We must thank Pierre Poivre, former seminarist and intendant of Isle de France, for the creation of the Botanical garden in Pamplemousses in 1770, the first tropical botanical garden in the world.
It eventually replaced the citrus fruit and vegetable gardens of the governor of La Bourdonnais founded in 1735 created to supply ships heading to the Indies.
Pierre Poivre purchased the estate of Mon Plaisir in 1770, former property of the governor of La Bourdonnais. The latter became the Pamplemousses Garden, a sampling and acclimatisation garden, place from which the botanist will send some of his precious plants to Madagascar and the Antilles. Pierre Poivre gathered trees and spices from the entire world: bay trees from the Antilles, camphor trees from China, breadfruit trees from the Philippines, lychee trees from Cochin China and reunited them in one place. Pierre welcomes Philibert Commerson, a botanist from the Bougainville expedition that stopped off in Isle de France. These two men botanised, classified, indexed, drew and planted for two years.
Abandoned by the British after the conquest of the island in 1810, the garden was taken over by James Duncan in 1849. Regaining its charm of yesteryear and welcomed new species: ferns, araucarias, orchids and bougainvilleas. James Duncan also planted many types of palm trees.
Although having suffered from the cyclones in 1861, 1892, 1945, 1960, 1975 and 1979, the Garden’s alleys and avenues, which bear the names of the well-known naturalists having contributed to its famous flora of the Mascareignes, have survived the passing of time. A very popular tourist attraction, the garden today bears the name of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, first Prime Minister of an independent Mauritius.