L’Alguier d’Agathe de Gourcuff, a singular herbarium

L’Alguier d’Agathe de Gourcuff is an herbarium of seaweeds, conserved in the Bibliothèque d’Etude of Brest. Realized in 1838, this object is presented as a book containing 60 species of seaweeds collected at Le Pérennou, on the banks of the Odet river, in the country of Quimper. Each species is presented by an etiquette with the seaweed name in French and not in Latin, which is unusual for a scientific work-like. However, the author, a women, Mademoiselle Agathe de Gourcuff, mentions its main source, the Botanicum Gallicum, which is a book in Latin version, that means she was able to read that language. Moreover, she communicates names of former and contemporary authors that she read in order to make her herbarium.

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Meeting with those singular artefacts, that have not always contained only plants…

Nowdays we see herballs as simple collections of  plants realized in a scientific or playful purpose. In fact, those artefacts tell us many things about sciences, our societies and history. We can only satisfy to contemplate but if we take time to explore them, they show us their secrets…

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Fascinating plants between Earth and Sea

Seaweeds (in Latin Alga) are vegetal chlorophyll organisms, which can be aquatics and terrestrials.

Opposite to terrestrial plants, seaweeds don’t have any roots, flowers, stems, sheets.

They are organized in three parts:

  • The frond : the raised part of the seaweed;
  • The stipe : false stem which link the holdfast and the frond;
  • The holdfast is like the feet of seaweeds, it permits to stick on the rock for instance.
  • Those parts consist the thallus.
Photo prise au Trez-Hir (Plougonvelin) le 20 octobre 2016, par Julien Hageaux, Appareil Photographique : Canon EOS 600D

Photo takes in Trez-Hir (Plougonvelin) the 20 october 2016, by Julien Hageaux, with Canon EOS 600D

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