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

big bluestem

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 - No. 22, 23, 24, & 25, Are various species of grasses which appear in the praries, N° 23. is the most common of any other grass, it rises to the hight of from 4 to 8 feet and never bears any flower or seed that I ever observed and suppose therefore that it must propegate by means of the root: common to all praries in this country.

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