Today we live in a remarkably egalitarian age where ‘knowing your station’ is relatively inconsequential and where interdisciplinary cultural studies embrace us all. Horticulture, like society, has been democratized. But there was a time of accepted and real dependency of the lowly on the more socially exalted, when interest in the lives of the privileged mattered because it was largely they who controlled peoples’ fortunes, food, and fashions.
The world after World War II has been one of accelerating globalization, a new order of things referred to on this web site as Informatia. This means that although we can, of course, consider local geography, politics etc., we must also consider things at the global scale. However, we are accustomed to thinking locally so, for example if a person of the West were asked for categories that express the history of horticulture their answer would probably relate to categories developed by the British, since this nation dominated much of the world during its imperial years, the Pax Britannica, and because it made the running in horticulture – its practices, fashions and traditions – as they emerged out of antiquity through the Roman occupation of Europe during the Pax Romana.
But western’ nations and the Neo-Europes (the colonial offspring of Britain and Europe) are now becoming independent politically, economically, culturally, and intellectually while Asian countries are quickly gaining influence in the world. We have now entered a truly global era such that the periodization of horticulture now requires identifiably global categories. We cannot, from a global perspective, fragment horticulture into historical periods like ‘Tudor’, ‘Edwardian’ or ‘Victorian’. And yet, with full acknowledgement of the potential for developing British, European and Western narratives historical evidence suggests that western science was exceptionally strong, feeding into the technology that, with many other factors, led to the modern era Great Divergence when the West assumed political and economic control of much of the world.
So, for the time-being the historical horticultural categories used in this timeline simply reflect the recorded history of the major civilizations that influencing the various modes of plant cultivation. For the modern era or Great Divergence, the Age of Plants, the categories chosen relate mostly to major periods of Cultivated plant globalization while trying to encompass trends that emerged across the world. As always there is an inevitable bias towards those countries that have developed the most elaborate and extensive record systems: it is hoped that this bias is, over time, reduced.
This timeline is, for the time-being, confined to significant events in the history of plants in the West (mainly botany and horticulture), with emphasis on Britain. Ornamental horticulture, although having ancient roots in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Persia, was further synthesized and developed in Europe by the Romans who brought it to Britain during the Roman occupation from c. 45-410 CE.
A strong tradition developed in Holland but through changing political fortunes this was passed on to France and Britain. As the British empire expanded into the Americas, India, Asia and the Pacific so did its horticulture. Britain’s strong horticultural tradition was therefore expressed equally strongly in the lands and history books of the Neo-Europes like the Americas and Canada, India, parts of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.
Another reason why Western history appears more prominent (apart from obvious western bias) is that written languages developed much earlier here. Chinese characters date back to about the late Shang Dynasty of 1200–1050 BCE over a millennium after Egyptian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Hittite, and other written languages in the West. The earliest Indian written texts date to about the 11th century CE although the Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda, a popular form of oral history, may date to about 1500 BCE as epic poetry. This accounts in part for our ignorance of possible early scientific thinking in the East.
The British emphasis reflects the written record and historical bias but also, no doubt, seminal influence on the Neo-Europes that were created during the period of European colonial expansion.
Wikipedia is now a valuable and quick source of information on places, events and people. The listing here is intended more as an aide memoire.
For convenience the timeline of plant science has been divided into prehistory; Classical era; Neolithic Revolution and Bronze Age cities; Middle Ages; and the Modern Era which is subdivided into centuries. As always selection of content is a matter of personal choice. I have highlighted significant ‘firsts’ in red as convenient historical markers.
Human transformation of landscapes by burning; the origin of plant cultivation & domestication and proto-farming and proto-horticulture; establishment of sacred sites near water, crossing of pathways, hilltops, funerary sites, sacred groves and trees, coastal bluffs; the shaman and medicine man as leading cummunity figure acting as intermediary with the spirit world using plants for healing, spiritual connection, and their psychotropic properties.
2 million ->Evidence of cooked food: possible use of fire in a controlled way c. 1 million years ago
200,000-> – Homo sapiens experiments with plants for value as food, medicine, tools, and spiritual significance
100,000-50,000-> – Fire used for burning vegetation
50,000-> – Fire use to make charcoal and control wildlife
40,000-8000 – Language and pictorial representation well-established, probably associated with religious belief, symbolism, rituals associated with plants, and creation of sacred space. Evidence of sculpting, jewellery, and musical instruments
Neolithic Revolution & Bronze Age cities
Origin of agriculture; origin of Bronze Age cities and the processes of urbanization (social hierarchy, trade and coinage, mental and physical distinctions between nature and culture; writing facilitates more complex social organization and cultural evolution that supplements biological evolution); origin of parks, gardens, and enclosures for cultivated plants (fields); similarity in roles of medicine man to Bronze Age priest. Gardens now used as sanctuaries, meeting places, for relaxation, and religious observance. The creation of libraries and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as one of the wonders of the ancient world. The journey from an early Bronze Age city like Uruk in Mesopotamia in about 4500 BCE to today’s megalopolis has taken about 6500 years. Agriculture took about 8000 years to spread from its origins in the ancient near east to the British Isles in Europe’s northwest.
2667 – Pharoah Imhotep (2667-2648) revered as god and founder of Egyptian medicine: later identified with Greek god of medicine Asklepios
c. 2000 – Hearst Papyrus – includes some medicinal plants and their uses
c. 1800 – Kahun Gymaecological Papyrus – includes some medicinal plants and their uses
1772 – Babylonian Hammurabi Code refers to hand pollination of date palms
1700-1100 – Indian Rigveda classifies plants based mostly on growth form
c. 1550 – Pharoah Hatshepsut (1508-1458) orders expedition to Punt bringing back live myrrh trees, people, and products. First recorded transplantation of trees.
