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Full text of "The British farmer's plant portfolio : specimens of the principal British grasses, forage plants and weeds : with full descriptions"

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THE BRITISH FARMER'S 

Plant Portfolio 



Specimens of the 

Principal British Grasses, Forage Plants 

and Weeds 

WITH FULL DESCRIPTIONS 




B Y 

JOHN MILNE & SONS 

MONTROSE, N. B. 



THIRD EDITION 



\ 

LONDON: 

SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO., LIMITED 

1896 

[All Rights Reserved.} 



FOWO 

0, 




INDEX TO 

FORAGE PLANTS. 

1. Lucerne (Medicago saiiva). 

2. Sainfoin (Onobrychis sativa). 

3. Bed Clover {Trifolium pratense). 

4. "White Clover (Trifolium repens). 

5. Alsike, or Swedish Clover (Trifolium hybridum). 

6. Yellow Clover, or Trefoil (Medicago lupulina). 

7. Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca). 

8. Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). 

9. Narrow-Leaved Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus sylvestris). 

10. Zig-Zag Clover (Trifolium medium). 

11. Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria). 

GRASSES. 

12. Perennial Byegrass (Lolium perenne). 

13. Italian Ryegrass, or Bearded Byegrass (Lolium italicum). 

14. Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis). 

15. Tall Fescue (Festuca elatior). 

16. Hard Fescue (Festuca ovina duriuscula). 

17. Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina vulgaris genuina). 

18. Bough-Stalked Meadow Grass (Poa trivialis). 

1 9. Blue Geass.or Smooth-Stalked Meadow GRASs(Poa pratensis). 

20. Crested Dogstail Grass (Cynosurus cristatus). 

21. Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis). 

22. Timothy Grass, or Meadow Catstail (Phleum pratense). 

23. Bough Cocksfoot Grass (Dactylis glomerata). 

24. Yellow Oatgrass (Avena flavescens). 

25. Sweet Vernal Grass, or Sweet-Scented Spring Grass 

(Anthoxanthum odoralum). 

26. Fiorin, or Marsh Bent Grass (Agroslis alba; var. 

stolonifera). 

27. Meadow Soft Grass (Holcus lanatus). 

28. Soft Brome Grass (Bromus mollis). 



CONTENTS. 

WEED PLANTS. 

29. Dove's-Foot Crane's-Bill (Geranium pyrenaicum). 

30. Soft Crane's-Bill (Geranium molle). 

31. Devil's-Bit Scabius (Scabiosa succisa). 

32. Bib Grass (Plantago lanceolata). 

33. Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris). 

34. Common Elecampane (Pulicaria dysenterica). 

35. Burnet (Poterium sanguisorba). 

36. Hedge Calamint (Calamintha clinopodium). 

37. Worm- Wood, Southern-Wood, or Mugwort (Artemisia). 

38. White Goose Foot (Chenopodium alfoim). 

39. Meadow Sage, or Clary (Salvia pratensis). 

40. Hairy Water Mint (Mentha aquatica). 

41. Catchweed, or Cleavers (Galium aparine). 

42. Cow Parsnip (Hcracleum sphondilium). 

43. Gentian (Gentiania asclcpiadia). 

44. Knot Grass (Polygonum aviculare). 

45. Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris). 

46. Corn Horse Tail (Fquisetum arvense). 

47. Creeping Crowfoot, or Buttercup (Hanunculus repens). 

48. Upright Meadow Crowfoot (Hanunculus acris). 

49. The Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgarc). 

50. Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa pastoris). 

51. Wild Carrot (Daucus carota). 

52. Sheep's Sorrel (Human acetosella). 

53. Common Bugle (Ajuga reptans). 

54. Evebkight (Euphrasia officinalis). 

55. The Common Daisy (Bcllis perennis). 

56. Ambrosia Artemislkfolia. 



ON THE STUDY OF PASTURE PLANTS. 



|~N the pursuit of any science the first step is to know the actual things with which the science concerns itself, and in 
*- the study of British pasture plants the first essential to the student's progress is to know by sight and by name the 
different pasture and forage plants themselves. 

The ability to analyse the composition of a pasture field — that is, to give the name and tell the agricultural value 
of the individual plants which make up the interwoven mass of herbage — is an accomplishment which, although very 
valuable, is, unfortunately, rather rare. At the present time the possession of such an accomplishment is practically 
confined to professional experts, for Grasses have not in past days received from farmers the degree of attention which 
their place in agriculture merits. In the palmy days of grain-growing— that golden age of agriculture when the price 
of wheat was reckoned in sovereigns — it was natural that cereal crops should claim and receive an amount of attention 
which quite overshadowed the interest attaching to forage crops. The consequence was, that during the years in which 
the practice of grain-growing grew scientific, and made rapid progress to perfection, the methods of laying down land 
to grass remained primitive, and the study of forage plants was unduly neglected. Land was often allowed to "go to 
grass " — that is to say, that instead of sowing seeds for a grass crop, the farmer simply left the ground bare, and gave 
Nature a free hand to cover it with a miscellany of her own. The farmer, meanwhile, had a nebulous perception of the 
fact that grasses were of many kinds, but he made no serious effort to arrive at their names, their properties, and their 
worth. If the fields were only green, that to him was " grass," and it sufficed ; and he pursued his tranquil way, 
untroubled by the modern spirit of inquiry, and ungalled by the pressure of competition which at the present da} - is 
transforming an occupation once regulated by tradition into one demanding a knowledge of many sciences. 

This former lack of knowledge regarding forage plants did not, however, arise solely from the more engrossing claims 
to attention of other crops. The recognition and identification of Grasses are a study which is attended with some little 
difficulty in its first steps. The practical farmer felt, and often yet feels, that his way to an intelligent study of these 
plants, and to a clear understanding of what he reads about them, is blocked and hindered by the want of a simple key 
which would enable him to know the Grasses, and to distinguish them by name on seeing them. It was to furnish such 
a guide that we published, a short time ago, the first edition of The British Farmers Plant Portfolio. Its rapid 
absorption by the public, as well as of a second edition which followed it, and a continuance of the demand, have shown 
us how much the need for such a work is felt, and how great an increase of attention is now being given to forage 
plants. 

At the present time there is an area of more than twenty million acres of permanent and rotation grass lands in 
Britain, and, immense as this area is, the tendency to convert land from tillage to stock-raising still continues. The 
study of forage plants is, therefore, one which is not likely to decline. It will, on the contrary, rather advance, until 
not only the ability to identify all pasture plants, but also a full acquaintance with their life-history, will be deemed 
indispensable and essential parts of agricultural training. In the present volume we have aimed at producing an 
agricultural work, not a botanical one. It is meant to serve as a key to the identification of pasture plants, by which 
land-owners and farmers will be able, without any tedious botanical studies, to analyse the composition of their 
pasture fields, and form thereby clearer ideas on the formation, the maintenance, utilisation, and improvement of 
grass lands. It is a fact that much could be done to improve British pastures, and to make them fit to carry a larger 
quantity of stock. The best pastures are those which are grown from seed, and they must be considered as purely 
artificial creations. Those formed by Nature with the aboriginal herbs and grasses which are the native vegetation 
of the district, fall far below the possibilities attainable by the application of intelligent culture. Some years ago 
Mr Carruthers, the well-known expert in Grasses, made an examination of many pastures of high repute in England, 
and in drawing up a statement of the result of his investigations he remarked that " not one of the pastures he had visited 
was so good as it easily might be made." Bearing in mind the very large area which is devoted in Britain to pasture 
fields, and the national importance of having these as good as they possibly can be made, farmers will realise what 
weighty interests are in this matter confided to their care. 

To those who wish to study grass and forage plants in greater detail, we can recommend no finer work than 
Dr F. G. Stebler's book entitled The Best Forage Plants. This magnificent work is facile princeps among all works on 
the subject. Its learned writer, in a most exhaustive way, deals with every forage plant of any consequence, treating 
of its name, the history of its cultivation, its agricultural value, its botanical description, the varieties of the species, 
its geographical distribution, its requirements as to climate and soil, its effect upon the soil, its most suitable fertilisers, 
its habit of growth, its harvesting, yield, and feeding value, its production of seed, and, lastly, the maladies to which it 
is subject, and their treatment. 

