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  • André Michaux: Explorer, Collector, Botanist - Explorateur, Collectionneur, Botaniste - North Carolina
    lawless lands in the Middle East dangerous North American frontier areas and finally in the disease ridden tropics Hardship hard work and danger were his constant companions He survived armed robberies capture by hostile tribes encounters with dangerous wild beasts even shipwreck Michaux overcame the most difficult obstacles and won the admiration of his colleagues at the Jardin des Plantes He magnificently represented French science in the countries he visited André Michaux 1746 1802 est connu pour ses travaux scientifiques sur la botanique l horticulture et l agriculture Envoye par le gouvernement francais Michaux a beaucoup voyage afin de découvrir des plantes qui pourraient améliorer l agriculture et la sylviculture de la France Sa vie fut remplit d aventures Il est allé jusqu au Moyen Orient un pays presque sans loies et déchiré par la guerre aux frontieres dangereuses de l amerique du Nord et dans les regions tropicales aux nombreuses maladies Il a survecu les attaques et la capture par des tribus hostiles les rencontres avec des bêtes sauvages et même un naufrage Michaux a surmonté les pires obstacles et il a recu le respect de ses colleguès au Jardin des Plantes ainsi que de l Academie des Sciences

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  • Brief Biography of André Michaux
    French scientific mission to study American forests and gather plants which would strengthen her European ally The primary goal of Michaux s mission was to search American forests for new species of trees with which to rebuild the forests of France For almost a century France had been engaged in a series of wars with England Waging this extended conflict fought on land and sea from India to Quebec had stripped the best timber from French forests for the building of warships Healthy forests were a source of state power and France needed to rebuild her forests quickly Michaux s mission served a vital national interest Appointed King s Botanist Michaux departed immediately arriving in New York in November 1785 Accompanying the botanist were his 15 year old son François André Paul Saunier a young gardener trained by Thouin and a servant Michaux immediately established the brisk pace which he would maintain throughout his years in America He overcame the initial obstacles of bad weather and unfamiliar language and territory to dispatch his first shipment to France almost immediately The French Consul in New York readily assisted the energetic botanist even delaying ships leaving port while Michaux s shipments were loaded aboard In the ensuing months Michaux established a 30 acre garden near Hackensack New Jersey and began to travel outside the immediate environs of New York City Though his journals for this period are lost his expense reports and some letters survive He soon visited Philadelphia to call on Benjamin Franklin and meet William Bartram the leading American botanist of the time Michaux then continued southward visited George Washington at Mount Vernon and traveled as far south as Fredericksburg Virginia before returning to his New Jersey garden William Bartram and André Michaux formed a bond of friendship and respect Each time Michaux visited Philadelphia he called on Bartram and the botanists began to exchange letters and seeds In the 1770 s William Bartram had made an extraordinary exploration of the southern frontier and it is likely that Bartram s stories of the region and the new plants to be found there at least partly inspired Michaux s subsequent move to Charleston South Carolina In September 1786 he left Saunier in charge of the New Jersey garden and sailed with his son to Charleston There he established a larger garden on 111 acres a few miles outside the city This garden became his base of operations for the next decade top home Charleston and Wilderness Exploration The Charleston area suited Michaux s needs Charleston was a large wealthy city with a flavor of French culture from its Huguenot community The French botanist was welcomed and assisted with his work It was somewhat more difficult to make shipments to France from Charleston than from New York but there were many offsetting advantages Michaux quickly developed the garden and became acquainted with the leading citizens in the area Among others he visited the Drayton and Middleton plantations seats of two of the most influential families in the region Memories of his visits linger not only in diaries and letters but in gardens Because in addition to shipping American plants to France Michaux also introduced new plants to America The mimosa or silk tree Albizia julibrissin the crape myrtle Lagerstroemia indica the tea plant and the camellia are only some of the plants he is credited with bringing to America Middleton Place identifies a particularly beautiful camellia as the gift of André Michaux and recently succeeded in propagating this treasured plant Extended journeys exploring the frontier and collecting plants followed quickly upon Michaux s establishment of the garden in Charleston His journals for the period from April 1787 onwards do survive and provide a detailed record of his explorations In the spring