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Plant Focus

Quercus peninsularis
A Red Oak (Section Lobatae) endemic to inland ranges of northern Baja California, Mexico

Frère Sennen's Names

The author Sennen crops up regularly among the Spanish oaks. He described a number of species from Spain and had an eye for hybrids, a trait that can also be seen in work he did in other genera.


Frère Sennen (given name Étienne Marcellin Granié-Blanc1) was a French botanist and friar of the Catholic order Frères des écoles chrétiennes (Brothers of Christian Schools). He carried out great floristic explorations on the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco, publishing numerous nomenclatural proposals. His main work was the Exsiccata2 “Plantes d’Espagne”, and he distributed hundreds of thousands of herbarium sheets among the main European institutions of that time. He interacted with other botanists such as Carlos Pau, Hippolyte Jacques Coste, and Pius Font i Quer. In addition, within the Christian Schools, he had colleagues who collected for exsiccata such as Frère Mauricio (Morocco), Frère Elias (Castile), Frère Bianor (Balearic Islands), and Frère Jerome (Valencia and Murcia), among others.

Frère Sennen was born on July 13, 1861 in Moussac, in Coupiac (Aveyron, France). He died on January 16, 1937, at the age of 75 at the Maison des Frères des écoles chrétiennes de Saint-Louis-La-Calade, in Marseille.

French period

Based for many years at the École Chrétiennes de Beziers in southern France, Frère Sennen collected a vast number of botanical specimens in the Languedoc. He published work on the flora of Beziers with Abbé Hippolyte-Jacques Coste (1858–1924).

Recognizing the personal merits of Frère Sennen, the Société botanique de France (Botanical Society of France) admitted him in 1894, first as a simple active member, then as an honorary member. Later, he was elected vice-president of this society, by a unanimous vote of the members.

Catalonian period

As a consequence of the law of secularization of education, Frère Sennen had to leave France in 1904. He was first sent to teach at the Colegio La Salle founded by French brothers in Figueras (Catalonia, Spain), where he was appointed director, and then to Colegio La Salle Bonanova in Barcelona. He lived for 30 years in Spain before being driven from Barcelona by the Spanish Revolution of 1936. He settled in Marseille, dying there suddenly in January 1937.

During his Spanish period, he collected plants in the region of Empordà in eastern Catalonia and then extended his studies to the rest of Spain. In the early 1930s he collected plants in Morocco, especially near Melilla.

He also worked with the University of Barcelona and with the Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural (Spanish Society of Natural History); he was a foreign corresponding member of the Reial Acadèmia de Ciències i Arts de Barcelona (Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona).

Starting in 1906, he wrote about his excursions, and his botanical reports were published in the bulletins of different botanical societies. His persevering research and numerous exchanges with botanists of various nationalities enabled him to constitute a voluminous herbarium. Frère Sennen was the president of the Sociedad Ibérica de Ciencias Naturales (Iberian Society of Natural Sciences) and an honorary member of the Institució Catalana d’Història Natural (Catalan Institute of Natural History).

The herbarium of Frère Sennen is at the Institut Botànic de Barcelona (Botanical Institute of Barcelona), one of the best preserved historical herbaria. He distributed more than 400,000 botanical specimens to the main European institutions of his time. The Sennen herbarium comprises approximately 80,000 sheets. It was studied during the preparation of Flora iberica and to determine various types from North Africa, but it still needs to be digitized. This herbarium is very important for the interpretation of the numerous proposals made by the author.

His publications and his Exsiccata

Frère Sennen wrote articles relating to his herbarium and notes on the Spanish flora in Butlletí de la Institució catalana d'història natural. He published also in Bulletin de la Société botanique de FranceBulletin de géographie botaniqueBoletín de la Sociedad Ibérica de Ciencias Naturales, and Boletín de la Sociedad Aragonesa de Ciencias Naturales.

Fr. Sennen, Carlos Pau, Pius Font i Quer
Left to right: Frère Sennen, Carlos Pau, and Pius Font i Quer © Institut Botànic de Barcelona CSIC-Ajuntament de Barcelona 

The presence of Frère Sennen in Barcelona gave rise to an active collaboration with Pius Font i Quer and with Carlos Pau, considered at the time to be the best specialist in phytogeography of the Iberian Peninsula. Based on this collaboration, Sennen developed the idea of composing a real exsiccata, i.e., a great critical and commented work on the Iberian flora. He soon became a collaborator of the great Spanish botanists. The 10,309 specimens of the 30 series that constitute his Exsiccata “Plantes d'Espagne” were prepared and published between 1907 and 1937.

