Berlandier, Jean Louis (ca. 1805–1851)

By: Clinton P. Hartmann

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 17, 2016

Jean Louis Berlandier, early naturalist, was born before 1805 between Fort de l'Ècluse, France, and Geneva, Switzerland. He studied botany at the academy in Geneva and at the same time probably served an apprenticeship to a pharmacist. In 1824 his article on the gooseberries, "Grossulariaciae," was published in the Mémoires of the Society of Natural History of Geneva; in 1826 it was included in Auguste Pyrame DeCandolle's Prodromus, a book on the plants of the world.

Chosen by DeCandolle to make botanical collections in Mexico, Berlandier arrived at Pánuco, Vera Cruz, on December 15, 1826. He collected plants in that vicinity before continuing his journey to Mexico City, where he joined, as botanist, the Mexican Boundary Commission, which left Mexico City on November 10, 1827, under the command of Manuel de Mier y Terán. Berlandier made botanical collections around Laredo, Texas, in February 1828 and around San Antonio, Gonzales, and San Felipe in March, April, and May 1828. He fell ill with malaria on May 17 near the site of present Anderson and was sent back to Matamoros, Tamaulipas. He subsequently returned to San Antonio and from November 19 to December 18 accompanied an expedition under José Francisco Ruiz to explore the silver mines on the San Saba River. On February 3, 1829, he accompanied Antonio Elosúa to put down an uprising against the presidio commander at Goliad. The commission was dissolved in November 1829, and Berlandier settled at Matamoros, where he married and became a physician.

He made further botanical and animal collecting trips in Mexico and Texas, one in 1834 to Goliad. He and Rafael Chovell published Diario de viaje de la Comisión de Límites (1850). During the Mexican War Berlandier was in charge of the hospitals in Matamoros and served as an interpreter. He drowned in the San Fernando River near Matamoros in 1851.

Jean Louis Berlandier, Journey to Mexico during the Years 1826 to 1834, trans. Sheila M. Ohlendorf et al. (2 vols., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1980). S. W. Geiser, Naturalists of the Frontier (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1937; 2d ed. 1948). Ohland Morton, Terán and Texas: A Chapter in Texas Mexican Relations (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1948).

  • Exploration
  • Explorers (French)
  • Peoples
  • Swiss
  • Science
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Clinton P. Hartmann, “Berlandier, Jean Louis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

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June 17, 2016