A Living Legacy: The Botanical Garden of Geneva
1778 Today is the birthday of the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle.
Candolle named hundreds of plants. His seven-volume monumental work, Prodromus, was an effort to characterize all of the plant families and establishing the basis for the science of botany. He only finished two volumes. Augustin’s Candolle descendants would finish Prodromus after extensive and detailed research. His famous son, Alphonse, was born the year Linnaeus died. In 1855, Alphonse was awarded the Linnean gold medal.
Augustin’s grandson, Casimir, was devoted to the study of the pepper plant family or the Piperaceae ("PIE-per-aye-see-ee"). The most commonly-known species in the family is Piper nigrum ("PIE-purr NYE-grum") - a flowering vine that gives us peppercorns that are ground to become black Pepper. The biggest consumer of Pepper, at almost 20% of the world’s total Pepper crop, is the United States. During the middle ages, pound for pound peppercorns was worth more than silver.
Augustin de Candolle’s great-grandson, Richard Émile, was also a botanist. He died unexpectedly at the age of 51. After his death, the enormous Candolle family herbarium and Library - built over four generations was donated to the city of Geneva.
Augustin’s great living legacy is the Botanical Garden of Geneva.