In the present work we have limited our observations on the plants it contains to those facts which are of interest 
to the practical farmer, and its main aim is to render easy the identification, by name and at sight, of the plants which 
are commonest in British grass fields. Though a large proportion of the plant specimens are weeds, they are none the 
less worth knowing, for many of the weeds which fill the laud to the exclusion of more valuable produce find their 
way thither through preventable means. 

Besides Dr Stebler's Best Forage Plants, we can also cordially recommend British Plants, by W. Withering; to 
both of which works, as most useful books of reference in the writing of our descriptive notes, we here beg leave to 
acknowledge our indebtedness. 



iv 



THE BRITISH FARMERS PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



FORAGE 

1. LUCERNE. {Mcdicago sativa, L.) Perennial ; flowers in 
June and July ; a very valuable fodder plant. 

Lucerne is a native of warm, dry climates, and will not 
thrive in cold, wet countries. It is sown in the warmer 
districts of England, and in the south of Europe the 
Lucerne crop is a very important one. 

This plant gives a large yield of produce, three to five 
c uttings in a season, and is most valuable as green fodder. 

It is both healthy and appetising to stock. The most 
marked feature in regard to its habit of growth is its 
great development of root, which extends from two to ten 
or twelve feet. Like Sainfoin, it needs_ a loose, deep sub- 
soil in order to thrive. 

Lucerne is usually sown pure, and the quantity sown 
varies from thirty to forty pounds per acre, according to 
the soil and the method of sowing adopted. 

2. SAINFOIN. (Onobrychis sativa). Perennial ; flowers in June ; 

a very valuable hay plant, Sainfoin is one of the oldest 
fodder plants in cultivation. In France and in the chalky 
districts of England it is widely cultivated, and is there a 
most important crop. 

The special value of Sainfoin to farmers lies in its 
adaptation to chalky and sandy soils, and to dry climates 
where clovers refuse to grow. It gives a large yield of 
very excellent hay, and is of so perennial a character 
that it frequently lasts for twenty years. Its roots are 
long and very deeply penetrating, and for this rea><>n 
Sainfoin needs a loose, free subsoil. It is sometimes sown 
pure, sometimes in mixture with grass and clover. Sown 
pure, an acre requires two bushels of pure seed. 

3. RED CLOVER. (Trifolium pratense, L.) The flower-heads 

are dense and ovate ; the stems ascending, smooth, or 
pubescent ; flowers in June or July. It is perennial, but 
in cultivation its duration does not generally exceed two 
to three years. 

Red Clover is the best forage plant. It was intro- 
duced into England from Flanders in 1633, and its cultiva- 
tion is now very extensive. It is the plant on which the 
British farmer principally depends for green fodder, for 
hay (in combination with grass), and also as an important 
ingredient in pastures. It is in some respects a sensitive 
plant, and its requirement as to soil and climate must be 
complied with to ensure successful cultivation. It likes a 
heavy soil, such as moist clays, clay loams, and rich black 
land, but it is not suited for dry, thin, or sandy soils. 

There are conditions of exhaustion in soils which pro- 
duce a disease called clover-sickness, and when sown in 
such soil Red Clover dies out, if not in the first, then in 
the second season, and the crop is a failure. The cause 
of clover sickness has been much disputed, but it doubtless 
arises from the absence in the soil of some ingredient 
essential to the growth of the plant, and the deficiency 
may be caused by cultivating clover or other plant of the 
same family (Leguminosce), such as peas, beans, or vetches, 
on the same land at too short intervals. 

In commerce there are two principal varieties of Red 
Clover current — Broad Red and Cowgrass or Perennial 
Red. Commercially, the first name is applied by some to 
clovers of foreign growth, while the second is used to 
denote the finer strains of seed grown in England. 
Others, more correctly, reserve the name Cowgrass for 
Trifolium pratmse pei'enne — a more durable form of Red 
Clover. In botany the term Cowgrass is more properly 
applied to Wild Red Clover, which is found growing in 
old pastures, and which has several distinct points of 
difference distinguishing it from the Red Clover of com- 
merce. 

English-grown seed is the best; American and French 
are weak, and produce diminutive plants. 



PLANTS. 

4. WHITE CLOVER. (Trifolium repens, L.) The flower-heads 

are stalked, globular ; the flowers on short pedicels. The 
stems are creeping, and vary from six to sixteen inches in 
length. The flowers are white and sweet-scented. Root, 
fibrous. Perennial, and flowers from May to September. 
This clover has been cultivated for a very long period, 
and i> a most useful plant in pastures. It does not attain 
sufficient height to rank as a hay clover, but a little 
White CIoa 'er is sometimes included in a hay prescription 
to form bottom herbage. Its best value is realised, not in 
hay. but in pastures. It is sweet and nutritious. Sheep 
and cattle are fond of it, and it stands depasturing better 
than Red or Alsike. It grows best in damp situations, 
but is hardier than Red Clover and less exacting than it 
in regard to soil and climate. 

The best seed is that grown in England. The samples 
grown on the Continent are often very foul with weeds ; 
and a great many noxious plants, such as chickweed, 
sorrel, daisies, and chrysanthemums, reach the farm 
through the medium of impure White Clover. 

One pound of White Clover will seed as great an area 
as will two pounds of Red. 

5. ALSIKE, OR SWEDISH CLOVER. {Trifoliwm hybridum, L.) 

The flower-heads are spherical in shape and of mixed red 
and white colour. The stem is smooth, tubular, and 
ascending, and twelve to thirty inches in height. It is 
perennial, and grows abundantly in damp pastures. In 
cultivation its duration averages three to four years. The 
botanical name of Alsike (Trifolium hybridum) signifies 
hybrid clover, and was given to it by Linnaeus, the great 
Swedish botanist, in reference to its supposed origin from 
the union of white and red clover. 

Alsike was brought to Britain from Sweden in 1834, 
and it has been a very great boon to farmers, especially 
to those whose land does not answer for the growing of 
Red Clover. 

While Red Clover is the undisputed king of the clover 
tribe, Alsike in some respects does not fall very far short 
of it, and in the two important points of duration and 
hardiness it surpasses it. In yield and nutritious pro- 
perties it is nearly as good as Red Clover, but it is bitter 
and less appetising to cattle. 

Alsike withstands cold well, and succeeds even in very 
bleak situations. The best results of its use are got on 
moist clays. For alternate leys and permanent pasture 
one half to two pounds of Alsike should always be 
included in the seed prescription. The best seed is that 
which conies from England and Canada. 

Alsyke is the name of a small village in Sweden, near 
to which this clover was originally grown — whence the 
name. 

6. YELLOW CLOVER, OR TREFOIL. (Medicago lupulina, /..) 

The flower-heads are spherical, the flowers very diminutive. 
The stems are procumbent, from one to two feet in length. 
The taproot descends eight to sixteen inches into the soil. 
It is annual or biennial, and flowers from June to September. 

This plant has been in common cultivation in Britain 
for a long time. The agricultural uses to which it is put 
are akin to those to which White (Hover is applied. It is 
a plant for grazing, not for hay. Its habit of growth is 
procumbent and spreading, and, consequently, it is not 
suited for cutting, and in a hay crop its presence would 
be obstructive to the growth of the larger plants. It is a 
useful plant in sheep pastures, and gives a fair yield of 
nutritious herbage, which becomes available considerably 
in advance of the other clovers. It is considered to give , 
a fine flavour and colour to butter. Its greatest merit is 
that it grows very well on poor soils which are not suited 
to the larger and finer clovers, and its use should, unless 



THE BRITISH FARMER'S PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



v 



in very small quantities, be confined to land of this 
description. It is always sown in mixture with other 
plants. 

One pound of Yellow Clover contains about the same 
number of seeds as one pound of Red Clover. 

7. TUFTED VETCH. (Vicia cracca, L.) Perennial; flowers 

in July and August ; an excellent and nutritious plant. 

Tufted Vetch grows naturally in old pastures, by 
waysides, and in woods. It is not in cultivation at pre- 
sent, but its excellent feeding properties and its hardiness 
make it well worthy of attention. 

8. BIRDSFOOT TREFOIL. (Lotus corniculatus, L.) Perennial ; 

pasture plant ; flowers in June and July. 

