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

Sitka spruce

Capt.Lewis, February 4, 1806--There are s[e]veral species of fir in this neighbourhood which I shall discribe as well as my slender botanicall skil wil enable me and for the convenience of comparison with each other shal number them. (No.I.) a species which grows to immence size; very commonly 27 feet in the girth six feet above the surface of the earth, and in several instances we have found them as much as 36 feet in the girth or 12 feet diameter perfectly solid and entire. they frequently rise to the hight of 230 feet, and one hundred and twenty or 30 of that hight without a limb. this timber is white and soft throughout and rives better than any other species which we have tryed. the bark shales off in irregula[r] rounded flakes and is of a redish brown colour particularly of the younger growth. the stem of this tree is simple branching, ascending, not very defuse, and proliferous. the leaf of this tree is acerose, 1/10th of an Inh in width, and 3/4 of an Inch in length; is firm, stif and accuminate; they are triangular, a lIttle declining, thickly scattered on all sides of the bough, but rispect the three uppersides only and are also sessile growing from little triangular pedestals of soft spungy elastic bark. at the junction of the boughs, the bud-scales continued to incircle their respective twigs for several yea[r]s ; at least three yea[r]s is common and I have counted as many as the growth of four years beyond these scales. this tree affords but little rosin. it's cone I have not yet had an opportunity to discover altho' I have sought it frequently; the trees of this kind which we have felled have had no cones on them.

Capt. Clark, February 4, 1806--There are several species of Fir in this neighbourhood which I shall describe as well as my botanicale skill will will enable me, and for the convenience of comparison with each other shall number them. (No.I,) a species which grows to an emence size; verry commonly 27 feet in surcumferonce at 6 feet above the surface of the earth, and in several instances we have found them as much a[s] 36 feet in the girth, or 12 feet Diameter perfectly solid & entire. they frequently rise to the hight of 230 feet; and 120 or 130 of that hight without a limb. this timber is white and soft throughout and rives better than any other species we have tried the bark shales off in aregular rounded flakes and is of a redish brown colour, particularly of the younger growth, the stem of this tree is simple branching, assending, not very defuse, and proliferous, the leaf of this tree is accerose 1/2 a line in width, and 3/4 of an inch in length; is firm stiff and accuminate; they are triangular little declineing, thickly scattered on all sides of the Bough, but respect the three upper sides only Growing from little triangular pedistals of soft spungy elastic bark. at the junction of these bough's, the bud-scales continue to incircle the respective twigs for several years; at least 3 years is. common and I have counted as maney as the growth of 4 years beyond these scales. this tree affords but little rozin. it's cone I have not yet had an opportunity to discover altho' I have sought it frequently; the trees of this kind which we have fell'd have had no cones on them.

Moulton explains that Lewis may have thought this was a different species because it's growth was affected by the tidal nature of its environment.

Capt. Lewis, February 18, 1806--Sergt. Ordway brought me a specemine of a species of pine peculiar to the swamps and marshes frequently overflown by the tide as this is a distinct species I shall call it No. 7. this tree seldom rises to a greater hight than 35 feet and is from 2 1/2 to 4 feet in diameter; the stem is simple branching diffuse and proliferous, the bark the same with that of No. I. only reather more rugged. the leaf is acerose, 2/10ths. of an inch in width and ¾ in length. they are firm stif and somewhat accuminated, ending in a short pointed hard tendril, gibbous, thickly scattered on all sides of the bough but rispect the three upper sides only. those which have there insersion on the underside incline sidewise with their points upwards giving the leaf the figure of a sythe. the others are perpendicular or pointing upwards. is sessile growing as in No. I. from small triangular pedestals of a soft spungy elastic bark. the under disk of these leaves or that which grows nearest towards the base of the bough is a deep glossey green while the upper or opposite side is of a mealy whiteish pale green; in this rispect differing from almost all leaves. the boughs retain their leaves as far back as to the sixth years growth. the peculiarity of the bud scales observed in No. I. is observed in this species. The cone is 3 1/2 inches in length and 3 in circumpherence, of an ovate figure being thickest in the middle and tapering and terminating in two obtuse points. it is composes[d] of small, flexible, thin, obtusely pointed smooth and redish brown imbricated scales. each scale covering two small winged seeds and being itself covered in the center by a small thin inferior scale accutely pointed. the cone is somewhat of this figure [Captain Lewis included a drawing here.] they proceede from the side as well as the extremities of the bough but in the former case always at or near the commencement of some one years growth which is [in] some instances are as far back as the third year.

 
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