 Sailing from Brest (Sept. 28, 1791), via Teneriffe, Cape of Good Hope, St Paul, New Holland (Apr.-May 1792), New Caledonia, W. coast of Bougainville Isl. and Bouka (July); Bismarck Archipelago: New Ireland, Carteret Harbour (July 18, trip inland on the 23rd); Admiralty Islands, Hermites Islands (Aug.); past the Schouten Islands, Batanta and Salawati (evidently not going ashore); in Sept. between Bonoa Isl. (= prob. P. Boano) and W. Ceram, P. Kelang, P. Manipa; on land in Ambon (Sept. 6-Oct. 13);3 to New Holland again, sailing past several islands (Kisar, Timor, P. Sawoe), not going ashore, however; SW. coast of New Holland to Cape Van Diemen (Dec. 1792-March 1793); Friendly Islands; New Caledonia (Apr.); in May via Île de St Croix and the Solomon Islands to the Louisiades; through Dampier Strait past New Britain (July), Portland Islands, Admiralty Islands; Waigeo(u) (Aug. 29­Sept. 11); Boeroe, Kajeli (Sept. 18-30); taking in water in S. Boeto(e)n(g) (Oct. 16); making trips in the island Pangesani (= Moena) (16) and Boeton (17); sailing through Saleier Strait (18); sometimes taking in water along the coast of Madoera; anchoring near Soerabaja (Oct. 28), making trips in E. Java: e.g. via Porong to the Prau Mts (Dec. 21) and the next days to Penanggoenan and environs. B. was imprisoned on March 1, 1794, and transferred to Semarang on the 6th, where he was allowed to make small tours in the environs, if not coming near the coast; Sept. 14 by boat to Batavia (W. Java), staying from the 18th in the fortress of Angkée. He sailed for Île de France on April 9, 1795, staying in the latter island from May 18; Nov. 30 he was homeward bound, arriving in France in March 1796



Exceeding 4000 specimens of the years 1791-96.5 In Herb. Florence [FI] (acq. with Herb. Webb); in Herb. Deless. (Geneva [G]): Syria plants + dupl. of the Voyage; Herb. Decand. (Geneva [G]): ± 300 New Holland plants, 20 from the Orient; several specimens in Herb. Paris [P]; Herb. Kew [K] (1835, 300 specim.), Vienna [W], Brit. Mus. [BM] (from Australia; also mosses and hepatics), Cambridge [CGE] (with Herb. Lindley), Berl. [B] (N. Caledonia plants, a few in Herb. Turczaninow (= Univ. Kharkov [now most in LE]) (referred to in T.’s ‘Animadversiones etc.’); Herb. Leiden [L]: Ambon etc. (coll. 1791-94); Herb. Martius (= Brussels [BR]).

When at Soerabaja, d’Auribeau took possession of all collections which were subsequently sold as war prize to England. They were given back after some time through the intermediary of Banks (a fact foreseen by Deschamps in his diary!). During the stay at Semarang d’Auribeau tried to get possession of Billardière’s notes too, but in vain.  In his ‘Relation du voyage etc.’2 Billardière charges d’Auribeau with the taking possession of all collections. In a document4 he accuses de Rossel of the same fact; the Dutch were said to have approved of this robbery; the Dutch fleet had the collections on board, when they were stolen by the English.

Billardière himself studied part of the collection,6 but no Malaysian plants. His MSS are in the library of the Nat. Hist. Mus. Paris;7 unpublished drawings made during the expedition by Piron are at Paris too.8

Following up the items in the Cycl. Fl. Mal. 1, 1, 1950, p. 57-58 and 599, some additional data on the history of his collections were found in a recently published book4. In 1795 the senior surviving French officer, the Chevalier de Rossel, embarked with the collections of the expedition, in a Dutch ship, with the object of placing them at the disposal of Louis XVIII, then titular King of France. This ship was captured by the British Navy off the Shetland Islands, and the collections came into the hands of Sir Joseph Banks. Rossel’s protest against the seizure of the collections resulted in placing them at the disposal of Louis XVIII, then in Courland. The latter instructed his ambassador to present them to the Queen of England. Later, Billardière’s plea with Banks resulted in the sending of the lot to France.

