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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists


This entry describes one of 30 specimens that were sent to President Jefferson from Fort Mandan and then logged into the Museum in Philadelphia on November 16, 1805, but subsequently lost.  We include this species as an example of the breadth of discovery and the explorers’ scholarship; attribution to this species is based upon Lewis’ description, early botanical work on the specimens, current botanical literature, and knowledge of the regional flora.

Capt. Lewis ,May 29, 1804 - N°. 8.  Was taken the 29th of May 1804, below the mouth of the Osage Rivr   this plant is known in Kentuckey and many other parts of this western country by the name of the yellow root.  it is a sovereighn remidy for a disorder common in this quarter called the soar eyes   this complaint is common   it is a violent inflamation of the eyes attended with high fevers and headach, and is extreemly distressing, and frequently attended with the loss of sight.   this root affords a speady and efficasieus remidy for this disorder prepared & used in the following manner.___   let the roots be geathered washed and carefully dryed in the shade; brake them in pieces of half an inch in length and put them in a bottle or viol, taking care to fill the vessel about two thirds full of the dryed root, then fill the vessell with could water, rain water is preferable; let it remain about six hours shaking it occasionally and it will be fit for use; the water must remain with the root and be applyed to the eyes frequently by weting a piece of fine linin [and] touching them gently with it.   this root is a fine aromatic bitter, and a strong asstringent; it is probable that it might be applyed in many cases as a medicene with good effect, but I have not learnt that any experiment has been made by an inward application.   it makes an excellent mouth water, and a good outward applycation for wounds or inflamations of every kind.   native of rich bottom lands on the rivers.

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