A Chronology of Plants and People

 Plant Trivia TimeLine

 James P. Folsom  © 2014


The TimeLine presents world history from the viewpoint of a botanist. It includes brief stories of plant discovery and use that describe the roles of plants and plant science in human civilization. The TimeLine also provides you as an individual the opportunity to reflect on how the history of human interaction with the plant world has shaped and impacted your own life and heritage.

Information included comes from secondary sources and compilations, which are cited. The author continues to chart events for the TimeLine and appreciates your critique of the many entries as well as suggestions for additions and improvements to the topics covered.



5-15 Billion+ 6 December. Carbon (the basis of organic life), oxygen, and other elements were created from hydrogen and helium in the fury of burning supernovae. Having arisen when the stars were formed, the elements of which life is built, and thus we ourselves, might be thought of as stardust. (Dauber & Muller, 1996)

3.75 Billion Mixed deposits of ferrous and ferric oxide suggest the presence of free atmospheric oxygen. This could be construed as evidence for photosynthetic activity. (de Duve, 1995)

3.5 Billion Origination of the oldest dated stromatolites. These layered geological formations are built by successive generations of blue green algae (cyanobacteria.) (de Duve, 1995) Lower Precambrian rocks in South Africa contain what is possibly the earliest known evidence of cellular organisms, resembling blue green algae. (Bold, Alexopoulos, & Delevoryas, 1980)

2 Billion Data suggest that by this time in the history of the Earth molecular oxygen began to make a significant difference in the nature of the atmosphere. (de Duve, 1995)

1.6 Billion Strong evidence indicates that filamentous and unicellular blue green algae existed by this period in the history of the Earth. (Bold, Alexopoulos, & Delevoryas, 1980)

900 Million Late Precambrian deposits at Bitter Springs, Australia, hold numerous kinds of blue-green and green algae. (Bold, Alexopoulos, & Delevoryas, 1980)

570 Million Dawning of the Paleozoic era

395 Million The lower Devonian period. The Scottish Rhynie chert deposit from this period is famous for its excellent representation of Rhynia, one of the earliest vascular plants in the fossil record. By 350 million years BP land plants at last became significant. By the upper Devonian, Calamites (the giant horsetail) achieved abundance (as represented in strata of that age.) We know now that seed bearing plants (Archaeosperma and Spermolithus) are represented in upper Devonian deposits. (Bold, Alexopoulos, & Delevoryas, 1980)

345 Million This time marks the beginning of the Mississippian period. Together with the Pennsylvanian which followed (through to 225 million years BP), the two periods constitute the age of coal - often called the Carboniferous.

136 Million With deposits from the Cretaceous period we see the first evidence of flowering plants. (Bold, Alexopoulos, & Delevoryas, 1980)



50,000 Wild date seed were left in the Shanidar Cave of Northern Iraq. Also discovered at that site was evidence that cave dwellers consumed chestnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, and acorns. (Root, 1980)

17,000+ Excavations at Wadi Kubbaniya, Nile Valley (Egypt) reveal charred remains of 25 different plants, including wild nutsedge tubers, acacia seed, cattail rhizomes, and palm fruit. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

8000+ The cultivation of grains had an essential role in the development of civilization. By this time period, wheat and barley were Near Eastern food crops. In ancient cultures, barley was the everyday food of the poor. Archeologists have learned that by this time people used flint sickles and grinding stones.

7000 Flax was known in Syria and Turkey, and is apparently the earliest plant source for fiber (used to make linen) as well as an important source of oil (pressed from the seed). By 5000 B.C. we know that various species of flax (Linum) were cultivated/harvested. Evidence shows that flax seed size increased over time, suggesting that humans were selecting for larger seed.

6800 A "large hoard of carbonized lentils," over 1,000,000 seed, was abandoned in B Yiftah’el, north Israel. The size of this hoard indicates the lentils were under cultivation. (Zohary & Hops, 1994)

6500 Faba bean was known in Israel. Lentil, pea, chickpea, and faba bean constituted the principal pulses for ancient Old World agriculture.

6000 Chili pepper and beans of this date have been discovered in a Peruvian highland valley. Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) and regular beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are known archaeologically from Peru. (Heiser, 1981)

5500 Researchers have discovered evidence of gourds, squashes, beans, and chili peppers in midden levels dating from 5500 to 7000 B.C. in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

5000 Corn (Zea mays) was cultivated in Meso-America. This important grain would be introduced to Europe by Columbus. [See 1550, China]

5000 Domesticated rice (Oryza sativa) is reported from the Ho-mu-tu site in Chekiang Prov., China. Cabbage seed from this period were discovered in earthen jars in Shensi Province (today cabbages make up 1/4 of all expenditures for vegetables among Chinese families).

4000 Cotton seed dating from this time period have been found in Pakistan.

4000 Grape (Vitis vinifera) is thought to have been cultivated in the area from Afghanistan to the Black Sea.

3000 Sorghum was known in sub-Saharan Africa. [See 1100 B.C., China].

2800 The Fah Sh n-Chih Shu details five sacred crops of China: soybeans, rice, wheat, barley, and millet. (Root, 1980)

2750 A coffin from the Egyptian Saqqara Pyramid was made of six layers of wood veneers, sandwiched and glued together like plywood. Cypress (Cupressus), juniper (Juniperus), and cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus) were used. (Connor, 1994)

2737 Tradition credits Chinese Emperor Shen Nung with the first brewing of tea as a beverage. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

2732  Shen Nung, the second of China’s mythical emperors is said to have encountered the tea plant and to have discovered the use of tea.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

2000 Pearl millet was cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa.

2000 Since the Bronze Age, olive has figured into the wealth of many Mediterranean populations.

2000 Peach (Prunus persica) and apricot (Prunus armeniaca) were mentioned in Chinese literature before 2000 B.C., where they are considered to be native. It is supposed that apricots were introduced to Greece by Alexander the Great. Certainly the Greeks knew peaches by 332 B.C. Virgil noted the Persian fruit in Rome, circa 50 B.C. By 1571 the Spanish had introduced three kinds of peaches to Mexico. [See 1663; 1977]

1550 A 65ft long medical scroll from Egypt (discovered in 1884 by Georg Ebers and named the Ebers Papyrus) lists about 800 medicinal drugs, including many herbs and spices, among them anise, caraway, cassia, coriander, fennel, cardamon, onions, garlic, thyme, mustard, sesame, fenugreek, saffron, and poppy seed. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1485 Hapshepsut, Queen of Egypt, had 31 myrrh trees imported to Egypt for planting at Thebes as homage to the god Amon. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1370 Chemical tests of red fabrics from Tell el ‘Amara, Egypt show the presence of alizarin, a pigment extracted from madder (Rubia tinctorum.) (Zohary & Hopf, 1994)

1325 Many seed and other plant products were deposited in the Tutankhamen tomb, including watermelon, safflower, emmer wheat, barley, lentils, chickpeas, flax, fenugreek, olive (both leaves and oil), almond, date palm, garlic, cumin, and coriander. (Zohary & Hopf, 1994)

1100 Soybean (Glycine max) long had been domesticated in China. By 300 B.C. it is thought to have taken the role as one of two major food crops for northern China. By A.D.100 soybean was common throughout China and Korea. Lotus also was known to have been a crop by this time.

1000 Archaeological evidence shows peanuts were cultivated at this time in Peru, demonstrating that the peanut is truly native to South America.

1000 By this time it is certain that oats were cultivated, most probably originating as weeds in wheat and barley fields. (Zohary & Hopf, 1994)

780 Lu Yu, the Tea Sage, authored Ch’a-ching (The Classic of Tea), thought to be the first significant treatment on tea.  Born in 733, Hupeh Province, China, Lu Yu is said to have grown up in the Dragon Cloud Monastery.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

c694 Trees bearing wool (cotton) were introduced to Assyria by Sennacherib.

520 Bodhidarma, a Buddhist priest from India, is said to have visited the Emperor of China.  Credited as China’s patriarch of Buddhism, Bodhidarma’s life is clad with legend, particularly related to long periods of meditation.  Portrayed without eyelids, he is said to have cut them out and cast them to the ground, at which point a tea bush appeared.  The story commemorates the importance of tea in wakefulness, and images of an unblinking Bodhidarma tie tea and zen together.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

c500 The Susruta-Samhita, an Indian herbal, described 700 different plants of value. This time period in India also provides the earliest known record of banana.

c500 The oldest known Chinese herbal, the Classical Pharmacopeia of Tzu-I was written. Although no version of this book has survived since AD 500, a copy was available to Shen Nung, the writer of the Classical Herbal (which was produced as early as 100 BC.)

c500 It is supposed that the radish was introduced to China from Europe.

c400 Hippocrates wrote numerous treatises on medicinal plants, discussing plants such as saffron, cinnamon, thyme, coriander, mint, and marjoram. (Rosengarten, 1969)

c399 Condemned to death, Socrates was allowed to administer his own sentence by drinking a potion of poison hemlock, the celery-relative Conium maculatum. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996.)

c300 Theophrastus (ca. 372-287 B.C.), the Father of Greek Botany, taught about plants from his own working knowledge of them, experience reflected in the "Inquiry" (Historia Plantarum) and "Causes" (De Causis Plantarum). Text covers 550 kinds of plants, including strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), date palm, figs, and water lilies. His avoidance of more mystical notions about plants made a seemingly auspicious beginning for botanical study. During the middle ages, however, the Theophrastan works were generally unavailable, and second-hand versions were corrupted with misinformation - thus the level of botanical knowledge available in writing actually declined. The rediscovery and printing of his works beginning in 1483 replaced muddled interpretations of plants and helped rekindle an interest in botany. (HNT)

c300 Plants known to the ancient Chinese were discussed by Erh Ya. Other treatments from the period mention cultivated crops such as yam (Dioscorea esculenta) and taro (Colocasia).

250 By this time the Maya are known to have cultivated cacao intensively in Belize.

241 Annual tribute demanded after the conquest of Sicily allowed Rome to provide wheat cheaply to its citizens. War in general brought benefits through the capture of productive acreage, the opening of markets for Roman plantation-produced wine, and the taking of slaves. (Gras, 1946)

216 The south China province of Kweilin (a word that means Cassia Forest) was founded. The Kwei River could be translated as the Cassia River. (Rosengarten, 1969) Cassia refers to the Chinese form of cinnamon, the pungent Cinnamomum cassia.

203 Tribute to Rome from Carthage included 500,000 bushels of wheat and 300,000 bushels of barley. (Root, 1980)

c50 Varro described Roman agriculture, including cultivation of grain (wheat, spelt, & barley - but not rye or oats), legumes, olive, and grapes. By this time Romans had well-developed systems of legume rotation (the use of legumes as a fertilizer crop to return nitrogen to the soil.) (Gras, 1946)

c50 Columnella wrote a treatise on Roman Agriculture, covering many subjects, including the various benefits and difficulties of managing slaves versus tenants on large properties. (Gras, 1946)

c50 Virgil, though not a botanist, gave descriptions and information concerning 164 different plants known to the Greeks in his Georgica. (HNT, 1492 edition) Advice included laying fields fallow and allowing a crop of vetch and lupine (legumes) to mature before sowing wheat. Virgil recommends the scattering of manure as well as ashes. (Gras, 1946)

24 Aelius Gallus, the Egyptian prefect for Augustus’ Roman Empire, led an ill-fated campaign to conquer the South Arabian spice kingdoms. (Rosengarten, 1969)



c32 The extreme value of spikenard, a fragrant emollient made from Nardostachys jatamansi, is highlighted in a Biblical episode in Mark 14:3-6. A believer is chastised by other supporters for anointing Christ with the expensive spikenard, which could have been sold for charity. By the time of Pliny [See c70] the increase in direct Roman trade with India [See c40] lowered the cost of spikenard to one-third of the value it held before Roman fleets began to sail with the monsoons. (Rosengarten, 1969)

c32 Biblical account of Palm Sunday. The date palm has long been considered the tree of life in deserts of the Old World. With 70% sugar content the fruit serve humans and other animals. Moreover, the date palm is associated with fertility and fecundity.

C40 The Greek merchant Hippalus is said to have been the first to realize that the winds from seasonal monsoons could power sailing vessels between Egypt and the pepper-producing Malabar coast of India. This led to extensive development of Roman fleets, which captured the Indian spice trade from overland routes controlled by Arab traders. An account of this trade is recorded in The Periplus..., a treatise known from about 90 A.D. (Rosengarten, 1969)

c50 Dioscorides (the Father of Medical Botany) authored his Materia Medica (HNT), a compilation of descriptions and medicinal uses for plants, including about 650 different species. As the most widely known western botanical text during the middle ages, Dioscorides’ work became the basis for most early herbals. With an expanding awareness of the natural world in the 16th-century, herbalists began to make their own descriptions of plants, and at last Dioscorides’s influence waned.

c70 Pliny (Caius Plinius Secundus, A.D. 23-79), in his compilation called a Natural History (HNT), discussed about 1000 different plants. Well known throughout the middle ages, Pliny’s book constituted a major source of information on plants. Primarily an historian and storyteller, Pliny related accounts uncritically, even fancifully. Once original, rarer source documents were discovered and printed, errors in Pliny’s account became more obvious. Still the work remains valuable; it is through Pliny that we know the exact costs of many products, and that farmers alternated crops, such as beans and spelt. Recognized in his comments was the growing trend of farm land consolidation into slave-maintained plantations. (Gras, 1946) On teaching: "Yes indeed, those who have gained a little knowledge keep it in a grudging spirit secret to themselves, and to teach nobody else increase the prestige of their learning." (transl. Eamon, 1994)

79 On 24 August, Pompeii was buried by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Walnuts were left at a table, uneaten by priests whose meal was terminally interrupted. (Root, 1980)

c90 John predicted the fall of Rome (disguised as Babylon,) describing how the merchants of that city would mourn the loss of their cinnamon and frankincense. (Rosengarten, 1969)

105 In this year, according to tradition, the first paper was made. Paper maker, Ts’ai Lun, used the inner bark of paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera). (Levetin & McMahon, 1996) This tree can be seen at the Huntington; a stand is quite evident along the eastern edge of the Parking Lot.

280 Roman Emperor Probus rescinded the edict of Domitian, which had prohibited planting grape vineyards in outlying provinces. (Johnson, 1989)

290 A Peruvian Moche warrior priest was interred/entombed with gold and silver jewelry shaped like peanuts. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

332 Constantine issued an edict that bound tenants to country parcels, ensuring continued cultivation of land that might otherwise be abandoned. (Gras, 1946)

335 Cloves were delivered to Constantine - the first record of this spice in the West. The source of cloves, flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum, had been known in China for centuries. Etiquette in the Han Court demanded that a person received by the emperor hold a clove in his mouth to sweeten the breath. (Root, 1980)

c350 During the middle ages popular herbals of very little scientific content appeared. They contained no observations beyond those taken from Dioscorides. The various versions of Apuleius’ herbals were unfortunate simplifications both in text and in accuracy of plant illustrations. The Huntington has a printed edition of Apuleius (1483), considered to be the first printed herbal.

400 Haric (Alaric) the Goth demanded 3000 lbs of black pepper as part of the ransom for the city of Rome. His assaults on the city continued, and Rome fell on 24 August 410 after the third siege. (Rosengarten, 1969)

500 Coffee, apparently native to the mountains of Ethiopia, was known as a beverage in Arabia. It was first thought to have been roasted in the 1450's, with drinking of brewed coffee spreading to Egypt by 1510, to Constantinople in 1550, to Venice in 1616, to England in 1650, and to Holland in 1690. By 1600, coffee was grown in India, Ceylon, and the East Indies. Cultivation moved to the West Indies and Brasil via propagation from a single tree that was grown in Amsterdam. [See 1706]

548 Cosmas Indicopleustes wrote his Topographia Christiana, describing the harvesting and processing of black pepper (Piper nigrum.) (Rosengarten, 1969)

593 Tea is said to have been taken to Japan, where it assumed a major role in Buddhist ritual. (Simpson, 1989)

c600 Mohammed was partial owner of a shop in Mecca, trading in plant products such as myrrh, frankincense, and spices. (Rosengarten, 1969)

610 Papermaking is said to have been first introduced from China to Japan. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

632 Mohammed’s death. His injunction against consumption of alcohol had immediate impact, such that within ten years of his demise, drinking was already banned in Arabia and much of the new Islamic empire (Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Armenia.) (Johnson, 1989)

746 The Dutch and Germans began adding hops to beer. The British would not use hops until after 1524. (Simpson, 1989) Hops adds its own unique flavor to beer, and is said to retard spoilage.

775 Charlemagne gave the upper slopes of the hill of Corton to the Abbey of Saulieu, where vineyards have a great history. Wine from this zone is still called Corton-Charlemagne. (Johnson, 1989)

812 Charlemagne ordered imperial farms in Germany to grow anise, fennel, fenugreek, and flax. (Rosengarten, 1969)

857 Several thousand people perished in the Rhine Valley, victims of St. Anthony’s fire. Today we know this condition to be a type of poisoning resulting from a toxic fungal infection (ergot) of rye. The fungal pathogen discolors the grain but gives limited hints otherwise as to spoilage. Epidemics were most serious during times of famine when people consumed grain that might otherwise have been discarded. Outbreaks occurred from time to time until 1816. The active ingredient is ergotamine. One study suggests that the Salem, MA witch trials resulted from hallucinations of important community members who were exposed to contaminated rye. (Root, 1980)

867 King Charles the Bald granted land on the Loire at Chablis to the Chapter of St. Martin at Tours for a vineyard. Because the Loire connects to the Seine, this wine became well known in Paris. (Johnson, 1989)

900 People in Flanders and Zeeland began systems of dikes to exclude the sea from lowland areas to create land for agriculture. In response to rising population, the same treatment began in Holland some 300 years later. (Ponting, 1991)

903 Ibn al-Faqih published Mukhtasar Kitab al-Buldan, which is interpreted to describe sorghum and cowpeas as food staples for Ghana. R. L. Hall in Viola & Margolis, 1991)

1000 Many plants, including spinach and olive, arrived in Spain with the Moors.

1150 Paper was first produced in Europe - introduced to Spain by the Moors. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1057 Chinese Emperor Jen Tsung ordered a new national pharmacopeia be written. More than 1000 drawings were received in Hangchow and the treatment covered over 1000 plants.

1070 Mythical (and impossible to specify chronologically) in this year of the Shire-reckoning, Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom first cultivated the real pipe-weed (or "leaf", presumably a Nicotiana, though tobacco is native to the New World) at his gardens in the Southfarthing. (Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings Part One: The Fellowship of the Ring, 1st ed. 1954, 18th Ballantine Books ed, 1991)

1180 A consortium of pepper wholesale merchants, a pepperers’ guild, was founded in London. Later this organization merged with a spicers’ guild. In 1429 the spicers’ guild became The Grocers’ Company (the word "grocer" from vendre en gros, French for wholesale.) By charter, this organization managed trade in spices, drugs, and dyestuffs; guild members held exclusive right to "garble" - which meant to select and process spices and medicinal products. (Rosengarten, 1969)

c1200 Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, was introduced to China.

1236 The Statute of Merton gave English manor lords the right to enclose parts of the common woods, waste, and pasture. By 1485 the Tudor move toward increased enclosure further exacerbated problems with tenants, contrbuting to an uprising called Ket’s rebellion in 1549. (Gras, 1946)

1300 Villanova detailed Poems for Health, recommending nut oils for cooking. (Root, 1980)

1315 From 1315 through the year 1317, medieval Europe had a significant famine. Following less than half normal crop production in 1315, people began consuming the seed supply for the next year. Wheat prices soared. Over 50% of livestock died, the poor starved. By 1318 bodies in Ireland were disinterred for food. (Ponting, 1991)

1324 William of Ockham established a philosophical viewpoint that avoids complicated explanations: "What can be accounted for by fewer assumptions is explained in vain by more." Called Ockham’s Razor, this approach admonishes scientists to search for the most "parsimonious" solutions to their questions. (HNT, first publication in 1495)

1358 The Jacquerie, an early, notable European peasant revolt, endured for 2 months. Brigands had so plundered the region (destroying unprotected villages and isolated homesteads, taking loot and food and leaving in their wake death, carnage, ruined homes, destroyed stores, trampled fields, and uprooted vines) that peasant farmers failed to replant for fear of further loss. In desperation peasant countrymen came together, at first in rebellion against deplorable conditions, eventually in retaliation. Though this and other movements were quelled, similar revolts, all stemming from brigandry, manorialism, and feudalism, occurred throughout Europe (most notably in England in 1381 and Germany in 1525) for centuries. These revolts would continue to expand in scope and shift in epicenter, presaging the French Revolution of 1779 and the 1918 Russian Revolution. (Gras, 1946)

1455 Gutenberg printed a Bible, the first produced utilizing moveable type. His innovation proved of immediate significance. Ancient texts, available previously only in hand scribed versions, would now be printed. Publication of new herbals and simples advanced quickly. [See Theophrastus, c300 BC]

1471 The Opus Ruralium Commodorum was published, based on a manuscript written a century earlier by Peitro Creszenzi of Bologna. Compiled from works of Varro, Columnella, and Cato, with an admixture of Creszenzi’s own thoughts, this book was translated into various languages and read extensively. It could be considered the foundation of modern western gardening. (Camp, Boswell, & Magness, 1957)

1480 The dry garden at the monastery of Ryoan, in Kyoto, was built during this decade, apparently reaching completion by 1490.

1487 Diaz worked his way around Africa in search of spice & trade for the Portuguese.

1492 Columbus left Spain, sailing west to search for new routes and sources for importing spices from the East. He returned with corn (Zea mays) and other crop plants.

1493 Sugar cane was introduced to Santo Domingo during Columbus’ second voyage. The crop was soon established and a settler named Aguilón is reported to have harvested cane juice by 1505 (Thomas, 1999). By 1516 the first processed sugar was shipped from Santo Domingo to Spain. Soon afterward, Portugal began importing sugar from Brasil. (Sugar cane would become a driving force for the slave trade.) On this voyage, Columbus also carried seed of lemon, lime, and the sweet orange to Hispaniola. He returned to Europe with pineapple. (Viola & Margolis, 1991)

1493-94 Peter Martyr wrote that Columbus brought "pepper more pungent than that from the Caucasus." These capsicum peppers were first introduced in Spain, but were known in England by 1548, and grown in Central Europe as early as 1585.

1494 Columbus introduced cucumbers and other vegetables from Europe to Haiti.

1494 The Papal Treaty of Tordesillas (formalized by the 1529 Treaty of Zaragosa) established a line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, granting Spain exploration and trade to the west (including the Philippines) and Portugal the eastern half - which included the routes around Africa to Asia and the Spice Islands. (Andrews in Foster & Cordell, 1996)

1497                        A thousand trees are seen towards heaven rising,

                                With beautiful and sweetly-scented apples;

                                The orange, wearing on its lovely fruit

                                The colour Daphne carried in her hair;

                                Bent low, nay almost fallen to the ground,

                                The citron, heavy with is yellow load;

                                And, last, the graceful lemon with its fruit

                                Of pleasant smell and shaped like virgins’ breasts. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1497 Vasco de Gama opened Portuguese trade around the Cape of Good Hope. Having left Lisbon on 8 July 1497, under orders from the King of Portugal, he followed the route (discovered by Diaz 11 years before) around the Cape of Good Hope. On 20 May 1498 he arrived at Calicut, on the west coast of India, marking the first voyage to that region from Europe. This trip and the subsequent voyage of Cabral broke the Venetian monopoly on the sugar and the spice trade established across the Arabian peninsula. (Rosengarten, 1969; Root, 1980)

1499 In his Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Francesco Colonna described dream-like scenes (some illustrated) of mansion, forest, and garden that influenced writers, artists, architects, and designers well into the 17th century. (Thacker, 1979)

c1500 Bean and lima bean, crops native to America, became known to Europeans. By the late 1700's the lima bean was grown in Africa, Europe, India, and the Philippines. By this year also, the sweet potato (native to South America) had been taken to Spain, where it was in cultivation at mid-century. This root was soon cultivated in China, India, and Malaya. [See 1526; 1648]

1500 The native population of Brasil numbered about 2.5 million before European settlement. At the close of the 20th century, that population base was less than 200,000. (Ponting, 1991)

1502 Death of Murata Shuko (b 1423), who shaped the Japanese tea ceremony as essentially Buddhist, as the way of tea (chado).  With this evolution, Japanese tea moved to simple surroundings and the use of more rustic objects.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1502 The island of St. Helena was discovered by J. de Nova, and soon became a garden site for cultivating fresh provisions to break the several month voyage     between Portugal and Mozambique. At the end of the century, James Lancaster would take with him bottled lemon juice and "by this means the Generall cured many of his men, and preserved the rest." (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1502 During Columbus’s 4th voyage (as written in an account by his son, Ferdinand), the explorers encountered and captured a Mayan trading canoe on 15 August. Among the goods carried by the Mayans were seeds of cacao (which Ferdinand called almonds) that seemed to hold great value: "For their provisions they had such roots and grains as are eaten in Hispaniola [these would have been maize and manioc], and a sort of wine made out of maize which resembled English beer; and many of those almonds which in New Spain [Mexico] are used for money. They seemed to hold these almonds at a great price; for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen."

1505 Enslaved Africans were first brought to the New World. Trade in slaves would steadily rise, driven at first by gold mining, the harvest of natural resources, and increasing agricultural demand. In the end, at least 9.5 million African slaves were brought to the New World, fully 2.5 million of whom were deployed in the Caribbean where they worked substantially in the sugar industry. For 360 years slavery was the key labor source for New World sugar production. (Mintz in Viola & Margolis, 1991) By another breakdown, approximately 13,000,000 slaves were exported from Africa between 1440 and 1870. Of those people, about 6,000,000 were deployed initially to work in sugar plantations, 2,000,000 to coffee, 1,000,000 to mining, 1,000,000 for domestic labor, 500,000 for cotton fields, 250,000 for cacao walks, and 250,000 for construction. (Thomas, 1999)

1505 The Portuguese settled Ceylon. Their exploitation of the cinnamon forests led to a system of slavery and a monopoly on trade in this spice. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1506 A Suzhou author described Chinese potted landscapes (pinjing, or pan jing) in the following manner: "The people of Tiger Hill are excellent at planting strange flowers and rare blossoms in a dish. A dish with pine or antique flowering plum, when placed on a table, is pure, elegant and delightful." (Clunas, 1996)

1511 Western explorers discovered the Molucca Islands (the Spice Islands) to be the source of cloves. See Root (1980) for detail of intrigue that followed. Eventually [see 1773] one tree planted by Pierre Poivre parented orchards in Madagascar and Zanzibar. These countries nearly provide the world supply today.

1511 Having won battles over Muslim forces, the Portuguese advanced their control over spice producing areas of India, Ceylon, Java, Sumatra - and by 1514, the Spice Islands. For nearly 100 years great Portuguese wealth would flow from control of the spice trade. [See 1605] (Rosengarten, 1969)

1513 Affonso de Albuquerque communicated with the Portuguese monarch: "If your Highness would believe me I would order poppies...to be sown in all the fields of Portugal and command opium to be made...and the laborers would gain much also, and people of Indi are lost without it, if they do not eat it." Musgrave & Musgrave, 2002.

1514 Alvarez commanded the first European vessel to reach China by sea. In the region of Canton the Portuguese crew encountered oranges superior in sweetness and fragrance even to those brought from India and Ceylon. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1515 “The Malay merchants say that God made Timur for Sandalwood and Banda for mace, and the Moluccas for cloves, and that this merchandise is not known anywhere else in the world except in these places; and I asked and enquired very diligently whether they had this merchandise anywhere else and everyone said not”  - the introductory quotation in The Spice Route, taken from a translation of The Suma Oriental by Tomé Pires.  Keay, 2007

1516 The banana was introduced to the New World from Africa. (Heiser, 1981)[See 1804]

1518 Duarte Barbosa, in An Account of the Countries bordering on the Indian Ocean and their Inhabitants described sweet oranges in Ceylon. A later book by Garcia da Orta, 1562, one of the earliest European books printed in India, commented that the oranges of Ceylon "are the best of the whole world in regard to sweetness and abundance of juice." Prior to the discovery that Asia harbored sweet oranges, Europeans considered citrus more valuable for fragrant oils. (Tolkowsky, 1938) [See 1550]

1519 Magellan began his circumnavigation of South America, exploring new trade routes. Nearly 3 years later, on 8 September 1522, the journey ended when 18 of the original 250 crewmen (lacking Magellan, who died on the isle of Mactan in April, 1521) returned to Seville, with 1 of the 5 ships that started (only the Victoria made the entire voyage). Even given such great losses, the cloves (26 tons), sacks of nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon, and load of sandalwood returned to Spain from the very last legs of the voyage covered the entire expedition cost. The returning captain, Sebastian del Cana, was given a pension and awarded a coat of arms that displays two cinnamon sticks, three nutmegs, and 12 cloves. A journal detailing exploits of this voyage was maintained by Antonio Pigafetta, gentleman-adventurer, and published subsequently as Primo Viaggio Intorno al Mondo. (Rosengarten, 1969; Boorstin, 1983) [See 1522]

1521 Hernando Cortés conquered Mexico. While on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico, his soldiers were the first Europeans to discover the delights of the Aztecan spice, vanilla. (Rosengarten, 1969) Among the people in Cortés’ party was a free, black African, Juan Garrido. At his farm in Coyoacán, Garrido later would become the first European to plant wheat in Mexico. (Thomas, 1999)

1522 Pigaphetta, following three years on the Magellan voyage to the Moluccas, wrote that "in all the islands of the Moluccas there are to be found cloves, ginger, sago which is wood-bread, rice, ...pomegranates, both sweet and sour oranges, lemons..." He also wrote that: "the betel-nut is a fruit which they keep chewing together with flowers of jasmine and orange," and " the cannibals of the islands...eat no other part of the human body but the heart, uncooked but seasoned with the juice of oranges and lemons." (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1524 Representatives of Spain and Portugal met to review maps and charts in an attempt to agree over ownership of the Spice Islands (first controlled by Portuguese in 1511); five years later Portugal paid 350,000 gold ducats to Spain for relinquishment of claims. (Milton, 1999)

1525 Rycharde Banckes published his English Herbal with the introductory phrase: "Here begynneth a newe mater, the whiche sheweth and treateth of ye vertues and proprytes of herbes, the whiche is called an Herball" (Sanecki, 1992)

1526 Peter Treveris published The Grete Herbal, an English translation of a popular French herbal. The book appears to be the first illustrated herbal published in English. (Sanecki, 1992)

1526 Oviedo reported having often transported sweet potato (batata or camote in Spanish) from the Caribbean to Castile. During the 16th century, Portuguese traders carried the crop to all of their shipping ports, and the sweet potato was quickly adopted from Africa to India and Java. To this day, confusion exists between the sweet potato (Ipomea) and the true yam (Dioscorea). Confusion began with the first Western encounter with the plant during Colombus voyages, when sweet potato was introduced to the Spanish court as similar to the yam, a plant native to West Africa and already familiar to Europeans. (Sauer, 1993) A member of the morning glory family, sweet potato originated from South America and the Caribbean.