This plant has long been recognised as a very valuable 
pasture plant. It is not much cultivated, the high price 
of the seed being against its liberal use. It occurs natur- 
ally on almost all soils, from mountain heights to the 
seaside. Considerable patches of it occur on the Montrose 
Links ; and all along the coast, on similar sandy stretches of 
ground, its pretty red-streaked yellow flower is to be seen. 
It forms excellent bottom herbage in temporary or per- 
manent pastures, and is especially valuable on soils and 
in climates which are not suitable for the growth of Red 
Clover. The use of Birdsfoot Trefoil will, doubtless, 
increase by and by. 

9. NARROW-LEAVED EVERLASTING PEA. (Lathyrus 

sylvestris.) Perennial ; flowers in August. It has been 
found growing in Scotland (near the Kedhead Promontory 
in Forfarshire), but it is not common. In England it is of 
more frequent occurrence. It is an excellent forage plant, of 
very trailing habit of growth, not suited for sowing along 
with other plants. The stems are four to six feet long. 

Lathyrus sylvestris has, during the past few years, had 

G R A 

12. PERENNIAL RYEGRASS. (Lolium perenne, L.) The 

inflorescence is a spike composed of one terminal and two 
rows of lateral spikelets. The culm is smooth, round, and 
stiff, and varies from twelve to thirty inches in height. 
The root is fibrous. 

The cultivation of Perennial Ryegrass originated in 
England more than two centuries ago, and at the present 
time it is the most extensively cultivated of all the 
grasses. 

British farmers are so well acquainted with this grass 
that details of its uses and properties are almost superfluous. 
Its principal merits are its adaptation to almost any soil 
(though it prefers such as are moist and tenacious), its 
early and abundant growth, its attractiveness to stock, 
and the low price of the seed. Its drawbacks are its 
tendency on some soils to disappear after the second year 
and its shallow rooting system, which greatly exhausts 
and impoverishes the surface of the soil. 

Perennial Ryegrass is as good a grass as can be sown 
for a hay crop or for one or two years' pasture ; for a 
period exceeding this it should always have mixed with 
it a liberal proportion of more truly perennial grasses. 
Regarding its use in permanent pastures there has been 
and still is much controversy. Mr Faunce de Laune has, 
through the Royal Agricultural Society's Journal, made 
fierce war against its use for this purpose, and in his 
crusade he has had the support of numerous writers less 
well known. The contention against it is, that in the first 
year or two of a newly-sown field's history, Ryegrass, with 
its rapid growth, monopolises the space, and starves out the 
slower true perennials ; then, after a brief duration, itself 
disappears, leaving the place it once occupied to be filled 
with weeds. Unless, however, an excessive proportion of 
Ryegrass is sown, we do not think this result need be 



"greatness thrust upon it" by the advertisements of a 
syndicate formed to introduce it into cultivation in 
Britain. It has not as yet been much cultivated any- 
where, and whether or not it will gain any attention in 
this country remains to be seen. As yet the efforts made to 
give it popularity have had little success. Its close rela- 
tion, Lathyrus pratensis, or Tare Everlasting, was similarly 
recommended to agricultural experimenters more than 
fifty years ago, but was not able to establish any claims 
to general adoption. It is a plant of strongly bitter taste. 

10. ZIG-ZAG CLOVER. (Trifolium medium.) Perennial ; 

flowers in June and July ; a valuable plant in natural 
pastures. Its name lias reference to its zig-zag stems. In 
botany this plant is also termed " (Jowgrass." We have 
referred to this in our notes on Eed Clover. 

Zi<>;-Zao; Clover is not in cultivation, but is of common 
occurrence in old pastures and by waysides. It is dis- 
tinguished from cultivated red by its stems and by the 
stalk which separates the flower-head from the uppermost 
involucral leaves. 

11. KIDNEY VETCH. (Anthyllis vulneraria, L.) Perennial ; 

flowers in July ; a valuable pasture plant. 

Kidney Vetch has not been in cultivation for any 
great time, but is well worthy of a place in an enumera- 
tion of our best pasture plants. It is very nutritious, and 
sheep and cattle relish it (horses are said not to like it). 
It is hardy, growing on soils where clovers fail, and it is 
a decided boon to farmers who have warm, sandy soils to 
deal with. Its duration is from three to four years, and 
the plant is useful either in short leys or for permanent 
pastures. 

It is always sown in mixture with other plants. One 
pound of seed is in sowing capacity equivalent to about 
one pound of Red Clover. 

SSES. 

feared. Only let the Ryegrass be thoroughly clean, and 
it will, in a moderate proportion, be found a very useful 
adjunct in a seed mixture for this purpose. It helps 
greatly to make the first and second year's crops, and 
furnishes protection to the other grasses. Italian Ryegrass 
should, however, be strictly excluded from a field intended 
for permanent pasture. Its power of overmastering other 
grasses is undoubted. 

For permanent pasture sow per acre eight to ten 
pounds of thoroughly clean Ryegrass, along with other 
plants ; for temporary grass sow thirty pounds per acre 
if no other grass is used, diminishing this quantity in 
proportion as other varieties are included. 

13. ITALIAN RYEGRASS, or BEARDED RYEGRASS. 

(Lolium italicum, Br.) The flower-head is a spike, bearing 
spikelets arranged in the same way as in Perennial liyegrass. 
The culm varies from two to four feet in height. The 
seeds are awned. The plant is larger in all its parts than 
Perennial Eyegrass, and is also softer and more succulent. 
It is commonly described as biennial, its duration being 
from one to three years. 
Italian Ryegrass was introduced into Britain fifty 
years ago by Mr Lawson of Edinburgh. It is now very 
extensively cultivated, and its uses and properties are 
familiar to the British farmer. 

For cutting green it is the best grass that can be sown. 
Its produce is early, large, and of good quality, and it 
gives a greater number of cuttings in one season than 
can be got from any other grass. It is also extensively 
used in combination with Perennial Ryegrass, to form 
temporary leys of one to three years' duration. In such 
leys its earliness is a valuable feature, and the weight of 
produce reaped from a combination of the two grasses is 



vi 



THE BRITISH FARMERS PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



greatly in excess of what could be reaped from Perennial 
Ryegrass alone. For green cutting Italian Ryegrass can 
either be sown pure or mixed with Red Clover. Its rapid 
and luxuriant growth is, however, against the prosperity 
of the clover, and the latter often all but disappears beneath 
it. In one or two years' ley of grass Italian Ryegrass 
may form a very liberal proportion of the seed prescrip- 
tion — say five pounds to ten pounds an acre ; for longer 
periods than this it should not be used, as in the first season 
it overwhelms and sometimes literally blots the more 
slowly-growing true perennial grasses, while its own lack 
of persisting power unsuits it for the purposes of permanent 
pasture. 

The best seed is that which is obtained from France. 
This gives a larger yield than such as is home-saved. It 
comes from the French growers very foul with various 
weeds (especially Ox-Eyed Daisies), and careful recleaning 
is absolutely necessary. 

14. MEADOW FESCUE. (Festuca pralensis.) The panicle is 

nearly erect and branched ; the culm round, smooth, and 
from two to three feet high. It is perennial, flowers in 
June and July, and is found abundantly in pastures where 
the soil is good. 

Meadow Fescue has been cultivated in Britain for 
about seventy years. At the present time it is making 
rapid headway into popular favour, rivalling Cocksfoot in 
this respect. As it answers equally well the purposes of 
hay and pasture, gives a heavy yield, and is very nutritious, 
it is entitled to rank as one of the best grasses known. 

Meadow Fescue should form a main ingredient of a 
seed mixture for permanent pasture where the soil is 
moist and strong, and in the case of rotation grass which 
is to lie three years or more, the inclusion of three to five 
pounds of Meadow Fescue seed per acre in the seed mix- 
ture will be found very beneficial, and will give a good 
return for the outlay. 

