Rafinesque's Six Firs of Oregon

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cone of rocky mountain douglas-fir
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii
var. glauca) with spreading cone bracts

Photo © by James L. Reveal

The full text of Rafinesque's 1832 paper is given below with comments. Also added are Lewis' descriptive comments as given in the second volume of the 1814 Biddle edition of a History of the expedition under the command of captains Lewis and Clark and what was originally written in his journal as transcribed by Moulton (1990). Rafinesque did not see specimens and knew about the plants only from the 1814 publication.

SIX NEW FIRS OF OREGON.

Lewis and Clarke [sic] discovered and noticed without names, many years ago, several fine Fir trees of the Oregon or Columbia country. These I named and characterized in 1817 in my Florula Oregonensis,1 and since sent them to Prof. Decandolle [sic].2 I now given here my names and specific characters of those 6 new sp. of the Genus Abies of Jussieu, &c.3

1. Abies trigona R. Gigantic Fir (First Fir L. C.) bark and branches scaly, leaves densely scattered, petiolate trigone acuminate and stiff-stated to be the largest tree of North America, some reaching 300 feet high, 200 without branches, and 42 feet around. Petiols trigone also, leaves ¾ of an inch long, 110 wide.4

2. Abies heterophylla R. Odd leaved Fir (Second Fir L. C.) bark rimose, leaves distichal petiolate very unequal, sulcate above, glaucous beneath, cones terminal ovate minute flexible, reaching 180 feet high and 6 feet diameter. Leaves from ¼ to one inch long, but all 120 wide. Is it a variety of the Spruce Fir? 5

3. Abies aromatica R. Aromatic Fir (Third Fir L. C.) branches bullate balsamiferous, leaves densely scattered, forming 3 rows, sessile, lanceolate obtuse, flexible, sulcate and shining above, gibbous beneath. Reaching 100 feet high, blisters on the branches filled with a fine aromatic balsam. Leaves very small ⅛ of an inch long, 116 wide.6

Immature male cones of rocky mountain alpine fir

Immature male cones of Rocky Mountain alpine fir (Abies bifolia) seen by Lewis and Clark in the mountains of Idaho and Montana
Photo © by James L. Reveal

4. Abies microphylla R. Small leaved Fir (Fourth Fir L. C.) bark rimose, branches not bullate, leaves denselly scattered, forming 3 rows, sessile, sublanceolate acute. –Reaching 150 feet high. Like the last, but yielding no balsam, and with leaves still more minute, not lucid above, only 112 of an inch long, and 124 wide. Wood white and tough.7

5. Abies mucronata R. (Fifth Fir L. C.) bark scaly, branches virgate, leaves scattered very narrow, rigid, and oblique, sulcate above, pale beneath. Cones ovate acute, scales rounded nervose mucronate. –Rises 150 feet, leaves sub-balsamic, one inch long, 120 wide, cones very large two and a half inches long. Var. palustris. Grows in swamps, only 30 feet high and with spreading branches.8

6. Abies falcata R. (Seventh Fir L. C.) bark scaly, leaves tristichal or in 3 rows, in 2 rows upright, in lower row declinate falcate, all linear lanceolate, with trigone petiols. Cones fusiform obtuse at both ends. Only on the sea shore of Oregon, rising only 35 feet, leaves ¾ inch long, ⅕ wide.9

mountain ponderosa pine

Mountain ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum) observed
by Lewis and Clark in the mountains of Idaho and Montana

Photo © by James L. Reveal


1. This work was not published and therefore has no nomenclatural standing. Had Rafinesque published, his names would have priority over those proposed subsequently by all other authors.

2. Rafinesque routinely sent his new names off to Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (1778-1841) who nearly always ignored them. Candolle, a Swiss botanist at Geneva, was actively publishing what he hoped to be a complete flora of the vascular plants of the world–the ferns, fern-allies, gymnosperms and angiosperms. The work, with the title of Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis, was destined to comprise seventeen volumes (1824–1873), with Candolle himself editing the first seven, and his son Alphonse Louis Pierre Pyramus de Candolle (1806-1893) editing the last ten. The task was never completed as the discoveries of new families, genera and species were far more numerous than the elder Candolle ever anticipated. Even today there is no single work that accounts for the world's flora.

