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^^c~Y>'Cu^ YlrJc<^. 












®ur J'lowet friends and foes 






5 AND 7 East 16th Street 

W"" • O 

J ^ J 

J ^ J J -» • * » 

• • • • 

• • • 

• • • • • 

a • • • k 

* • fc • • 
* .- k . 






H 1985 L 

Copyright, 1894, 


The Bakes & Taylor Co. 



Most of the matter in this little book has ap- 
peared in articles contributed to Demorest^s Fam- 
ily Magazine and to the New York Evening Post. 

These articles were written at various times 
and independently of one another. Hence their- 
compilation may lack system, as the critics will 
say, if those arbiters of literary fate honor my 
little book with their consideration. 

We have all heard the story of Charles Lamb, 
who wanted to be excused for arriving at the 
office so late in the morning because he left it so 
early in the afternoon. With similar logical se- 
quence we plead indulgence for a shortcoming by 
calling attention to a lack. The book may be 
without system, but, gentle reader, it is without 


technical terms. It is written in a tongue " un- 
derstanded of the people/^ 

To many of us botany has been presented at 
school merely as a list of scientific terms which 
eluded our memories and excited loathing in our 
souls. When one has been compelled to learn 
that a rose belongs to the series Phaenogams, class 
dicotyledons, sub-class angiosperms, division poly- 
petalous, and order RosaceaB, it does not thereafter 
smell quite so sweet — Shakespeare to the contrary 

It would be far better to teach pupils first the 
facts of botany. 

Let them learn how plants wake and sleep, how 
they store up food for themselves in hidden gar- 
ners, how flowers lure insects, and how insects 
work for the flowers. Let them learn the marvels 
of vegetable structure. 

As the lessons go on, a few — but only a few — 
technical terms must be used. These can be ex- 
plained as they naturally occur, in connection with 
the subject. 

Most of the nomenclature so laboriously learned 
in schools is useless even to the working botanist. 

The most reliable guides to the flora of the 
greater part of the United States are the works of 


Professor Gray, who was not addicted to the use 
of scientific language when his meaning could be 
conveyed in plain English. When his books do 
drop into technicalities, definitions of the ponder- 
ous words can always be sought and found in the 
glossary bound in with the volume. 

The student who has been compejled to learn 
that canescent means hoary and that hypocra- 
teriform means salver-shaped has been bothered to 
little purpose. 

His real concern is to find out why the leaves 
are hoary and why the blossoms are salver-shaped. 
For there is a reason for everything in this beau- 
tiful creation. There is a reason why the flower 
unfolds in April, rather than in June or in Sep- 
tember. There is a reason why it wears the par- 
ticular color with which it adorns itself, a reason 
why its dainty cup is shallow or deep, and reasons 
for the peculiar form, size, and grouping of the 

Nature students are always asking "why?'' 
Some few of the wherefores are known, but many 
have not been found out yet, and if we ever learn 
them the flowers themselves must teach us, for 
the botanists do not know. It is a wonderful 
moment to the student when he learns the answer 


even to one of the whys which the humblest weed 
suggests, for he feels that, ignorant and unworthy 
as he is, he has been, for one brief moment, taken 
into the confidence of the Creator. 

E. M. Hardinge. 



I. The Plant World 1 

n. Flowers and their Visitors 16 

in. Buds 34 

IV. Hidden Treasuries 40 

V. Willow-pussies and Alder tassels . . 47 
VI. A Wreath for the May-queen .... 56 

VII. The Calla's Poor Relations 68 

VIII. Cherry-bloom and Cottonwood .... 76 

IX. Spring's Younger Children 85 

X. Field-daisies 100 

XI. Twilight and June in a Garden . . . 109 
XII. Water-side and Pond Flowers .... 122 

Xni. Unbidden Guests 137 

XIV. Winged Burglars 147 

XV. Ogre-flowers 155 

XVI. Orchids 164 

XVII. Among The Late Wild Flowers. . . .181 

XVIII. The Happy Autumn Fields 194 

XIX. Seeds on their Travels . 202 

XX. Foes Afield.— Plants Poisonous to the 

Touch 217 

XXI. Foes Afield.— Plants Poisonous to the 

Stomach 234 

XXII. Foes Afield.— More Plants Poisonous 

TO THE Stomach 245 




Fig. 1. Dodder-plant (Cuscuta) 8 

Fig. 2. Plant-like Moulds : a, Potato-mould; h and 

c, Blue-mould 6 

Fig. 8. a, Section of the Seed of Corn-cockle; b. 

Section of the Seed of Oxalis .... 12 

Fig. 4. a, Haricot Bean; 6, Germination of the 

Haricot Bean 12 

Fig. 5. a, Part of the Lower Surface of a Fern-leaf; 
h. Magnified Portion of the Lower Sur- 
face 18 

Fig. 6. a, Single Spore-case closed ; ft, Opening to 

Let Out Spores 14 

Fig. 7. Different Forms of Stamens : Iris, Amaryl- 
lis, Solanum, Barberry, Laurel ... 19 

Fig. 8. Pollen grains: Hollyhock; Hollyhock, ex- 
ternal envelope removed; Wheat; Even- 
ing Primrose; Garlic; Phlox .... 20 

Fig. 9. Pistil Forms: Chinese Primrose, Poppy . 21 

Fig. 10. Blossom of the Wheat 26 

Fig 11. Expanding Buds of the Tulip tree, Birch, 

and Almond 84 




















































a, Bulb of the Hyaciuth ; 6, Vertical Sec- 
tion of Same 43 

Willow Flowers: a, Silvery Tassel; b. 
Golden Tassel ; c, Pistil and covering 

scale; d, Stamen and fringed scale . . 51 

Wood-anemone {Anemone nemerosa) . . 60 

Indian Turnip {Arimma triphyllum) . . 69 

Arrow-arum {Peltandra mrginica) ... 74 

Pollen-grain emitting the Pollen-tube . . 78 
Divided Flowei*s of the Oak and Pine : a, 

a, Staminate; h, b, Pistillate .... 81 

The Columbine {Aquilegia Canadensis) . . 91 
A Common Variety of Wild Geranium 

{Geranium Roberiianum) 98 

Daisies 103 

The Three States of a Daisy Floret ... 106 

Sleeping Clover .111 

Sleeping Oxalis 114 

Yucca 116 

Evening Primrose {jEnothera biennis) . .118 
a, Structure of the Epidermis of a Leaf; 6, 
Vertical Section through One of the Sto- 

mata of a Cycus 124 

Common Speedwell (Fdrowtca oj^iJiwaZw) . 129 
Touch-me-not, or Jewel-weed {Impatiens 

fulm) 133 

Toad-flax {Linaria vulgaris) 145 

^wn^^yf {Dvosera rotundifolia) .... 156 
a, Venus' Fly-trap {Dioncm muscipula); b, 

Leaf of Venus' Fly-trap 159 

Butterfly-orchid 164 

Spider-plant (Odontoglossum coidaium) . . 167 
Greater Green Orchid {Habenaria orbicu- 

lata) 170 




Fig. 36. 1, Side View of Head of Sphinx- motb, 

with recently-attached Pollen-masses ; 

2, Front View of the same, with Pendent 

Pollen-masses 171 

Fig. 37. Lady's-tresses {Spiranthes gracilis) . . . 177 

Fig. 38. Lady's-slipper {Cypripedium niveum) . . 179 

Fig. 39. Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) . . . 184 

Fig. 40. Indian-pipe (Monoiropa uniflora) .... 190 
Fig. 41. Transverse Section of a Leaf, showing the 

Structure 196 

Fig. 42. Plumed Seeds: Thistle, Cotton, Valerian . 203 
Fig. 43. Winged Seeds ; Maple, Elm, Pine ... 204 
Fig. 44. Virginia Creeper (Ampelopsis quinquefolia) 219 
Fig. 45. a, Poison-ivy {Ehus toxicodendron); b, Eng- 
lish Ivy {Hedera helix) 221 

Fig. 46. a, Poison-sumach {Rhus venenata); b. Non- 
poisonous Sumach {Rhus iyphina) . . . 224 
Fig. 47. Fragrant Sumach (Rhus aromatica) . . . 227 

Fig. 48. Small Nettle ( Urtica urens) 232 

Fig. 49. Aconite (Aconiium napellus) 238 

Fig. 50. Jimson-weed {Datura stramonium) . . . 240 

Fig. 51. Green Hellebore {Helleborus viridis) . . . 243 

Fig. 52. Poison-hemlock {Conium maculatum) . . 247 

Fig. 53. American Hemlock {Cicuta maculata) . . 250 

Fig. 54. Fool's-parsley {j^husa cynapium) . . . 254 

Fig. 55. Water-parsnip (Sium dcuttrfolium) . . . 256 




Pew persons have any idea what diversity 
exists among members of the vegetable king- 
dom. Some plants differ from others as widely 
as a shark differs from a wren, an elephant 
from a mosquito, or a crab from a rattlesnake. 

We find among plants every gradation in size, 
from microscopic forms floating in fresh water 
to the giant trees of California three hundred 
feet in height. We find every degree of elab- 
oration of structure, from a mere shapeless, 
jelly-like mass to the exquisite grace of the 
lily, and the wonderful organization of the little 
catch-fly, which, like a living creature, lures, 
secures, kills, and digests its insect prey. 


Some growths, of the mushroom sort, in a 
single night spring up, mature, reproduce their 
species, and die. In contrast to their brief ex- 
istence, think of the lives of the olive and the 
yew, Methusalehs among trees. England has 
hoary yews, centuries old, which perhaps were 
young saplings when William the Norman 
landed. They have stood tranquilly, adding 
every year a half-inch or so of new wood to 
the end of each twig, while society struggled 
from semi-barbarism to civilization; while cities 
sprang up, kings were born, grew gray, died and 
were supplanted; poets and teachers arose, gave 
their message to the world, and were silenced by 
death. Eastern travellers tell us that gnarled 
olive-trees are to-day standing in the Garden of 
Gethsemane which were mute witnesses to the 
agony of our Lord. 

When we remember how diverse are the condi- 
tions under which plants contrive to get a living, 
we see that there must of necessity be great diver- 
sity of size, form, and habits. There is a flora for 
every region, from the equator to the frozen cir- 
cles; for the most fertile and also for tlie most 
barren soil. Some plants are parasitic on the liv- 
ing tissues of others. The mistletoe lives in this 


way, and so does the dodder (Fig. 1), whose bright 
orange-colored etems may be seen twiniug among 
the herbage on any brookside. The Indian-pipe 
— sometimes called ghost-flower — is a parasite on 


the roots of trees; its white stalks and waxy blos- 
soms being fed by juices sucked or, rather, stolen 
from the oak or pine by which it is sheltered. 
Some plants feed, ghoul-like, on the dead bodies 


of others; of this sort are the great wen-like fuugi 
— white, yellow, orange, or red — which cling to 
decaying trees. « 

Beneath the ocean grows an endless variety of 
lovely seaweeds; while fresh- water weeds cover 
the bottom of every lake or slow-moving stream. 
A fungus, white as the driven snow and inde- 
scribably delicate, grows on the walls and floors 
of mines, and, unlike most members of the vege- 
table kingdom, evidently loves darkness rather 
than light. 

Some degree of warmth is generally necessary 
to vegetation, but there is an exception even to 
this rule in the microscopic plants which have 
been found growing on the Arctic snow; these re- 
quire the most intense cold. They are of a vivid 
ruby color, and grow in such innumerable masses 
as to impart their own rich hue to the snow on 
which they live, and are the cause of the patches 
of red snow occasionally seen by Arctic travellers. 

Some tiny plants grow on the- bodies of animals; 
some on the human body. One sort, visible only 
by aid of a powerful microscope, grows on open 
wounds, causing gangrene. A fungous growth in 
the throat " is the cause of diphtheria. Eecent 
medical discoveries prove that many diseases are 


caused by the growth of microscopic vegetable 
forms ou or in the body, and it is believed that 
further research will trace to the same source 
other of the ills that human flesh is heir to. 
Thus botany, in one direction, approaches the 
borders of medical science. So minute are these 
germs, often the cause of disease and death, that 
it would take a great number of them to make a 
mass as large as the head of a cambric needle. 
Their power to work mischief, however, emphati- 
cally teaches us not to despise " the day of small 

Other tiny plants are dire enemies to the house- 
keeper. The skin which forms over improperly 
sealed preserves is a vegetable growth, as are also 
mildew and mould (Fig. 2). A bit of cheese- 
mould seen under a microscope is as pretty a sight 
as a tuft of ferns. While some minute plans de- 
stroy the fruits of our labor, others are helps to 
certain industries. To this latter class belong the 
ferments — the yeast-plant, which raises our bread 
and works the brewer's beer, and an allied growth 
which converts grape -juice into wine. The house- 
keeper mixing sponge is performing an operation 
similar to that of the farmer flinging grass-seed 
over a meadow. She is putting the sort of plant 



she wants to raise into the sort of soil in which it 
is most likely to grow and prosper. With moder- 
ate warmth it grows and multiplies with wonder- 
ful rapidity, and in so doing- alters the character 
of its soil — the sponge — making it light and por- 
ous. A sudden chill checks the growth of the 
yeast-plant, and heavy loaves are the result. 