1530 Brunfels published Herbarium Vivae Eicones, the first newly written and printed botanical book/herbal.

1531 A decree issued in Castile under the Spanish Crown established good terms for loans to allow purchase of slaves by settlers for establishment of sugar mills. (Thomas, 1999)

1532 Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru.

1533 A professorship in botany, created at the university in Padua, established plant study as a discipline separate from medicine. That position was filled by Francesco Bonafede. The following year Luca Ghini became a lecturer in botany at Bologna. (Morton, 1971) [See 1543; 1545]

1533 Wen Zhengming authored an album including a lengthy written Record as well as numerous paintings and poems documenting the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician in China’s garden city of Suzhou. Codifying the history of one of the world’s most famous built landscapes, his concluding descriptive statement gave a panoramic view of the site: "In all there is one hall, one tower, six pavilions and twenty-three studios, balustrades, ponds, terraces, banks and torrents, making a total of thirty-one, by name the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician." (Clunas, 1996)

1536 Spaniards completed the conquest of Peru, soon utilizing potatoes as cheap food for sailors. The earliest English publication describing potatoes was Gerard’s 1597 herbal. By 1700 potatoes were important in Germany, and by 1800, important in Russia.

1538 The word "carnation" first appeared as a royal reminder (coronation) of this plant’s ancient Greek name Diosanthos, which translates as "the flowers of Zeus." The scientific name for these plants, Dianthus caryophyllus, yields yet more etymological charm. We are reminded of its clove-scented flowers through the specific epithet (caryophyllus). The term for clove spice comes to us from the Arabic (quaranful) to the Greek (karyophillon) to the Latin (caryophyllus). (Grimshaw, 1998)

1541 Jacques Cartier introduced cabbage to Canada on his third voyage. The first written record of cabbage in the US is 1669.

1541 A book to promote cooking with sugar was available in Venice. Later Nostradamus wrote the first French book on this topic. (Root, 1980)

1542 Fuchs published De Historia Stirpium Commentarii. By 1543 he had published the German version, New Kreüterbuch. Illustrations for his herbals were based on studies of living plants, rather than on the simplified images that had become common in various scribed editions of the Apuleius herbal. [See c. 350] The text, however, was taken essentially from Dioscorides. (HNT) Much later, the plant genus Fuchsia was named in his honor.

1543 One of the earliest botanical gardens, a garden of "simples," was established by Luca Ghini at the University in Pisa - on a site different from that of the present garden.

1545 A botanical garden was established at Padua, Italy.

1545 A Nahuatl document of commodity prices in Tlaxcala estimated values based on cacao beans: "one good turkey hen is worth 10 full cacao beans, or 120 shrunken cacao beans; a turkey egg is worth 3 cacao beans; a small rabbit is worth 30; an avocado newly picked is worth 3 cacao beans; one large tomato will be equivalent to a cacao bean; a tamale is exchanged for a cacao bean." (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1550 Introduced to China by 1550, corn grew so quickly in importance that the crop became a significant factor in the 18th century increase in the Chinese population, particularly in inland areas where rice was not prolific. (By the end of the 20th century, China was the world’s second largest producer of corn.)

1550 By this year, tomatoes (introduced from the New World) were regularly consumed in Italy. [See 1554] (Morton, 1981)

1550 Damiao de Goes described orange exports from Portugal to Spain. The date follows very quickly on the tradition that J. de Castro, on returning from India, brought the sweet orange and planted it at his country home of Penh Verde. That tree was the origin of all Portuguese sweet oranges. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1551 Jerome Bock published his Kreüterbuch, one of the first herbals to include the author’s own plant descriptions from first-hand observations - rather than copying the work of Dioscorides. (HNT)

1554 First written record of the tomato. Italians grew the plant by about 1550. Thomas Jefferson was the first American to grow tomatoes, in 1781. Tomatoes were eaten in New Orleans by 1812. George W. Carver dedicated himself to promoting the tomato, in addition to his work on peanuts.

1554 Though the first description in Europe of kohlrabi was in this year, it was not grown commercially (that was accomplished in Ireland) until 1734. Records of this vegetable in the US date from 1806.

1556 Tobacco cultivation began in Europe with an importation of seed by André Thevet. (Simpson, 1989) Introduction to Europe is reported as 1559 by De Wolf. (Punch, 1992)

1558 An illustration published by Thevet documented the harvesting and processing of cashew by natives in Brasil. (Other contemporary writers also had discussed the value of this native American tree.) Within a decade, Portuguese traders had introduced the cashew to India, where it remains an important crop. Its value lies not simply in the cashew nut, but also in the juicy peduncle (the stem, called mara on in Latin America) on which the nut-bearing fruit forms. That fleshy peduncle, resembling a quince or apple, provides astringent, watery refreshment. Moreover, once fermented it yields cashew wine and brandy. North Americans, very aware of the asymmetric roasted cashew seed, are often unfamiliar with the juicy, fruit-like peduncle. (Sauer, 1993) Never make the mistake of eating raw cashew nuts taken from a fresh mara on. The shell (the real fruit) surrounding the seed is invested with toxic compounds that are dispelled with roasting. The cashew tree is related to the mango (Mangifera indica), which is native to the hills of Assam. Many people are allergic to the foliage of the mango, though they may not be affected by the fruit.

1559 Perhaps the first mention of tea in western literature, by Giambattista Ramusio, in Navigazioni et viaggi.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1559 In this year Conrad Gesner recorded the earliest known instance of a tulip flowering in cultivation in Europe, in the garden of Johann Heinrich Herwart of Augsburg (Pavord, 1999.) Gesner is said to have received these bulbs himself from Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, ambassador from Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I to the Ottoman court of Suleiman the Magnificent. Busbecq reported to Gesner that the highly colored flowers were called tulipam by their Turkish admirers, though the native word for these plants is lalé. Confusion as to the name could have had something to do with the turban (dulban) shape of the bulbs and flowers. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1560 Spanish settlers planted three olive saplings in Lima, Peru. An olive from this original introduction was later taken to Chile. This simple introduction formed the basis of today’s South American olive industry. (Root, 1980)

1561 The posthumously published work of Valerius Cordus established wholly new standards for systematic plant description. His was the first work to uniformly address all aspects of a plant, in standard sequence and parallel treatment. (Morton, 1981)

1564 The European grape vine was imported to California via Mexico, brought by priests.

1565 According to popular history, John Hawkins introduced the potato to Ireland.

1568 The New Herball of William Turner was published in completed form (in Cologne), including all three parts. Part 1 had been published in 1551 (in Antwerp), part 2 in Cologne in 1561. (Sanecki, 1992)

1569 Joyful News... published by Monardes from Seville between 1569 and 1574, later published by John Frampton in English, 1577, as Joyfull News out of the Newfounde Worlde. Many new plants are discussed in this book, including tobacco and sunflower (the first mention). In 1596 John Gerard described the sunflower, which he had grown in his own garden. By 1665 John Ray commented that the flower’s popularity had subsided. Joyfull News... seems also to be the first mention in Europe of the American native tree sassafras [See 1586].

1569 Pius V determined that chocolate, though nourishing, would be classified as a beverage. Thus chocolate could be taken during periods of fasting. In 1662, Cardinal Francesco Maria Brancaccio determined that though nourishing, beverages, including wine and chocolate, are not to be considered foods. (Bailleux, et al, 1996)

1572 Hernández work on the natural history of the New World [in Mexico from 1572-1577, see publication in 1651] led to his description of recipes utilized by the Aztecs for chocolate (cacahuatl). The beverages they made with cacao were highly spiced, the three principal flavorings being hueinacaztli (a petal from the Annonaceous tree Cymbopetalum penduliflorum), tlilxochitl (the processed "bean" of the orchid, Vanilla planifolia), and mecaxochitl (the inflorescence of Piper sanctum, a relative of black pepper.) In line with contemporary European concern over the humor and the nature of medicines and foods, Hernandez classified cacao as "temperate in nature," but somewhat "cold and humid." (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1573 The peanut is known to have been cultivated in Chekiang Province, China, probably arriving from Brasil through Portuguese traders.

1573 Clusius became court gardener to Maximilian II in Vienna, remaining in that position until 1587. He later became a professor at the University of Leiden in Holland, where he introduced and popularized the tulip.

1575 Milanese voyager and writer Girolamo Benzoni noted in his History of the New World (in reference to chocolate): "It seemed more a drink for pigs, than a drink for humanity. I was in this country for more than a year, and never wanted to taste it, and whenever I passed a settlement, some Indian would offer me a drink of it, and would be amazed when I would not accept, going away laughing. But then, as there was a shortage of wine, so as not to be always drinking water, I did like the others. The taste is somewhat bitter, it satisfies and refreshes the body, but does not inebriate, and it is the best and most expensive merchandise, according to the Indians of that country."

1578 Bernal Díaz del Castillo observed the devastation of native peoples in New Spain: "Let us turn to the province of Soconusco which lies between Guatemala and Oaxaca. I say that in the year 25 [1525] I was traveling through it for 8 or 10 days, and it used to be peopled by more than 15,000 inhabitants [households], and they had their houses and very good orchards of cacao trees, and the whole province was a garden of Cacao trees and was very pleasant , and now in the year 578 [1578] it is so desolate and abandoned that there are no more than twelve hundred inhabitants in it." (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1581 In a series of letters sent from Portugal (1581-1583) Phillip II of Spain wrote to his two daughters about the love of plants and gardening: "The other day I was given what is contained in this box, being told that it was a sweet lime; and, although I do not believe that it is anything else than a lemon, I longed to send it to you because, should it be a sweet lime then I never saw one so big...I also send you roses and some orange blossoms, that you may see there are some here." It is likely that the Phillip’s sweet lime was what we today would call an orange, for the Portuguese called the Indian sweet orange the limon doce. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1581 Just a few years prior to the battle of the Spanish Armada, the English Parliament banned use of logwood dye (extracted from the tropical American tree Haematoxylon campechianum, and traded through Spanish sources), which had recently come into use for its capacity to yield black cloth. In 1673, with direct access to sources in Central America assured, the bans were repealed. A memory of logwood harvesting was recorded by William Dampier (later to become a prominent English Admiral), who at the age of 22 spent several months in a work camp. The dye comes from heartwood of the trees, some of which were so great in diameter that the workers "therefore are forced to blow them up." (Finlay, 2002)

1582 Rikyu consolidated the way of tea with construction of the Taian hut for Japan’s ruler, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1583 De Plantis libri by Andrea Cesalpino became the greatest botanical book of the 16th century and the first general plant science text to supersede ancient writings. In the preceding 2000 years, little had been added to our knowledge about plants. Like his predecessors, Cesalpino accepted anecdotal information, but he advanced plant study in many areas, particularly in his grouping of plants by their physical characteristics (morphology) rather than by their supposed medicinal properties. (HNT) Cesalpino was a student of Luca Ghini [See 1533; 1543.] The bean genus Caesalpinia was named for him.

1583 Clusius is said to have taken the yellow-flowered Rosa foetida to Holland from Vienna, where it became known as the Austrian Briar (the orange-red cultivar ‘Bicolor’ is still known as ‘Austrian Copper’.) (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1900]

1584 Richard Hakluyt, friend of Walter Raleigh and ardent supporter of the potential of North America, published A Discourse of Western Planting, which promoted establishment of plantations through settlement.  Though he lobbied Elizabeth I for support, such a project would not be advanced until 1606, when James I issued the First Charter of Virginia.  Hakluyt participated in that charter as part of the London Company, which managed the Virginia Company (a separate group formed the Plymouth Company.)  At his death, in 1616, Hakluyt’s son inherited his two shares of the Virginia Company, valued at 21 pounds.  Hakluyt had predicted remarkable exports of raw materials from North America, with great emphasis on wood and forest products.  At his time, construction of a large warship required about 2,000 oak trees, clearing approximately 50 acres of forest. In final analysis, lumber was not a major export, but he was on target in regard to naval stores.  By 1609, 80 ship masts had been shipped to England.  This trade would continue, eventually engendering a new charter governing management of trees for use in shipbuilding. [See 1691]  The newly established regulations would mean English shipbuilders became dependent on this source for masts until 31 July 1775, when the final shipment of white pines was delivered, In the intervening period, England received over 4500 masts from the colonies.  (Rutkow, 2012) 

1585 The first commercial shipment of cacao seed arrived in Spain, having been sent from Veracruz. (Bailleux, et al, 1996)

1586 Francis Drake, on landing at Roanoke Island, North Carolina (Rupp states it was Roanoke, VA) heard tales from colonists who had survived on soup made from sassafras. He returned to England with what may have been the first shipment of this plant. As early as 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold (who named Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard) had shipped material of Sassafras to England, and by 1607 Sassafras was in great demand, sold in English coffeehouses and even on the street. The tea was said to cure a wide range of diseases; the wood, thought to repel insect attack. Today we know that oil of sassafras (out of use since the early 1960s) is substantially the chemical safrole, once used to flavor root beer, but now considered carcinogenic. The most significant commercial use for sassafras today is the manufacture of filé, which is a powder made from young, dried leaves and an important ingredient to gumbo recipes. (Rupp, 1990) [For more on colonists who survived on "a pottage of sassafras leaves" - visit the National Park Service Heritage Education website on Roanoke Revisited.]

1587 In early October, Rikyu hosted the great Kitano tea meeting (Kitano dai chakai) through patronage of Hideyoshi.   Followers of tea converged in the Kitano pine grove, where they constructed hundreds of tea huts for temporary use.  In succeeding years, Rikyu’s heirs would come to establish three main schools of tea (Urasenke, Omotesenke, and Mushanokojisenke), each based on principles of wa (harmony), kei (reverence), sei (purity), and jaku (tranquility).  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1587 First written description of Brussels sprouts, a form of cabbage. Common in Belgium, this vegetable crop was known in the US by 1800.

1590 José de Acosta noted, in his Natural and Moral History, that: "The main benefit of this cacao is a beverage which they make called Chocolate, which is a crazy thing valued in that country. It disgusts those who are not used to it, for it has a foam on top, or a scum-like bubbling. ...It is a valued drink which the Indians offer to the lords who come or pass through their land. And the Spanish men - and even more the Spanish women - are addicted to the black chocolate." Acosta also tells of a time in the port of Guatulco (Mexico) when the English burned more than 100,000 loads of cacao (a load contained 24,000 beans). (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1591 On 28 February, at age 70, Sen no Rikyu is said to have commited ritual suicide at the behest of Hideyoshi.  (Hohenegger Beatrice, 2007)

1593 Carolus Clusius, having relocated to Leiden, established the Hortus Academicus, said to be the first botanical garden dedicated to ornamental plants. The valuable collection of tulips he cultivated there provided much of the material for the growing Dutch tulip industry - apparently through theft as much as sale or gift. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1594 Through 1597 a great famine struck Europe, caused by four bad harvests. (Ponting, 1991)

1595 Bakers in Montpellier, France were forced to use bushes to fire their ovens because there remained no forest in the area to supply firewood. Europe would continue to face energy shortages based on dwindling forest reserves. Eventually reliance would move to coal, then to petroleum (remember, even these fossil fuels are based on plant life), which would mark a major shift in the history of civilization, from renewable to non-renewable energy sources. (Ponting, 1991)

1596 L. Shih Chen published Pen Ts’ao Kang Mu, the most well-known and praised of Chinese herbals. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1596 Gerard included in a catalog of plants in his Holborn garden what may be the first mention of the garden Nasturtium (probably Trapaeolum majus). A much later publication, Aiton’s Hortus Kewensis, notes that Lumley Lloyd introduced this plant to horticulture, in 1686. (Halliwell, 1987)

1597 Gerard published the first edition of his Herball, followed eventually by a second edition in 1633, which was edited and expanded by Thomas Johnston. Titled The Herball or General Historie of Plants, the text is said to have relied heavily on an English translation of Dodoens’ Stirpium. (Sanecki, 1992)

1600 Britain’s East India Company was founded. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1601 Jean Robin published a catalog for his medicinal herb garden.

1602 Shareholders formed The United (Dutch) East India Company, with bad consequences for Portuguese traders. [See 1605, 1799] (Rosengarten, 1969)

1603 Spigelius published instructions on making dried herbarium specimens (in his Isagoges in Rem Herbarium) - a technique that had only come into practice during the previous 50 years. The collecting, exchange, archiving, and study of pressed, dried plants that are mounted to sheets of paper engendered a quiet revolution in taxonomy, floristics, and systematics. (Morton, 1981)

1603 At the age of 18, Federico Cesi (meeting with three friends in his Umbrian home) founded the Academy of Linceans (the Academy of the Lynx-eyed), the four members devoting themselves to "the keen exploration of the minutiae of nature." Each member assumed a specialty; Cesi was devoted to botany. By 1610, Giovaanni Battista Della Porta had become the 5th member, and in 1611, Galileo Galilei was enrolled. For a span of time, "astronomy and botany went hand in hand," with such additions to the membership as botanists Nicol Antonio Stelliola and Fabio Colonna. (Freedberg, 2002) [See 1624]

1604 "Man was created of the Earth, and lives by virtue of the air; for there is in the air a secret food of life...whose invisible congealed spirit is better than the whole Earth - without which no mortal can live, and without which nothing grows or is generated in the world."  These words are taken from the works of Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius, and (according to Lane) constitute one of the first references to the substance known today as oxygen - (Lane, 2002)

1605 James I issued letters of incorporation to London’s Worshipful Company of Gardeners.

1605 The Dutch began seizing control of Portuguese-held trade with the Spice Islands (historically called the Moluccas, today the three widespread groups of islands that make up the Indonesian province of Maluku), gaining full control by 1621. By 1681 a plan to eliminate trees in most areas of the Moluccas and to concentrate cultivation of nutmeg and cloves on only two islands had the desirable effect of raising prices and tightening management of supply. (Rosengarten, 1969)[See 1770; 1860; 1886]

1606 A million black mulberry trees were imported to England, another step in an effort to start a silk industry. Production of silk in England was never successful. (Lewington, 1990)

1608 Jean Robin and Pierre Valet published the first European florilegium, Jardin du Roy tres Chrestien Henri IV. It was followed closely by Florilegium Novum (1611-1614) and Florilegium Renovatum (1641) by Jean Theodore de Bry, Besler’s Hortus Eystettensis (1613), Emanuel Sweert’s Florilegium (1612), and Hortus Floridus by Crispin de Passe (1614). These books covered extensive numbers of horticultural floral forms. For example, Besler’s work included 660 species and more than 400 variants (doubles, variegates, etc); 400 of his plants had medicinal value, 180 were used in cooking, and 250 were grown principally for ornament. Besler’s book included numerous forms of lilies, campanulas, delphiniums, hollyhocks, scabiosas, iris, tulips, narcissus, roses, hyacinths, and anemones.

1609 Jamestown colonists planted cucumbers and carrots in their gardens.

1610 First apparent importation of tea to Europe.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1610 The practice of drinking tea was first introduced to Europe, and to England in 1644.

1610 By this year, huge sugar plantations in the province of Bahia, Brasil were run by 2,000 white settlers, 4,000 black slaves, and 7,000 Indian slaves.

1610 Tea was imported to Europe (apparently the first time) through the Dutch East India Company. It was not until September 1658 that an advertisement appeared in England for this commodity. (Coe & Coe, 1996)

1611 John Tradescant, gardener at Hatfield House, submitted a bill for various plants purchased in Holland, including 80 shillings paid for 800 tulip bulbs. At that price, the bulbs represented a gardener’s salary for about six months. (Pavord, 1999)

1612 In his De Orbe Nove, Peter Matyr commented concerning chocolate (cacao): "But it is very needfull to heare what happie money they use, for they have monye, which I call happy, because for the greedie desire and gaping to attaine the same, the bowelles of the earth are not rent a sunder, nor through the ravening greediness of covetous men, nor terrour of warres assayling, it returneth to the dennes and caves of the mother earth, as golden, or silver money doth. For this groweth upon trees." (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1612 The 225 square mile, 13 foot deep Lake Beemster in Holland was drained to create 17,000 acres of fertile land. The draining required 43 windmills. In the hundred years from 1550 to 1650, nearly 400,000 acres of Dutch land were reclaimed for agriculture. (Ponting, 1991)

1612 John Rolfe is said to have introduced the Orinoco strain of tobacco from Venezuela, giving Virginia colonists their first commercially successful agricultural export crop. (The tobacco native to Virginia was not popular in Europe). The value of tobacco was so great that Virginia governor Thomas Dale was forced to require that each farmer plant 2 acres of corn also. About 500,000 pounds of tobacco were produced in 1627; and 35 million pounds by 1700. The eventual demands of tobacco as a crop resulted in institution of slave labor in about 1674. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1619 The Virginia Company of London (having been founded through a land grant in Virginia in 1606) instituted the headright system, a means of granting land (in 50 acre parcels) to farmers. The original working arrangement had been a seven-year indenture period for settlers, with the expectation farmers would continue as share-cropping tenants. The headright system of land disposal established a precedent for other colonies in eastern North America. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1620 Although some advances in the study of natural phenomena had been made in the previous century, Francis Bacon’s call for method in scientific inquiry in his Novum organum (HNT) prompted a new spirit of investigation. His method rejected "the dogma and deduction" of ancient philosophers who ignored the value of observation.

1621 A thanksgiving feast was held in mid-October by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims in appreciation of assistance from members of the Massasoit tribe and celebration of the first harvest. (Milestones, Pen, 1974) The gift of corn in 1620 proved critical to the survival of half of the 102 Pilgrims who had arrived on the Mayflower. A brass plaque at Truro (Corn Hill) quotes Governor Bradford: "And sure it was God’s good providence that we found this corne for we know not how else we should have done." (Galinat in Foster & Cordell, 1996)

1622 Native Americans killed a third of the Virginia population of European settlers in apparent retaliation for the encroachment of these immigrants on Indian cornfields. (Root, 1980)

1623 Gaspard Bauhin produced the Pinax, a monumental compilation that pulled together uncoordinated plant names and descriptions that had appeared in Theophrastus and Dioscorides, as well as in later herbals and other plant records. By accepting Bauhin’s compilation, Linnaeus was able to avoid many of the complications of the ancient literature. (HNT)

1623 Carrying through with the barbarous cruelty of Dutch Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen in establishing control over spice producing islands, Dutch representatives committed a brutal massacre of the British and Japanese working on Amboyna. (Milton, 1999)

1624 Galileo sent an occhialino (an early term for microscope) to Cesi, with the conclusion: "But your Excellency will have a huge field in which to observe many thousands of specimens. I beg you to notify me of the most interesting things you observe. In sum, it gives us the possibility of infinitely contemplating the grandeur of nature, how subtly she works, and with what indescribable diligence." By 1625, Colonna had called the instrument an enghiscope, while another Lincean, Johannes Faber, termed it the microscope. (Freedberg, 2002) [See 1603]

1625 Francis Bacon published his essay ‘Of Gardens,’ in which he imagined an ideal garden, a princely 30-acre Eden.

1629 John Parkinson published Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris.

1633 Jesuit Father Antonio de la Calaucha reported antimalarial properties of extracts from a Peruvian tree. The use of the extract, quinine, spread quickly in Europe, where malaria (called ague) had always been a major source of sickness and death. Availability of quinine during a 1655 papal conclave was likely the reason none of the cardinals attending died - the first time this had happened. Because of the way the dried extract was introduced to Europe, it became known as Jesuit’s powder. Other stories about quinine refer to the miraculous cure of Francisca Henriques de Rivera, wife of the Count of Cinchón, the Spanish viceroy to Peru. From this event, people began to refer to the fever tree as Cinchona. Europeans did not know the true source of the bark until 1735, when Joseph de Jussieu collected samples of the tree. (Le Couteur & Burresson, 2003) Linnaeus named the tree Cinchona officinalis in his 1753 Species plantarum.

1634 Until 1637 the zeal of collectors inflated values of tulip cultivars. This Tulipomania eventually fell victim to a market collapse that affected the entire Dutch economy.

1634 William Wood published the first account of New England ecology, highlighted by the following poem (Rutkow, 2012):

Trees both in hills and plaines, in plenty be,

The long liv’d Oake and mournefull Cypris tree,

Skie towring pines, and Chesnuts coated rough,

The lasting Cedar, with the Walnut tough;

The rozin dropping Firre for masts in use,

The boatmen seeke for Oares light, neate growne Sprewse,

The brittle Ash, the ever trembling Aspes,

The broad-spread Elme, whose concave harbours waspes…

The Diars Shumach, with more trees there be,

That are both good to use, and rare to see.

1635 The Jardin des Plantes was established in Paris through monarchal edict.

1635 Two decades of hostility between the Portuguese and the English East India Company along the east coast of India ceased. By 1639 the East India Company had established factories for production of cotton cloth at Madras, and by 1651 in Bengal. In 1661 England acquired Bombay and the Company established factories there. Over 150 years would pass before industrial processes yielded cotton fabrics of the delicacy produced in India by hand. (Musgrave & Musgrave, 2002)

1636 The Portuguese were expelled from Deshima, their Japanese trade island; the Dutch were allowed on-going contact with Japanese traders, through Hirado and eventually Deshima in 1641.

1636 The Dutch occupied Ceylon, forcing villagers to supply quotas of cinnamon, as had the Portuguese previously. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1637 Tradescant f. (the son, filius, of elder Tradescant) made his first trip to Virginia, returning to England with living material of bald cypress and American sycamore. Tradescant f. made his second trip to Virginia in 1642.

1637 John Tradescant introduced Mimosa pudica, the South American sensitive plant, to cultivation in England. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1640 John Parkinson published his Theatrum Botanicum in which plants are classified according to 17 classes or tribes; i.e. 1. Sweet smelling Plants; 2. Purging Plants; 3. Venemous Sleepy and Hurtfull plants and their Counter Poysons; 4. Saxifrages; 5. Vulnerary or Wound Herbs; 6. Cooling and Succory Herbs; 7. Hot and Sharpe Biting Plants; 8. Umbelliferous Plants; 9. Thistles and Thorny Plants; 10. Fearnes and Capillary Herbes; 11. Pulses; 12. Cornes; 13. Grasses; 14. Marsh Water and Sea Plants and Mosses and Mushroomes; 15. The Unordered Tribe; 16. Trees and Shrubbes; 17. Strange and Outlandish Plants. (Sanecki, 1992)

1642 Samedo Alvaro recounted stories to Europeans about the Chinese healing root called jin-chen, or ginseng. (Emboden, 1974)

1644 A recipe for preparation of chocolate in Spain was published by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma. The mixture included: 100 cacao beans, 2 chilis, a handful of anise, ear flower, 2 mecasuchiles, 1 vanilla, 2 oz cinnamon, 12 almonds and as many hazelnuts, 1\2 lb sugar, achiote to taste. This was beaten into hot water, to a froth. (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1646 J. B. Ferrarius published his 500 page compendium of all known information on citriculture, Hesperides, sive De Malorum aureorum Cultura et Usus Libri Quator (Hesperides, or Four Books on the Culture and Use of the Golden Apples). He relates a fable of citrus in which the three daughters of Hesperus, the Hesperides, fled to Italy from Africa. Aegle took her citrons to the country near Lake Garda, Arethusa bore her lemons to Liguria, and Hesperthusa sowed seed of oranges in the Campania Felix. Among his many woodcut illustrations is figured the navel orange, a form we tend to think of as modern. (Tolkowsky, 1938)

1647 Rice was introduced into cultivation in the Carolinas. Today California, Arkansas, Louisiana, & Texas are the main rice producing states. (Heiser, 1981)

1647 Correspondence from the Caribbean to Gov. Winthrop of Massachusetts confirmed that workers at sugar plantations would require food provisions from the outside, because the production of sugar was more profitable than the production of other provisions. The most important export for Massachusetts was salt cod sold to feed slaves in West Indian plantations. Returning ships brought quantities of sugar and molasses sufficient to spur the New England rum industry. (Root, 1980)

1648 French doctor Guy Patin was critical of a thesis on tea, stating: “One of our doctors who is more celebrated than able, named Morissot, wanting to bestow favor upon that impertinent novelty of the century… has had presented here a thesis on tea.  Everyone disapproved, some of our doctors burned it….”  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1648 Sweet potatoes were in cultivation in Virginia.

1648 Jean Baptiste van Helmont reported one of the earliest and most spectacular experiments in plant physiology and nutrition. A five pound willow tree was planted in 200 pounds of dry soil. It was watered and allowed to grow for five years. At the end of this period, the total gain in weight was one hundred and sixty-nine pounds and three ounces, while the soil had lost only two ounces. Van Helmont guessed that water is a complex substance which is changed into plant material.

1649 Nicholas Culpeper published his herball, The English Physician or an Astrologo-physical Discourse of the Vulgar Herbs of this Nation Being a Compleat Method of Physic Whereby a man may preserve his body in health or cure himself being sick for thee pence charge with such things onely as grow in England, they being most fit for English Bodies. The English Physician dealt considerably with astrology and the signatures of plants. (Sanecki, 1992)

1650 By this year coffee had arrived in England. In 1675 one could take the beverage in over 3,000 coffee houses in that country. (Simpson, 1989)

1650 From this time until the 20th Century the Caribbean was the world center for growing sugar cane.

1651 Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae... (HNT) was published, 80 years late. This work resulted from one of the earliest explorations of the natural history of the New World, made in 1570 by Francisco Hernández, private physician to Philip II of Spain. He was sent to assess natural resources and reported on more than 1000 plants that were considered medicinally important by the natives of Mexico. Some of the plants he described and preserved as botanical specimens are now extinct.

1651 Britain’s Navigation Act required that all imports from the colonies be received on British ships.

1652 Pasqua Rosée, a Greek who settled in England, opened his London coffeehouse with a printing of "The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink" summarized as: "a simple innocent thing; composed into a Drink, by being dryed in an Oven, and ground to Powder, and boiled up with Spring water, and about half a pint of it to be drunk, lasting an hour before, and not Eating an hour after, and to be taken as hot as possibly can be endured." (Pendergrast, 1999)

1652 The first New England pine trees were felled for British ship masts. Before the end of the century, British warships were built in North America. By 1775 easy sources of wood for masts had been stripped from Eastern North America. (Ponting, 1991) The pine tree was used as one of the symbols on the first American-made coins, issued in Boston. [See 1652; 1761]

1652 John Hull of Boston, Massachusetts was selected to establish a New England mint. His first coins bore inscription only, but his second set was ornamented with a willow, his third with an oak, and his fourth (the largest issue) with a pine. These Boston shillings are sometimes called the tree coins. John Hull grew wealthy through this process and became the subject of an apocryphal tale, which claims that the marriage of his daughter to Mr. Samuel Sewell was settled with a dowry of 30,000 shillings, the amount determined as equivalent to her weight. (Connor, 1994)

1652 Capetown was founded. The Dutch sent two ships to Table Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa to establish a garden to provide fresh foods and fruits for sailors on their voyages by the Cape of Good Hope. By 1679 the garden included ornamental plants from upcountry regions of Africa, as well as edible and decorative plants from China, Java, Zanzibar, etc. By 1700 plants native to Table Bay had become common in Holland. Among those plants were the calla (Zantedeschia aethiopica), bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae, named in honor of Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of George III), and impatiens (Impatiens holsti). [See 1772]

1654 Tradescant f. made his third trip to Virginia. On earlier voyages he had introduced tulip poplar and red maple to England.

