"[In 1723] in rush baskets, I transplanted more than three hundred numbered examples, along with a description of their qualities and the manner in which they are to be used. I learned that they have been placed in a botanical Garden built by order of the Company [in France]."

Le Page du Pratz, Histoire de la Louisiane, Paris, 1758, t. 1, p. 212


Cover page from a reference work concerning the import and export of plants between France and its colonies
Duhamel de Monceau, Avis pour le transport par mer des arbres, des plantes vivaces, des semences et de diverses autres curiosités díhistoire naturelle, Paris, 1753
BNF, Imprimés The close contact with the Indian tribes afforded new arrivals precious knowledge about Louisiana's natural resources, particularly those having to do with curing the most prevalent diseases: fevers and dysentery. Talented amateurs (such as Le Page du Pratz, Dumont de Montigny, and Hubon), seminarians (Le Maire) and Jesuits (Charlevoix), supplied new observations, and the colonists began to cultivate plant varieties hitherto unknown in North America, such as wheat and sugar cane. They also imported cattle, oxen and poultry from Europe.
Cover page from a reference work concerning the import and export of plants between France and its colonies
Duhamel de Monceau, Avis pour le transport par mer des arbres, des plantes vivaces, des semences et de diverses autres curiosités díhistoire naturelle, Paris, 1753
BNF, Imprimés

Alexandre Vielle, Letter (sending seeds, an herbarium, butterflies, samples of the bayberry tree, a box of residual mirror-silvering, and 8 candles) and a Description of the brushwood which gives off wax
MNHN, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms. 196, f° 3 v° et f° 4 r° Alexandre Vielle, Letter (sending seeds, an herbarium, butterflies, samples of the bayberry tree, a box of residual mirror-silvering, and 8 candles) and a Description of the brushwood which gives off wax
MNHN, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms. 196, f° 3 v° et f° 4 r°
Alexandre Vielle, Letter (sending seeds, an herbarium, butterflies, samples of the bayberry tree, a box of residual mirror-silvering, and 8 candles) and a Description of the brushwood which gives off wax
MNHN, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms. 196, f° 3 v° et f° 4 r°

They supplied accounts of Indian customs, social organization and religion—devoid, unfortunately, of any scientific content.
Scientists, whether doctors (such as the brothers Louis and Jean Prat, or Fontenette), apothecaries and surgeons (Alexandre), left behind detailed writings on medicinal plants, and created botanical gardens in New Orleans—despite the sheer volume of medical and surgical work, which left little time for gardening. Father Charles Plumer published drawings of the fauna of the Gulf of Mexico (1646-1704), and Claude Aubriet (1665-1742) did the same for the butterflies of the Mississippi. In the first half of the 19th century, we have the work of Charles Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846).

Letter from Alexandre Vielle, apothecary, September 10, 1722
AN, Marine, 2JJ 56 30 Working in close contact with the King's Garden (a museum) in Paris, these scholars were in a precarious position; in a colonial setting, their mission seemed marginal and of very little present-day use. For this reason, their letters are filled with more bitterness than enthusiasm. Demands for money, books, means for working (gardens, lodging) are often found side by side with complaints about how little time they had to spend on study and travel.

Letter from Alexandre Vielle, apothecary, September 10, 1722
AN, Marine, 2JJ 56 30

The botanists of the King's Garden and other medicinal plant gardens in France and Europe sought to make the most out of colonial expeditions, whether by testing products from the colony in France, or by exporting European varieties. Nevertheless, few naturalists were sent abroad to Louisiana, despite the vastness of the territory. In fact, the flora and fauna in America had been known to travelers since the 16th century, and the population of the colonies remained small.