Bartram, John (bärˈtrəm) [key], 1699–1777, pioneer American botanist, b. near Darby, Pa. He had no formal schooling but possessed a keen mind and a great interest in plants. In 1728 he purchased land along the banks of the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia and planted there the first botanical garden in the United States; it still exists as a part of the Philadelphia park system. He made journeys in the Alleghenies and the Catskills and in the Carolinas and Florida in search of new plants. Among his correspondents were nearly all the great European botanists of the day. By exchanging specimens with them, Bartram introduced many American plants into Europe and established some European species in the New World. To his home and gardens came the famous Americans of his day and many distinguished European travelers. His Observations (1751) records a trip to Lake Ontario, and the journal of his Florida trip (1765–66) was published in William Stork's Description of East Florida (3d ed. 1769). His name is commemorated in a genus of mosses, Bartramia.
See E. Earnest, John and William Bartram (1940); A. Sutton, Exploring with the Bartrams (1963); A. Wulf, The Brother Gardeners (2009).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.