The seed at a superficial glance is very similar in 
appearance to the seed of Perennial Ryegrass, and this 
similarity has enabled some seedsmen — some fraudulent, 
others ignorant — to pass off Ryegrass as Meadow Fescue. 
In 1883 the Botanist to the Royal Agricultural Society 
reported that of the samples of Meadow Fescue submitted 
to him in that year, only 29 per cent, were free of Rye- 
grass, while 12 per cent, contained it to the extent of one- 
half. The distinction between the two seeds is easily 
made by a practised eye, the seed-stalk furnishing an 
infallible guide to identification. All seed merchants of 
good standing will be ready to give a distinct guarantee 
of genuineness with the Meadow Fescue they sell. As 
regards seeding capacity, Meadow Fescue is almost the 
same as Perennial Ryegrass. 

15. TALL FESCUE. (Festuca elatior, L. Festuca arundinacea 

Schreb.) This grass corresponds so closely in its general 
character with Meadow Fescue that Withering remarks of 
it that " individual plants are met which might be referred 
to either Festuca pratensis or Festuca elatior." 

Tall Fescue, however, is generally twice the size of 
Meadow Fescue, and, as will readily be conceived, so 
large a plant is necessarily coarse. It is early and ex- 
tremely productive, but is liable to be attacked by ergot, 
and the seed is often abortive. As in the case of Fiorin, 
the method of parting the roots and planting them has 
been recommended for propagating the plant. Tall Fes- 
cue is not of such frequent occurrence naturally as Meadow 
Fescue ; still it is a common enough grass in damp meadows 
and by the sides of rivers and ponds. 

Although the plant is warmly recommended by Mr 
Faunce de Laune and others, we think Meadow Fescue will 
answer the same purposes and be found more satisfactory. 



16. HARD FESCUE. (Festuca ovina duriuscula, L.) The panicle 

is spreading and unilateral ; the culms from one to two feet 
high. It is perennial, flowers in May and June, and grows 
abundantly in pastures. 

This grass has been grown extensively in Germany 
for more than half a century ; its use in Britain has not 
been so extensive, and is of more recent date. 

There is a difficulty in getting grass to grow on dry, 
sandy ground, and the particular merit of Hard Fescue is 
that it thrives readily on soil of this description. It with- 
stands successfully very severe weather, and keeps fresh 
and green until late in the year. Its produce is only mode- 
rate in quantity, and, as the name implies, it is somewhat 
rough and hard. For these reasons it should not be 
sown on soils capable of growing Meadow Fescue and 
similar succulent grasses, excepting in the case of a per- 
manent pasture ley, where a small quantity may be sown 
as a bottom grass. It grows well enough on good soil, 
but its proper sphere of use is as an ingredient for per- 
manent pasture, or a three years' ley, on dry, poor soil 
where better grasses will not grow. In Highland glens it 
forms a large part of the herbage at the foot of the hills. 
Sheep eat it readily, and thrive on it. In laying down 
dry, sandy soil on high-lying ground to pasture, sow three 
to five pounds of Hard Fescue along with other plants, 
such as Blue Grass, Sheep Fescue, Timothy, and White 
Clover ; on good soils, sow not more than one to one and 
a half pound of it to form bottom herbage. 

In seeding capacity one pound of Hard Fescue is equal 
to about two and a half pounds of Ryegrass. 

Fescue is from the Latin festuca, which signifies the 
shoot of an herb. 

The reason of its application to this species of grass is 
not clear. 

17. SHEEP'S FESCUE. (Festuca ovina vulgaris genuina.) The 

panicle is unilateral and somewhat close ; culms eight to 
twelve inches high ; leaves short and tufted ; the plant 
frequently tinged with red. It is perennial, and flowers in 
June and July. 

This plant is simply a diminutive form of Hard Fescue, 
or, to state it otherwise, Hard Fescue is a robust and 
vigorous variety of Sheep's Fescue. 

What has been said in regard to the uses and properties 
of Hard Fescue applies in the main equally to Sheep's 
Fescue. Neither of these grasses is adapted for hay, but 
both are extremely useful for forming pasture on poor, 
dry soils. In mixture with Crested Dogstail they make 
excellent lawns. In the higher hill pastures Sheep's 
Fescue is a plant of very frequent occurrence. 

18. ROUGH-STALKED MEADOW GRASS. (Poa trivialis, L.) 
The panicle is spreading; culm ascending, roughish, and 
two to four feet high ; root fibrous. It is perennial, and 
flowers in June and July. 

On a superficial examination this grass much resembles 
Smooth-Stalked Meadow Grass, and the two plants are 
sometimes confounded with each other. The roughness 
under the flower-head is occasionally not sufficiently pro- 
nounced to furnish a certain means of identifying the 
rough-stalked variety from the smooth-stalked; but the 
different habits of growth serve to distinguish them 
clearly. In the case of the smooth-stalked variety, there 
is a large development of stolons lying underground, 
whereas in the case of the plant under description there 
are none such ; the horizontal branches produced by it 
creep on the surface of the soil always. 

Poa trivialis is the most valuable of the poas. It 
occurs abundantly in natural pastures where the soil is 
rich and moist and the climate mild. It prefers sheltered 
situations. 

Its special purposes in agriculture may be described 
as the same as those of Poa pralensis, with this important 
difference, that while the latter is suited for dry, light soil, 



THE BRITISH FARMERS PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



vii 



the first-named needs soil which is rich and moist. All 
authorities are agreed that for irrigated meadows Rough- 
Stalked Meadow Grass is one of the best grasses that can 
be sown. For permanent pasture, on a suitable soil, sow 
one pound per acre along with other plants. The best 
seed comes from Denmark, and is rather expensive. 

The generic name poa is a Greek word meaning an 
herb fit for the use of cattle. 

19. BLUE GRASS, or SMOOTH-STALKED MEADOW 
GRASS. {Poa pratensis, L.) The panicle is spreading ; 
culm smooth, ten to fifteen inches in height ; root creeping. 
It is perennial, and flowers in May and June. 

Blue Grass is one of the most frequently occurring 
grasses in natural pastures and by roadsides, and is the 
main constituent of many of the prairies of America. Its 
cultivation in Britain is now somewhat extensive, but is 
not of long standing. Blue Grass is not large, and in mixed 
herbage it ranks as only a bottom plant. It is early ; its 
produce after the first year is considerable in quantity ; 
and the leaves are tender and relished by cattle. The 
aftermath is small. It has a large root development, and 
sends out long underground stolons, which, when the 
plant is present in too great abundance, have a tendency 
to interfere with the growth of the other plants present in 
the pasture. 

The true place of Blue Grass in agriculture is as a 
constituent in permanent pastures on dry, loose soils, 
where the larger grasses, such as Meadow Foxtail and 
Meadow Fescue, would not succeed. It may also be used 
to form bottom grass in leys of three or more years' 
duration ; but in this case the quantity sown (of pure 
germinating seed) should not be large — say one pound 
per acre. For the purposes of permanent pasture, two 
pounds per acre may be sown, in mixture with other 
plants. Excellent lawns can be made by sowing pure 
Blue Grass. 

The seed of this grass is considered to germinate 
better in the light than when covered with soil ; but we 
may add that in trials we have made both methods gave 
very similar results. It is the fact that Blue Grass is 
somewhat fickle in regard to germinating, and sometimes 
fails to " catch " the ground. 

20. CRESTED DOGSTAIL GRASS. (Cynosurus cristatus, L.) 

The panicle is spicate and unilateral ; the culm is stiff, 
smooth, and varies from one to two feet in height. It is 
perennial, and flowers in the months of June and July. 
The root development is considerable. 

Crested Dogstail has been in cultivation (in a small 
way) for upwards of a century. It grows abundantly by 
nature in elevated pasture lands, and sometimes covers 30 
per cent, of the area of land so situated. 

In Scotland it is used for high-lying pastures, for 
forming bottom grass in all permanent pasture fields, and 
for lawns and other ornamental grounds. It is not a hay 
grass. The yield of produce is not large, but the nutri- 
tious quality is high. The wiry character of the stems has 
caused some writers on grasses to deprecate its use ; but 
in its proper sphere, and sown in moderate quantity, it is 
a very useful grass. 

It is of an aggressive character, and has a tendency to 
spread by self-sowing. This, together with the fact that 
the seed is high in price, suggests that for ordinary pur- 
poses only a small quantity of it should be used, say half 
to one pound per acre. It is never sown alone, unless for 
forming lawns, bowling greens, or cricket grounds. In 
such grounds Crested Dogstail requires longer time than 
Ryegrass to cover the ground, but the patience of the 
sower will be amply rewarded by the beautifully fine turf 
which results. One pound of Dogstail in seeding capacity 
is equal to about three pounds of Ryegrass. 

