Posted by: Bystander PJ6 MAY 2010
During a spring holiday in Majorca, my wife and I found ourselves one day in the delightful small hillside town of Artá, in the easternmost corner of the island. From a free cultural guidebook picked up at the tourist information bureau, we discovered that one of the town’s most revered historical figures is a man who spent his whole career as a community pharmacist there in the 20th century.
Llorenç Garcías i Font was born in Artá in 1885 to a wealthy family. He studied pharmacy at the University of Barcelona, graduating in 1906 and returning to practise in his home town. Although he seems to have been popular and well respected in Artá in his healthcare role, his fame as a local hero arises mainly from his extracurricular activities.
Llorenç Garcías i Font was a keen amateur naturalist. When not engaged in pharmacy, he spent most of his time studying the island’s natural history and particularly its plant life. Although working in an area remote from any of Spain’s major scientific institutions, he became highly regarded nationally as a botanist.
He put together a herbarium of about 1,100 plants and discovered a new species of sand crocus, endemic to the Balearic Islands, to which he gave the name Romulea assumptionis.
His research into the Majorcan flora led to the publication of numerous articles in the journal of the Catalan Institute of Natural History, which he had helped to found while at university, and in the bulletin of the Society of Natural History of the Balearic Islands, of which he was also a founding member.
He also regularly contributed to the Catalan magazine Llevant, a fortnightly periodical that had been founded in Artá in 1816.
His choice of outlet for his articles reflects another aspect of the man, because he was highly respected across Majorca as a firm advocate of the island’s traditional language and culture.
As a mark of Artá’s respect for its distinguished pharmacist and botanist, the town’s secondary school officially adopted his name in the early 1980s, a few years after his death at the age of 90.