of 1787 accompanied by the Scottish botanist John Fraser he followed Bartram s route up the Savannah river on his first long journey to the southern frontier Michaux and Fraser soon parted company and Michaux continued into Cherokee territory near the river s headwaters In this locale he encountered the plant we know today as Shortia galacifolia a rare species that has been linked with him ever since The 1787 journey was Michaux s first exploration deep into the American frontier but he would return time and again In all he ventured into the territory of three fourths of the states east of the Mississippi the Canadian province of Quebec and the Bahama Islands In Spanish Florida he traveled by dugout canoe in Canada he traveled by birchbark canoe but most of his thousands of miles of wilderness travel were in the saddle or on foot Each day he rode or walked a few miles more stopping to examine any interesting plant he found in his path He made the most of each journey searching for new plants along his route He found plants new to science not only when he was the first trained botanist to visit an area but also along well traveled paths His friend William Bartram praised his skill in this regard Bartram remarked that Michaux could find new plants in areas he and his father had already visited While Michaux was at ease in the drawing rooms of Philadelphia or Charleston most of his days were spent in far simpler circumstances He traveled with a minimum of baggage and secured provisions along the way On the long journey to the Mississippi River he rode alone carrying everything he needed on a single horse The botanist might find hospitality among settlers but he was ready to sleep under the stars An incident mentioned in his journal demonstrates both his patriotism and his disregard of personal hardship Despite his early years in the service of the King the botanist became an ardent believer in the cause of revolutionary France Michaux related that he had spent a hungry February night sleeping in the open on his deerskin rather than eat and sleep comfortably indoors with a host who disparaged France There were many other times in less memorable circumstances when the botanist camped alone in the forest because he was simply near no dwelling when he stopped for the day The routine hardships of wilderness travel meant nothing to him top home The Proposal to Jefferson and the Genet Affair Visiting Philadelphia in 1792 after his most ambitious exploration to that time a trip to the Hudson Bay region of Canada he proposed an even more ambitious venture to Thomas Jefferson Michaux offered to explore the sources of the Missouri River and down the rivers that drained into the Pacific Ocean if Jefferson could arrange financing through the American Philosophical Society a private scientific organization However international politics intervened and Michaux s dreams of seeing the Pacific Ocean were thwarted Instead the botanist traveled across Pennsylvania and down the Ohio River into Kentucky delivering messages for the new French Minister to the United States Citizen Genet As a patriotic French citizen and government employee Michaux could not have refused the request of his country Nonetheless Genet was a poor diplomat and participation in his scheme tarnished Michaux s reputation Clearly Genet sought to provoke American citizens to take up arms against Spain President George Washington insisted upon American neutrality and was outraged by Genet s intrigues Genet s plot soon collapsed However Thomas Jefferson drew something useful from the incident The instructions he gave to Lewis and Clark a decade later echo the contract he drew up for Michaux This unique historic document which is now on display at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia was not only written by Jefferson it also bears the signatures of the first four United States Presidents Because Michaux s base of operations from 1787 onwards was Charleston he most frequently traveled in the Carolinas and Georgia Michaux both made shorter excursions within these states and traversed them enroute to more distant destinations On his earliest journeys to the high mountains of Carolina perhaps his favorite area for exploring and collecting plants he followed William Bartram s route up the Savannah river from the coast to the mountains However beginning in 1789 Michaux found his own favorite route to the mountains through the central Piedmont of the Carolinas top home Carolina Piedmont Journeys Michaux ultimately recorded seven journeys through the Carolina Piedmont crossing the Catawba River in the vicinity of what was then the village of Charlotte Landsford Canal State Park SC preserves the scene of one of his Catawba River crossings just as it would have appeared to the botanist on horseback in 1795 The Tuckaseegee Ford in NC is another of his crossing points that we can locate today On one of these journeys he chose a route that led him north along the west bank of the river past the future site of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Michaux often noted an interesting new species of magnolia tree he found nearby He observed this new species several times in the Carolina Piedmont then found it in bloom in the wilderness of Tennessee further west He named his new species