Eastern Mojave Vegetation Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains performed in the years 1819, 1820, by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, under the command of Major Stephen H. Long. Volume 2.  

Edited by Tom Schweich  

Home Page  These are excerpts from James' account of the expedition that I find very interesting, but are too long for inclusion elsewhere, such as my Golden flora.

Other articles: Golden Checklist Flora 1823  


Other articles: Golden Checklist Flora 5 July 1820  

James (1823) wrote that four members of the party set out …
"… for an excursion on foot, intending to ascend the Cannon-ball creek to the mountains which appeared to be about five miles distant … creek is rapid and clear, flowing over a bed paved with rounded masses of granite and gneiss. It is from a supposed resemblance of these masses to cannon balls that the creek received its name from the French hunters. … The plain [is] thinly covered with prickly pears, and a scanty growth of starved and rigid grasses. Among these the hygrometric stipa, (s. juncea. s. barbata,) is extremely troublesome, its barbed and pointed seeds adhering and penetrating, like the quills of a porcupine, into every part of the dress with which they come in contact. The long and rigid awn is contorted or straight, in proportion to the humidity or dryness of the atmosphere ; indicating the changes in this respect with the precision of the nicest hygrometer.
  Stipa juncea Pursh is a synonym of Hesperostipa comata (Trin. & Rupr.) Barkworth “Needle and Thread” (Reveal, Moulton, and Schuyler, 1999). It is not clear what the other grass was. Stipa bicolor Pursh seems most likely for which Pursh lists Stipa barbata Michx. as a synonym. However, both of these names are illegitimate and dead ends for Colorado grasses. Stipa barbata Desf. is a native of southern Europe, North Africa, the Levant, and temperate Asia. It seems unlikely that the grass could have been in this part of North America. It seems more likely that James' complaint of the seeds being "like the quills of a porcupine" refers to Porcupine Grass Hesperostipa spartea (Trin.) Barkworth.
"The detached party extended their walk about eight miles without finding that they had very considerably diminished the apparent distance to the base of the mountain. Near the place of [their] halt, they observed some small sandstone ridges similar to those on the Platte below, and collected, among other plants the species of currant (ribes aureum?) so often mentioned by Lewis and Clarke, the fruit of which formed an important article of the subsistence of their party while crossing the Rocky Mountains. [16]
  The place the party stopped is generally agreed to be Inspiration Point, near Sheridan Boulevard and West 49th Avenue.
  On page 343, James wrote in Note [16]:
Note [16]. Page 185.

The ripened fruit of this widely-distributed shrub is variable in colour. In dry and exposed situations about the higher parts of the mountains, we have met with the berries of a deep purple, while in the lowlands, they are fulvous or nearly white. On the Cannon-ball we saw the common virgin's bower. Clematis virginica, Ph. Lycopus europeus, Liatris graminifolia, Sium latifolium, Śnothera biennis, and other plants, common in the east, with the more rare Linum Lewisii, Ph. and Eriogonum sericeum, &c.

  The Clematis is unknown. While there are five species of Clematis known from Jefferson, none have been collected in the lower portion of Clear Creek and vicinity. The Lycopus is probably L. americanus Muhlenberg. Liatris graminifolia (Walter) Willd. is a synonym of L. pilosa (Aiton) Willd., a native of the eastern U. S. James and company most likely saw L. punctata Hook. (Fl. Bor.-Amer. (Hooker) i. 306. t. 105. 1833.) Sium latifolium L. does not occur in the U. S. James &c. probably saw any one of a large number of tall water-loving Apiaceae with white flowers. They probably did not see Oenothera biennis L. which has been introduced to Colorado, But was not likely to be see here in 1820. Possibly they saw one of the native caulescent Oenotheras with large yellow flowers such as O. villosa Thunb. They were probably correct about seeing Linum lewisii Pursh. But the Eriogonum sericeum was probably that of Pursh (Fl. Amer. Sept. 1: 277 1813.), which is now a synonym of E. flavum Nutt. ex Benth. since E. sericeum Torr. & A. Gray would not be published until 1870.
If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tas4@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  

[Home Page]

Date and time this article was prepared: 3/20/2018 9:28:10 AM