c. 1534 – Ebers papyrus of Pharoah Amenhotep – effectively the first (20 m long) substantial medicinal plant list, a compilation of former simple lists
c. 1450 – Pharoah Tuthmosis II (1479-1425) has bas-relief depicting native and exotic plants in bas-relief called the ‘Botanic garden‘ since possibly used as a guide to identification and likely the ‘earliest surviving scientific drawings of plants’ (Blunt 1950, p. 6)
c.1400 – In Egypt the development of elaborate urban design and the introduction of exotic plants
c. 1440 – Most famous illustration of an Egyptian garden (now destroyed), that of Sunnfer in reign of Amenophis III (1450-1425). Elaborate walled garden reached from ree-lined canal with vines, arbours, pavilions and colonnaded courtyards, also garden pools with flowering plants and potted lotus
c. 1340 – Pharoah Akhenaten (1352-1336) creates an elaborate garden city with sunken gardens and decorative plant tiles (possibly for identification)
c. 1100 – King Tiglath Pileser 1 of Assyria records his park-like hunting grounds and plants assembled as trophies of war
c. 870 – Mesopotamian King Assurnasirpal II (883-859) records the importing of spice trophies gained from the Hittites and the creation of an elaborate garden landscape containg exotic plants
c. 700 – In the reign of King Sennacherib (reigned 705-681) the creation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon at Nineveh (Old Babylon), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world
659 – A Chinese pharmacopeia is compiled, the first of any nation (Morton, p. 11)
c. 650 – King Ashurbanipal (668-627) creates library of clay tablets in his palace at Nineveh including a materia medica as a list of plants with synonyms (‘the earliest truly botanical work at present known‘ Morton 1981, p. 9)
A historical period that generally refers to the Greco-Roman world spanning the 8th–7th centuries BC, the emergence of Christianity, and decline of the Roman Empire to 5th century CE. The origin of plant science at the Lyceum of Theophrastus in ancient Athens.
c. 500 CE Indian Susruta-Samhita lists about 700 medicinal herbs
c. 400 Hippocratic Corpus, a collection of about 60 Ancient Greek medical works (possibly from library in Cos or Alexandria) of various dates and authors containing lists of plants probably used by later writers
c. 345-342 – Theophrastus takes over botany and the botanical garden at the Lyceum gymnasium in ancient Athens, arguably the world’s first botanic garden. His lecture notes, as Historia Plantarum and Causa Plantarum, are effectively the first text books on plant science
c. 320 – Diocles of Carystius (c. 375-c. 295) compiles a materia medica (now lost), possible foundation list used in Dioscorides’s Materia Medica
c. 300 – Philosopher Epicurus constructs a communal home for philosophy and relaxation called The Garden in ancient Athens
c. 80 Cicero’s Tuscan villa has two gymnasia named the Lyceum and Academy
23-79 – Pliny writes Historia Naturalis an encyclopaedia of 37 books purporting to cover all ancient knowledge. Plant XII to XVIII lists and descriptions emphasize spices and are largely derivative of Theophrastus’s work
40-90 – Dioscorides produces his derivative compilation of medicinal plants, the Materia Medica that will serve as a definitive plant list and basis for other lists for over 1200 years
120-130 – Emperor Hadrian’s magnificent architectural villa retreat in Tivoli (then Tibur) contains an Academy and library
– A period lasted from the 5th to the 15th centuries beginning with the fall of the Western Roman Empire up to the European Renaissance and Age of Discovery. By th 7th century the library at Alexandria had been burned and dispersed, the ancient learning passing to the Arab world.
661-750 – Damascus the capital of the arab world with a tradition of medicinal plant studies
760s – Baghdad as capital of the Arab world is a trade cntre with magnificent gardens, libraries, floristry and educational establishments
c. 800 – Charlemagne made Holy Roman Emperor: distributes the Capitulare de Villis which promotes the construction of Roman villa-type manorial estates and development of money-based market economy together, also providing a list of 70 suitable garden plants
1088 – Bologna University founded – Paris (1150), Oxford (1167), Cambridge (1209)
1180 – Formation of the London Pepperers Guild, a guild of wholesale spice merchants
1390-1400 – Carrara Herbal from Padua illustrates plant directly rather than stylised or copied as in a subsequent herbal the Codex Bellunensis
1400-1425 – Codex Bellunensis drawn up at Belluno in the Veneto region of Italy
From about 1500 to the present including the historical periods of the Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Ages of Discovery and Revolutions, Reformation and Counter Reformation, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution. The study of medicinal plants occurs in special physic gardens associated with the medical faculties of universities where the first professors of botany are appointed (professor simplicium): these medicinal gardens and associated botanists often regarded as the forerunners of modern botanic gardens. The modern era includes rapid European social and economic development in relation to the rest of the world and known as the Great Divergence as a move out of the cultures and economies of the Mediterranean and into those of the Atlantic, Indian, an Pacific Oceans: it includes scientific and technological advance an global economy based not only on precious metals of the Americas but also the cultivation of plantation crops like cotton, sugar, tobacco, tea, coffee, and Rubber.
1439 – Cosimo de Medici (The Elder) names one of his magnificent private gardens The Academy
1447 – Pope Nicholas V sets out a medicinal garden in the grounds of the vatican
1470-1670 – Production of printed herbals (see people of plant science
1526 – Grete Herbal – first illustrated book on plants published in England, a translation of the French Le Grand Herbier, the introduction and conclusion from the German Herbarius & Ostus Sanitatis
1530s – Appointment of first Professors of Botany to the medical faculties of Italian universities
1533 – Francesco Bonafede appointed the first professor of botany (Professor Simplicium – Professor of simples or medicinal plants) at the University of Padua. The birth of modern botanical science.
1538 – Englishman William Turner publishes Libellus De Re Herbaria, a listing of herbs in Greek, Latin, English, German, and French together with their common names as used by apothecaries
1544 – Pisa Botanic Garden (Orto Botanico dell’Università di Pisa) founded; the first modern-era botanical garden under Luca Ghini (Lector Simplicium at Bologna, then Professor Simplicium in 1538) appointed Professor Simplicium at Pisa in 1544. Luca Ghini is attributed with the introduction of the plant press with a collection of dried and labelled plant specimens on shelves in a herbarium that in later years would sometimes be loaned to other herbaria thus forging the link between descriptive botany, botanic gardens, and herbaria. It is as institutions with professors of botany associated with the origin of plant science that we know these gardens as ‘botanic gardens’ (that is, as places where (modern) botany began) – not for their plant collections of medicinal plants which were very different from today’s botanic gardens.
. . Pietro Mattioli (Matthiolus) (1501-1577) from Siena publishes a commentary on Dioscorides, Discorsi, which is probably the first publication of this era to seriously consider plants with no medicinal properties.