Magnolia macrophylla but in the early years after its introduction into France many botanists and horticulturists wanted to call it Magnolia michauxii in his honor It is an unusual tree with an almost tropical look and remains a rare plant in North Carolina This magnolia s deciduous leaves are two to three feet long and up to a foot wide its fragrant flowers are up to a to a foot and a half in diameter and are usually marked with a striking purple blotch at the base of the petals This exotic tree caused a sensation in Europe among those who appreciated plants Napoleon s Empress Josephine was among the first to have this new magnolia in her garden Michaux s expeditions to the mountains of the Carolinas were especially fruitful In this remote region he ascended many of the highest peaks To reach the summits of Grandfather Mountain Roan Mountain the Black Mountains the unique peaks of Table Rock and Hawksbill and many other mountains the indomitable explorer followed his local guides on routes traveled only by hunters He was well aware of his vulnerability yet he pressed on The lure of discovering new plants always drew him onward Often he was rewarded with new species of rare beauty Michaux was high in these mountains near the headwaters of the Catawba River when he discovered a magnificent new evergreen shrub with flowers that turned entire mountain peaks into vast oceans of purple blossoms He named it Rhododendron catawbiense for the river whose waters he had followed to find this treasure Today this shrub is known not just for its beauty in the wild places where Michaux found it but as one of the genetic parents of many of the beautiful hybrid rhododendrons found in gardens top home Return to France Michaux became an ardent republican proud of his country and its ideals of liberty equality and fraternity but the revolution also disrupted his work With disorder at home he was unable to continue his shipments of plants and seeds Money for his salary and expenses stopped coming from France Nonetheless he continued to work tending the gardens exploring and collecting and cultivating plants in his gardens in Charleston and New Jersey for eventual shipment to France With all chances of a trip to the Pacific for Jefferson and the American Philosophical Society long lost he gathered his meager resources and set out in the spring of 1795 on yet another journey into the frontier alone Returning almost a year later having crossed eastern North America to the Mississippi River all his resources were exhausted and he had to return to France Misfortune marked his voyage to France in 1796 The ship was driven ashore on the Dutch coast in a gale Nearly drowned Michaux was rescued but his personal possessions and some boxes of seeds were lost Part of his journal was also lost and his magnificent herbarium was damaged by salt water Of course being Michaux he immediately set to work repairing the damage to his herbarium The task required weeks of painstaking work but this most recent brush with death likely only induced him to work harder and faster Returning to a Paris very different from the city he had left in 1785 Michaux was received with acclaim by his scientific colleagues and reunited with his son François André Soon however Michaux discovered to his dismay that the new government had no intention of paying him the salary he had been promised by its Royal predecessor He was financially ruined Of necessity he lived simply and began to draft his two landmark books the OAKS OF NORTH AMERICA and the FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA Before he could finish both these works with the limited resources available to him he chose to accompany a new voyage of exploration to the south seas Departing in 1800 Michaux accompanied the Baudin expedition as far as the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean There Michaux and the young zoologist Bory de St Vincent left the ill fated expedition after differences with the captain Bory de St Vincent soon departed Mauritius to survey and map the lovely neighboring island of Réunion he went on to a long and varied career Michaux however chose to leave Mauritius to study the plant life on the larger island of Madagascar Accustomed to long days of untiring labor all his life Michaux ignored friendly warnings and kept up his torrid work pace on this disease ridden tropical island Sadly he soon succumbed to a tropical fever When word of his death finally reached France many months later Michaux was eulogized by his colleagues in Paris Initially there was a plan for a statue but ultimately no statues were erected in his memory However his books had been completed and printed while he was on his last voyage Each landmark volume advanced the cause of the science to which Michaux had dedicated his life His name is still attached to the names of hundreds of plants new to science that he named The herbarium that he gathered with such great effort is still studied by botanists today Each year botanists from North America make the pilgrimage to Paris to study plants in the Herbarium Michaux housed in the Laboratorie de Phanerogamie of the Muséum National d Histoire Naturelle Moreover his son François André followed in his father s footsteps The younger Michaux became a celebrated botanist in his own