1658 Oliver Cromwell died of malaria, refusing to take the only known treatment (quinine from cinchona), because it was introduced by Jesuits. As a result, Amsterdam "was lighted up as for a great deliverance and children ran along the canals, shouting for joy that the Devil was dead." (Durant) [See 1633, 1820] By 1681 cinchona was universally accepted as antimalarial. (Simpson, 1989)

1659 France’s first chocolate maker, David Chaliou, obtained a patent letter from the French king (signed in 1666) for "the exclusive privilege of making, selling and serving a certain composition known as chocolate." Another Frenchman had opened the first chocolate house in London two years earlier. (Bailleux, et al, 1996) (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1660 Diarist Samuel Pepys records on 25 September his first taste of tea, ordered at one of the many coffeehouses of London where tea was first served to the English.  Coffeehouses were still new, the first one having just opened ten years prior, and served coffee, tea, and chocolate.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1660 Under Charles II, England established an excise tax of 8 pence on each gallon of tea that was sold.  The tax would eventually be levied on tea leaf, as it was too easy for merchants to manipulate the numbers.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1660 Cacao saplings were transported to the Philippines to begin plantations for production of raw chocolate. (Bailleux, et al, 1996)

1661 Robert Boyle carefully experimented with increase in plant biomass (as had van Helmont). In an effort to determine what had happened to the water taken up by plants, he actually boiled the liquid away from the plant tissue and found a coal-like residue. (The sceptical chymiste..., HNT)

1662 Notes from lectures by Joachim Jung appear as De Plantis Doxoscopiae Physicae Minores and Isagoge Phytoscopica (which was not formally published until 1679). These publications express an increasingly modern approach to the study of plant morphology, including a strikingly contemporary definition of plant: "A plant is a living, non-sentient body, attached to a particular place or habitat, where it is able to feed, to grow in size, and finally to propagate itself." Jung’s thoughts appear to have had great influence in later works, such as those of Ray, and eventually the publications of Linnaeus. (Morton, 1981)

1665 Simon Paulli, a German physician, claimed: “As to the virtues they attribute to it (tea), it may be admitted that it does possess them in the Orient, but it loses them in our climate, where it becomes, on the contrary, very dangerous to use.  It hastens the death of those who use it…”  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1665 In his, Micrographia, Robert Hooke detailed the structure of cork and described "cells" for the first time, as studied using that new instrument, the microscope.

1666 Isaac Newton selected Indigo as one of seven colors he distinguished in the spectrum, thus indigo became a color of the rainbow, the midnight blue between blue and violet. (Finlay, 2002)

1667 The English East India Company, having begun importing tea in 1664, gained a monopoly when the English government declared Dutch imports illegal.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1667 The Treaty of Breda provided for cessation of hostilities between Holland and England, with each country retaining all foreign properties controlled at the time, regardless as to how recently or shamelessly those lands were conquered. England retained control over New Holland, i.e. New York; a primary gain for Holland was final recognition of their control over Run, the one island in the spice-yielding Banda archipelago with English credentials dating back to 1603. (Milton, 1999) As part of this bargain, the Dutch gained control of sugar plantations in Surinam. (Tannahill, 1988)

1669 Robert Morison was named Professor of Botany at Magdalen College, apparently the earliest recognition of botany as an academic discipline in England.

1670 Thomas Garaway opened a shop where tea was served until its closing two hundred years later.  Garaway had actively advertised and promoted tea for a decade, stating “that the Vertues and Excellencies of this Leaf and Drink are many and great is evident and manifest by the high esteem and use of it … among the Physitians and knowing men in France, Italy, Holland and other parts of Christendom.”  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1671 Nehemiah Grew published The Anatomy of Plants Begun and Marcello Malpighi published Anatome Plantarum Idea. These independent studies are the first important descriptions and statements on the subject of plant internal structure (Anatomy). Both researchers continued to work in this field for several more years, resulting in new editions by Malpighi and, in 1682, Grew’s Anatomy of Plants. The studies of Malpighi and Grew proved of such quality that little was added for over 100 years. These men explained the structure of buds, the organization of wood, the character of flowers and their separate parts, the generation of seed and embryo, and many other topics that had never been explored before. (HNT) (Morton, 1981) [See 1682]

1672 Robert Morison published the first scientific study of a single plant group (the carrot family) [the first monograph.] (HNT)

1673 Property for what would become the Chelsea Physic Garden was leased by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. When Hans Sloane purchased the Manor of Chelsea in 1712, he became owner of the property. By 1722 Sloane was involved in the activities of the physic garden, and in the appointment of Philip Miller as the garden supervisor. (Sanecki, 1992)

1674 The institution of the London coffeehouse was all-male, generating considerable distaste among women for the practice and the society it engendered. The Womens Petition Against Coffee commented: "We find of late a very sensible Decay of the true Old English Vigour...Never did Men wear greater Breeches, or carry less in them of an Mettle whatsoever." It is blamed on: "the Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called Coffee, which...has so Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind gallants....They come from it with nothing moist but their snotty Noses, nothing stiffe but their Joints, nor standing but their Ears." (Pendergrast, 1999) Pendergrast reports encountering a response, that coffee "makes the erection more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, adds a spiritualescency to the Sperme."

c1675 Slave traders brought cowpeas to Jamaica. A native of India, this pea has many varieties important in the southeastern US, particularly the black-eye and the crowders.

1676 Jimsonweed gained its common name (originally Jamestown weed) when British soldiers in Virginia mistook Datura for an edible plant and "turn’d fool" with hallucinations that endured for eleven days. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1676 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, a resident of Delft, reported to the Royal Society in London that through the use of his microscope he had discovered multitudinous tiny animals in pepper-water. Leeuwenhoek had been examining a range of materials. In examining black pepper, he had hoped to "discover the cause of the pungency of pepper upon our tongue." Black pepper was an imported spice of considerable economic importance. Leeuwenhoek believed microscopic examination of pepper might demonstrate a physical cause, such as corpuscles, that would cause the sharp taste. (Jardine, 1999)

1678 John Banister arrived in Virginia as a missionary. Through connections with Henry Compton (Lord Bishop of London), John Ray, the Botany Club, and (in Virginia) with William Byrd, he received financing to support an interest in natural history. Collections by Banister that arrived in England included Magnolia virginiana and Rhododendron viscosum. He was one of the founders of William and Mary College. In May, 1692, while on a collecting trip, hunched over a wildflower, Banister, was mistakenly killed by a member of the expedition with which he traveled. (Petersen, 2001)

1679 Leeuwenhoek published a scientific letter estimating the carrying capacity of Earth to be 13.385 billion people. His figure was based on total land area as compared to the number of people (120) supported per square kilometer in Holland. (Cohen, 1995)

1680 By this time, the year of his death, Wang Shimin had written in his autobiography concerning his ruinous love of gardens: "Having been amply provided for by my forefathers, I am ignorant of anything to do with a livelihood: I do not even know how to use a scale or handle an abacus. Yet I was fatally addicted to gardens. Wherever I lived I set up rock arrangements and planted trees so as to express my sentiments and amuse my eyes. During the prime of my life I was bent on constructing and planting in heroic proportions. Once I gave in to my extravagant fancy I no longer thought about the consequences." (Clunas, 1996)

1682 In his new edition of Anatomy of Plants, Nehemiah Grew reported a conversation between himself and Thomas Millington at a meeting of the Royal Society in which both men agreed that flower pollen represents the male element. (Morton, 1981)

1683 William Penn wrote in a letter dated 16 August, from Philadelphia, that all native American plantations included peaches of good quality. (Root, 1980 - Root cites the date as 1663) In his 1682 Carolina, or a Description of the Present State of that Country, Thomas Ashe stated "the Peach Tree in incredible numbers grows wild." (De Wolf in Punch 1992) This demonstrates how quickly a valuable plant (such as the peach, which is native to Persia) can be distributed and accepted.

1683 Dutchman, Cornelius Decker (aka Dr. Bontekoe) commented: “It must be a considerable and obstinate fever that cannot be cured by drinking every day forty to fifty cups of tea..”  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1685 Guy de Tachard and colleagues, on a missionary voyage to China, were outfitted by the French Académie to collect climatic data, make astronomical observations, determine latitude and longitude, and issue reports on natural history and native science. In their voyage, the group was well-received by Simon van der Stel, the Dutch Commissioner of the Cape of Good Hope. Van der Stel made provisions for the group to set up a temporary observatory with the objective of recalculating the longitude of the Cape, and Tachard was allocated a pavilion, "a great Pile of Building" at the entrance to the botanical garden. (Jardine, 1999) [See 1652]

1686 John Ray, in his Historia plantarum (published in volumes through 1704) arrived at an early natural grouping of plants through looking at their many different characteristics. His study dealt with plants worldwide, establishing standards and giving currency to much of our modern botanical terminology and summarizing the current state of botanical knowledge. Ray, unaware of the work by Rudolf J. Camerer, concluded in his discussion on fertility in date palm, willow, and other plants that: "in our opinion the pollen is equivalent to the sperm of animals." His definition of species was quite modern: "each produces only its own kind; one must distinguish between essential, accidental, and environmental characters." Ray’s summary of plant physiology was so thorough that he could be considered the founder of that field. (HNT) (Isely, 1994; Morton, 1981)

1690 John Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding was first published, giving renewed philosophical basis to scientific investigation. Asserting that knowledge would be improved by experience, Locke encapsulated the working bias of descriptive botany when he wrote "the way to improve our knowledge...is to get and fix in our minds, clear, distinct, and complete ideas, as far as they are to be had, and annex to them proper and constant names." Locke also presaged evolutionary groupings of plants in his suggestion that one class of relations between species of things might depend on "the circumstances of their origin or beginning, and not afterwards to be altered." (Morton, 1981)

1691 William III of England granted a charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which established royal ownership of trees over 24 inches in diameter.  Trees suitable as masts for shipbuilding were marked with an incision in the shape of an arrow.  (Rutkow, 2012)

1693 The first record of the grapefruit in the West Indies was made by Hans Sloane in a catalog of Jamaican plants. It is assumed the grapefruit originated there from chance hybrids between other cultivated citrus. This plant was not introduced to Florida until nearly 1850.

1693 Famine struck northern Europe. By 1694 fully 10% of the population of northern France had perished as a result.

1694 Rudolf Jacob Camerer (in Latin, Joachim Camerarius) wrote a scientific letter (later published by Valentini in his Polychresta exotica, 1700, HNT) that made the first clear case (with solid experimental evidence) for the nature of sex in plants and the actual role of pollen and ovule in this process. The publication documented years of work with plants such as the dioecious Morus (mulberry), Mercurialis, and Spinacia (spinach), as well as Ricinus (castor bean) and Zea (corn), which are both monoecious. In all cases, removal of staminate plants or flowers either greatly reduced or completely eliminated fertility. In his experiments with Cannabis (hemp), removal of staminate plants from a field did not completely deter production of fertile seed, a result "at which I must admit I was quite upset" Camerer reported. (Morton, 1981) [See 1718]

1697 Father Francisco Cupani published the first scientific description of Lathyrus odoratus, a plant from Sicily and the parent stock of today’s sweet pea. Seed that he sent in 1699 to Robert Uvedale, headmaster of Enfield Grammar School near London, resulted in cultivated forms, and by 1731, a famous selection called ‘Painted Lady’, the exact origins of which are not known. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1699 Dr. Uvedale of Enfield received a shipment of Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) form Father Cupani in Sicily. Due to their form, color, and fragrance these plants became popular and their cultivation spread. A century later many variants were recognized, including the ‘Painted Lady’ which remains in cultivation today. (Fletcher, 1969)

1704 M. Sarrasin transported roots of American ginseng to Paris. A paper he presented on this topic was published in the Memoirs of the French Academy in 1714, the same year in which a missionary to China, Father Jartoux, published an article on Asian ginseng in a London journal. (Emboden, 1974)

1706 Coffee trees were sent to the botanical garden in Amsterdam from Sri Lanka (where the Dutch had only recently managed to establish plantations, breaking an ancient Arab monopoly). A single tree survived, which was the parent of a tree at the conservatory in Paris. In 1723, de Cliey carried a single offspring from the Paris tree to Martinique, which yielded thousands of trees there by 1777. The Martinique plantations became the source of the first plants to be taken to the various coffee-growing regions of South America. (Simpson, 1989)

1709 Famine struck Europe, affecting Prussia on a great scale. (Ponting,1991)

1709 Anthony Ashley Cooper, in The Moralists, expressed the growing appreciation of the natural landscape, as contrasted with formal order in a garden. His character, Philocles, converts to a love of the "primitive state," of "the horrid Graces of the Wilderness," and "the Genius of the Place." (Thacker, 1979)

1712 Engelbert Kaempfer published Amoenitates Exoticae, the first western description of the Japanese flora (as well as other information). Kaempfer was a physician with the Dutch East India Company at Deshima from 1690 to 1692. Other Kaempfer notes, published by Hans Sloane as History of Japan, include the first western description of ginkgo.

1712 Mark Catesby made his first trip to America, traveling first to Virginia. He returned to England in 1719, but his time in the New World included travels to Jamaica in 1714. (Meyers & Pritchard, 1998)[See 1729]

1712 Captain Frezier introduced the Chilean strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis, to France. It arrived in Britain a few years later. This plant, along with the North American species taken to France by Jean Robin in 1624, is in the ancestry of today’s commercial strawberries.

1715 At the age of 71, Stradivari created a beautiful violin, today called Il Cremonese, using a single piece of strikingly patterned maple for the back. (Finlay, 2002)

1716 The first certain report of plant hybridization was provided in a letter written by Cotton Mather, discussing the "infection" of Indian corn planted alongside yellow corn. The following year a British hybrid dianthus was described [See 1717]. In 1721 a hybrid cabbage was reported. By 1750 the controversy of sex in plants was in the news. By 1760 plant hybridization was a professional occupation. The study, hybridization, and selection of corn continued. By 1969 scientists understood more about corn genetics than the genetics of any other flowering plant. (Zirkle in Ewan, 1969) [See 1761]

1717 Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild (of Hoxton, England) produced a hybrid pink (called ‘Fairchild’s Mule’) through crossing a sweet william and a carnation.  This may be considered the first purposefully-created artificial hybrid.  At his death, Fairchild bequeathed £25 to the Hoxton parish to provide annual support (of £1) for a sermon on “the wonderful works of God in the Creation.” (Thompson, 2010)

1717 Having opened Tom’s Coffee house in 1706, Thomas Twining followed that success in opening the Golden Lyon, the first real English tea shop.  Women were welcome at Golden Lyon, and by 1725 Quaker Mary Tuke became the first woman licensed to merchandize tea.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1718 Sébastian Vaillant was one of the earliest supporters of Camerarius’s ideas concerning the sexual nature of plants. He contributed to the development of terminology necessary to discuss flower structure and function (some of which shocked his contemporaries, such as his comparing stamens to animal testicles and penis). Originally Vaillant delivered his information in a talk at the Jardin du Roi in Paris. By 1718 he had published the remarks as Discours sur la structure des fleurs... (HNT) (Morton, 1981) [See 1694]

1718 The initial shipment of American ginseng (sent from Canada) arrived in China (Canton). In 1773 shipment began from Boston, with a load of 55 tons on the Hingham. That shipment is said to have earned nearly three dollars a pound, which would have made for substantially profitable cargo. The potential of monetary gain created a strong supply network of North American "seng diggers." Philadelphia records from 1788 indicate that Daniel Boone sold 15 tons of ginseng root to merchants there. Given such levels of harvesting, the American ginseng (Panax quinqefolium) became rare in nature. By 1885 George Stanton had founded his 150-acre Ginseng Farm in New York. (Emboden, 1974)

1720 In reference to production of cacao, Jean-Baptiste Labat (a Jesuit priest) noted: "Several experiments have convinced me that twenty Negroes can tend and cultivate fifty thousand cacao trees...These fifty thousand well-tended trees will yield a hundred thousand pounds of almonds (seed) which, selling at seven sols and six deniers per pound...will earn thirty-seven thousand francs, a sum which is all the more appreciable because of the fact that almost all of it goes directly into the owner’s pocket, due to the low cost of keeping the slaves who tend the trees. They constitute the one and only obligatory expense. ...A cacao plantation is a veritable gold mine." (Bailleux, et al, 1996)

1722 Mark Catesby journeyed to America, leaving England in February, arriving in South Carolina on 23 May. Prior to his return to England in 1726, Catesby traveled to the Bahamas. (Meyers & Pritchard, 1998) [See 1729]

1722 Philip Miller began management of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

1725 The first in a series of laws was passed in England, with the goal of prohibiting adulteration of tea.  High cost and limitations on import meant that countless materials were explored in order to bulk up or illicitly replace the product sold as tea.  Overarching control came with he 1875 Food and Drug Act.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1727 Stephen Hales’ work in his Vegetable Staticks represented the first significant publication in plant physiology. He explained some aspects of water uptake by roots, movement of liquid through plants, and evaporation of water from leaves. His work advanced the prospect that air provides food for plants (that plants are "probably drawing through their leaves some part of their nourishment from the air", and even suggested that light might be involved. Hales was one of the first to use the equipment and methods of the physical sciences to study plants. (Morton, 1981) (HNT)

1729 China banned opium. That ban on importation would be seriously compromised by the British East India Company until 1839.

1729 Mark Catesby published the first of ten parts of his Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. He completed the work in 1747. Second and third editions followed in 1554 and 1771 respectively. One of Catesby’s significant patrons was Quaker Peter Collinson; another was the influential Hans Sloane, doctor to George II and founding donor of the botanical garden at the Society of Apothecaries in Chelsea. (Meyers & Pritchard, 1998)

c1730 By this time Ginkgo biloba was in cultivation in the botanical garden at Utrecht. [See Kaempfer, 1712]

1732 By 1732 the black slave population of South Carolina numbered about 32,000 as compared to approximately 14,000 whites. Slavery at this time in South Carolina was driven by rice cultivation. Rice seed imported from Madagascar was grown and harvested by black slaves from rice growing zones of Africa. Thus the early success in rice production in North America was possible due to a skilled, slave labor force. (Thomas, 1999)

1732 J. S. Bach completed his Coffee Cantata. He stages a daughter making the humorous request: "Dear father, do not be so strict! If I can’t have my little demi-tasse of coffee three times a day, I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat! Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee, and if anyone wishes to please me, let him present me with - coffee!" By this time coffee had been available in Germany for six decades, showing increasing popularity. By 1777 Frederick the Great began a campaign to control the beverage. (Pendergrast, 1999)

1733 John Bartram of Philadelphia began correspondence with Collinson, Miller, and others. Their exchange is the likely source of pawpaw, sourwood, and other American plants introduced to cultivation in Europe. (Spongberg, 1990)

1733 James Oglethorpe established the Trustees Garden in Savannah. The ten acre plot was dedicated to botanical and agricultural studies, mainly involving experimental plantings of potential crop plants, such as tea, coconut, and cotton. (L.P. Neely in Slosson, 1951)

1733 John Kay patented the fly-shuttle, which quickened the weaving of cloth, thus mechanizing weaving - while the generation of thread through spinning remained a cottage industry. In 1764, James Hargreaves’s spinning jenny made the thread generating process more efficient. Further improvements in bleaching and dyeing as well as the steam-powering of looms would change the British textile industry - with production soaring from 2.5 million pounds in 1760 to 22 million pounds in the 1780s. (Milestones, Twilight, 1974)

1735 Linnaeus arrived in Holland (for a 3-year stay), visiting the Amsterdam Hortus botanicus on his first day. In Holland Linnaeus would gain the respect and support of three important botanists: Herman Boerhaave, Jan Frederik Gronovius, and Johannes Burman. Through Burman he gained the acquaintance and support of George Clifford, wealthy banker and owner of de Hartecamp. Since purchasing that estate in 1709, Clifford had transformed it into a botanist’s paradise of exotic plants. During his three years in Holland, Linnaeus published 14 books, laying the groundwork for his entire career. (Stafleu, 1971)

1737 Linnaeus authored Hortus Cliffortianus, with illustrations by Ehret. This record of plants cultivated by George Clifford in his garden at Hartekamp (Holland) is the forerunner of Species Plantarum. The illustrations demonstrate Linnaeus’ belief that botanical drawings should be of superb detail and must result from close collaboration between botanist and artist. In his introduction, Linnaeus waxed "I gazed at Your garden in the very center of Holland bright with flowers, between Haarlem and Leiden, a charming spot between two thoroughfares, where boats, where carts pass by; my eyes were captivated by so many masterpieces of nature..." (Stafleu, 1971) (HNT)

1737 The magnificent Southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora (introduced from Southeastern North America to Europe by 1730) flowered in August at the London home of Charles Wagner, First Lord of the Admiralty. Georg Ehret immortalized this event with a sumptuous and justifiably famous illustration. Ehret, an apprentice gardener, had learned his artistic skills from his father during his youth in Heidelberg, Germany. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1737 Johannes Burman published Thesaurus zeylanicus, using plant specimens from Ceylon that were collected by Paulus Hermann and Jan Hertog. In the following two years Burman published Rariorum africanum plantarum decades I-X based on drawings made at the Cape of Good Hope by Hendrik Claudius. (Stafleu, 1971)

1738 J. A. Külbel began his work on soil quality, stimulated by the offer of a prize on this subject by the Royal Academy of Bordeaux. One of his conclusions (that was cited in the work of Linnaeus) was that humus content is important to soil fertility. (Morton, 1981)

1739 Gronovius published the first part of Flora virginica (the second part came in 1743). His work was based on collections made by John Clayton, an amateur botanist who moved to America in 1705 and served as Clerk of Gloucester County, Virginia. Flora virginica appears to be the earliest work by an author other than Linnaeus that followed the sexual system. Gronovius died in 1762; sixteen years later his herbarium was sold at public auction. (Stafleu, 1971)

1739 Eliza Lucas (later Eliza L. Pinckney), at the age of 16 and having moved to Charlestown, SC from Antigua only a year before, received a packet of indigo seed from Antigua, sent by her father. Persisting through a fascinating four seasons of disappointment because of crop failure and processing setbacks, Eliza produced South Carolina’s first commercial indigo in 1744. Within six years, the Carolinas were a significant source of indigo for English dyers. (Finlay, 2002)

1739 Buffon (Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon), at age 32, was appointed to oversee the Jardin du Roi, which was under the direction of Antoine de Jussieu. By this year the Jardin was in deplorable financial condition, Jussieu was forced to spend his own income to purchase and ship plants. Given his stature and goals, Buffon would lead the transformation of this garden and the creation of the Cabinet du Roi, all destined to become elements of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. During redevelopment of the grounds, Jussieu began his famous rearrangement of plantings to reflect the natural order of the vegetable kingdom. (Duval, transl. 1982)

1739 About 500,000 people died in Ireland due, by one account, to widespread crop failure of potatoes. (Ponting, 1991) A more thorough account contends that the 1740-41 famine resulted from failure of the oat crop, accompanied by extremely cold weather during which stored potatoes were lost because they froze in outdoor storage pits. Ten years previously, the 1729 oat famine had engendered Jonathan Swift’s famous pamphlet entitled "A Modest Proposal." The potato dry rot, cause of great famine a century later, did not appear in Ireland until after 1830. (Zuckerman, 1998) [See 1845]

1741 The President of the First Continental Congress, Henry Middleton, began creating his gardens at Middleton Place, South Carolina. (McGuire in Punch 1992)

1742 From Rio de Janeiro, the mango was introduced to the Barbados. (Sauer, 1993)

1742 From 1742-1745 Pehr Kalm explored North America, collecting plants for introduction to Sweden. His work resulted in a three volume publication, En Resa till Norra America, issued 1753-1761. (Stafleu, 1971)

1744 Rules were established for the game of cricket. Although a variety of woods has been utilized to manufacture bats for this game, a variety of white willow (Salix alba var. caerulea) has proven to provide the best wood. Trees of this cricket bat willow are about 15 years old and around 20 meters tall when harvested. (Lewington, 1990)

1745 Pierre Poivre, recovering in Batavia from the loss of his right arm as result of injuries received when English seamen captured the French vessel on which he sailed from China, first conceived his plan to create a French spice trade. The plan involved cultivating stock plants of valuable tropical crops on two islands controlled by France, Mauritius and Reunion (which was called Bourbon Island), from whence they could be used to supply material around the world. His idea was supported in France, leading to establishment of the Jardin des Pamplemousses (the Grapefruit Garden) on Mauritius, at the former site of the Jardin de Montplaisir. By 1749 Poivre had begun sending material to the garden, everything from sweet peas to cacao. Under perilous circumstances, he eventually obtained his most important material, nutmeg from Manilla and clove trees from Timor. Poivre returned to France in 1757. (Duval, 1982) [See 1767]

1745 J. T. Needham observed that pollen grains burst open when placed in water. Seeing similar exploded grains on the stigmas of flowers he was examining, Needham concluded that the globular substance emitted by the pollen fertilized the ovules. Botanists had observed that the style is often filled with tissue, suggesting that a liquid, analogous to animal semen, would be necessary for fertilization from stigma to the ovules buried inside the pistil. Needham’s conclusions were accepted and promoted by Linnaeus. (Morton, 1981)

1747 Bernard de Jussieu received seed of Sophora japonica from d’Incarville in Beijing, via Moscow. This shipment probably also included Koelreuteria paniculata.

1747 A process to extract sugar from beet roots was developed by Andreas Margraff. It was not until 1877 that a highly productive process would be devised. At the end of the 19th century, sugar beet production expanded greatly in the US. Through selection by specialists, the sugar content of beets increased from just 2% in the 19th century to over 20%. (Simpson, 1989)

1747 Dr. James Lind experimented with 12 sailors who had scurvy and discovered that consuming lemons and oranges for 6 days effected great improvement. Nearly 50 years passed before the British admiralty required that sailors receive daily lemon or lime juice. Scurvy is understood now to be a nutritional disease caused by lack of adequate Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of this vitamin. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996) [See 1937]

1748 Michel Adanson, a student of Bernard de Jussieu, arrived in Africa to collect until 1754.

1749 A near century old female specimen of the Mediterranean fan palm, Chamaerops humilis, had flowered for years in Berlin without fruiting. By 1751 Gleditsch reported that in 1749 he had applied pollen from a male plant grown in Leipzig to the flowers that remained fresh on one branch of the female plant. The seed produced proved viable, thus further confirming the male role of pollen. (Morton, 1981)

1750 Slaves from Africa were traded for gold and rum. At the African source, one hundred gallons of rum would purchase a male slave, 85 gallons an adult woman, and 65 gallons a child. At the same time, the average selling price for a slave delivered to the West Indies was £20 sterling. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1751 Given as the publication date for his Philosophia Botanica, this year marked the coming together of various lines of thought that Linnaeus had outlined in numerous earlier publications, beginning with Fundamenta Botanica and Bibliotheca botanica in 1736. The first chapter dealt with the development of botany as a study, denoting various sorts of people who had contributed to the science. Categories included every kind, from phytologists (authors) and botanophili (amateurs) to adonides (professors), ichniographi (illustrators), commentators, describers, monographers, methodici (systematists), institutores (textbook authors), sexualists (himself, alone), and eristici (the controversial ones). The fifth chapter explained his understanding of sex as an essential basis for understanding plant life. Fundamental opinions of his were expressed in such statements as: "We hold that in the beginning there were created a single sexual pair of every species of living beings" and "Omne vivum ex ovo" (all life springs from eggs). At one point Linnaeus compares the floral calyx to a nuptial bed, the corolla to its curtains, but also, "the calyx might be regarded as the labia majora or the foreskin; one could regard the corolla as the labia minora." (Stafleu, 1971)

1751 Philip Miller (of the Chelsea Physic Garden) planted tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) seed received from French Jesuit Father, Pierre Nicholas le Cheron d’Incarville, stationed at the mission in Beijing. Once introduced to North America (the first time by William Hamilton in 1784), this tree would escape and become quite common - even invasive. In popular culture, it is the "tree that grew in Brooklyn." (Spongberg, 1990) [For Hamilton, see 1770]

1751 Pehr Kalm, a Linnean student and botanical explorer, noted that Native Americans treated eye diseases with a concoction of water in which witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) had been boiled. The common name for this plant, however, did not arise from that connection. In England, an elm (Ulmus glabra) is called the witch hazel tree because its branches are used for dowsing, also called witching. The wood of that tree also serves for the manufacture of bows. Once settlers learned that the American Indians used Hamamelis for making bows, they began to call it by the same common name as the English elm. Transferred along with the name were the associated traditions, so that the American plant called witch hazel is today the popular choice for dowsers in this country. (Connor, 1994) [See 1866]

1751 First printed record of Chinese cabbage and Chinese mustard in England.

1752 Joseph G. Kölreuter (a medical student in Tübingen) published his survey of studies of sex in plants that had been reported since Camerarius first suggested plant sexuality in his Epistola. Kölreuter had almost certainly been a student of S. G. Gmelin (a professor at Tübingen), who had republished Camerarius’s work and appended his own lectures calling for increased dedication to experimental work on this subject. (Morton, 1981) [See 1760; 1761]

1753 Linnaeus’ Species Plantarum established a new standard for plant classification as well as nomenclature. This treatise eventually became recognized as the beginning point for today’s binomial nomenclature. (HNT)

1755 Henrietta Saint-John Knight issued a magnificent rebuke to poet William Shenstone concerning his failure to visit her and her garden: "The elms are green in vain: in vain the cucumbers are large, and as vainly the Shrubbery shoots out, and the Coppice has a carpet of primrose, cowslips, &c. Let them reproach you." Their communication, over a period of several years, details developments in the landscape at his garden, The Leasowes, and in hers at Barrels. Shenstone is given credit for coining the terms "landscape garden" and "shrubbery," the latter appearing frequently in correspondence relative to Knight’s garden. (Laird, 1999)

1756 The British government purchased the right to export 600,000 Russian trees each year to supply the Royal Navy. (Ponting, 1991)

1759 The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, was established on the property belonging to the Dowager Princess of Wales. This institution was to remain a private activity of the royal family for 82 years.