1545 – Padua Botanic Garden (Orto Botanico Padova) founded by edict of the Venetian Republic senate; Florence Botanic Garden (Orto Botanico di Firenze) founded by Grand Duke Cosimo dei Medici on land purchased from the Dominican sisters then kown as ‘Giardino dei Semplici‘ (medicinal plant garden)
1548 – The Names of Herbes by Englishman William Turner is the first original herbal in the English language and listing many British plants for the first time
1567 – University of Valencia Botanic Garden founded, remaining a medicinal garden for 200 years
1568 – Thomas Hill, The Proffitable Arte of Gardening The first English publication on general gardening
1568 – Bologna Botanic Garden (Orto Botanico dell’Università di Bologna) founded
1583 – De Plantis Libri XVI of Italian Andrea Caesalpino (1519-1603), director of botanic gardens in Pisa and Rome and one of the most successful herbaria of the period is attributed with the first truly scientific plant classification: it was based on seeds and fruits
1587 – Leiden Botanic Garden (Hortus Academicus Leiden) generally regarded as the first modern botanic garden to include plants of medicinal, ornamental, and economic interest
1590 – With the construction of the microscope the anatomical world was gradually revealed especially in Robert Hooke’s landmark Micrographia of 1665
1593 – Montpellier Botanic Garden (Jardin des Plantes) founded by French King Henry IV with Professor of Botany and Anatomy Pierre Richer de Belleval. France’s oldest botanical garden and model for the Jardin des Plantes in Paris (est. 1635)>
1596 – John Gerard’s Catalogue lists 1,039 different kinds of plants cultivated in his London garden in Holborn which included plants from the New World.
1597 – John Gerard’s Herball published to become the most widely circulated botany book in English in the 17th century. . Leipzig Botanic Garden founded
c. 1609 – John Tradescant the Elder (b. 1570 of yeoman stock) is now a pre-eminent London gardener, introducing numerous exotic plants including the tulip. His own garden was in South Lambeth near Lambeth Palace. Friend of Frenchmen Jean Robin (Royal Herbalist to Henry IV and Louis XIII) and Rene Morin a great French nurserymen of his day and collector of natural history memorabilia. The Tradescants imported many plants from Virginia the ‘Younger’ visiting in 1637, 1642 and 1654, they had a virtual monopoly of plant introductions into England from North America (more than 90 new introductions)
1616 – Botanists active in New World: The Gardeners’ Company of London with Tradescant the Elder as a member, contributes to the founding of Virginia
1621 – Oxford Botanic Garden founded, the first British botanic garden established 76 years after that in Padua (1644)
1623 – Gaspard Bauhin’s Pinax Theatri Botanici lists about 6,000 plant species and serves as the standard plant catalogue until the time of Linnaeus
1626 – Guy de la Brosse, physician to Louis XIII, granted permission for the planting of a state Physic Garden, construction begins in (see) 1635
1629 – John Parkinson, physician-apothecary to James I and with a private garden in London’s Long Acre near Covent Garden publishes Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris which lists about 1,000 species. The first English modern gardening book accentuating the appreciation of plants for their flowers and beauty rather than their use in medicine
1630’s – Already about 100 different North American trees cultivated in European gardens
1634 – Tulipomania, a craze for tulip bulbs with grossly inflated speculative prices, grips Holland for several years causing bankruptcy and financial collapse
1634 – John Tradescant names 40 North American plants in his garden catalogue of 1634, credited with introduction to England of Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Aquilegia canadensis, Aster tradescantii, Rudbeckia laciniata, Tradescantia virginica, and, possibly Robinia pseudo-acacia. Lemmon (1968:5) claims they introduced the first lilac, gladioli, lupins, pomegranate, hypericum and many crocuses
1635 – Modern-day Jardin des Plantes in Paris founded as the Jardin Royale des Plantes Medicinales (Jardin du Roi) with head gardener Vespasian Robin. Opened to the public in 1640 this was designated a botanical garden in 1693. Vespasian Robin was Robert Morison’s (Scottish plant taxonomist preceding Ray) mentor in horticulture and the son of Jean Robin, medicinal gardener to Frances Henry III, Henry IV, and Louis XIII, whose Ile Notre-Dame garden was a source of plants for the Jardin du Roi
1635 – Parisian physician Jacques Cornut publishes Canadensium Plantarum Historia the first work dealing specifically with North American plants. Cornut described species growing in Parisian gardens. French explorers in Canada probably returned plants back to the Jardin du Roi
1640 – Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum describes over 3000 plants
1646 – Berlin Botanic Garden founded
1654 – Last Tradescant trip in America returns, among other plants, Platanus occidentalis, the tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, Deciduous Cypress, Taxodium distichum), Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, and species of Tradescantia (named after the collectors)
1660-1706 – British pastor and naturalist John Ray (1627-1705) makes major contribution to plant taxonomy distinguishing between plants with and without flowers, monocots and dicots, an the notion of genus. His plant classification used a combination of characters that included fruits, flowers, leaves and other organs, thus forming a natural system. De Tournefort had used an artificial system based on the structure of the corolla alone. Ray was the immediate predecessor of Linnaeus
1660 – Robert Morison comes to England from Paris by request of Charles II, appointed King’s Physician and Keeper of the Royal Garden at Oxford. Morison, a royalist side in the English Civil War took refuge in Paris. In France Morison he became Curator of the Duc d’Orleans’ garden at Blois, a garden thath inspired Sibbald to found the Edinburgh Botanic garden in 1670
1665 – Uppsala Botanic Garden est.