3. By international agreement, modern scientific names of vascular plants begins with the publication of Species plantarum by Carl Linnæus (1707–1778) in 1753. He defined the genus Pinus broadly so as to include several other genera that are today regarded as distinct from Pinus. A few months after Linnæus published (1 May 1753), the eccentric British genius John Hill (1716-1775) published the genus Abies. Despised by his contemporaries, and even today ill-regarded by many in Britain, Hill's 18 October 1753 publication was ignored until rediscovered in 1991. Philip Miller (1691–1771), England's national horticultural hero, subsequently published the same name for the fir in late January of 1754. As such, Hill should have been given credit for Abies according to the rules of nomenclature, but in 1992 it was decided that Hill's publication should be rejected and his names disregarded thereby allowing Miller's name to remain associated with this and numerous other genera. Today, Abies Mill. (Gard. Dict. Abr.: unpaged. 1754) is the official scientific name for the fir. The French botanist, Antoine Laurent de Jussieu (1748–1836), summarized the vascular plant families of the world in 1789, and attempted to account for all of the genera. This was still a standard reference for Rafinesque and others in his day.

4. This species is the Sitka spruce, known currently as Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr. (Traité Gén. Conif.: 260. 1855, based on Pinus sitchensis Bong., Mém. Acad. Imp. Sci. Saint-Pétersbourg, sér. 6, Sci. Math. 2: 164. Aug 1832). As may be seen, Bongard proposed his name perhaps one or two months before Rafinesque proposed Abies trigona (alluding to the three-sided needles when observed in cross-section). It is not known exactly when, in 1832, David Don published Pinus menziesii Douglas ex D. Don in Lamb. (Descr. Gen. Pinus: 2: unnumbered page between pp. 144 and 145. 1832; including Abies menziesii (Douglas ex D. Don) Lindl., Penny Cycl. 1: 32. 1833, nom. illeg., non Mirb., Mém. Soc. Hist. Nat. Paris 13: 63, 70. 1825.) Should this name prove to be published prior to August of 1832, Picea menziesii (Douglas ex D. Don) Carr. (Traité Gén. Conif.: 237. 1855) would be the correct name according to the rules of modern nomenclature. Fortunately, the same rules allows one to reject any name that would cause nomenclatural instability. Introduction of Picea menziesii for such an important species most certainly would be disruptive and Pinus menziesii would surely be rejected so as to retain Picea sitchensis as the correct scientific name for this tree.

Sitka spruce occurs in scattered locations along the Pacific Coast from south-central Alaska to northern California. Although Lewis considered this to be the tallest tree, it grows only to about 80 m (262 ft) in height. Sitka spruce is the state tree for Alaska.

Lewis' description of Sitka spruce, as edited by Biddle and seen by Rafinesque is as follows (Hist. Exped. Lewis & Clark 2: 155. 1814):

The first species grows to an immense size, and is very commonly twenty-seven feet in circumference six feet above the earth's surface: they rise to the height of two hundred and thirty feet, and one hundred and twenty of that height without a limb. We have often found them thirty-six feet in circumference. One of our party measured one, and found it to be forty-two feet in circumference, at a point beyond the reach of an ordinary man. This trunk for the distance of two hundred feet was destitute of limbs: this tree was perfectly sound, and at a moderate calculation, its size may be estimated at three hundred feet. The timber is throughout, and rives better than any other species; the bark scales off in flakes irregularly round, and of a reddish brown colour, particularly the younger growth: the trunk is simple, branching, and not very proliferous. The leaf is acerose, one tenth of a inch in width, and three fourths in length, firm, stiff, and accuminate. It is triangular, a little declining, thickly scattered on all sides of the bough, and springs from small triangular pedestals of soft, spongy, elastic bark at the junction of the boughs. The bud scales continue to encircle their respective twigs for several years. Captain Lewis has counted as many as the growth of four years beyond their scales; it yields but little rosin, and we have never been able to discover the cone, although we have killed several.

Lewis described Sitka spruce on 4 February 1806 as follows (from Moulton 1990: 276–277):

(No 1.) 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 tried. …the bark skales off in irregular 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 difuse, and proliferous. …the leaf of this tree is acerose, 1/10th of an Inch in width, and ¾ 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 continue to incircle their rispective twigs for several yeas; at least three years 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 no cones on them.–

On 9 February 1806, Lewis sketched the cone of Sitka spruce and compare this tree with what Rafinesque would eventually name Abies mucronata var. palustris; see footnote 8 below.

