Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

John Bartram

        Science | American Biologists

Bartram, the family name of two American scientists, father and son.

John Bartram

(1699–1777) was the first native-born American botanist. He was born at Marple, near Philadelphia. He became interested in botany as a child and studied the subject on his own. In 1728 he founded the first botanical gardens in North America at Kingsessing. The 27-acre (11-hectare) tract is now a part of the Philadelphia park system.

Bartram was the first American botanist to experiment with breeding and improving plants. In search of new plants, he explored the Allegheny and Catskill mountains and made trips to Florida and the Carolinas. Famous in Europe as well as in America, he was appointed botanist to King George III of England in 1765. Bartram exchanged plants with many European botanists. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus called him the "greatest natural botanist" of his time.

William Bartram

(1739–1823), John's son, was a naturalist. He was born at Kingsessing, Pennsylvania. William accompanied his father in a search for new plants in Florida, 1765–66. He explored the southeastern region in 1773–77. His eloquent account of his travels through the South, published in 1791, was translated into many languages and influenced Romantic writers.