According to some estimates, botanists count 
one hundred thousand species of plants. The 
number growing in a single meadow will surprise 
any one who has patience to count them. The 
writer has gathered thirty sorts in a bit of ground 
chosen at haphazard and rather less tton two feet 

This great vegetable kingdom, comprising mem- 
bers so diverse in form, so different in habits, and 
so dispersed as to area, is divided very simply into 
two great tribes or series. These are : those 
plants which bear flowers, or Phanerogams ; and 
those which do not, or Cryptogams. 

To the first series, the Phanerogams, belong 
most of our familiar friends of wood and field. 
All trees bear flowers. The blossoms of many 
sorts are greenish, and appear in early spring when 
we are looking for the bursting of the leaf-buds. 
They are apt to be taken by a casual observer for 


young leaves. All grasses also produce blossoms. 
They are often green, generally small and incon- 
spicuous, and are the most evanescent of all 

Could this have been known to the Hebrew 
poet, who, seeking an image to express the brevity 
of human life, says that man's strength and beauty 
pass away " as the flower of the grass " ? In the 
tranquil outdoor life of a pastoral people many of 
the wonders of nature might be noted, and taught 
by father to child. It does not follow that the 
green growing things about us are either better 
known or better loved because in these days we 
bestow on their delicate organs a ponderous Latin 

The JCryptogamia, or flowerless plants, are 
mostly minute, sometimes invisible to the naked 
eye. Microscopic work is necessary to the attain- 
ment of much knowledge in this branch of bot- 
any, which is full of difficulty and less generally 
interesting than the study of flowering plants. 

The series of Cryptogamia comprises ferns, 
horsetails, mosses, lichens, fungi, moulds; the 
minute vegetable growths already noted, which 
cause disease, fermentation, and decay; and tiny 
things which float in fresh water, called diatoms 


and desmids. These latter have little silicious 
shells and were for a long time supposed to be 
very minute shell-fish. 

The appearance of ferns and mosses is familiar 
to every one accustomed to woodland walks. 
Horsetails, called also scouring-rushes, are leafless 
plants with hollow, jointed stems. The branches 
spring from the main stalk in a series of circles, 
after the fashion of the spokes of a wheel or the 
ribs of an umbrella. • 

Lichens are crinkled, papery growths, in soft, 
indefinite tints of brown, green, and gray. They 
spread themselves over rocks, tree-trunks, or un- 
painted wood. Some humble members of this 
family resemble smears of paint somewhat blis- 
tered by the sun. One sort, of the color of iron- 
rust, clings to the trunks of cedars and locusts. 
Other varieties appear as white stains or as little 
clusters of dark green dots on the surface of 
smooth rocks. 

These humble rock -lichens are to-day carrying 
on a work begun by their ancestors before the 
grass grew or the first flower unfolded its petals 
to the light. They are among the first-born of 
the great family of plants. Their function in the 
plan of nature is to prepare the hard, bare rock 


for the support of higher forms of vegetable life. 
Examine a stone to which they cling, and you will 
find that each lichen grows in a shallow depression. 
This it has hollowed out for itself by dissolving 
and then absorbing the substance of its rocky 
home. When it dies and decays, the mineral pub- 
stances it has gathered will be left as fine dust on 
the surface of the stone. This may afford a foot- 
hold to some moss or larger lichen, or may be 
washed down by showers, to mingle with the soil 
and help to nourish a fern or flowering plant. 

Lichens love shade, and always grow most abun- 
dantly on the north side of a tree-trunk where the 
sunshine never reaches them. This is said to 
have been noticed by the keen-eyed Indian hunt- 
ers, and observation of the growth on tree-trunks 
was one method by which they guided themselves 
through the trackless forests. Any one travelling 
along a country road running east and west and 
bounded by rail fences can observe for himself 
this peculiarity of lichenous growth. The noon 
sun shining in the south daily warms the fence on 
the north side of the road, while the opposite 
fence lies in shadow. The shade-loving lichens 
accordingly will cluster thickly along the south 
fence, while that bounding the road on the other 


hand (on the side toward the road, at least) is 
nearly bare. 

On account of their ability to endure cold, 
lichens and mq^ses grow farther toward the poles 
than any other forms of vegetation; and they are 
still observed by the mountain-climber who has 
left beneath him the haunts and homes of higher 
species of plants. 

Fungi comprise mushrooms, truffles, the various 
sorts of toadstools, and the fat, moist growths 
which cling to decaying wood. 

A great difference between Phanerogams and 
Cryptogams is in their method of reproducing 
their kind. Flowering plants produce seeds; 
flowerless plants, spores. The seed contains a tiny 
plant, completely formed, and a store of food pro- 
vided by the parent plant to support the seedling 
till it can form a root and grub for its own living 
(Fig. 3). 

Split a bean (one that has been soaked for a 
few hours in water is best), and you will see the 
plan on which the seed is formed. On the outside 
are two skins, which we have torn in our investi- 
gations into the bean's anatomy. The outer skin 
is thick and tough; the inner is delicate and fine, 
and adheres to the outer, so that at first there may 


appear to be but one. The bean separates natu- 
rally into lialves. Between them we find a tiny 

Fro. 3o.— Section op the Fin. 3* —'Section of thb 

Seed of Cohn-cockle Seed of Oxalis (magni- 

(magnified). Bed) 

Bhowine the Iwo seed coats, the baby plant and Ihe aloreol 

iDourlBhtneDt. (EYom T/ie Vevfiable Koild) 

Fio. 4a. — Hahicot Bean. Fin. 4J.— Germination of 

THE llAuiroT Bean. 
(From The Vegetable World.) iFi-om The Vegetable World.') 

plant with two pale leaves folded close, a white 
8'.em, and at the end of tlie stem a thickened por- 



tion wbence the root of the futiire will spring. 
The halves of the beau contain rich etarcbea for 
the baby plaot (Fig. 4). These are the essential 

Fio. 5a.— Part 
Lower SravACB op 

Fio. 56. — MAGNrFiED Por- 
tion OF TilK Low BR 


t)art8 of a seed: an outer and an inner coat, a 
young plant completely formed, and (in most in- 
stances) a store of nourishment for its support 
during the earlier part of its existence. 


The spore of a Cryptogam is much simpler in 
its structure. It is a tiny round object, barely 
visible, or microscopic, and consists of but a single 
cell, a little semi-transparent bag filled with a 
jelly-like substance. Most of our common ferns 
have lines or dots on the back of the leaf (Fig. 5) 
which are at first green, afterward brown. On 
examination they will be found to be rows or clus- 
ters of tiny objects resembling very small seeds. 
These are spore-cases, and contain the true spores, 
which are as fine as the finest powder (Fig. 6). 

a h 

Fro. 6. — a, A Single Spore-case Closed (much magni- 
fied), b, Opening to Let out the Spoues. 

(From The Vegetable World.) 

Thus one of these lines or dots represents many 
hundreds or even thousands of future plants. 

Some ferns produce their spores on the top in- 
stead of at the back of the leaf. One sort, the 


Botry chill m, common in damp woods, by an odd, 
two-story arrangement carries its spore cases 
aloft on a stalk rising out of the middle of the 
delicate leaf. The leaf of the maidenhair has a 
scalloped edge, and each scallop, just at the very 
end, is folded, backward over the spores. The 
bracken, common along roadsides, is almost the 
largest of our native ferns, yet produces the tiniest 
spore-cases. They are as small as grains of dust, 
and lie in a fine line just at the edge of the shin- 
ing dark green leaf. 

According to an old English superstition, 
bracken spores confer upon their finder the power 
of becoming invisible at will. In reference to 
this, Falstaff says, when he and his cronies have 
eluded justice after a madcap breach of law and 
order, " We have the receipt [i.e., are in possession] 
of fern-seed. We walk invisible." 




"The lovely wild flowers/' says Jean Ingelow, 
" are the flowers which God made." 

The hydrangeas and snowballs on our lawns, 
the hundred-leaved and cabbage roses in our bor- 
ders, and the whole category of "double" flowers 
have been greatly altered by generations of cul- 
ture. They are, in their present form at least, 
flowers which man has made. They have been 
trained into the forms familiar to us by ignorant 
gardeners bent on producing big blossoms, 
pleased, like children or savages, by mere masses 
of color, and lacking the more refined apprecia- 
tion of graceful forms. In the heart of a double 
flower will be found a mere crumpled mass of 
shapeless leaves. The plan on which its parts 
were once arranged has been obliterated and the 
exquisite symmetry of its natural shape destroyed. 
For the purposes of the botanist, as to the eye of 
the artist, the " doubled " flower is spoiled. 


To study the parts of the flower, therefore, we 
must gather blossoms from country hedgerows, or 
some single flowers from our garden-beds or win- 

However, a rose will show all the central organs 
(unless it be that triumph of misdirected horticul- 
tural zeal a "cabbage^' rose), for only long and 
arduous culture will take the heart out of the 
queen of flowers. 

On the outside of most flowers is a row of 
leaves, generally, but not always, green. Each 
one of these outer leaves is a sepal, and all the 
sepals together form the calyx, or little cup. 
Sometimes they are all together, in fact as well as 
in name, having grown into a sort of cup around 
the flower. This is the case in the carnation. 
Within the calyx is a second row of flower-leaves, 
brightly colored or white. Each of these bright 
delicate leaves is a petal, and all together are 
spoken of as the corolla, or little crown. The 
petals of the geranium are scarlet, pink, or white ; 
those of the violet are purple, and those of the 
buttercup golden. Like the sepals, the petals are 
sometimes entirely separate, as in the rose, and 
sometimes united, as in the morning-glory. 

In examining a fully opened flower, it is some- 


times a little difficult to distinguish between calyx 
and corolla. In the garden balsam they are alike 
in color and texture, and in the wild columbine, 
called by country children "jacket and breeches/' 
the calyx fairly outdoes the corolla in the brill- 
iancy of its scarlet dye. When a doubt exists, it 
may be solved by looking at the bud, for in it the 
calyx is always wrapped around the closely folded 
petals. Indeed, this seems its principal use in the 
economy of the plant, for some flowers drop the 
calyx at the moment of unfolding. The expand- 
ing poppy slips off its sepals, and drops them in 
the shape of a little green liberty-cap from the 
tips of its liberated petals. The hepatica, called 
harbinger of spring, the anemone, and many other 
flowers have but one row of blossom-leaves, so 
delicate in tint and texture that we would be dis- 
posed to call them petals. To the botanist, how- 
ever, they are sepals, and a single row of leaves 
encircling a flower is usually considered as form- 
ing the calyx. 

Within the petals of a rose, unless it be a very 
" double " rose indeed, there is a close ring of deli- 
cate upright threads, each ending in a little knob 
of gold. 

These are the stamens, and, insignificant though 



they look, they are very important in the flower's 

The slender thread is the filament, and the 
kuoh ia the anther. The filament is not essential, 
and is Bometimes dispensed with altogether, many 
deep throated flowers having only a row of anthers 
fastened to the inside of the corolla (Fig. 7). 

Fio, 7. — liHB, Amahyllib, Solanum, Barbery, Laurei,. 

DiiEerent Form of Stamens (magnilied). 

(From The Vegetable WorH.I 

The^anthor is really a little powder-box, and 
after a while it bursts open, spilling a quantity of 
iine dnst, sometimes hrown, but usually golden. 
This is " pollen," and without it we would have 
no flower-seed a. 

The grains of pollen, when magnified from one 
to two hundred diameters, are seen to be exqui- 
sitely regular and dainty in form. Those shed by 

20 Wirn THE WILD FL0WES8. 

the atamena of the rose of Sharon are little globes, 
covered with bristly points. Those of the lily are 
smooth and oval, like miniature eggs, and those of 
the miisk-plaot are globular and adorned with a 
deep spiral groove (Fig. 8). 

In the very heurt of the flower we find tho pistil 
or pistils, for there are sometimes many. That of 
tho tulip is a sturdy afEair, green at the base, yel- 
low at the top, and dividing into three heads, 
Ilepatica and anemone have many pistils, which 
are all huddled together in the blossom's centre 
and look like little green seeds. They are in real- 



2ty seed-cases (Fig. 9). The duty of the pistil in 
the floral division of labor is to form, guard, and 
in due time distribute the young seed. In its 
lower part, at flowering time, we may find one or 

Chinese Primrose. Poppy. 

Fig. 9. — Pistil Forms (magnified). 
(From The Vegetable World.) 

more, likely many, tiny pale green bodies, des- 
tined to become seeds if all goes well. 