1760 In the following decade, 20,000 Irish workers emigrated from seaports at Ulster. Most of these people moved to North America, voyaging on the same ships that brought flax from the new world to linen mills in Ulster. Many of the emigrants were skilled linen weavers. A sharp decline in the linen market in 1770 exacerbated the situation, and over 30,000 additional people emigrated in the first half of that decade. (Zuckerman, 1998)

1760 Kew received one of its first tropical orchids Epidendrum rigidum; Kew received Vanilla sp. by 1765

1760 Governor Arthur Dobbs discovered Venus Fly-trap in North Carolina and sent a description to Collinson, in England. (Ewan, 1969)

1760 Joseph Kölreuter began his numerous experiments in hybridization, using Nicotiana paniculata and Nicotiana rustica. His thorough and detailed studies using many different plant groups created the basis for much of our modern understanding of plant biology, from phenomena of pollination to the nature of inheritance. (Morton, 1981)

1760 Daniel Carl Solander, a student of Linnaeus, arrived in England to work in the British Museum, later to serve as librarian to Joseph Banks. Solander attended Banks on Cook’s first voyage in the Endeavor. (Stafleu, 1971)

1761 Kölreuter reported his work on the role of insects in pollination. His detailed descriptions of insect activity and floral structure instructed botanists on the mechanisms and significance of insect pollination, and led directly to the work of Sprengel. (Morton, 1981) (HNT)[See 1716 & 1877]

1761 John Hill established an association between tobacco snuff and malignant (and fatal) nose polyps. (Lewis & Elvin-Lewis, 1977)

1761 By this year British land grants in New England had long required that pine trees, most notably white pine, that were suitable as ship masts be conserved - to be cut only under license by the crown. Appointed surveyors marked trees to be protected with the "king’s broad arrow," a triangular scar. This decree, among many others, greatly perturbed American colonists. The first flag used by Revolutionaries bore the image of a single white pine - representing the state of Massachusetts. [See 1652 & 1792] (Rupp, 1990)

1763 Michel Adanson’s Familles des plantes represented the first general attempt to group plants based on their relatedness, a "natural system." The entry for each of his natural families presents a variety of characters common to the group. Much of Adanson’s work provided important foundation for Genera plantarum, published in 1789 by his associate Antoine Laurent de Jussieu. (Morton, 1981) (HNT)

1764 The spinning jenny was invented by James Hargreaves. [See 1733]

1765 The Bartrams discovered the Franklin tree. Not until another trip, in 1773, would the younger Bartram collect seed in the only known population, near Fort Barrington, GA. In 1774, the supporter of this trip, John Fothergill, presented seedlings to Kew. Publication of William’s travel accounts was completed by 1781, but awaited identification of plants from specimens he had sent to Fothergill. At Fothergill’s death in 1780, his herbarium was purchased by Joseph Banks. (Spongberg, 1990)

1766 Joseph Banks explored Newfoundland and Labrador, charting waters and making collections.

1766 A colonial garden was established on St. Vincent, receiving mango trees as well as East Indian spice trees. (Sauer, 1993)

1766 Peonies and iris are said to have been first planted in Missouri by the Chouteau family, who brought the plants from Illinois. French settlers were the first to establish permanent settlements in Missouri (in St. Genevieve in 1755). (Edith Sinclair in Slosson, 1951)

1767 Pierre Poivre again was sent by France to Mauritius, as general intendant. The following year Poivre brought over his nephew, Pierre Sonnerat, who became a notable botanical explorer. Early in his career Sonnerat collected and transplanted the famous double coconut to the Mauritius garden from the Seychelles. Over the following two decades, Sonnerat contributed to our understanding of many tropical plants (such as dragon’s blood, breadfruit, banana, and cavalam), but his greatest energies were dedicated to the study of palms. (Duval, 1982)[See 1745]

1769 Sweet oranges were established at San Diego mission. In 1804 the first sizeable citrus orchard in California was established at the San Gabriel mission.

1769 On 10 October, Portola’s exploration of the California coast reached low hills forested by very tall trees that were red in color. This became the first recorded siting of the coast redwoods. [See 1784] (Rupp, 1990)

1769 An early North American newspaper, the Boston Newsletter, published encouragement for people to recycle their rags for the manufacture of paper, including the poem:

Rags are as beauties, which concealed lie,

But when in paper how it charms the eye,

Pray save your rags, new beauties to discover,

For paper, truly, everyone’s a lover.

By the pen and the press such knowledge is displayed,

As wouldn’t exist if paper was not made.

American paper manufacturers would rely on importation of rags until the use of wood pulp became common. (Connor, 1994) [See 1840]

c1770 William Hamilton built his magnificent 300 acre estate, The Woodlands, near Philadelphia. His interest in importing exotic plants made the grounds, landscaped in European style, a center for future plant introductions to US gardens.

1770 Australia was "discovered" by the British (though the Dutch had already named the area New Holland and had experienced at least 15 landings since 1606.) James Cook set out in the Endeavor on a scientific mission in 1768, with the young naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Charles Solander (a pupil of Linnaeus), as well as artists. On 29 April 1770, the ship stood into Botany Bay, which Cook originally called Sting Ray Harbor; but, the great collection of new plants by Banks and Solander provoked him to change the name.

1770 An entire year’s supply of nutmeg and cloves was destroyed in Amsterdam with the goal of maintaining high prices. Beginning in the 17th century Dutch traders had gained control of spice production in the Moluccas (at the expense of the Portuguese). Short supply kept prices high enough to create fortunes. (Root, 1980) [See 1602; 1605]

1770 Joseph Priestly coined the name "rubber" for the natural latex of the South American tree Hevea brasiliensis, noting it is "a substance excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the marks of a black lead pencil." Rubber was first introduced to Europe in 1744 by Charles Marie de la Condamine. (Lewington, 1990)

1771 By this year the Prince Nursery on Long Island offered 42 varieties of pear.

1772 Carl Pieter Thunberg and Francis Masson arrived in South Africa independently (though they often collected together). Masson would send over 500 plant species to Kew. Thunberg’s study was mainly scientific, but he sent such specialties to Sweden as the strelitzia. [See 1652]

1772 Joseph Banks was appointed scientific advisor for the royal gardens by George III.

1772 An uprising against British authority in New England, the Pine Tree Riot, resulted from the levying of fines on a New Hampshire man for cutting what were determined to be the King’s pines. (Connor, 1994) [See 1772]

1773 Americans were displeased by a 3% tax imposed by the English Parliament on tea and other products. That small tax added to a 100% import duty that all English subjects already paid on tea, and led to an increase in smuggling of tea from Holland. Loss of business for the London-based John Company resulted in the Tea Act of 1773, which eliminated the 100% tax - meaning the Dutch would be undersold. Even though this change represented a savings for American tea drinkers, the monopoly granted to the John Company continued to carry a 3% tax for colonists who had no representation in Parliament. The uniting of American colonists resulted in some ships being turned away at their ports, but for others (in Boston, Greenwich, Charleston, Philadelphia, New York, Annapolis, and Edenton), boarding parties threw consignments of tea into the sea. (Pratt, 1982)  On the evening of 16 December, American colonists boarded the ships Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver, which were docked at the harbor in Boston, and threw 120,000 lbs of tea into the bay.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1773 French explorer Pierre Poivre’s plan to take propagation material of spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper) from the Dutch controlled Molucca Islands to Mauritius and Reunion succeeded in breaking the Dutch monopoly. [See 1770] (Root, 1980)[For earlier dating, See 1745, in which Duval notes that Poivre returned to France in 1772, where he remained at La Freta (his estate) until his death in 1786]

1773 Over the following decade, Maarten Houttuyn published his 37 volume Natuurlijke Historie of uitvoerige Beschr ving der Dieren, Planten en Mineraalen, volgens het Samenstel van der Heer Linnaeus. Fourteen volumes (8600 pages with 125 copperplate illustrations) were dedicated to plants. The compilation was an elaboration of Linnaeus’s Systema natura. (Stafleu, 1971)

1774 Joseph Priestley reported (Experiments and observations on different kinds of air, HNT) that burning a candle in a closed container changes the quality of the atmosphere so the flame is extinguished. Animals placed in that environment quickly die. A living sprig of mint renews the air so a candle will once again burn. Today we know that the non-flammable air is carbon dioxide; growing a plant in such an environment replenishes the oxygen which is necessary to sustain life. On learning of his results, Benjamin Franklin, a correspondent of Priestley’s, commented in a letter: "I hope this [rehabilitation of air by plants] will give some check to the rage of destroying trees that grow near houses, which has accompanied our late improvements in gardening from an opinion of their being unwholesome." [See 1604]

1774 In October of this year, Priestley and his employer met with Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, perhaps the most famous chemist of all time. Priestley described a new gas he had discovered (through heating mercuric oxide) that supported a brighter flame than normal air. He termed this new gas dephlogisticated air. Lavoisier would soon give this new gas the name oxygen. (Cobb and Goldwhite, 1995) [See 1777]  Though Priestley receives credit for describing the gas that would become known as oxygen, Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius produced the “elixir of life” in 1604 by heating Chilean saltpeter (potassium nitrate – note there is much confusion in the internet as to whether Chilean saltpeter is potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate) – a reaction that liberates oxygen.  (Schwarcz, 2005)

1774 Thomas Jefferson planted olive cuttings at Monticello - unsuccessfully. In 1791, he sent several hundred cuttings from France to South Carolina, only to be disappointed by the lack of commercialization. He was unaware that the Padres who established missions in California had planted olives there by 1769.

1774 The bleaching effect of chlorine was discovered. This replaced much more complex and less effective methods previously used to eliminate the natural color of plant fibers used for yarn and cloth. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1775 Carl Pieter Thunberg arrived at Nagasaki harbor to work at Deshima with the Dutch East India Company. Thunberg received medical training in Sweden, and had been a student of Linnaeus. He was surprised to learn he had considerable freedom to collect dried specimens of plants on the Japanese mainland around Nagasaki. There he collected Hovenia dulcis and Rosa rugosa. Thunberg returned to Europe in 1776, having essentially smuggled his specimens out of Japan. He published Flora Japonica in 1784. (Spongberg, 1990)

1775 With the death of physic gardener Ephraim Potter, the family business was assumed by his son James and daughter Anne. James Potter eventually took his nephew James Moore (son to Anne Potter Moore and her husband Benjamin) into partnership, establishing the familiar firm of Potter and Moore. By the end of the 18th century Potter and Moore had 250 acres under cultivation in Surrey, England. (Sanecki, 1992)

1776 Juan Bautista de Anza (Spanish explorer) arrived at a river in the Santa Clara Valley (near Half Moon Bay), which they named the Guadalupe River. Confirming the site as good for a mission, de Anza made his 30 March journal entry: "To this arroyo or river we gave the name of Guadalupe [sp. Gaudalupe??]. It has abundant and good timber of cottonwood, ash, willow, and other kinds. In all directions there is a great abundance of firewood, and likewise agricultural lands for raising crops by natural humidity, or by irrigation if the river is permanent, as we conjecture, in which case it would make possible a large settlement." (Quote from the ULISTAC Natural Area Restoration Project website, Santa Clara University Environmental Studies Institute, 04.02.29)

1777 Lavoisier published his conclusion that all acids include the purist portion of air, which he called oxygen, adapted from Greek to imply the substance makes acids. (We know today that not all acids contain oxygen.) Oxygen was the gas that Priestley had earlier isolated and studied, and named dephlogisticated air. Lavoisier would later demonstrate that phlogiston does not exist, that reduction (metals losing weight upon heating) does not result from the combination of metal with phlogiston, rather from the driving off of oxygen. (Cobb and Goldwhite, 1995) [See 1774]

1777 Carl Peter Thunberg, who eventually would occupy Linnaeus’s chair at Uppsala, was appointed botanical demonstrator at the botanical gardens. This followed seven years of travel and collecting in Europe, South Africa, Ceylon, Japan, and the East Indies. His work in Japan, because it was with Dutch merchants who held sole access to that country, required a stay in Java to learn the Dutch language. (Stafleu, 1971)

1778 Joseph Banks began his 42-year stint as president of the Royal Society.

1778 John Fothergill brought Cymbidium ensifolium and Phaius tankervilliae to England from China. These are the first Asiatic orchids to appear in England.

1779 Jan Ingenhousz’s Experiments upon vegetables... (HNT) showed that plants produce oxygen in sunlight and carbon dioxide in darkness. This work added to studies by his friend Priestley, but unlike Priestley, who was interested primarily in the nature of gases, Ingenhousz was concerned with the physiology of plants.

1779 From his jail cell, in a letter dated 9 May, the marquis de Sade wrote to his wife: "I asked...for a cake with icing, but I want it to be chocolate and black inside from chocolate as the devil’s ass is black from smoke. And the icing to be the same." (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1779 Opposing Austrian and Prussian armies came to a stalemate in Bohemia when both armies consumed the local potato stores to depletion. The resulting lack of food combined with cold weather forced a retreat of both sides. Today this War of Bavarian Succession is still sometimes called "The Potato War." (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1780 John Hannon, financed by Dr. James Baker, started the first chocolate factory in the US in Dorchester, Mass. (Fussell, 1986) James Baker later founded Baker’s Chocolate.

1780 John Fraser traveled from England to Canada to collect plants; he entered US territory in 1785, receiving financial support from William Forsyth (Curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden), William Aiton (Head Gardener at Kew) and James Smith (President of the Linnean Society). He returned to America in 1788 and again in 1796. Fraser (and son) returned yet later as collectors for the Russian Czar and Czarina. Their work was commemorated through plant names, Fraser fir and Fraser magnolia.

1780 Thomas Minton, a potter’s apprentice, originated the pattern we call Blue Willow. (Rupp, 1990)

1780 Englishman Philip Luckombe commented concerning Ireland that: "landlords first get all that is made of the land, and the tenants, for their labor, get poverty and potatoes." (Zuckerman, 1998)

1782 Oliver Evans contracted to build a flour mill on Red Clay Creek, north of Wilmington, Delaware. His "improvements" produced the first automated mill. One person could run an automated mill and produce 20 barrels of flour in a day. Ordinary mills required one person for ten barrels. (Storck & Teague, 1952)

1783 Lavoisier verified conclusions by Cavendish, Priestley, and Watt that water is the sole product when an inflammable air (hydrogen) is burned in oxygen. Though he failed to give full credit to other workers, Lavoisier was indeed the first to see that water is not an element, rather a combination of oxygen and another element. That second element was the inflammable air, which he named hydrogen, the producer of water. (Cobb and Goldwhite, 1995)

1784 William Hamilton introduced ginkgo, Acer platanoides, and tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) to his garden near Philadelphia (the tree of heaven had first been planted in Europe by Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1751). Tree of heaven is now a major weed tree for eastern North America, and is "The Tree" that grew in Brooklyn. (Spongberg, 1990) [See 1770]

1784 David Landreth, along with his brother Cuthbert, established North America’s first substantial seed house in Philadelphia. D. Landreth & Co. was the country’s most important seed merchant for many years. (Hedrick, 1950)

1784 Thunberg published Flora Japonica. [see 1775]

1784 Junipero Serra died and was interred beneath the floor of Mission San Carlos Borrome in Carmel - in a redwood coffin. [See 1769] (Rupp, 1990)

1784 England’s Commutation Act reduced duty on tea from 119% to 12.5%, effecting an immediate change in both smuggling and adulteration.  Tax revenue was replaced through a new tax on the number of window panes in the owner’s house.  Revocation of that tax, in the next century, figured into the growth of greenhouses for exotic plants.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1785 Thomas Jefferson visited the Jardin du Roi and presented seed from North America to André Thouin. The two men became lifelong correspondents. Over the next four decades Thouin sent packages of seed to Jefferson yearly. Following this visit, American authorities allowed the French botanist André Michaux to explore their newly settled country. (Duval, 1982)

1785 André Michaux sailed to southeastern America. There he encountered wild populations of Cherokee rose, which he believed to be native. The plant appears to have come to North America with early Spanish explorers or settlers, as it is native to China, and had been cultivated in Moslem countries. Similarly, when William Penn acquired Penn’s Woods from the Indians, he found they were already cultivating the peach (another China native) in their gardens. [See 1663]

1785 Culminating four years of study and collection in Peru for the French Jardin des plantes in Paris, Joseph Dombey began his return journey. In Cadiz his material was confiscated by the Spanish under demand that it be shared. By the time Dombey arrived in Paris, most of his collections and notes were lost. Material confiscated by Spain was incorporated into the scientific production of Ruiz and Pavon. Dombey fell victim to French revolutionary fervor. Imprisoned by counter revolutionaries upon his arrival on the remote isle of Guadeloupe, Dombey eventually died of maltreatment. (Duval, 1982)

1785 William Withering, an English country doctor, published An Account of the Foxglove and Some of Its Medical Uses: With Practical Remarks on Dropsy and Other Diseases. His study began in 1775 when asked to investigate a home remedy for dropsy. The active principals, digitoxins, in foxglove both slow heart rate and increase the strength of each heart beat. This improves circulation and therefore alleviates edema - which is the basis for dropsy. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1785 For powering spinning operations, the Robinsons of Papplewick, Nottinghamshire, installed the first steam engine made for a cotton mill.

1785 Dr. Edward Bancroft was awarded exclusive rights by the British Parliament to use the yellow coloring agent which he had extracted from black oak (Quercus velutina) and named quercitron, for the dyeing and printing of fabrics. Taken from the inner bark of the tree, this dye remained commercially available for over 200 years. (Rupp, 1990)

1787 Publication began for Botanical Magazine by William Curtis, the world’s longest-running journal, dedicated to introducing exotic plants to an avid audience. Curtis resigned his position as Demonstrator in Botany for the Chelsea Physic Garden to produce this series.

1788 Jean Senebier, in his Expériences sur l’action de la lumi re solaire dans la végétation (HNT) established the relationship between the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the production of oxygen by plants. His studies built on the work of Ingenhousz. [See 1779]

1789 Captain Bligh was relieved of his authority on the Bounty shortly after water-starved sailors cast 1,000 breadfruit plants (that required fresh water to survive and were being transported from Tahiti to provide a food crop for slaves in the West Indies) into the ocean. By 1793 the Providence had accomplished delivery.

1789 Aiton’s Hortus Kewensis recorded 15 exotic species of orchid at Kew. They were: Bletia verecunda, Epidendrum fragrans, Epidendrum cochleatum, Phaius grandifolius (syn P. tankervilliae), Cypripedium spectabilis, Cypripedium acaule, Liparis liliifolia, Calopogon pulchellus, Habenaria fimbriata, Arethusa bulbosa, Satyrium carneum, Satyrium coriifolium, Bartholina pectinata, Serapias lingua, and Nigritella angustifolia. Epidendrum cochleatum was the first epiphytic orchid known to have bloomed at Kew, in 1789. (Reinikka, 1972)

1789 Antoine Laurent de Jussieu achieved a workable system of naming and grouping plants in his Genera plantarum, by combining Linnaeus’s nomenclature with Adanson’s natural system of classification. His treatment provided the basis for the system of classifying plants we use today. The book was published in Paris - during the same year as the beginning of the French Revolution.

1789 An impressive topographical map of France, 33 by 34 feet in size, was completed through work of the Paris Observatory, using astronomical methods. Its production relied on the dedicated genius of three generations of the Cassini family. (Jardine, 1999) Lavoisier published his important treatise, Traité élémentaire de chimie, in which 33 elements were listed and much terminology proposed. In 1794 Lavoisier was executed, one of the many phenomenal tragedies of the French Revolution. (Cobb and Goldwhite, 1995)

1789 A chewy resin, a mastic, extracted from Pistacia lentiscus on the island of Chilos off the Turkish coast, was used traditionally for varnishes, and even for chewing. But by the 1760s artists had begun to use a new formulation called megilp, which was a mastic jelly made from combining the extract with linseed oil. Joshua Reynolds, who had become an ardent supporter of the new varnishing compound used this to increase the sense of thick layering of oil paints on a painting commissioned by Noel Desenfans, a copy of his famous portrait of Sarah Siddons completed five years before. The compound was found to degrade over time, discoloring paintings on which it was used, and was soon abandoned as a varnish. (Finlay, 2002)

1789 Baptist Reverend Elijah Craig of Scott County, Kentucky, is given credit for first aging Kentucky corn whiskey, thus creating America’s first bourbon whiskey. (Fussell, 1992)

1789 Ginkgo was planted at Pierce Arboretum (now part of Longwood Gardens) in Kennett Square, PA. By 1968 that tree was 105 ft. tall and about 13 ft dbh. (Ewan, 1969)

1789 Thomas Jefferson, newly arrived in Philadelphia as Secretary of State, began a career of plant introduction that included vanilla, tea, and tomato.

1790 The soybean was grown at Kew, but had no crop significance at that time for Europe.

1790 Tea imports from China to England reached 20 million pounds a year, up from about 1 million pounds imported in 1730.  But Chinese merchants insisted on payment in silver.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1790 Archibald Menzies journeyed as surgeon-naturalist on Captain George Vancouver’s expedition to the Pacific Northwest (until 1795.) (Vancouver had sailed with James Cook on his second and third voyages of discovery.) Menzies collected some dried herbarium material.

1790 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published his interpretation of plant structure, providing one of the earliest statements concerning the similar origins of leaves and floral parts. His book provoked numerous commentaries by botanists and served as a catalyst in the development of modern morphological theory. (HNT)

1791 Jacques-Julien Houtton de Labillardière, appointed botanist on the journey of the vessel Recherche (with its major aim being to recover information on the disappearance of French explorer La Pérouse), began his 4-year saga. The results of his travels and studies were published in his Relation du Voyage la Recherche de La Pérouse, giving information on both breadfruit and kava. The kava (Piper mephisticum, a relative of black pepper) he noted could also serve as a drink, but "it was better not to see the drink prepared if one wanted to accept the invitation of these honest folk." He went on to describe how native peoples chewed the roots and spat the pellets plant tissue into a container to create tissue from which the "sharp and stimulating" infusion was prepared. (Duval, 1982)

1791 An excise tax on whiskey (to help retire debts from the Revolutionary War) prompted the Whiskey Rebellion that peaked in 1794 near Pittsburgh. The tax was repealed 8 years later. [See 1862] (Fussell, 1992)

1792 English explorer George Vancouver visited the Santa Clara Valley (CA). On seeing the large California White Oaks (Quercus lobata), with their massive and beautiful forms, he wondered if the valley had been planted to English Oak (Quercus robur). (Arno, 1973: his text gives date of Vancouver visit as 1796)

1793 Christian Sprengel was the first researcher to publish detailed descriptions of the manner in which different flowers are pollinated. He made the original drawings himself. Sprengel’s discoveries would be ignored by botanists until Darwin. (HNT)

1793 A new edict in China made both importing opium illegal.  Smoking opium had been officially banned in 1729.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1793 On his second voyage, Captain Bligh carried mango trees from Timor to British gardens in Jamaica and St. Vincent. (Sauer, 1993)

1794 Ely Whitney invented the cotton gin (a machine that pulls cottonseed apart from the hairs i.e. the cotton fibers) in 1793. (Simpson, 1989) Patented in 1794, this machine changed American life dramatically. By 1807 the US supplied 60% of Britain’s cotton, becoming the world’s largest producer by 1820 - with production rising from 3,000 bales in 1790 to 4.5 million bales by 1860. The plantation production of cotton and the manner in which cotton exhausts nutrients from its soil meant that between 1790 and 1860 over 800,000 slaves were moved to the new cotton growing territories of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. (Ponting, 1991) With increased production, cotton came to underwrite so completely the economy of southeastern states that sentiment against slavery slowly disappeared in the South.

1795 British colonists planted clove trees in Panang. By 1796 the English had gained control of all Dutch East Indian possessions except Java. [See 1824] (Rosengarten, 1969)

1795 In support of military needs, a prize of ƒ12,000 was offered by the French government for the devising of a method for preserving food. The award was made in 1809 to Nicolas Appert for preserving food in glass bottles. (Busch, et al, 1995)

1795 It is reported that British physician William Withering, having learned of the possible medicinal value of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), treated heart disease patients with extracts. (Le Couteur & Burresson, 2003)

1797 The Rajah, out of Salem, MA, returned to New York with full cargo of bulk pepper from Sumatra. Investors made 700% profit, spawning investment by other Salem merchants. This Salem-based trade flourished until 1856, creating some of the first great fortunes in the US. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1797 In Burlington, New Jersey, Charles Newbold was awarded a patent for America’s first cast-iron plow. Cast in one piece, this plow did not become remarkably successful. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1798 Thomas Malthus’s discussion of the potential for increase in the size of a population (An essay on the principle of population..., HNT) as compared to the available resources provided important ideas for Darwin and others.

1798 Frenchman Nicholas Robert invented the first machinery to manufacture paper. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1799 John Lyon began collecting North American plants, at first for William Hamilton, and later for collectors in Europe. He followed the trails of Catesby, the Bartrams, Michaux, and the Frasiers. Lyon may have contributed to the extinction of the Franklin tree by his aggressive and successful collecting. He sent quantities of oakleaf hydrangea to England, a plant introduced by Hamilton in 1803.

1799 Agriculturists described sweet corn, long grown by Iroquois. Its value was not immediately recognized, but by 1980 sweet corn was the #1 canned "vegetable" in the United States. (Root, 1980) Botanical Note: Each grain of corn is a one-seeded fruit, the product of a single grass flower. The female corn flowers are very small organs that form along the length of the future corn cob - completely hidden by the special leaves we call husks. The only evidence of so many flowers along the cob would be the corn silks - each silk is the style and stigma from a female flower. If you trace one of these long silks to its origin, it will become obvious that every silk was formed by a different female flower and remains attached to the base of the fruit (the grain) that formed. If no pollen grain lands and grows successfully on the stigmatic surface of a corn silk, fertilization will not occur and that grain will fail to develop...

1799 The Dutch East India Company fell bankrupt. (Rosengarten, 1969)[See 1602]

1799 Marcello, a Yuman Indian convert at Santa Clara Mission (CA), worked with 200 other native Americans to plant willows and poplar trees in three rows - forming the alameda (a tree-shaded path, typically bordered with cottonwood poplars) that connected Santa Clara to San Jose. (From the ULISTAC Natural Area Restoration Project website, Santa Clara University Environmental Studies Institute, 04.02.29)

1799 The first apple orchard of record in Iowa was planted along the banks of the Mississippi River, in Lee County. The 100 seedlings were packed in on ponies and planted by French-Canadian Louis Honoré Tesson. (R.S. Herrick in Slosson, 1951)

1799 Thomas Knight published ‘An Account of the Fecundation of some Vegetables.’  This included observations of his hybridization studies using peas – presaging issues of inheritance related to dominant and recessive characters that would be documented in the works of Gregor Mendel nearly a century later. 

1800 As science entered the 19th century, much had been accomplished. The Royal Society, in existence for nearly 140 years, had fostered the works of people such as Newton, Boyle, Hooke, Grew, Malpighi, and Ray. Descriptive botany was entering its heyday, based on the new Linnean system of binomial nomenclature. Banks was at the height of his prestige and influence. Kew had flowered its first tropical orchid only a decade earlier, in 1789. In that same year, at the beginning of the French Revolution, Jussieu (having organized plantings at the Jardin du Roi, later termed the Jardin des plantes, in Paris to reflect his thoughts on plant relationships) published the first natural system of classification (Genera Plantarum). Though scientists clearly appreciated the unfolding richness of world flora, biogeography and ecology were yet to develop. Physiology was, in its infancy, a pure outgrowth of experimentation in early chemistry and physics. Priestley, whose iconoclastic religious beliefs meant he would be forced to flee England to live in Pennsylvania, had established a remarkable relationship between the effects of plants versus animals on the nature of air. But his work (Experiments and observations on different kinds of air, 1774) referred to phlogiston and dephlogisticated air, not to oxygen or other elements. The periodic table did not exist; indeed, oxygen was not named until 1777 and hydrogen in 1783.
1800 Per capita consumption of sugar in England reached 18 lbs, up from an approximate per person consumption of 4 pounds in 1700.  Much of this rise in sugar consumption seems related to increase in tea drinking.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1800 The soybean was known in Philadelphia, but gained little widespread attention. The bean would be introduced to California agriculture in San Francisco by direct importation from Japan in 1850.

1801 Elgin Botanical Garden was under development at the northern edge of New York City, largely through efforts of David Hosack, a professor at the medical school of Columbia College. Today Rockefeller Center stands on a portion of the 20 acre site once occupied by this garden.

1801 The first Harvard Botanic Garden was established.

1801 John Wedgwood (son of Josiah Wedgwood, uncle to Charles Darwin) wrote William Forsyth (George III’s gardener) and Joseph Banks about starting the Royal Horticultural Society - which quickly came into being.

1801 The cast iron process was invented, playing eventually into systems for constructing large conservatories.

1801 The later-day owner of Alexander Pope’s renowned estate was driven to removing the garden’s famous willow tree in an effort to discourage tourists and lookyloos. (Rupp, 1990)

1801 In describing the new genus Lodoicea, J. J. H. Labillardiére commemorated an analogy made by P. Commerson (who served with Louis Bougainville on his historic voyages) between the form of the famous coco-de-mer fruit (the double coconut) and his image of the pelvis of Laodice (lovely daughter of King Priam of Troy). Previously, the plant had been included in the coconut genus, Cocos. (Emboden, 1974)

1802 Bernard M’Mahon established his nursery in Philadelphia and began his own limited publication series similar to Curtis in 1806.

1802 Robert Brown arrived at Sydney (Australia) on the Investigator, along with botanical artist Ferdinand Bauer. George Caley, who had already been sent to collect plants in New South Wales by Banks, was furious that a second botanist was dispatched. (In 1803 Banks received seed of 170 species from Caley.)

1802 John Champneys of Charleston, South Carolina, created ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’ rose (eventual parent to the Noisette hybrids) through crossing ‘Parson’s Pink China’ with Rosa moschata, a white-flowered climbing rose from Asia. His new rose, a climber producing bunches of double, pink flowers, was quickly established in American gardens. Champney had acquired his China rose from the Noisette nursery in Charleston. Philippe Noisette produced seedlings from ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’ from which he selected the first Noisette, which was introduced in Europe through his brother in Paris. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1802 The first seed sold in packages in America were marketed by a Shaker community at Enfield, Connecticut. Keeping their own seed lines healthy and free of corruption was important that community. (Connor, 1994)

1802 The term biology, taken from Greek (bios = life) was first utilized in its modern sense by German naturalist Gottfried Reinhold. The English word was first used by Stanfield in 1813. (OED)

1803 German pharmacist, F.W. Serturner, isolated morphine from opium latex. The three extracts of opium commonly used medicinally are morphine, codeine, and papaverine. (Simpson, 1989) Serturner elected to name the isolate for Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Not until 1925 would the chemical structure of morphine be determined. (Le Couteur & Burresson, 2003)

1803 Henry and Sealy Fourdrinier improved on Robert’s paper making machine. The continuous belt of wire mesh that layers the pulp is today called a Fourdrinier Screen. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1804 Nicholas T. de Saussure’s book Recherches chimiques sur la végétation (HNT) marked the beginning of modern plant physiology because of its well thought-out, documented experiments and attention to good experimental methodology. Working in Geneva, de Saussure achieved advances in our knowledge of plant nutrition and demonstrated that carbon from the atmosphere is fixed into the carbon that makes up organic compounds by plants undergoing photosynthesis. Saussure answered questions concerning the role of water in plant growth. In one experiment he combined various lines of study and demonstrated that cuttings set in distilled water continued to assimilate carbon, a result that denied earlier conclusions by Senebier and should have dispelled belief in the idea that carbon enters plants in the same manner as other nutrients from the soil [See 1813, the humus theory]. (Morton, 1981)

1804 Lewis and Clark began their expedition. Lewis spent nine months in Philadelphia studying botany under Benjamin Smith Barton to prepare for the journey. The seed they collected were shared by Hamilton at The Woodlands and by M’Mahon. By 1825 Oregon grape holly was widely known and was available commercially from Prince Nursery of Flushing, NY for $25. (Spongberg, 1990) [See 1823, Douglas]

1804 Christopher Gore and his wife began the construction of their home and garden in Waltham, MA. Their interest in exotic plants was shared with neighbor Theodore Lyman, who at that time was also improving his estate, The Vales. Both families imported plants from Europe and built greenhouses for tropicals.

