Jules-Emile Planchon

Definition - What does Jules-Emile Planchon mean?

Jules-Émile Planchon was a French botanist who worked at the Royal Botanical Gardens in London and later as a teacher in Ghent. However, he is best known in wine history as one of the key figures who helped to find the catalyst behind the Great French Wine Blight, phylloxera, a microscopic louse that was living on the roots of the grapevines, slowly causing necrosis of the root structure and eventually vine death.

WineFrog explains Jules-Emile Planchon

Jules-Émile Planchon received his Doctorate of Science at the University of Montpellier in 1844. After some work outside of France, he returned to Montpellier in 1853, where he was the head of the botanical sciences department at the university.

By late second half of the nineteenth century, the Great French Wine Blight had begun, destroying many French vineyards. The culprit behind the devastation went unknown for many years until Jules-Émile Planchon along with a commission of winegrowers and politicians started to investigate the problem.

They visited a vineyard in Montpellier and dug up some vines. Once unearthed, a magnifying lens was held up to the roots where the phylloxera louse could be seen. A few years later, Planchon was able to compare notes with C.V. Riley, an entomologist from Missouri and realize that the louse was brought over with vines from the New World. These vines from America however, seemed to have a natural resistance and Planchon and his team were able to discover that grafting Old World vines on New World rootstock would solve the problem, preventing further devastation throughout Europe.

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