Collecting localities



Biographical data


Sonnerat, Pierre


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

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


Born: 1748, Lyons, France. Died: 1814, Paris, France.



A zealous naturalist, endowed with great skill as a draughtsman. He entered the Navy and obtained a situation in Isle de France (as protégé of his relative P. Poivre), and left Paris for the southern hemisphere in 1768. He attached himself to Commerson (see there) and worked with him for 3 years in Mauritius, Bourbon and Madagascar. He made several expeditions (see below); in 1774 he was appointed Naval Commissary. Subsequent to 1781 he still made several voyages to India, being at Pondicherry as late as 1801. In 1805 he returned to France. He was mainly zoologically interested, but collected many plants too.

He is commemorated in the genus Sonneratia L.f: and in many plant species.


Collecting localities:

With the 2nd Moluccan Expedition, 1771-72,1 equipped by Poivre, under the command of Provost (for the 1st exp. see there); Sonnerat joined as a volunteer. Sailing from Port Louis, Isle de France (June 29, 1771); via the Seychelles, P. Para, P. Pisang (ashore), P. Timon (= ? P. Tioman near the Malay Peninsula) (Aug. 22), P. Condor; Luzon. Port Cavite (Sept. 3); Manil(l)a (Oct. 25 penetrating into the interior); Calamba (Nov. 20); Los Bagnos; leaving Port Cavite (Dec. 29); Panay: Antigue (Jan. 7-13, 1772); Mindanao: Caldera (18), Sambouanga (= Zamboanga) (19-22); Jolo Isl.; Mindanao: Sambouanga (Febr. 6-8); Moluccas and islands near New Guinea: P. Gebe(h) (20-March l); P. Moar (= ? P. Moeor) (March 4-8); P. Gebe(h) (March 9-Apr. 6); E. coast of Halmahera (1 day in Apr.); via Timor Strait (Apr. 28) back to Mauritius (arriving June 4 and 5).-1774-81.2 Several travels to Ceylon, Malabar, Gates Mts, Coromandel, Malacca, China; passing two years in the provinces of Carnate, Tanjaour and Maduré; sojourns at Pondicherry, Isle de France, Madagascar, Cape of Good Hope.



The majority in Herb. Paris [P]; dupl. in Herb. Linn. Soc. Lond. [LINN]; Herb. Deless. (Geneva [G]), St Petersb. (= Leningrad [LE]), Copenhagen [C], and with Herb. Bergius in Herb. Roy. Acad. Stockholm [S].

According to Warburg the amount of plants recorded from the Moluccas is only small, and he supposes that many plants recorded from Java were erroneously labelled and in reality originated from the Moluccas and the Philippines.3

Many of his collections later formed a part of Commerson’s herbarium and have occasionally been credited to the latter.4 Manuscript descriptions of Luzon plants with the MSS of Commerson in Libr. Nat. Hist. Mus. Paris.5 Java plants credited to Sonnerat, may have been collected by Commerson.

Also MSS in the Library at Lyons (France) (non vidi).



(1) P. Sonnerat: ‘Voyage à la Nouvelle Guinée’ (Paris 1776, w. 120 pl.); transl. into English: ‘An account of a voyage to the Spice-Islandsand New Guinea’ (London 1781); ditto into German (Leipzig 1777), and into Swedish (Upsala 1786). The title of the book is misleading, as the expedition did not visit New Guinea.

cf. also l.c. sub 2, vol. 3, 1782, p. 60-93 (Journal d’un voyage aux. Moluques).

Cf. also M. Ly-Tio-Fane in ‘Pierre Poivre et l’expansion française dans l’Indo-Pacifique’ (Bull. École Franç. Extr.-Or. 53, 1967, p. 473-478).

(2) P. Sonnerat: ‘Voyage aux Indes orientates et à la Chine, fait par ordre du Roi depuis 1774 jusqu’en 1781’ (Paris 1782, 3 vols; 2nd ed. 1806, 4 vols + atlas: ‘Collection des planches pour servir au voyage aux Indes Orientales et à la Chine’, 140 pl.); transl. into Dutch.

(3) cf. ‘Rumphius Gedenkboek’ (Haarlem 1902) p. 65.

(4) cf. C.B. Robinson in Philip. Journ. Sci. C. Bot. 4, 1909, p. 683.

(5) Labor botanicus in Gallicanum Insulam denuo suspectus, anno 1772. ‘Appendicis loco hic adiiciuntur adumbrationes quaedam plantarum Luzonicarum, quas ad nos detulit D. Sonnerat anno 1772 et cursim descripserat.’


biographical data:

Gard. Chron. 3rd ser. 12, 1892, p. 338 and 378; Bretschneider, Hist. Bot. Discov. China, 1898,p. 120-121; Ann. Sac. Bot. Lyon 31, 1906, p. 34-35; in Lacroix, Notices Historiques sur les Membres et Correspondants de l’Académie d. Sci. etc., 1934, p. 70-75; Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936.