Another element in Frère Sennen’s systematic work in Catalonia is a 71-page catalog, the Catálogo del herbario barcelonés, published in Barcelona in 1918. A supplement to this catalog was published in 1920 in Butlletí de la Institució catalana d'història natural.

An extensive list of his publications can be found in S. Llensa de Gelcen’s 1937 article “Un grand botaniste qui vient de disparaître: le Frère Sennen (1861–1937)” (A great botanist who died recently: Frère Sennen (1861–1937)), Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France 84(2), 161–176 (in French), and in an obituary published in Spanish in 1938 (Cavanillesia 8: 163–172).

Selected Sennen oak names


Quercus ×catalaunica Sennen, Bol. Soc. Aragonesa Ci. Nat. 11: 243 (1912)
Described as “A tree with a size approaching the holm oak [Q. ilex], but the leaves of which are like Quercus coccifera. (Catalonia)”
Synonym of Quercus ×auzendei Gren. & Godr. (1855)

Quercus lanuginosa subsp. grandifolia Sennen, Treb. Mus. Ci. Nat. Barcelona Vol. XV. Ser. Bot. No. 1: 34 (1931)
Nomen nudum

Quercus lanuginosa subsp. elegantula Sennen, Treb. Mus. Ci. Nat. Barcelona Vol. XV. Ser. Bot. No. 1: 34 (1931)
Nomen nudum

Quercus lanuginosa subsp. anselmii Sennen, Treb. Mus. Ci. Nat. Barcelona Vol. XV. Ser. Bot. No. 1: 34 (1931)
Nomen nudum

Quercus ilex subsp. latifolia Sennen, Treb. Mus. Ci. Nat. Barcelona Vol. XV. Ser. Bot. No. 1: 34 (1931)
Nomen nudum

Quercus ilex subsp. ferreri Sennen, Treb. Mus. Ci. Nat. Barcelona Vol. XV. Ser. Bot. No. 1: 34 (1931)
Nomen nudum

Quercus ilex subsp. murbeckii Sennen, Treb. Mus. Ci. Nat. Barcelona Vol. XV. Ser. Bot. No. 1: 34 (1931)
Nomen nudum

Quercus lyauteyi Sennen & Mauricio, Cat. Fl. Rif Orient. 110 (1933)
Nomen nudum

Quercus latifolia var. laxispinosa f. parvifolia Sennen & Mauricio, Cat. Fl. Rif Orient. 110 (1933)
Nomen nudum.

Quercus coccifera var. melillensis Sennen & Mauricio, Cat. Fl. Rif Orient.:110 (1933)
Nomen nudum

Quercus coccifera var. crassipes Sennen, Diagn. Nouv. 301 (1935)
Presented with a Latin description.
Synonym of Quercus coccifera L. (1753)

Quercus murbeckii Sennen, Diagn. Nouv. 29 (1936)
Sennen writes: it belongs togrex coccifera × ilex”. With a Latin description.
Hab.—Barcelona: Tibidabo Massif, Serra de Vilana, between garrigue and vineyard.
Synonym of Quercus ilex L. (1753)

Quercus lanuginosa subsp. viveri Sennen, Diagn. Nouv. 29 (1936)
This name (here with Latin diagnosis) is based upon an herbarium sheet: Quercus viveri Sennen Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 6.654 (1928), with a French description. Also mentioned as nomen nudum in Flore de Tibidabo (1931).
Considered by A. Camus to be a synonym of Q. mirbeckii Durieu (1846), which is in turn a synonym of Q. canariensis Willd. (1809)

Quercus anselmii Sennen, Diagn. Nouv. 41 (1936)
Hab. Barcelona: Tibidabo Massif, Barranco de Bellesguart, enclosure of the “Colegio de la Bonanova”, next to the stream.
Synonym of Quercus ×cerrioides Willk. & Costa

Quercus lyauteyi Sennen, Diagn. Nouv. 205 (1936)
See also exsic. Sennen Fr., #8928; Collection Date 1933-5-26.
With Latin diagnosis.
Hab. Morocco (Maroc: Metaiza, near Nador de Ain·Zora). 1230 m.
Synonym of Quercus rotundifolia Lam. (1785)

Quercus lanuginosa f. pinnatilobata Sennen, Diagn. Nouv. 300 (1936)
Named by Sennen as, a var. cerrioides (Willk. et Costa) Willk.
Hab. Barcelona: Tibidabo Massif, forest, near le Rabassalet.
Synonym of Quercus pubescens Willd. subsp. pubescens

Quercus suber var. maroccana Sennen, Campagn. Bot. 80 (1936)
With short note “Forme très différente des chênes-liège de Gerone” (A very different form to the cork oak of Gerona).

