Clovis Thorel

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Clovis Thorel, was born in 1833 at Vers-Hébécourt in the Somme and died in 1911 in Bagnoles de l’Orne. He was a botanist, explorer, and doctor of medicine.

He decided to attend medical school at the age of 17, ignoring the advice of his parents – modest textile workers – who preferred that he enter commerce.

He financed his own studies in preparing to enter chemistry. He became an intern at a hospital in Amiens.

On the death of his mother in 1861, he became an assistant-surgeon 3rd class in the Imperial Navy. He was immediately assigned to Cochin, where he worked in the Saigon Hospital and devoted his spare time to botany.

In 1866, he was assigned to participate in the Mekong Exploration Commission. As a result of this, in 1868, he was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by Napoleon III.

On his return to France in 1870, he presented in Paris for his doctoral dissertation in medicine based on the notes he compiled during the expedition.

These listed the diseases observed in the countries traversed and also described the exotic plants encountered and their therapeutic properties. He was responsible for writing the ethnographic part of the official record as well as the chapter on agriculture and botany.

He left the navy in 1871, when the Third Republic was established and opened a medical practice in the district of Passy. He had eventually hoped to publish a book on the flora of Indochina but was forced to abandon this project due to lack of funds.

In 1906, he devoted the nine volumes of his herbarium manuscripts, describing 4203 species, to the Natural History Museum of Paris.

For the last twenty years of his life, he devoted himself to a study of the thermal properties of the great source of Bagnoles de l’Orne, where he died in 1911. He was buried at the cemetery of Pere Lachaise.

Further information: Jardin Secrets

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