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Herbier de Jean-Henri Fabre © Philippe Abel - MNHN

The herbarium

Jean-Henri Fabre’s Herbarium is a precious record of the history of the region’s flora. The restoration of this Herbarium was performed by the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle; more than 13,000 sheets were restored and digitised and are accessible in the Museum’s database.

The Herbarium comprises specimens of Mediterranean and Corsican plants.
Fabre began his collection at the age of 18, and continued to add to it through exchanges with naturalists and botanists (Esprit Requien, Bernard Verlot, Théodore Delacour, Henri Lecoq and more than 100 other collectors).

 

Herbier de Jean-Henri Fabre © Philippe Abel - MNHN
Herbiers, tels qu'il étaient stockés avant rénovation © P. Abel - MNHN

Inventaire et restauration

Beginning in 2000 the Herbarium has been included in the program to safeguard and restore the Sérignan property, and has been integrated in its entirety and by all departments concerned.
It has undergone disinfection, overall examination, a volume-by-volume inventory, restoration and computerisation to prevailing standards.

It was estimated to contain 20,000 specimens in 1997. For the phanerogams, representing 10,100 specimens mostly collected in the 1870s/1880s, restoration, taxonomic revision and computerisation are complete.

Most of the samples were collected in the Vaucluse. However, certain ones are from the Hautes-Alpes and Corsica, where for four years Fabre held the post of professor of physics at the Collège Impérial in Ajaccio. Processing of the collection of bryophytes, with a total of 850 specimens, is also complete.

Work continues with the collection of lichens and mushrooms, in which 96 types have been identified, further increasing the scientific value of the collection.

Planche de l'herbier JH Fabre © P. Abel - MNHN
Planche de l'herbier JH Fabre © P. Abel - MNHN
Planche de l'herbier JH Fabre © P. Abel - MNHN
Planche de l'herbier JH Fabre © P. Abel - MNHN

DIGITISATION

All information from the restored items (dates, places, collectors, taxons, etc.) are recorded in the SONNERAT database shared by several herbaria. It will enable:

  • compiling a catalogue accessible via the Internet;
  • improved management of the material (organising storage, printing labels and monitoring lending);
  • extraction of data to suit researchers’ needs.

In parallel with this work, taxonomic nomenclature is gradually updated as the specimens are entered into the database. Eventually, the most interesting specimens will be scanned to refine the data.

Conservation

The Herbarium is no longer on view in the Study, but is stored in a vault-room whose temperature and hygrometry are under full control.

Access to this Herbarium is now restricted to researchers, although a few sheets are still on view in the Study.

Herbiers tels qu'ils sont stockés depuis leur rénovation © P. Gromelle - MNHN