From Academic Kids

André Michaux (8 March, 1746 – probably 11 October, 1803) was a French botanist and explorer.

Michaux was born at Versailles. After the death of his wife he took up the study of botany and was a student of Bernard de Jussieu. In 1779 he spent some time botanizing in England, and in 1780 he explored Auvergne, the Pyrenees and the north of Spain. In 1782 he was sent by the French government on a botanical mission to Persia. His journey began unfavourably, as he was robbed by Arabs of all his equipment except his books; but he gained influential support in Persia, having cured 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 botanic gardens of France.

He was appointed by Louis XVI as royal botanist and sent to the United States in 1785 to investigate plants that could be of value in France. He travelled with his son Francois André (1770-1855) through Canada, Nova Scotia and the United States. In 1786 he established and maintained for a decade a base, in the form of a garden in Charleston, South Carolina, from which he made many expeditions to various parts of North America. He described and named many North American species during this time. He collected many plants and seeds to send back to France. At the same time he introduced many species to America from various parts of the world, including the Yellowwood tree, Sasanqua Camellia, Sweet Olive Osmanthus, Crape Myrtle, and Maidenhair Tree or Ginkgo.

On his return to France in 1797 he was shipwrecked and lost most of his collections. In 1800 he sailed with Nicolas Baudin's expedition to Australia, but left the ship in Mauritius after quarrelling with the captain. He then went to Madagascar 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.

The Carolina lily, Lilium michauxii, and several other plants are named for him.

He wrote two valuable works on North American plants: the Histoire des chenes de l'Amerique septentrionale (1801), with 36 plates, and the Flora Boreali-Americana (2 vols., 1803), with 51 plates. His son Francois published a Histoire des arbres forestiers de l'Amerique septentrionale (3 vols., 1810-1813), with 156 plates, of which an English translation appeared in 1817-1819 as The North American Sylva.

The standard botanical author abbreviation Michx. is applied to species he described.

External links

fr:André Michaux


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