The Father of American Dendrology
November 5, 1801
Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist Humphrey Marshall.
The Marshalls were cousins to the Bartrams - their mothers were sisters. Humphrey’s cousin, John Bartram, was known as the "Father of American Botany” after establishing the country's first botanical garden, and he ignited Humphrey's love of native plants.
In 1773, after Humphrey inherited his family estate and a sizable inheritance from his father, he created the country's second botanical garden. Humphrey incorporated natives, naturally, but also exotics.
Humphrey forged a friendship with the British botanist John Fothergill who paid Humphrey for his plant collecting. John was a collector and a connector, introducing Humphrey to many of Europe's top botanists and a growing customer list. John's contacts helped Humphrey source new plants for his botanical garden.
And Twenty-five years before Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis & Clark on their expedition, Humphrey Marshall repeatedly suggested exploring the American West - in 1778, 1785, and 1792.
A fellow friend, Quaker, and botanist Joseph Trimble Rothrock wrote this about Humphrey:
"The earth abounds in beauty, all of which is open to his chastened senses. He revels in the sunlight and the breezes. The songs of the birds fall, welcome, into his ear. The colors of the flowers attract him."
In 1785, Humphrey published the very first American essay on trees and shrubs. Humphrey Marshall is also known as the "Father of American Dendrology" (the study of woody plants, trees, and shrubs).
Marshalltown, Pennsylvania, was named in honor of Humphrey Marshall.
The genus, Marshallia, is named in honor of Humphrey Marshall.