George Washington Papers

List of Plants from John Bartram’s Nursery, March 1792

List of Plants from John Bartram’s Nursery

[March 1792]1

Catalogue of Trees, Shrubs & Plants, of Jno. Bartram.

Nos. Plants feet high
a2 1. Rhododendron maximum 2 grow from 5 to 10.
Evergreen, large maximum rose coloured blossoms. [“Mountain laurel,” great laurel, rosebay]
E. d 2. Ulex europeus 2. 3 to 4.
Embellished with sweet scented flowers, of a fine yellow colour. [Furze]
a 3 Hypericum kalmianum 2 3 to 4.
Profusely garnished with fine Gold coloured blossoms. [“Shrub St. John’s wort”]
4. H[ypericum]. Angustifolium 3. 3 to 6.
Evergreen; adorned with fine yellow flowers.
e 5. Taxus procumbens 1. 3 to 6.
Evergreen; of a splendid full green throughout the year—red berries. [Yew]
E 6. Buxus aureis [aureus] 1. 3 to 10.
Elegant, call’d gilded box.
E 7. Daphne mezerium [mezereum] 2. 1. to 3.
An early flowering sweet scented little shrub. [Mezereon, paradise plant]
8 Calycanthus floridus 5. 4 to 8.
Odoriferous, its blossoms scented like the Pine apple. [“Sweet Shrub of Carolina,” Carolina allspice]
9. Berberis canadensis 3. 2. to 4.
Berries of a perfect coral red [barberry]
E. 10. Æsculus hippocastanum 2. 20, 40, to 50.
A magnificent flowering & shady Tree. [Horse chestnut]
11. Evonimus atrapurpurous 3. 6 to 8.
Its fruit of a bright crimson in the Autumn (burning bush). [Euonymus atropurpureus]
12. Fothergilla gardeni[i] 6. 2 to 4.
Early in blossom; flowers in spikes, white & delicate. [Dwarf fothergilla, dwarf witchalder]
13. Franklinia alatamaha 1. 3, 15 to 20
Flowers large, white & fragrant—native of Georgia. [Franklin tree]
14 Baccharis3 3. 4 to 6.
In autumn silvered over with white silky down.
15. Laurus estivalis [æstivalis] 1. 5 to 8.
Aromatic & beautified with coral red berries. [Bay tree]
16. Kalmia angustifolia (with the Gaultheria [procumbens], or mountain tea [wintergreen]) 1 to 2.
Evergreen; garnished with crimson speckled flowers. [“Thyme leav’d Kalmia,” lambkill, sheep laurel]
17 Ilex angustifolia 1 3 to 6.
Evergreen, new. [Holly]
18. Dirca palustris 2. 2. to 3.
Early in bloom; singular—(call’d Leather wood). [“Leather Bark”]
19. Thuja occidentalis 4 15, 30, to 40.
A handsome evergreen Tree; beautiful foliage, & odoriferous. [American arborvitae, white cedar]
20. Zanthorhiza apiifolia 6. 1 to 3.
Singular flowers early: its root affords a splendid transparent yellow dye (call’d Yellow root, in Carola). [Xanthorhiza simplicissima]
21. Jeffersonia egrilla 1. 4 to 10
Foliage of deep splendid green, & embellished with a delicate plumage of white flowers (call’d Iron wood.)
22. Magnolia tripetala4 1. 8 to 15.
Foliage ample, expansive & light, plumed with large white flowers, which are succeeded by large crimson strobile. [“Umbrella Tree”]
23. Magnolia acuminata 1. 30, 80 to 100.
Erect with a pyramidal head, the dry strobile odoriferous. [“Cucumber Tree”]
24. Halesia tetraptera [or carolina] 1. 4, 10, to 15.
The flowers abundant, white, of the shape of little bells. [Carolina silverbell]5
25. Viburnum opulifolium 1. 3 to 7.
of singular beauty in flower and fruit.
26 Viburnum Arboreum 2. 6, 10, 15.
very shewy in flower. fruit eatable.
27. Viburnum Alnifolium 2. 3 to 6.
handsome flowering shrub. [Viburnum lantanoides; hobble bush]
28. Cupressus disticha 1. 50, 80, 100.
stature majestic, foliage most delicate, wood of a fine yellow colour, odoriferous & incorruptible. [“Bald Cyprus”]
