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John Bartram was born in Marple, Pennsylvania in 1699. Although he received limited formal education, he eventually distinguished himself as one of the leading botanists of his day. Through an early and intense interest in botany, he collected rare and useful plants and seeds throughout the colonies which he provided to the gentlemen of Europe, an opportunity which arose from his close friendship with the English botanist, Peter Collinson.
He also established one of the finest botanic gardens of the colonial period in Kingsessing (now part of the park system in south Philadelphia). He grew dozens of species of trees, shrubs, and other plants collected on his travels. He even experimented with breeding and selection of cultivars to meet a demand abroad for exotic plants. His botanical supply business was so successful that it provided the income and incentive that enabled him to travel around the colonies and to Florida in search of new specimens.
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