President Jefferson instructed Meriwether Lewis to collect information on “the soil & face of the country, [its] growth & vegetable productions… the animals of the country generally, especially those not of the U.S.” In fulfilling these instructions, members of the Expedition were the first to describe for science 178 plants. The explorers’ written descriptions and the seeds and specimens they collected were Jefferson’s window onto the new west.
Learn more about some of the plants collected and used by the Expedition:
Did You Know?
The Corps of Discovery didn’t discover anything. Everything the Corps reported on- plants, animals, landforms - had been known to and used by American Indian tribes for generations. The Corps were, however, the first to record these items for science.