L'Herbier Vilmorin (Belin
The Vilmorin herbarium and their illustrations shifted in a couple of years from the status of garbage bags to national digitized heritage. William Stearn had told me many years ago his concern that it could be lost. It is one of the very few historical herbaria in the world dealing with cultivated plants. After the herbarium digitization within the e-Recolnat program, let us hope that the illustrations will be digitized as well.
The saga of the Vilmorin family begins before the French Revolution. Philippe-Victoire de Vilmorin, a farmer's son, has a passion for plants and invents in the centre of Paris the scientific trade of seeds. For more than 200 years and six generations, the family is at the vanguard of agronomical and horticultural research in France and in the world. For their works and by passion for plants, the Vilmorin's gather an astonishing herbarium, the only one of its kind to have come to us.
This herbarium was about to disappear at the end of past century, but the enthousiasm of some people put it to light. The town of Verrières-le-Buisson, land of the Vilmorin's from 1815 to 1966, did its best to enhance this exceptional heritage. In 2006, the herbarium, including about 50 000 botanical sheats – among which a herbarium dedicated to Parmentier, an important wheat collection, Japanese watercolours, an album of vegetabless iconography… – has been classified as a Historical Monument.
This book relates the exceptional contribution of the Vilmorin's to the breeding of food and ornamental plants. It is illustrated with about 100 plates, among the most beautiful ones of this remarkable herbarium.
Christine Laurent, trained as a historian, was scientific journalist from 1985 to 2000. Since 2001, she is employed by the Mairie de Paris and works now in the direction of parks and environment.
Photographies are by Johannes von Saurma, author of many reportages around the world in the European medias. Since 1990, his research on the world of workers, artisans and shows is the theme of exhibitions in musea and galleries, and publications.
Christine Laurent, 2015. L'herbier Vilmorin. Deux siècles de passion pour les plantes comestibles et d'ornement. Belin. 192 p. ISBN 978-2-7011-9283-3 29.90 € [The Vilmorin herbarium. Two centuries of passion for food and ornamental plants].
19 November 2015