1669 – Scottish taxonomist Morison publishes Praeludia Botanica. He criticised Ray’s system of classification producing his own in Dialogus
1670 – Edinburgh Botanic Gardens founded
1673 – Chelsea Physic Garden founded by the Society of Apothecaries of London but only advances when purchased by Hans Sloane when the whole manor of Chelsea was acquired and given to the Apothecaries
1678 – Rev. John Banister (1650-1692) a missionary Plant hunter sent to Virginia by the then Bishop of London, Henry Compton, whose gardens were (and still are) at Fulham Palace, London. Banister introduced: Magnolia virginiana, Echinacea purpurea, Mertensia virginica and probably Crataegus coccinea, Cornus sericea, Baccharis halimifolia, Laurus benzoin, Liquidambar styraciflua, Magnolia glauca, M. longifolia, Negundo fraxinifolium, Spiraea opalifolia, Rhus copallina, Aralia spinosa, Menispermum canadense, Quercus coccinea, Ostyra virginica, Abies balsamifera, Gleditschia triacanthos, Abies alba, and Abies nigra
1682 – Amsterdam Botanic Gardens founded
1687-1772 – Period of intensive collection of North American Trees and Shrubs
1688 – Banister sends Ray Catalogue of Plants observed by me in Virginia published in Ray’s Historia Plantarum Vol. II (1688) Banister producing the first printed account of American flora (1688) and was responsible for many new plant introductions to Europe.
c. 1689 – The Botanic Club, a gathering of scientific virtuosi and botanical enthusiasts meet at the Temple coffee House, near Fleet Street in London. Now considered the earliest natural history society in Britain. Probably initiated by Hans Sloane, James Petiver and friends
1690 – John Ray publishes Synopsis Methodica Stirpium Britannicarum, essentially the first British Flora
1692 – Leonard Plukenet (1641–1706), Royal Professor of Botany and gardener to Queen Mary, also member of the Temple Coffee House Botany Club in London, publishes a four-volume Phytographia (1691-1692) in which he describes many of Banister’s specimens. Plukenet also collaborated with Ray in the second volume of Ray’s Historia Plantarum
1694 – A sect of German Pietists (led by Kelpius) establishes a garden of medicinal plants for use and study at Wissahickon. First garden in America with a botanical arrangement of plants
1698 – James Petiver publishes book on Maryland’s plants
1700 – Plukenet publishes about Maryland’s plants; French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708) travels to the Levant. As Professor of Botany at the Jardin du Roi in Paris his pupils include Hans Sloane & William Sherard ofthe Botany School at Oxford
1712 – Mark Catesby (1682-1749) first professional full-time plant collector in America inspired by John Ray
1713 – seeds of Catesby’s collecting were sent to Bishop Compton by a correspondent in the spring
1722 – Sloane appoints Philip Miller curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden. Miller was the first who raised from seed sent to London by the Jesuit d’Incarville, from China, Ailanthus altissima, Tree of Heaven
1725 – Dr. Christopher Witt (1675-1765) a German Pietist at Wissahickon commences the first botanical garden in America, 20 years before Bartram. Corresponds with Peter Collinson and talks to John Bartram
1726 – From 1726 the Oxford Botanical Garden was supported by amateur botanist, Dr. William Sherrard. He had persuaded Dillenius to come to England and made him Superintendent of his own garden at Eltham in Kent, where the German made a Hortus Elthamensis for his patron. According to Linnaeus, Sherrard made Oxford pre-eminent among all the universities of Europe for the study of botany
1728 – Linnaeus continues his studies at the University of Uppsala.The medical faculty at Uppsala consisted at this time of Olof Rudbeck the younger, son of the famous rector of the university
– Sherrard dead. He left the university money to endow the salary of a Professor or Botany. One condition was that Dillenius be the first Sherrardian Professor
1730 – Linnaeus studied Tournefort’s system but based his early work on the sexuality of plants on the experimental results of Camerarius
– Linnaeus. Praeludia sponsaliorum plantarum (Prelude to the Betrothal of Plants). In this essay Linnaeus presented the doctrine of the sexuality of plants. The view that the stamens and pistils of plants are specifically sexual organs had been advanced by a few botanists – – the Englishman Nehemiah Grew (1641-1711), the German Rudolph Jacob Camerarius (1665-1721), and the Frenchman Sebastien Vaillant (1669-1721) – – but had received little support. Linnaeus named lecturer in botany at Uppsala; faculty giving a professorship to a student in his third year. Begins the great botanical works Bibliotheca botanica (Botanical Dictionary), Classes plantarum (Classes of Plants), Critica botanica (Botanical Criticism), and Genera plantarum (Genera of Plants).
Linnaeus was convinced that God had chosen him to arrange all of nature. Therefore, he felt sure that none of his colleagues could equal him in science. He liked early ideas of Enlightenment like physico-theology, which attempted to demonstrate through the study of nature the purposeful harmony of creation. He was not a thinker in the philosophic sense.
1731 – Linnaeus. Nils Rosen returns to Uppsala from trip abroad. Tense between Rosen and Linnaeus. He wanted the botany lectures as well as his anatomy lectures. Rudbeck blocked the transfer. At about this time disagreements occurred in Rudbeck’s household which resulted in Linnaeus’s losing his benefactor’s confidence and having to find another place to live
c. 1735-1770 – Linnaeus sets in place the means for international descriptive biology and inventory – the principles and practice needed for plant identification, classification, nomenclature, and description
1735 – Linnaeus persuaded the Swedish East India Company to allow periodical free passages for some of his pupils to wherever ships might be trading. The first to be sent out was Rev. Christopher Ternstroem who sailed about 1735.
1736 – Johan Friederich Gronovius, botanist and physician, realizes the importance of Linnaeus’ Systema naturae (System of Nature ) (Leyden) and pays for its publication. This was Linnaeus’s fundamental work. Journey to England. Bibliotheca botanica (Amsterdam). Fundamenta botanica(Fundamentals of Botany) (Amsterdam). Musa Cliffortiana florens Haretcampi (Clifford’s Flowering Banana at Hartekamp) (Leyden)
1736 – Dillenius improves the Oxford Garden. In 1736 he was visited by Linnaeus, and although disagreeing with his system he conceived an almost passionate friendship for the great Swede. Dillenius even offered Linnaeus half his salary and half his house if only he would remain at Oxford. He wept when Linnaeus refused.
America’s first systematic plant hunter was John Bartram. He was born in Darby, Pa in 1699. His mother died when he was only two years old. His father remarried and moved to North Carolina. John stayed in Philadelphia with his grandmother. Upon her death he inherited the farm. In 1723 he married Mary Maris. He had two children by Mary. His wife died four years after the marriage.
In 1728 John bought land on the Schuylkill River at Kingsessing, then about three miles from Philadelphia. You can visit this house as it is a house museum. The garden there is considered to be America’s first botanic garden.
