Foremost students
of Malpighiaceae
Antoine Laurent de Jussieu

12 April 1748 — 17 September 1836

The French botanist Antoine Laurent de Jussieu was an influential proponent of a classification designated the "natural system," which eventually displaced the the "sexual system" of Linnaeus. The "sexual system" relies on ordering genera by the number of stamens and styles, whereas in the "natural system" taxa are grouped according to shared characters of flowers, fruits, and vegetative structures.

Jussieu was introduced to this concept by his uncles, Antoine de Jussieu, successor of Tournefort, and Bernard de Jussieu. The latter oversaw the gardens of the Trianon, where he arranged plantings such that genera perceived as related were grouped to reflect a "natural system." Jussieu's talents were recognized early in his career. He survived the vicissitudes of the French Revolution and became professor of botany at the newly named Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris (formerly the Jardin du Roi). His son Adrien de Jussieu, who succeeded him in that post in 1826, published the first monograph of the Malpighiaceae.

In his seminal work, "Genera plantarum" (1789), A. L. de Jussieu assigned genera to "orders," which are equivalent to the families of today. He placed the three Linnaean genera Banisteria, Malpighia, and Triopterys (=Mascagnia), in his order "Malpighiae," now the family Malpighiaceae. Like Linnaeus, he did not see specimens of Thryallis (=Galphimia). Because Linnaeus's description mistakenly stated that only one style is present, Jussieu listed "Thryallis" in the order "Acera" but as intermediate to the "Malpighiae" and noted that it differed from these only in the presence of a single style instead of three styles.