right and authored the first comprehensive book on North American trees the SYLVA OF NORTH AMERICA André Michaux the man has not been forgotten either The enthusiastic words he recorded in his journal after the difficult climb to the summit of Grandfather Mountain in 1794 have been immortalized in a stirring speech by Charles Kuralt on the same mountain exactly two centuries later Michaux s words shouted from the mountaintop he believed to be the highest in America and so eloquently repeated by Kuralt ring down through the centuries Long live America and the Republic of France Long live liberty This brief account of the life of André Michaux is drawn largely from primary sources I wish to thank several translators to whom I am indebted Suzanne Barber Marie Eve Berton Dr Carol Brooks Dr Eliane Norman and also my tutor Stacy Rémy Almost any issue regarding the life and career of André Michaux is a worthy subject for scholarly inquiry Even his date of death has not been established with certainty His biography and many other sources give the date as 1802 but there is evidence for 1803 Charlie Williams top home SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING Download Suggestions for Further Reading in Adobe Acrobat Format MICHAUX S BIOGRAPHY Savage Henry Jr and Elizabeth J Savage André and François André Michaux Charlottesville University Press of Virginia 1986 The only full length biography and simply invaluable Extensive research covering the full lives and careers of both Michauxs Source materials are carefully footnoted and the bibliography is outstanding MICHAUX IN COLLECTIVE BIOGRAPHY Eifert Virginia Tall Trees and Far Horizons Adventures and Discoveries of Early Botanists in America New York Dodd Mead 1965 Michaux and the Spanish Conspiracy is an exciting account of Michaux s life highlighting involvement in the Genet Affair of 1793 Fishman Gail Journeys Through Paradise Pioneering Naturalists in the Southeast Gainesville FL University Press of Florida 2001 One chapter is devoted to André Michaux and includes new information on Michaux s travels in the Carolina Piedmont Jewett Frances L and Clare L McCausland Wilderness Treasure Boston Houghton Mifflin 1964 Includes separate chapters on André Michaux and his son Francois André Peattie Donald Culross Green Laurels the Lives and Achievements of the Great Naturalists New York Simon Schuster 1936 Grand natural history writing in the old style Captures the spirit of the French botanist but a few of the details have been corrected by later researchers Savage Henry Jr Lost Heritage New York William Morrow Co 1970 One long exciting chapter is devoted to André Michaux and his son MICHAUX IN THE HISTORY OF PLANT EXPLORATION Coats Alice M The Plant Hunters New York McGraw Hill 1969 Michaux is included in this history of plant exploration around the world Some of the information presented here has been revised by later researchers Duval Marguerite The King s Garden Charlottesville University Press of Virginia 1982 French view of Michaux He is seen in the context of three centuries of French plant exploration Reveal James Gentle Conquest The Botanical Discovery of North America Washington Starwood Publishing 1992 Michaux in the context of the botanical exploration of all of North America The illustrations include some painted by Redouté that appeared in the NORTH AMERICAN SYLVA of Francois André Michaux Spongberg Stephen A A Reunion of Trees Cambridge MS Harvard University Press 1990 A thoughtful analysis of Michaux s work is found in

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  • Botanical and historical research related to Michaux
    Stowe Botanical Garden 6500 South New Hope Rd Belmont NC 28012 704 825 4490 Click here for map Home Society Links Photos Michaux Sponsors Journeys Terms of use for this site Use of this site signifies your agreement to these

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  • Oconee Bells Celebration - Clemson University - March 2007
    in this engaging story In 2004 in the herbarium of one of André Michaux s colleagues in France a previously overlooked Michaux collected specimen of Shortia was found and properly identified for the first time The specimen whose label verified it had been collected by Michaux in the Carolina mountains in 1787 confirmed the accuracy of the Shortia studies published in Castanea by P A Davies 1956 and Robert Zahner and Steven Jones 1983 The assembly then separated into two smaller groups for the concurrent sessions Attendees chose between presentations on native plant gardening and the latest scientific research on Shortia Dr Lisa Wagner Education Director of the SC Botanical Garden and noted authority on gardening with native plants made a presentation on gardening with plants discovered by Michaux and other favorite natives for the garden Those who chose the latest scientific research on Shortia were treated to presentations by Katherine Weeks and Todd Linscott As a graduate student working toward a Master of Science degree at Clemson Katherine Weeks studied reproduction in Shortia populations and she presented the results of this study Dr Linscott is engaged in an ongoing study of the genetics of Shortia and he shared his preliminary findings Each researcher reported on the implications of their research on the