The pistil is tipped with a little gummy knob 
or glutinous point. This organ, the stigma, is 
designed to receive grains of pollen on its surface. 


and is sticky that they may adhere. If, by ill-for- 
tune, no pollen-grains reach the spot nature has 
so skilfully prepared for them, the immature 
seeds in the pistil will die when the flower withers, 
"cut off," in the words of a doleful, country-news- 
paper poet, " in the morning of their early days.'^ 

But directly the desired grain of life-giving 
dust settles on the waiting stigma, it begins to 
grow there in a wonderful way. From its interior 
comes a slender tube which grows downward 
through the pistil, as a vigorous rootlet sinks into 
loose soil. At length it reaches and pierces one 
of the baby seeds in the base of the pistil. Be- 
sides the tiny tube, the pollen-grain contains a 
wee drop of fluid. This now flows down into the 
infant seed and imparts to it the mysterious gift 
of life. The seed is then, in technical language, 
" fertilized." 

When a plant grows in rich soil and in a warm 
atmosphere, its stamens and pistils have a ten- 
dency to turn into petals. In the heart of a gar- 
den rose or double geranium we can see this 
transformation actually taking place. On the 
outside of the flower is a row of symmetrical 
petals, those which nature, unassisted, produced. 
Those just within are less perfect in form ; and 


as we approach the centre of the flower they grow 
more and more shapeless, till at the head we find 
a little cluster of nondescript organs in actual 
transition from stamens to petals. 

Some garden flowers have all their central or- 
gans converted into petals. These never set a 
single seed, but are propagated entirely by cut- 
tings. A slip cut from a double rose or geranium 
will tend to produce flowers like those of the 
plant from which it was taken. By subjecting 
the cutting again to the influences of rich soil and 
warmth, this tendency will be fostered. Thus, in 
the course of generations, the florist produces 
double flowers and the hundred-leaved and cab- 
bage roses, which have a countless mass of petals, 
instead of the five of the wild rose, but scarcely 
any stamens or pistils whatever. 

New petals can also be developed — one might 
almost say created — by diligent culture. A wild 
pink has five petals, ten stamens, and two pistils 
almost grown together. The garden carnation 
was originally formed upon the same plan, and 
could therefore possess but seventeen petals, even 
were all the central organs changed by cultivation. 
The pistil, however, retains its natural form, and 
there are usually two or three distorted stamens. 


which remain as nature made them, in spite of 
adverse circumstances. Besides these, we find a 
great mass of white or deep red flower-leaves. 
The delicate calyx, which was made to inclose 
five petals, not such a number as this, is unequal 
to the occasion, and often splits open all down one 

Till within recent years, botanists have sup- 
posed that the germ in the forn)ing «eed of a 
flower received its quickening influences from pol- 
len shed by the stamens of that self-same flower. 
Later discoveries, however, have proved that the 
pollen which develops the ovules is, in most cases, 
brought from some other blossom, and even in 
many instances from some other plant. The fer- 
tilizing dust is wafted to the stigma in two ways 
— by the wind and by insects. A cursory glance 
at a flower will tell us in which way its fetching 
and carrying are done. Those accustomed to de- 
pend upon the wind — those which are, in botani- 
cal phrase, "wind-fertilized" — have no need to 
attract the attention of passing insects. Hence 
they are scentless, and have small greenish petals 
or none. Of this sort are the flowers of rushes 
sedges, and grasses, and those of many trees (Fig. 
10). Some — for instance, the blossoms of the 



pine-tree and those of the arbor 
vitse — are so inconspicuous tha''. 
they can scarcely be detected 
even by diligent search. Wind- 
fertilized flowers produce no 

On the other hand, those 
flowers which are in the habit 
of having pollen brought to 
them by insects lure their 
bright-winged visitors by per- 
fume or by a display of splen- 
did or dainty petals. All those 
blossoms which catch the eye, 
those which brighten the gar- 
den or "paint the meadows 
with delight," are insect-fertil- 
ized. Their sweet scents and 
conspicuous corollas may be 
regarded as advertisements to 
catch the attention of the pass- 
ing insect and to notify him 
of the presence of the honey 
which he is seeking. " Where 'op TnE~vv"r'E'AT"" 
free lunches are provided," 'P'"'" '^i^jJ^J"*"''''* 
quaintly observes Professor Gray, "some advan- 


tage is generally expected from the treat/^ The 
blossom gives up its sweets in order that it may 
receive the fertilizing pollen upon its stigma, and 
so may be enabled to set its seed. 

To change the simile, the insect is, in her hum- 
ble way, a wage-worker, and receives her pay for 
fetching and carrying pollen in the drops of 
honey which she gathers. The bumblebee, going 
with business-like directness from clover-head to 
clover-head, gets her velvety body sprinkled 
thickly with golden dust. In extracting the 
sweetness which lies deep down in the long pur- 
ple tubes she crawls all over the blossom -head, 
and some of the pollen which has clung to her 
breast and legs is sure to be left upon the stigmas. 
She has also brushed against the anthers, and 
taken a fresh supply of the yellow powder, with 
which she will fly to another clover-head. Thus 
she pays for the honey which she takes, and she 
and the flower form a mutual-benefit society. 
Deprived of her visits, the purple clover would 
not set a single seed, for the blossom tubes are 
too deep for the little honey-bee. ller proboscis 
is too short to reach the spot wliere the honey is 
stored, and she wisely neglects the purple clover 
for its white cousin and for other flowers which 


will better serve her turn. In New Zealand, 
where the bumblebee is not a resident, the pur- 
ple clover has to be freshly sown each year with 
seed brought from England. 

Huxley has proved that there is a direct ratio 
between the quantity of purple clover in any 
given section of country and the number of old 
maids. The demonstration is as follows : Old 
maids keep cats; cats are enemies to the field- 
mouse; these mice in turn are the foes of the 
bumblebee, for they devour the little store of 
honey which that thrifty insect lays by for its 
winter sustenance. Bumblebees are the pollen- 
carriers of the purple clover. Hence the more 
old maids there are in a region, the more plenti- 
fully it is stocked with cats; the fewer, therefore, 
are the field-mice; the greater is the number of 
the bumblebees, and the more abundant, in con- 
sequence, is the crop of red clover. 

Without cross-fertilization, that is to say, un- 
less the stigmas are dusted with pollen brought 
from the anthers of some other flower, the ovules 
of many plants will not mature at all. If a 
branch of mountain laurel is inclosed in gauze, 
its blossoms will not set a single seed. This is, 
no doubt, a reason why even the single flowers 


raised in greenhouses so seldom perfect their 
fruit. Many of them are exotics, accustomed to 
be visited and fertilized by tropical insects. The 
calla lily in its wild state probably has its fetching 
and carrying done by some South American 
marsh -fly. 

There are some flowers sufficient to themselves 
— accustomed to mature their seed by the aid of 
pollen received from their own stamens. In a 
few sorts, the anthers open and the pistil is fertil- 
ized before the bud expands. Generally, how- 
ever, even in cases where the ovule can be quick- 
ened by pollen from the self-same flower, better, 
stronger, and more numerous seeds will be formed 
if the pistil can get pollen from another blossom, 
or, better still, from another plant of the same 

It seems at first as if the result of insect visits 
would be to *^mix things up" hopelessly. One 
would think that poppy-pollen would be carried 
to the rose, rose-pollen to the buttercup, and but- 
tercup-pollen to the daisy, in " confusion worse 
confounded." This is guarded against in a variety 
of ways. The stigma is seldom affected by pollen 
from a flower of widely differing species. Eose- 
pollen on the lily and poppy-pollen on the butter- 


cup produce no vitalizing effect. So wonderfully 
is the plant organized that in most cases only pol- 
len from a separate flower of the same species can 
quicken the ovules into life. Plants closely al- 
lied, two species of violet, for instance, will occa- 
sionally cross, and the resulting hybrid forms are 
sometimes sorely puzzling to the botanist. Such 
seldom produce seed, and thus the confusion of 
types is checked at the outset. 

Moreover the insect has his preferences and 
partialities. The butterfly flitting from flower to 
flower has passed into a proverb for flckleness, 
but, though he soon quits, and forgets the indi- 
vidual, he is not unfaithful to the family. The 
rose-beetle is indifferent to all save the queen of 
flowers, and many moths taste no other nectar 
save that distilled by one chosen species of blos- 
som. Wasps bestow their attentions on one or 
two varieties and ignore all the rest. The bee 
has many flower friends, but she is particularly 
careful not to mix her drinks. In a meadow she 
goes perse veringly from clover-head to clover- 
head, with daisies, buttercups, and wuld carrot 
blooming all about her. 

The flowers, it seems, have their preferences 
also, for each caters to the tastes and adapts itself 


to the needs of its own insect friend. Some have 
donned purple robes to gratify the bee, which has, 
as Sir John Lubbock has shown, a royal taste in 
colors. The busy little insect is fond of magenta, 
and has a decided preference for blue, but never 
can resist the purple, which is as dear to her as it 
was to Julius Caesar. The flowers which wear 
this imperial hue are generally rich in honey, and 
their sweets are kept for their friend, the bee, at 
the bottom of a cup so deep that smaller insects 
cannot reach and rifle it. 

Some deeper-throated flowers still are reserving 
their nectar for the butterflies. Some blossoms 
open at twilight, and they are visited and fertil- 
ized by night-moths. These nocturnal flowers are 
usually very fragrant, and the sweetness which 
they shed abroad is at once a lure and a guide to 
their desired insect guests. They are always white 
or light yellow, and the glimmering of their pale 
corollas helps the moth to find the blossom which 
she seeks amid the tlironging shadows. 

Some tropical flowers have tubes so long and 
narrow that no moth or butterfly can reach into 
the deptlis where the nectar is stored. The sweets 
in such exceedingly deep and slender cups artj re- 
served for the humming-birds. If we examine a 


collection of these winged jewels, we shall see that 
the species differ greatly from one another in the 
length and form of the bill; the bills of some are 
straight, or very nearly so, those of others curve 
slightly, and those of others still are very strongly 
curved. Each, during its short glad life, feeds 
mainly on insects and nectar from one sort of 
tropical flower, and its bill has just the curve 
which enables it to reach with the utmost ease 
into the bottom of the flower-tube. But just in 
proportion as a flower is fitted to the requirements 
of its own friends it is unfitted for miscellaneous 
society. Its .tube, exactly long enough for its 
chosen visitor, is too deep for some insects and too 
shallow for others. 

The flower friends of the night-moths begin to 
receive company about the time when the butter- 
flies are going to bed. The butterfly and bee 
blossoms unfold at dawn, when the moths are seek- 
ing retirement in secluded corners. The flower 
comes just at the season when its own winged 
friends are numerous, and it thus avoids many in- 
sects whose attentions it does not care to accept. 
So Nature takes care that the flower's messages are 
not carried to the wrong address. 

The study of the interdependence of the flower 
and its winged friend is as yet a comparatively 


unexplored realm of science. Enough only is 
known to stimulate curiosity and to show how vast 
is the field for further discovery. Old philosophy 
tried to account for everything under heaven on 
the supposition that all was created for the use, 
pleasure, or discipline of mankind. The deep and 
patient nature-study of this generation has taught 
us greater humility. Nature has myriad children 
which live and rejoice, and suffer and die, utterly 
without regard to sovereign man; yet each is pro- 
vided for in ways suited to its tiny desires and 

A spring walk by a brookside may be spoiled 
for us by the odor of skunk cabbage, abhorred of 
our outraged olfactories. No doubt, however, it 
is pleasing to the little flies, which hover over the 
offending vegetable, and probably act as its pollen- 
carriers. A tropical flower attracts to it the in- 
sects by which it is fertilized by exhaling an odor 
like that of putrid meat. 

The cases, however, in which flower-scents are 
unpleasant to us are few. Most blossoms attract 
their winged visitors by tints and odors in which 
we, as well as bee and butterfly, delight. With 
the bee we love the deep blue of the sage-blossom 
and enjoy the scent of clover. The night-bloom- 
ing cereus, which furnishes tlie perfumer with his 


choicest extract, is also the moth's delight. In 
almost all cases the colors and scents which give 
pleasure to the insect's tiny nerves give similar, 
but probably far keener, pleasure to ours. 

The question of the development of the senses 
in animals affords the naturalist wide field for 
speculation. Some insects, as the botanist knows, 
possess a sense of smell far keener than ours. 
" Our world," says Grant Allen, " is a world of 
sights and sounds. The ant's world is one of 
sounds and smells." 

The bee hovering about a cluster of blossoms 
pauses an instant over each before plunging into 
it in search of nectar. She seems to perceive, be- 
sides the fragrance which we can enjoy with her, 
an odor which tells her whether the nectar is still 
in the tube of the flower, or whether it has been 
extracted by a previous comer. 

The night-moth distinguishes the odor of the 
nocturnal flower even when mingled with many 
other scents, and perhaps borne a long distance on 
the breeze. She also seems, like the owl and the 
bat, to distinguish objects where all would be 
blackness to our eyes; for on moonless nights, and 
in shadowy thickets and groves, she is able to 
thread her way to the night-blooming flower she 


(From The Vegetable World.) 


