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.
Meriwether Lewis described his plants in his journals. He had his training from Barton in Philadelphia, but he also had with him two volumes of John Miller's book on Linnaeus's system of botany. One was an illustration of the terminology of the Linnaean system and the other was on the system itself. So what Lewis could do is, he could use these two books and write his descriptions in a very technical way, so botanists who read the journals would be able to have that information.
As a naturalist, Lewis has been fairly highly regarded by the modern community. He worked under trying and difficult situations. While it is clear that he was only able to devote a portion of his time to the effort, what he did is widely respected. It should be noted however, that in 1811, Thomas Nuttall of England, went up the Missouri River and collected several hundred more specimens than Lewis and Clark did in 1804. In 1834 and 1835 Thomas Nuttall came to the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Oregon and Washington and collected hundreds of specimens. Many of the plants that Lewis and Clark found, that were not named in Lewis' time were subsequently named by Thomas Nuttall from his own collections.
Supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Governor's Lewis and Clark Trail Committee