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Lewis and Clark Home Lewis and Clark Home
THE BOTANY OF THE LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION
Botany Exhibit—>  map    dates    plant names    thumbnails

The instructions for the Lewis and Clark Expediton were laid out by President Thomas Jefferson in his letter to Meriwether Lewis dated Jun 20, 1803. One of the directives was to note "The soil and face of the country, its growth and vegetable productions, especially those not of the United States;…" Lewis, the naturalist of the team, devoted himself with great enthusiasm to the collection and description of plant specimens. His herbarium of over 200 specimens is in the collections of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Lewis was the first to collect in the west and many of the plants he identified were new species.

This exhibit presents 31 plants collected during the expedition. They are illustrated with specimens from the Margaret H. Fulford Herbarium at the University of Cincinnati and photographs taken primarily by Victor Soukup, Curator of the Herbarium Collection. The location where Lewis collected each specimen is identified on the map from the edition of the journals published in 1814. The map is provided through the courtesy of the David Rumsey Collection. Selections from journal entries for the dates of collection are also provided. Navigation is provided via the map, by date, by plant name, or by browsing thumbnail images of the plants.

Visitors to the exhibit will note that rules of spelling and punctuation were more flexible in the early Nineteenth Century. William Clark, in particular, has been described as a "creative speller."

For those interested in learning more about the botany of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the following are recommended:

Cutright, Paul Russell. Lewis and Clark: Pioneering Naturalists. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1969.

Earle, A. Scott and James L. Reveal. Lewis and Clark's Green World: The Expedition and its Plants. Helena, Montana: Farcountry Press, 2003.

Lewis & Clark as Naturalists.  An interactive site presented by the Smithsonian Institution.

Phillips, H. Wayne. Plants of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2003.

Credits:
Victor Soukup, Curator, Margaret H. Fulford Herbarium
John Tebo, Head, Chemistry Biology Library
Cartography Associates, David Rumsey Collection
Alice M. Cornell
Linda Newman
Marie Scheponick