André Michaux, also styled Andrew Michaud, (8 March 1746 – 13
November 1802) was a French botanist and explorer. He is most noted
for his study of North American flora. In addition Michaux collected
specimens in England, Spain, France, and even, Persia. His work was
part of a larger European effort to gather knowledge about the natural
world. Michaux's contributions included Histoire des chênes de
l'Amérique (1801; "The Oaks of North America") and Flora
Boreali-Americana (1803; "The Flora of North America") which continued
to be botanical references well into the 19th century. His son,
François André Michaux, also became an authoritative botanist.
3 See also
6 External links
Historical marker, located off Aviation Ave in the City of North
Michaux was born in Satory, part of Versailles, Yvelines, where his
father managed farmland on the king's estate. Michaux was trained in
the agricultural sciences in anticipation of his one day assuming his
father's duties, and received a basic classical 18th century
education, including Latin and some Greek, until he was fourteen.
In 1769, he married Cecil Claye, the daughter of a prosperous farmer;
she died a year later giving birth to their son, François André.
Michaux then took up the study of botany and became a student of
Bernard de Jussieu. In 1779 he spent time studying botany in England,
and in 1780 he explored Auvergne, the
Pyrenees and northern Spain. In
1782 he was sent by the French government as secretary to the French
consul on a botanical mission to Persia. His journey began
unfavourably, as he was robbed of all his equipment except his books;
but he gained influential support in Persia after curing the shah of a
dangerous illness. After two years he returned to
France with a fine
herbarium, and also introduced numerous Eastern plants into the
botanical gardens of France.
Title page of Flora Boreali-Americana: sistens caracteres plantarum,
André Michaux was appointed by Louis XVI as Royal botanist under the
General Director of the
Bâtiments du Roi and sent to the United
States in 1785 with an annual salary of 2000 livres, to make the first
organized investigation of plants that could be of value in French
building and carpentry, medicine and agriculture. He traveled with his
François André Michaux
François André Michaux (1770–1855) through
Canada and the
United States. In 1786, Michaux attempted to establish a horticultural
garden of thirty acres in Bergen's Wood on the
Hudson Palisades near
Hackensack, New Jersey. The garden, overseen by Pierre-Paul
Saunier from the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, who had emigrated with
Michaux, failed because of the harsh winters. In 1787, Michaux
established and maintained for a decade a botanical garden of 111
acres near what is now Aviation Avenue in North Charleston, South
Carolina, from which he made many expeditions to various parts of
North America. Michaux described and named many North American
species during this time. Between 1785-1791 he shipped ninety cases of
plants and many seeds to France. At the same time he introduced many
species to America from various parts of the world, including
Camellia, tea-olive, and crepe myrtle.
Brachystemum miticum by Pierre-Joseph Redouté from Flora
After the collapse of the French monarchy, André Michaux, who was a
royal botanist, lost his source of income. He actively lobbied the
American Philosophical Society
American Philosophical Society to support his next exploration. His
efforts paid off and, in early 1793, Thomas Jefferson asked him to
undertake an expedition of westward exploration, similar to the Lewis
and Clark Expedition, the Corps of Discovery, conducted by Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark a decade later. At the time of the planned
Michaux expedition, Lewis was an 18-year-old protégé of Jefferson
who asked to be included in the expedition, and was turned down by
Before Michaux set out, however, he volunteered to assist the French
Minister to America, Edmond-Charles Genet. Genet was engaging in
war-like acts against English and Spanish naval interests, aggravating
relations between America,
England and Spain. George Rogers Clark
offered to organize and lead a militia to take over Louisiana
territory from the Spanish. Michaux's mission was to evaluate Clark's
plan and coordinate between Clark's actions and Genet's. Michaux went
to Kentucky, but, without adequate funds, Clark was unable to raise
the militia and the plan eventually folded. It is not true, as
sometimes reported, that Thomas Jefferson ordered Michaux to leave the
United States after he learned of his involvement with Genet. Though
Jefferson did not support Genet's actions, he was aware of Genet's
instructions for Michaux and even provided Michaux with letters of
introduction to the Governor of Kentucky.
On his return to
France in 1796 he was shipwrecked, however most of
his specimens survived. His two American gardens declined. Saunier,
his salary unpaid, cultivated potatoes and hay and paid taxes on the
New Jersey property, which is now still remembered as "The Frenchman's
Garden", part of Machpelah Cemetery in North Bergen.
In 1800, Michaux sailed with Nicolas Baudin's expedition to Australia,
but left the ship in Mauritius. He then went to
investigate the flora of that island, and died there of a tropical
fever. His work as a botanist was chiefly done in the field, and he
added largely to what was previously known of the botany of the East
and of America.
