© Charlotte Staub Thomas

Calliopsis
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Coreopsis tinctoria
Asteraceae

IN JUNE AND JULY OF 1804 the explorers worked their way up the Missouri River across present-day Kansas and Nebraska. They must have seen coreopsis mingling with other wildflowers of the Great Plains that put on a colorful display during the summer months. Most of the extant journal entries of that time were written by William Clark. For the most part, Clark expressed less appreciation of botany than his cocaptain did, but he commented a number of times on the beautiful prairie. He wrote of how nature exerted herself to beautify the scenery by the variety of flowers rising delicately above the grass, which strike and perfume the senses and amuse the mind. He went on to wonder, in a manner characteristic of the time, why so magnificent a scene was created so far removed from civilization to be enjoyed only by buffalo, elk, deer, bear, and Indians.

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