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Common Name: Snapdragon[1]

Scientific Name: Antirrhinum majus

The earliest known mention of this plant in an American source is in Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book;[2] Jefferson first observed this flower blooming at his childhood home, Shadwell, in 1767.[3] He later listed it among the hardy flowers to be planted in a "shrubbery" at Monticello.[4]This southern European native was cultivated in American gardens since the mid-18th century and Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon included the "Common Snapdragon" in his 1806 American Gardener's Calendar as a biennial flower.[5] By the mid-1800s many snapdragon cultivators had developed a variety of colors and forms. In 1890, however, Peter Henderson noted in his Henderson's Handbook of Plants and General Horticulture that "this plant, in its wild state, is very commonly found growing on the tops of old walls."[6] It became a favorite for Victorian bedding schemes.[7]

The snapdragon is a summer-blooming flower grown as an annual with deep wine-red blossoms on upright stems.


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 169, and Ann Leighton, American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1986), 479.
  3. Betts, Garden Book, 5.Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 53.
  4. Ibid, 27.
  5. Bernard McMahon, American Gardener's Calendar (Charlottesville, Va.: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 1997), 291, 292, and 344.
  6. Henderson, Henderson's Handbook of Plants and General Horticulture (New York: Henderson, 1890), 26.
  7. David Stuart and James Sutherland, Plants from the Past: Old Flowers for New Gardens(London: Penguin Books, 1989), 79.

Further Sources


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