1804 Capt. John Chester brought the first shipload of bananas to the US on the Reynard to port in New York. Bananas did not become common in this country until after 1870, when Capt. L. D. Baker began exchange of mining equipment for Jamaican bananas. (Fussell, 1986) [See 1899]

1804 American and European traders began stripping Pacific Islands for sandalwood for use in Europe and China. Sandalwood trees were wiped out on Fiji by 1809, on the Marquesas by 1814, on Hawaii by 1825. (Ponting, 1991)

1804 England’s Royal Horticultural Society was formed. Present at the first meeting were John Wedgewood, William Forsyth (Gardener to King George III at Kensington and St. James, Forsythia), Joseph Banks, Charles Greville, Richard A. Salisbury, William Townsend Aiton, and James Dickson. (Fletcher, 1969)

1804 The Japanese devil lily (oniyuru) was brought into cultivation at Kew. Due to the ease of propagation from bulbils that form in the leaf axils, Kew gardeners were able to propagate and distribute over 10,000 plants within a decade. Scientific name Lilium lancifolium aside, the plant is known today most readily by its English common name, tiger lily. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1805 Alexander von Humboldt’s personal observations of many different plant habitats resulted in his important generalizations about the relationships of plants to their native climates. He is probably best known for making ecological correlations between the different plant habitats observed with rising elevation and the changing habitats seen when traveling from the tropics to arctic regions. Publication of his Essai sur la géographie des plantes... may be considered the beginning of the science of ecology. (HNT)

1806 Napoleon offered 100,000 francs to anyone who could create sugar from a native plant. Russian chemist K. S. Kirchhof later discovered that sulfuric acid added to potato starch would make the conversion. (Fussell, 1992)

1806 T. A. Knight devised a wheel that rotated on a vertical plane to test the importance of gravity to plant growth. Later Julius Sachs refined this design to invent the klinostat. Knight’s studies demonstrated that the gravitational field does indeed impact plant growth, and that the effects of gravity can be replaced by rotational forces. (Morton, 1981)

1810 Liverpool Botanic Garden received the first Cattleya known to be cultivated. The plant was sent from Sao Paulo, Brasil, by Mr. Woodforde to Mr. Shepherd at the Garden. Plants from this original introduction are said to have bloomed every subsequent year - though that was never published. (Reinikka, 1972)

1810 Goats introduced to St. Helena Island began devastation that eventually caused extinction of 22 of the 33 endemic plants. (Ponting, 1991)

1810 Robert Brown’s Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae marked the beginning of his publications on the flora of Australia. Brown made important comparisons of plants from Australia with other floras, yielding a fresh approach to this type of study. With Brown’s work, botanists began to understand that significant information can result from studying the distributions and associations of plants. We also began to realize the distinctive nature of the Australian biota.

1813 Humphrey Davy (a noted chemist) published his lectures on chemistry and agriculture as Elements of Agricultural Chemistry. A leading text for over three decades, this book was one important step in the development of agricultural science. At the time of this publication, agriculturists (and Davey) accepted the humus theory, which held that plants gained both carbon and nitrogen from decomposition of humus in the soil. (Morton, 1981)

1814 Frederick Pursh published his Flora Americae Septentrionalis. He had been engaged originally by Barton in 1805 to study the plant material collected by Lewis and Clark, and later he worked for Hosack at Elgin. In 1809 he returned to London with his own collections of plant material to study.

1814 The deadly effects of various Amazonian plant mixtures called curare were learned by early European explorers, but not until 1800 when Alexander von Humboldt gave the first Western account of how the toxin was prepared by Orinoco River natives were plant sources (often involving the vine Strychnos) known. In 1814, Charles Waterton, having already disposed of numerous animals through experiments with curare, injected a donkey with the mixture. The animal collapsed quickly, after which Waterton inserted bellows into its windpipe and inflated the lungs. With this intervention, the donkey recovered consciousness; however, Waterton had to pump the bellows for two hours to keep the animal alive. We later came to understand that curare immobilizes voluntary muscle tissue through blocking transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. (Lewington, 1990)

1815 Johann Friedrich Elsholz, a German, died while participating in a Russian expedition to California. Later, the German botanist, Adelbert von Chamisso, honored Elsholz through describing the new genus Eschscholzia for the California poppy, albeit misspelling the name of the honoree. Hardly anyone has been able to spell the scientific name of this plant, the state flower of California, ever since. (Grimshaw, 1998 - information on Chamisso in Grimshaw is incorrect - correction supplied by Ann Gardiner)

1816 John Reeves introduced Wisteria sinensis to European gardening from nurseries in Canton, China. The first two plants to be exported, each sent on-board a different ship, arrived in the same month of May. One of the ship Captains was Richard Rawes, famous for his involvement with introduction of the first camellias. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1816 Henry Hall is credited as the first person to cultivate cranberries.

1816 Crop failure was widespread in Europe, resulting in food riots in England, France, and Belgium. (Ponting, 1991)

1816 James Hart Stark, traveled from Kentucky to Missouri, carrying apple tree scions which were the foundation for the Stark Nursery in the town of Louisiana. (E. Sinclair in Slosson, 1951)

1817 The first Bourbon rose, an apparent chance hybrid between Rosa ×damascena ‘Bifera’ and ‘Parson’s Pink China’, flowered on the French colonial Isle de Bourbon in the Indian Ocean (today the isle is called Réunion.) The ‘Parson’s Pink China’ had only recently been introduced to the settlers’ gardens. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1817 The US Congress approved "An act to set apart and dispose of certain public lands, for encouragement and cultivation of the vine and olive." The conditions were immediately undertaken by French exiles who had settled near Philadelphia following the Battle of Waterloo. Organized as the Vine and Olive Colony, the group moved to the Alabama Territory and settled along the Tombigbee River on 92,160 acres (purchased from the US government for $2 an acre) near the site of what is today Demopolis. Their settlement, the first effort to cultivate olive and grapes in the deep South, failed soon after. (M.B.Sulzby in Slosson, 1951)

1818 The wrought iron process was industrialized, changing the way designers would create conservatory structures.

1818 The Columbian Institute petitioned the U.S. Congress for appropriation of grounds to establish a botanical garden and museum. The gardens, once established, eventually came under control of a Joint Committee of Congress on the Library, and remained as one of the forces shaping development of the Washington mall for over 100 years. Through separate interventions such as entreaties of William Darlington and direct action by the Secretary of War, Joel Poinsett, the 1836 bequest by James Smithson became involved with this developing garden as the U.S. Congress took several years to consider how best to utilize the gift. (O’Malley, in Meyers, 1998) [See 1841]

1819 Robert Coate began his willow business (a withy merchant), buying and selling twigs for products, most particularly for the manufacture of baskets. With dwindling need of willow baskets for cargo by 1950, the company found new life when Percy Coate discovered in the 1960s that willow produces excellent quality artists charcoal. (www.coatescharcoal.co.uk) (Finlay, 2002)

1820 French chemists isolated quinine (an alkaloid) from the bark of Cinchona, making possible the production of a purified chemical treatment for malaria. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996) The chemists selected the name, quinine, for the alkaloid from the native American term quinaquina (meaning bark of barks) for the cinchona. (Lewington, 1990) [See 1658, 1865]

1823 Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold arrived in Japan to live there until 1830 as surgeon major in the Dutch East Indies Army, anxious for a career as a scientific explorer. He restored order to the botanical garden at Deshima. Because he accepted the gift of a map of Japan on his trip to Edo (foreigners were not allowed access to this type of information,) Siebold was imprisoned for a year, but pardoned in 1829. Banished from Japan in 1830, he was forced to abandon his Japanese wife and their child. The deck of the vessel on which he sailed was filled with plants he used to establish a nursery in Leiden. Among his introductions were Wisteria floribunda, Hydrangea paniculata, Hydrangea anomala, Malus floribunda and Rhodotypos scandens. He returned to Japan in 1859 and by 1863 produced a sales catalog that offered 838 species native to that country. (Spongberg, 1990)

1823 David Douglas was sent by The Royal Horticultural Society to the Eastern US to procure any new varieties of fruit trees and vegetables that might have been developed there. He met Thomas Nuttall (a British native recently appointed professor of Botany at the Harvard Botanic Garden) and others who helped him. He returned to England with a wide variety of fruit trees, as well as Oregon grape holly. (Spongberg, 1990) [See 1804]

1823 Charles MacIntosh found that fabrics could be made waterproof by treating with natural rubber. [See 1839, 1881] The word rubber had been coined for the ability of this resilient material to rub out pencil marks [See 1770]. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1823 Robert Bruce, and later his brother Charles, negotiated the process of acquiring seed and plants of the Assam form of tea (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) from the Singpho trive of Upper Assam.  Eleven years later, the East India Company recognized the value of this discovery and began establishing tea plantation in Assam, with the first tea arriving in London in 1838.  The growth in this enterprise led to conscription and near-enslavement of several hundred thousand recruits from over India.  Within 60 years, 340,000 acres in Assam were dedicated to tea plantations.  With other growing areas established, Chinese tea exports plummeted from 100%, to 10% of the world market.  (Hohenegger, 2007)  East India Company employees Charles Alexander and Robert Bruce discovered a kind of tea previously unknown to Europeans (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) growing in Assam, a province of northern India. The first shipments of Assam tea arrived in England in 1838. Though attempts were made to cultivate China teas in India, it became clear that the native Assam tea was the better crop for that region. Today, Assam tea is grown in Africa as well as Papua New Guinea. (Lewington, 1990)

1824 After decades of battles between the Dutch and English over control of East Indian spice trade, a formal treaty gave the Dutch control of the Malay Archipelago, minus North Borneo. The British were settled with North Borneo, the Malay mainland, India, Ceylon, and Singapore. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1824 John Harris, a US Navy Captain, imported seed of Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) and grew them on his farm in Chester, NY. By mid-century Lima beans were shipped directly from Peru to the California goldfields as comestibles. (Kaplan & Kaplan in Foster & Cordel, 1996)

1825 David Douglas arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River, and returned to England in 1827. In 1829 he arrived in the Pacific Northwest again, collecting seed/plants from California to Alaska (and even Hawaii). He died while collecting in Hawaii after falling into a pit trap in which a wild bull was already ensnared. C.V. Piper: "The extent and amount of this man’s collections during the three seasons he spent in the Northwest almost surpass belief." Douglas introduced over 200 species to cultivation in Great Britain, including Douglas fir, sugar pine, noble fir, giant fir, etc. (Spongberg, 1990)

1826 Paxton left the Royal Horticultural Society garden to become head gardener to the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth. (Fletcher, 1969) [See 1836, 1851]

1826 John James Dufour published The American Vine Dressers Guide, describing the varieties and cultivation of grapes in Switzerland County, Indiana. Dufour’s guide reflected real experience he had gained from extensive vineyards he managed on the 2,560 acres the family had purchase near Vevay since settling there in 1803. (Helen Link, Helen McNaughton in Slosson, 1951)

1826 Twigs (apparently predominately of basket willow) had long been utilized in England to record tax payments. Notches made in each twig indicated the amount of tax paid. Once split the notched twig yielded two records of payment. When the tax records went to paper transaction in 1826, the archive of twigs was burned. The resulting fire escaped control and took with it the Houses of Parliament. (Rupp, 1990)

1826 An act of the US Congress set off the mania of planting silkworm mulberry, a short-lived industry. (Ewan, 1969)

1826 The unexploited forests of Burma gave impetus to the British conquest of that country. The first area opened (Tenasserim) "was stripped of teak within twenty years." By the end of the century about 10,000,000 acres of Burma forest were cleared. (Ponting, 1991)

1827 While studying pollen grains macerated in water through a microscope, Robert Brown observed random vibrational movement in the material. Through further investigation, he discovered the movement occurs even when there is nothing organic (or living) suspended in the water. In 1905, Einstein demonstrated that Brownian motion relates to the inherent motion of molecules present. (Krauss, 2002)

1828 C. J. van Houten developed the first modern process for making cocoa powder. Soon producers in Holland had learned that alkali could be added to neutralize various acids, making a mild, more soluble cocoa. This process is still called "dutching" today. (Simpson, 1989) By 1815, Van Houten was searching a method to remove cocoa butter better than boiling and skimming. His work resulted in a press that reduces the cocoa butter from over 50% to under 30%. This development improved the process of making chocolate beverages by creating making a more soluble product. (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1828 Adolphe Brongniart published the first complete account of fossil plants, establishing himself as the founder of modern paleobotany. He was an early proponent of evolutionary theory. His interpretations of the fossil record also contributed to our understanding of historical changes in climates and plant geography. (HNT)

1828 Wenzel Bojer, an Austrian botanist, discovered Royal Poinciana, Delonix regia, in semi-cultivation on the eastern coast of Madagascar. It was not until1932 that native stands of this spectacular lowland tropical tree were located, on limestone cliffs in western Madagascar. The majestic, splendid orange-red display created by this tree in full bloom gives rise to its many common names, flame tree, flamboyant, and royal poinciana. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1830 Robert Brown published the first account of a cellular nucleus, which he called the "aureole" in what is also the first publication describing the growth of pollen tubes from the stigma to the ovule: "On the organs and modes of fecundation in Orchideae and Asclepiadae," in The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London. (HNT)

1830 The first machine for cutting lawns was introduced by Edwin Budding, an English textile-mill engineer. This machine was first imported to the USA 25 years later. (Crotz in Punch, 1992)

1830 Maple trees, taken from local forests, were planted along new streets in Norwalk, Ohio. In encouraging careful treatment for these saplings, the following notices were posted: "We, the small shade trees of Norwalk village do hereby present our humble petitions to the gentlemen of learning and leisure, their pen knives, and all the boys in town, praying you to spare us for a year or two, at least, and would plead in support of our cause that we recently have been taken by the hand of violence from a luxuriant soil and planted in your barren sand, in which, you very well know, it must be hard scratching to sustain life even if treated well. Old hickory, who so lately towered above us all in the woods, is missing here. We are only maples. We wish to grow and adorn the street, but a moment’s reflection will convince you that we can never do it if our exterior must be continually punctured and lacerated by the knives of those absorbed in thought or earnest debate; or our feeble bodies loaded with as many boys as can climb us. That we may find mercy before you, and be spared to repay the planters for their toil is the earnest prayer of your petitioners, and as in feeling and duty bound, we will ever repay. Signed, Sugar and White Maples. P.S. Gentlemen from out of town are respectfully invited not to tie their horses to us, but to the posts provided on the street for that purpose." (Bessie Martin in Slosson, 1951)

1831 Mount Auburn Cemetery was established by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and quickly became a model for other cemeteries to be planted in a naturalistic style. The establishment of beautiful cemeteries in turn provided stimulus for increase in public parks. Botanist and physician Jacob Bigelow played a crucial role in establishment of Mount Auburn. (Hedrick, 1950)

1832 An English parliamentary report underscored the value of the opium trade, which had come to represent one sixth of the productivity of British India.  Before opium was widely used in trade for tea, silver flowed into China.  After establishing the opium trade, China was drained of silver dollars.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1832 By this year 137 different European weeds were naturalized in the New York flora. (Ponting, 1991)

1832 Advertisement for plants in a 4 January edition of The Courier newspaper in New Orleans describe the exotic material arriving at that port: "The subscriber in addition to his already splendid collection of flowering shrubs, plants, etc. has just received from Tennessee in a short passage, a collection of fruit trees, Camelias, Japonicas, Dwarf ranges, Roses...also a number of hardy flowering plants such as Snow Balls, Syringas, Lilacs. Chinese and French Viburnums, Strawberry Tree, Sweet-scented Vitex, Blue Jasmin or Chinese Box, Thorn, Evergreen Privet, Honey Suckles, Double Dahlias - with the new and most approved varieties of the Fig tree, consisting of 10 varieties of those most cultivated in Italy and South of France." Note these plants are arriving from Eastern North America along waterways. (Hilary Somerville Irvin in Welch & Grant, 1995)

1833 Colley was hired by Bateman to collect orchids in the Demerara region of British Guiana. Sixty species were returned alive from this expedition.

1833 Glass production improved, making manufacture of sheet glass up to 6ft (1.8 m) long possible. Before that time the largest size available was 4 ft (1.2m) in broad glass or 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5m) in crown glass. (A. Bonar, "Cathedrals of Glass", The Garden 115(10):526-530.)

1833 Cotton constituted over half of total US exports, with 146 million kilograms of raw product sold to Britain at a value of £8.5 million. Over 100,000 power looms were in operation and 9% of British workers (over half of whom were child laborers) were employed in the cotton industry. Their production (mainly in yarn) accounted for half of British export trade. Just over 4 decades earlier in 1771, pre-Revolutionary America supplied just over 85 thousand kilos of raw cotton to Britain - less than 10% of raw cotton imports, most of which came from Syria and the Levant. The first bale of American cotton to arrive in Liverpool ports, which would come to supply the Lancashire mills, arrived in 1784. But by 1850, Southern states were the source of 82% of cotton lint utilized by British industry. (Musgrove & Musgrove, 2002)

1834 When Liwwät Boke emigrated to Ohio from Germany, her packing list included seed for produce, as well as for flowers: wheat, clover, barley, rye, apples, cherries, peaches, pears, quince, plum, apricot, magaritas, snapdragon, peonies, and morning glory. (Adams, 2004)

1835 Hugh Cuming commenced a 4-year trip to the Philippines. He was probably the first person to ship living orchids successfully from Manila to England. Plants sent included Phalaenopsis amabilis, first grown at Chatsworth. Cuming distributed 130,000 herbarium specimens.

1835 John Gibson accompanied Lord Auckland to India, via Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, and the Cape of Good Hope. He arrived in Calcutta in March 1836 with plants from Auckland destined for Calcutta Botanical Garden Director, Nathaniel Wallich. Gibson also collected in the Khasia Hills (Chirra Poongee), dispatching his plants through Wallich to England.

1835 British farmers began to import guano from the coast of Peru. Guano deposits became a significant manure/fertilizer source until after 1870. (Mingay, 1977)

1836 Chatsworth conservatory construction was begun, to be completed in 1840. Measuring 272 x 66 ft (83 x 20m), the conservatory was designed and built by Paxton with the help of Decimus Burton (architect).

1837 In reference to tropical orchids, and particularly concerning Cattleya labiata, Gardner wrote: "The progress of cultivations (for coffee plantations, and wood for charcoal) is proceeding so rapidly for twenty miles around Rio, that many of the species which still exist will, in the course of a few years, be completely annihilated, and the botanists of future years who visit the country will look in vain for the plants collected by their predecessors." (Reinikka, 1972)

1837 Robert Schomburgk discovered Victoria regia in British Guiana (name later changed to Victoria amazonica). Early shipments of seed were not successful, until Paxton grew and flowered the plant in a heated tank of the tropical house at Chatsworth in 1849. The entire January 1847 issue of Botanical Magazine was dedicated to this waterlily.

1837 Illinois blacksmith John Deere melded a steel share to a moldboard of wrought-iron to create a plow that cut the prairie soils. Deere’s plows became the prairie standard. (Fussell, 1992)

1837 Gladiolus dalenii, from Natal, was introduced to breeding programs for these corm producing plants in Belgium. Prior to this introduction, an early line of hybrids, the Colvilles, had developed from London Nurseryman James Colville. Subsequent to arrival of G. dalenii, yet other species were brought into the mix. By the end of the 19th century complex gladiolus hybrids involving several species had been created. The Grandiflora line of glads was developed largely in North America, beginning in 1891 with work of John. L. Childs. In 1904, a yellow form of G. dalenii (called Gladiolus primulinus at that time) allowed growers to expand the color range of flowers beyond orange, red, and violet. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1838 The new viceroy in Canton, China destroyed the British East India Company’s illegal opium imports, a total of 2,640,000 pounds. Britain went to war with China, winning Hong Kong, trade concessions, and loot. (Lewis & Elvin-Lewis, 1977)

1838 Charles M. Hovey introduced a strawberry grown from seed produced by hybridization. This ‘Hovey’ strawberry is considered the first fruit variety that originated through breeding on the North American continent.

1838 John Wright Boott, Boston, MA, received the first recorded shipment of tropical orchids to the US. However, other Bostonians were known to have tropical orchids in cultivation by this year. Boott’s collection went to John Lowell, eventually into the hands of Edward Rand. When Rand sold his estate, around 1865, the orchid and tropical plant collection was given to Harvard College (to Cambridge Botanic Garden.) (Reinikka, 1972)

1839 Emperor Tao-kuang sent Lin Tse-hsu to Canton to resolve the opium problem. 

1839 Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward described his Wardian Case in Gardener's Magazine. (Fletcher, 1969) This work was subsequently expanded and published as a book. [see 1842]

1839 Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization, the heat driven process of combining sulphur with natural rubber. The cross-linking of molecular chains (isoprene units) makes rubber non-sticky, more durable, and more elastic. (Simpson, 1989) Vulcanization changed life in Brasil, causing a rubber boom, with exports rising from 31 tons in 1827 to more than 27,000 tons by 1900. Manaus became a cosmopolitan city. [See 1823, 1877, 1881] (Ponting, 1991)

1839 Salicylic acid (chemically related to salicin, the pain-relieving compound named for its source, Salix, i.e. willow) was isolated from yet another source, the flowerbuds of Filipendula ulmaria (at that time called Spiraea ulmaria), a European member of the rose family. In 1853 a number of synthetically prepared derivatives of this compound were prepared, one of which was acetylsalicylic acid. Years later The Bayer Company selected that chemical as a substitute for the commonly used salicylic acid, and named it "aspirin" by combining the letter "a" from acetyl and "spirin" from Spiraea. (Lewis & Elvin-Lewis, 1977) Sanecki (1992) elaborates by explaining that the original plant, called meadowsweet in English, is termed Spirinsaure in German. Sanecki dates the original isolation to 1838 and the synthesis of acetylsalicylic acid in 1899.

1839 Prickly pear was introduced to Australia for use as hedging. By 1925 over 60,000,000 acres of Australian land were infested, and prickly pear dominated the vegetation in nearly half that area. Control came eventually in the form of South American caterpillars that feed on the plant. (Ponting, 1991)

1840 The Opium Wars ended mandarin control of British trade with China, followed by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. This treaty ceded Hong Kong to the British and opened numerous ports to Europeans and Americans. Under an 1858 treaty, foreigners could travel anywhere in the interior of the empire. [See 1997] (Spongberg, 1990)

1840 In the years before paper was manufactured from wood pulp, Isaiah Deck wrote that the increasing demand for paper (at that time made from cotton or linen rags) could be met through recycling Egyptian mummies - each of which provided up to 30 lbs of linen wrapping. Twenty years later I. A. Stanwood of Gardiner, Maine acted on this proposal by importing mummies for manufacturing brown wrapping paper. In Egypt mummies were being used to fuel railroad engines. (Rupp, 1990)

1840 Friedrich Keller patented a wood grinding machine that promoted the use of wood pulp for papermaking. Within 30 years, experimentation with wood pulp paper extended to such short-lived products as coffins, horseshoes, and road surfaces. (Rupp, 1990 - which see for more detail)

1840 John Dresser (Stockbridge, Massachusetts) devised a hand powered veneer lathe. Thin sheets of wood are used for creating finished surfaces as well as in the manufacture of plywood, but they must be shaved or sawed from the original block. Dresser’s lathe pointed the way to mechanization of this process, leading to the commercial manufacture of plywood. (Connor, 1994)

1840 The Gould medicinal plant business began in Maldin, Massachusetts. Run by three generations of the Gould family, their botanic garden was at one time as large as 8 acres, employing (along with the associated herb and drug factory) greater than fifty people. Products, such as catnip tea, were sold under their own label, but the Goulds also supplied botanicals to various makers of medicines, such as the Lydia Pinkham Company. (Connor, 1994)

1840 Justus von Liebig published Organic Chemistry in Its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology, in which he summarizes experiments in ashing (burning) plants to examine which minerals are present in what concentrations.  His results explained showed that nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (present in today’s commercial fertilizers as N:P:K) are important constituents of plants, helping to explain why saltpeter (sodium nitrate) and guano (deposits of bird droppings) augment agricultural production.  (Schwarcz, 2005)

1841 Orlando Jones patented a treatment for starch extraction in rice which involved treating kernels with caustic alkali. The same process was eventually applied to production of wheat and corn starches. (Personal Communication from I. Ellis, see U.S. Patent Office Website, Patent #2000, 12 March 1941)

1841 Kew Gardens was transferred to the British government. William Jackson Hooker became the first director.

1841 Physician/botanist William Darlington proposed botanic gardens as part of the Smithsonian Institution: "when nearly every crowned head in the civilized world had taken care to found such noble institutions as botanic gardens, (why) should not the classic pillars of our Republican fabric be wreathed with the chaplets of Science and festooned with the garlands of taste?...And while the Frenchman justly glories in the Jardin des Plantes - while the Briton boasts with reason, of the royal Garden at Key; and even the Russian, in his frozen clime is warmed in admiration of the Imperial Conservatory of the Czars - let American freemen, in their turn be enabled to point with patriotic pride, to a National institution of no less beauty and value, at the Metropolis of their own favored land. While at colleges they teach the various branches of knowledge, here at the common center of the Republic, we should have the entire Tree, in perennial verdure, accessible to all who might desire to participate in its pleasures and benefits." (O’Malley, in Meyers, 1998) [See 1818]

1841 Secretary of War, Joel Poinsett, ordered that the collections of the Wilkes Expedition be sent to Washington, as part of his work to establish a cabinet of natural history through a National Institution for the Promotion of Science. In line with receiving benefit of the Smithson bequest, the group continued in the vein of the earlier Columbian Institute. A statement of goals seemed eerily modern: "to collect documents and facts illustrative of the early history of our country, specimens of its geology and of its mineral and vegetable productions, and if not to preserve the animals and plants themselves, which are passith away before the progress of settlement and cultivation, at least to perpetuate their forms and the memory of their existence." (O’Malley, in Meyers, 1998) [See 1818] Specimens from the Wilkes Expedition yielded the beautiful Christmas poinsettia, now called Euphorbia pulcherrima, but originally named Poinsettia pulcherrima in honor of Joel Poinsett.

1841 Gardener's Chronicle began publication with J. Lindley as horticultural editor.

1841 Andrew Jackson Downing published his Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening Adapted to North America - the most influential early American treatment of this subject. Downing died in a steamboat accident in 1852. (Adams in Punch, 1992) [See 1850]

1841 Having arrived in the Mexican possession of California by wagon train from Pennsylvania, William Wolfskill planted a 2-acre orange grove, the first commercial grove in the area. By 1877, his son Joseph was able to ship a railcar filled with navel oranges to St. Louis, and in 1866 the Wolfskill orchards sent an entire trainload of oranges to markets in the Eastern US. A rush of investment led to the planting of thousands of acres to citrus in the Los Angeles area, all of which came to a crashing end by 1890 when land values, the impacts of overproduction, and arrival of white scale from Australia led to abandonment of many groves, including those the Wolfskills had made so successful. (Laszlo, 2007)

1842 Nathaniel B. Ward published On the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases.

1842 Matthias J. Schleiden, and, in 1847, Theodor Schwann synthesized their own observations along with known information to reach a reasonable understanding of plant and animal cell structure. Their work established the theory that the cell is the basic unit of all life, helping to establish the fundamental concepts that underlie the general study of biology. (HNT)

1842 John Bennet Lawes and his assistant J. H. Gilbert began manufacture of superphosphate, the first chemical fertilizer, in Deptford, England. The process involved chemical treatment of coprolites, as well as fossilized organic material mined in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. Eventually phosphate rock became the source material. (Mingay, 1977)

1842 After the British assault on China, the Treaty of Nanking opened China more fully to trade, required reparations, and ceded Hong Kong to the British government  (until 1997, when it was returned to Chinese control).  China still refused to legalize opium, and thus a second war was waged and opium was legalized in 1858.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1843 John Lyons published A Practical Treatise on the Cultivation of Orchidaceous Plants (2nd edition 1845), the first book on orchid culture.

