Emile Laurent (1861-1904), professor at the agricultural institute in Gembloux, was actively engaged in tropical agriculture and was convinced that central Africa's potential for coffee culture was comparable to that of Brazil's. This explains his particular attention for the indigenous Coffea species of Africa. He also collected much data about myrmecophilous plants, for example Plectronia laurentii named after him by De Wildeman.
He was one of the first to explore the flora central Africa on a large scale. He died as a victim of his scientific travels, when returning from his third Congo trip, on the steamer between Accra and Sierra Leone. About 3,500 specimens (mainly from the third voyage) are conserved in the African herbarium of the herbarium of the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. He travelled with his cousin Marcel Laurent, who arranged the collection of the third voyage after his uncle's death.