The famous Lewis and Clark Expedition is credited with discovering 178 plants species. The expedition took place between 1805 to 1806. President Thomas Jefferson assigned Meriwether Lewis the task of recording all new plant life along the journey. Many of the botanical specimens were dried and are housed in the Lewis and Clark Herbarium at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where visitors can still view the evidence found on the historic journey.
Meriwether Lewis discovered the lovely little plant Lewisias in August of 1805 in Montana. The low growing perennials are the state flower of the Montana. The plant blooms in white, pink and salmon blossoms each spring. The foliage is an evergreen rosette. The plant is commonly called bitterroot and is extremely drought tolerant.
Pink Elephant Plant
The Pink Elephant plant was discovered in July of 1806. The expedition observed Native American children eating the plants for their sweet nectar. The plant is a small evergreen shrub that blooms pink or white flowers.
Mountain Death Camas
The mountain death camas was found in 1806. It is a poisonous plant that was often used by Native Americans around their encampments to keep out evil spirits. The plant sports a foul smell. Flowers grow in tall white clusters. The plant also produces berries.
The tiny Mariposa Lily was discovered in 1806. It was commonly consumed by Native Americans. The plant sports white, pink, purple, yellow and blue flowers.
The pink cleome blooms tiny, bright flowers shaped like gloves. The expedition discovered the flower in 1804. The expedition party ground the seeds down to utilize as flour. The leaves and flowers were boiled to be eaten.
Purple Prairie Clover
The purple prairie clover can grow up to 3 feet in height. The flowers bloom on slender stems in a cone fashion. Native Americans commonly used the plant to ward off infection in fresh wounds. They would also brew the flower heads and leaves to make sweet tea.
The Indian Blanket was discovered by the expedition in 1806. The seeds of the plant were dried or eaten raw. The dried seeds were often ground into a flower substance to make cakes with. Today the plant is commonly used as a anesthetic and diuretic by naturalists. It is drought tolerate and produces lovely yellow and red flowers that are daisy-like in appearance.
Wild licorice was discovered in 1806. Native Americans commonly ate the roots raw or cooked. The plant grows from rhizomes in woody upright stems. The plant offers a sweet taste. They were often chewed as a natural way to clean teeth. The roots were also used to make poultices to cure earaches.
Mountain lady's-slipper was discovered in 1806. The Native Americans commonly used the plant in love potions. It is a hardy American orchid that grows wild all the way to Alaska and as far south as Wyoming.
Red Mallow was discovered in 1806. It was commonly used by Native Americans for a skin balm to protect themselves from burns while cooking over an open campfire. The Native Americans would also brew it into a sweet tea. The plant grows 2 to 3 feet in height and has bright red flowers.