1843 Robert Fortune made the first of four journeys to China (ending in 1860), initially for the Royal Horticultural Society, later for the East India Company (as a result he sent 23,892 young tea plants and 17,000 germinated seedlings to northern India), and finally for the US Government. Never before had so many Chinese plants gotten to England. His success was based greatly on the newly invented Wardian case. Plants he sent included balloon flower, bleeding heart, golden larch, Chinese fringe tree, cryptomeria, hardy orange, abelia, weigela, winter honeysuckle, etc. Tea plants Fortune sent to Washington did not succeed, partly because of the War Between the States. (Spongberg, 1990) [See 1846]

1843 The first shipment of Peruvian guano arrived in Baltimore, nearly 20 years after receiving wide public notice in an American Farmer article by John Skinner. Guano retained popularity for only two decades. By 1849 the first US manufactured chemical fertilizers were marketed. (Rasmussen, 1960) [See 1881]

1844 John Mercer invented a treatment for cotton that involves stretching the fibers under pressure in a cold bath of caustic soda. Mercerization gives cotton increased sheen and durability, as well as promoting the uptake of dyes. (Simpson, 1989)

1845 In 1841 the Irish population was about 8 million. Estimates are that a working man ate 12-14 pounds of potatoes each day. (Langenheim & Thimann, 1982). Due to an exhausted system of landownership and attenuated tenancy (through subdivision and subletting of leases), by 1845 there are estimated to have been 65,000 Irish farms of an acre or less. On these farms the spade was the only tool and the potato the sole crop. (Zuckerman, 1998) In 1845 potato blight was imported to Europe from the Americas. By 1846 the potato crop in Ireland had totally failed. About 1,000,000 people died and another 1,000,000 emigrated. (Ponting, 1991)

1845 William Ransom, a Quaker living in Hertfordshire, England, began his career of cultivating and distilling medicinal herbs, most importantly lavender and peppermint. Eventually, his son Francis would become a partner to establish the firm of William Ransom and Son. (Sanecki, 1992)

1846 Frenchman A. Saint-Arroman chided :  “The best tea of the Celestial Empire cannot bear a comparison with Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne… The Englishman is naturally lymphatic, stuffed with beefsteaks and plum-pudding, he remains for two hours almost annihilated by the painful elaboration of the stomach...  Tea alone can draw him from his lethargic sleep…”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1846 German chemist Christian Schonbein discovered that a mixture of sulfuric acid and saltpeter (usually potassium nitrate) could dissolve cotton fabric, specifically his cotton apron. Moreover, he found that when his apron dried, it exploded. The new, unstable compound proved tantalizing. By 1885, Joseph Swan had tested strands of cellulose nitrate for use as elements in electric light bulbs. (Lewington, 1990) [See 1868]

1846 Robert Fortune delivered plant material (from his first of three China collecting trips) to the Horticultural Society’s gardens at Chiswick. Included was Jasminum nudiflorum (Winter Jasmine). Though originally cultivated in the glasshouse, the plant proved to be hardy and became a popular garden shrub. (Halliwell, 1987)

1846 William Lobb collected seed of Tropaeolum speciosum, the Flame Creeper, in Nothofagus forest of the south Chilean island of Chiloe. The plant was first grown by the Veitch nursery in Exeter, which had sponsored his trip. Flame Creeper is a close relative of Canary Vine (Tropaeolum peregrinum) and the garden Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)[See 1596], all of which are native to the Neotropics. (Halliwell, 1987)

1847 Chocolate candy was first created. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1847 The first ancestor of today’s complex hybrid lines of tuberous begonias (today often called Begonia ×tuberhybrida) was imported to Europe from the Bolivian Andes of South America. Plants of this species, Begonia boliviensis, have a trailing habit and brilliant scarlet flowers. Within three decades hybrids were created in nurseries around Europe. By 1882 a double-flowered cultivar had been created. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1847 Organized in Macon County, Alabama on 6 March, the Chunnenuggee Horticultural Society was the first gardening club formed in Alabama, and perhaps first in the entire region. The society was a reflection of new settlement on Chunnenuggee Ridge (near the town of Union Springs, AL today) by many families from more eastern states who arrived following Creek Cession in 1832. Among settlers and active members was Norborne Berkley Powell, a physician, who built his home and garden, Old Field, on the site of the former Indian War Council Lodge. The Society maintained a public garden for truck crop sales and sponsored a May Fair and flower festival. The community and society flourished for a time (until the War Between the States); through the contacts of local residents there were honorary members from other towns in the South, and as distant as New York. (M.B. Sulzby in Slosson, 1951)

1848 Robert Fortune, of the Royal Horticultural Society, was sent to China to collect plants and seed, and to learn as much as possible about tea cultivation and processing.  After two journeys and nearly three years of work in China, a ship sailed from Hong Kong to Calcutta in 1851.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1848 In Bangor, Maine, John Curtis produced the first commercial spruce gum - a chewing gum made of resin from spruce trees. By 1852 the Curtises had built a large chewing gum factory in Portland. As supplies of spruce gum diminished, manufacturers tried other chewables, such as paraffin, eventually turning to the latex from the chicle tree (Manilkara zapota.) Chicle became the basis of the American Chicle Company, and for their product, Chicklets. (Rupp, 1990)

1849 William Lobb was sent to the Pacific coast of America by Veitch & Sons to collect plants for the horticultural trade.

1849 Joseph Warren arrived in California. With extensive experience managing a Massachusetts nursery, he became one of the earliest nurserymen in California, and the first large grower of camellias in the state. Warren is credited with starting the Sacramento flower show, in 1852, and assisting with the San Francisco flower shows of 1853 and 1854. (H. M. Butterfield in Slosson, 1951)

1850 The mechanization of field agriculture began. Mechanical reapers, and later the internal combustion engine (and consequently the tractor) altered the face of the world - and the growth and increasing urbanization of the world population. Between 1860 and 1920, about 1,000,000,000 acres of new land were brought under cultivation, with another 1,000,000,000 acres coming into production during the following six decades. Improvements in shipping, refrigeration, and processing further industrialized this process. In the late 20th century, an American farmer received 4% of the price of chicken in the store and 12% of the price of a can of corn. (Ponting, 1991)

1850 John Jeffrey was sent to Oregon by a consortium called the Oregon Association of Edinburgh. His plant introductions to England included incense cedar and Jeffrey pine. (Spongberg, 1990)

1850 Seed of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) were brought by a gold miner from Chile to California, where the plant thrived as a forage crop. (Heiser, 1981)

1850 President Millard Fillmore invited Andrew Jackson Downing to design an arboretum and pleasure ground as the grounds for the Washington Mall. (Morgan in Punch, 1992; O’Malley, in Meyers, 1998) [See 1841]

1851 Hofmeister described alternation of generations in higher plants in his book Comparative Researches into Growth, Development and Fruit-formation of the Higher Cryptogams (mosses, ferns, Equisetaceae, Rhizocarpae and Lycopodiaceae) and Seed-formation in Conifers. (Morton, 1981)

1851 An importation of California grapes to Europe introduced white mildew (oidium), which eventually was treated with flowers of sulphur. The subsequent introduction of California rootstocks as a possible cure brought phylloxera, a much more problematic root aphid that can devastate entire acreages.

1851 A great glass structure, the Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton as the centerpiece of the first Great Exhibition, was opened. Paxton was knighted for his efforts. (Hix, 1974.)

1851 Beginning around 1820 and enduring for over 80 years, the "baked ‘tato man’" was common on London streets, selling hot baked potatoes from fall through early spring. By 1851 there were over 300 such vendors, selling ten tons of potatoes each day. Some accounts suggest that hot potatoes were at times purchased as hand warmers. (Zuckerman, 1998)

1851 On 28 September U.S. Army Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves encountered petrified wood in the area near what is today’s Petrified Forest National Park. Shortly after his publication of this discovery, a large deposit of wood was encountered by another Army expedition (in what is today the northern section of the park). Lt. Amiel Whipple, who led that second expedition, gave the name Lithodendron Wash to a nearby arroyo. The published report of Whipple’s expedition, published in 1855, included the first illustration of these fossil deposits. (Petrified Forest, The Story behind the Scenery, Sidney Ash, 1998, 10th printing; Petrified Forest Museum Association)

1851 Stephen Elliott, Jr., (an Episcopal Priest, and Senior Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the South during the Civil War) addressed the Central Agricultural Society of Georgia at Macon: "It is astonishing that, in a state so richly blessed as Georgia with all its advantages of Nature, so little attention should have been paid to horticulture either as a science or as an art. Each portion of the state has its peculiar beauties. The genial kindness of its climate assimilated the most precious plants of other countries to itself, and exotics like the camellia, the oleander, the gardenia, the tea roses, the kalmias, the rhododendrons, the azaleas, rifled from Asia, Africa, Persia, and China, have become indigenous in the state." (L.P. Neely in Slosson, 1951)

1851 Hugh Low discovered the giant pitcher plant, Nepenthes rajah, on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo. F. W. Burbidge later introduced this astounding plant to reluctant cultivation.

1852 The Concord grape was discovered. Of uncertain origin, Concord became an important grape for eastern states with humid climates. (Heiser, 1981) It was introduced by Ephraim Wales Bull, of Concord, MA, who selected the clone from seedling wild grapes on his property and presented it to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1853. (Fussell, 1986)

1853 Albert Kellogg (native of South Carolina who had studied at Kentucky’s Transylvania College, and later traveled to San Francisco where he had a pharmacy) and six colleagues established the California Academy of Sciences. He brought to a meeting of the group some specimens and stories he had heard from A. T. Dowd about a giant new conifer in the Sierran foothills, southeast of Sacramento. William Lobb, who was at the meeting, left immediately for the area, collecting seed, mature cones, vegetative shoots, and two seedlings. He returned to San Francisco and quickly left for England. The two saplings were planted at the Veitch nursery in Exeter. John Lindley described the new species that December in Gardener’s Chronicles as Wellingtonia gigantea. (Spongberg, 1990) The name eventually accepted for this tree was Sequoiadendron giganteum.

1853 The first flower show held in California opened in San Francisco on 7 October. Among the entries were specimens from James Warren, of Sacramento, one of the first professional nurserymen to set up business in California (1849), Warren published the state’s first nursery catalog and initiated California Farmer, the state’s first agricultural and horticultural publication. By 1855, several nurseries operated along Folsom Street in San Francisco, including William Walker’s Golden Gate Nursery, James and William O’Donnell’s United States Nursery, and the Commercial Nurseries, a subsidiary of Highland Nursery in Newburgh, NY. A nursery from Napa County was represented in the 1854 flower show. (Taylor & Butterfield, 2003)

1854 Commodore Matthew C. Perry "opened" Japan’s doors to the West with signing of the Treaty of Kamagawa. Exchanges between the two countries included an American agricultural exhibit managed by Dr. James Morrow, assisted by S. Wells Williams, a Protestant missionary in China. Dried specimens from this first trip went to Williams’ boyhood friend, the Harvard botanist Asa Gray. These specimens were quickly followed by collections from Charles Wright, who had been working in the North Pacific as botanist on a US Surveying Expedition, and was able to go directly to Japan once the treaty was signed. (Spongberg, 1990) [See 1861]

1855 First steps were taken toward eventual production of rayon. After 1900, technology would be developed to allow production of rayon and cellophane. Both are products derived from cellulose extracted from wood chips. (Simpson, 1989)

1855 The first Alabama State Agricultural Society Fair was held (in Montgomery), in which premiums were offered for displays of trees, plants, and fruit. (M.B. Sulzby in Slosson, 1951)

1856 Calanthe ×dominii flowered. This is the world’s first planned orchid hybrid, raised by John Dominy for Veitch & Sons. Though horticulturists were enthusiastic, botanist John Lindley was quoted as remarking: "You will drive the botanists mad." (Fletcher, 1969)

1857 Prosper Alphonse Berckmans (of Arschot, Belgium) assumed management of Fruitland Nursery in Augusta, Georgia. By 1861 the nursery offered more than 100 Camellia cultivars. Berckmans’ original house and grounds are now part of the Augusta National Golf Course. (L.P. Neely in Slosson, 1951)

1858 Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace were hastily paired to jointly present their ideas "On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection" before the Linnean Society. Darwin had been slow and cautious about publishing his concepts concerning evolution. When a letter describing many of the same, independently conceived ideas arrived from Wallace to be read before the Society, arrangements were made to establish Darwin’s priority - as he had been circulating drafts of future publications among friends in London.

1858 Invention of the Mason jar stimulated use of large quantities of white sugar for preserves, reducing traditional reliance on maple sugar and molasses for home cooking. Usage of white sugar in the United States doubled between 1880 (when the tariff on imported sugar was lowered) and 1915. (Root, 1980)

1858 The Royal Horticultural Society instituted its First Class Certificate of Merit (FCC). By the following year the Floral Committee was established and given management of the FCC (Fletcher, 1969) The first orchid to be awarded an FCC was Cattleya ×dominiana, shown by the Veitch firm. (Reinikka, 1972)

1858 Beginning with a small quantity of alfalfa seed, Minnesota farmer, Wendelin Grimm, grew a crop out over many years, eventually selecting seed resistant to winterkill. In 1900 the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station produced quantities of the seed and released it as a variety. (Busch, et al, 1995)

1858 Friedrich August Kekulé published his structural theory of chemical compounds in a paper on 19 May describing concepts concerning the tetravalent nature of carbon and its chain-forming capabilities. Archibald Scott Couper had envisioned similar ideas and also written a paper, the publication of which was forestalled, not occurring until 14 June. Perhaps this critical loss of priority in publication coupled with apparent pre-existing mental stress, as Couper became mentally unstable soon afterward. "Described as a wreck by an acquaintance, he lived out his life tending flowers." (Cobb & Goldwhite, 1995)

1859 Asa Gray published his idea that the North American and Eurasian floras had at one time been homogeneous. He proposed that Pleistocene glaciation had separated the floras and through evolution (a new concept he had learned through personal correspondence with Charles Darwin) the species had become distinct. Gray became Darwin’s leading advocate in US debates.

1859 British farming observer James Caird, in his book Prairie Farming in America, noted that export of grain through Chicago was about 100 bushels in 1837, 2,243,000 bushels in 1847, and nearly 18 million bushels annually by 1857. (Mingay, 1977)

1859 Charles Darwin published On the origin of species by means of natural selection.... As explained by Darwin, evolution is a simple change in character of a population of either plants or animals. Circumstances governing the success of a population are not neutral, rather the environment favors certain characteristics, which creates a natural system of selection that can lead to changes in the makeup of a population. Gradual change in a population can lead to differences that qualify the population as a distinctive enough to become a new species - thus the "origin" of species. By identifying a mechanism that could lead to the diversity of life on earth, Darwin rewrote the book on relationships of plants and interpretations of plant adaptations. (HNT)

1859 In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens ridiculed French aristocracy through description of the ritual of chocolate consumption: "Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease, and was by some few sullen minds supposed to be rather rapidly swallowing France, but, his morning’s chocolate could not so much as get into the throat of Monseigneur, without the aid of four strong men besides the Cook. Yes. It took four men, all four a-blaze with gorgeous decoration, and the Chief of them unable to exist with fewer than two gold watches in his pocket, emulative of the noble and chaste fashion set by Monseigneur, to conduct the happy chocolate to Monseigneur’s lips. One lacquey carried the chocolate into the sacred presence; a second, milled and frothed the chocolate with a little instrument he bore for that function; a third, presented the favoured napkin; a fourth (he of the two gold watches), poured the chocolate out. It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring heavens. Deep would have been the blot upon his escutcheon if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he must have died of two."

1860 John Gould Veitch sent 17 new species of conifer from Japan to England, as well as seed and plants of other horticulturally valuable stock. His most popular introduction from that trip, however, became Boston ivy, Parthenocissus tricuspidata.

1860 In this decade, coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix) infested and destroyed Ceylon’s coffee plantations, eliminating 250,000 acres of plantings.  By 1867, James Taylor had overseen clearing of 19 acres, which he had planted to Assam tea.  By 1875, over 1000 acres were converted, growing to 305,000 acres by the end of the century.  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1860 Mr. Shaw’s Garden, later to become the Missouri Botanical Garden, in St. Louis, opened to the public.

1860 An 1860 report stated that 70,000 weed seed were isolated from 2 pints of clover seed imported from England. (Ennis, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1860 E. Douwes Dekker published his novel Max Havelaar under pseudonym. A former Dutch Colonial Officer in Java, Dekker revealed the inhumane treatment of native workers in Dutch East Indian colonies. The resulting arousal of public concern forced governmental reforms. The Dutch held control of Javan and Sumatran spice production until WWII. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1861 A new treaty with Japan in 1858 [sic] led to a race by American and European plantspeople to collect and introduce plants from these islands. Field collectors included Carl Maximowicz who sent plants to Russia, Max Ernst Wichura from Germany, and Richard Oldham from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (re. Bambusa oldhamii). George Rogers Hall, an American resident of Yokohama, sent a huge shipment in 1861 to Francis L. Lee of Chestnut Hill, MA. Lee went to war and left Francis Parkman, explorer, neighbor, and friend, to curate the growing collection. (Parkman would become Professor of Horticulture at Harvard in 1871). Thomas Hogg (son of a Scottish emigrant and nurseryman, sent to Japan by Lincoln as a US Marshal) shipped plants to his brother, James, as well as to the Parson’s firm at Flushing, NY. His introductions included the Japanese stewartia, the fragrant snowbell, the sapphire berry, and the katsura tree. (Spongberg, 1990) [See 1854]

1861 Australian Charles Ledger managed to purchase seed of a Cinchona tree, the bark of which was said to be a good source of quinine. The Dutch purchased a quantity of his seed, using them to establish plantations in Java. Those trees, determined to represent the new species Cinchona ledgeriana, yielded bark that was indeed a very good source of quinine, making Java the world’s major source of quinine in the first half of the 20th century. (Le Couteur & Burreson, 2003)

1862 Charles Darwin published the first thorough study of orchid pollination, On the various contrivances by which British and Foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing.

1862 Joseph Hooker reported on the discovery two years earlier in West Africa of Welwitschia mirabilis. He considered this find "the most wonderful, in a botanical point of view, that has been brought to light during the present century." (Desmond, 1987)

1862 George Rogers Hall returned from Japan and brought seed, plants, and Wardian [See 1842] cases of material to Flushing, NY, which he entrusted to the Parsons & Co. Nursery. Included were the kobus magnolia, the star magnolia, zelkova, Japanese maples, wisterias, raisin tree, etc. Also in this shipment was the future weed, Japanese honeysuckle, initially called Hall’s honeysuckle. Some of Hall’s plants in Yokohama had been obtained from Siebold. (Spongberg, 1990)[See 1823].

1862 Specimens obtained by Jean Pierre Armand David, a Basque in the Lazarist priesthood who moved to China in 1862, form the basis of Plantae Davidianae, in which Adrien Franchet of the Museum at the Jardin des Plantes described nearly 1500 new species.

1862 Congress passed bills constituting the US Morrill Land-Grant College Act, which were signed by President Abraham Lincoln. At this same time the US Department of Agriculture was created, having been established earlier as a division of the Patent Office, with head of the division, Issac Newton, continuing as Commissioner. These events set the stage for the first State Agricultural Experiment Stations (those in California and Connecticut in 1875). Over 13,000,000 acres of federal land were given to states to support the establishment of colleges for the agricultural and mechanical arts. By 1900 there were 60 Agricultural Experiment Stations. On 20 May of the same year Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, which opened nearly half of the continental US to settlement. (Baker, in Ewan, 1969; Rasmussen & Baker, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1862 Partially to deal with Civil War debt, Congress established a Commissioner of Internal Revenue. One tax collected was on whiskey, beginning at $.20 per gallon in 1863, the tax rose to $2 per gallon by 1865. (Fussell, 1992)

1864 Jabez Burns, an English immigrant to the US introduced his self-emptying roaster, designed to evenly roast and then eject coffee beans. With coffee, freshness of the roasted beans was so critical that grocers and individuals acquired raw beans for local roasting. Burns’s roaster became popular quickly and offered the capability to standardize this process, leading to the branding and marketing of coffees. (Pendergrast, 1999)

1865 Joseph Dalton Hooker became Director of Kew.

1865 Since 1633 Europeans had known of the anti-malarial properties of extracts from the bark of a South American tree, the cinchona. One of many attempts to cultivate the tree yielded success through seed sent by Charles Ledger (from a plant then given the name Cinchona ledgeriana) to Europe. Those seed, collected in Bolivia by a native worker (Manuel Incra Mamani), were offered for sale. The British, stung by low-yielding plantations they had established in India, declined the opportunity. Dutch traders, however, purchased a pound of seed that were used to establish a plantation in Java. (It is claimed that the seed produced 12,000 trees.) As a result, the Dutch held near-total control of quinine production for a century. (Lewington, 1990) [See 1658, 1820]

1865 In correspondence published in The Southern Cultivator, Joseph Le Conte, owner of Woodmanston (a private botanical garden in Liberty County, Georgia) commented: "While the Northern regions are frozen and blocked with ice, in Georgia we have growing, in the open air that beautiful plant, the Camellia Japonica, and in full bloom on the third day of January, 1865, plants from five to ten feet high, with from thirty to one hundred and fifty flowers of nearly every shade of color, from snow white to dark crimson, present a sight gorgeous and imposing. The single flowered camellias bear seed, which ripen in September, nearly twelve months, therefore, after the blooms, the latter appearing from October to April of the preceding winter. From the seed endless varieties may be obtained." (L.P. Neely in Slosson, 1951)

1866 Gregor Mendel discovered and published the basic patterns of inheritance and his understanding of the hereditary nature of variation between individuals in a population. It is puzzling that Mendel’s works, though highly complementary to Darwin’s concepts, were not brought forth for general scientific discussion until after 1900.

1866 Eighteen year old Jack Newton Daniel established his distillery in Tennessee. (Fussell, 1992)

1866 The American Wood Paper Company was established in Philadelphia, based on development of techniques for dissolving wood fibers (using caustic soda, i.e. lye) to create the pulp needed for manufacturing paper. The original source of pulp in North America was the poplar, at first Populus tremuloides and P. grandidentata, later P. balsamifera. Poplar remained popular until replaced by the use of spruce. Maine became a major source for poplar, and later for spruce, eventually supporting 25 pulp mills. The pulp craze meant that paper corporations would begin purchasing timberlands from lumber companies. (Connor, 1994) [See 1769; 1840]

1866 Thomas Newton Dickinson constructed a distillery in Essex, Connecticut, to manufacture witch hazel extract. Extracts sold today are 86% distillate and 14% alcohol. The company, still in business, continues to harvest its witch hazel from southern New England. (Connor, 1994)

1867 Through the work of Oliver Kelly, the first Granges (the Patrons of Husbandry, i.e. the Grange) were organized. Kelly had been sent as an agent of the US Department of Agriculture to the South "to proceed immediately through the States lately in hostility against the Government...the relations ...having prevented this Department from obtaining the usual statistical and other information." While on this venture Kelly, according to his own statement formulated "the idea of a Secret Society of Agriculturists, as an element to restore kindly feelings among the people." (Rasmussen, 1960)

1867 On 2 May, Thomas Hanbury purchased La Mortola. In partnership with his botanist brother, Daniel Hanbury, the Italian estate prospered as a significant collection of exotic plants. The estate remained in the Hanbury family until 1960, when it was given to the Italian government. In 1983, La Mortola was transferred to management of the University of Genoa. (Quest-Ritson, 1992)

1867 A turpentine still blew up in Butte County, California when the distiller used pitch from Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi) rather than Ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa). Chemists would later determine that the resin of Jeffrey pine contains the chemical abietin - which is nearly pure heptane. Jeffrey pine resin became a primary source for heptane, which was used to assay gasolines to establish the octane rating. (Arno, 1973)

1867 Crossing of China tea roses with Hybrid Perpetuals yielded ‘La France’, the first Hybrid Tea. (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1802, 1817]

1868 James Arnold left a portion of his estate in trust and Harvard agreed to establish the Arnold Arboretum.

1868 J. W. Hyatt was awarded a $10,000 prize for his invention of a process to manufacture plastic billiard balls, using a mixture of camphor and nitro-cellulose. (Lewington, 1990) [See 1846]

1868 German chemists Carl Graebe and Carl Liebermann, working for BASF, discovered the formula for alizarin (the red chemical in madder, Rubia tinctoria) and were successful in synthesizing this dye from anthracine. Production began, and by 1869 the cost of natural madder in London had dropped by 70% . (Finlay, 2002)

1869 A biologist imported European gypsy moth to the US for study. A few of those insects escaped and established populations that have caused great devastation to Eastern forests. (Shetler in Viola & Margolis, 1991)

1869 Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev published his organizational groundwork explaining the pattern of relationships in the properties of elements, the logic that underlies today’s periodic table. Missing from Mendeleev’s arrangement were the noble (rare) gases. Beginning with the discovery of helium (named for the sun because its spectral lines was first observed emanating from the sun), the remaining noble gases were soon isolated and given equally interesting names: argon (the lazy one), krypton (hidden), neon (new), xenon (the stranger), and radon (a disintegrative product of radium). (Cobb & Goldwhite, 1965)

1870 Japanese plum (Prunus salicina) arrived in the US in 1870 when a Vacaville, CA grower imported it from Japan.

1870 During this decade the Red Delicious apple would be discovered in Iowa. The Golden Delicious apple originated on a farm in West Virginia in 1910. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1870 On 4 April, the City of San Francisco acquired land for Golden Gate Park. The park’s first surveyor, William Hall, oversaw the first plans and plantings for the park. His career with the park ended with an unfortunate resignation, forced when an employee he had dismissed was elected to the state legislature. Later, Hall became the State Engineer. (Taylor & Butterfield, 2003)

1872 The extent of an East India Company customs line workforce in India reached its peak of 14,188 staff. Their role: to maintain and police a customs barrier, from the Indus to Madras - a distance of over 2,000 miles. Formed of plant material with thorns, spines, and prickles (such as jujube, opuntia, and carissa), the hedge ranged from 10-14 feet high and six to twelve feet thick. The formal barrier eventually included 800 miles of living hedge, augmented by hundreds of miles of dried spiny plant material. Initiated in the 1840s, the project endured for almost 50 years. (Moxham, 2002)

1873 The navel orange was brought from Brasil in 1870 by Saunders and given to the USDA for use as grafting stock for the industry. (Ewan, 1969) Riverside resident Mrs. Luther Tibbets received two especially successful trees from which propagation material was taken. Her plants may be the source for all navel orange trees in North America today. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1873 Sander built his first greenhouse at St. Albans, England. The Sander firm began a system of tracking orchid hybrid (grex) names that was later institutionalized by the Royal Horticultural Society.

1873 Legislation created Yellowstone, the first National Park. (Morgan in Punch, 1992)

1875 Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé added condensed milk to chocolate to create milk chocolate. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1875 The first agricultural experiment station in the US was established in Connecticut. After directing that effort for 14 years, W. O. Atwater relocated to Washington, D.C. to become director of the USDA Office of Experiment Stations, established as a result of the Hatch Act.(A. S., in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962) [See 1887] In 1876, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station would establish the first laboratory for seed testing in the United States. (Busch, et al, 1995)

1876 Darwin’s book Cross and Self Fertilization in the Vegetable Kingdom explained the concept of hybrid vigor, stimulating experiments and studies by other scientists. Though the basic concept of hybrid vigor had been discussed by various researchers during the earlier decades of this century, this was the first complete analysis and description. ©. Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)

1877 British traders sent seed of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) from Brasil to Malaya, followed three decades later by development of Dutch plantations in Sumatra. By 1930 Brasil had lost the rubber market to plantations in Malaya and elsewhere; the work of 150,000 rubber trappers slowly dried up, returning the Amazonian city of Manaus to obscurity. In the 1920s the US company Firestone turned the American near-colony of Liberia into a land of rubber, gaining a concession of 1,000,000 acres from the Liberian government. In 1943 the US dollar became Liberia’s currency. (Ponting, 1991) During WWII the US government, recognizing the importance of rubber harvest to the war effort, maintained a staff of plant pathologists in Liberia to help prevent importation of a leaf blight disease from South America. [See 1823, 1839, 1877, 1881]

1877 Frederick William Burbidge was sent to Borneo by James Veitch & Sons to collect orchids and other exotic plants. He met with Peter C. M. Veitch and they went to Kina Balu, Borneo's Sugar Loaf Mountain, returning to England in 1879. The account of this trip was recorded in The Gardens of the Sun.

1877 W. J. Beal, working at Michigan State University (then Michigan Agricultural College) made the first controlled crosses of corn in an effort to increase yield. Later workers would experiment with inbred varieties, devising a system of "double crossing" to produce large quantities of hybrid seed. In 1935 only one percent of US corn came from hybrid seed. Today virtually all corn grown in the US is hybrid, giving increased yields with reduced manpower. (Heiser, 1981) [See 1716, 1761]

1878 Charles Curtis was sent by James Veitch & Sons to Mauritius and Madagascar to collect plants. He sent back Angraecum sesquipedale. (Reinikka, 1972)

1878 Luther Burbank relocated from Massachusetts to Santa Rosa, CA to continue his plant breeding program. (Ewan, 1969)

1878 Of weeping tree forms, Vick’s Monthly Magazine commented: "Drooping trees we do not admire. An occasional specimen as a curiosity, is well, but a lawn abounding in Weeping Trees would be a sorry place." (Adams, 2004)

1878 Based on a new Hungarian mechanical process, the Washburn experimental flour mill in Minneapolis marked the beginning of modern milling in the US.

1879 Rudolphe Lindt devised conching, a method of improving smoothness and flavor in chocolate. (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1879 Capitalizing on Henri Nestlé’s invention of powdered milk, Daniel Peter fabricated the first milk chocolate candy bars. (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1879 Through the effort of E. F. Babcock, the Mississippi Valley Horticulture Society was formed. One of the first achievements of that organization was a national meeting of fruitgrowers, held in St. Louis in 1880. These associations eventually led to founding of The American Horticulture Society. (Mirian Hardin in Slosson, 19510

1879 The chestnut tree in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under which Longfellow’s village smithy stood, was felled to widen Brattle Street. A chair made from the wood was given to the poet on his 72nd birthday. Subsequent analysis of that chair indicated the tree was really a horse chestnut (a native to Europe,) not at all closely related to the American chestnut most readers would have imagined. (Rupp, 1990)

1880 Farmers began to cure tobacco using clean hot air rather than the smoky air of charcoal fires, thus producing a milder, more popular form of tobacco. (Simpson, 1989)

1880 In this decade over 25% of sailors in the Japanese Navy developed beriberi - the nutritional disease resulting from insufficient quantities of the vitamin thiamine. An expanded diet corrected the disorder, but not until several years later did C. Eijkman, a Dutch physician working in the East Indies, demonstrate that a diet of brown rice - as opposed to white rice - prevented the disease. Beriberi had become more common because of the introduction of improved polishing techniques that removed the brown outer layers of the rice grain in which thiamine occurs. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)[See 1886]

1880 For decades, German importers gained increasing control of markets in natural dye sources. BASF (the Baden Dye and Soda Company) had achieved control of indigo, a dye produced principally in India. By 1880, after much work, Adolf von Baeyer and his laboratory successfully synthesized indigo. The strength of this industry quickly galvanized, and in 1890 German exports of dyes accounted for 90% of the world’s supply. In 1914 German companies formed a color cartel, known as I. G. Farben (interessen Gemeinschaft Farben) that soon expanded into the production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. (Cobb & Goldwhite, 1995)

1880 Rev. W. Wilks, of Shirley parish in Surrey, England, marked a poppy in his garden with white edging on the petals. By selecting from among generations of seedlings derived from that original plant, Wilks produced the Shirley strain of poppies, whose orange, pink, and white flowers lack the red and black coloration characteristic of the corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) from which they were derived. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1881 Chile defeated Bolivia in a war to take control of coastal and island areas where huge deposits of guano (bird droppings) could be harvested for sale to Europe for use in agricultural fertilizers. The war left Bolivia landlocked. (Ponting, 1991) Saltpeter (sodium nitrate) was extracted from guano and used in various industrial chemical processes, from creating fertilizers, to formulating sulfuric and nitric acids, to manufacturing gunpowder. [See 1843]

1881 H.F.C. Sander established his new 4-acre orchid nursery near St. Albans, England. By 1886 records show that 340 cases of Cattleya were received from South America in February and March alone. "Sander did more to popularize orchids than nearly any other grower of the time, bringing them within financial reach of persons of modest means." (Reinikka, 1972)

1881 The loganberry was introduced to commerce by James Logan from his garden in Santa Cruz County, CA. (Ewan, 1969)

1881 As early as 1858 Asa Gray had commented on the problem of differing colored grains of corn, the coloration due to pigments in the endosperm. In 1881, prior to scientific understanding of double fertilization, Focke applied the term "xenia" to the obvious effects of pollen on the endosperm. ©. Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)[See 1899]

1881 John Boyd Dunlop acquired the patent for a hollow tire made of rubber and cloth. From this point, tires became the major use of natural rubber. (Lewington, 1990) [See 1823, 1839, 1877]

1882 Bordeaux University professor Millardet noticed that the copper sulfate spray applied to grapes (to discourage children from eating the fruit from the orchards) deterred downy mildew. By adding lime, which caused the copper to precipitate and stick to the leaves, he invented Bordeaux mixture - one salvation of the French wine industry and an important early fungicide. (Langenheim & Thimann, 1982)

1882 Adalbert Emil Walter Redliffe le Tanneux von St. Paul-Ilaire (know as Baron Walter), Governor of the Usambara District of German East Africa, collected seed and plants of a small herb which were sent to his botanically-inclined father, who forwarded them to Hermann Wendland, Director of the Berlin Royal Botanic Garden. Wendland cultivated the plants and recognized them as representing a new species in a new genus, i.e. Saintpaulia ionantha. In the generic name. Saintpaulia he recognized the father and son; the specific name he assigned means violet (Gr. ion) flower (Gr. anthos). In Germany these plants still bear the common name Usambara veilchen, in English they are called African violets. In their native Usambara cloudforests, the plants are threatened with extinction. (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1925]

1883 Viscount Itsujin Fukuba built the first greenhouse (9 x 36 ft) in Japan and imported a collection of tropical orchids from England and France. (Reinikka, 1972)

1883 Addis Ababa became the Ethiopian capital. Within twenty years, the surrounding zone, 100 miles in radius, was stripped of trees for charcoal production. (Ponting, 1991)

1884 An assistant to Sigmund Freud touched purified cocaine to his tongue and discovered a numbing sensation that led to its use as a local anesthetic. Later, a similar chemical compound was produced synthetically, procaine (commonly called by its trade name Novocain), which has replaced cocaine for anesthesis. (Simpson, 1989)

1884 Kate Greenaway, author of children’s books, published her Language of Flowers, one of the more popular dictionaries on this topic.