The few sunny days which March vouchsafes 
ns, at once a foretaste and a pledge of the many 
which are to come, soon begin to quicken the bare 
boughs, which all winter have looked so lifeless. 
The golden-green willow twigs and rose-pnrple 
blackberry branches show by their brightening 
tints that they have not been dead, but sleeping, 

BUDS. 35 

and buds have grown large enough to appear 
clearly silhouetted against the soft grays of spring 

The most ultra-expensive French maid never 
packed her mistress's finery with half the skill 
which Mother Nature has shown in the folding of 
baby blossom and tender leaf. The Arabian 
Nights wonder of a gigantic genius rising out of a 
little jar is equalled, if not excelled, by the bud- 
ding hedgerows every spring. Some of these 
lilac-buds, as small as the tip of a woman's little 
finger, contain a snugly-folded branch with all its 
leaves, and from others, no larger, will soon burst 
forth the twin spires of purple bloom. The sticky 
buds which tip the boughs of the horse-chestnut 
will open to let out into the sun several spread- 
ing compound leaves surrounding a pyramid of 

Sometimes Mother Nature does up leaves and 
blossoms in the same parcel, sometimes separately. 
Flowers will issue from some buds, leaves from 
others, and from yet others both leaves and flowers. 
The stems on which these buds rest are stored 
with rich nourishment which was laid away last 
summer, in the wood and bark. The lilacs, for 
instance, put forth their blossoms last May, and 


by August their clusters of seeds were completely 
formed, fully grown, and only needing for their 
perfection what sun and frost could accomplish. 
The prudent plants then turned their attention 
toward providing for the wants of the future. 
The leaves drank in the late summer sunshine, the 
eager roots soaked up the late summer rain, and 
the nourishment thus gathered, no longer needed 
to support a showy and expensive family of blos- 
soms, could be stored away beneath the bark, for 
next year's buds. 

" It is owing to this forehanded way of hoarding 
nourishment,'' says Professor Gray, " that plants 
are able to shoot forth so vigorously at the first 
warm breath of spring. The food which now 
nourishes these swelling buds, expanding leaves, 
and suddenly awakened flowers was collected and 
stored last summer. Everything was prepared, 
and even formed, beforehand. The short joints 
of the stem have only to lengthen and separate the 
leaves from each other, the leaves have only to un- 
fold and grow." 

Not only is provision made for the time when 
the awakening bud will need food to sustain its 
growth. In its winter sleep it is carefully pro- 
tected from sudden chills and from rotting damp. 

BUD8. 37 

When the buds are quite small, they are often 
sunk in the bark, as are those of the sumach; or 
as in the honey-locust, partly buried in the wood 
till they begin to grow. So long as Jack Frost is 
abroad the locust branches "play dead'' and do 
not suffer a bud to appear. The baby leaves are 
kept safely hidden away in those humps or knobs 
of wood and bark, from which the thorns appear 
to spring. 

The young hickory and lilac leaves are protected 
by a water-proof and down-lined covering, formed 
of many overlapping scales, or, to speak strictly, 
imperfect leaves. These scales are often coated 
on the outside with a sort of varnish which keeps 
out wet. The buds of the horse-chestnut are so 
thickly varnished over as to be quite sticky to the 
touch, and they shed water like — a rubber ovrer- 
coat. Indeed, we may say that the baby horse- 
chestnut leaves wear a fur-lined water-proof, for 
the bud-scales are thickly clothed inside with 
down or wool. This will not really keep out the 
cold of winter, which will of course penetrate the 
bud in time; but it protects the tender leaves 
within from sudden changes from cold to warmth, 
or from mildness to frost. 

Scaly buds are borne on trees and shrubs native 


to northern climates. Buds of tropical plants, 
whicli need no protection from frost, are naked. 

Winter bouglis are studded with countless buds 
— one for each of the many leaves which fell the 
preceding autumn. If every one of these were 
to live up to its possibilities, and expand into a 
cluster of foliage in the spring, the trees would 
have much ado to bear up under the weight of 
their adornment. But many of the buds do not 
grow. They do not necessarily die, but they 
remain for some time, perhaps for years, in a dor- 
mant state. 

When foliage has been stripped off by insects, or 
shrivelled up by forest fire, a growth of tender 
leaves will presently appear, partially covering the 
poor denuded boughs. Mother Nature seems to 
have stretched a point and given a green robe at 
midsummer, tliough the ladies of the wood gener- 
ally receive new dresses in spring and are expected 
to "make thom do^^ all summer. A short time 
ago, the tree, like Cinderella or Miss McFlimsey, 
had notliing to wear. Now she stands in glisten- 
ing green robes, and dances with her beautiful 
companions to the music of the breeze. Buds, 
formed perhaps several seasons ago, and till now 
kept in abeyance by the lustiness of their fellows. 

BUD 8, 39 

have at last got a long-waited-for chance to 

The spring landscape recalls a beautiful mean- 
ing which the German philosopher. Max Miiller, 
has found in the fairy story of the "Sleeping 
Beauty in the Wood." The earth in winter, lying 
still and apparently lifeless under her covering of 
snow, is the sleeping princess. The prince is the 
sun, strong and joyoiis; and the first warm spring 
sunshine, which makes the bud swell and the 
blossom blow, and arouses all Nature to life and 
gladness — this is the prince's kiss. 




In the first mild days of spring a casual robin 
generally comes to tell the dwellers in my garden 
that the sun and the breeze are on their way back 
to us from the South. 

The trees pay no heed to his news, having 
learned by much hard experience that one robin 
does not make a spring, and that discretion is, 
after all, the better part of valor. 

But the flowers are more buoyant, and a lovely 
company, hearing the red-vested herald's tidings, 
venture betimes out of their underground houses 
to meet and greet the spring. There are the jon- 
quil and narcissus, and the brave-hearted 

"... Daffodils, 

That come before the swallow dares, and take 
The winds of March with beauty. 

This cheerful sisterhood are able to don their 
festal array thus early because they practise vir- 
tues whicli we seldom associate with tlie blossoms 
of the field— prudence, industry, and economy. 


After the flower faded last spring the daffodil 
began to provide for the needs of the future. The 
leaves drank in the sunshine and dew of latter 
spring and of summer; the roots gathered food from 
the soil, and the nourishment thus collected was 
hoarded up for future contingencies. By the fall 
there was a rich store of starches and gums 
securely packed away underground in a solid bulb. 
The bulb was covered by overlapping horny scales, 
a protection against cold and rotting damp. At 
its very heart, closely folded and snugly hidden 
away from frost, were the leaves which have ven- 
tured above ground lately in answer to the per- 
suasive voice of the robin. 

The food in the bulb has supported the daffodil 
all the time it was forming its flowers, and will 
afford it a comfortable living till the blossom 
withers and the seed is formed. By that time the 
hoard will be exhausted, and the bulb which used 
to be so firm and white will have dwindled to a 
mere dry bunch of papery scales. However, the 
roots will then be long and strong, the leaves will 
be able and ready to work, and, all together, can 
collect enough not only to supply all present needs, 
but to lay by another capital for next spring's 


My daffodil blossoms are very yonng, and they 
must be guileless or they would neither have 
trusted anything so fickle as April sunshine^ nor 
yielded such ready credence to the traveller's tales 
of one possibly vagabond robin. It is consoling to 
think that, after all, they are the children of roots 
which have seen several seasons, and are fully alive 
to the advantages of having something laid by — 
perhaps literally in the hank. 

The snowdrop, the crocus, the narcissus, the 
hyacinth, and the jonquil were equally thrifty and 
industrious last summer, and they, too, profit by 
their prudence this spring. When they began to 
prepare their pretty new dresses, they found them- 
selves already in possession of plenty of material 
ready for use (Fig. 12). So the dainty costumes 
are fashioned betimes, and the wearers can steal a 
march upon less thrifty flowers, and secure the 
first attentions of the bees. The gladiolus has also 
laid by a hoard of rich gums and starches, and 
these will sustain the plant, while it bends all its 
energies upon decorative work. The savings of 
the gladiolus will go, partly to build up a spire of 
flowers, and partly to support the plant while it 
bends all its energies upon decorative work. 

The iris, the tulip, and most lilies owe their 


splendors to the indnstry and economy of last 
year's leaves and roots. The pond-lily root hides 

Fio, 13.— a, Bulb o 

materials down in the depths, which, at midsnm- 
mer, are fashioned into white robes for her beauti- 
ful danghters. 

The little anemones and spring beauties of the 
woods, small though thoy are, understand good 
management, and they have also made provision 


for the needs of this springes flowers. During 
early spring these bulbous plants are all prodigals, 
bent only on spending their capital and making 
a show in the world. In latter spring, when the 
flowers have faded, and when the precious seed is 
set, they go to the other extreme, and become 
misers, living only for their hoard. 

The carrot, parsnip, radish, beet, turnip, and 
oyster-plant, and the odoriferous and prosaic 
onion seldom get a chance to show what they can 
do in the way of decoration. During the first 
summer of their life these provident vegetables 
bend all their energies to the gathering together 
of a store of nutriment, which is stowed away 
underground for future use. If the carrot were 
left undisturbed till a second summer, its red, 
sweet flesh would then be transformed into several 
broad flat clusters of. delicate white blossoms. 
The turnip, if it had been let alone, would have 
made itself fine this summer with a number of 
pale blue flowers, in the form of the Greek cross. 
Even the onion would have surprised us with the 
beauty of its delicately-tinted blossoms, for, though 
we may think meanly of this plebeian vegetable, it 
is a member of a most ancient and honorable fam- 
ily, being a cousin to the famous Golden Lilies of 


France, and also to those Eastern lilies which are 
arrayed in more than kingly splendor. But the 
vegetables proposed and the gardener and the cook 
disposed. The savings of gum and starch which 
they had intended to transform into flowers were 
changed into human flesh, blood, bone, and nerve. 
Man, who robs all creation, stole and ate their 
hoard, as he steals and eats the summer harvest of 
the honey-bees. 

The wild carrots which sleep under the snow all 
winter, with no one to molest them, are going to 
appear in holiday dress this summer as a reward 
for their hard work and economy last year. But 
the fate of the garden carrots shows that habits of 
thrift cannot always ward off misfortune. How- 
ever, habits of thrift enable the daffodil to come 
forth again in beauty and vigor from the spot 
where blossom and foliage faded last year, as if 
the plant arose from its grave. The Greeks called 
it "asphodel," or "flower of life," and perhaps 
saw in it a symbol of immortality. This joyous- 
looking flower grows wild in the woods and thick- 
ets of northern Europe, and as Shakespeare men- 
tions it, it must have been cultivated in England 
three centuries ago. 

Its cousin, the graceful narcissus, is the subject 


of the old Greek tale of Narcissus, the youth, son 
of a river-god and a nymph, of exceeding beauty 
and very vain. Since there were no mirrors in 
those long-ago days he was always leaning over 
the brink of some calm river or pool admiring his 
reflection in the water. Nemesis, to punish his 
vanity and coldheartedness, caused him to fall 
desperately in love with his own mirrored form, 
lie died of this love-sickness, and from the spot 
where he perished sprang this flower, which in its 
natural state grows along the margin of calm 
waters, and leans downward, as if it were gazing 
on its own reflected face. 




About the time the robins and bhiebirds are 
singing the opening strains of summer's great eon- 
cert, the red maples burst into bloom. Then the 
birch puts forth a few tremulous tassels in token 
of rejoicing that tyrant Jack Frost is dethroned at 
last ; and in moist sheltered meadows alders 
flower and the downy willow-pussies appear. 

The floral efforts of the trees attract little notice 
from an unappreciative public. All trees bear 
flowers, but they are often green and inconspicu- 
ous. Those of most sorts appear in early spring 
when we are looking for the bursting of the leaf- 
buds, and they are apt to be mistaken for half- 
unfolded leaves. The red-maple flowers, how- 
ever, attract notice by their rich color and lavish 
abundance. " Pussy-willows '* are well known to 
every country child, and a stroller by the brook- 
sides in early spring could scarcely fail to observe 
the blossoms of the alder and the birch, conspicu- 
ous in the general colorlessness of the thickets. 


If we gather a branch of red maple and examine 
the garnet- colored blossoms closely, we shall find 
that what looked at first like single flowers are, in 
reality, little floral communities. Each is a group 
of four or five very small blossoms, crowded 
closely togetlier and walled about with a ring of 
red scales. Some of these minute flowers have 
many long slender yellow stamens, but no pistils. 
In the centres of others we find a two-forked red 
pistil, but no stamens. Others still are fully 
equipped and contain both stamens and pistils. 
The flowers with stamens only must give all their 
pollen away— easy generosity, for they have no use 
for it at home. They will intrust it to some of 
tlie bees and otlier insects which are already busy 
among the branches, doing their own errands and 
those of the flowers too. The flowers with pistils 
only will have to set their seed by aid of pollen 
brought from another blossom. Such seed is apt 
to bo large and strong, and the young plants which 
spring from it begin life with fine constitutions. 

