Biography of Mariano Lagasca y Segura (1776-1839)

Spanish botanist born in Encinacorba (Zaragoza) in 1776 and died in Barcelona on 26 June 1839. He/She was director of the Botanical Garden of Madrid and Professor of agriculture, and noted for his studies in Botany, natural history and history of science.

Son of well-to-do farmers, parents destined you to follow the ecclesiastical career, with what it was in disagreement since he/she began her studies. In House of Antonio Verdejo, Canon of the Cathedral of Tarragona, he/she studied philosophy and humanities. There he/she met Antonio Martí Franqués, who made him interested in Botany and accompanied him on his first excursions.

Determined to study medicine, in 1795 he/she joined Zaragoza where he/she made the first course. Born of his interest in Botany, the following year he/she moved to Valencia in order to attend classes of Botany of Vicente a. Lorente in the Botanical Garden. In Valencia, where he/she remained until the year 1800, in addition to studying medicine he/she devoted himself with enthusiasm to Botany; He/She toured herborizando throughout Valencia, Murcia and neighboring provinces. At this time he/she met Alexander von Humboldt.

In order to further his studies he/she moved to Madrid. During the journey, on foot, he/she is devoted to plants to expand their already rich Herbarium. Shortly after his arrival, he/she met Antonio José Cavanilles, who was excited about his Herbarium, which found two grasses new that included his Icones, becoming her protector ever since.

When in 1801 he/she was appointed Cavanilles Professor of the Botanical Garden of Madrid, he/she did that Mariano Lagasca and José Demetrio Rodríguez were appointed his assistants. Since then, Lagasca collaborated with great dedication in the reorganization of the garden, in education, and began to regularly publish their work in the annals of science. In 1803, he/she was sent by the Government to plants in order to make a Spanish flora. In Asturias, it picked up more than two thousand species, including Lichen of Iceland, which up to then had to import in large quantities for use in medicine.

Shortly after his return to Madrid, was Antonio José Cavanilles. Very affected by the sudden loss of his teacher, wrote his historic praise in varieties of science, literature and arts. With Francisco Antonio Zea, who succeeded Cavanilles in the Chair, he/she continued as an Assistant and in 1807 the square was given property of Professor of the Botanical Garden of Madrid. During those years was published in varieties of science, literature and arts descriptions of new plants found in Asturias. Adopted, in their lessons for the management of the plant, the method of the natural families of Agustín Pyramus de Candolle and contributed to its diffusion in Spain.

During the reign of José Bonaparte, was offered the leadership of the Botanic Garden of Madrid, charge that did not accept, enlisting instead as a physician of the army which fought against the French. With his regiment travelled from the South of Spain, playing a great activity as a physician, especially to declare an epidemic of yellow fever that quickly spread throughout that part of the country. In order to prevent infection and combat the disease, he/she published several brochures aimed at informing the population about the hygienic measures that should be taken. This did not prevent him to continue herborizando and give the stamp in Orihuela, in 1811, the first issue of natural amenities of the Spains, that first described the genus of the Chaenontophoraea, who recognized in the Compositae family and which subsequently Agustín P. de Candolle called "Labiatifloras". From that time, his interest focused mainly on the study of cereals, which already had occupied in their previous excursions, in order to collaborate with Simón de Rojas Clemente in the making of a Spanish Ceres.

To the restored peace returned to Madrid as director and first Professor of botanical garden. He/She published the Elenchus plantarum, interesting to contain lichens and other cryptogram which grew spontaneously in the garden. With Simón de Rojas Clemente, José Demetrio Rodríguez and Donato García published several works, mostly descriptive, and was responsible for the reissue which made the economic society of friends of the country in Madrid, of agriculture Gabriel Alonso de Herrera, to which were added interesting original work. With all these publications his prestige was increasing and was commissioned by the Government review and write the Flora of Santa Fe of Bogotá with materials that were stored in the Botanical Garden. He/She participated in the restructuring of education and in 1820 he/she was elected Deputy to Cortes. However, this career was abruptly interrupted when in 1823 was knocked down the liberal government. Lagasca, like so many others, had to leave Spain and you refugiares in London. During the journey from Madrid to Cadiz, part of his flight waiting for events, destroyed him his Herbarium, part of his library and manuscripts of Spanish Flora.

In London it was very well welcomed by English botanist. It herborizó several times with William Hooker and thanks to him, Robert Brown and to John Lindley, among others, had Chelsea garden to cultivate cereals and was named partner of Linnean Society waiving usual fees. He/She published some articles in leisure activities of Spaniards emigrated, American repertoire and Gardener s Magazine, but others might not appear for not having enough subscriptions; It was also unpublished translation of la Théorie élémentaire de botanique de Agustín P. de Candolle. According to Miguel Colmeiro arranged and illustrated the handwritten works of Miguel Barnades, Specimen Florae Hispanicae. He/She participated in the Foundation and was a professor at the Ateneo Spanish in London, whose purpose was to provide free education to the children of migrants.

On the death of Fernando VII, he/she could go back to Madrid again as Professor of the Botanical Garden. Here was named Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Museum of Natural history and awarded the Grand Cross of Isabel la Catolica. However, disappointment with the State in which it found Spanish Botany and the attacks of his enemies, who denied his participation in the Spanish Ceres, contributed to weaken his health. Abandoned their activities moved to Barcelona, where he/she died shortly afterwards.



See Colmeiro, M: the Botany and the botanical of the Hispano-lusitana Peninsula. Bibliographic and biographical studies, Madrid, M. Rivadeneyra, 1858, p. 127.ademas of articles in annals of science and later in varieties of science, literature and arts, include: natural amenities of the Spains, or several dissertations on spontaneous natural productions, 1st part, Orihuela, IMP. of the Board, 1811¸2 2nd part, Madrid, J. Ibarra, 1821."News of the discovery of the Icelandic Lichen in the Puerto de Pajares and vicinity of the Collegiate Church of Arvas, Asturias, and indication that must exist in bulls mountains of the Peninsula"in Gaceta de Madrid, July 29, 1803. Elenchus plantarum, quae in Horto Regio botanical Matritensi colebantur anno MDCCCXV, Madrid, Real, 1816. Generates et species plantarum, quae sunt novae aut, aut nondum recte congnoscuntur, Madrid, IMP. Real, 1816. Report on the barrilleras plants of Spain, Madrid, IMP. Real, 1817."Description of two new found on the contours of Seville, and news of other roads that are bred with them plants"in newspaper the surgical society of Cádiz, 4 (1824), 1-5. Observations may act the natural family of the aparasoladas plants, London, MacIntosh, 1825.


COLMEIRO, M: the Botany and the botanical of the Hispano-lusitana Peninsula. Bibliographic and biographical studies, Madrid, M. Rivadeneyra, 1858, pp. 191-197.carreno, Eduardo: "Notice sur vie et les Écrits du botaniste anglais D. Mariano La Gasca" in Annales de Sciences Naturelles (Botanique), 14 (1840), 146-161.yanez, Agustín: historical praise of D. Mariano La Gasca, Barcelona, 1842.

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