Bartram married Ann Medinghall in 1729. He had nine more children. One of his sons by this second marriage (born in 1739) was William Bartram who became an explorer, naturalist and man of letters. John remodeled a small cabin from the days of the old Swedish colony. It took him two years. He had been teaching himself botany. His first wife was not very supportive but his second wife was more so. He seems to have started his garden about the time of his second marriage. He expanded his property holdings to 261 acres in all.
Philadelphian Joseph Breintnall recommended Bartram to Peter Collinson. Collinson was a wholesale wool merchant of London. He would ask for new American plants for England. Bartram would provide boxes of seeds for Collinson. Thereby, he introduced about 200 new trees, shrubs and plants to England.
1737 – Linnaeus. October. Leaves Hartekamp. Amsterdam, Leyden. Critica botanica (Leyden). Flora Lapponica (Flora of Lapland) (Amsterdam). Genera plantarum (Leyden). In the latter, Linnaeus attempted to provide a single, correct name to each genus of plants then known in the world. Through his efforts, the majority of the plants in the Torrey Botanical Area of field study, came to be known by their current scientific names.
– – Dec. – – Collinson writes to John Custis, future father-in-law of Martha Dandridge Custis. Custis was a great gardener. Says he is sending John Bartram out to see him.
1738 – John Bartram trip to Virginia
– – Dr. John Mitchell admitted to the American Philosophical Society. He came to Virginia in 1735 and remained until 1746 when illness forced him to return to England. He began sending Virginia plants to Europe in 1738. In 1742 he sent a long manuscript to Collinson about Virginia plants along with a collection of 560 plant specimens.
– – Linnaeus. Hortus Cliffortianus (The Clifford Garden) (Amsterdam). The Anglo-Dutch merchant banker George Clifford had a fine garden at Hartecamp near Haarlem. Clifford drew on the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) company for specimens. Early summer. Departs from Holland. Visits Antwerp, Paris. Returns to Sweden by sea. September. Begins practice as a physician in Stockholm. Classes plantarum (Leyden).
– – Rev. Ternstroem dies on voyage back to Sweden
1739 – Linnaeus. Becomes acquainted with Carl Gustav Tessin. May. Named physician to the Admiralty. President of the newly founded Academy of Sciences. June 26. Marriage to Sara Elisabeth Moraea.
– – John Bartram traveled to the Catskills. Met Dr. Cadwallader Colden, Surveyor General of the Colonies and a member of the King’s Council of New York. Dr. Cadwalader Colden (1688-1766) is a big name in New York state politics. He once served as the Lt. Gov. and then temporary Governor of the state. He actively opposed the large land owners of New York state, which brought him into open conflict with many of the famous New York families. He introduced the Linnean system to America and furnished Linnaeus with descriptions of several hundred American plants. In 1727 he wrote a History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada. He also wrote several medical works. He lived in Coldingham, nine miles north of Newburgh, New York, along the Hudson River. A plant, our “Missouri railroad weed,” was named Coldenis for him by Linnaeus.
Jane Colden, daughter, was America’s first woman botanist. She was written about as one of the charming examples of what women in the New World could accomplish. Linnaeus himself received approving reports of her efforts. She used the Linnean system to classify her wildflowers. She was born in 1724, married in 1759 to Dr. Farquhar. She died in 1766. She wrote an article on the subject of a St. Johnswort, Hypericum virginicum, about which she and Dr. Garden of South Carolina had corresponded. She wanted it named for him, but John Ellis, also acquainted with Dr. Garden, had already decided to name the cape jasmine, Gardenia jasminoides, for him. John Clayton and John Bartram were both Jane Colden’s contemporaries and acquaintances.
– – Gov. of Pennsylvania, James Logan, publishes a botanical essay in Leyden, Holland.
– – John Clayton sent his collection to J. F. Gronovius. In 1739 Gronovius authored the first book on North American flora, Flora Virginica. The first edition was done without Clayton’s approval or work, but second edition was coauthored.
– – The Finn Pedr Kalm was a student of Linnaeus. He was particularly interested in medicinal and dye-yielding plants. He landed in Philadelphia; met with Benjamin Franklin; and visited John Bartram. Kalm often conferred with Bartram about his scientific findings as Bartram was the most prominent American naturalist of the time. Kalm quotes Bartram many times in his Travels. At Raccoon (now Swedesboro), New Jersey he would preach when no regular clergyman was available. He married the pastor’s widow. In 1757 he received a doctor’s degree in theology from the University of Lund. He was in 1777 elected a member of the Swedish Academy of Sciences.
1740 – Linnaeus. Systema naturae, 2nd edition (Stockholm).
1741 – Linnaeus. Professor of theoretical and practical medicine at Uppsala. Journey to Oland and Gotland.
1742 – Linnaeus. Exchange of departments with Rosen. Given supervision of the Botanical Gardens.
1743 – Cadwalader Colden becomes one of the original members of the American Philosophical Society. He was the man responsible for introducing the Linnean system to America. He was never fully happy with the system, preferring a more natural one.
1743 – John Bartram. James Logan sends a peace mission to negotiate with the Iroquois Indians at Onondaga on Lake Ontario after a skirmish between them and some Virginian backwoodsmen. Conrad Weiser and Bartram went. They reached Shamokin (now Sundbury) where they picked up Chief Shikillamy. On the trip, Bartram discovered “a great mountain Magnolia, three feet in diameter, and above an hundred feet high.” This was the Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata). People were calling his garden the finest collection of wild plants in North America. Learned men from the Colonies and abroad came to see his garden and to talk to him.
1748 – Linnaeus. Signs of psychic depression. During the last three decades of his life, Linnaeu suffered periods of moodiness and genuine depression, nervous restlessness and irritability, fear of death and the wish to retreat from everything. In 1748 he began to think that the world was conspiring against him. He may have suffered from manic-depression along with schizoid characteristics. In the last years of his life, the picture of his personality is completely dominated by symptoms of progressive hardening of the arteries of the brain.
1747 – Colden sent Linnaeus a carefully cataloged and described collection of plants, which Linnaeus published in “Plantae Coldenghamiae” in Acta Upsaliensis. In 1747 in his Flora ZeylanicaLinnaeus conferred the accolade of naming a plant the Coldenia.
