Andre Michaux was born in 1746 in Satory, near Versailles, France. The child of farmers for the Versailles estate, he managed to become educated in the classics before returning to farming. It was through farming that he gained recognition for his ability to grow difficult plans. He was encouraged by the king’s physician to study botany, and traveled to many foreign lands to collect plants. After traveling to the Middle East, Michaux traveled to America to search for new species of trees in American forests that could be taken home to France to rebuild the forests there. While in the Northeast Michaux formed a friendship with William Bartram, an influential early American botanist. Michaux then settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where he built a garden and introduced new plants to America, including the crape myrtle, the tea plant, and the camellia. Michaux continued to explore Western North America. His most famous works were Historie des chênes de l’Amérique, or The Oaks of North America, and Flora Boreali-Americana, or The Flora of North America.
Michaux was included in the South Carolina group of Mountain Lake Biological Station cottages. Lewis’s comment on him was that he “gave South Carolina the Japonica.”