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?
Jefferson expected the Expedition to learn about the people, plants and animals of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. None of the men of the Expedition was a trained scientist, but fulfilling Jefferson’s instructions required skills in cartography, ethnography, botany, zoology, and meteorology.