Care of the Specimens

Part 4

James Reveal, Professor Emeritus, Botany University of Maryland

Recorded at Packer Meadows in the Clearwater Forest near Lolo Pass
on the crest of the Bitterroot Range, July 3, 2003.


Today we are in Packer Meadow on the Clearwater National Forest. This was a lunch stop for the Lewis and Clark Expedition in late June of 1806. Very likely, because Lewis had collected so many plants coming up the Lolo Trail, he took time out during that lunch break to work his plant specimens. Lewis would open his press and open up, in his case, each individual page of his press. Coming on to his first specimen he would then take a look at it, make sure that the leaves were flat and that all the diagnostic characters of the flowers were shown so they could be studied. He would repeat this for each specimen and, if necessary, would replace the paper with new paper.

This is the common camas that Lewis and his men experienced in 1805. Tradition says that Lewis and Clark and his men became ill from eating the bulbs. That's probably not true. More likely the culprit was salmonella poisoning associated with the dried—poorly dried—salmon.

Supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Governor's Lewis and Clark Trail Committee