"A Region of Astonishing Beauty": The Botanical Exploration of the Rocky Mountains

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Rowman & Littlefield, 2003 - Nature - 209 pages
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As we approach the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 2004, attention will inevitably turn to those nineteenth-century explorers who risked life and limb to interpret the natural history of the American West. Beginning with Meriwether Lewis and his discovery of the bitterroot, the goal of most explorers was not merely to find an adequate route to the Pacific, but also to comment on the state of the region's ecology and its suitability for agriculture, and, of course, to collect plant specimens. In this book, Williams follows the trail of over a dozen explorers who "botanized" the Rocky Mountains, and who, by the end of the nineteenth century, became increasingly convinced that the flora of the American West was distinctive. The sheer wonder of discovery, which is not lost on Williams or his subjects, was best captured by botanist Edwin James in 1820 as he emerged above timberline in Colorado to come upon "a region of astonishing beauty."
 

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Contents

1 Lewis and Clark in the Rocky Mountains 18051806
1
2 Edwin James and the Long Expedition
19
3 Thomas Dmmmond in the Northern Rocky Mountains
31
4 The Ascendancy of Thomas Nuttall 17861859
37
A Link between East and West
55
An Unresolved Enigma
61
Two Gardeners Abroad
69
Wislizenus Fendler and Stansbury
73
BotanistHistorian
119
14 Marcus E Jones of Utah
133
15 The Heightened Attention to Grasses
141
16 The Indomitable Alice Eastwood
149
Purpus Cockerell and Osterhout
155
The Gentle Botanist
163
The Great Teacher
171
Epilogue
179

Charles Parry in Colorado
79
Darwins Confidant
93
Botanist by Inadvertence
101
Botanical Opportunity
105
Notes
183
Bibliography
193
Index
203
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About the author (2003)

Roger L. Williams is professor emeritus of history at the University of Wyoming and is one of the leading authorities on the history of botany in both the United States and Europe. He is also co-author with Ruth Ashton Nelson of Guide to Rocky Mountain Plants.

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