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Père Paul Guillaume Farges (1844 - 1912)

French missionary and naturalist. Born at Monclar-de-Quercy, Tarn-et-Garonne. He was sent to China in 1867 and remained stationed in north-east Sichuan until 1903. Although he had always nurtured an interest in the local flora and fauna, it was not until 1892 that he started to collect herbarium specimens in earnest. During the eleven years before he moved south to Chongqing, he collected and preserved over 4,000 specimens.

In 1897, in a shipment of seed he sent to M Maurice L. de Vilmorin he included 37 from an unusual tree that had caught his eye. M. de Vilmorin had been collecting seed and raising trees from China on for years on his large estate, and had been the recipient of many such parcels from the missionaries. The seed appeared to be dead, as nothing grew for more than a year, but finally a small sprout appeared in 1899, the same month that E. H. Wilson landed in Hong Kong on his mission to rediscover that very same tree - Davidia invulocrata.

Decaisnea fargesii - the Blue Bean tree, named in honour of Père Farges

Wilson would go on to collect and introduce many of the species Père Farges had originally collected and recorded, many of which were ornamental and would prove popular in western gardens. Père Farges continued his work in China until his death in Chogqing in 1912

Abies fargesii, Arisaema fargesii, Bashania fargesii, Catalpa fargesii, Clematis fargesii, Cypripedium fargesii, Decaisnea fargesii, Paris fargesii, Paulownia fargesii, Rhododendron fargesii are just a few of the hundreds of species that Père Farges discovered, many of which are still rare in cultivation today

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