Fusée Aublet

Fusée Aublet

Fusée Aublet (1720–1788) presented himself as a heroic botanist, overcoming one difficulty after another in his pursuit of specimens. Job requirements included a strong constitution, but also resolve, good humor, and excellent senses—the better to observe effectively. The dangers he encountered include snakes, sinkholes, disease, extreme heat, and untrustworthy traveling companions. The payoff was his publication of several hundred plants that had not yet been documented by a European.

Aublet trained as an apothecary, and his work in the colonies, for the French government and for the French East India Company, as the first director (1753–1767) of the Mon Plaisir garden in present-day Mauritius, aimed primarily to discover new medicines. As a result, he paid more attention than many to the local uses of plants, such that his book has been called a work of ethnobotany. He was also exceptional in his period for his views on slavery. Included in this volume (which also includes descriptions of economically useful plants such as sugar and coffee) is an anti-slavery tract. He also married a slave whose freedom he had purchased from the French East India Company. 


Schiebinger, Londa L. Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

 
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