Did Thomas Jefferson create his own species of trees?


ellen2010 asked:

I’ve heard this from someone once, i’m not quite sure if it’s true though. when i visited Jefferson’s home Monticello, many of the trees on the lawn were labeled with little signs, but it didn’t say anything about him creating a type of tree…

is that even possible to do?

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paul s

He may certainly have crossbred different varieties of the same species, thereby creating a new hybrid. Or, he may have identified and named varieties not previously cataloged.

Though I’m not a botanist, I don’t think one can create a ’species’.


It is nearly impossible to prove a negative and it is true that Thomas Jefferson experimented with various plants. However, assuming that he did something such as creating a new type of apple, I cannot imagine that he would not have recorded such an undertaking.

In his correspondence he has only two references to ‘trees’. One is in Query VI of his notes on Virginia where ha merely list the various types of trees.

The other reference is in a letter to Thomas Mann Randolph (5 June 1791) in connection to a tour taken by him and James Madison where he is describing many things (including trees) primarily in area of General Burgoyne’s misfortune battle at Saratoga.

Neither of these references mention has work of developing anything with trees.

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