The generic name is derived from the Greek kuon, a 
dog, and oura, a tail ; the spike resembling a dog's tail. 



21. MEADOW FOXTAIL. {Alopecurus pratensis, L.) The 
panicle is spiked and cylindrical ; root fibrous ; culms two 
to three feet high, erect and smooth. It is perennial, and 
flowers in May. There are five or six kinds of Foxtail, 
but the variety pratmsis is the only one which is of agri- 
cultural value. 

The cultivation of Foxtail is of recent date, and is not 
nearly so extensive as the good qualities of the plant 
merit. In suitable soils it is one of the best grasses a 
farmer can sow. 

It is sweet and nutritious, its yield of produce is large, 
its aftermath is abundant, and all kinds of stock eat it 
with evident relish. It is also hardy of constitution, 
resisting alike cold and strong heat of sun, and grows 
well even under the shade of trees. One of its principal 
features is its earliness. By the end of April there is a 
large growth of juicy leaves, and a month later the plant 
is in flower. Another feature of no less value is its truly 
perennial character, in virtue of which it holds its place 
in a pasture for many years. It requires two or three 
seasons to reach its full development, and is, consequently, 
not a suitable grass for one or two years' ley. For a three 
to four years' ley, and for permanent pasture, it is an in- 
dispensable ingredient, Note, however, that it needs for 
its successful cultivation rich, moist soil. On dry, thin 
ground it is stunted in growth, and tends to disappear. 

Foxtail seed is somewhat expensive, but the constantly 
augmenting demand will encourage increased production, 
and tend, as it has done in the case of man}' other grass 
seeds, to eventually cheapen the price. The best seed 
conies from Russia, and the recent improvement in respect 
of greater purity and increased germinating power is very 
gratifying. 

One pound of Foxtail will seed as great an area as 
will three pounds of Ryegrass. Sow two pounds an acre 
in mixture with other grasses. 

The generic name alopecuvus is a combination of the 
Greek equivalents for tail. 

22. TIMOTHY GRASS, or MEADOW CATSTAIL. {Plikum 

pratensc, L.) The panicle is spiked and cylindrical ; the 
culm two to four feet high ; the root is fibrous. It grows 
luxuriantly in meadows and damp pastures ; on dry soils 
it becomes small and bulbous-rooted. It is perennial, but 
in a state of cultivation it tends to disappear after a dura- 
tion of three years. 

Timothy has been in cultivation for a long time. It 
was introduced into Britain from the United States of 
America many years ago, and its use is now very extensive. 
In the United States it is a favourite grass for hay, and 
it derives its popular name from an American cultivator. 

In British husbandry, Timothy is very generally used 
as a constituent in leys of one year's hay followed by two 
years' pasture ; it is also used to a moderate extent in 
prescriptions for permanent pasture. The abundance of 
stems it produces signalises it as a grass for hay rather 
than a grass for pasture. 

The produce is very large, and in respect of nutritious 
value, Timothy ranks high among the grasses. While in 
regard to weight of produce it greatly surpasses Ryegrass, 
it is much harder and more wiry, and where farmers 
intend their hay not for home use, but for sale, Timothy 
should not be sown save in very limited proportion. By 
cutting early, before the stems harden, the produce will 
be secured in its most useful condition. Sheep and horses 
manifest a special preference for it. 

Timothy resists successfully cold and wet. and gives 
its best results on damp, stiff soils. 

Sow one pound to one and a half pound per acre. 
The best seed comes from Saxony. The United States 
also export large quantities of it. 

23. ROUGH COCKSFOOT GRASS. {Dactylis rjlomerata, L.) 

The panicle is branched and unilateral ; the flowers in dense 
tufts ; the culm erect, and two to three feet high ; the root 



viii 



THE BRITISH FARMER'S PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



system is much branched, and descends, where soil is suit- 
able, to a depth of ten to twenty-six inches. The botanical 
name is derived from daclylus, a finger, and the English 
name " Cocksfoot " is applied to it on account of the form 
of the panicle. In America it is often termed " Orchard 
Grass," in allusion to its occurrence under the shade of 
trees. It is perennial, and flowers in June and July. 

The cultivation of Cocksfoot in England dates back a 
hundred years, but it was only on a small scale, until 
fifteen or twenty years ago. Since then the many admir- 
able qualities of the plant have gained wide recognition, 
and its use in England and Scotland is now very exten- 
sive, and is still on the increase. 

Its good qualities are its adaptation to almost any soil 
(except sand), its power of resisting drought, its excep- 
tionally large yield of produce, and its highly nutritious 
properties. All kinds of stock show a marked preference 
for it, but it should be cut before flowering, and, when 
in pasture, kept closely cropped, as otherwise the stems 
become harsh and uneatable. The aftermath is rapid and 
very abundant. 

The proper sphere of use for Cocksfoot in Scotch hus- 
bandry is in fields for permanent pasture, and in rotation 
grass-land. It grows when of two or more years' duration 
in cushion-like tufts or clumps, which do not closely cover 
the ground, and for this reason it should never be sown 
alone, but always in mixture with other plants. 

Sow two to four pounds an acre. One pound of 
Cocksfoot will seed as great an area as fully two pounds 
of Ryegrass. The difference in the price of these grasses, 
it will therefore be observed, is not nearly so much actually 
as it is nominally. 

The best seed comes from New Zealand and North 
America. We have found these in our trial plots to give 
yields fully equal to European Cocksfoot, and they have 
this advantage over the latter, that the New Zealand and 
American seeds are always much cleaner than European 
samples. 

24. YELLOW OATGRASS. (Avena Jlavescens, L.) The 

panicle is erect, and when come to maturity spreading and 
much branched. The culm is erect, and two to three feet 
high, but the latter height is reached only where the soil 
and climate are specially favourable. It is perennial, and 
flowers in July and August. 

This excellent grass is found growing naturalty in 
almost all good English pastures. It has not as yet been 
much cultivated, owing to the very high price of the seed ; 
but there is reason to anticipate that this grass has a 
much greater degree of popularity in store for it in the 
future than it at present enjoys, and that more extensive 
production will eventually bring the price to a reasonable 
level. 

Yellow Oatgrass is not suited to stiff clay land or to 
wet situations, but it thrives well on all medium soils. 
Sown along with other grasses, it produces a very con- 
siderable quantity of nutritious fodder, to Avhich cattle 
and sheep are very partial. It is not nearly so rank and 
coarse as Tall Oatgrass. The fine quality of the produce, 
its attractiveness to stock, together with its comparative 
lateness, unite to make Yellow Oatgrass a very desirable 
constituent in permanent pastures. 

The high price of the seed often leads foreign col- 
lectors to tamper with its purity, and this variety of grass 
seed must always be procured under a guarantee of 
genuineness. 

25. SWEET VERNAL GRASS, or SWEET-SCENTED 

SPRING GRASS. (Anthoxanthum odoratum, L.) The 

panicle is spiked and cylindrical ; the culms erect, smooth, 
and about a foot high. It is perennial, and flowers early in 
May. 

Sweet Vernal is a small early grass which thrives on 
any soil, even on those which are driest and thinnest. It 



has no great agricultural importance, and its use is almost 
restricted to the small quantity which is included in seed 
prescriptions for the sake of the fragrance which the plant 
gives to hay when drying. Its earliness and its power of 
existing in very poor, dry soils can be pleaded on behalf 
of its use in pastures of long duration on secondary soil; 
but it has been noted by many observers that Sweet 
Vernal is not readily eaten by either cattle or sheep. Its 
agreeable perfume exercises no appetising effect on them, 
and so far as they are concerned appears to be " wasled 
on the desert air." This, taken in connection with the 
facts that the produce of the plant is scanty and the price 
of true seed very high, excludes the grass from any, save 
a very subordinate, place in agriculture. If the money 
spent on Sweet Vernal were devoted to the purchase of 
true Yellow Oatgrass, much greater profit would result 
from the investment. 