1748 – William Forsyth. A Scotsman who succeeded Philip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden. He created the first rock garden in England. In 1784 he was appointed gardener to George III at Kensington and St. James’s palaces.
1749 – Linnaeus. April-August. Journey through Skane. Materia medica.Linnaeus. Rector of the University of Uppsala.
– – Kalm was supposed to have returned to Sweden in 1759, but decided to extend his time in North America. Set off in May on a long-planned visit to Canada.
1750 – Kalm makes another northern trip, following the Mohawk River to the country of the Iroquois and visiting Lake Ontario and the Niagara Falls.
– – Linnaeus sends out the Reverend Peter Osbeck.
1751 – Linnaeus. Philosophica botanica(Botanical Philosophy)
– – Pedr Kalm sails for Europe. His herbarium contained about 325 species, many of which Linnaeus subsequently described in the Species Plantarum
1752 – Linnaeus made Knight of the Order of the Polar Star
– – Osbeck back in Sweden.
– – Dr. Alexander Garden, a Scotsman. Dr. William Rose invited him to Charles Town, South Carolina. In April 1752 he arrives. Dr. William Bull lends him John Clayton/ Gronovius’s Flora Virginica. He visited Dr. Cadwallader Colden. While he was there John Bartram arrived. He went to Philadelphia and saw Bartram and Benjamin Franklin. 12/1755. Marries Elizabeth Peronneaus.
1753 – Linnaeus. Museum Tessinianum; Species plantarum(Species of Plants). Before 1753 plants were given long,multi-worded Latin phrase descriptive names. Linnaeus introduced the nw system of scientific nomenclature.
– – John Bartram went with William Bartram (then 14) for a trip to the Catskills where they visited Dr. Colden again.
1754 – Linnaeus. Museum Adolphi Friderici (The Museum of Adolphus Frederick)
– – at the age of 23 Scotsman William Aiton emigrated to England and was given a job in the Chelsea Physic Garden by Philip Miller.
1755 – John and William Bartram went to Connecticut
1757 – Pedr Kalm received a doctor’s degree in theology from the University of Lund
1758 – Linnaeus. Buys country estate at Hammarby, near Uppsala. Systema naturae, Animalia. 10th edition
1759 – Linnaeus. Rector of the University. System naturae, Vegetabilia, 10th edition
– – William Aiton given the job as Superintendent at Kew. At first he had under his charge only the relatively small botanic garden of the Princess Augusta.
1760 – John Bartram traveled to Virginia and South Carolina. Stayed in Charleston with Dr. Alexander Garden (whose acquaintance he had made when Garden was passing through Philly five and a half years before). He met the celebrated woman horticulturist, Martha Logan, who afterwards sent him many seeds and plants.
1763 – Florida becomes a British colony
– – Linnaeus. Genera morborum (Kinds of Diseases). Relieved of teaching obligations; son designated as his successor.
1764 – Linnaeus. Museum Ludovicae Ulricae Reginae(Museum of Queen Louisa Ulrica)
April 9, 1765 – John Bartram. gets a letter from Collinson telling him he is appointed the King’s botanist, with a salary of 50 pounds a year. The King had no interest in botany and the Queen’s patronage was fully engaged by John Hill and his protege William Young.
– – John Bartram went from Philly to Charleston (where he visited Dr. Garden) to Cape Fear River, North Carolina to Charleston. On this trip he traveled from Savannah up the river to Augusta, then back to Ebenezer and south to Fort Barrington on the Altamaha River. It was here they found Franklinia altamaha and Nyssa sylvatica (the Tupelo). Went back to St. Augustine and then explored the St. Johns River. They traced this for 400 miles until their way was blocked by water plants. Turned back, Jan, 1766.
1765-6 – – William Bartram accompanied his father on many a trip. After their 1765-6 trip to the near end of the St. John’s River, William decided to stay in Florida. William decided to settle on the St. John’s River just north of Fort Picolata. His father disapproved. William tried unsuccessfully to become a planter in Florida (to grow indigo). He came back to Philadelphia but once again failed in the mercantile business. Got a commission to draw illustrations for Dr. Fothergill. Returned to his uncle’s home on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. Wrote Dr. Fothergill about an extended trip. Fothergill agreed. So he traveled from Cape Fear River to Charleston to Savannah to the St. Mary’s River and then back to Altamaha River and back to Savannah. Sent his collections to Fothergill.
1766 – Linnaeus. Clavis medicinae(Key to Medicine); Systema naturae, 12 ed., Part I.
– – Cadwalader Colden dies – – William Young is back in Philadelphia, gossip saying he left under a cloud. Some of his reputation rested on his introduction of the Venus Fly-trap (originally Bartram’s discovery), which had never before been seen alive in Europe.
1767 – – Linnaeus. Systema naturae, 12 edition, Part II.
1768 – – Linnaeus. System naturae, 12 ed., Part III.
– – Collinson dies
– – Dr. Adam Kuhn of Philadelphia was probably the first professor of botany in America. He had the chair of botany at the University of Pennsylvania. He studied under Linnaeus.
1769 – – John Bartram elected to Royal Academy of Science of Stockholm
1770 – – Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (1748-1836) obtains a doctorate in medicine. He then becomes deputy to L. G. Le Monnier, professor of botany at the Jardin du Roi
LINNAEUS MODIFIED BY DE JUSSIEU
1775 — Battles of Lexington and Concord and start of the American Revolution
1785 — Andre Michaux first comes to America; sets up a nursery in New Jersey in 1786.
1785 — Humphry Marshall, cousin of the younger John Bartram, had a large arboretum at Marshallton in Chester County, Pa. In 1785 he publsiehd a catalog, Arbustrum americanum, in which he accounted for many of the species in his arboretum.
1785 – – Reverend Manasseh Cutler was born in Killingly, CT, 1742. Farm boy and graduate of Yale. He taught school, studied the treatment of smallpox, read law and became an attorney. Went into business as a merchant, read theology under his father-in-law and was licensed to preach. Pastor. In 1776 he became chaplain of the 11th Massachusetts Regiment, going with it to Rhode Island. Took up practice of medicine to support his family. Climbed Mount Washington. Aspired to write a natural history of New England. 1786 – – drove to Ohio in a sulky; helped form the Ohio Company. He studies Catesby’s Natural History.