conservation of this imperiled species After assessing some of the well known threats to the future of the species such as past hydroelectric projects road building horticultural collection and current real estate development in the areas where the plant occurs Katherine Weeks treated the audience to an explanation of the methods and the results of her study of reproduction in Shortia Her study underscored the importance of insect pollinators to Shortia and she suggested the need for additional research on the identity and abundance of pollinators for this species She called attention to the importance of preserving multiple populations as a conservation management strategy Dr Linscott first took us on a tour of the genus Shortia worldwide with descriptions illustrations and range maps of the five Asian species before focusing in on his study topic the North American species He then noted that two varieties of Shortia galacifolia have been recognized One Shortia galacifolia var galacifolia is centered in Oconee and Pickens Counties in SC and adjacent Transylvania County NC while the other Shortia galacifolia var brevistyla is restricted to a few sites in McDowell County NC The data gathered from his initial genetic studies of the SC populations revealed high levels of diversity for a species that primarily spreads vegetatively Future work will try to discover if the variation is due to individual plants with different numbers of chromosomes existing within the same population and determine if the two varieties are genetically distinct The group then made the bus trip to Devil s Fork State Park where ancient populations of Shortia were in bloom along the Oconee Bell Trail and in other areas of the park After stopping for lunch at the picnic area overlooking Lake

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  • Carolina Plants of André Michaux: Explorer, Collector, Botanist - Explorateur, Collectionneur, Botaniste
    Bell University of North Carolina Press 1968 This book is also the authority for plants listed on these web pages and is indicated by the letters RAB followed by page numbers As Dr Rembert noted in CASTANEA André Michaux was especially active in the Carolinas and named nearly 300 plants native to the two states In addition Michaux named many many other plants not found in the Carolinas but this

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  • Celebration
    of scholarly studies on a variety of topics related to André Michaux his plant discoveries and his era Thursday evening the grand pavilion of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden was the site of a gala celebration of French food music and culture The Carolina Pro Musica provided authentic period music while costumed re enactors in the crowd added a visual sense of Michaux s era Mme Francoise Winieska who represented Rambouillet France at the Michaux Celebration made a series of presentations that were a highlight of the event After an artist s walk and dinner at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden the celebration moved to the Mint Museum of Charlotte Friday evening to view an exhibit of the work of botanical artist Pierre J Redoute Early in his celebrated career Redoute illustrated the botanical books of Michaux He went on to enduring fame as artist for the Empress Josephine Examples of Redoute s work including the books he illustrated for Michaux and his enduring masterpieces The Lilies and The Roses were a popular exhibit at the Mint from March through July Saturday and continuing on Sunday the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden hosted the Celebrate France festival and provided the departure point for a series of field trips to botanical sites in the local area that had begun Friday afternoon Over two thousand people of all ages toured the beautiful outdoor gardens enjoyed a series of presentations and sampled a variety of foods and crafts Pleased shoppers found merchandise from locally made pottery in the shape of bigleaf magnolia leaves to jewelry from Limoges France top home gala symposium Sponsors and Hosts AMIS represents the culmination of more than two years of investment and commitment on the part of many individuals and organizations Gaston County host organizations are Belmont Abbey College

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  • North American Journeys of André Michaux: Explorer, Collector, Botanist
    He visited with William Bartram with French officials and checked on the operations of his New Jersey garden Feb June 1788 he made a journey by sea from Charleston to St Augustine Florida He then explored along the intercoastal lagoons and rivers of Florida by canoe and on foot reaching areas near Cape Canaveral before returning to St Augustine He then traveled by canoe up the St John s River deep into the wilderness of central Florida before returning to St Augustine On the return trip to Charleston he traveled along the coast both on horseback and by boat to Savannah then rode a ship from Savannah to Charleston Nov Dec 1788 he made a journey from Charleston overland by way of Augusta Georgia to the wilderness at the source of the Savannah River near Highlands North Carolina and returned Feb April 1789 he made a journey from Charleston by sea to New Providence Bahamas