The flowers which are doubly endowed, having 
both stamens and pistils, might be sufficient to 
tliomselves, one would think, asking no favors 
from v^ister-blossoms or from insects, but they 
greatly prefer imported pollen to that of home 


manufacture. They will send away their own 
pollen by some winged messenger, and the pistil 
will get little or none of it. But the pistil's wants 
will be supplied by gold-dust brought by zephyr 
or insect from another flower, or even perhaps 
from another tree. If these flowers are slighted 
by bees and breezes, the pollen which cannot 
be bestowed elsewhere may be used up at home. 
The stamens will give it to the pistil, and the 
pistil will have to do the best it can with the 
goods the gods provide. It may manage to form 
seed and prove its independence to the bees. 
However, the young plants which come from 
those seeds will be but weaklings, and in the 
struggle for life, which is constant and pitiless in 
both the animal and the vegetable world, they will 
very probably get the worst of it. 

For every country meadow is in sober truth a 
battle-field. Every species of plant "wants the 
earth," and might soon get it were it not for the 
active competition of other species. The green 
growing things about us are fighting for territory, 
and their law is that of savage communities all 
the world over: 

That tbey should take who have the power, 
And they should keep who can. 


It is the 'stern law of the survival of the fittest 
laid alike upon the lower organism and the 

The law by which the offspring resembles the 
parent is also laid upon all created things. If the 
little maple is child of a tree which bore stamens 
and pistils in separate flowers, it will arrange most 
of its blossoms on the parental plan. So each 
successive generation of maples is more disposed 
to bear what botanists call "divided flowers." 
Even now comparatively few of the flowers are, in 
botanic language, " perfect " (containing both sta- 
mens and pistils). The maple-trees which shall 
shelter the coming race will probably bear no 
perfect flowers at all; the production of such blos- 
soms will be a lost art to the maple family. 

In a moist corner of my garden two swamp-wil- 
lows shake out their pale tassels or " pussies " in 
the early sunshine (Fig. 13). Those on one are 
silvery green, and these are composed of a number 
of pistils, each partly covered by a fringed scale. 
The tassels on the other willow bush are yellow, 
and these consist of countless clusters of gold- 
tipped stamens, each cluster overlapped by a scale. 
These scales have been making themselves very 
useful earlier in the season. They have now be- 


—Willow Flowers. 

come separated by the lengthening of the tassel, 
but during the wiuter they were crowded closely 


together, and their overlapping furry fringes made 
a soft, warm covering for the young stamens and 

Though the willow blossoms make little show in 
the world, they succeed in attracting the notice 
due to modest merit. Their delicate prettiness, 
their faint perfume, and the hope of honey have 
already attracted a number of bees. These, after 
getting powdered with the pollen from the golden 
tassels, will fly with the precious dust to the silver- 
green ones, and thus enable the willow to set its 

The stamens of the birch are huddled together 
in loose clusters five or six inches long, and as soft 
as bits of wool chenille. The pistils are also 
closely clustered, and, small as they are, we can 
readily find them, for they are as red as the richest 

Long tassels of pale gold dangle from the alder 
bushes. These are dense clusters of stamens set 
closely together. The alder pistils,, each protected 
by a scale, grow close together in a head, like a 
pretty tiny cone. The alder and the birch avoid 
much inconvenience by their thrifty habit of 
bringing out their blossoms betimes, before the 
leaves unfold. Foliage would be sadly in the way 


of pollen, as it blew from branch to branch, or 
from tree to tree, and would interfere with its 
access to the pistils. The pistil in both these 
trees is forked and hairy, so that it may readily 
catch the life-giving dust as it flies by on spring 
breezes. When stamens and pistils grow in sepa- 
rate blossoms on the same tree we generally find 
that the stamen-bearing flowers are more abundant 
on the topmost boughs, and that the pistils are 
borne nearer to the ground. The pollen as it 
blows will drop a little, and so, flying and falling, 
it finds its way to the pistil, set low on purpose to 
catch it. 

The red-maple blossoms adopt the same plan, 
though they mainly depend upon early roving flies 
and bees for their pollen-carrying. 

On every red-maple tree there are some blos- 
soms which a botanist would call " perfect," be- 
cause they have both stamens and pistils. But 
the great majority of the flowers are specialists, 
some producing stamens only, while others put 
forth pistils only. The trees are endeavoring to 
be specialists too, for some bear staminate flowers 
almost exclusively, while on others all the blossoms 
are either pistillate or perfect. 

But here and there is a "general utility'' tree, 


bearing the three sorts of flower simultaneously. 
We can readily distinguish between the staminate 
and the pistillate maple-blossoms even when they 
grow high overheard. The pistil-bearing flowers 
are of a deep coral-red, while the numerous yellow 
stamens lend a paler hue to the blossoms which 
produce them. On a tree which bears both sorts 
we can see great numbers of pale thread-like sta- 
mens drooping from the upper boughs, and the 
ruddier blossoms which grow nearer to the gi'ound 
hold each a waiting pistil in its heart. 

When the bee comes, she makes her rounds as 
methodically as the postman. She always works 
from the ground upwards. She visits the lower 
branches first, and as she has been calling on 
other maple-flowers already, she comes to the 
pistil-bearing blossoms well powdered with pollen. 
As she soars higher, visiting flower after flower, 
she is lightened of her yellow load, and by the 
time all the powder is rubbed off her jacket she 
has scaled the tree to the place where the pollen- 
bearing flowers are borne. Ilere she takes on a 
fresh supply, and when she hums off, well content, 
to another maple, she carries her load of life-giving 
powder to the lower branches, where the pistils 


So the placing of the blossom on the bough, 
though it seems a very trifling matter, is not a 
mere affair of luck and chance. It is controlled 
by law, which regulates everything in nature, 
from the setting-on of a midge's wing to the 
motions of the stars through space. 





Each spring the hapless "poet of spring" re- 
ceives his annual dose of ridicule. A gainsaying 
public never tires of contrasting poetic descrip- 
tions of bird-songs, sunshine, and "balmy breath- 
ings from the South" with prosaic realities of 
nipping blasts, flying dust, frozen pumps, red 
noses, and aching fingers and toes. The poor 
May-queen is portrayed as she appears the day 
after the festival — discouraged, sneezing, and with 
throat tied up in red flannel. 

We forget that most of the well-known songs of 
spring are by English singers. They describe the 
season in England, where it is earlier than in our 
northern and middle States. We also forget that 
the "first of May" of the older English poets is 
in reality about the twelfth of the month; and 
twelve days at this time of year work a wonderful 
change in the landscape. 


On the other hand, our best-known and best- 
loved American spring poem was written of chill 
and bleak New England. Lowell's "June" in 
the country around Boston describes rather latter 
May in the neighborhood of New York or Phila- 
delphia, and early May in the vicinity of Norfolk 
or Cincinnati. 

Such local differences render it somewhat diffi- 
cult for a writer, eminent or otherwise, to treat 
of the season and its flowers. In each section of 
country, also, will be found pretty blossoms which 
are peculiar to the locality. 

Many of our late summer and autumn flowers 
have settled the country from Maine to California. 
Go where we will in August or September, golden- 
rod will wave its plumes to us from roadside 
banks and field borders. Clover, red and white, 
boneset, mullein, asters, bitter-sweet, the brown 
and golden daisy, and many other old friends will 
greet us wherever we may wander. But, as a rule, 
what is peculiar to the locality appears early, and 
the student of botany will find his greatest inter- 
est among the first flowers of the year. 

Those of us who are not students will feel, for 
different reasons, that of all the children of sum- 
mer the first-born can least be spared. They are, 


it is true, mostly small and pale, and would be 
effaced beside the rose or among the regal splen- 
dors of iris, poppy, geranium, and cardinal-flower. 
But these gorgeous ladies do not deign to visit ns 
till the world is well warmed, decorated, and per- 
fumed for their reception. They are the " grand 
toilettes " which come to the ball late, when the 
musicians are playing and the festivities are in 
full blast. But the spring flowers have braved 
stern skies and nipping winds to give us greeting, 
and to tell us that, in spite of appearances, " win- 
ter is over and gone, and the time of the singing 
of birds has come '' indeed. They look appealing, 
shy, and tender, in their simple dresses, and seem 
in truth what Herrick quaintly calls the violets, 
" maiden posies.'' 

When the streams are just leaping in recovered 
freedom and the robin sings his wooing song, 
in a wooded hollow sheltered from the north 
wind we find hepatica, first-begotten of spring. 
" Youth and age " it might be called, for the open- 
ing flowers are in the midst of a clump of leathery 
leaves wearing autumnal tints of brown and pur- 
ple. They have weathered the winter, and look 
decidedly used up after their rough experience 
but will stay at the post of duty till the plant gets 


reinforcements in a new set of leaves which will 
appear after blossoming-time. The flower-stalk 
is fuzzy, for the discouragement of ants, which 
might try to climb up it after pollen or honey. 
Just under the flower is a green collar which sim- 
ulates a calyx, but it is "nothing but leaves,^' out 
from among which the flower is lifted on a little 
stalk. The real sepals are petal-like and conspic- 
.uous, white or very pale shades of purple, blue, 
and pink. There are no petals. The family are 
from Europe, and, like some other immigrants, 
look so simple that one wonders how they have 
been able to roam so far. 

In damp thickets and under hedge-rows we will 
find the pretty, shy wood or true anemone (Fig. 
14). Three-toothed leaves surround the tender 
stalk about midway between the root and the sin- 
gle drooping flower. The five — or rarely six — 
white flower-leaves, flushed and tipped with pink, 
are called, not petals, but sepals. Many of our 
first wild flowers are dressed in this economical 
fashion, with but one row of leaves around the 

" Anemone '' is from a Greek word which means 
the wind, and also a spirit or a breath : perhaps 
becaTise the breath is the life, or because there was 



Fig. 14.— Wood Ankmone {Aiwmone nemetvtai. 


the dim thought, even in heathen minds, that the 
soul of man was given by the breath of God. 
This pretty woodland thing is called "wind- 
flower" because it ventures forth while the high 
winds of early spring are yet abroad ; or, accord- 
ing to another explanation, because it is so frail 
that the rose-tipped sepals fall at a breath. 

Its distant cousin, the rue anemone, is much 
easier to find, and is very common everywhere in 
open woods, rising from among last autumn's 
drifted leaves. This child of spring has no bash- 
ful tricks of bending its head, but stares at the 
sky boldly. The flowers are borne at the top of 
the slender stalk, often in a cluster of three or 
more, and, like those of true anemone, have con- 
spicuous sepals and no petals. The wood anemone 
is a good arithmetician, and almost always wears 
five of these; but rue anemone seems to have for- 
gotten how to count, and decks herself with any 
number, from four to seventeen. 

Those of us who rail at the dandelion as a vul- 
gar weed will not be disenchanted by hearing 
that its botanic name is taraxacum, and the bitter 
medicine of that name is extracted from its root. 
Though at the first glance it looks like one flower, 
it is really an assemblage of from one to two hun- 


dred tiny blossoms. In fine weather they stand 
open, but at night and during rain they close 
completely, and thus save their pollen and honey 
from being washed away. 

The stigma is shaped like the letter T, and if 
no insect callers bring it pollen, it after a while 
twists its two arms in among the stamens and 
gathers pollen for itself; for these florets, unlike 
most blossoms, can set seed by their own pollen. 
The honey, however, is so abundant, and rises so 
high in the wee blossom, that it is very accessible 
to insects, no less than ninety-three sorts of which 
have been known to visit this flower. 

The stem of the dandelion is a hollow column, 
whicli, as every engineer knows, unites the utmost 
strength with economy of material. The seeds, 
when ripe, will be provided with a little silken 
parachute apiece, and they will thus compel the 
wind to blow them far and wide. 

Truly this gamin of the fields is wonderfully 
fitted to the conditions of its life. All "common 
weeds " are, and it is for this very reason that they 
are so common. 

The violet is another highly organized flower, 
fitted to profit to the utmost by visits of insects, 


if they come, or to .do without them if they stay 

On the two upper petals of the violet and of 
the pansy are delicate dark lines, running down- 
ward and inward. Such markings occur in many 
flowers, and are called "honey-guides'' because, 
at the point to which they converge, the hidden 
sweets of the blossom may be found. 

In a flower laid out on a circular pattern, one in 
which the halves are alike, or nearly so, no matter 
where a bisecting line is drawn, these honey-guides 
will be faintly marked or altogether absent. In a 
rose, a water-lily, or a buttercup we will look for 
them in vain. An insect, even of the most limited 
experience, will readily understand that the honey 
in this case must be called for at the centre of the 
flower. The more lopsided and irregular the 
shape of the blossom, the more difficult it is for 
the insect to find the honey, and the more plainly, 
therefore, these markings appear. The odd mask- 
shaped flowers of the snapdragon sort owe their 
beauty, in great measure, to the bright golden dots 
or rich dark lines whicli indicate the whereabouts 
of their stored sweets. In the common garden 
geranium, a flower but slightly irregular in form, 
the honey-guides appear as a very few faint dark 


lines on the two upper petals. In the rose-gera- 
nium, which is less regular in pattern, they are 
much darker and more numerous, and in the 
" Lady Washington " geranium, the most lopsided 
blossom of the two, they appear as broad velvety 
stripes on the two upper petals, and add greatly 
to the beauty of the flower. 