1785 – – Rev. Manasseh Cutler presented a paper on Vegetable Productions. This is credited with being the first treatise on New England botany. Cutler’s “Account” begins with a lament that Canada and the southern states have been visited by “eminent botanists from Europe” while the part in between “seems still to remain unexplored.” He blames this on the fact that botany is not taught in our colleges due to ‘the mistaken opinion of its unutility in common life.’
1787 — Michaux finds many new species in the montane forests of the Carolinas; later traveled to Hudson Bay in search of new species.
June, 1787 – – Washington “rid to see the Botanical Garden of Mr. Bartram, which though stored with many curious plants, shrubs and trees, many of which are exotics, was not laid off with much taste nor was it large.”
1788 – Flora Caroliniana of Thomas Walter the first American publication to use Linnaean classification
1789 – – William Prince Nursery. Located at Flushing, Long Island. In October, 1789, Washington visited Mr. Prince’s fruit gardens and shrubberies at Flushing on Long Island. He found that “these gardens, except in the number of young fruit trees, did not answer my expectations. The shrubs were trifling, and the flowers not numerous.”
1789 – – Aiton published the first official Hortus Kewensis. A total of 5,500 species were described in three volumes arranged according to the Linnaean system, with a note of the habitat, date of introduction, and introducer’s name.
1791 – – William Bartram’s book Travels came out. The reception at home was cool. But in Europe they loved it. America was to Europeans an exotic, far-away land, and here for the first time was a book that described the scenery, the natural history, and even the original inhabitants in clear and illuminating detail. French botanist Andre Michaux and his son Francois came to visit. So did Thomas Nuttall, the English botanist, and Benjamin Smith Barton, and Henry Muhlenberg, and Alexander Wilson – – all famous in their own right. Then he became appreciated in America too.
William was elected Professor of Botany at the University of Pennsylvania, but he had to decline because of his health.
His book deeply influenced Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, a friend of Coleridge. Both Charles Lamb and Percy Bysshe Shelley presumably read the book. So did Emerson and Thoreau.
Jefferson wanted him to go on what became the Lewis and Clark expedition. They wanted him to be Official Naturalist. But his eyes were bad.
William Bartram was one of the first Am authorities on birds. Influenced Alexander Wilson, ornithologist.
William Bartram never married. He lived with his niece Nancy via brother John. She had married Colonel Robert Carr.
1791 — Gotthilf Heinrich Muhlenberg, son of Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg (champion of Lutheranism) published a paper entitled “Index flora lancastriensis” in which he accounted for 454 genera and more than a thousand native and cultivated species that grew in the vicinity of his home in Lancaster, Pa. Carl Ludwig Willdenow revised Linnaeus’s Species plantarum and described several new American species from specimens sent by Muhlenberg.
1792 – – Washington puts in two substantial orders to the nursery to John Bartram, son of the first John.
1795 – – Andre Michaux set off on his final American journey. Up the Catawba River, Knoxville. Nashville. Danville, KY. Hurt in horse fall. Made it to the Mississippi. His private means exhausted.
1796 — Return to France. Shipwreck. Lost all his personal property, but nearly all his collections were saved. Received with honor and distinction but no money. Did give him a small proportion of his 7 years’ arrears of salary. Many of his trees had been sent by Marie Antoinette to her father’s gardens at Schonbrunn.
1799 – – Frederick Pursh. He came to the US and settled in Philadelphia. He became acquainted with Muhlenberg, William Bartram and Humphry Marshall. He was the manager of gardens of William Hamilton, Esquire. His principal patron was Dr. B. S. Barton who provided funds for his travels.
1799 – – John Fraser back to America, this time with his elder son, John.
1800-1808 Jefferson President
1800 — Francois-Andre Michaux, Michaux’s son, returns to the U.S.
1801 — predecessor of New York Botanical Garden started by David Hosack on ground now occupied by Rockefeller Center.
1803 – – Dr. B.S. Barton. First elementary work of botany by Dr. B. S. Barton is published in Philadelphia. Early in the 19th century, Philadelphia was recognized as the chief source of scientific enquiries. One of the guiding lights in Philadelphia, Dr. B. S. Barton, presided over a wide and active circle, some of whose members (like Dr. Schoepf and Dr. Muhlenberg) were busy writing their own materia medica of this country.
1803 — Barton’s book Elements of Botany published.
1806 — Barton employs Frederick Pursh, a Saxon-born botanist, to help examine specimens from the Michaux flora. Soon start fighting and so Pursh moves on to Hosack’s employ, with whom he also had a falling-out.
1807 — the younger Michaux returns to Paris.
1808 — English naturalist Thomas Nuttall arrives in Philadelphia.
The claim to fame of the Quaker Bridge area in the New Jersey pine barrens area is the discovery here of curly grass fern (Schizaea pusilla) in 1805 or 1808. A label accompanying a specimen in the collection of the Torrey Botanical Society says: First discovered by Dr. C. W. Eddy, near Quaker Bridge in the pine barrens of New Jersey, about 30 miles from Philadelphia. Dr. Eddy was in company with J. LeConte, Pursh, and C. Whitlow and though he and Mr. LeConte found all the specimens, Pursh has claimed the honor of the discovery himself. (quoted in Pierce 1957:56)
1809 — Nuttall sends Barton 43 specimens gathered during a trip to the salt marshes of Delaware Bay; he also toured the Nanticoke River on the Chesapeake Bay; then went to Niagara Falls.
1809 – – Bernard M’Mahon founds a botanic garden (named Upsal) near Huntingdon Station, Philadelphia.
1810-1813 — three volumes published by the younger Michaux.
1814 – – Frederick Pursh publishes in London a description of North American plants. He describes the collection of Lewis and Clark. He described double the number of species of Michaux’s Flora. He was born in Tobolsh, in Siberia, in 1774 of German parentage. He was educated in Dresden. Unwisely, William Roscoe lent Bradbury’s herbarium specimens to Frederick Pursh and Pursh published descriptions of all Bradbury’s new plants (some 41 of them) in an appendix to his Flora Americae Septentrionalis. This crushed Bradbury and he never made another collecting expedition.