E. 29. Sorbus sativa6 1. 10, 15, 30.
Its fruit pear & apple shaped, as large & well tasted when mellow.
30. Carpinus ostrya 3. 10, 15. 20.
handsome form, dress becoming, fruit singular. (Hop tree).7 [“Horn Beam”]
31. Sorbus aucuparia 2. 8, 15, 30.
Foliage elegant, embellished with umbells of coral red berries. [European mountain ash]
32. Acer striatum 1. 10 to 20.
singularly beautiful; the younger branches inscribed with silvery lines, or scrawls, on a dark purpleish green ground. [Acer pensylvanicum; striped maple, moosewood]
b 33. Acer glaucum 2. 30, 50.
beautiful foliage. spreading & shady—(Silver-leaf’d Maple).8
34. Acer sacharinum9 1. 50, 80, 100.
A stately Tree, in his native forests—(Sugar Maple)
E 35. Acer platanoides 2. 30, 50.
graceful stature, full of asscending branches, foliage & flower elegant, casts a grateful shade on the Lawn. [Norway maple]
e 36. Stewartia malachodendron 4 5 to 8.
Floriferous, the flowers large & white embellished with a large tuft of black or purple threads in their centre. [Silky stewartia or stuartia]
37. Clethra alnifolia 1. 3 to 6
Flowers abundant in spikes, exceedingly sweet scented. [“Clethra,” sweet pepperbush]
38. Styrax grandifolium 1 3 to 10.
a most charming flowering shrub, blossoms snow white & of the most grateful scent; (called Snow-drop tree). [Snowbell, storax]
E. b. 39. Philadelphus coronarius 2. 4, 6, 10.
a sweet flowering shrub, (call’d Mock Orange)
40. Philadelphus inodorus 1. 5, 7, 10.
his robe a silvery flower’d mantle.
e 41. Pinus Strobus 6. 50, 80, 100.
Magnificent! he presides in the evergreen Groves (white pine).
E. f 42. Pinus communis 2. 20, 40, 60.
a stately tree, foliage of a Seagreen colour, & exhibits a good appearance whilst young. (Scotch Fir).10
E 43. Pinus Larix 1. 40 to 60.
elegant figure & foliage. [“Larch Tree”]
E 44. Thuja orientalis 1 6 to 12
Foliage pleasing. [Oriental arborvitae]
45 Robinia villosa 4 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.
a gay shrub, enrobed with plumed leaves & roseat flowers. [“Peach Blossom Acacia”]
e 46. Pinus balsamea11 6. 20 to 40.
a tree of pleasing figure, delicate foliage, evergreen, & affords fragrant & medicinal balsam (Balm of Gilead Fir).
f. 47. Pinus abies virginiana 5. 50, 80, 100.
A Stately evergreen Tree, his foliage of delicate appearance; the wood useful and durable, & of great value (Hemlock Spruce).12
E 48. Cornus mascula [or mas] 1. 5, 8, 10.
flowers early, the fruit oblong of the size of a plum, of a fine crimson colour, and wholsome pleasant eating. [Cornelian cherry]
E. 49. Prunus cerasus, flore roseo 1 5, 10, 20,
more or less according to the stock; a very beautiful flowering tree, its blushing blossoms double—(double flowering cherry).
e 50. Prunus maritima 1 5 to 8,
flowers early, fruit of a dark purple sweet & pleasant eating. [“Beach or Sea-side-Plumb”]
f. 51. Prunus missisipi 1 6, 8, 10, 12.
Fruit of the largest size, oval; of a perfect deep crimson colour, possesses an agreeable taste, & affords an animating marmolade. [“Crimson Plumb”]
52. Prunus chicasa 1 6, 8, 10.
Early flowering, very fruitful; the fruit nearly round, cleft, red, purple, yellow, of an inticing look, most agreeable taste & wholsome. [“Chicasaw Plumb”]
e 53. Glycine frutescens 3.
A rambling florobundant climber; the blossoms in large pendant clusters, of a fine celestial blue, well adapted for covering arbors. [Wisteria frutescens; “Kidney Bean Tree,” wisteria]