5. This species is the western hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg. (Silva N. Amer. 12: 73. 1898, based on Abies heterophylla Raf., Atl. J. 1: 119. Oct-Nov 1832). Rafinesque proposed the species epithet because of the strikingly different sized needles of this species.

Douglas confused this with eastern hemlock, T. canadensis (L.) Carr., a tree that gets only as far west of the Great Lakes region. The western hemlock is widespread along the coast and coastal ranges from Alaska to northern California and disjunct in the northern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta southward into northeastern Washington, northern Idaho and northwestern Montana. The two species are similar, but it is interesting that Lewis–who certainly knew the eastern species–was able to distinguish the two without difficulty. Douglas, in his unpublished manuscript written in 1828 or 1829, considered the species to be abundant "on the woody parts of the North-West coast, fully larger than any found on the Atlantic side of the Continent from the 43° to the 49°; not in the interior nor in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains" (see App. VIII in Douglas' Journal published in 1914).

Lewis' description of western hemlock, as edited by Biddle and seen by Rafinesque is as follows (Hist. Exped. Lewis & Clark 2: 156. 1814):

The second is a much more common species, and constitutes at least one half of the timber in this neighbourhood. It seems to resemble the spruce, rising from one hundred and sixty to one hundred and eighty feet, and is from four to six in diameter, straight, round, and regularly tapering. The bark is thin, of a dark colour, much divided in small longitudinal interstices: the bark of the bought and young trees is somewhat smooth, but not equal to the balsam fir [Abies balsamea (L.) Mill., balsam fir]: the wood is white, very soft, but difficult to rive: the trunk is simple, branching, and diffuse stem, not so proliferous as the pines and firs usually are. It puts forth buds from the sides of the small boughs, as well as from their extremities: the stem terminates like the cedar, in a slender pointed top: the leaves are petiolate, the footstalks short, acerose, rather more than half a line [a line is slightly less than one quarter of an inch or 2.5 mm] in with, and very unequal in length; the greatest length seldom exceeds one inch, while other leaves intermixed on every part of the bough, do not exceed a quarter of an inch. The leaf has a small longitudinal channel on the upper disk [upper surface of the needle], which is of a deep and glossy green, while the under disk [lower surface of the needle] is of a whitish green only: it yields but little rosin. What is remarkable, the cane [sic, cone] is not longer than the end of a man's thumb, it is soft, flexible, of an ovate form, and produced at the ends of the small twigs.

Lewis described western hemlock on 5 February 1806 as follows (from Moulton 1990: 276-277):

Fir No. 2 is next in dignity in point of size. It is much the most common species, it may be sad to constitute at least one half of the timber in this neighbourhood. it appears to be of the spruce kind. it rises to the hight of 160 to 180 feet very commonly and is from 4 to 6 feet in diameter, very stright round and regularly tapering. …the bark is thin of a dark colour, and much divided with small longitudinal intersticies; that of the boughs and young trees is somewhat smoth but not so much so as the balsom fir [Abies balsamea (L.) Mill., balsam fir] nor that of the white pine [Pinus strobus L., eastern white pine] of our country. the wood is white throughout and reather soft but very tough, and difficult to rive. The trunk of this tree is a simple branching diffused stem and not prolifeorus as the pines & firs usially are but like most other trees it puts forth buds from the sides of the small boughs as well as their extremities. …the stem usually terminates in a very slender pointed top like the cedar. The leaves are petiolate, the footstalk small short and oppressed; acerose reather more than half a line in width and very unequal in length, the greatest length being little more than half an inch, while others intermixed on every part of the bough are not more than a 1/4 in length. flat with a small longitudinal channel in the upper disk which is of a deep green and glossey, while the under disk is of a whiteish green only; two ranked, obtusely pointed, soft and flexable. …this tree affords but little rosin. the cone is remarkably small not larger than the end of a man's thumb soft, flexable and of an ovate form, produced at the ends of the small twigs.

6. This species is grand fir, Abies grandis (Douglas ex D. Don) Lindl. (Penny Cycl. 1: 30. 1833, based on Pinus grandis Douglas ex D. Don in Lamb., Descr. Gen. Pinus 2: unnumbered page between pp. 144 and 145. 1832). Douglas suggested "grandis" because of the tree's large size whereas Rafinesque proposed "aromatica" to denote the odor of the abundant sap.

Grand fir occurs primarily in the Pacific Northwest from southernmost British Columbia to northern Oregon, central Idaho and westernmost Montana. …The tree is also found along the immediate coast to central California. The tree rarely occurs over 1500 m elevation.