1814 – – John Lyon died of typhoid in America. He collected 3,600 plants of Magnolia macrophylla at one time. “His attitude was commercial; in all his journals he never expresses pleasure in a plant, but he almost invariably notes the mileage covered and the cost of the journey. Many of his so-called first introductions are due to others.” Fraser and Lyon overlap with Pieris floribunda, Jeffersonia diphylla, Oenothera tetragona fraseri and several other plants. Lyon’s new ones included Chelone lyoni, Dicentra eximia and Iris fulva.
1798 – Jussieu’s System is pubished
1817 – – Bradbury returned to England to publish his book of travels (at his own expense); then he brought his family with him to America and settled at St. Louis, where he became director of the Botanic Garden. Nuttall got credit for a number of species which, almost certainly, were also introduced by the neglected Bradbury – – Oenothera missouriensis, Ribes aureumand Shepherdia argentea. Nuttall’s plants included Camassia fraseri, Lepachys (Rudbeckia) columnaris, Mentzelia decapetala, Oenothera caepitosa, O. nuttalliiand Penstemon glaber.
1818 – – Dr. William P.C. Barton, nephew of B.S. Barton publishes a compendium of Philadelphia plants.
TRANSITIONAL PERIOD: NUTTALL AND DOUGLAS IN THE UNITED STATES: 1818-1840
This period may be tied to the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars which left Europe dried up for the moment. The period also overlaps with that of the less active period (1815-1870) of the Age of Imperialism. The European powers were not content to just take over new continents, but now expanded to the Old World also. American and English books on plant hunting naturally emphasize the United States and China/Japan because these are partly temperate lands that grow plants that can also grow in the eastern United States and England.
1818 – – Thomas Nuttall. Publication of Nuttall’s Genera of North American Plants at Philadelphia.
1820 – – Frederick Pursh dead at the age of 46.
1820 – – Banks gets Hooker a professorship of botany at the University of Glasgow. He was a good teacher and popular with the students. He built up the city’s botanic garden to be an equal of any garden in Europe.
1820 – – Joseph Banks dead. Upon this death, there was a distinct threat that Kew’s plants would be dispersed throughout the country. William Hooker fought this. He conducted a campaign to make Kew a national garden.
1822-34 – – Thomas Nuttall takes over Harvard’s botanic garden.
1820s – – John Torrey (1796-1873) taught chemistry at West Point, College of Physicians and Surgeons and at NYU.
1823 – – Bradbury died in Kentucky.
1823 – – William Bartram dead. Among the plants he discovered are oil-nut, yellow anise, yellowroot, laurel cherry, white buckeye, golden Saint Johnswort, oak-leaved hydrangea and mountain magnolia. See Harshberger, John W. ‘The botanists of Philadelphia and their Work.’
1823 – – Thomas Nuttall. Takes up duties at Cambridge.
1823 – – In 1823, when Joseph Sabine, then secretary of the horticultural Society was looking for a collector, David Douglas was strongly recommended and was sent out on his first trip to America. He visited gardens in New York and Philly and then went up to Lake Erie and then to Buffalo and back to New York. He made a second visit to Philly where he met Nuttall. Douglas is the best known of all collectors in America. He was born in 1798, the son of a village stone mason in Scotland. He worked at the Glasgow Botanic Garden by the time he was 21.
1824 – – David Douglas visited Bartram’s garden and was back in England by Jan 1824.
1824 – – following the defeats of Napoleon, France starts to get back its colonial empire. Between 1824 and 1914 it adds close to 3.5 million square miles and some 50 million people. It took over what became French North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) starting in 1824 through an expedition against the Algerian pirates. The French stayed on. The French later take over what becomesFrench Indo-China (Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam).
1824 – – Torrey publishes the Flora of the Northern and Middle Sections of the United States. He led American botanists in the adoption of the natural system of classification, developed by Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu and promoted by A. P. Candolle.
1825 – – It was decided to send Douglas to explore the Columbia River area in British Columbia. With the cooperation of the Hudson’s Bay Company, he set sail. By mid-Feb he was off the coast of Oregon. Landed at Fort Vancouver. Went 90 miles up river. He began to have trouble with his eyes caused by blown sand and snow blindness. He found Pinus lambertiana, second only to the giant redwoods in size and magnificence. To get the cones at the top he fired his gun to knock them off. 8 hostile Indians showed up because of this and Douglas was luck to finally shake them off.
1826 – – Jussieu resigns his post as director of the National Museum of Natural History.
1827 – – Thomas Drummond is a nurseryman in Forfarshire. Went on Sir John Franklin’s Arctic expedition. Once back he was made curator of Belfast Botanic Garden.
1827 – – Charles Darwin in the autumn went up to Christ’s College, Cambridge, his immediate aim a B.A. to eventually become a minister. He had given up earlier on an attempt to be a physician because of an extreme sensitivity to the sight of blood.
1828 – – The British government commissioned HMS Beagle for a hydrographic survey of South America. The commander was Captain Robert FitzRoy, R.N.. He asks for a naturalist to sail with him, a person qualified to examine the land. The task at hand was to complete the survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced under Captain King in 1826 to 1830 and to survey the shores of Chile, Perus and of some islands in the Pacific.
1830-33 – – publication of Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology influences the young Charles Darwin. It further placed doubt on the biblical story of genesis.
1830-54 – – Torrey becomes a professor at Princeton. He taught only during the summers, staying in New York City in the winters.
1831 – – start of the 5 year voyage of the HMS Beagle
1831 – – Drummond leaves to become an independent plant collector sponsored by Glasgow and Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
1831 – – Asa Gray (1810-1888) gets an M.D. degree. The leading botanist of the day in America was John Torrey.
1832 – – Asa Gray abandoned the practice of medicine and becomes a full collaborator with Torrey on the Flora of North America.
1833 – – Drummond finally reached Texas after spending his first season collecting mainly in the Ohio Valley. He caught cholera and barely recovered.
1832 – – John Veitch and his son James (1792-1863) moved the nursery business to Mount Radford, Exeter, England.
1836 – Nuttall returns from his trip across America and to Hawaii and adds a further 1,000 new species to the American flora
1839-1841 – 1839 is the year Darwin declares he formulated his theory of evolution
1840 – William Hooker establishes Kew as a national botanic garden
Beyond this time events become too diverse to record here as individual countries develop their own botanical traditions