Cephalotus Follicularis was probably discovered in 1791 during an expedition to South Western Australia by the botanist Archibald Menzies.
It was not until 15 years later in 1806 that it was named by the botanist Labillardiere - the specimens he used came from the French expedition of 1800-04 led by Nicolas Boudin. During the voyage home, the expedition put into Java where Captain Boudin died and his ship was captured by the English along with its plant collection.
Despite being spoils of war, these specimens were returned to France and it is from the plant specimens collected by the botanist Leschenault on that voyage that Labillardiere produced his publication on Cephalotus follicularis without ever having actually been to the area where the specimens were collected.
A Cephalotus leaf kept in Geneva bears the inscription:
"from Leschenault from the expeditionary tour of Captain Boudin
organised in year 8 in New Holland"
and in Labillardiere's handwriting:
"Cephalotus Follicularis. Port of King George Coast, South West, New Holland 1803"
As to how this plant was named: Labillardiere - as with all botanists - attached great importance to the structure of the flowers, as these do not evolve and change as rapidly as can leaf structures, and can give a hint as to parentage. He saw that this plant had a curious enlargement of the tissue attached to the anthers of the stamen. It seemed to give the stamens a type of little head, from which the name Cephalotus came, the Latin form of the Greek - Kefalotos - "equipped with heads". The specific name follicularis is a reference to the follicules (little sacks), that is to say the pitchers.
(1754 - 1842)
Jacques J.H. de Labillardière
(1755 - 1834)