Quercus coccifera f. humifusa Sennen, Campagn. Bot. 99 (1936)
Nomen nudum

Herbarium labels

Quercus reyesii Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) n° 2.841 (1916)
Pancorbo near Burgos.

Quercus fragosoi Sennen & Elias, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) n° 2.842 (1916)
Synonym of Quercus pyrenaica Willd. (1805)

Quercus fragosoi

Quercus castellana Sennen & Elias (non Bosc ex Pers.), Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) s.n. (1916)
Castille: Sierra Obarenes

Quercus latifolia var. valdespinosa Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 3.575 (1918) 
Tibidabo Massif

Quercus latifolia var. laxispinosa Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 3.574 (1918) 
Tibidabo Massif

Quercus eliasii Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 3.567 (1918)
Sierra Obarenes

Quercus pinnatipartita Sennen & Elias, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) n° 4.346 (1921)
As pinnatipartitus, Burgos: Santa Cruz de Juarros, mountains

Quercus pinnatipartitus

Quercus ×willkommii Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) n° 5042 (1924)

Quercus laevifolia Sennen, Exsicc. (Flora de Barcelona) (1924)
as laevifolius, Tibidabo Massif

Quercus laevifolius

Quercus latifolia var. spinosa Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 5.041 (1924)
Barcelona, Barranc de C. Casas, Tibidabo

Quercus multistipulata Sennen, Exsicc. (Flora de Barcelona) (1926)

Quercus manuelis Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 6.265 (1927) 
Barcelona: Tibidabo Massif, near Can Rius

Quercus manuelis

Quercus manuels label

Quercus tarraconensis Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 6.362 (1927) 
At Cambrils near Tarragona

Quercus michaelis Sennen & Elias, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) s.n. (1927)
Sierra Obarenes
The label indicates that the initial name was Quercus michaelis. Someone (who? when?) wrote Quercus sennenii A. Camus, an epithet found in Q. lanuginosa var. sennenii A.Camus Les Chênes, Atlas 2: 40 (1935) and Q. ×sennenii O. Schwarz Cavanillesia 8: 83 (1936). They don’t mention Sennen nor Elias. But one can find Quercus ×senneniana A.Camus Les Chênes, Atlas 2: 55 (1935). She wrote (in French): "=Q. faginea × ilex. Based on a sample from the Sierra Obarenes, Castille, Spain (Sennen et Elias) preserved in the herbarium of E.G. & A. Camus."
Worth mentioning is the fact that there is a Q. sennenii Elias, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) nº 3.565 (1918)!! See Natural History Museum’s specimen BM000613025 and Meise’s specimen BR0000026104478V.

Quercus michaelis

Quercus nitidifolia Sennen In herb. Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) s.n. (1928)
As nitidifolius, Tibidabo Massif

Quercus nitidifolius

Quercus sessilis subsp. puigii Sennen, (1930)
Found at Barcelona (Tibidabo Massif, between Vista Rica and la Rabassada (1930-4-22)
Picked up by A. Camus as Q. sessilis var. puigii and Q. sessilis subsp. puigii in Bull. Soc. Bot. France 1934, p. 815 with Latin diagnosis.

Quercus carpinifolia Sennen, Exsicc. (Pl. Esp.) n° 4.807 (1923)
Found at Barcelona (Barranc du Rabasselet).
Synonym of Quercus canariensis Willd. (1809)

Further reading

Sennen, Fr. 1912. Quelques formes nouvelles ou peu connues de la flore de Catalogue, Aragón,Valence. Boletín de la Sociedad Aragonesa de Ciencias Naturales. 11: 177–215.

Sennen, Fr. 1931. La flore de tibidabo. Treballs del Museu de Ciéncies Naturals de Barcelona Vol. XV Sèrie Botànica N.° 1, 3–53. Museu de Ciéncies Naturals Barcelona.

Sennen, Fr. and Fr. Mauricio. 1933. Catálogo de la Flora del Rif Oriental y Principalmente de las cábilas limítrofes con Melilla. Melilla: Gráficas La Ibérica.

Sennen, Fr. 1936. Campagnes botaniques du Maroc oriental de 1930 a 1935 des frères Sennen et Mauricio, EE. CC. Madrid: Imprenta Juan Bravo.

Sennen, Fr. 1936. Diagnoses des nouveautés parues dans les exsiccata Plantes d'Espagne et du Maroc de 1928 a 1935. Vic: Imprenta Anglada.

1 Sometimes written as Granier-Blanc. His religious name, Sennen, is taken from Saint Sennen, an Early Christian martyr and the patron saint, together with Saint Abdon, of Calasaparra in Murcia, Spain.

2 A set of dried specimens such as that in a herbarium.