Inside the violet is a tuft of soft fine hairs. 
What are these for ? 

Bees are welcome visitors, but ants and such 
small crawlers are not. They would eat the honey, 
and perhaps the pollen also, but as they are not 
large or strong enough to shake the stamens, 
would not carry away any of the golden dust on 
their bodies. So they might rifle flower after 
flower without doing any fetching and carrying to 
pay for the unearned sweets. 

So the violet tries to keep the rascals out, and 
eifects this object by the tuft of hairs in its throat. 
To the ant this is an impenetrable jungle. 

The violet is cousin to the pansy: indeed, our 
gorgeous garden heartsease is developed by cul- 
ture from the wild pansy-violet of Europe and 
northern Asia. This lovely stranger has settled 
in a few places in our Southern and Middle States 
— a wanderer from the Old World, or, perhaps, a 


truant from the garden-plot of some immigrant 
who loved this gentle reminder of spring at home. 
This pansy-violet will be known by the size and 
striking beauty of its velvety petals. 

"It is strange/' says Darwin, "how long the 
flowers of heartsease may be watched without 
seeing one being visited by an insect. During one 
summer I repeatedly watched some large clumps 
of heartsease, many times daily for a fortnight, 
before I saw a bumblebee at work. Then I saw a 
dark-colored bumblebee visit almost every flower 
in several clumps; and after a few days almost all 
the flowers suddenly withered and produced fine 
capsules. A certain state of the atmosphere seems 
to be necessary for the secretion of nectar, and 
as soon as this occurs it is perceived by various 
insects, I presume by the odor emitted by the 
flowers, and these are immediately visited.^' 

Besides the showy-colored flowers with which 
we are all familiar, most sorts of the violet possess 
minute flowers, which, however, bear abundance 
of seed. These appear later in the year, and are 
not only much smaller than the others, but almost 
without petals. The bright-pe tailed sort is depen- 
dent on the visits of insects, especially of bees. 
Opening as it does in spring, when there is not 


much stinshine to tempt insect rovers abroad, it 
may not receive a single call, and thus be unable 
to set its seed. But the plant has not staked all 
its fortune upon these; better things may be 
looked for from the second set of flowers, which 
habitually fertilize themselves, and thus the violet 
" has a heart [and is prepared] for any fate/' 

Other spring flowers might find it to their 
advantage to adopt the same plan. But the violet, 
as its whole structure shows, can boast a long 
pedigree, and comes of a family which has had 
countless generations wherein to become adapted 
to its way of life. The purple dresses of most of 
the members of this family are worn on purpose 
to please their chosen visitor, the bee; for bees are 
most attracted, as Sir John Lubbock has proved, 
by blue, purple, and magenta inclining to purple. 

The drooping attitude of the blossom is also not 
v/ithout its reason, as this prevents rain and dew 
from getting in to wash away the pollen and 
honey. Many cup-shaped flowers have learned 
the same habit, for the same reason. 

The hyacinth droops, and so do the "lily of the 
valley," the fuchsia, bluebell, snowdrop, and a 
score of otliers. To some old French botanist the 
drooji of the pansy suggested the fancy that the 


flower was pondering on its stalk, and so he called 
it pensee, — thought, — whence our word pansy. 
" There is pansies," says poor mad Ophelia, " that^s 
for thoughts." 




Every country child knows " Jack-in-the-pul- 
l)it," and can tell just where it will be found amid 
the woods in spring. It grows in moist shady 
ground, and is a poor relation of the stately calla. 
At the heart of the calla is a tall golden column, 
and one great cream-white leaf is wrapped about 
it. "Jack-in-the- pulpit,'^ also called "wild arum " 
and "Indian turnip" (Fig. 15), is like the calla in 
form, though quite unlike it in coloring. The 
central column in wild arum is green, and the 
large enfolding leaf is also green, sometimes deco- 
rated with dark brown stripes. It is curled into a 
sort of cornucopia, and one corner droops over the 
column, so that "Jack'^ has a sounding-board 
over his head as well as a pulpit to stand in. But 
in spite of his clerical attitude and surroundings, 
he is by no means above reproach, and the pulpit, 
however ecclesiastical in outward seeming, is but 
a trap for the detention and ultimate destruction 
of guileless and hapless flies. 



Ripened Pistils. Central Column of a 

Stamiuate Flower. 

Fig. 15.— Indian Turnip (Arimma triphyllum). 


Let us gather an arum and strip off the enfold- 
ing leaf, take " Jack " out of his pulpit, in fact, and 
see just what he is like. He or it is a glossy 
column, supported by a short and slender stalk. 
Around the base of the column in this flower 
there are a number of green pistils growing close 
together in a broad compact ring. Just above 
these in one " jack '' out of a dozen we find a few 
round white anthers with no filaments to speak 
of, but most likely the stamens will be found deep 
down inside another arum, growing, perhaps, at 
some distance from the first. 

When the anthers ripen and open, they shed a 
quantity of mealy pollen, which drops to the pul- 
pit floor. But it is utterly useless here, while the 
green pistils shut up in the other pulpit need it 
sorely and cannot mature at all without its aid. 
So the Jack that has the pollen sends some to the 
Jack that wants it, and a gnat or a marsh-fly is 
employed as a messenger. 

In almost every young staminate arum we find 
two or three small insects. They are destined 
to a career of usefulness, though they have come 
in without the least idea of seeking employment. 
They have crawled in to look for honey, or because 
the overarching leaf " spathe," like a green tent, 


shelters them from rain and wind, and, once in, 
they cannot get out. There is no room in the 
narrow space between the central column and 
the enfolding leaf for the fly to spread his wings. 
After he has tried the experiment many times, 
only to tumble back with a bumped head, he 
attempts to crawl out. But this is impossible 
also; the inside of the pulpit is as smooth and 
slippery as ice. On the most highly polished 
window-pane there are spots of dirt and roughness 
invisible to our eyes; a fly catches hold of these 
with his clawed feet, and thus he can crawl up 
the perpendicular glass. But he can get no foot- 
hold on the shining inner walls of the arum. His 
gymnastic exercises and fruitless efforts are comi- 
cal to witness, and remind one of the old English 
sport, where a leg of mutton was stuck up on top 
of a smooth pole which had been well greased, 
and the country lads attempted, each in turn, to 
clamber up and secure it. The meat was some- 
times won, we hear, so the country lad must have 
occasionally surmounted the pole and all its diffi- 
culties, but an entrapped insect never succeeds in 
clambering out of the arum. 

Among the stamens he can find a little honey — 
dainty fare for a prisoner — and this keeps him 


alive for many hours. Meantime the anthers 
ripen and open, and the imprisoned flies are 
thickly dusted with pollen. Now they have 
received what they are to deliver, and they may 
go. They suddenly find that there is a door in 
their jail, and it stands ajar so that they can slip 
out. The edges of the enfolding leaf have sepa- 
rated and curled backwards, leaving an opening at 
the base of the flower by which a small insect can 
easily escape, and he goes, carrying a load of pollen 
with him. 

Before this is all rubbed off, the fly seems to 
conclude that after all it is a good thing to have 
a roof overhead, and he again seeks shelter in an 
arum. If this chances to be one containing the 
undeveloped berries, he is indeed a welcome guest, 
for he comes bringing the very quickening powder 
which they need. 

But "Jack-in-the-pulpit^^ is not only a deceiver, 
but an ingrate. The flies have served his turn, 
and now he has no further use for them and is 
indifferent to their fate. They get no honey here, 
and soon begin to feel the pangs of hunger. They 
strive to get out in vain. There is no doorway 
here opening out to sunlight and liberty, but 
shining prison-walls shut the captive in on every 


side. If he is very adroit and persevering, he may 
manage to squeeze out between the overlapped 
edges of the spathe. But it is evident that most 
of the prisoners die of starvation, for among the 
ripening pistils I generally find several bodies of 
insects that have perished that a future generation 
of arums might be born. 

There is something terrible in this sacrifice of 
the sensate to the insensate, of the higher to the 
lower being. It is consoling to know that floral 
traps, such as this, are rare in nature. 

Most flowers employ insect messengers to carry 
the life-giving pollen, but most flowers are just 
and generous in their dealings, and dismiss their 
little employes in safety, well paid in pretty 
shows, rich feasts, and sweet odors. 

A near relation of our Jack-in-the-pulpit 
abounds in England and is called by the country 
children " lords and ladies,'^ or sometimes " cuckoo- 
pint " because it unrolls its single green and pur- 
ple streaked leaf about the time the cuckoo's first 
notes are heard. " cuckoo-pint," says the glad 
Httle birthday-keeper in the first of Jean Ingelow's 
** Songs of Seven,'' "toll me the purple clapper 
that hangs in your clear green bell." 

The greenish-white water-arum or marsh-calla. 

74 wiva TUB mLD Fwnrnia. 

F,a. 16.-A..K0W ...B" lPrfW»«~»rs.W«)- 


another humble cousin of the stately Easter lilies, 
grows in cold bogs in the Northern States, and 
flowers in June. 

The summer rambler may not care to venture 
into its soggy and oozy abiding-place, but he or 
she can scarcely fail to find another humble cousin 
of the stately hot-house callas, the arrow-arum 
{Peltandra virginica). This plant is very com- 
mon everywhere, in moist fields and around the 
margins of ponds. 

Amid a dense cluster of lustrous arrow-shaped 
leaves is a blossom bearing a general resemblance 
to " Jack-in-the-pulpit," but the spathe, or enfold- 
ing leaf, is thick, narrow, erect, and pointed at the 
upper end. After the seed is set the flower-stalk 
doubles over and grows downward, and this point 
acts as a sort of auger by which the spathe grad- 
ually bores its way into the ground. Tlien, having 
served its purpose, it withers away and the seeds 
ripen in the warm mud, secure from hungry ene- 



Whatever Nature is going to make, she always 
begins in the same way. 

Whether the completed and matured form is 
that of a bird, insect, reptile, man, fern, beast, or 
tree, the very beginning is, in every case, the same. 
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes compares creative 
Nature to a glass-blower, who always commences 
with a little vesicle or sphere, no matter what he 
is going to make. 

From a single cell originated the great cherry- 
tree now towering before my window. The tree 
made its appearance years ago, as a tender seed- 

Before it was a seedling it was a tiny germ, 
folded and packed away within a cherry-stone. 
The cherry which contained the stone was the 
ripened ovary of a cherry-blossom. 

When that flower unfolded its petals in the sun- 
shine of a long-vanished spring, there formed, at 
the top of the ovule, or baby cherry-stone, the tiny 


cell whence this great tree originated. If no pol- 
len had reached the stigma of that blossom, the 
cell would have perished when the flower faded, 
and this tree would never have.existed. 

However, the golden dust was brought by an 
insect, for the conspicuous petals of the cherry- 
blossoms show that they are insect-fertilized. Di- 
rectly a speck of pollen adhered to the sticky 
stigma it began to do its appointed work there 
(Fig. 17). The microscopic tube from its interior 
pierced the loose tissue of the pistil, till it reached 
the cell within the ovule, and broke into the cell- 

Then the minute drop of liquid which had been 
kept in the pollen-grain against this contingency 
flowed down through the fairy hose into the cell 
so tiny yet so full of possibilities. The cell at 
once began to enlarge, dividing and subdividing 
itself till it became many cells instead of one. 
After growing for some time in this way, the mass 
of cells began to take the form of a little plant. 
As if moulded by fairy fingers from without, 
instead of by the wonder-working life-principle 
from within, a little stem and two delicate folded 
leaves appeared. 

The old alchemists sought long and eagerly for 



the elixir of life; it was the dream of the middle 
The botanist might think to have found the 

Fig. 17.— Pollen-gkain Emitting the Pollkn-tubk 


(From The Vegetable World.) 

reality, in minute drops, in the golden pollen- 

A cherry-blossom has but one pistil and one 
ovary. This ovary, which ripens into the cherry, 
contains only one seed, the cherry-stone. 


A very few grains of pollen will meet all the 
blossom's needs — just how few nobody knows. 

Botanists believe that more than one pollen - 
grain is needed for the development of each germ. 
One authority places the number required by 
some ovules as high as seven. Even if the little 
cherry-pistil does its work with the utmost disre- 
gard of economy, seven grains of gold will meet 
all its requirements. But around it stand a ring 
of stamens, from fifteen to twenty of them, each 
with a whole pocketful of pollen-grains, — more 
than seventy times seven. Equally lavish supplies 
of gold-dust have been furnished to the anthers of 
other flowers. We are almost inclined to doubt 
the saying that " Nature ne\er wastes/' in view of 
her prodigality in filling the anthers with pollen. 
The purpose of this apparent extravagance is to 
insure enough vitalizing dust for Nature's needs, 
even after its quantity has been greatly reduced 
by various mischances. 