1884 The new edition of Miller’s Dictionary (OED) included Aeschynomene, the pith hat plant of India. By that time, the pith of this leguminous tree had been used for nearly two decades to construct hats, which were then covered with white cotton cloth and lined with green cloth. Lightweight and durable, the pith helmet achieved icon status. (Lewington, 1990)

1885 Sponsored by the Royal Horticulture Society, the first Orchid Conference was held in England. (Reinikka, 1972)

1886 John S. Pemberton created Coca-Cola, a beverage using water (later carbonated water), caramel, kola nut, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, lime, and coca leaf extractions. By 1903 the makers began purging the coca leaf extract of its cocaine component before adding it to the syrup. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1886 The Dutch government began a study of beri-beri, a disease that was devastating the native Indonesian population. Christian Eijkman was assigned the task of studying the "germ" thought responsible. When his laboratory chickens developed symptoms, Eijkman observed that a temporary diet of pure white rice coincided with the disease. Studies led to the culprit - the truncated cone rice mill - which so thoroughly polished the bran from rice as to remove some vital quality [See 1880, 1912], later determined by R. Williams to be thiamine, vitamin B1. (Visser, 1986)

1887 The Hatch Act established a yearly grant to support an agricultural experiment station in each state. (Rasmussen, 1960) Within ten years stations across the country were engaged in basic research. The experiment station system became the basis for the US Agricultural Extension service. [See 1862, 1875, 1906]

1887 John McLaren began his career as Director of Golden Gate Park. When asked one year what he wished for his birthday, it is reported he said: "100,000 pounds of barnyard manure." Over his career, McLaren not only composted a lot of manure, he also introduced thousands of exotic plants to the landscape and oversaw the real development of this famous landscape. McLaren headed the park for fifty-six years. (Taylor & Butterfield, 2003)

1888 Eduard Strasburger showed that reductive division occurs in both pollen mother cells and embryo sac production. This significant observation was one highlight of more than two decades of productive cellular study, resulting in descriptions of the mitotic process, cell wall formation, and constancy of chromosome number, and led to his conclusion that haploid and diploid phases accompany the morphological changes Hofmeister had described in alternation of generations. (Morton, 1981)

1889 Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach died (b. 3 January 1823) in Leipzig, Germany, leaving his orchid herbarium to the Vienna museum with instructions that it should remain closed for 25 years. Because the British had expected his collection to go to either Kew or the British Museum, this action, clearly designed to thwart upcoming British orchid taxonomists, caused an uproar.

1889 Amorphophallus titanum, a gigantic aroid from Sumatra, flowered for the first time in cultivation at Kew.

1889 The Pajaro Valley Evaporation Company of Watsonville, California, began small-scale production of dehydrated onions. In 1950 tins of their product, still usable, were discovered in Skagway, Alaska. (Rosengarten, 1969)

1889 The US Department of Agriculture was elevated to cabinet status. The now Secretary of Agriculture had 488 employees and a $1.1 million budget. By 1912 this Department had 13,858 employees and a $20.4 million budget. (This included reallocation of other departments, such as the weather service, to the new cabinet.) (Rasmussen & Baker, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1890 Thomas Lipton, while on a journey to Australia, ended his trip in Ceylon, where he purchased four failed coffee plantations (5,500 acres) and began his own tea business, with the slogan: “Direct from the garden to the teapot.”  (Hohenegger, 2007)

1890 A St. Louis physician formulated peanut butter as a food for invalids. In 1893 J. H. Kellogg (health food faddist famous for breakfast cereals) made peanut butter for patients with poor teeth. (Heiser, 1981)

1890 Rui Barbosa ordered the burning of Brasilian governmental papers relevant to the slave trade and slavery. This act followed the abolition of slavery in 1888. During over three centuries, approximately 4,000,000 black African slaves were imported to Brasil. By 1870 there were 1,500,000 slaves in that country. (Thomas, 1999)

1891 Ravenstein estimated Earth’s carrying capacity at 5.994 billion people based on 73.2 million square kilometers in fertile lands (supporting 80 people per square kilometer), 36 million square kilometers of grasslands (supporting 3.9 people per square kilometer), and 10.9 million square kilometers in desert (supporting 0.4 people per square kilometer.) (Cohen, 1995)

1892 Charles Sprague Sargent traveled to Japan to open the Arnold Arboretum’s first Asian mission.

1892 On 28 September, the first Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD opened to the public. Conceived as successor to the series of palaces that had been built in Sioux City, IA (beginning in 1887) the Mitchell building was made permanent in 1921 and is the only extant example of a "palace of the product of the soil." (Fussell, 1992)

1892 Farmers first became aware that the boll weevil had crossed the Rio Grande River into Texas cotton fields, within a decade threatening destruction of the US cotton industry. USDA investigations were begun in 1894 and a culturally based approach to the problem was proposed by 1897. [See 1906] (Rasmussen, 1960)

1892 The first gasoline powered "tractor" was built by John Froelich of Froelich, Iowa. [See 1903] (Rasmussen, 1960)  Froelich built his device by mounting a gasoline engine to a wood and steel frame (of a steam traction engine). Weighing about 9,000 pounds, his 30 horsepower gasoline traction engine still weighed much less than an equivalent steam device. (Schlebecker, 1975) The following year the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Co. was founded, based on Froelich’s work. The company did not move directly into production of equipment, but worked for many years on gasoline engines as the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company. Waterloo eventually returned to the manufacture of working tractors, but by that time Hart and Parr [See 1902] had introduced the first commercial, gasoline powered tractor. Waterloo was purchased by Deere and Co. in the 1920's. (Williams, 1987)

1893 Milton Hershey (who manufactured caramel candies) attended the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where he encountered Lehmann and Co. chocolate machinery in operation. He purchased the demonstration equipment and began manufacturing his own chocolate to coat the caramels. Later Hershey sold the caramel business, purchased a farm in Derry Township, PA, and began his famous chocolate empire. (Coe and Coe, 1996)

1893 Initial presentation of the Glass Flowers to Harvard University (created under the guidance of Harvard Professor Ware by artists Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph). The glass flowers provided full scale models for teaching about the diversity of plants, but also included examples of important diseases as well as replicas of internal anatomy. (Ewan, 1969)

1893 Reid’s Yellow Dent Corn gained the grand prize as "the world’s most beautiful corn" at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Reid’s corn became a major force in Midwestern agriculture and an important parent to modern hybrids. (Fussell, 1992)

1893 A Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Horace Gray, declared the tomato to be a vegetable, based on common usage of the word "vegetable" as opposed to the word "fruit." Thus tomato importer, John Nix, was required to pay a 10% vegetable tariff on a shipment of tomato fruit (now honorary vegetables) from the West Indies. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996; see quote from decision on page 88) Botanical Note: A tomato originates as the ovary, in the pistil of a tomato flower. Following pollination and fertilization, the ovary matures into a fruit. One can grow seedless tomatoes by treating the flowers with hormones that promote fruit development without pollination. But whether seedless or not, to a botanist, the tomato is a fruit. Perhaps any part of a plant could be called "vegetable" - but botanists define vegetation as leafy, non-sexually reproductive parts of plants.

1895 Danish scientist Johannes Warming published his Oecoloty of Plants (Plantesamfund.) Basing his ecological system on water use and plant growth form, he essentially founded the modern methods of descriptive plant ecology. The terms xerophyte, mesophyte, hydrophyte, monocarpic, and polycarpic date from his usage. (Isely, 1994)

1896 Hirase and Ikeno published their discovery of motile sperm in Ginkgo and Cycas. (Bold, Alexopoulos, & Delevoryas, 1980)

1896 The New York Botanical Garden was established, following legislation drafted in 1891.

1896 The standard impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) was introduced from East Africa. Because the plant came from the territory of the Sultan of Zanzibar, it also received the name Impatiens sultani, which is now considered synonymous to I. walleriana. (Grimshaw, 1998) For decades these plants were known by the common names of busy lizzies in some areas and sultanas in others. In North America today they are simply called impatiens. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1897 The USDA section on Seed and Plant Introduction was formed, with David Fairchild as the "Explorer in Charge." (Camp, Boswell, & Magness, 1957)

1897 Having discovered major improprieties in bourbon production, the U. S. Congress passed the Bottled-in-Bond Act, controlling bourbon production at the source and setting standards for proof and aging. (Fussell, 1992)

1897 As an agricultural explorer out of the Department of Horticulture at South Dakota State College, Niels Ebbesen Hansen collected plants in Russia. In later recollections he noted: "...the camels and other livestock seemed well nourished. The reason was this native grass called ‘Gibniak’ by the native settlers. I brought the first samples to America; in fact, I collected it in many other places including west Siberia. In America it is called crested wheat grass. Some believe this grass will ere long cover hundreds of millions of acres of dry prairie regions, in western states from eastern Oregon and Washington eastward through the western half of the Dakotas and south into Kansas." (M.H. Davidson in Slosson, 1951)

1898 Wheat rust is said to have cost the US $67,000,000. By 1904 significant research programs were established to determine control measures. German scientist H. de Bary had detailed the life cycle of wheat rust, but it was not until 1917 that sufficient study existed to support a barberry eradication program, which was first legalized in North Dakota. (Ewan, 1969)

1898 Gifford Pinchot, Yale graduate and forest manager at Biltmore, was appointed head of the U.S. Division of Forestry. This agency was moved to the Department of Agriculture as the Forest Service in 1905. Pinchot was dismissed by President Taft during a controversy with the Secretary of the Interior over leasing of mineral rights and other issues. Pinchot later became governor of Pennsylvania and subsequently a professor of Forestry at Yale. (A. S. in The Yearbook of Agriculture, 1962)

1898 The Bayer Company developed heroin as a substitute for morphine and codeine. By 1917 this drug was found to be greatly addictive and its use in over-the-counter cough syrups was discontinued. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996) The logic for developing this drug, chemically known as diacetylmorphine, came from the earlier Bayer success at converting salicylic acid to aspirin - which involved replacing hydroxyl groups (-OH) with acetyl groups (CH3CO). Making two such substitutions on morphine yielded a more active/effective compound, thought to be more useful medicinally, and thus termed heroic. (Le Couteur & Burreson, 2003)

1898 Russian botanist, S. G. Navashin, discovered and described triple fusion, a phenomenon common to flowering plants in which the second generative nucleus of the pollen fuses with the polar nucleus (nuclei) of the embryo sac. (Morton, 1981)

1899 The holdings of Minor Cooper Keith (the American builder of an 1871 Costa Rican railroad and subsequent planter of bananas) were merged with the Boston Fruit Company to form the United Fruit Company. By 1981, half of all world banana exports came to the US. (Heiser, 1981)[see 1804]

1899 Founding of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Beatrice Farrand (wife of the first Director of the Huntington, Max Farrand) was a founding member. (Adams in Punch, 1992)

1899 William Orton was sent to the South Carolina coastal islands by the US Department of Agriculture to investigate cotton wilt, a fungal disease. Orton learned that local grower Elias Rivers had cotton plants resistant to the disease, and had been saving the seed. By 1900 Orton had published the earliest report on the value of selective breeding for crop resistance. (Rasmussen, 1960)

1899 The USDA, State Land Grant Colleges, and other agencies cooperated to begin a national Soil Survey. (Kellogg, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1899 Navaschin described double fertilization, explaining the problem of xenia as well as establishing yet another distinction between flowering plants and gymnosperms. ©. Zirkle in Ewan, 1969) [See 1881]

1900 At the brink of the 20th century, world population had reached nearly 1.6 billion. Slavery in the United States, an institution born of cotton, rice, coffee, and sugar production, had been abolished for less that forty years. Women could not yet vote. The continents were conceptually fixed, in static perfection achieved at the creation several thousand years before. Light microscopy was the limit of our ability to resolve cellular structure. Scientists recognized simply two kingdoms of living beings and about 100,000 species of plants. We could list 10 essential plant elements, and remained convinced that oxygen produced during photosynthesis was derived from CO2. American chestnut dominated the mixed mesophytic empire. There were 5 daylily cultivars.

1900 The British owned Pacific Islands Company purchased rights to all minerals on 3-mile- long Ocean Island for £50 a year. Within 80 years 20,000,000 tons of phosphate for agricultural fertilizer (shipped to Australia and New Zealand for crops exported mainly to Britain) were extracted from the island, obliterating the original tropical vegetation and destroying the homeland of the 2,000 native islanders. The same fate befell neighboring Nauru (8.5 sq. miles.) and its original 1,400 inhabitants. (Ponting, 1991)

1900 Joseph Pernet-Ducher (of Lyon) introduced what is thought to be the first yellow hybrid rose, ‘Soleil d’Or’. Making thousands of fruitless crosses, his persistence was rewarded with a single plant that provided the genetic source for yellow coloration in Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1583]

1901 Mendel's paper on inheritance in peas was republished in the RHS journal. [See 1866]

1901 A Japanese chemist invented instant coffee. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1901 Iowans Charles Hatt and Charles Parr built the first gasoline powered tractor. (Fussell, 1992)

1903 Wilson, collecting for Veitch, successfully reintroduced the blue poppy, Meconopsis, to Europe, though his greatest triumph was the introduction of the regal lily, Lilium regale.

1903 H. E. Huntington purchased San Marino Ranch, where he began to create his estate, complete with museum collections and botanical gardens.

1903 Based on their model constructed in 1901, C. W. Hart and C. H. Parr of Iowa City, Iowa, established the first company dedicated exclusively to manufacturing gasoline powered tractors. In 1906 they began calling their machines tractors. By 1950 there were more tractors than horses on American farms. [See 1892] (Rasmussen, 1960)

1903 M. S. Tswett, a Russian botanist, separated chlorophylls a and b as well as carotene and xanthophyll from petroleum ether extract chromatographically, using powdered chalk as the substrate. Chromatography did not become a common technique until the 1930's. (Morton, 1981)

1904 Iced tea is said to have been first served at the St. Louis World’s Fair by an enterprising British salesman who realized that fair goers were not attracted to hot tea in summer weather. (Simpson, 1989)

1904 Chestnut blight from Japan was detected in the New York City area, with the first reported case at the Bronx Zoological Park. It is thought the fungal pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, arrived with importation of Asian chestnut trees in 1890. This disease quickly advanced to destroy nearly the entire native population of American Chestnut, until that time the largest of eastern trees and one of the most significant forest dominants in the Eastern mixed mesophytic association. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996) Rupp (1990) indicates that the pathogen arrived in 1895 amid a shipment of Chinese chestnut trees that would eventually be planted at the newly founded New York Botanical Garden. Rupp also calculated the loss in lumber alone at $400 billion.

1906 Pierre du Pont purchased the Pierce house and arboretum, property he would develop as Longwood Gardens. (Griswold & Weller, 1991)

1906 The first county agent, W. C. Stallings began work in Smith County, Texas. Employed to work with farmers to combat the ravages of the boll weevil on the cotton crop, this model was quickly adopted in other Southern states. By 1914 the Smith-Lever Act for cooperative extension had been passed. (Rasmussen, 1960)

1906 In the July issue of Good Housekeeping a Shaker community member recounted the growing of flowers (which for its own sake was proscribed) for economy and industry. One paragraph concerned opium: "We always had extensive poppy beds and early in the morning, before the sun had risen, the white-capped sisters could be seen stooping among the scarlet blossoms to slit those pods from which the petals had just fallen. Again after sundown they came out with little knives to scrape off the dried juice. This crude opium was sold at a large price and its production was one of the most lucrative as well as the most picturesque of our industries." (Hedrick, 1950)

1906 Kakuzo Okakura published The Book of Tea, noting that “Teaism is Taoism in disguise”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1907 Joel Cheek began building his Nashville, TN-based coffee roasting empire based on his own blend, one he promoted through Nashville’s Maxwell House (a fine hotel) in 1892. Within a few years a second roasting facility had been opened in Houston, TX. By the time Theodore Roosevelt visited Nashville in 1907, the Maxwell House brand had established strong presence in the Southeast. On draining a cup of this coffee, Roosevelt is reported as saying: "Good. Good to the last drop." (Pendergrast, 1999)

1908 New York tea importer Thomas Sullivan introduced the tea bag as a means of marketing samples. (Pratt, 1982) By 1934, 8 million yards of gauze were used annually to be sewn as tea bags. (Simpson, 1989)

1908 Avocados were planted at San Marino Ranch (today, the Huntington Botanical Gardens), constituting what was apparently the first commercial avocado grove in California.

1908 The United States Department of Agriculture, agencies of numerous states, and Canadian governmental agencies formed the Associations of Official Seed Analysts of North America, with the goal of setting standards for seed testing and instituting laws that would guarantee such standards. (Busch, et al, 1995) [See 1912]

1909 Dr. Colville and Ms. White begin making crosses to produce the first 18 cultivars of modern blueberries from native stock.

1909 Fritz Haber produced ammonia from atmospheric nitrogen.  The German chemical company BASF purchased rights to his process and assigned Carl Bosch to create an industrial-scale application.  Both Haber (in 1918) and Bosch (in 1931) were awarded Nobel prizes for this work.   Commercial production of synthetic ammonia became immediately important in that during WW I Germany lost access to deposits of sodium nitrate that had become important sources of crop fertilizers. (Wikipedia)

1910 A chemist with the Corn Products Refining Company (subsequently Corn Products Company International) discovered a process that would allow the refining of corn oil for cooking, thus giving rise to the product Mazola. (Fussell, 1992)

1910 The USDA purchased 475 acres of farmland near Beltsville, MD to establish its Agricultural Research Center. Supplementing the 400 acre Arlington Farm which had been established in 1910 (and eventually became the site for the Pentagon), Beltsville grew to over 10,500 acres by 1962. (Hedge, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1910 In a total US labor force of 38,167,000, the agricultural labor force constituted 2.5%, or 12,388,000 people. In 1970, the US labor force had risen to 83,049,000 while the portion reportable to agriculture had dropped to 3.4%, or 2,750,000. This change is accountable to introduction of labor-saving devices, such as the tractor. (Williams, 1987)

1911 A two year famine began in Russia. While people starved and died, the country continued exporting a fifth of its annual grain production (which constituted about 25% of world trade). (Ponting, 1991)

1911 Kudzu was brought to the US from Japan for soil improvement, erosion control, and livestock forage. (Shetler in Viola & Margolis, 1991)

1912 Ballod calculated that a US standard of life would support 2.333 billion people on Earth, a German standard would allow 5.6 billion, and a Japanese standard could underwrite 22.4 billion people. (Cohen, 1995)

1912 The GooGoo Cluster, a chocolate, caramel, & peanut candy, was created in Nashville, TN. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1912 Tokyo gave cherry trees to be planted in Washington, DC. (Camp, Boswell, & Magness, 1957)

1912 Frederick Hopkins showed that there were chemical substances (additional to fats, carbohydrates, and minerals) obtained from food that are essential to human growth and maintenance. Casimir Funk termed these substances "vitamines." (Visser, 1986)

1912 The United States Seed Importation Act established legal standards for seed in the marketplace. The law also controlled noxious weeds and varietal seed mixes. (Busch, et al, 1995) [See 1908]

1913 With three wheels attached integrally to the engine housing, the Wallace Cub became the first frameless tractor. (Schlebecker, 1975)

1915 Richard Martin Willstätter was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work with plant pigments, particularly chlorophyll. After WWI, Willstätter continued his work in biological chemistry, investigating the synthesis of cocaine and the nature of enzymes. By WWII, Willstätter suffered the isolation and persecution of so many other Jewish German scientists and eventually emigrated to Switzerland. At one point during the war, gestapo agents were sent to Willstätter’s home to arrest him: "He was in his garden at the time, however, and the gestapo did not think to look for him there." (Cobb & Goldwhite, 1995)

1916 Corn borer arrived in the US. Note that in Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, Jabez Stone lost his corn crop to corn borers, even though Daniel Webster had died in 1852, 64 years before the arrival of corn borer. (Root, 1980)

1916 Youth Farm Clubs, established during World War I, concentrated on the tomato as a crop, helping to popularize this fruit. (Root, 1980)

1917 Nikolai Vavilov assumed leadership of seed and crop development resources for the Soviet Union (in the same year as the Bolshevik revolution.)   Vavilov led a massive enterprise dedicated to collecting and storing landraces of important crop plants.  His work and philosophy fell victim to politically expedient theories advanced by Trofim Lysenko, such that Vavilov was arrested in 1940 (the beginning of the Stalinist era) and charged with conspiring against communist social order.  Convicted to a death sentence (later commuted to life in prison), Vavilov died in prison in 1943.  (Thompson, 2010)

1917 Knibbs calculated that (exclusive of the Arctic and Antarctic) with a land area of 33 billion acres, Earth could yield 752.4 trillion bushels of corn, which could support a population of 132 billion. (Cohen, 1995)

1917 Ford’s Fordson tractor was introduced at $397. (Fussell, 1992)

1918 Beginning with a special tobacco plant with tardy flowering habits, W. W. Garner and H. A. Allard opened the field of daylength studies - a phenomenon they named "photoperiodism.’ (Borthwick, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1919 The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution initiated a period of alcohol prohibition. The nearly two decade period of prohibition caused great hardship for US vineyards and other growers and producers in the large beer, wine, and liquor industry.

1919 The publication of Inbreeding and Outbreeding by E. M. East and D. F. Jones gave scientific underpinnings to corn breeding and introduced Jones’s system of double crossing through the use of four inbred lines. This work, fostered by the US Experiment Station system, was one of the most significant early accomplishments of modern agricultural science. (Rasmussen, 1960)

1920 The American Orchid Society began, its first organizational meeting held on 25 March at Horticultural Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. (Reinikka, 1972)

1921 George Washington Carver appeared before the US Congressional Ways and Means Committee, promoting a protective tariff on peanuts. He demonstrated the many potential products/uses of peanuts and came away from the meeting with national fame. Due to his promotional efforts, the peanut is a major crop in the Southeastern coastal plain today - and peanut butter has become an American classic. (Isely, 1994)[see 1890]

1921 Quoting George W. Gurney, of Yankton, SD: "Sometime when you have nothing else to do, plant a tree. It will be growing while you sleep." (Adams, 2004)

1922 W. J. Robbins initiated plant tissue culture studies. ©. Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)

1922 Knudson published his asymbiotic method of seed germination; "Nonsymbiotic Germination of Orchid Seeds" in Botanical Gazette. This technique revolutionized the propagation of orchids, both sexually and vegetatively. It led to techniques of mericloning and meristemming that are used widely for production of many horticultural crops today.

1924 International Harvester Company introduced their gasoline powered tractor, the Farmall, which was fitted with removable attachments. (Fussell, 1992)

1924 Frank Kingdon-Ward, tracing routes of plantsmen through southern Tibet, collected seed of the famous blue poppy, Mecanopsis betonicifolia. He described the flowers to be "as dazzling as sapphires." The plant became a sensation with its first cultivated flowering in London and Glasgow parks in 1927. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1925 The Los Angeles-base Armacost and Royston nursery acquired seed of Saintpaulia (African violets) from Europe. From a thousand seedlings, a very few were selected. One of their introductions, ‘Blue Boy’ became an important parent for future development of African violet cultivars, giving red and pink seedlings, and even yielding a sport with double flowers. (Grimshaw, 1998) [See 1882]

1926 Scientists began to formulate genetic solutions to long-known plant problems. In this year East and Manglesdorf resolved the issue of self-sterility in Nicotiana. Filzer and Lehmann conducted similar studies of Veronica. ©. Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)

1927 H. J. Muller exposed plant seed to X rays in order to induce mutations. Muller had stated as early as 1916 the ability to induce mutations was the key to managing the process of evolution. Muller termed the use of X-rays to manipulate and study genes was termed necromancy. (Sackman, 2005)

1927 A Congressional bill directed the Secretary of Agriculture "to establish and maintain a national arboretum for purposes of research and education concerning tree and plant life." (Skinner, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1928 Following on similar work with Drosophila, Stadler used X-rays to produce mutations in corn (Zea mays). ©. Zirkle in Ewan, 1969)

1929 The Cactus and Succulent Society of America was founded in Southern California, with N. L. Britton as Honorary President, A. D. Houghton as President, and Scott Haselton as Editor. The society published its first journal issue in July as "A monthly magazine devoted exclusively to Cacti and Succulents for the dissemination of knowledge and the recording of hitherto unpublished data in order that the culture and the study of these particular plants may attain the popularity which is justly theirs." (J. CSSA, 1929:1(1)

1930 US Census data suggested that of 12 food groups, consumption of dry beans was the only practice that increased at inverse proportion to income. In other food groups, consumption either remained the same or increased with family income. (Kaplan & Kaplan in Foster & Cordell, 1996)

1930 The Sanforizer Company introduced an ammonia-based process, devised by Sanford Cluett, that causes cotton fibers to swell, preventing shrinkage when washed. (OED)

1930 Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson, purchased Sissinghurst Castle and the surrounding 10 acres. Together they began creating their famous garden of rooms. Most noted and imitated among the many plantings has been the white garden. (Grimshaw, 1998)

1930 The Plant Patent Act became part of US law, codifying the concept that people could "stake claims to living matter." Within ten years, at least 350 plant patents had been granted. (Sackman, 2005)

1932 Allis-Chalmers introduced rubber, pneumatic tires for their tractors, offering by 1934 a tractor designed specifically for rubber tires. By 1939, 90% of the tractors manufactured had pneumatic tires. (Williams, 1987)

1934 Data from Los Angeles show that nearly a third (1,500) of the Japanese American working population in the city (5,125 people) were gardeners. At this time, over 50% of workers in the West Coast Japanese American population were involved in the green industry (gardening, nurseries, orchards, truck farming, agriculture, supporting businesses). (Helphand, 2006)

1934 A major windstorm in the plains states removed 350 million tons of topsoil, scattering it over the eastern US and out into the Atlantic. It is estimated that 12 million tons fell on Chicago. The storms continued and by 1938 the top five inches of soil had been removed from 10,000,000 acres of land. In that year 850 million tons of soil were lost. By 1938 3.5 million people had abandoned farms on the great plains. One fifth of Oklahoma’s population moved to other states. (Ponting, 1991)

1935 Analysis by botanist A. Koehler demonstrated that a homemade wooden ladder used during the abduction (resulting in murder) of the son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was made from the same wooden planks that floored Bruno Hauptmann’s attic. Hauptmann was convicted of this crime. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1935 William Ukers published All About Tea, a comprehensive study that remains a landmark.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1935 The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was created through executive order by President F. D. Roosevelt, receiving Congressional authority the following year through passage of the Rural Electrification Act. REA offered loans to cooperatives and power districts in order to finance distribution, transmission, and generation of power to rural areas. In 1935 approximately one in ten US farms received electricity; by 1962 electricity was supplied to more than 97% of US farms. (Kelly, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1936 USDA entomologists Hurd-Karrer and Poos discovered that selenium applied to roots of wheat plants could kill aphids feeding on the leaves. By 1945 selenium was used commercially (applied with fertilizer) to control spider mites in carnations and chrysanthemums. (Reed, Bushland, & Eddy, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)


1936 From Punch, a verse on the sweets of science references research on biochemistry of dye plants:

"Modern painters in their fervour

Seek to startle the observer

By reliance on their peacock hued appeals

But I find more consolation

In the dusty rubrication

Which the background of the galaxies reveals

And though rare sweets and ices

Compounded at high prices

A transitory rapture may impart

The glycosides of madder

Make me infinitely gladder

And rejoice the inmost cockles of my heart."(O. Morton, 2008)

1937 The Nobel Prize was awarded to Albert Szent-Gyögyi, the first person to isolate vitamin C. He extracted it from paprika. [See 1747] (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1937 The Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act provided loans for US farm workers to purchase their own lands. It also created a land conservation program that supported the retirement/purchase of marginal farmland, some acreage of which was added to the national forest system. (A. S., in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1937 George Russell of York, England, exhibited his lupines (spelled "lupins" in England), the product of years of hybridizing and selection. When Russell began his work in 1911, lupines had been known to horticulture for over a century, beginning with introduction of plants from the North American collection efforts of David Douglas (who sent seed of 23 species of Lupinus to his employers at London’s Royal Horticulture Society in 1825). (Grimshaw, 1998)

1938 Szent-Gyögyi withdrew his suggestion that "citrin" (now known to be various flavonoids), which was present along with vitamin C in citrus peels, could help maintain small blood vessels. These bioflavonoids were termed Vitamin P, and became the subject of much discussion. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proclaimed that bioflavonoids are neither vitamins nor of nutritional value (Visser, 1986)

1939 Swiss chemist Paul Müller discovered the insecticidal qualities of DDT, a compound first synthesized by German chemist Othmar Zeidler in 1874. [See 1972](Busbey, in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1962)

1940 Steroids discovered in yam (Dioscorea) proved useful for the manufacture of cortisone and sexual hormones. Consequently, the cost of hormones dropped from $80 to $2 per gram. [See 1956] (Heiser, 1981) This was amplified through the work of Russell Marker, who while assigned to study steroids during a research fellowship at Pennsylvania State University discovered he could manufacture progesterone from steroids in the yam. Unable to receive support to further this work, he moved to Mexico City and formed a joint venture named Syntex. Though Marker abandoned his research, Syntex continued work with other chemists. Eventually Syntex manufactured testosterone and 19-norprogesterone, an analog of progesterone that was even more effective at inhibiting ovulation. Administered in an oral version, this became "The Pill." (Cobb & Goldwhite, 1995) [See 1956]

1942 Even in the darkness and horror of war and genocide, gardens in forced ghettos yielded food and sustained hope. Mary Berg’s diary from a Warsaw ghetto comments of a spring day: "last night sixty more persons were execute." - followed in the next paragraph with: "In our garden everything is green. The young onions are shooting up. We have eaten our first radishes. The tomato plants spread proudly in the sun. The weather is magnificent." (Helphand, 2006)

1943 About 3,000,000 people died from famine-based starvation in Bengal. (Ponting, 1991)

1944 Chinese botanists reported the discovery of the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides.) The tree hitherto had been known only from fossil material that was at least 20 million years old. (Rupp, 1990)

1945 White doves were released in Pasadena, California with the following statement: "We are persuaded that this greatest new rose of our time should be named for the world’s greatest desire, PEACE." Selected in 1935 after its first flowering, the rose had originally been named for the Meilland family matriarch, ‘Mme. A. Meilland’. Stock for the rose had been sent by the Meilland family nursery (located near Lyon) on the last commercial flight to leave France for the United States during World War II. Stock also was sent to Germany (where it received the name ‘Gloria Dei’) and to Italy (where it was named ‘Gioia’). At the first meeting of the United Nations (in San Francisco) each delegate received a flower of ‘Peace’ annotated: "This is the rose ‘Peace’ which received its name on the day Berlin fell. May it help to move all men of goodwill to strive for Peace on earth for all mankind." (Grimshaw, 1998)

1947 Thor Heyerdahl sailed a raft made of balsa logs, the Kon Tiki, from South America far into the Pacific Ocean, to support his contention that prehistoric people could have made such journeys. Heyerdahl would use the presence in the Easter Islands of a plant called totara (Scirpus) that is native to coastal South America as suggesting ancient travel. A closely related plant, also called totara, is used extensively by inhabitants of the area around Lake Titicaca - for thatching, for construction of mats, even for building boats. (Heiser, 1985)

1947 Developed during WW II, the herbicide 2,4-D was introduced for weed control. (Fussell, 1992)

1949 English phycologist (a scientist who studies algae) Kathleen Drew-Baker described the complex life cycle of Porphyra (nori is in this genus). This new understanding allowed commercial farming of nori in Japan to flourish. A statue of Drew-Baker stands in a Tokyo park overlooking the bay.

