Hippolyte-Coste’s botanical room, named after its founder, nicknamed “the priest of flowers”, in Saint-Jean-et-Saint-Paul, was distinguished.
This is the first in Aveyron. The botanical space Hippolyte-Coste, nicknamed the “priest of flowers”, located in the village of Saint-Jean-et-Saint-Paul, has officially received the Maison des Illustres label awarded by the Ministry of Culture.
It is also the first prize associated with scientific culture. This distinction, created in 2011, aims to preserve and transmit the memory of famous personalities in France.
A unique flora
By decision of the Prefect of Occitanie and following an advisory opinion of the Regional Commission for Cultural Heritage and Architecture, which met in December 2021 in the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs, this high place of botany is today distinguished thanks to the masterful work done by its founder.
The well-known priest and botanist, Aveyronnais Hippolyte Coste, born in 1858 and died in 1924 in Saint-Paul-des-Fonts, where he is also buried, is “a renowned scientist who has been awarded numerous prizes by the Academy of Sciencesexplains Jean-Yves Concé, president of the association Journées Coste, which has been working to preserve this heritage since 2008. It was during his studies at the small seminary in Belmont-sur-Rance that he was introduced to botanical science. When he left to enter the great seminary, he already had a herbarium of 800 sheets.
A man of nature, when he became curator of Saint-Paul-des-Fonts, he found himself here, at the foot of Larzac, in his element. “He could come and go between service in his parish and his search as a botanist. Since 1886 he has already been in the Botanical Society of France because he was discovered and sponsored. He had an extraordinary eye. He multiplied the excursions and he published a lot .”
Noticed by a Parisian publisher from his herbarium of more than 60,000 plates, kept by the University of Montpellier and digitized, he composed a descriptive and illustrated flora of France, Corsica and neighboring countries, published in booklet form from 1901 to 1906.
This flora, unprecedented at the time, was very successful. It contains 4,354 entries, each with a precise outline. The book also offers dichotomous keys for naming plants found in nature. This flora of France remains, 120 years later, a handy tool to establish or confirm an identification. “He discovered many new plants and had advanced the enumeration of French plants.”
Centenary in 2024
The marked house is not his birthplace. This is the cure for the parish of Saint-Paul-des-Fonts, owned by the town hall. Today, the Hippolyte-Coste botanical room, inaugurated in 2008, occupies the rectory’s ground floor and echoes the life of research and exchange of the famous scientist. “It’s an interpretive and educational center. It’s an exceptional space.”
In 2024, the centenary of Hippolyte Coste’s disappearance will be celebrated. “We are in the process of writing together with Christian Bernard the biography of Coste, which does not exist. There are many articles about him, but no global vision of the character.”, announces Jean-Yves Concé. It’s done now.
24 marked places in Occitanie
Do you know the brand Maison des Illustres? It sets aside places that celebrate personalities who have made their mark in the world of plastic and visual arts, performance and musical creation.
It also honors those whose work belongs to the history of thought and literature or has promoted the development of science and industry. Finally, it distinguishes the men and women whose action has been characterized by a strong commitment to the defense of the values of the republic, the fight against slavery and the emancipation of people.
In short, these are the homes of the great men and women of France.