54 Æsculus pavia
[Red buckeye]
55. Æ. ″ ″ varietas 2. 6, 8, 10, 12, 15
their light & airy foliage, crimson & variegated flowers, present a gay & mirthful appearance; continually, whilst in bloom visited by the brilliant thundering Humingbird. The root of this Tree is esteemed preferable to soap, for scouring & cleansing woolen Cloths.
e. 56. Æsculus virginica 1 20, 40, 50
beautiful foliage Flowers pale yellow. [Yellow horse chestnut]
57. Æsculus alba 1 1, 4, 6.
The branches terminate with long erect spikes of sweet white flowers.
E. 58. Juniperus sabina 1 1 to 5
Evergreen. [Savin]
a 59. Evonimus americanus 1 4, 7.
evergreen, presents a fine appearance in Autumn, with crimson fruit. [Euonymus americanus; spindle tree]
E. f. 60. Prunus Laurus cerasus 1 10, 15, 20.
A beautiful evergreen tree of Europe; its green leaves are said to possess a dangerous deleterious quality. [Prunus laurocerasus; cherry laurel, English laurel]
61. Yucca filamentosa 2
beautiful ornamental evergreen [Adam’s needle]
62. Yucca gloriosa13
flowering plants. [Spanish dagger]
c. 63. Myrica gale 4 2 to 4.
possesses an highly aromatic, and very agreeable scent. [“Bog gale,” sweet gale, bog myrtle]
E. b. 64. Platanus orientalis 2 60, 80, 100.
a famous tree celebrated for the beauty of his foliage, expansion, and grateful shade he affords. [Oriental sycamore, oriental plane]
d. 65. Amorpha fruticosa 1. 4, 6 to 8.
[Bastard indigo]
66. Amorpha cærulia [cœrulea] 2. 2–4.
Foliage light and delicately pennated, garnished with flowers of a fine [Bastard indigo]
E. e. 67. Salix variegata 1 10 to 15.
Silver blotched willow.
68 Mespilus nivea 1 10 to 15.
An early flowering shrub, of uncommon elegance (Snowy mespilus). [Medlar]
69. Mesp. pubescens 2 2, 3, 4
Somewhat resembling the foregoing; but of less stature & the flowers not so large, nor of so clean a white: both produce very pleasant fruit.
70. Mesp: pusilla 1 1 to 2½
flowers early, the blossoms white & abundant; exhibits a fine appearance.
71. Mesp. prunifolia 1. 2, 4, 5.
Presents a good appearance, when all red with its clusters of berries. [Aronia prunifolia; chokeberry]
E. f. 72. Colutia [Colutea] arborescens 3. 3, 6, 10.
exhibits a good appearance, foliage pinnated, of a soft pleasant green, colour, interspersed with the large yellow papillionacious flowers, in succession. [Bladder senna]
E. 73. Rhus Italicum 1. 8 to 12.
E. 74. Mespilus pyracantha 4. 4, 8, 10.
a beautiful flowerg shrub, evergreen in mild seasons. [Pyracantha coccinea; firethorn]
75. Itea virginiana [or virginica] 3. 3 to 6.
a handsome flowerg shrub. [Virginia sweetspire, Virginia willow, tasselwhite]
76. Cornus alba14 1. 3, 6
white berried swamp Dogwood.
77. Prunus divaricata 2. 6, 8.
diciduous, flowers white in raumes [racemes], stems diverging & branches pendulous. [Prunus cerasifera divaricata; cherry plum]
78. Hydrangia [Hydrangea] arborescens 3. 3, 5, 6.
Ornamental in shruberies, flowers white in large corymbes.
79. Andromeda axil[l]aris 1. 1 to 3.
Evergreen. [Bog rosemary]
80 Acer pumilum 3. 4. 8.
handsome shrub for coppices, foliage singular, younger shoots red. [Dwarf maple]
E. 81. Amygdalus persica, flore pleno 1. 8, 10, 12.
of great splendour & amiable presence. [Prunus persica, flore pleno; double-flowered peach]
e 82.15 Magnolia glauca 1. 3. 10. 15.