1950 The US National Science Foundation was established.

c1950 Lysenkoism crested with Stalin’s reign of power, codified in a Russian encyclopedia: ‘Gene is a mythical part of living structures which in reactionary theories like Mendelism-Veysmanism-Morganism determines heredity.  Soviet scientists under the leadership of Academician Lysenko have proved scientifically that genes do not exist in nature.’ (Thompson, 2010)

1954 Brown (combined in 1957 with Bonner and Weir) estimated that if humans were willing to sustain themselves through algae farms and yeast factories, 50 billion people could be supported on Earth. (Cohen, 1995)

1956 G. Pincus disclosed that a drug derived from the yam, Dioscorea, could stop ovulation, therefore preventing conception - allowing production of a birth control "pill" to replace the previous need for an injection. (Heiser, 1981) [See 1940]

1957 Extracts from the common periwinkle were found effective in the treatment of childhood leukemia. (Simpson, 1989)

1958 The US established its main seed bank, the National Seed Storage Laboratory, in Ft. Collins, Colorado, where over 250,000 seed samples are maintained. This is one of the 19 seed-storage facilities in the US that constitute the National Plant Germplasm System. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1958 Clark estimated that with 77 million square kilometers of temperate zone agriculturally useful land, the Earth could support 28 billion people. (Cohen, 1995)

1961 Kleiber made an enlightening calculation. Assuming that 0.027 percent of Earth mass is carbon, and an average adult male embodies 12 kilograms of carbon, there is sufficient carbon on the planet to allow for 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 people. But we also have to provide food. If people lived on potatoes alone, and 48 billion hectares were planted to potatoes (that includes all 13.3 billion hectares of land not under ice and most of Earth’s ocean areas,) a population of 800 billion could be supported. (Cohen, 1995)

1961 Melvin Calvin was awarded the Nobel Prize. In association with Andrew Benson, James Bassham, and other scientists, he described the light-independent reactions (often called the dark reactions, or the Calvin cycle) of the photosynthetic system. Beginning with carbon dioxide, these reactions actually synthesize organic compounds (3-carbon phosphate sugars) that become glucose and other sugars. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1962 Rachael Carson published Silent Spring, spurring an entirely new era of environmental concern and awareness.

1964 Graduate student Donald Currey, with permission and assistance of the U.S. Forest Service, cut down a Bristlecone pine tree at Nevada’s Wheeler Peak Scenic Area.  On counting the rings of this tree (which had been named Promethius by conservationists) he discovered that the tree was at least 4,844 years old.  This marked Promethius as 200 years older than Methuselah (a different Bristlecone pine, already documented as the oldest known living specimen).  He had cut down what might have been the oldest living tree on earth. Currey’s study, published the following year in the scientific journal Ecology, partially led to creation of the Great Basin National Park in 1986.  (Rutkow, 2012)

1964 The Surgeon General’s Report connected smoking with lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other diseases. [See 1761]  (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1967 De Wit calculated the Earth’s potential photosynthetic output. Using a human requirement of 1,000,000 kilocalories per year and allowing for city and recreation space, he calculated Earth’s carrying capacity at 146 billion people. (Cohen, 1995)

1967 High-fructose corn syrup was introduced commercially by Clinton Corn Processing Co. (of Clinton, Iowa.) Manufactured using their patented enzyme Isomerose, the fructose sweetness of corn syrup was raised from 14% to 42%. With rising sugar prices, "Isosweet" became the sweetener for all major soft drinks. (Fussell, 1992)

1968 Head of the US Foreign Aid Program, W. Gaud, coined the term "Green Revolution." [See 1970] (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1970 Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As the "Father of the Green Revolution" he developed high yielding dwarf strains of wheat while working at the Rockefeller-financed CIMMYT Agricultural Station in Mexico City. Use of such seed has allowed tropical countries to double their wheat productivity. Along with improvements in rice productivity at a similar center in the Philippines and other crops at yet more agricultural stations, the "Green Revolution" came into being. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1972 DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) usage was banned in the US. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1972 String trimmers were introduced. (Crotz in Punch, 1992)

1973 Lieth calculated the annual net primary production for land vegetation on Earth to be 100 billion tonnes of dry matter, having a caloric content of 426 thousand trillion kilocalories.

1975 United Farm Workers won the concession to eliminate use of the short-handled hoe in lettuce cultivation. (Visser, 1986)

1977 The perfectly preserved corpse (from the 2nd century B.C.) of the wife of the Marquis of Tai was found in Ch’ang-sha, China. In addition to melon seed discovered in her intestines, the tomb contained a bowl of peaches. Belief since the Ch’in Dynasty held that peaches "eaten in time" would preserve the body from deterioration forever. This custom survives today in the tradition of shoutao - the long life peach - a steamed roll served on birthdays. (Root, 1980)

1978 Rafael Guzman, a student at the University of Guadalajara, discovered an extant stand of perennial corn (a kind of teosinte) in the mountains near Jalisco. (Fussell, 1992)

1979 Liquid balsam produced by species of Copaifera (copaiba tree) was found to be so similar in composition to diesel fuel that it could be utilized (with no further processing) to power a diesel engine. (Lewington,1990)

1981 Hundreds of people in Spain became sick and died from consuming cheap olive oil that had been adulterated with French rapeseed oil. The rapeseed oil contained industrial aniline dyes and was manufactured only for use in steel mills. (Visser, 1986)

1982 The first genetically engineered crop was developed at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. By 1994 the Flavr-Savr tomato became the first such plant approved for commercial marketing. The Flavr-Savr tomato was designed for slow fruit ripening and increased shop life. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1983 Kary B. Mullis devised the polymerase chain reaction, a system to replicate large quantities of DNA from a small initial sample. The ability to create a large sample of DNA for testing and study had extraordinary impact on various fields of study, from areas of paleobiology to forensic analysis. (Cobb & Goldwhite, 1995)

1983 Barbara McClintock received the Nobel Prize for her work with the complex color patterns of Indian corn, studies that revealed moveable genetic elements termed "jumping genes."

1990 Of more than 400,000 naturally occurring plant species, 90% of human nutritional needs are met by 103 species.   (Prescott-Allen & Prescott-Allen, 1990) 

1990 Project SEEDS was launched by NASA and The George W. Park Seed Co., allowing school students around the USA to compare growth of seed exposed to conditions of space with that of seed stored on earth. (Levetin & McMahon, 1996)

1993 The Convention on Biological Diversity was established.

1994 An unusual stand of trees was discovered in Wollemi National Park within 200 kilometers of Sydney, Australia. The trees were found to represent an entirely new genus and species, Wollemia nobilis, in the Araucariaceae (the monkey-puzzle tree family).

1996 Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready soybean seed, the first genetically modified herbicide tolerant agricultural crop.  By 2004, herbicide tolerant soybean, maize (corn), canola, and cotton covered 80 million hectares, constituting 80% of those crops grown world-wide.  (Thomson, 2007)

1997 Heartless, bitter, and cynical - logger Grant Hadwin stole into the forest night on 20 January, at Haida Gwaii, in the Queen Charlotte Islands of Canada’s British Columbia. His villainous goal, to destroy the famous Golden Spruce, sacred to the native Haida Peoples. Cutting well through most of the 7 foot diameter base of the 165 foot tall tree, he left it to fall two days later. (Vaillant, 2005)

1997 Control of Hong Kong was returned to China in response to treaty conditions negotiated following the Opium Wars with Great Britain [See 1840]

1998 The Department of Botany at The University of Texas at Austin was dismantled, following the 3-decade trend at major research universities to consolidate historically separate biological sciences (based on natural classification, such as botanical and zoological studies), then redistribute them based on research technique.

2001 Genetically-modified (GM, i.e. transgenic) crop plants had become mainstream, highlighted through reassessment this year by the US Environmental Protection Agency, reaching the conclusion that Bt cotton and Bt corn did not pose significant environmental risk for the environment or for human health.  In 2001, Bt white corn was planted in South Africa for basic human subsistence (direct consumption) for the first time.  By 2002, 6.8 hectares had been planted to Bt cotton worldwide (12% of the world’s production.)  Previously, all GM maize had been used for animal food.  (Thomson, 2007)

2001 Quist and Chapela published information in the journal Nature stating that transgenic DNA had appeared in native landraces of corn (maize) in Mexico. This publication engendered serious debate concerning the safety of transgenic crops.  By 2002 Nature had   retracted the article.  A subsequent publication by Ortiz-Garcia, Ezcurra, Schoel, Acevedo, Soberón, and Snow  (Proceedings National Academy of Sciences) presented results from screening of over 150,000 seed samples in which no evidence of transgenic introgression could be discovered.  (Thomson, 2007)


History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the plowed fields whereby we thrive. It knows the names of the kings’ bastards but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. This is the way of human folly.

J. H. Fabre




Adams, Denise Wiles, 2004. Restoring American Gardens. An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants 1640-1940, Timber Press, Portland, ISBN 0-88192-619-1, 419 pp.


Anderson, W. and C. Hicks, 1990. Green Man, HarperCollins, London, ISBN 006-250075-9, 179 pp.

Arno, Stephen F., 1973. Discovering Sierra Trees, Yosemite Association and the Sequoia Natural History Association, 89 pp. 

Bold, H. C., C. J. Alexopoulos, & T. Delevoryas, 1980. Morphology of Plants and Fungi, 4th ed. Harper & Row, NY, ISBN 0-06-040848-0

Boorstin, D., 1983. The Discoverers, Random House, NY, ISBN 0-394-40229-4, 745 pp.

Busch, L., W. B. Lacy, J. Burkhardt, D. Hemken, J Moraga-Rojel, T. Koponen, and J. De Souza Silva, 1995. Making Nature, Shaping Culture: Plant Biodiversity in Global Context, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, ISBN 0-8032-1256-9, 261 pp.

Camp, W. H., V. R. Boswell, & J. R. Magness, 1957. The World in Your Garden, National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. 231pp.

Clunas, Craig, 1996. Fruitful Sites, Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, ISBN 0 8223 1795 8, 240 pp.

Cobb, C & H. Goldwhite, 1995. Creations of Fire, Plenum Press, NY, ISBN 0-306-45087-9, 475 pp.

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de Duve, C., 1995. Vital Dust, The Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth, HarperCollins, NY, ISBN 0-465-09045-1, 362 pp. (Wonderful book, though credibility suffers when one notes the author’s clear misunderstanding of the nature of double fertilization.)

Duval, Marguerite, 1982 ( translation by Annette Tomarken & Claudine Cowen). The King’s Garden, Univ. Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, ISBN 0-8139-0916-3, 214 pp.

Desmond, R. 1987. A Celebration of Flowers - Two hundred years of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew w/ Collingridge, ISBN 0-600-55075-3, 208 pp.

Eamon, William, 1994. Science and the Secrets of Nature, Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, Princeton Univ. Press, 0-691-02602-5 (PBK), Princeton, 490 pp.

Emboden, William A., 1974. Bizarre Plants, Magical, Monstrous, Mythical, MacMillan, New York, 214 pp.

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Finlay, Victoria, 2002. Color, A Natural History of the Palette, Random House Trade Paperback Edition (2004), ISBN 0-8129-7142-6, New York, 448 pp.

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Foster, Nelson & L. S. Cordell, 1996. Chilies to Chocolate - Food the Americas Gave the World, The University of Arizona Press, 4th printing, ISBN 0-8165-1324-4, Tucson, 191 pp.

Freedburg, David, 2002. The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, his friends, and the beginnings of Modern Natural History, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, ISBN 0-226-26147-6, 513 pp.

Fussell, B., 1986. I Hear America Cooking, Viking, NY, 516 pp.

Fussell, B., 1992. The Story of Corn, Knopf, ISBN 0-394-57805-8, 356 pp.

Gras, N. S. B., 1946. A History of Agriculture in Europe and America, 2nd Ed., F.S. & Co., Crofts, NY, 496 pp.

Greene, E. L., 1983. Landmarks of Botanical History, Pts I & II, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

Grimshaw, John, 1998. The Gardener’s Atlas, Firefly Books. ISBN 1-55209-226-7, Buffalo, NY, 224 pp.

Griswold, M. & E. Weller, 1992. The Golden Age of American Gardens, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY, ISBN 0-8109-3358-6, 408pp.

Halliwell, Brian, 1987. Old Garden Flowers, Bishopsgate Press, London, ISBN 0-900873-80-9, 168 pp.

Hedrick, U. P., 1950. A History of Horticulture in America to 1860, Oxford University Press, New York, 551 pp.

Heiser, C., 1981. Seed to Civilization, Second Ed. W.H. Freeman & Co. 254pp.

________ 1985. Of Plants and People, Univ. Oklahoma Press, Norman. ISBN 0-8061-1931-4. 237 pp.

Helphand, Kenneth L., 2006. Defiant Gardens - Making Gardens in Wartime, Trinity University Press, San Antonio, ISBN 13:978-1-59534-021-4, 303 pp.

Hix, John, 1974. The Glass House, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, ISBN 0-262-08076-1, 208 pp.

Hohenegger Beatrice, 2007.  Liquid Jade, The Story of Tea from East To West,

Isely, D., 1994. One Hundred and One Botanists, Iowa State University Press, Ames, ISBN 0-8138-2498-2, 351 pp.

Keay, John, 2006.  The Spice Route – a history, UC Press, Berkeley, ISBN-13:978-0-520-25416-9, 288 pp.

Kilpatrick, Jane, 2007. Gifts from the Gardens of China - The Introduction of Traditional Chinese Garden Plants to Britain 1698-1862, Frances Lincoln Limited, London, ISBN 12: 978-0-7112-2630-2, 288 pp.

Krauss, Lawrence M., 2002. ATOM A Single Oxygen Atom’s Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth...and Beyond, Back Bay Books, Boston, ISBN 0-316-18039-1 paperback, 305 pp.

Laird, Mark, 1999. The Flowering of the Landscape Garden, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, ISBN 0-8122-3457-X, 446 pp.

Lane, Nick, 2002. Oxygen - The Molecule that made the World, Oxford University Press, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-850803-4, 374 pp.

Laszlo, Pierre, 2007. Citrus, A History, Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, ISBN 13: 978-0-226-47026-9, 252 pp

Le Couteur, Penny & Jay Burreson, 2003. Napoleon’s buttons - 17 Molecules That Changed History, Tarcher/Penguin (paperback version, 2004), NY, ISBN 1-58542-331-9, 373 pp.

Jardine, Lisa, 1999. Ingenious Pursuits, Building the Scientific Revolution, N. A. Talese, Doubleday, New York, ISBN 0-385-49325-8, 444 pp.

Langenheim, J. H. & K. V. Thimann, 1982. Botany - Plant Biology and Its Relation to Human Affairs. John Wiley & Sons, NY. ISBN 0-471-85880-3, 624pp.

Levetin, E. & K. McMahon, 1996. Plants and Society, Wm. C. Brown, Dubuque. ISBN 0-697-14064-4, 441 pp.

Lewington, Anna, 1990. Plants for People, Oxford University Press, NY, ISBN 0-19-520804-4, 232 pp.

Johnson, Hugh, 1989 (1996 reprint). The story of wine, Mitchell-Beazley, London. ISBN 1 85732 997 X, 480 pp.

Meyers, A. R. W., ed., 1998. Art and Science in America, Issues of Representation, Huntington Library Press, San Marino, ISBN 0-87328-172-1, 208 pp.

Meyers, A. R. W. & M. B. Pritchard, eds., 1998. Empire’s Nature, Mark Catesby’s New World Vision, Omohundro Institue of Early American History and Culture & the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, ISBN 0-8078-4762-3, 272 pp.

Milton, Giles, 1999. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg - or- The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History, Farar, Straus and Giroux, NY, ISBN 0-374-21936-2, 388 pp.

Mingay, G. E. ed. 1977. The Agricultural Revolution Changes in Agriculture 1650-1880, Adam & Charles Black, London, ISBN 0 7136 103 9, 322 pp,

Morgan, J & A. Richards, 1990. A Paradise Out of A Common Field - The Pleasures and Plenty of the Victorian Garden, Harper & Row, NY, ISBN 0 06 016034 9, 256pp.

Morton, A.G., 1981. History of Botanical Science, Academic Press, London, ISBN 0-12-508480-3, 474pp.

Morton, Oliver, 2008. Eating the Sun, How Plants Power the Planet, 1st US edition, HarperCollins Publishers, NY, ISBN 978-0-00-716364-9, 460 pp.

Moxham, Roy, 2002. The Great Hedge of India, Caroll & Graf Publ., NY, ISBN 0-7867-0976-6, paperback edition, 234 pp.

Musgrave, T. & W. Musgrave, 2002. An Empire of Plants - People and Plants that Changed the World, Cassell Illustrated, Octopus Publishing, London, ISBN 1844 03020 2, 1st paperback ed., 192 pp.

Pendergrast, M. 1999. Uncommon Grounds. The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. Basic Books, New York, 0-465-03631-7, 520 pp.

Petersen, R. H. 2001. New World Botany: Columbus to Darwin, A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., ISBN 3-904144-74-X, 638 pp.

Ponting, C., 1991. A Green History of the World, St. Martin’s Press, NY, ISBN 0-312-06989-1, 432 pp.

Pratt, J. N., 1982. Tea Lover’s Treasury, Cole Group, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA, ISBN 1 56426 565 X, 240pp.

Prescott-Allen, R. P. and C. Prescott-Allen, 1990.  How Many Plants Feed the World?   Conservation Biology, 4(4):365-374

Punch, W. T. ed, 1992. Keeping Eden, A History of Gardening in America, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Bulfinch Press, Boston, ISBN 0-8212-1818-2, 277pp.

Quest-Ritson, Charles, 1992. The English Garden Abroad, Viking, London, ISBN 0-670-83252-9, 232 pp.

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Reinikka, Merle A, 1972. A History of the Orchid, University of Miami Press, Coral Gables, FL, ISBN 0-87024-177-X, 316 pp.

Root, W., 1980. Food, Konecky & Konecky, NY, ISBN 1-56852-101-4, 602 pp.

Rosengarten, F. 1969. The Book of Spices, Livingston Publishing Company, Wynnewood, PA, SBN 87098-0312-9, 489 pp.

Rupp, R., 1990. Red Oaks & Black Birches, The Science and Lore of Trees, Garden Way, Pownal, Vermont, ISBN 0-88266-620-7 pbk, 276 pp.

Rutkow, Eric, 2012.  American Canopy – Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation, Scribner, NY, ISBN 978-1-4391-9358-7, 406 pp.

Sackman, Douglas C., 2005. Orange Empire, UC Press, Berkeley, ISBN 0-520-23886-9, 386 pp.

Sanecki, Kay, 1992. History of the English Herb Garden, Ward Lock, London (paperback ed., 1994, ISBN 0-7063-7233-6), 128 pp.

Sauer, Jonathan D., 1993. Historical Geography of Crop Plants: A Select Roster, CRC Press, Boca Raton, ISBN 0-8493-8901-1, 309 pp.

Schlebecker, John T., 1975. Whereby We Thrive, A History of American Farming, 1607-1972, The Iowa State University Press, Ames, ISBN 0-8138-0090-0, 342 pp.

Schwarcz, Joe,  2005.  Let Them Eat Flax, 70 All-New Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Food & Life, ECW Press, Toronto, ISBN 1-55022-698-3 (electronic version), 378 pp.

Simpson, B. B .& M Conner-Ogorzaly, 1986. Economic Botany, Plants in Our World, McGraw-Hill Book Company, NY, 640 pp.

Slosson, Elvenia ed., 1951. Pioneer American Gardening, Coward-McCann, NY, 306 pp.

Spongberg, S. A., 1990. A Reunion of Trees, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MS, 270 pp.

Stafley, Frans A., 1971. Linnaeus and the Linnaeans, The spreading of their ideas in systematic botany, 1735-1789, A. Oosthoek’s Uitgeversmaatschappij N.V., Utrecht, ISBN 90 6046 064 2, 386 pp.

Storck, J. & W. D. Teague, 1952. Flour for Man’s Bread, A History of Milling, Univ. of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 382pp.

Sumner, Judith, 2004. American Household Botany. A History of Useful Plants 1620-1900, Timber Press, Portland, ISBN 0-88162-652-3, 396 pp.

Tannahill, Reay, 1988. Food in History, Crown Publishers, NY, ISBN 0-517-57186-2, 424 pp.

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Thompson, Peter, 2010 (with completion and conclusion by Stephen Harris).  Seeds, Sex and Civilization – How the Hidden Life of Plants has Shaped our World, Thames & Hudson, New York, ISBN 978-0-500-25170-6, 272 pp.

Thomson, Jennifer A., 2007.  Seeds for the Future – The Impact of Genetically Modified Crops on the Environment, Comstock Publishing (Cornell), Ithaca (American Version), ISBN 978-0-8-14-7368-5

Tolkowsky, S., 1938. Hesperides A History of the Culture and Use of Citrus Fruits, John Bale, Sons & Curnow, Ltd., London. 371 pp.

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Williams, Robert C., 1987. Fordson, Farmall, and Poppin’ Johnny, A History of the Farm Tractor and Its Impact on America, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, ISBN 0-252-01328-X, 232 pp.

Zohary, D & M. Hopf, 1994. Domestication of Plants in the Old World (2nd edition, 1st paperback), Clarendon, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-854896-6, 279 pp.

Zuckerman, Larry, 1998. The Potato, How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World, North Point Press, New York, ISBN 0-86547-578 (pbk.), 320 pp.



Tea Time Line




2732  Shen Nung, the second of China’s mythical emperors is said to have encountered the tea plant and to have discovered the use of tea.  (Hohenegger, 2007)



520 Bodhidarma, a Buddhist priest from India, is said to have visited the Emperor of China.  Credited as China’s patriarch of Buddhism, Bodhidarma’s life is clad with legend, particularly related to long periods of meditation.  Portrayed without eyelids, he is said to have cut them out and cast them to the ground, at which point a tea bush appeared.  The story commemorates the importance of tea in wakefulness, and images of an unblinking Bodhidarma tie tea and zen together.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


780 Lu Yu, the Tea Sage, authored Ch’a-ching (The Classic of Tea), thought to be the first significant treatment on tea.  Born in 733, Hupeh Province, China, Lu Yu is said to have grown up in the Dragon Cloud Monastery.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1502 Death of Murata Shuko (b 1423), who shaped the Japanese tea ceremony as essentially Buddhist, as the way of tea (chado).  With this evolution, Japanese tea moved to simple surroundings and the use of more rustic objects.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1559 Perhaps the first mention of tea in western literature, by Giambattista Ramusio, in Navigazioni et viaggi.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1582 Rikyu consolidated the way of tea with construction of the Taian hut for Japan’s ruler, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1587 In early October, Rikyu hosted the great Kitano tea meeting (Kitano dai chakai) through patronage of Hideyoshi.   Followers of tea converged in the Kitano pine grove, where they constructed hundreds of tea huts for temporary use.  In succeeding years, Rikyu’s heirs would come to establish three main schools of tea (Urasenke, Omotesenke, and Mushanokojisenke), each based on principles of wa (harmony), kei (reverence), sei (purity), and jaku (tranquility).  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1591 On 28 February, at age 70, Sen no Rikyu is said to have commited ritual suicide at the behest of Hideyoshi.  (Hohenegger Beatrice, 2007)


1610 First apparent importation of tea to Europe.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1648 French doctor Guy Patin was critical of a thesis on tea, stating: “One of our doctors who is more celebrated than able, named Morissot, wanting to bestow favor upon that impertinent novelty of the century… has had presented here a thesis on tea.  Everyone disapproved, some of our doctors burned it….”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1660 Diarist Samuel Pepys records on 25 September his first taste of tea, ordered at one of the many coffeehouses of London where tea was first served to the English.  Coffeehouses were still new, the first one having just opened ten years prior, and served coffee, tea, and chocolate.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1660 Under Charles II, England established an excise tax of 8 pence on each gallon of tea that was sold.  The tax would eventually be levied on tea leaf, as it was too easy for merchants to manipulate the numbers.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1665 Simon Paulli, a German physician, claimed: “As to the virtues they attribute to it (tea), it may be admitted that it does possess them in the Orient, but it loses them in our climate, where it becomes, on the contrary, very dangerous to use.  It hastens the death of those who use it…”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1667 The English East India Company, having begun importing tea in 1664, gained a monopoly when the English government declared Dutch imports illegal.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1670 Thomas Garaway opened a shop where tea was served until its closing two hundred years later.  Garaway had actively advertised and promoted tea for a decade, stating “that the Vertues and Excellencies of this Leaf and Drink are many and great is evident and manifest by the high esteem and use of it … among the Physitians and knowing men in France, Italy, Holland and other parts of Christendom.”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1683 Dutchman, Cornelius Decker (aka Dr. Bontekoe) commented: “It must be a considerable and obstinate fever that cannot be cured by drinking every day forty to fifty cups of tea..”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1717 Having opened Tom’s Coffee house in 1706, Thomas Twining followed that success in opening the Golden Lyon, the first real English tea shop.  Women were welcome at Golden Lyon, and by 1725 Quaker Mary Tuke became the first woman licensed to merchandize tea.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1773 On the evening of 16 December, American colonists boarded the ships Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver, which were docked at the harbor in Boston, and threw 120,000 lbs of tea into the bay.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1725 The first in a series of laws was passed in England, with the goal of prohibiting adulteration of tea.  High cost and limitations on import meant that countless materials were explored in order to bulk up or illicitly replace the product sold as tea.  Overarching control came with he 1875 Food and Drug Act.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1784 England’s Commutation Act reduced duty on tea from 119% to 12.5%, effecting an immediate change in both smuggling and adulteration.  Tax revenue was replaced through a new tax on the number of window panes in the owner’s house.  Revocation of that tax, in the next century, figured into the growth of greenhouses for exotic plants.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1790 Tea imports from China to England reached 20 million pounds a year, up from about 1 million pounds imported in 1730.  But Chinese merchants insisted on payment in silver.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1793 A new edict in China made both importing opium illegal.  Smoking opium had been officially banned in 1729.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1800 Per capita consumption of sugar in England reached 18 lbs, up from an approximate per person consumption of 4 pounds in 1700.  Much of this rise in sugar consumption seems related to increase in tea drinking.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1823 Robert Bruce, and later his brother Charles, negotiated the process of acquiring seed and plants of the Assam form of tea (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) from the Singpho trive of Upper Assam.  Eleven years later, the East India Company recognized the value of this discovery and began establishing tea plantation in Assam, with the first tea arriving in London in 1838.  The growth in this enterprise led to conscription and near-enslavement of several hundred thousand recruits from over India.  Within 60 years, 340,000 acres in Assam were dedicated to tea plantations.  With other growing areas established, Chinese tea exports plummeted from 100%, to 10% of the world market.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1832 An English parliamentary report underscored the value of the opium trade, which had come to represent one sixth of the productivity of British India.  Before opium was widely used in trade for tea, silver flowed into China.  After establishing the opium trade, China was drained of silver dollars.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1839 Emperor Tao-kuang sent Lin Tse-hsu to Canton to resolve the opium problem. 


1842 After the British assault on China, the Treaty of Nanking opened China more fully to trade, required reparations, and ceded Hong Kong to the British government  (until 1997, when it was returned to Chinese control).  China still refused to legalize opium, and thus a second war was waged and opium was legalized in 1858.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1846 Frenchman A. Saint-Arroman chided :  “The best tea of the Celestial Empire cannot bear a comparison with Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne… The Englishman is naturally lymphatic, stuffed with beefsteaks and plum-pudding, he remains for two hours almost annihilated by the painful elaboration of the stomach...  Tea alone can draw him from his lethargic sleep…”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1848 Robert Fortune, of the Royal Horticultural Society, was sent to China to collect plants and seed, and to learn as much as possible about tea cultivation and processing.  After two journeys and nearly three years of work in China, a ship sailed from Hong Kong to Calcutta in 1851.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1860 In this decade, coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix) infested and destroyed Ceylon’s coffee plantations, eliminating 250,000 acres of plantings.  By 1867, James Taylor had overseen clearing of 19 acres, which he had planted to Assam tea.  By 1875, over 1000 acres were converted, growing to 305,000 acres by the end of the century.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1890 Thomas Lipton, while on a journey to Australia, ended his trip in Ceylon, where he purchased four failed coffee plantations (5,500 acres) and began his own tea business, with the slogan: “Direct from the garden to the teapot.”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1906 Kakuzo Okakura published The Book of Tea, noting that “Teaism is Taoism in disguise”  (Hohenegger, 2007)


1935 William Ukers published All About Tea, a comprehensive study that remains a landmark.  (Hohenegger, 2007)


The TimeLine represents a search for information, for factoids, and even trivia marking events in the relationship between plants and people, documenting the ways in which plants provide foundations for human wealth, health, and pleasure. Entries range from fundamental to whimsical.

I encourage you to explore this chronology and plunder it for ideas.  Let me know if you see problems or inaccuracies, and send suggestions for new entries (email: planted[at]huntington.org.)




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