Much pollen is blown away, or dropped by in- 
sects elsewhere than on the stigma, and so wasted ; 
some is eaten by ants and other crawling intru- 
ders. Thus we see that the supply of golden dust 
shed by the stamens of flowers is not so over- 
abundant as one might at first suppose. 


We have seen that when the pistil is fertilized 
by pollen brought from another blossom, or, bet- 
ter still, from another plant, stronger germs are 
formed. Some plants, like the oak and the pine, 
make sure of cross-fertilization by bearing two 
sets of flowers; some with stamens only, and 
others with pistils only. Such are called " di- 
vided '^ or "separated" flowers. The blossoms 
with stamens only are called staminate or sterile; 
while those with pistils only are called fertile or 
pistillate (Fig. 18). 

The begonias of our green-houses and garden- 
beds grow in this way: On one branch we find 
flowers, the delicate shell-like petals of which in- 
close a cluster of stamens, and no pistils whatever. 
The pistils will be found in other blossoms, some- 
what different in form, growing on other branches 
of the same plant. 

The castor-oil bean also bears two sorts of 
flowers; one consists merely of a great cluster of 
stamens, while its companion -blossom, close by, is 
a group of three-forked and curving pistils. The 
most familiar plant bearing separated flowers is 
the Indian corn. Growing sidewise from the 
stalk of the plant, wrapped in shining leaves, is 
the pistillate flower, or, in every-day language, the 


0. 18.— Divided Flowers of the Oak and Pine. 
a, a, Stamihate ; S, S, risTiMiATis. 

{From Tht Vegetable VIoiid.) 


young cob. The white grains ranked on its sur- 
face are immature ovaries, and connected with 
each is a very long slender glossy style. These 
hang out in a cluster from the top of the green 
sheath, ready to catch any passing breeze, freighted 
with pollen-grains. They are the familiar " com- 
silk.'^ The stamen-bearing flowers grow in a 
cluster on the top of the plant, and form the 
'* tassel '^ of the corn. 

Both gi'oups of flowers are so inconspicuous 
tliat we see at once that tassel and corn-silk are 
accustomed to employ the wind as their go-be- 
tween. As the pollen blows it falls somewhat, 
and were the pistils set higher than the stamens, 
or even on a level with them, they might never 
receive the fertilizing grains at all. Thus many of 
the ovaries might never ripen into gi'ains of corn, 
and men and animals would suffer for lack of 
one of the great food-products of the world. But 
Creative Wisdom has set the stamen-bearing flower 
above its pistil-bearing mate. The pollen, blow- 
ing and falling, reaches the waiting stigma below, 
and so there is seed for next yearns planting, and 
grain enough besides to feed millions of hungry, 

Sometimes the separation of stamen and pistil 


is still wider, and they grow not only in separate 
flowers, but on separate plants. This is the case 
with aspens and poplars. 

The pollen of these trees must often be blown 
long distances to reach the pistils, and in transit 
much of it has a chance to get wasted. Hence the 
stamens must shed enough not only to supply the 
pistils, but to compensate for all that is blown 
away by wanton winds or dropped short of its 
destination by idle ones. The staminate flowers 
of the silver poplar or " cottonwood '' shed such 
quantities of pollen that, on a breezy spring day, 
it may be seen blowing from the branches in light 

Insect-fertilized flowers get their pollen-carry- 
ing done by shedding abroad perfumes, by offering 
free lunches of nectar, and by hanging out attrac- 
tive advertisements in the form of dainty or brill- 
iant petals. Wind-fertilized flowers need be at 
no such pains, but, on the other hand, must pro- 
duce great quantities of pollen to compensate for 
waste. Almost all our native trees bear " divided " 
flowers, and many of them rely on the wind as 
their go-between. This is why the blossoms of so 
many sorts appear in early spring, before the 
young leaves unfold. Foliage would be seriously 


in the way of pollen blowing from branch to 
branch or from tree to tree. 

So if there really were tongues in trees, and if 
the cherry and the cottonwood could argue on the 
comparative merits of their different modes of pro- 
cedure, we should have to acknowledge, as we do 
about so many other debated points, that " there 
is much to be said on both sides of the question.'' 




'* The bees/' says Grant Allen, " have their cal- 
endar/' It begins with willow-pussies and cro- 
cuses, goes on with wild hyacinths, columbine, 
apple-blossoms, clover, and thistles, and ends in 
the imperial splendors of goldenrod and asters. 
For on the one hand the bees must have a succes- 
sion of blossoms all the year round (except in mid- 
winter) or they could never get on at all; while 
on the other hand the flowers themselves need 
each a time when they can depend upon receiving 
their fair share in the attention of the insects, or 
they might never set their seed at all. 

The crocus is a bee flower, and by getting her 
dainty cup ready so betimes she is able to secure 
the attentions of the insect before they are en- 
grossed by the less enterprising beauties of later 
spring. The buttercups divide the season between 
them for their mutual benefit. Before the anem- 
ones have shed their delicate sepals, the earlier 


sort show their welcome sunny faces. These are 
the bulbous buttercups, and are first on the field 
of action just because of the bulb. After these 
have set their seed, the meadow buttercups put in 
an appetu-ance, with daisies and red clover, having 
been busily occupied meantime; first, in forming 
long and strong roots, and then in collecting raw 
material for the flowers. Thus the little pollen- 
carriers which are partial to buttercups have time 
to bestow due attention upon both. Buttercups 
are called king-cups or gold-cups by English chil- 
dren; Shakespem^e calls them "cuckoo-buds of 
yellow hue/* and tells us that they " do paint the 
nieadows with delight.'^ 

Before the bee has time to miss the willow cat- 
kins, lier friends the violets are here. These are 
soon followed by her yet dearer friends the wild 
hyacinths, which in May beautify moist meadows 
and river banks with great clusters of blue or lilac 
bells. It is a pity to inflict on them the ugly 
name of squills?. They rise from white bulbs large 
and well filled with rich gums and starches for the 
sustenance of the flowers. All this provision was 
collected and stored li^t year by the grass-like 
leaves; and by its aid the hyacinth is able to 
*" steal a march " on less thrifty plants, and bid 


for the early attentions of her chosen visitor, the 

As in the garden hyacinth, the pretty bells 
droop; for if they stood erect they would soon re- 
solve themselves into little water-jars, and thus 
the pollen and honey would be spoilt, and the bee, 
when she called, would get nothing but disap- 

The hyacinth has six blue (or purple) flower- 
leaves, of which three must be calyx and three 
corolla. But which is which ? It is well-nigh 
impossible to tell, and botanists elude the question 
by calling the whole circle of blue leaves the 

For flowers, though they look as if they had 
nothing to do with a subject so dry as arithmetic, 
are generally constructed on a regular numerical 
plan. The hyacinth has six "divisions of the 
perianth, '' which shows that its ancestors had 
three sepals and three petals. It has six, or twice 
three, stamens, one stuck to each blue flower-leaf, 
and in the middle a single pistil; but if we cut 
this pistil across the middle with a sharp penknife, 
we see at once that it is in reality, or rather it once 
was, three. The crocus, the trillium, and all the 
many sorts of lily are organized on the same plan. 


and, unlike the dunce of the nursery rhyme, seem 
to have mastered, for they certainly practise, the 
rule of three. 

Sometimes the parts of the blossom are in quar- 
tets: four sepals, four or eight petals, four, eight, 
or twelve stamens, and a seed-vessel splitting when 
ripe into four parts. Stone-crop, geranium, " lady 
sour-grass," and some others are organized on the 
plan of five. But almost all flowers follow a reg- 
ular numerical plan, or, where there is irregularity, 
something in the structure shows that there once 
was such a plan, though it has been partially aban- 
doned and forgotten. 

In the wild hyacinth, the six parts of the flower, 
draw closely together and form a deep cup with a 
drop of honey glistening at the bottom. This 
form, like the blue or purple color of the flower, is 
designed to win the approbation of bees, for in a 
deep blossom like this a bee can be comfortably 
sure of a drop of honey for her pains. A smaller 
insect cannot reach down so far. In the garden 
hyacinth the. union of flower-leaves has gone still 
further, and they have actually grown all together 
into a tube. 

The trillium, which one finds in rich moist 
woods, is a sort of distant cousin to the hyacinth, 


and both belong to the very large and important 
lily family. The " tri " in the name of this plant 
means three; it occurs in tri-ple, tri-dent, and tri- 
une, and trillium is so called because it faithfully 
follows the rule of three throughout. Even the 
green leaves are in a cluster of three on the sum- 
mit of the stalk, and in their midst is the one 
large flower, with three sepals, three petals, three 
stamens, and three pistils. The petals in some 
sorts of trillium are white; in others, dull dark 
purple; and in others again, white tinged with 
pink or green. 

The hyacinth belongs to an old branch of the 
lily family, and must have had many generations 
wherein to become so wonderfully adapted to tlie 
needs of its life. But trillium represents a 
younger branch; sometimes it forgets how to be a 
flower at all, and relapses into a mere cluster of 
leaves. The first flowers which appear on earth, 
unfolding in the shade of those great pines and 
tree-ferns which Nature's forces have since made 
into coal for us, were members of the lily family, 
and probably resembled this trillium. The old 
English name for this flower is wake-robin, for 
flower and bird appear at about the same time. 

Another pretty member of the lily family, 


erithronium, adder's-tongne, or dog-tooth violet, 
displays its nodding flowers everywhere in woods 
and copses. Two smooth, shining leaves, some- 
times curiously blotched, sheathe the base of the 
flower-stalk, and from between them rises one 
white or yellow drooping blossom, with its curving 
petals pointed like a dog's tooth. 

On rocks, especially in northerly aspects, nods 
the columbine (Fig. 19), sometimes unkindly 
called " jacket and breeches." The flower is scar- 
let outside, yellow within. The sepals are as brill- 
iant as the petals, which are in the form of hollow 
spurs and point backward like little red tails. At 
the end of each of these five spurs or long pockets 
is a drop of nectar. The stamens and pistils grow 
all together in the midst of the flower, in a little 

When the bee comes for honey, she has to reach 
down for it into the very ends of the long red 
pockets. In trying to do so she is apt to alight in 
the middle of the flower and twist about there, 
rubbinff continuallv afi:ainst the tuft of stamens 

O I/O 

and pistils. In so doing she will get well dusteil 
with pollen with which to fly to another colum- 
bine. The honey-pockets are. so long that few 
insects can roach down to the end of them; so the 


Fig. 19. — The CuLUMBiNii (Aquilegia caiuitleiuis). 


columbine entertains only a small select circle, 
and the cultivated sorts often bespeak the good 
oftiees of the bee by wearing her blue and purple. 
Columbine moans two doves. 

•* O Columbine, open your folded wrapper 
W'b©n> two twin turtle-doves dwell," 

says Jean Ingelow in "Songs of Seven.** If we 
pull of! from the flower two sepals with the long 
packet or petal between them, the three together 
boar some rosomblanee to a bird with partly ex- 
panded wings. This remarkable fowl, it is true, 
pokes his wiugs out before him in a manner never 
bofon> attempted except by a pasteboard bin! on 
the operatic stage. Rut fanciful as the resem- 
blance may seem, the Romans saw it ages ago. 
To them the bird suggested the national eagle, and 
hence the columbine's botanic name, aquilegia^ 
from aifidhu an eagle. 

In the more northern States, in latter spring 
rockv woods are a:av wiih rosv clustercJ of wild 
pii\ks. Further south, and somewhat earlier, the 
no less beautiful scarlet pinks appear. These 
flowers arc of the shape which their cousin the 
garden carnation was before it wiis changed, not to 
say deformed, by culture. The English name for 


the wild pink is " catch-fly," and whoever picks 
one will find out why. The flower-stalk just below 
the flower, and the calyx are covered with gum ; 
and in this unhappy crawlers seeking pollen and 
honey get clogged and killed. Sixty-two pathetic 
little corpses were counted by a naturalist on one 
single stem of a viscid kind of pink. 

The stamens of these blossoms ripen first, and 
protrude from the slender throat, waiting for a 
chance to intrust their powdered gold to some 
winged messenger. Having done this, they with- 
draw into the flower-tube, and then the pistil 
comes up and spreads two arms abroad to receive 
a donation of pollen from some insect friend. In 
this way the pink is certain to set its seed by pollen 
brought from some other pink ; in botanic lan- 
guage it " insures cross-fertilization." 

