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NO SWEAT

Roots of their historic route

Common to This Country Botanical Discoveries of Lewis & Clark Susan H. Munger, illustrations by Charlotte Staub Thomas Artisan, $22.95

November 11, 2003|Susan Dworski

Seeds, stamens and stigmas steal the show in this delightfully illustrated botanical guide to some of the 200 new plants that Lewis and Clark found on their legendary expedition. "There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me," was Thomas Jefferson's mandate as the team set out in 1803 to search for the Northwest Passage.

The Corps of Discovery was, at its core, about science, including botany. And Lewis and Clark's close study of new plants also was crucial to the expedition's success. As winter bore down and game fled, botanicals saved lives. With Sacagawea translating, Indians shared their knowledge of native plants and how to cook them. Yellowbell lilies and bearberries nourished weary bodies; horsemint and achillea cured illnesses.

Author Susan H. Munger spins a celebratory, bicentennial, botanical tale, weaving entries from Lewis' voluminous journals with historical sleuthing that will intrigue botanists, gardeners and historians alike.

Susan Dworski

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