• Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were American explorers in the early 1800s who were sent by President Thomas Jefferson to find a viable route to the West Coast through the northern United States. Jefferson also instructed the party to document and bring back samples of the plants they found along the way. By the end of the journey, Lewis had 260 entries in his journal of plants.

    Prickly Pear Cactus

    Opuntia polycantha was the bane of the explorers' existence on parts of the journey west. Little did they know that prickly pear would turn out to be favored for gourmet cuisine, including tasty margaritas.

    Indian Basket Grass

    Also known as bear grass, squaw grass and soap grass, xerophyllum tenax was used by the Native Americans to make tough, waterproof baskets.

    Purple Coneflower

    More commonly called echinacea angustifolia, this pretty plant was used for snake bite, sore throat and the "cure of mad dogs." Used today to boost the immune system, it is one of the top herbal remedies in the U.S.

    Pacific Yew

    In 1967, taxus brevifolia bark was found to contain taxol, a powerful cancer-fighting medicine. While it is now synthesized, treatment for just a single patient could strip the bark of six 100-year-old trees.

    Lewis' Wild Flax

    The benefits of the flax plant are numerous. Linseed oil, soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids are all contributions made by Linum lewisii.


    Northwest Regional Educational Library

    Saveur Prickly Pear Margaritas

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