Aimee Bonpland


July 5, 2022

Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland (actually Goujaud; born August 29, 1773 in La Rochelle, France; † May 11, 1858 in Santa Ana (now Bonpland), Departamento Paso de los Libres, Corrientes Province, Argentina) was a French naturalist. Its official botanical author abbreviation is "Bonpl.".


Aimé Bonpland was the son of the physician Simon-Jacques Goujaud-Bonpland (born around 1742) and Marguerite-Olive Goujaud-Bonpland, née de la Coste. Bonpland made a voyage in the Atlantic Ocean as a surgeon on board a frigate that was cruising against the English in 1793, then attended the medical school in Paris and traveled to Spain and America from 1799 to 1804 with Alexander von Humboldt. Both researchers supported each other on this epochal journey for the natural sciences. Among other things, Bonpland collected over 60,000 plant specimens, of which around 3,500 species had not yet been described. Nevertheless, in the public perception of the expedition, he still stands in the shadow of Alexander von Humboldt. On his return in August 1804, Bonpland was appointed director of the imperial botanical gardens in Navarre and Malmaison, which he described in his book Description des plantes rares, cultivées à Navarre et à Malmaison (1813, with 64 copper plates). At the same time he published the Plantes équinoxiales recueillies en Mexique (1805-1818, 2 volumes) and the monograph des mélastomacées (1806-1823, 2 volumes, with 120 copper plates). Karl Sigismund Kunth (1788–1850) edited other parts of the collections in the Nova genera et species plantarum. The fall of Emperor Napoleon so shook Bonpland that he no longer wanted to stay in Europe. With seeds of various plant species in his luggage, he embarked for Buenos Aires in 1816, where he was appointed professor of natural sciences. After the rulers there had tried to get rid of Bonplands, he moved to Paraguay in October 1820. There he turned his attention to Paraguay tea (mate) and planted a large plantation in Santa Ana. In the middle of the plantation he founded an Indian colony. Fearing for his monopoly in the tea trade, the dictator of Paraguay, José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (1766-1840), had the plantation attacked and destroyed by 800 soldiers in 1821, the Indians chased out and Bonpland taken to Asunción as a prisoner. In vain did Alexander von Humboldt do everything he could to free his friend Bonpland. The governments of Brazil and Great Britain also interceded on his behalf. Only on May 12, 1829 Bonpland was released from his captivity. After that he lived in Brazil in a small town south of the mouth of the Rio Piratini not far from the Lucas Pass. From there he moved to São Borja in 1831, where he had bought a small property. He raised a number of crops there, particularly orange trees, and a flock of Merino sheep. After temporarily planning to return to Europe with his collections, he moved to Corrientes around 1850, where he owned an estate given to him by the Paraguayan state for the merits he had acquired in founding a museum in the capital . He could not carry out his plans for further publications and an improvement in medical care for the inhabitants and agricultural production due to a lack of funds. He died in poverty in Santa Ana, Paso de los Libres Department, Corrientes Province, northeastern Argentina; he had lived in the village since 1853. The village was renamed Bonpland in his honor.


In 1857 Bonpland was elected a member of the Leopoldina Academy and a corresponding member of the Académie des sciences. From 1808 he was a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The plant genus