Lewis' description of grand fir, as edited by Biddle and seen by Rafinesque is as follows (Hist. Exped. Lewis & Clark 2: 156-157. 1814):

The third species resembles in all points, the Canadian balsam fir [Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.]. It grows from two and a half to four feet in diameter, and rises to the height of eighty or an hundred feet. The stem is simple, branching, and proliferous: its leaves are sessile, acerous, one eighth of an inch in length, and one sixteenth in width, thickly scattered on the twigs, and adhere to the three under sides only; gibbous, a little declining, obtusely pointed, soft, and flexible. The upper disk is longitudinally marked with a slight channel, of a deep glossy-green; the under of a pale green and not glossy. This tree affords in considerable quantities, a fine deep aromatic balsam, resembling the balsam of Canada in taste and appearance. The small pistil [sic, the sap-filled pustule or blister on the surface of trunks and branches] filled, rise like a blister on the [p. 157] trunk and the branches. The bark that envelops these pistils, is soft and easily punctured: the general appearance of the bark is dark and smooth; but not so remarkable for that quality as the white pine [Pinus strobus L., eastern white pine] of our country [e.g., the United States as circum-scribed in 1814]. The wood is white and soft.

Lewis described grand fir on 6 February 1806 as follows (from Moulton 1990: 281):

species of fir which one of my men informs me is precisely the same with that called the balsam fir of Canada [Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.]. it grows here to considerable size, being from 2Œ© to 4 feet in diameter and rises to the hight of eighty or an hundred feet. …it's stem is simple branching, ascending and proliferous. …it's leaves are sessile, acerose, one 1/8 of an inch in 1/16th of an inch in width, thickly scattered on all sides of the twigs as far as the growth of four preceeding years and rispect the three undersides only the upper side being neglected and the under side but thinly furnished; gibbous, a little declining, obtusely pointed, soft flexible, and the upper disk longitudinally marked with a slight channel; this disk [upper side of the needle] is of a glossy deep gre[e]n, the under one green tho' paler and not glossy. this tree affords considerable quantities of a fine clear arromatic balsam in appearance and taste like the Canadian balsam. …smal pustules filled with this balsam rise with a blister like appearance on the body of the tree and it's branches; the bark which covers these pustules is soft thin smoth and easily punctured. …the bark of the tree generally is thin of a dark brown colour and reather smooth tho' not as much so as the white pine [Pinus strobus L., eastern white pine] of our country. the wood is white and soft.–

7. This species is the Pacific silver fir, Abies amabilis Douglas ex J. Forbes (Pinet. Woburn.: 125. 1839). As such, Rafinesque's name, A. microphylla has priority and should have been adopted. Fortunately, the rules of botanical nomenclature now permit the rejection of any name that would cause nomenclatural instability. Inasmuch as the tree is an important timber species I have proposed A. microphylla for rejection so that A. amabilis may continue in use.

The Pacific silver fir is mainly a coastal species along the coast of southern Alaska and British Columbia, but is found primarily inland in the mountains of Washington and Oregon. There are scattered populations of Abies amabilis along the coast including sites near the mouth of the Columbia River in Clatsop County, Oregon (Little, 1971). However, given the paucity of the description, it is possible the tree Lewis had in mind is avdepauperate form of Abies grandis as suggested Piper (in Thwaites 1904, 4: 45) and Coues (1893, 3: 831). The suggestion by Moulton (1990: 284) that this might be A. amabilis can not be ignored, given the needle length provided by Lewis. However, as Moulton remaked, the bark features are much more akin to those of A. grandis than A. amabilis. Based on the overall set of limited features presented by Lewis, I am willing to suggest Lewis had the Pacific silver fir rather than a small grand fir.

Lewis' description of grand fir, as edited by Biddle and seen by Rafinesque is as follows (Hist. Exped. Lewis & Clark 2: 157. 1814):

The fourth species in size resembles the second [ Tsuga heterophylla]. The stem is simple, branching, ascending, and proliferous; the bark is of a reddish dark brown, and thicker than that of the third species [Abies grandis], divided by small longitudinal interstices, not so much magnified as in the second species. The relative position of the leaves resemble those of the balsam fir [Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.], excepting that they are only two-thirds the width, and little more than half the length, and that the upper disk is not so green and glossy. The wood yields no balsam, and but little rosin. The wood is white and tough although rather porous.