The seed of Sweet Vernal is gathered by hand, hence 
the high price, which, as in the case of other expensive 
grasses, sometimes induces unscrupulous dealers to offer 
fraudulent substitutes. 

Sow half a pound per acre along with other plants. 

26. FIORIN, or MARSH BENT GRASS. {Agrostis alba ; var. 

stolonifera.) The panicle is spreading, with rough branches ; 
culm oblique, smooth, one to two feet high. The root and 
stems are creeping, and send out long prostrate shoots, 
sometimes subterranean, sometimes above ground. The 
flowers are of a whitish colour, tinged with purple. It is 
perennial, and flowers in June and July. 

This grass has been known under a variety of names, 
and is now generally termed Fiorin. Its cultivation 
has been carried on in a fitful and intermittent kind of 
way for a long period. In its actual results it has not 
proved itself worthy of the claims to cultivation which 
have been put forward for it by some writers. 

The natural habitat of Fiorin is on boggy moorland, 
on peaty soils, and in wet meadows ; and in such situations 
its presence will be welcome enough. Unfortunately for 
those who have such soils to deal with, and wish to use 
Fiorin for them, there is a double difficulty connected 
with the sowing of this grass — firstly, true Fiorin seed is 
difficult to get ; and secondly, when got it is very difficult 
to get to grow. It grows very readily, however, from 
cuttings of its stolons (or underground steins), and in 
some districts these stolons are collected from broken-up 
grass land, cut into sections, and planted under a shallow 
covering of earth. This method of growing Fiorin is more 
successful than seed sowing. 

These said stolons make Fiorin an entirely objectionable 
plant in rotation grass, as it is almost impossible to get 
rid of them when the land is ploughed up. 

There are three or four other kinds of Agrostis, and 
some of them only too abundant in pastures; but they 
are wiry, worthless grasses, and must be included in the 
category of weeds. 

Agrostis is from the Greek Agros, a field, in allusion 
to the common occurrence of this grass therein. 

27. MEADOW SOFT GRASS. {Holcus lartatus.) 

It is needless to name soils or places which are specially 
favourable to the growth of this grass, for it is at home 
everywhere and in most objectionable abundance. 

As the name implies, it is a soft spongy grass, and 
whether in its natural state, or made into hay, is thor- 
oughly disliked by cattle and horses. 

It has been pointed out that the grasses which are 
most liked by cattle are those which have a slightly 
saline taste. The grass in question has a flavour which 
suggests sugar. 

Holcus is difficult of extirpation, and, being of an 
aggressive habit of growth, it tends to spread over a 
pasture where it once obtains a footing. 



THE BRITISH FARMERS PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



ix 



It is a plant against whose entrance into his fields 
the stockbreeder should guard by every possible means. 
It is useless as fodder and only fills the soil to the exclusion 
of more valuable produce. 

The Greeks applied the name olkos to a kind of wild 
barley, but the reason of its application to this grass is 
not clear. 

28., SOFT BROME GRASS. (Bromus mollis.) 

This is the commonest of the Brome Grasses and is a 
plant much disliked by farmers. In cornfields it is a 
troublesome weed and in pastures it is of little value. 
Cattle only eat it when pressed by hunger. Its seed 
is one of the principal impurities in the grass seeds cul- 



tivated in Britain. Fields are to be seen here and there 
where it is present in quantity equal to the ryegrass. 
This generally results from sowing "hay seed," a term 
applied by farmers to the sweepings of hay lofts; but 
Bromus is also one of the aboriginal grasses of Scotland, 
native to the soil and ever tending, as opportunity offers, 
to assert itself. The seed of this grass is provided with 
an awn by means of which it is enabled to make its 
way into the soil through other herbage. This forcing 
of a way through other plants seems to be the function 
which awns fulfil. 

The awns are very susceptible to heat and moisture. 
Contracting in heat and relaxing with damp, they occasion 
thereby a motion which enables the seed to work its way 
through the surface of grass and reach the soil. 



WEEDS. 



29. DOVE'S FOOT CRANE'S-BILL. (Geranium Pyrenaicum.) 

Crane's-Bill is of frequent occurrence in dry pastures, 
where it is often introduced through the medium of impure 
clover seeds. There is an almost endless number of its 
different varieties. Of all colours — blue, black, violet, 
red, purple, white, and striped — they all resemble each 
other in the elongated "style," which resembles the beak 
of a Crane — whence the name of Crane's-Bill. Some 
varieties of the plant produce large and beautiful blossoms, 
and are cultivated as garden plants. All of them share 
to some extent in the beauty of the family, and they are 
excellent ornaments in rockeries. As pasture plants they 
are objectionable, and are mere weeds. The generic name 
Geranium is derived from the Greek Geranos, a crane. 

30. SOFT CRANE'S-BILL. (Geranium molle.) 

The general characteristics of the genus Geranium 
have already been given under the heading of Dove's 
Foot Crane's-Bill. The Soft Crane's-Bill is another plant 
of the same family, and is of frequent occurrence in corn- 
fields, meadows, and in dry pastures. The blossoms are 
usually much smaller than those of Dove's Foot Crane's- 
Bill, and are sometimes of a reddish purple, sometimes 
white. Its seed is often present in considerable quantity 
in inferior White Clover Seed. 

31. DEVIL'S-BIT SCABIUS. (Scabiosa succisa.) 

This plant, some of the varieties of which are well 
adapted for cultivation as garden flowers, is a frequent 
weed in fields and pastures. It derives its name from the 
supposition of its curative properties in the disease of 
Scabies. The popular qualification of " Devil's - Bit 
Scabius " has reference to its oblong and abruptly ending 
root — " bitten off by the Adversary " — according to plant 
lore — "for envy of its imaginary benefit to mankind." 
Sheep and goats eat it ; horses and cows are not fond of it. 

32. RIB GRASS. (Plantago lanceolata.) 

Rib Grass is perennial, and is one of the commonest 
weeds which occur in British pastures. Its seeds are 
found in great abundance in inferior grass and clover 
seeds. Sheep and goats eat it, but cattle and horses 
refuse it. The ass, which seems to have a preference for 
most weeds, is seen to neglect every other herb in the 
pasture if this plant is obtainable. Rib Grass is some- 
times sown with a mixture of clover and grass. It is, 
however, a poor pasture plant, and if it is eaten by cattle 
it is not for its own merits, but simply because it is mixed 
with other herbage. It is a great and lasting nuisance in 
lawns. 

33. GRASS OF PARNASSUS. (Parnassia pahestris.) 

This is one of our most graceful marsh plants. It is 
quite improperly termed a grass, and is not clearly ascer- 



tained to be the plant to which the name "Grass of 
Parnassus " was originally given. Though it occurs most 
frequently in moist meadows and in marshes, it is also 
found on lofty elevations. Moisture is essential to it, and 
in the fact that the clouds perpetuate moisture on the hill 
tops, just as fogs do in the meadows, is found the explana- 
tion of the same species of plant growing either at high 
elevations or in low situations. It derives its name from 
Mount Parnassus, the fabled abode of the Muses. 

34. COMMON ELECAMPANE. (Pulicaria alysenterica.) 

The Elecampane inhabits moist meadows and pastures, 
river banks, and other watery places. It has a peculiar 
scent, which resembles the smell of soap. It is reputed 
to possess medicinal properties, and was much in request 
among the medicine men of the Middle Ages. As a 
pasture plant it is of no value, and is generally left un- 
touched by all domestic animals. 

35. BURNET. (Poterium sanguisorba.) 

Burnet is usually classed as a weed, from its occurrence 
where it is not wanted; but it possesses considerable 
nutritive properties, and in some parts of England is 
cultivated as a food for cattle. On some English sheep- 
walks it forms a considerable portion of the herbage, and 
it is observed that the sheep keep it well eaten down. It 
may, therefore, be considered a valuable plant in hard 
stocked sheep pastures. The cattle do not seem to care 
for it when it is thoroughly grown. The name Poterium 
is a derivative from the Greek word for a cup, the plant 
having been formerly used as an ingredient in cooling- 
drinks. 

