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

breadroot

The Corps was on the Missouri just beyond the Milk River when these entries were written.

Capt. Lewis, May 8, 1805--The white apple is found in great abundance in this neighbourhood; it is confined to the highlands principally. The whiteapple, so called by the French Engages, is a plant which rises to the hight of 6 or 9 Inchs rarely exceeding a foot; it puts forth from one to four and sometimes more stalks from the same root, but is most generally found with one only, which is branched but not defusely, is cylindric and villose; the leafstalks, cylindric, villose and very long compared with the hight of the plant, tho' gradually diminish in length as they ascend, and are irregular in point of position; the leaf, digitate, from three to five in number, oval I Inch long, absolutely entire and cottony: the whole plant of a pale green, except the under disk of the leaf which is of a white colour from the cottony substance with which it is covered. the radix a tuberous bulb; generally ova formed [oviformed], sometimes longer and more rarely partially divided or branc[h]ing; always attended with one or more radicles at it's lower extremity which sink from 4 to 6 inches deep. the bulb covered with a rough black, tough, thin rind which easily seperates from the bulb which is a fine white substance, somewhat porus, spungy and moist, and reather tough before it is dressed; the center of the bulb is penitrated with a small tough string or liga-ment, which passing from the bottom of the stem terminates in the extremity of the radicle, which last is also covered by a prolongation of the rind which invellopes the bulb: The bulb is usually found at the debth of 4 inches and frequently much deeper. This root forms a considerable article of food with the Indians of the Missouri, who for this purpose prepare them in several ways. they are esteemed good at all seasons of the year, but are best from the middle of July to the latter end of Autumn when they are sought and gathered by the provident part of the natives for their winter store. when collected they are striped of their rhind and strung on small throngs or chords and exposed to the sun or placed in the smoke of their fires to dry; when well dryed they will keep for several years, provided they are not permitted to become moist or damp; in this situation they usually pound them between two stones placed on a piece of parchment, untill they reduce it to a fine powder,   thus prepared they thicken their soope with it; sometimes they also boil these dryed roots with their meat without breaking them; when green they are generally boiled with their meat, sometimes mashing them or otherwise as they think proper. they also prepare an agreeable dish with them by boiling and mashing them and adding the marrow grease of the buffaloe and some buries, until the whole be of the consistency of a haisty pudding. they also eat this root roasted and frequently make hearty meals of it raw without sustaining any inconvenience or injury therefrom. The White or brown bear feed very much on this root, which their tallons assist them to procure very readily. the white apple appears to me to be a tastless insippid food of itself tho' I have no doubt but it is a very healthy and moderately nutricious food. I have no doubt but our epicures would admire this root very much, it would serve them in their ragouts and gravies in stead of the truffles morella.

Capt. Clark, May 8, 1805--In walking on Shore with the Interpreter & his wife, the Squar Geathered on the sides of the hills wild Lickerish, & the white apple as called by the angeges [engag├ęs] and gave me to eat, the Indians of the Missouri make great use of the white apple dressed in different ways

 
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