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Abstract Detail

Botanical History

McCourt , Richard Matthew [1], Teisher, Jordan [2], Spamer, Earle E. [3].

The Kew Connection: The Lewis and Clark Herbarium and the fate of Pursh's Purloined Plants.

The expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned with a number of scientific collections following the 1804-1806, 3,000-mile journey to the Pacific Ocean and back. Specimens and artifacts included bird skins, a fossil fish jaw, minerals, and Native American art and cultural items, but the most numerous and enduring of these were more than two hundred pressed plant specimens. Much like the explorers themselves, who split up to take different overland routes before their joint return to the East Coast and an eager President Thomas Jefferson who sent them on their collecting journey, the herbarium of Lewis and Clark was subdivided, studied on two continents, and eventually re-united at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (ANSP) nearly a century after the expedition ended. Or almost re-united. ANSP houses 226 specimens attributed to Lewis and Clark, of which 47 were taken by Frederick Traugott Pursh to London, where most ended up in the herbarium of Aylmer Bourke Lambert. After Lambert's death and the auction of his herbarium, some of the Lewis and Clark/Pursh specimens were, fortuitously, returned to the United States around the middle of the 19th century. However, ten specimens remained in the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, where they are today. This talk reports on the specimens that went to London, how they got there, how most of them came back, what remains in England, and the role of the colorful and enterprising collector Frederick Pursh in the Lewis and Clark plant-collecting saga.

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1 - Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Botany, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, USA
2 - The Academy Of Natural Sciences Of Drexel University, Botany, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 19103, United States
3 - American Philosophical Society, 104 South 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106, USA

Lewis and Clark
19th Century Botanical Exploration.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 33, Botanical History
Location: 104/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 4:15 PM
Number: 33BH004
Abstract ID:491
Candidate for Awards:None

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