P.W. Webb, who had acquired Billardière plants in 1834, in 1837 wrote Lambert that he was sending the latter specimens from New Holland, New Ireland, Java, and Amboyna, collector not named, but evidently Billardière. At Lambert’s sale 2 bundles of plants from Java etc. were bought by R. Brown (cf. H.S. Miller in Taxon 19, 1970, 529); presumably in Herb. Brit. Mus.  [BM] now.



(1) ‘Voyage à la rechéerche de la Pérouse publié par S.M. l’Empereur et Roi et redigé par M. de Rossel, ancien capitaine de vaisseau’ (Paris 1808, 2 vols + atlas; vol. 1, Itinerary and introduction; vol. 2, Astronomic observations).

(2) Cen Labillardière: ‘Relation du voyage à la recherche de la Pérouse, fait par ordre de l’assemblée constituante pendant les années 1791 et 1792 et pendant la première et la seconde année de la république française’ (Paris 1799, 2 vols + atlas). Includes a description of Ambon, together with all kind of remarks on useful plants, etc.; only few lines are spent on the islands of Waigeo and Boeroe.

(3) Warburg, in ‘Rumphius Gedenkboek’ p. 66, erroneously fixes the year as 1793.

(4) É. Bonnet: ‘Les collections de l’expédition envoyée a la recherche de la Pérouse d’après des documents inédits’ (Ass. franç. pour l’'avancement d. sc. Compt. Rend. 20me sess. Congr. de Marseille 1891, II, Paris 1892, p. 488-492).

‘Notice de mes collections d’objets d’histoire naturelle, qui m’ont été enlevées par Rossel, lieutenant de vaisseau, devenu, par la mort des deux chefs et du premier lieutenant, commandant de l’expédition envoyée a la recherche du citoyen la Peyrouse’ (Paris, le 13 germinal an IV, signed la Billardière; document in Libr. Nat. Hist. Mus. Paris).

Cf. Sir Gavin de Beer: ‘The Sciences were never at War’ (1960) p. 45-68.

(5) cf. Lasègue, Mus. Bot. Deless., 1845, p. 78.

(6) J.J. de la Billardière: ‘Specimen plantarum novae Hollandiae’ (Paris 1804-06); ‘Sertum austro-caledonicum’ (Paris 1824-25, 80 pl.).

‘Mémoire Sur un nouveau genre (l’Areng à Sucre) de la famille des palmiers’ (Mém. Math. & Phys. t. 4, p. 209-218, pl. 6-7).

(7) cf. Bull. Mus. Dist. Nat. Paris 1, 1895, p. 27.

(8) cf. l.c. p. 195.

(9) The spelling ‘Houtou is authentic according to Chevalier.


biographical data:

Tijdschr. Nat. Gesch. & Phys. 12, 1834, p. 223-224; Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat. 16, 1837, p. xxi-xxxi; Alg. Konst- en Letterbode 18391, p. 148-152; Pritzel, Thes. Lit. Bot., 1872; Wittrock, Icon. Bot. Berg., 2, 1905, p. 105; J.D. Milner, Catalogue portraits in Kew, 1906, p. 72; Journ. & Proc. Roy. Soc. N.S.W. 43, 1910, p. 128, with portr. pl. 3; in Lacroix, Notice historique Sur lee membres et correspondants de l’Acad. des Sci. etc., Paris 1934, p. 94; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; F.A. Stafleu: ‘Adanson, Labillardière, de Candolle, Introductions to four of their books’ (in the series Historiae naturalis classica, J. Cramer 1967, p. 16-63).