Andre Michaux

First Glance of a River Plant

On this day in 1788, Andre Michaux made his way from Georgia into South Carolina by crossing the Tugalo River.

In his journal, Michaux wrote:

"At dawn, I went to look at the banks of the river and I recognized the yellow root, [a new species of rhododendron], mountain laurel, hydrangea, [and] hemlock spruce. . . ."

Harvard's Charles Sprague Sargent concluded this moment was significant because it was the first time that Michaux laid eyes on the Rhododendron minus. Rhododendron minus grows naturally in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama along streams and rocky ridges. Four years after first seeing it, Andre Michaux described the Rhododendron minus in detail. He called it the minus meaning smaller, due to the size of its leaves as compared to Rhododendron maximum.

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François-Andre Michaux
François-Andre Michaux

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