36. HEDGE CALAMINT. (Calamintha clinopodium). 

The Hedge Calamint is a common plant throughout 
England and Scotland. It has a preference for dry ground 
and for lofty situations. It may be looked for by hedge 
sides and in thickets. Its stems attain a height of fourteen 
or eighteen inches, and these, as well as the leaves, are 
clothed with soft hair. The flowers are purple of a light 
shade. The Calamint, like many of the other weed plants 
we have been describing, was largely dealt in by the 
botanists of earlier times, if one may be allowed to dignify 
by the name of " botanists " professors of a science which 
bore the same relation to botany as astrology did to astro- 
nomy. The plant was fabled by them to have the power 
of driving away snakes and other poisonous reptiles. 

37. WORM-WOOD, SOUTHERN- WOOD, OR MUGWORT. 

(Artemisia.) 

This weed is of common occurrence on roadsides, stony 
places, and on rubbish. It is one of those domestic plants 
which, like plantains, docks, and hemlock, seem to follow 
the footsteps of man, and which are to be found thriving 



X 



THE BRITISH FARMER'S PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



on rubbish heaps wherever a cottar or a crofter has made 
a home. " The constant appearance of these weeds about 
towns and villages is a curious and unexplainable pheno- 
menon, for no one ever cultivated such plants for utility, 
much less for ornament." (The North American Indians 
have observed this curious fact in connection with the 
plantain, which they say appears wherever the white man 
settles, and they have named it "the white man's foot- 
step.") Artemisia is refused by cattle. The name is 
derived from Artemis, one of the designations of Diana. 

38. WHITE GOOSE FOOT. (Chenopodium album.) 

There are several varieties of Goose Foot, that here 
given being one of the commonest. It occurs in corn- 
fields, by waysides, and in neglected gardens. It is a 
plant of no beauty and of no agricultural utility, although 
it is asserted that pigs are extremely fond of it. In some 
parts of England it is known by the name of Fat-Hen, and 
is said to have been used in former times in Scotland as 
a pot herb. The generic name is a combination of the 
Greek equivalents for goose and foot. 

39. MEADOW SAGE, OR CLARY. (Salvia pratensis.) 

Meadow Sage derives its generic name of Salvia from 
the Latin salvere, to heal, the plant having been con- 
sidered to possess healing properties for the eye. The 
English name of Clary has its root in the same belief — 
namely, the plant's power of clarifying the eyesight. 
Meadow Sage is common in England. It is two to three 
feet in height. The blossom is of a purple colour, tinged 
with blue. 

40. HAIRY WATER MINT. (Mentha aquatica.) 

This plant is of frequent occurrence in marshy land. 
It is one of many varieties of mint — Spearmint and 
Peppermint are the best known — all of which are of con- 
siderable general utility. They are in use for culinary 
and also for medical purposes at the present day, and in 
earlier times were much prized by the monks, the physi- 
cians of their period. The name is derived from the 
Greek Minthe, a favourite of Pluto, and whom Prosperina, 
instigated, as the poets tell, by jealousy, transformed into 
this fragrant herb. 

41. CATCHWEED OR CLEAVERS. (Galium aparine.) 

The seeds of Catchweed adhere to any woollen stuff 
which they may chance to touch — hence the name. It 
occurs frequently in hedges and in cornfields, and is one 
of the worst weeds in a wheat crop. It is sometimes 
termed Goose Grass, young geese being fond of it. Horses 
and cattle also eat it. It is a rapid grower, and generally 
manages to push its way above anything it is growing 
with. 

42. COW PARSNIP. (Reracleum sphondilium.) 

In some places Cow Parsnip goes by the name of 
Hogweed. It is a coarse, rank plant, which thrives well 
in common soil. Horses and cattle eat the leaves, and 
the plant possesses nutritive properties which are con- 
siderable. It is of common occurrence in Scotland, but 
is found in much greater abundance in Poland and some 
parts of Russia. In the last named country the poor 
people prepare a liquor from the leaves and seeds, which, 
after fermentation, they drink instead of beer. The 
botanical name is supposed to be derived from Heracles, 
Hercules, on the supposition that the plant was sacred to 
him. 

43. GENTIAN. (Gentiania asclepiadia.) 

The Gentian plant exists in many varieties. The 
specimen we give is one of the commonest of them. It 
is an elegant little plant of a remarkably beautiful deep 
blue colour. It is of common occurrence on light peaty 



soil. It is named after Gentius, a king of Illyria, who 
first discovered its healing virtues. It is a plant of very 
bitter taste. 

44. KNOT GRASS. (Polygonum aviculare.) 

Besides the name above given, this plant occasionally 
goes by that of "Bird's Knot Grass," or "Red Robin," 
the latter appellations arising from the fact that its seeds 
afford food to many small birds. A glance at the specimen 
given in this collection shows that, in spite of its name, 
it is not a grass; but, as we remark elsewhere in this 
volume, the farmers of earlier days had a habit of apply- 
ing the term "grass" to any plant that was green and 
grew in pasture land. The generic name Polygonum is 
from the Greek jwlus, many ; and gomi, the knee ; in 
allusion to the numerous joints upon the stem. Cattle 
and sheep eat Polygonum; but it is none the less a weed 
from a modern farmer's point of view, since it fills space 
and consumes nourishment which would maintain forage 
plants much superior to it. It is common in the east of 
Scotland, and in Northern Europe stubbles may be seen 
purpled over with it. There are several other varieties 
of this genus, which are variously named Persicaria, or 
Snake- Weed. 

45. SELF HEAL. (Prunella vulgaris.) 

Self Heal grows freely in moist situations, and from 
its persistent occurrence in Scotland, where every year it 
may be seen in rich abundance in hay fields and pastures, 
would seem to be part of the native vegetation of the 
land. Its occurrence is usually the sign of rather poor 
soil. In open sunny situations it grows not above three 
or four inches in length, but under trees it quits its 
trailing habit, stands upright, and attains nearly a foot 
in height. It is of no value as a pasture plant, and must 
be classed as a weed. The generic name was written 
Brunella by older writers, and was derived from the 
German die Breane, sore throat, the plant having formerly 
been esteemed a remedy for this. 

46. CORN HORSE TAIL. (Equisetum arvense.) 

This weed is very common in damp cornfields, and in 
boggy places it is to be seen in great abundance. There 
are several varieties of Equisetum, all of which are injurious 
to the farmer. The variety under consideration is wide- 
spreading in its habit of growth, and is difficult to extir- 
pate, though it may be overcome by draining. It has 
strong astringent qualities, and, when eaten, is prejudicial 
to cattle. The name is compounded of equus, a horse, 
and seta, hair, in allusion to the likeness it bears to a 
horse's tail. 

47. CREEPING CROWFOOT OR BUTTERCUP. (Ranunculus 

repens.) 

This familiar plant is one of the best known wild 
flowers found on English meadows and pastures. It is 
fond of moist situations. The stem is creeping, and strikes 
out roots from joints, a habit which distinguishes it from 
other varieties of Ranunculus. It is as well known on the 
European Continent as in Britain. The pasture lands of 
France are sometimes seen golden with its presence, and 
its seeds are a common impurity among the grasses 
exported from that country. There are many species of 
Ranunculus, and some of them have been adopted as 
garden plants. The name is a diminutive of rana, a frog, 
and has been given to it either because several species are 
found in marshy places, or because the divisions of the 
leaves bear an imaginary resemblance to the foot of that 
reptile. 

48. UPRIGHT MEADOW CROWFOOT. (L'anuncidus acris.) ' 
This plant is a common weed in meadows and pastures, 

where, from a farmer's point of view, it is a very unwel- 



THE BRITISH FARMERS PLANT PORTFOLIO. 



xi 



come tenant. Horses and cattle leave it untouched, how- 
ever bare their pasture may be. It is, as its name implies, 
of a very acrid and corrosive character, inflaming and 
blistering the skin when it is applied to it, Besides the 
name of Crowfoot, it shares, along with other varieties of 
Ranunculus, the popular names of Gold-Cups, King's-Cups, 
and Buttercups. 