charming—the milk-white roseate blossom possesses an animating fragrance. [Magnolia virginiana; “Rose Laurel,” sweet bay, swamp magnolia]
83. Sambucus rubra 1 3, 5, 7.
early flowering and handsome; its coral red berries in large clusters, ripe abt midsummer. [Sambucus canadensis; American elder, sweet elder]
84 Rubus odoratus 3. 3 to 7.
foliage beautiful; flowers of the figure, colour & fragrance of the rose. [Flowering raspberry, thimbleberry]
f. 85. Rosa Pennsylvanica flor: pleno 2. 2 to 4
flowers monthly from May ’till Novembr [Rosa palustris; swamp rose]
86. Lonicera inodora 1 5, 10, 20
Twine’s round, & ascends trees spreading its bloom over their boughs. [Honeysuckle]
b. 87. Ribes oxyacanthoides16 1 3, 5.
fruit small & smooth. [“Prickly Gooseberry”]
88. Populus balsamifera 1. 7. 15. 20.
foliage beautiful, its buds in the spring replete with an odoriferous balsam. [Balsam poplar]
E. f. 89. Crategus [Cratægus] aria 1. 20, 30.
foliage beautiful; silvered with white cottony down, underside. [Hawthorn]
90. Pt[e]lea trifoliata 2. 4 to 9.
singular, (call’d the foil tree) [“Trefoil Tree,” hop tree]
91. Lonicera symphoricarpos 1. 2. 4.
singular; appears well in winter when garnished with clusters of red berries. [“Indian Currants”]
E. 92. Laurus nobilis 1. 10. 20. 30.
Sweet Bay, a celebrated Evergreen—leaves odoriferous. [“Red Bay,” bay laurel, sweet bay]
e. 93. Rhus triphyllum 5. 3 to 7.
Singular early flowering shrub. [“Poison Oak,” sumac]
E. 94. Citisus laburnum 1. 10. 15.
foliage delicate, embellished with pendant clusters of splendid yellow papillionacious flowers. [Cytisus anagyroides laburnum, Laburnum anagyroides; golden-chain]
E. 95. Periploca græca 2. 7 to 10.
climbing up trees & shrubs; flowers very singular. [Silk vine]
96. Hibiscus coccineus 1. 8 to 10.
a most elegant flowering plant; flowers large, of a splendid crimson colour. [Scarlet rosemallow]
97. Bignonia crucigera 1 40 to 50.
A climber, mounting to the tops of trees & buildings; flowers abundant. [“Cross Vine,” trumpet flower]
98. Bignonia semper virens 2
A climber as famous, at least for the richness of his robe; flowers of a splendid golden yellow, & odoriferous; very proper for covering arbors &c. [“Yellow Jasmin”]
99. Betula (alnus) maritima17 2. 6, 10. 12.
singular; retains his verdure very late in the autumn. [“Sea side Alder”]
f. E. 100. Amygdalus pumila, flor: pleno 1 2 to 4
A most elegant flowering shrub; ornimental in vases for Court yards &c. [Prunus pumila, flore pleno; sand or dwarf cherry, dwarf doubleflowering almond]
c. 101. Arundo donax 1. 5. 6. 8.
Maiden Cane.
e 102. Callicarpa americana 1. 3 to 6.
Very shewy & pleasing; the flowers of a delicate incarnate hue, & vast clusters of purple berries. [“Bermudas Mulberry,” French mulberry, American beautyberry]
f. E. 103. Syringa persica 2. 3 to 5.
(Persian Lilac) elegant; its flexile stems terminate with heavy panicles of purple blossoms, of animating fragrance.
e 104. Mimosa virgata 1. 3. 5. 10.
Singularly beautiful in its plumed foliage—native of Pearl Island near the Misisipi.
E. 105. Punica granatum flor. plen: 1 3, 6, 10.
the figure & splendour of its flowers exceed description. [Pomegranate]
b. e. 106. Aristolochia sipho. 1
Climbs & spreads over trees & other supports, to a great height & distance: flowers of singular figure; its abundant large leaves, present it as a vine well adapted for covering arbors. [Aristolochia macrophylla; Dutchman’s pipe]

