Fr. A. Sauliere SJ (1885-1966)
Augustine Saulière Augustine Sauliere (1885-1966) leader of field Botanists in the Palni hills had the collections named at the Calcutta and Kew herbaria during 1913-1914. Details of Sauliere’s correspondence on the flowering plants sent to Kew are available at Kew. A Sauliere (1914) published a check list. But a duplicate set of his historical collection is separately maintained at the Anglade Institute of Natural History (SHC), with the originals being at either Calcutta or Kew. In 1914, Sauliere began sending specimens of flowerless plants as well to Kew, first from the Palni hills, and later from Darjeeling Himalayas (Kurseong), where he had moved for further studies. A list of ferns is given in the Kew “Plant determination lists”
Fr. G. Foreau SJ (1882-1967)
Arriving at Shembaganur from France in 1906, Eugene Armand-dit Georges Foreau (1882-1967) joined a team of four other amateurs in 1908 for collecting flowerless plants, especially mosses. The moss collections were named by Jules Cardot (1860- 1934) and Robert Andre Leopold Potier de laVarde (1878-1961) of the Paris Museum and by Hugh Neville Dixon (1861-1944) of the Natural History Museum, London. Many of these mosses were new to science: 4 genera, 95 species and 11 varieties were described as new by Potier de la Varde (1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1928a, 1928b) and Dixon and Potier de la Varde (1927, 1930). Foreau (1930) published a conspectus of the mosses of the then Presidency of Madras, bringing together the findings of the five-man team just mentioned. He also collected from outside the Palni hills: Courtallam, Mundanthurai, Sirumalai hills and Madras in Tamilnadu State; Kumili in Kerala State; and Manglaore in Karnataka State. He concluded with a consolidated checklist of an impressive 424 species (Foreau 1961, 1964).
Foreau’s name has been so closely associated with mosses that his work on related groups has been overlooked. As for algae, the Frenchman pierre Fremy (1880-1944), who studied his collections, concluded: The collections of Fr. Foreau are an exceptional contribution to the knowledge of the Cyanophyceae of South India: in fact they consist of 31 species verities or forms are here described as new to science (Fremy 1927, 1931, 1942). Foreau also collected mushrooms and other fungi, but neither the collections nor any records are known. Lichens collected by foreau 1980) (Moreau 1952).
Furthering Foreau’s work on mosses, Matthew compared his original collections in both London and Paris museums with the Indian holdings, and published a comprehensive account of the typifications (Matthew 1973). However, Foreau’s dream of a moss flora of India is yet to be realized. Mention should be made also of a collection of liverworts collected by Rapinat and named by Ram Saran Chopra (1904-?) (Chopra 1930).
Fr. A. Anglade SJ (1873-1953)
Aloysius (Louis) Anglade (1873-1953) took over upon Sauliere;s departure from Shembaganur and the correspondence is in the Kew Plant determination lists continued the botanical work of Sauliere. A significant contribution of watercolour portraits of the plants of the Palni hills came from Anglade who prepared 1,910 portraits (30 x 24cm) of most of the plants of the hills. Using a simple glass prism for his camera lucida to size the plant to suit the paper in hand, he seems to have done one portrait each morning. Executed even before the publication of the flora of the Nilgiri and Pulney hill-tops (P.F. Fyson 1915, 1920) and Flora of the Presidency of Madras (Gamble & Fischer 1915-1936), these have since helped amateurs not accustomed to consulting a herbarium to easily identify the plants they have collected.
Fr.E. Gombert SJ (1866-1948)
Emile Gombert (1866-1948). Gombert made 114 orchid portraits on 36 x 24 cm sheets, often with floral parts mounted alongside, which are still intact Edgar Wafflart There is a collection of plant portraits at the Rapinat Herbarium (RHT), Tiruchirapalli, prepared under similar inspiration by four Jesuit illustrators: Alfred Rapinat (1892-1959) Joseph Pallithanam (1915-1984) Edgar Wafflart (1884-1960) and Gombert. Of the 1,675 portraits, Rapinat made 1,312, Pallithanam 212, Wafflart 121 and Gombert 30.
