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1 December 2004 No Man is an Island: The Life and Times of André Michaux
James L. Reveal
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Botanical explorers roamed temperate North American colonies long before André Michaux came to the United States. The efforts of these men and women accounted for thousands of new species of plants described in the scientific literature from the early 1500s until 1785 when Michaux arrived to begin his studies that would ultimately result, in 1803, in an abbreviated summary of the region's known flora. Most of the early collecting efforts concentrated on trees and shrubs of potential ornamental significance or plants of medicinal importance. Introduction of temperate North American plants was well underway by 1600, with a steady flow of natural objects going to Western Europe throughout the seventeenth century. Although broad, general interest in North American plants declined after 1700, the efforts of a few—notably Mark Catesby, John Clayton, John Mitchell, John Bartram, Pehr Kalm, Alexander Garden, Caldwaller Colden and William Bartram—greatly shaped Carl Linnaeus' understanding of our flora from 1735 until his death in 1778. Therefore, Michaux did not enter into an unexplored wilderness where everything was new but rather a land that required a naturalist with a broad understanding of what was undiscovered still. The focus of this paper is to review the effort of those early naturalists, and to present details of the new methods Michaux brought to field botany: A broad knowledge of plants, a genuine willingness to explore, and a desire (albeit reluctant) to put what he knew into print. Unfortunately, his ultimate product, Flora Boreali-Americana, was myopic in scope and therefore woefully incomplete because Michaux failed to consult the wealth of material collected prior to his own efforts.

James L. Reveal "No Man is an Island: The Life and Times of André Michaux," Castanea 69(sp2), 22-68, (1 December 2004).[22:NMIAIT]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 December 2004
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