In 1800, on his visit to the United States, Pierre Samuel Du Pont de
Nemours, concerned about the abandoned botanical gardens, wrote to the
Institut de France, who sent over Michaux's son François André
Michaux to sell the properties. He sold the garden near Charleston,
but the concern expressed by Du Pont and his brother Eleuthère
Irénée du Pont preserved the New Jersey garden in Saunier's care and
continued to support it. Saunier continued to send seeds to
the rest of his life, and is credited with introducing into gardens
the chinquapin (Castanea pumila) and the smoking bean tree (Catalpa
Aaron Burr recorded meeting Michaux in Paris on September 17, 1810,
but this was apparently Francois Andre Michaux, the son. According to
Burr he went "to Michaux's, the botanist, who was many years in the
United States, and has written a valuable little book of his travels.
He is now publishing his account of our trees, which will be extremely
interesting. It demonstrates that we (not the whole continent, but the
United States alone) have three times the number of useful trees that
Europe can boast..." Burr's cited quote would apply equally to both
Michaux', father and son, and perhaps more to the son, who had been in
America a total of some 6 years, and had recently (1804) written about
his travels in America, and was subsequently working on his later opus
on American trees.
Babylonian Caillou Michaux or Michaux Stone, Bibliothèque Nationale
The Carolina lily (Lilium michauxii), Michaux's Saxifrage (Saxifraga
michauxii), and several other plants are named for him.
Michaux State Forest
Michaux State Forest in
Pennsylvania (U.S.), which protects over 344
square kilometers (over 85,000 acres), is named for him.
André-Michaux Ecological Reserve in Quebec, Canada, which protects
450 hectares, is named for him.
Michaux wrote two valuable works on North American plants: the
Histoire des chênes de l'Amérique septentrionale (1801), with 36
plates, and the Flora Boreali-Americana (2 vols., 1803), with 51
plates. Although this 1803 work appeared to be the work of the
father, François claimed some 15 years later that the work had been
completed after his father's death and published posthumously by
himself and another botanist.
François André Michaux
François André Michaux published an Histoire des arbres
forestiers de l'Amérique septentrionale (3 vols., 1810–1813), with
156 plates, of which an English translation appeared in 1817-1819 as
The North American Sylva.
Michaux Stone — Michaux brought a boundary stone or kudurru back
from his Near Eastern trip. It was originally found by a French
physician living in Baghdad, near the site of a 12th-century BCE
Babylonian town named Bak-da-du. On a small part of an embankment on
the Tigris—near the Al-Karkh end of the Baab El-Maudham Bridge—is
another archeological site attributed to the second Babylonian period,
circa 600 BCE. Michaux sold the kudurru to the "Institute Constituting
the Commission for Scientific Travel and the Custodians of the Museum
of Antiquities in
France in 1800, for 1200 francs. The 'Michaux stone'
or Caillou Michaux was then placed in the
Cabinet des Médailles
Cabinet des Médailles of
Bibliothèque Nationale at that time.
The standard author abbreviation Michx. is used to indicate this
person as the author when citing a botanical name.
Taxa named by André Michaux
European and American voyages of scientific exploration
^ Pluchet, Régis (December 2004). "Michaux Mysteries Clarified".
Castanea. 69 (sp2): 228–232.
^ André Michaux.org http://www.michaux.org/michaux.htm#print
André Michaux (1889). Journal of André Michaux, 1787-1796.
^ a b c d One or more of the preceding
sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Michaux, André".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
^ Albert E. Sanders; William Dewey Anderson (1999). Natural History
Investigations in South Carolina: From Colonial Times to the Present.
Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 29.
^ Julia Post Mitchell (1916). St. Jean de Crèvecoeur. Columbia
University Press. p. 104.
^ James R. Cothran (1995). Gardens of Historic Charleston. Univ of
South Carolina Press. pp. 6–7.
^ Williams, Charlie. "Explorer, Botanist, Courier, or Spy? André
Michaux and the Genet Affair of 1793." Castanea 69 (2004): 98-106
^ Robbins and Howson, 1958.
^ IPNI. Michx.
"Brief Biography of André Michaux".
André Michaux International
Society. Archived from the original on 9 November 2006. Retrieved
"Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, André Michaux". Library and
Archives Canada. Retrieved 2006-11-15.
Savage, Henry (1959). Discovering America 1700-1875. Harper & Row,
70-73. ISBN 0-06-090740-1.
Pluchet, Régis (2014), L'extraordinaire voyage d'un botaniste en
Perse, ed. Privat, Toulouse.
Savage, Henry Jr. and Elizabeth J. Savage (1986). André and François
André Michaux. University Press of Virginia.
Fishman, Gail (2001). Journeys Through Paradise. University Press of
Works by or about
André Michaux at Internet Archive
Michaux, François-André (1811). Histoire des arbres forestiers de
l'Amérique septentrionale. 1. Paris.
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden: André Michaux
Biodiversity Heritage Library: books by André Michaux
ISNI: 0000 0001 2128 2789
BNF: cb125600685 (data)