Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1993


Published in Great Plains Research 3:1 (February 1993), pp. 39-60. Copyright © 1993 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


FrederickPursh 's Flora Americae Septentrionalis (1814) is considered to be the standard flora of the nineteenth century. Additional floras of this period were developed by Nuttall, Elliott, and Torrey and Gray. We know that Meriwether Lewis collected some herbarium specimens that contributed to Pursh's Flora during the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. Pursh's Flora was the first to include plants of the Pacific Northwest. A number of the specimens Lewis collected are in the Herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Those who use the Herbarium know and appreciate the contribution of Lewis to botany. Twenty-four of the illustration plates in Flora were drawn by Pursh directly from the specimens. Included are explanations of the origin of the specimens, elucidation of the illustrators, final deposition of the specimens, and notes on the history of the collection and handling and on the process of the drawing. What is not known is the destination of drawings deposited with Clark and why at least one drawing on deposit with the American Philosophical Society differs so radically from that in Pursh's Flora.