Fr. A. Rapinat SJ (1892-1959)
Fr. Alfred. Rapinat SJ (1892-1959) pioneered the teaching of natural sciences in St.Joseph’s College (started in 1844) and his collections formed the nucleus of the herbarium.An extract from the inspection report of the University that recommended affiliation for the B.A. Botany Course in 1937: “The present annual grant for the expenses of the Botany department is Rs. 1,000/-. If the B.A Main Botany classes also are to be opened, this annual grant should be raised to Rs.1,500/-. The Botany Library is satisfactory. The College garden is very good… ‘The Professor of Botany is the Rev. A. Rapinat, SJ. He does not possess a University Degree, but has had a very good training at the Shembaganur Jesuit College. His training is of a sufficiently high standard to qualify him to teach Systematic Botany for the B.A and the B.Sc. Main and Subsidiary classes’ From such humble beginnings, Fr. Rapinat built up the department with such quiet efficiency that when he left for Loyola College, Madras, in 1948, this was one of the premier botany departments in the University. Fr. L.M. Balam, SJ. was in charge during 1948-62, and handed over charge to K M Matthew in 1967, when organization of the herbarium began. Concluding this early phase, mention should be made of two teacher lay colleagues of Fr. Rapinat who made collections: R. Ananthakrishnan and V. Ramasami, as also the supporting staff, K.M. Jegannathan, S.P. Susainathan and A. Savarimuthu.
Fr. M. Pallithanam SJ (1915-1984)
Joseph M Pallithanam, S.J. (1915-1984), a student of A Rapinat, S.J., took his graduate and postgraduate degrees in Botany from the University of Madras (I rank) in 1943 and 1946 respectively. Though he joined the teaching staff of Loyola College, Chennai (Madras) in 1951, his research programmes had to wait till 1955 owing to teaching and administrative responsibilities. When he was awarded the Ph. D. degree of the University of Bombay in 1963, he had on hand a high quality floristic work. Single-minded attention to research was the hallmark of these years: frequent travel to the field over 400 km away; meticulous planning of exploration; unrelenting and exhaustive collecting (his album of fields photographs is ample proof); detailed recording of data; a Herculean daily schedule of analysis of collections; checking the identity of plants in the relevant herbaria; and careful organization of data into keys and original descriptions. Over 10,000 mounted specimens supplemented by spirit collections, precious field books and some 150 plates of illustrations are lasting testimony to such dedication.
Fr. K.M. Matthew SJ (1930-2004)
K.M. Matthew, S.J., B.A., M.Sc.a, M.Sc., (U.K.), Ph.D., the Founder Director of RHT, Fellow of the Linnean Society (Lodon), is a committed systematic botanist from south India. During 1958-83, he spent 863 days in field botany and accumulated 48,000 collections, His earlier books on The Exotic Flora of Kodaikanal and An Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Kurseong pertained to two extremities of the Indian subcontinent. The Flora of the Tamilnadu Carnatic in three volumes has taken his full attention from 1975 including four years’ leave from teaching and one trip abroad. He believed that a new Flora of India that could effectively replace The Flora of British India completed in 1897 should be a high priority for Indian plant taxonomy. No easy task this, because of the massive amount of data that have accumulated during this century that await reviewing before being incorporated into the new Flora of India. This work, technically called monography, should be interdisciplinary and synthetic with recourse to all new data and making use of modern techniques. Such a work is truly an obligation to international botany from India, the home of a Rich and varied flora. Such a national enterprise will neatly coincide with the urgent work of nature conservation
His overseas experience (1971- 1974, 1982) had been centred on Kew (U. K.) and leiden (Netherlands) form where he had visited all the major Europe herbaria. He was a number of several international botanical societies and reviewer for periodicals
Fr. Manickam SJ (1944-2012)
He was a renowned pteridologist.His chief contribution was on Ferns in the Western Ghats of South India, south of Palaghat gap (239 spp) constituted about one-third of the fern flora of India (about 700 spp). Most of them occur on streams and stream banks in evergreen forests and sholas above 800 m while some occur on exposed roadsides and clearings. In evergreen forests above 1800m ferns form the dominant ground flora and provide shelter for angiosperm seedlings. Beddome (1864) recorded 211 species of ferns in his Ferns of Southern India but his exploration of ferns was done mostly on Anamalais, Nilgiris and some parts of Kerala. He has recorded very few species from Tirunelveli hills from where Fr. Manickam had collected more than 150 species some of which are endemic to South India. After Beddome (1864) no comprehensive floristic account had appeared on the entire Southern India.
Fr. S.John Britto SJ (1946)
Dr.S.John Britto SJ. FLS., (London)and UGC emeritus professor taught in the department of Plant Biology & Plant Biotechnology at St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous), Tiruchirappalli, at premier institution of higher education in India. He was also the Prinicpal,of the same college and presently Director of the Rapinat Herbarium. His research interests range from biodiversity, floristics, vegetation mapping using Remote sensing and GIS, and Micro propagation of endangered plants. He has successfully completed several major research projects funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, DST, DOS, DBT, and the UGC. He was the recipient of the state level award for innovative research on Environment and Bio diversity for the year 2002.