49. THE OX-EYE DAISY. (Leucanthemum vulgare.) 

The Ox-Eye Daisy, otherwise known as the White 
Ox-Eye or the Moon Daisy, suggests reflections to the 
spectator which differ according to his interest in agri- 
culture. To the farmer it is one of the most troublesome 
of weeds. To the poet or the artist it is one of the most 
charming flowers that paint the field. It is one of the 
commonest features of the cornfields and pasture lands 
of Europe and Great Britain. It ordinarily grows about 
eighteen inches high. The stems are wiry, and the whole 
plant is very unpalatable to cattle. A law anciently 
prevailed in England compelling tenant farmers, under 
the penalty of a fine, to weed it out before it came to 
seed. It is distinguished from its congener, the Corn 
Marigold, by its white rays. In the latter the disc and 
the rays alike are yellow. The name is derived from the 
Greek leukos, white, and Anthos, a flower. In Scotland it 
is termed " Horse Gowan," gowan meaning golden. 

50. SHEPHERD'S PURSE. (Capsella bursa pastoris.) 

In cornfields, by roadsides, and on rubbish heaps this 
plant is to be found throughout Great Britain. It offers 
a good example of the influence of soil and situation upon 
the development of a plant. In favourable circumstances 
it will attain a height of two or three feet, and at other 
times it will be found perfecting its seed, though not over 
three inches in height. Farm stock will eat it ; but it is, 
all the same, a very inferior forage plant, and its presence 
on the farm should not be willingly cultivated. 

51. WILD CARROT. (Daucus carota.) 

This plant is the progenitor of the cultivated or garden 
Carrot. It is a common weed in cornfields and in pasture 
land. Anyone who is acquainted with the cultivated 
variety will easily recognise the plant when they find it 
growing wild. In its natural state the root is of a pale 
yellow colour, and is very much smaller than is the case 
when the plant has been cultivated, but in both circum- 
stances the plant has the same unmistakable smell. The 
development of the » Carrot of cultivation from this wild 
plant is an excellent illustration of the power of man, by 
care and attention, to ennoble a plant. Carrots are one 
of the best and most nutritious foods for all kinds of 
farmers' stock, and are well worthy of wider cultivation. 
Horses are especially fond of them, and their owner can 
provide them with no greater treat than a few pounds of 
Carrots instead of their usual allowance of hay. Carrots 
contain a great deal of sugar, although not enough to 
admit of their competing with Beetroot as raw material 
for its production. The name is derived from the Greek 
word daio, to make hot, in allusion to the warm carmina- 
tive quality of the seeds. The popular local cognomen of 
the wild plant is "Bird's Nest." The seeds of the wild 
Carrot are a very common impurity in clover seeds of 
French origin. 

52. SHEEP'S SORREL. (Rumeoa acetosella.) 

The dock family is a fairly numerous one, all of which, 
from a farmer's point of view, must be classed as weeds. 
The variety of it here given, as well as common Sorrel, is 



distinguished from the others by a powerfully acid taste. 
Rumex acetosa and Rumex acetosella are both plants of 
very common occurrence throughout Great Britain, sandy 
meadows and dry soils being specially favoured places for 
their growth. In autumn, pasture lands may be seen 
where the whole surface is red with their presence. In 
France the common Sorrel is cultivated for table pur- 
poses, and is used as an ingredient in salads, sauces, and 
soups. In Scotland they are named respectively the 
"Sourock" and the "Sheep's Sourock." Neither cattle 
nor horses will eat either of them unless pressed by famine. 
It is said that the presence of this plant indicates an acid 
soil requiring lime to cure it. The generic term is derived 
from the Latin name for a kind of spear used by the 
Romans, the shape of which bore a close resemblance to 
the leaf of this plant. 

53. COMMON BUGLE. (Ajuga reptans.) 

The Common Bugle is found in moist meadows, in 
pastures, and in woods, and is of common occurrence in 
Scotland. The flower is blue, and the stem varies in height 
from four to twelve inches. It is perennial, and is in 
blossom from May to July. Another species of it — the 
Yellow Bugle or Ground Bine — is found in England. 
Like many of the other plants described in our notes, 
the Bugle at one time enjoyed a high reputation as a 
medicinal herb, and was used as a blister for the wounded 
and a potion for the sick. The derivation of the generic 
name is of doubtful origin, and is differently given by 
different writers. 

54. EYEBRIGHT. (Euphrasia officinalis.) 

Eyebright is of common occurrence throughout Great 
Britain, especially on dry ground or hilly pastures. The 
name, which suggests a showy plant, has no reference to 
the outward appearance it presents, but was given to it 
on account of its reputed power to restore impaired vision. 
The botanical name is from the Greek Euphraino, joy. 
Its medicinal qualities are, unfortunately, only a fable, 
and, though cattle and horses eat it, it is a plant of little 
worth, and must be classed among the number of those 
which a farmer should cultivate as little as possible. 

55. THE COMMON DAISY. (Bellis perennis.) 

The Daisy is the plant from which we derive our first 
impressions of the flower kingdom. It is pre-eminently 
the flower of childhood. Poetry has never wearied singing 
its praises. While it is undoubtedly a favourite with man, 
woman, and child, from the pleasurable associations which 
it suggests, it is worthless from an agricultural point of 
view — horses, sheep, and cattle all refusing to eat it. It 
is fertile, of an aggressive habit of growth, and difficult to 
eradicate from pastures. When transplanted to richer 
soil it shows many variations — such as changing its white 
colour to crimson, and becoming double. In France it is 
named the Marguerite. The English name Daisy is a 
corruption of Day's Eye, with reference to the plant 
opening with the sun. Its botanical name bellis conies 
from bellus, pretty, in allusion to the pretty flower. 

56. AMBROSIA ARTEMISI-flSFOLIA. 

This is the only plant in our collection which is not to 
be found in British fields. It is a weed greatly spread 
about American clover fields, and found frequently in the 
American clover seeds. For some occult reason it does 
not thrive in the Eastern Hemisphere, and though the 
seed is often planted from its occurrence as an impurity 
in clover seed from America, it rarely grows. 



2. SAINFOIN. (Onobnjchis sativa.) 




4. WHITE CLOVER. (Trifolium repens, L.) 




5. ALSIKE, OR SWEDISH CLOVER. (Trifolium hylridum, L) 



< • 



MEM 



7. TUFTED VETCH. (Vicia cracca, 




8. BIRDSFOOT TREFOIL. {Lotus comiculatus, L.) 



4 




9. NARROW-LEAVED EVERLASTING PEA. {Lathyrus sylvestris.) 




10. ZIG-ZAG CLOVER. {Trifolium medium.) 



\ 





11. KIDNEY VETCH. (Antkyllis vulneraria, L.) 



12. PERENNIAL RYEGRASS. (Lolium perenne, L.) 




14. MEADOW FESCUE. (Festuca prdtensis.) 



EP'S FESCUE. (Festuca ovina vulgaris genuina.) 




21. MEADOW FOXTAIL. (Alopecurus pratemis, L.) 




) 



\ 





\ 



\ 




25. SWEET VERNAL GRASS, OR SWEET-SCENTED SPRING GRASS. (Anihoxanthum odoratum, L.) 



26. FIORIN, OR MARSH BENT GRASS. (Agrostis alba; var. stolonifcra. 




30. SOFT CRANE'S-BILL. (Geranium rnolle.) 




31. DEVIL'S-BIT SCABIUS. (Scabiosa succisa.) 



if 

1 





33. GRASS OF PARNASSUS. (Pamassia palustris.) 




4 





35. BURNET. (Poterium sanguisorba) , 




38. WHITE GOOSE FOOT. (Chenopodium album.) 




40. HAIRY WATER MINT. {Mentha aguatica.) 



41. CATCHWEED, OR CLEAVERS. {Galium aparine.) 




42. COW PARSNIP. {Heracleum sphondilinvi,) 




I 



i 




X 




43. GENTIAN. (Gentiania asclepiadia.) 




46. CORN HORSE TAIL. (Equiseium arvense.) 




49. THE OX-EYE DAISY. 



(Lmcanthemurn vuhjun^j 




50. SHEPHERD'S PURSE. (Capsella bursa pastoris.) 




51. WILD CARROT. (Daucus carota.) 




52. SHEEP'S SORREL. (Rumex acetosella.) 



i 



I 



V 



53. COMMON BUGLE. {Ajuga reptans.) 



54. EYEBRIGHT. {Euphrasia officinalis) 



55. THE COMMON DAISY. (Bellis perennis.) 




56. AMBROSIA ARTEMISLEFOLIA.