Object Record

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Catalog Number PH-LC 44
Object Name Camassia quamash
Title Camassia quamash
Other Name Camas
Collector Meriwether Lewis & William Clark
Date 1806
Description Pursh provides a full description of the new species in Latin. He also describes some of the uses employed by the Native Americas for the plant (see Meehan, 1898: 43), noting that while "an agreeable food to Governor Lewis's party, they occasioned bowel complaints if eaten in any quantity" (see Moulton, 1988: 222-223). The plant was frequently mentioned by Lewis and by Clark, especially as a source of food (see Clark's description in Moulton, 1991: 300). The common name of this species is camas, and as such is the source of numerous geographic place names in Idaho.

The lectotype was collected on 23 Jun 1806 on the Weippe Prairie along Jim Ford Creek just south of Weippe, Clearwater Co., Idaho (Reveal in Cronquist et al., 1977: 506). In Lewis's journal of 11 Jun 1806 there is a long and detailed description of this plant, the most complete set of remarks given to any of the new species found on the expedition (Moulton, 1993: 14-17). Pursh incorrectly assigns this species to the genus Phalangium Mill. (Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4: unpaged. 1754), a later name for Anthericum L. (Sp. Pl.: 310. 1753; Anthericaceae). The genus Camassia Lindl. (in Edwards's Bot. Reg. 18: ad t. 1486. 1832), a conserved name, is a member of the Hyacinthaceae. The earliest generic name for the taxon is Quamasia Raf. (in Amer. Monthly Mag. & Crit. Rev. 2: 265. 1818), and the combination Q. quamash (Raf.) Cov. (in Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 11: 64. 1897) is often found in the literature (e.g., Coues 1898: 313). Meehan (1898: 43) reports the name as C. esculenta Lindl. (1832), an illegitimate superfluous name.
(The Lewis & Clark Herbarium Digital Imagery Study Set, ANSP, 2002)

On deposit at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
Credit line American Philosophical Society. Gift of Thomas Jefferson, 1805 - 1806.
Search Terms 19th century
nineteenth century