Australian flora in France | State Library of New South Wales

Australian flora in France

In the 1700s, French interest in Pacific exploration rivalled that of the British. The La Perouse expedition encountered the British colonists in Botany Bay only a few days after the First Fleet’s arrival in 1788. When La Perouse and his ships disappeared without trace, explorer d’Entrecasteaux was sent to find them. His expedition also undertook scientific studies and the naturalist Labillardiere published an account of the discoveries in 1800. Labillardiere, one of France’s foremost botanists, spent the following years studying the New Holland specimens, producing a work dedicated to the flora of New Holland in 1804-05.
 > View selected plates from Labillardiere’s publications



French scientific expeditions into the Pacific continued despite the upheavals of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. One of the most important was led by Nicolas Baudin in 1800. The plants collected on that expedition, particularly the live specimens, ended up in some of France’s foremost botanical gardens, including the Jardin des Plantes and Malmaison.
 > Discover some of the Australian plants grown by Empress Josephine at Malmaison

Josephine & Malmaison


One of the most famous botanical artists of all, time, Pierre-Joseph Redoute, worked for many years under the patronage of Empress Josephine. Although renowned for his beautiful images of roses and lilies, Redoute also made many illustrations of Australian plants, for scientists such as Labillardiere and from the growing exotics at Malmaison.
 > Explore the botanical art of Pierre-Joseph Redoute

Pierre-Joseph Redoute 


The French interest in Australian natural history in the early decades of the colony certainly matched that of the British in terms of expeditions, scientific study and publications. Even during periods of political animosity, French and English botanists managed to communicate and collaborate – Joseph Banks in particular was a strong supporter of French botanical endeavour.



Metrosideros glauca from Description des plantes rares cultivées à Malmaison et à Navarre, by Aimé Bonpland, Paris: De l'Impr. de P. Didot l'aîné, 1813
Printed volume MRB/ F581/ B 
This plate accompanied the first published description of this plant, now known as Callistemon glaucus. Plants were brought back to France by Nicolas Baudin and grown in Empress Josephine's garden.



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