The following letters in the margin, serve to explain the natural soil & situation of the Trees, shrubs &c.

  • a. rich, moist, loose or loamy soil, in shade of other trees.
  • b. rich deep soil.
  • c. wet moorish soil.
  • d. Dry indifferent soil.
  • e. A good loamy moist soil in any situation.
  • f. Any soil & situation.
  • E. Exoticks.


For ease of reading, all of the letters indicating the best type of soil for each plant have been moved in front of the plant’s botanical classification, regardless of their original location on the manuscript page. Common names for each plant (when missing from the descriptive entry), modern classifications (if different), alternative classifications, and corrected spellings are given in square brackets. Common names in quotation marks are taken from Bartram’s Catalogue of American Trees, Shrubs, and Herbacious Plants: Most of Which Are Now Growing, and Produce Ripe Seeds in John Bartram’s Garden, Near Philadelphia. The Seed and Growing Plants of Which Are Disposed Of on the Most Reasonable Terms (Philadelphia, 1784).

On 10 June and 2 Sept. 1787, GW had visited the famous botanical gardens on the west bank of the Schuylkill River three miles southwest of Philadelphia that John Bartram, Jr., had received from his father in 1771 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:166–67, 183). For GW’s attempt to obtain a list of plants available from that garden, see Tobias Lear to Clement Biddle, 2 Oct. 1789. The list of March 1792 describes the plants from Bartram’s garden that arrived at Mount Vernon in early April 1792 (see George Augustine Washington to GW, 15 April 1792). For GW’s reordering of the plants which had not survived, see Directive for John Christian Ehlers, 7 Nov. 1792.

1The date of this document is taken from GW’s docket on the cover, which reads, “List of Plants & Shrubs from Mr Bartram March—1792,” and from his directions for his gardener John Christian Ehlers of 7 Nov. 1792, in which he refers to Bartram’s “Catalogue of Mar: 92.”

2For the meaning of the letters that precede many of the plant names, see Bartram’s explanatory list at the end of this document.

3“Baccharis” is probably Baccharis halimifolia, the groundsel tree.

4Bartram classifies this as “Magnolia Umbrella” in his 1784 catalog.

5Bartram offered “Halesia or Silver Bells 2 varieties” in his 1784 catalog.

6“Sorbus sativa” is probably Sorbus domestica, the service tree.

7The hop hornbeam is classified as Ostrya virginiana. The hop tree is classified as Ptelea trifoliate; see item number 90 in the document. The American hornbeam is classified as Carpinus caroliniana.

8Acer saccharinum is the classification for the silver maple, and Acer saccharum glaucum is the classification for a variant of the sugar maple. However, Bartram’s catalog lists “Acer Glauca” as the “Silver leav’d Maple.”

9The correct classification for the sugar maple is Acer saccharum, while Acer saccharinum is the silver maple.

10The Scotch pine is classified as Pinus sylvestris.

11Bartram’s catalog identifies the Balm of Gilead fir as “Pinus Abies Canadesis,” but today it is classified as Abies balsamea.

12Hemlock spruce is now classified under the genus Tsuga.

13Yucca gloriosa and Yucca filamentosa are bracketed together on the manuscript page, indicating the purchase of two plants total.

14Bartram classifies this tree as “Cornus Perlata” in his 1784 catalog.

15An endnote at this point in the text explains: “Altho’ a wet moorish soil, is the natural soil & situation of this charming flowering tree, (Magnolia glauca) yet, from experience we find it thrives equally well in the common soil & situation of flower gardens & shrubberies; & produces a greater abundance of flowers with a longer succession, & the blossoms equally fragrant.”

16Both Bartram and modern botanists classify this plant as Grossularia canadenis.

17Bartram and modern botanists classify this tree as Alnus maritima, betula.

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