Born at Ambleny, near Soissons, Pierre-Antoine Poiteau spent the early part of his career as an apprentice at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris where he trained as a botanist. On completion of his apprenticeship he was asked to found the Bergerac botanical garden and was then sent by the Jardin to San Domingo to collect plant specimens. It was here that he met fellow botanist and draughtsman Pierre-Jean-François Turpin (1775-1840) with whom he collaborated on several botanical publications including Flora Parisiensis (1808), Traité des arbes fruitiers (1807-1835) and Plantes equinoxiales (1808). Poiteau also collaborated with Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840) and Pancrace Bessa (1772-1846) contributing designs for several books including those of Etienne-Pierre Ventenat and Jean-Claude Michel Mordant de Launay.
Poiteau's skill in illustration was heavily influenced by his scientific knowledge of plants. He saw draughtsmanship as the basis to any scientific study and once exclaimed 'drawing and description are made for each other, each pointing out the other's failings or omissions. This is so true that I sometimes had to alter some descriptions I happened to have made before drawing a subject. I feel it my duty to describe and draw each plant before it goes into my collection' (E. Hardouin-Fugier, The pupils of Redouté, Leigh-on-Sea, 1981, p. 22).