Gustave-Clément Fleury’s Work on Plant Growth and Vegetable Principles in the Nineteenth Century

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Gustave-Clément Fleury (1833–1910) was a French pharmacist who studied the process of germination in a group of seeds having a high content of fatty matter (castor bean, rapeseed, sweet almonds, and spurge) and tried to determine their role in the embryo state. He found that the fatty material not only furnished respiratory matter during germination but also yielded new materials that the plant needed for its growth. Fatty matter transformed first into dextrin and then into organized cellulose. The oxygen of the air burned the excess of carbon and hydrogen present in the fat and in the resinous matter and brought them into the composition of the pertinent carbohydrates. A given weight of oily seeds always acquired oxygen in the course of germination. Fleury determined the composition and properties of a large variety of natural products, among them, white agaric, Polyporus officinalis, common guava, silky oak and
gutta-percha. He also developed an efficient method for determining the amount of morphine in opium and studied the simultaneous fermentation of grape sugar to determine if it was possible to force it simultaneously into glucose and fructose. He also studied the inversion of sugar by means of acids and their salts, and determined the mathematical relations between the variables of the process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-172
Number of pages11
JournalIndian Journal of History of Science
StatePublished - 2019


  • Agaric
  • Germination
  • Guava
  • Morphine
  • Sugars


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