Lewis described this fir on 6 February 1806 as follows (from Moulton 1990: 281):

(No. 4) is a species of fir which in point of size is much that of No. 2 [Tsuga heterophylla]. …the stem simple branching ascending and proliferous; the bark of a redish dark brown and thicker than that of No. 3 [Abies grandis]. …it is divided with small longitudinal interstices, but these are not so much ramifyed as in species No. 2. the leaves with rispect to their position in regard to each other is the same with the balsam fir [Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.], as is the leaf in every other rispect except that is not more than 2/3rd the width and a little more than half the length of the other, nor is it's upper disk of so deep a green nor so glossey. …it affords no balsam and but little rosin. …the wood also white soft and reather porus tho' tough.

8. The species is Douglas-fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco, the subject of this entire essay.

Lewis' description of Douglas-fir, as edited by Biddle and seen by Rafinesque is as follows (Hist. Exped. Lewis & Clark 2: 157. 1814):

The fifth species in size resembles the second [Tsuga heterophylla], and has a trunk simple, branching, and proliferous. The bark is of a thin dark brown, divided longitudinally by interstices, and scaling off in thin rolling flakes. It yields but little balsam: two-thirds of the diameter of the trunk in the centre, presents a reddish white; the remainder is white, porous, and tough: the twigs are much longer and more slender than in either of the other species; the leaves are acerose, one-twentieth of an inch in width, and one inch in length; sextile [sic, sessile], inserted on all sides of the bough, straight, and obliquely pointing towards the extremities. The upper disk has a small longitudinal channel, and is of a deep green, and no so glossy as the balsam fir. The under disk is of a pale green.

Lewis described Douglas-fir on 6 February 1806 as follows (from Moulton 1990: 282):

No 5. is a species of fir which arrives to the size of Nos. 2 and 4, the stem simple branching, diffuse and proliferous. the bark thin, dark brown, much divided with small longitudinal interstices and sometimes scaleing off in thin rolling flakes. it affords but little rosin and the wood is redish white ?ds of the diameter in the center, the balance white, somewhat porus and tough. the twigs are much longer and more slender than in either of the other species. the leaves are acerose, 1/20th of an inch in width, and an inch in length, sessile, inserted on all sides of the bough, steight, their extremities pointing obliquely toward the extremities of the bough and more thickly placed than in either of the other species; gibbous and flexeable but more stif than any except No. 1 and more blontly pointed than either of the other species; the upper disk has a small longitudinal channel and is of a deep green tho' not so glossy as the balsam fir, the under disk is of a pale green.–

The tree named var. palustris by Rafinesque was characterized by Biddle as follows (Hist. Exped. Lewis & Clark 2: 157-158. 1814):

We have seen a species of this fir on low marshy grounds, resembling in all points the foregoing, except that it branches more diffusively. This tree is generally thirty feet in height, and two in diameter. The diffusion of its branches may result from its open situation, as it seldom grows in the neighbourhood of another tree. The cone is two and a half inches in length, and three and three-quarters in its greatest circumference. It tapers regularly to a point, and is formed of an imbricated scales, of a bluntly rounded form. A thin leaf is inserted in the pith of the cone, which overlays the centre of, and extends half an inch beyond the point of each scale.

The same plant was described by Lewis on 9 February 1806 as follows (from Moulton 1990: 290):

in the marshy ground frequently overflown by the tides there grows a species of fir which I take to be the same as No. 5 which it resembles in every particular except that it is more defusely branched and not so large, being seldom more than 30 feet high and 18 inches or 2 feet in diameter; it's being more defusely branched may proceed from it's open situation seldom growing very close. …the cone is 2 1/2 inches in length and 3√¶ in it's greatest circumpherence, which is near it's base, and from which it tapers regularly to a point. it is formed of imbricated scales of a bluntly rounded form, thin not very firm and smoth. …a thin leaf [the cone bract] is inserted into the pith of the cone, which overlays the center of and extends Œ© an inch beyond the point of each scale. The form of this leaf is somewhat thus [see Moulton 1990: 291 and here] overlaying one of the imbricated scales.

9. This species is the Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr. (see footnote 4 above). Rafinesque's name (from the Latin falcatus, meaning curved or sickle-shaped) was proposed just a month or two after Bongard proposed Pinus sitchensis Bong. The name Picea falcata (Raf.) Carr. (Traité Gén. Conif. ed. 2: 314. 1867) has never been used.

