Collection Nationale des Convolvulacées (the CNC)

This collection (referred to as CNC) is the only one that we are aware of devoted to the family Convolvulaceae. It brings together in one location living plants and a seed collection, as well as information about the plants (reference library, collections databases, photo library). Located in the Paris metropolitan area, the CNC is south of the city centre on one of the suburban train lines and is thus easily accessible for visitors in the Paris area.

Here is a brief overview of this unique collection.

History of the CNC

The Convolvulaceae collection was established by Dr Patrick Blanc, a researcher with the French CNRS (Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique) who had a special interest in Convolvulaceae. In his travels around the world Dr Blanc gathered seeds and propagative material as well as botanical specimens and photographs of these plants. In 1996 he offered this collection as a donation to the Conseil Général des Hauts-de-Seine, an administrative unit equivalent to a county government. The collection was accepted and moved to a location in the park ‘Vallée-aux-loups’ in the community of Châtenay-Malabry. Greenhouses provide shelter for the plants during winter and there is space to grow them outdoors during the warm season.

In the initial years Dr Blanc provided scientific advice and oversight to the Conseil Général government for the maintenance and further development of the CNC. In 1999, the CNC was officially recognized as a National Collection by the French C.C.V.S., an organization of specialized living plant collections. In 2004 the agreement between Dr Blanc and the Conseil Général des Hauts-de-Seine ended and was not renewed. In 2005 Dr Eckart Eich, Freie Universität Berlin, donated a well documented research collection with 11 genera and 111 species to the CNC, which greatly augmented its diversity. Then, in September 2009, the curator of the CNC took part in the First International Working Group Meeting for Taxonomy of Convolvulaceae, held in Singapore Botanic Gardens. The scientific participants unanimously voiced their support for the CNC and agreed to do whatever they could to provide scientific information and direction for the further growth and expansion of the living collections. Since 2009, researchers around the world who specialise in study of Convolvulaceae have donated plants, seeds, made visits to the CNC, and provided expertise to guide the curator in caring for this priceless scientific resource.

What is in the CNC? 

In 2009, the living collections comprised 23 genera, 256 species, and 52 subspecies of Convolvulaceae, for a total of 583 accessions. There were 20 unidentified accessions. A total of 410 taxa were stored as seeds.

Accession 583
Unidentified Accession 20
Genera 23
Species 256
Subspecies 52
Taxa as seeds 410

The photo collection documenting the plants amounted to more than 600 images. Information about the collection is stored in a database operating in ‘Infobota 2000’ and an inventory of the collection was published in paper copy and distributed. 

Copies of the inventory are available on request by writing to the address under ‘Location of the CNC’.

The collection can be summarized further as 80% wild collected material, 13% are commercially purchased, and 7% come from exchanges with other botanical gardens.

On a geographical basis, species from the Americas and Asia are well represented, Africa is less so, and temperate Eurasia is the least well represented in terms of species in the collection.

Endemic species with limited distributions from Canary Islands, Australia, and Venezuela are conserved in the CNC.

In winter the living plants are housed in glasshouses with a floor area of 700 m2

  During warm weather, many plants are moved outdoors in large containers or are planted temporarily on fences and trellises. 


Purpose and Role of the CNC

From a scientific perspective, the main role played by the CNC is to house a scientifically documented collection of germplasm (living plants, seeds) of the Convolvulaceae. Samples taken from the live plants are used in a wide array of scientific studies; having ready access to cultivated material reduces the need for collecting from wild plants and the associated expenses for travel. Having a collection with more than 580 accessions, and 80% of them wild-collected, provides an invaluable resource for scientists to utilise.   

Besides the scientific value and use, there is an educational role for the CNC. Each summer displays are attractively arranged outdoors in the Arboretum and guided tours led by volunteers educate the public about the Convolvulaceae. Furthermore, the CNC has participated in major garden and horticultural events such as Art du Jardin (2001), Chelsea Flower Show (2003), and the Domaine de Courson show annually since 2008. Attractive posters for Convolvulaceae

and a small book about the biology and ecology of plants in this family are other educational products of the CNC that help to raise the profile of Convolvulaceae in the public awareness.

Landrein, S. 2001. Ipomées Liserons Volubilis et autres Convolvulacées. Published by Conseil Général des Hauts-de-Seine. 58 pp. ISBN: 2-9515867-2-8.

Finally, CNC has a future role to play in rare plant conservation. Having seed and/or plants of endangered species of Convolvulaceae conserved in a collection such as the CNC is a safeguard against their extinction in the wild.  As global efforts to identify and protect endangered plants go forward around the globe, it is to be hoped that National Collections such as the CNC can be recognized as repositories for germplasm. In this regard the CNC has great potential for expansion.

Location of the CNC

The CNC is located within the Arboretum of the civic park ‘Vallée-aux-loups’ at the following address:

Arboretum du parc de la ‘Vallée-aux-loups’

102, rue de Chateaubriand

92290 Châtenay-Malabry


Admission is free and the opening hours of the park are as follows:

1 April to 30 September: 10 AM to 7 PM

1 October to 31 March: 10 AM to 5 PM

In addition to the CNC, the park ‘Vallée-aux-loups’ (60 hectares) contains beautiful landscaped gardens, an arts garden ‘Ile Verte’, the historic home that once belonged to Chateaubriand (1768–1848) French author, politician, and diplomat, and the Arboretum (13 ha, about 500 species of trees an shrubs) with several topical theme collections (alders, hydrangeas, plants with fine autumn color, etc.) and some fine specimen trees, including a weeping blue cedar that is one of the heritage trees for France.

The park and arboretum are a beautiful and relaxing place for a stroll or to savor the outstanding plants and lovely scenery.

Directions to the CNC

To reach Châtenay-Malabry from central Paris, take the RER train line B to the last stop, Robinson. Then take public bus 194 to the stop ‘Jean Jaurès’. Walk along the street ‘Eugéne Sinet’ to its far end, turn left onto rue Chateaubriand and walk 300 m: you will be at #102, the entrance to the Arboretum.  If driving, there is parking available along rue d’Aulnay (which continues on from rue Chateaubriand, beyond the junction with rue ‘Eugéne Sinet’).  

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith