Frederick Pursh

(1774-1820) Frederick Pursh was a German botanist who emigrated to the America in 1799. Landing in Philadelphia, he served as the botanical manager for a private estate. He met Benjamin Smith Barton and took an interest in the collections from Lewis & Clark that he was reviewing, working to create a new flora of North America that included the famous expedition.

After a few years, Pursh set off on a multi-year journey on foot with his gun and dog in 1805 to botanize at Barton's urging to obtain specimens to complete the book. He traveled south through Maryland and the Carolinas, and then back north through Pennsylvania to New Hampshire over thousands of miles. After Barton failed to provide financial support to him as he continued his work, Pursh assumed the project was off the table. He moved to London, bringing the Lewis & Clark specimens with him to continue work on his own. Pursh later published "Flora americae septentrionalis; or A Systematic Arrangement and Description of The Plants of North America" (1813).

Findings from the Lews & Clark expedition were never published in the United States, but were done by Pursh in England to the chagrin of the American botanical community.

 

Associated Plants