Rene Loniche Desfontaines, a French botanist, born at Tremblay, Brittany, about 1752, died in Paris, Nov. 16, 1833. After studying at the college of Rennes, he went to Paris to prepare for the medical profession, but devoted himself chiefly to botany. In 1782 he received his degree as doctor, and in the next year wrote a paper on the organs of fructification in plants, which procured his admission into the academy of sciences. He then, at the expense of the academy, set out for the Barbary states, and during two years explored the natural history, especially the flora, of the north of Africa. He published the result in the Flora Atlantica (2 vols., Paris, 1798), which described 1,600 spe-cies of plants. 300 of which were new. After his return to Paris in 1785 he was appointed by Buffon to succeed Lemonnier as professor in the jardin des plantes, and from this time was employed in the duties of that office. His lectures treated of the physiology and anatomical structure of plants, rather than of their nomenclature. He was the first to indicate the difference in growth and structure between the monocotyledonous and the dicotyledonous plants.
He made a botanical catalogue of the jardin des plantes (1804; 3d ed. in Latin, 1829), continued the Collection des velins du museum d'histoire naturelle, which had been begun for Gaston of Orleans, published works on arboriculture and the artificial fecundation of plants, and wrote numerous memoirs.