Lewis' description of Sitka spruce, as edited by Biddle and seen by Rafinesque is as follows (Hist. Exped. Lewis & Clark 2: 158–159. 1814):

The seventh, and last species grows in low grounds, and in places frequently overflown by the tide, seldom rising higher than thirty-five feet, and not more than from two and a half to four in diameter: the stem is simple, branching and proliferous: the bark resembles that of the first species [Tsuga heterophylla], but more rugged: the leaves are acerose, two-tenths of an inch in width, three-fourths in length, firm, stiff, and a little acuminated: they end in short pointed tendrils, gibbous, and thickly scattered on all sides of the branch, though they adhere to the three under sides only: those inserted on the under side incline sidewise, with upward points, presenting the leaf in the shape of a sithe: the others are pointing upwards, sextile [sic, sessile] and like those of the first species, grow from the small triangular pedestals, of a bark, spongy, soft and elastic. The under disk is of a deep glossy green, the other of a pale whitish green: the boughs retain the leaves of a six years growth: the bud scales resemble those of the first species: the cone is of an ovate figure, three and a half inches in length, and three in circumference, thickest in the middle, and tapering and terminating in two obtuse points; it is composed of small, flexible scales, imbricated, and of a reddish brown colour. Each of these scales covers two small sees, and is itself covered in the centre by a small, thin, inferior scale, acutely pointed: these scales [p. 159] proceed from the sides of the bough, as well as from its extremities.

Lewis described this expression of Sitka spruce on 18 February 1806 as follows (from Moulton 1990: pp. 325-386):

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. 1 [Tsuga heterophylla] only reather more rugged. the leaf is acerose, 2/10ths of an inch in width and √¶ 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 insertion 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. 1 from small triangular pedestals of a soft spungy elastic bark. the under disk of thes leaaves [lower surface of the needle] 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. 1 is observed in this species. The cone is 3Œ© 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 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 acutely pointed. …the cone is somewhat of this figure [see Moulton 1990: 326]. 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 year growth which is some instances are as far back as the third year.–

Apparently Lewis did not see this tree in the field. He reported that Sergeant John Ordway found the tree "peculiar to the swamps and marshes frequently overflown by the tide." Moulton (1990: 327) properly suggested the unusually "mealy" feature of the needles was due to inundation by brackish water in the tidal region where Ordway found the tree.

As may be seen from the above species numbering, Rafinesque did not account for the sixth conifer one mentioned by Lewis. In the Biddle (1814, 2: 158) edition, this species of pine is compared with "the white pine of Virginia" noting that the "unusual length of the cone seems to constitute the only difference." The observation was accurate for today the eastern whitevpine, Pinus strobus L., and the western white pine, P. monticola Douglas ex D. Don , are indeed closely related and differ only slightly morphologically although the two are widely separated geographically. The western white pine occurs from British Columbia and extreme southwestern Alberta, Canada, southward in the Cascade Range to the Sierra Nevada of California, and in the northern Rocky Mountains southward into the mountains of Idaho and western Montana. The species also occurs in the mountains of northeastern Oregon, and along the Oregon and Washington coast from around the Columbia River northward. Clark wrote "I saw a few on Haleys bay [now Baker Bay in Pacific Co., Washington] on the North side of the Columbia River, a fiew scattering on the Sea coast to the North on one of which I engraved my name-and Some on the S S E Side of E co la Creek [Ecola Creek near Cannon Beach, Clatsop Co., Oregon] near the Kil â: mox [Tillamook] nation" (Moulton 1990: 284). In the Biddle edition, the only geographic statement given was that the tree grew "on the north side of the Columbia, near the ocean."

References

Coues, E. (ed.) 1893. History of the expedition under the command of Lewis and Clark, to the sources of the Missouri River, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, performed during the years 1804-5-6, by order of the government of the United States. 4 vols. F. P. Harper, New York.

Douglas, D. 1914. Journal kept by David Douglas during his travels in North America, 1823–1827. Royal Horticultural Society, London.

Lewis, M. & W. Clark. 1814. History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the River Columbia to the Pacific Ocean, performed during the years 1804–5–6. By order of the government of the United States. Prepared for the press by Paul Allen, Esquire. [Edited by Nicholas Biddle.] 2 vols. Bradford and Inskeep, Philadelphia.

Little, E. L., Jr. 1971. Atlas of United States trees. Volume 1. Conifers and important hardwoods. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

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