Collecting localities



Biographical data


Provost, Simon


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

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


Born: 1728, Auray, France. Died: before 1778, ? Isle de France.



Served as supercargo of the ‘Compagnie des Indes’, spoke Malay fluently, and later settled at Isle de France. He joined the expedition of ‘L’Étoile du Matin’ and the ‘Vigilant’ (1769), under the command of respectively Etchévery and Trémigon, organized by P. Poivre (as chief of the mercantile marine). He was picked by Poivre as technical leader to obtain spice plants in the Moluccas. Provost, clerk of the marine, was in charge of the botanical department of the voyage. Early 1768 he sailed to Kedah in the ‘Vigilant’ to contact the Macassarese traders. This resulted only in a promise from the Macassarese, and in May 1769 he set out once more and proceeded to the Philippines and the Moluccas, this time with success. Subsequently he was made Honorary Inspector of the spice plants being grown at the ‘Jardin du Roi’ in Mauritius. The next year he handed the care of the plants to Céré (see there) and sailed again in June 1771 with the 2nd Moluccan Expedition (See sub Sonnerat).2 His visit to Gebe(h) was a great success. The plants were brought to Mauritius and distributed to other French colonies, including Cayenne.


Collecting localities:

Voyage in ‘L’É toile du Matin’ and the ‘Vigilant’, 1769- . ..1 After numerous adventures they visited Manila (Luzon), Mindanao, Jolo (= Sulu) Islands, Taffouri (unknown to me), Ceram, P. Gebi (= Gebe), and Patani.



They brought home (to Mauritius) a rich harvest of nutmegs, and clove plants. In the cited paper no mention is made of any dried collections.



(1) cf. A. Lacroix in ‘Notice historique sur les membres de l’Académie des scienc. etc. 1934, p. 47.

Mad. Ly-Tio-Fane in ‘Pierre Poivre et l’expansion française dans l’Indo-Pacifique’ (Bull. Ecole Franç. Extr.-Or. 53, 1967, p. 472-473, etc.).

(2) Some pages of his diary are reproduced in Mad. Ly-Tio-Fane l.c. sub LITER. (1) pl. iv-v. A plan of the harbour of Gebe is reproduced in l.c. pl. vi.


biographical data:

M. Ly-Tio-Fane, Mauritius and the Spice Trade, 1958, p. 10-11.