The Life of David Landreth

Early American horiculturalist. David Landreth was born at Haggerston, Northumberland, England in 1752. He is credited with establishing the first American commercial seed company.

David and his family arrived in North America from England in 1780 and began a seed business in Montréal, Canada. In 1784 David relocated to Philadelphia as Canada was too cold for a seed business and named the company David Landreth. His brother Cuthbert joined the company in 1789 and they began growing flowering shrubs and hothouse exotics in their nursery and greenhouses.

They propagated seeds brought back by the Lewis and Clark expedition, most notably the osage orange, which Landreth planted around Philadelphia with horticulturist Bernard McMahon. The Landreths introduced many plants to the United States, including the Mexican Zinnia in 1798, the white potato in 1810, the garden tomato in 1820, followed by 'Landreths' Extra Early' pea in 1822 and 'Bloomsdale' spinach in 1826.

David's son, David Landreth, Jr., was dispatched to Charleston, South Carolina in 1818 to open a branch there. He took over operation of the company upon his father's death. David Landreth died in Philadelphia on August 23, 1826. Landreth was originally buried under a large granite block at Ebenezer Churchyard at 4th & Christian Street in Philadelphia until its closure in 1914, at which time he and the large gravestone were moved to suburban Arlington Cemetery in Upper Darby, PA.

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