Studied at the collège de Sainte-Barbe and the collège du Plessis, where he developed an interest in the natural sciences. Obtained a position with the Compagnie des Indes in Senegal and gathered information relative to the region’s flora, fauna, and natural history (1748-54). While in Senegal, he conceived of an entirely new system of classification, which he first experimented with in his l’Histoire naturelle du Sénégal (1757). Member of the Académie de Sciences (1759).
In his best known work, Les familles de plantes (1763), he proposed a method of botanical classification, founded on sixty-five systems that permitted the identification of all existing plants, and reserved places for those discovered in the future. The work was poorly received, and Adanson was criticized of having complicated his study through his use of reformed spelling. He worked throughout his life to apply his system to other branches of natural history in order to develop a universal method of classification.
Born at Aix-en-Provence.