Nassau and returned June Sept 1789 journey from Charleston overland along the Wateree Catawba route through Camden South Carolina and Charlotte and Morganton North Carolina into the high mountains of North Carolina He crossed the mountains into east Tennessee rode north through Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley crossed the Potomac River at Harper s Ferry then continued on to Philadelphia and New York He returned along a more coastal route from Baltimore through Alexandria and Richmond Virginia to Wilmington North Carolina then on to Charleston Nov Dec 1789 he made an overland journey from Charleston along the Wateree Catawba route through Charlotte North Carolina to the high mountains of North Carolina beyond Morganton that he had visited in June and returned April May 1791 he traveled by water from Charleston to Cumberland Island Georgia He explored and collected plants along the sea islands and coastal plain of Georgia April June 1792 he made a journey by sea from Charleston to Philadelphia then overland to New York with a side trip to New Haven Connecticut checking on the New Jersey garden and planning researching and making other preparations for an exploration into northern Canada June Dec 1792 he made a journey from New York principally by water routes to Lake Mistassini at 51 degrees North Latitude in the Canadian province of Quebec near Hudson Bay His route led through Albany New York then north on Lake Champlain and included a collecting foray near Burlington Vermont He then continued on to Montreal followed the St Lawrence River to the city of Quebec Continuing downstream he entered the Saguenay River at Tadoussac and paddled upriver into the interior by birchbark canoe He retraced the same route on the return journey July Dec 1793 he made a journey from Philadelphia overland to Pittsburgh then floated down the Ohio River by boat to Kentucky He traveled extensively in Kentucky He returned overland through Cumberland Gap into eastern Tennessee rode north up the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and on to Philadelphia Michaux carried confidential messages to French sympathizers in Kentucky from

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  • Discoveries of André Michaux - Photo Gallery
    to Gray and other botanists Knowing of Michaux s ascents of the highest peaks in the southern mountains they anticipated finding the plant at a high elevation However the Oconee County sites where Michaux encountered the plant actually have an elevation of only about 1000 feet However Michaux s reference to high mountains becomes understandable in the context of his earliest journeys to the mountains in 1787 and 1788 At that time climbing to the headwaters of tributaries of the Savannah River near the present town of Highlands NC elevation 3 835 feet he believed that he was in the high mountains of Carolina Indeed he was in high mountains but these were not the highest mountains he visited in the region In later journeys he approached the southern mountains by traveling along the Catawba River through the central Piedmont of NC Following this route Michaux reached peaks over 5 000 feet including the summits of Roan and Grandfather Mountains Gray and others understandably but incorrectly assumed that his reference to collecting this plant in the high mountains meant these much higher peaks Michaux visited later top home Purple Laurel Rhododendron catawbiense Perhaps the greatest treasure for horticulture of Michaux s North American discoveries was the Rhododendron catawbiense commonly known as the Catawba Rhododendron or Purple Laurel Found in the wild on the peaks of some of the highest mountains in the Southern Appalachians and in a few places in the Piedmont this evergreen shrub is one of the genetic parents of many beautiful rhododendron hybrids Rhododendron catawbiense is the signature plant of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden This close up of the flower found throughout our web pages is from the collection of Mike Bush former Executive Director of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Used by permission top home Bigleaf Magnolia Magnolia macrophylla Michaux s most exciting discovery from the Carolina Piedmont was Magnolia macrophylla the Bigleaf Magnolia Shown here holding a flower is Edgar Cap Love Jr owner of Magnolia Grove an 1824 residence in Lincoln County NC listed on the National Register of Historic Places Magnolia Grove boasts both the earliest and the longest continuous use of Bigleaf Magnolias in landscaping to be found in NC Peter Smith the father of the builder of Magnolia Grove was one of André Michaux s hosts in 1789 Elizabeth Rinehart Love Cap Love s late wife was a descendant of Peter Smith and Christian Reinhart Both of these early settlers were Michaux s hosts in the area Rare and seldom seen in NC though found in greater numbers in a few states to the west of the Appalachians Michaux s Magnolia macrophylla is a tree of superlatives It boasts the largest flowers and largest simple leaves of any tree native to temperate North America The flowers which often have purple spots at the base of the petals may be up to a foot and a half in diameter and the leaves may be a foot wide and up to three

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