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The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Lewis, January 22, 1806

Thursday January 22nd 1806. The party sent for the meat this morning returned with it in the Evening; it was in very inferior order, in short the animals were poor. Reubin Fields also remained with the other hunters Shannon & Labuish our late supply of salt is out. we have not yet heared a sentence from the other two parties of hunter's who are below us towards Point Adams and the Praries.

There are three species of fern in this neighbourhood the root one of which the natves eat; this grows very abundant in the open uplands and praries where the latter are not sandy and consist of deep loose rich black lome. the root is horizontal sometimes a little deverging or obliquely descending, frequently dividing itself as it procedes into two equal branches and shooting up a number of stems; it lies about 4 Inces beneath the surface of the earth. the root is celindric, with few or no radicles and from the size of a goose quill to that of a man's finger; the center of the root is divided into two equal parts by a strong flat & white ligament like a piece of thin tape on either side of this there is a white substance which when the root is roasted in the embers is much like wheat dough and not very unlike it in flavour, though it has also a pungency which becomes more visible after you have chewed it some little time; this pungency was disagreeable to me, but the natives eat it very voraciously and I have no doubt but it is a very nutricious food. the bark of the root is black, somewhat rough, thin and brittle, it easily seperates in flakes from the part which is eaten as dose also the internal liggament. this root perennil. in rich lands this plant rises to the hight of from 4 to five feet. the stem is smooth celindric, slightly groved on one side erect about half it's hight on the 2 first branches thence reclining backwards from the grooved side; it puts forth it's branches which are in reallyty long footstalks by pares from one side only and near the edges of the groove, these larger footstalks are also grooved cilindric and gradually tapering towards the extremity, puting forth alternate footstalks on either side of the grove near it's edge; these lesser footstalks the same in form as the first put forth from forty to fifty alternate pinate leaves which are sessile, horizontal, multipartite for half their length from the point of insertion and terminating in a long shaped apex, and are also revolute with the upper disk smoth and the lower slightly cottanny. these alternate leaves after proceeding half the length of the footstalk cease to be partite and assume the tongue like form altogether. this plant produces no flower or fruit whatever, is of a fine green colour in summer and a beautiful) plant. the top is annual and is of course dead at present.-