Florida Museum of Natural History

William Bartram

Native Medicines

Bartram traveled at a time when most European medicines were plant-based. When Bartram suffered a fever in Alabama in 1776, he sought a "febrifuge," or plant tonic. An unnamed black servant guided him to stone-root, Collinsonia anisata, the roots of which he used on local advice. Bartram's medical colleagues were especially interested in the properties of "black root," or pickerel weed, a common aquatic plant in Florida. Like family friend and neighbor on the Schuykill River, Thomas Jefferson, Bartram was curious about Native American medicines made from plants.

Indian tonics Bartram mentioned in the Travels are:



Unless otherwise noted, William Bartram's drawings are housed at the British Museum (Natural History), London, UK