Andre Michaux visits Spanish East Florida, spring 1788



W. K. Taylor;E. M. Norman


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Plant Sciences


Andre Michaux was named royal botanist to King Louis XVI of France in 1785. His mission to North America was to collect plants, seeds, and other useful products of natural history to restore France's forests and enrich the royal gardens and parks. From his Journal of My Voyage, a record of his daily activities kept during the 11 years in America, we can retrace his steps, determine what plants he observed and collected, and learn whom he met. Michaux arrived in St. Augustine, Florida, on February 28, 1788, with his son, Francois Andre, and a young servant. The Second Spanish Period (1784-1821) of Florida history was in its fourth year. After visiting Governor Vizente Manuel de Zespedes, the Governor offered Michaux assistance and permission to travel in Spanish East Florida. Michaux purchased a canoe and provisions and hired two oarsmen for a trip south along the east coast of Florida. He left with his entourage on March 12, and did not return until five weeks later, having traveled on horseback, canoe, and on foot to today's Cape Canaveral. Michaux wrote in his Journal on April 27 that 105 species of plants had been found since March 1, his first day of collecting in Florida. Forty species were well known to the botanist, 36 were of genera he knew whose specific epithet he was unsure of or did not know, and 29 plants were not determined because they were not in flower. The number of species Michaux found after April 27 is not recorded. The Michaux party left St. Augustine on April 29 for the St. Johns River. He canoed up the river to south of present-day Blue Spring, Volusia County. Michaux wrote that the trip to Florida was fruitful. His collections yielded several new species: Sphenopholis obtusata, Fimbristylis spadicea, Furiena scirpoidea, Rhynchospora ciliaris, and Ceanothus microphyllus.

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Article; Proceedings Paper



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