International Association for Lichenology

Georges A. Clauzade

Georges A. Clauzade

Georges Clauzade was born in 1914, in Marseille, France. He graduated in Natural Science in 1935 and became Agrégé de Sciences Naturelles in 1937, after which he began a teaching career in the State School (Lycée) of Apt. There he completed his training as a naturalist, acquiring an extensive knowledge of botany, zoology and geology. Through teaching, his exceptional education was passed on to students while he instructed them on the identification of plants, insects, galls, minerals, and rocks. However, Georges Clauzade realized that he was unable to name most of the lichen specimens collected by his students. Faced with a new challenge, he embarked on the personal quest for a better knowledge of lichens, a group of organisms very well represented in Provence, his native resion.

It should be noted that in post-war France lichenology was not at its best; Bouly de Lesdain, des Abbayes, and Dughy were perhaps the only scientists working in this field in France at that time. After the fading of the golden age of Italian lichenology, the situation was very confused. Harmand’s “Lichens de France” was the only comprehensive source of information. However, not only was this book difficult to obtain, it was also difficult to use for specimen identification. The information and the herbaria for the study of Mediterranean lichens were dispersed and difficult to access, and only Sbarbaro in Italy, Tavares in Portugal and Werner in Morocco focused on Mediterranean lichenology.

In his search for more information, Georges Clauzade visited the Musée des Sciences Naturelles de Paris, where Valia Allorge introduced him to Bouly de Lesdain (1869-1965), who, by this time, was aged but still active, despite the fact that his entire herbarium and library had been burnt to the ground in the air raid over Dunkirk. Under Bouly’s guidance, Georges Clauzade acquired a solid grounding in lichenology.

He then solved a number of taxonomic problems of Mediterranean lichens, mainly in Provence and in SE-France. Between 1948 and 1966, Georges Clauzade collaborated frequently with Y. Rondon, another lichenologist from Provence. Although he was somewhat cut off in Apt, and later in Cavaillon et Gordes, he exchanged material and reprints with leading lichenological centres all over the world. His collection of material on lichens was not limited to the Mediterranean region but covered also the Pyrenees, Mont Aigual, Cévennes and the French Alps.

In 1970, he updated Harmand’s book by recent taxonomic changes together with his own experiences and published a new lichen flora of France: Les Lichens (Ozenda et Clauzade, 1970), which marked the starting point of a new era in Mediterranean lichenology. It was later updated in the Likenoj de Okcidenta Europo (Clauzade et Roux, 1985). This book is still a key reference for determination of lichens and the reason why most Mediterranean lichenologists learned some Esperanto.

Around 1968, he began to train several Mediterranean lichenologists in the field and in the laboratory, e.g. Claude Roux, Juliette Asta, René Rieux and myself, and his “grandsons” Bricaud, Ménard, Coeur, Abbassi-Maaf, Hladun, Gómez-Bolea, etc.

His herbarium, rich in Mediterranean material and incorporating the post-war herbarium of Bouly de Lesdain, is now located in Marseille (Herbarium MARSSJ, Roux).

Georges Clauzades published work includes 53 papers and four books, all of which are essential reading to understand the lichens of SW Europe.

His effort to improve the classification of Mediterranean lichen flora, his publications, his herbarium, his devotion to training lichenologists, and his spirit of collaboration qualify Georges Clauzade as an exceptional candidate for the Acharius Award.

– Xavier Llimona, Barcelona