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

Canada wildrye

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, July 27, 1804 - N°. 20. A specemine of wild Rye taken on the 27th of July, this grass is common to all the low praries above the Cancez river. it rises to the hight of six feet and upwards and resembles the rye extreemly in appearance the geese and ducks feed on it when young, as they do also on the grain when ripe in September and October it produces much grain tho of an inferior quality compared with cultivated rye.

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