The garden petunia, like the pink, has gummy 
stems, and many insect prowlers come to grief 
thereon. A writer in the "Popular Science 
Monthly" is of opinion that the petunia is not 
content to merely murder these unfortunates. 
The little corpses, she says, are actually digested 
by juices which flow from the plant. In fact they 
are not only slain but eaten. "About sunset," 
says this writer, "the petunia breathes forth a 


sweet and powerful odor, and at the same time the 
gum on the stalks becomes more abundant." This 
is the fateful hour when many little insects are 
beguiled and ensnared. 

This is a dreadful accusation, and it is a wonder 
that the petunia is able to hold up her head when 
such aspersions on her character are abroad. It is 
to be hoped that the pinks, so pretty and merry- 
looking, only use their insect trap in self-defence, 
. and do not help out their diet of dew and sunshine 
with food obtained in such a questionable way. 

In May and June, flowering laurel, " fresh and 
fair," spreads over shady hillsides its lovely 
minfflinoj of white and rose. 

The laurel of the swamps beautifies herself with 
lilac-purple flowers at about the same time, and 
by latter June has resumed her workaday dress 
of shining green. This swamp laurel grows only 
one or two feet high, Avhile "calico-bush," or 
mountain laurel, will sometimes attain a height of 
twenty feet. 

Tlie flowers of the varieties differ only in size 
and color, and are all constructed on the same 
plan. Ten little humps are ranged in a circle 
around the outside of each pretty bud. When the 
flower opens and spreads out as it does into the 


form of a saucer, we see that on the inside of the 
corolla the ten humps (as an Irishman might say) 
are ten hollows or dimples. Ten stamens with 
long slender stalks surround a yet longer pistil. 
But these stamens, instead of standing erect as in 
most flowers, are bent downward and outward, and 
each has its head fixed into one of the hollows of 
the corolla. 

The inside of the flower looks something like an 
open umbrella turned upside down. Ten stamens 
spread out like the ribs, while the pistil stands up 
in the midst like the handle. Around the base of 
this pistil the honey is stored, and the bee in ex- 
tracting it circles about over the corolla, thrusting 
her proboscis in from every side. Hovering there 
she is almost certain to jostle successively each 
stamen so as to dislodge it from the little pocket 
into which its head is fixed. As if resenting the 
disturbance, the stamen flies up like a spring- 
board, suddenly and elastically, and throws at the 
bee a little shower of pollen. " Then flying to 
another blossom, the insect brings its pollen-dusted 
body against the top of the pistil, and revolving 
around it, as if on a pivot, while it sucks the nectar 
in the bottom of the flower-cup, liberates the 
bowed stamens and receives fresh charges of pollen 


from that flower while fertilizing it with the pol- 
len of the preceding one. When a cluster of 
laurel flowers is covered with fine gauze so that 
insects are excluded, no stamen gets free of itself, 
and no seed sets." * 

Open woods and field borders in latter May and 
early June are lavishly adorned with the common 
wild geradium [Geranium maculattim). Only bo- 
tanical analysis shows its relationship to our gar- 
den variety. The conspicuous fiowers are more 
than an inch broad, widely opened, and of a rosy 
purple color. Three or more grow together in a 
loose branching cluster. The green leaves are 
broad and beautifully cut, and the seed-vessel is 
long and pointed like a beak, whence the English 
name for the plant, " crane's-bill," and the German 
name, " stork's-beak." This plant can be useful 
as well as ornamental; for from its roots, rich in 
tannin, gargles and other medicines are extracted. 

In most geraniums the stamens ripen first and 
have their pollen 2)repared before the pistil is 
ready to turn it to account. But their charity 
does not begin at home, and the welfare of the 
pistil is not the object in view. The golden dust 
is to be shed on the fuzzy jacket of some bee, 

* Prof. Gray. 


which will soon chance by and be lured by the 
purple so dear to her heart. Then the pistil will 
mature and spread forth five eager little arms of 
welcome to winged callers. We have several vari- 
eties of wild geranium; some smaller sorts bear 
in flowers and foliage a strong family likeness 
to the garden rose-geranium (Fig. 20). 

In rich woods we find the little yellow and white 
dicentra, called, from the odd shape of the blossom, 
"Dutchman's-breeches." The green leaves of this 
plant are so finely cut as to look like little ferns. 
Another variety of dicentra has heart-shaped 
flowers, white tinged with rose, and breathing a 
fragrance like that of hyacinths. They dangle all 
in a row along the under side of a curved stalk five 
or six inches long, and in general get-up bear a 
resemblance to those of their more showy relative, 
our garden "bleeding-heart." In Dutchman's- 
breeches and in bleeding-heart the stamens are 
gathered about the pistil in a close-fitting ring, 
and all are shut up together between the s])oon- 
shaped tips of two odd-looking petals. One would 
say that such blossoms were purposely arranged 
to exclude insects and do without them. Yet they 
produce nectar and are visited by bees. Indeed, if 
the blossoms are covered with gauze so as to keeji 
away insects, little or no seed is formed. 



How wonderfully Nature clears away all litter 
and ugliness ! We know how prolific many little 
wild creatures are; and because there are not more 
of them about we must be sure that many die each 
year. Yet how seldom, on a country walk, one 
finds a dead bird or squirrel or snake or even a 
dead beetle. And flowers, when their days of 
beauty are over, vanish in the same mysterious 
way. The fruit-blossoms shed their petals, a slow- 
dropping fragrant snow, but soon the patch be- 
neath the tree is as green as any other part of the 
meadow. The petals of the rose, the buttercup, 
and a score of others are wafted away by the 
breeze. Literally, "the wind passeth over them 
and they are gone.*' 

How few flowers, dying, leave — so to speak — a 
dead body. The iris withdraws into its green 
sheath like a bud. The water-lily after a day or 
two of glory goes back into the cool depths whence 
it arose. Even the leaves which rustle around our 
feet as we seek spring flowers are but few com- 
pared with the millions which fell last autumn. 
Where are the rest ? 

Nature is called a kind mother, a good econo- 
mist, a careful provider; we must acknowledge 
that she is also a marvel of tidiness. 





The daisies gay 

The livelong day 
Are gathered here together, 

To play in the light, 

To sleep in the night. 
To abide through the sullen weather. 

— Old RhyTne. 

The fields so lately white with snow grow white 
once more with daisies which dance and swing in 
the soutli wind by myriads and myriads. Their 
joyous antics are regarded with cold disfavor by 
the farmers, who speak of the intruders in the 
singular number and in a dissatisfied mood as 
"that pesky" or even " that durned white weed." 

The little pink-tipped garden-daisy, which we 
cultivate with such care, is considered an inter- 
loper when it shows its bright face on the trim 
lawns around English country-seats, and its bold- 
ness is punished — as high treason was in the good 
old days — by decapitation. The gardener acts the 
part of executioner, and cuts off the poor, pretty 


head with the lawn-mower — the guillotine of the 

Yet, though American farmers and English gar- 
deners have but a poor opinion of the daisy, and 
though there are many flowers in summer's gar- 
land more gorgeous, delicate, or sweet, this is the 
pet of the poets. Chaucer quaintly says : 

" Of all the flowers in tbe mede, 
Than love I most these flowers white and rede, 
Soch that men callen daisies in our toun.'' 

Shakespeare speaks of them lovingly, and puts 
them into the hands of poor Ophelia. Words- 
worth and Burns write beautifully to them and of 
them, and Goethe's Margaret is immortalized in 
poetry and in art as she picks the last white leaf 
off the daisy with the triumphant words, " He 
loves mel^' 

Even the flower's name is a poetic thought, for 
the day's eye is the sun. The English folk who 
gave the name centuries ago saw in the flower a 
tiny copy of the sun at which it gazes. There was 
the golden disk, and, shooting out from it in every 
direction, the white and flashing rays. 

The sunflower owes its name to a like compari- 
son. The legend that the flower turns towards 
the sun was invented in later times, to account for 


the name, and like many other pretty stories, it is 
not true. 

Far-fetched as the idea may seem in these pro- 
saic days, a similar thought occurred to the early 
Scandinavians. Balder was the Norse god of the 
summer. To these Northern people, accustomed 
to endure the rigors of extreme cold and the deso- 
lation wrought by frost for the greater part of the 
year, the brief summer was very sweet. Its com- 
ing was longed for, and its fading away lamented. 
The beloved Balder was the best and most beauti- 
ful of all the gods, and the very embodiment of 
gladness. And to a flower which is first cousin to 
the daisy, and like it in shape and color, they gave 
the name of Balder^s brow; the shining centre 
was the eye of Balder, and the outshooting white 
rays the light which streamed from it. 

This fancifully named flower is distributed quite 
generally through the northern United States, 
and grows abundantly along sandy roadsides (Fig. 
21). The foliage is finely cut, and in general ap- 
pearance the plant resembles the garden feverfew. 
It exhales a pungent odor like that of the hot- 
house daisy. 

It is convenient to speak of the daisy as one 
flower, but in reality it is a floral community. 

Fio. 21.— DAisiEa. 


The yellow centre is an assemblage of hundreds of 
little trumpet-shaped flowers set as close together 
as possible. Those on the outside of the disk 
open first; those near the centre, in early summer 
are still tightly folded little greenish buds. In a 
ring around the disk we see what botanists term 
the " ray-flowers ^* and what non-botanists call the 
"white leaves ^^ of the daisy. These, too, are dis- 
tinct flowers, having a pistil apiece, but no sta- 
mens, and with their large white corollas split 
open all down one side. Indeed, they look as if 
their " clothes were almost torn off them.*' 

If we examine one of the central florets and 
look into its little yellow throat, we see that it 
contains what looks like a second bud still closed. 
Are there a series of corollas one inside another 
like Chinese boxes ? But what looks like the top 
of an inner bud is really a ring of stamens, with 
their heads all joined together so as to form a sort 
of lid shutting the pistil in. Under this lid, as 
we find by investigating with a pin, is a quantity 
of pollen, shed from the lower surfaces of the 

The stamens, like protectionists, seem to have 
literally laid their heads together to keep the 
pistil in restraint, and to prevent it from using 


any pollen except what is made at home. But 
the pistil wants sunshine and liberty, and stretches 
itself in its little golden prison, pushing the mass 
of pollen up before it, till the prison-roof bursts. 
Then out springs the pistil, driving the pollen 
before it in a little cloud. If a fly has alighted 
close by, or if one of those flat-pattern crawlers, 
of which daisies are, unhappily, full, chances to 
be near, he receives a liberal sprinkling. With 
this unexpected and rather overwhelming dona- 
tion he creeps or flies to another floret, or, better 
still, to another plant. 

The pistil has two little arms, which are at first 
pressed close together and raised upright. Each 
terminates in a brush of hairs. These, in coming 
up the tube formed by the stamens, sweep out 
before them every grain of pollen, as a chimney- 
sweep's broom clears soot out of a chimney. This 
clearance effected, the arms of the pistil separate 
and take a horizontal position, like the cross- 
pieces of the letter T. They are now waiting for 
a donation of pollen, and the upper sides of the 
arms are sticky, on purpose to catch and hold it. 
Till now these gummy surfaces have been pressed 
together so closely that not a grain could get in 
between them (Fig. 22). And thus the daisy 



floret makes sure of setting its little seed by im- 
ported pollen only. The " ray-flowers/' or white 
outer florets, have no brushes of hairs, for they 
have no stamens; consequently there is no pollen 
to be swept out, and a brush would be useless. 

Fig. 22.— The Three States op a Daisy Floret. 

Besides the daisy, the sunflower, aster, chrys- 
anthemum, thistle, lettuce, marigold, ironweed, 
goldenrod, boneset, and many other so-called 
•* flowers*^ are, in reality, close masses of tiny 
blossoms. The flowers thus joining forces make a 
much braver show than they would if they were 
scattered, and are thus more likely to attract in- 


sects. The chance of gathering honey from so 
many flowers at once, instead of having to roam 
here and there in search of it, is greatly appreci- 
ated by insects; and their visits are more likely to 
be effectual, since the chances are that one alight- 
ing will touch many florets. No wonder, there- 
fore, that " composite flowers," as these are called, 
are a very wide-spread and successful family. 

They have put into practice in their floral mu- 
tual-benefit society the division of labor, without 
which no society can thrive. The outer rank of 
blossoms have been detailed off to do the advertis- 
ing of the firm, and have developed conspicuous 
corollas, while the more quietly dressed sisters 
within furnish the pollen, without which no 
daisies would be produced to gladden the fields 
next summer. By culture, the little inconspicu- 
ous "disk-flowers" forming the daisy's centre can 
be developed into strap-shaped " ray-flowers," such 
as form its white border. Thus " double " daisies, 
sunflowers, and asters are produced, and thus 
garden dahlias, chrysanthemums, and marigolds 
have been developed from flowers of the daisy 

When culture shall have changed all the disk- 
flowers of the chrysanthemum and the aster into 


ray-flowers, no seed will be formed, for the ray- 
flowers of these plants have no stamens and pro- 
duce no pollen. The double asters of the present 
have at the centre some few disk-flowers unchanged 
by culture, and by the pollen from these some of 
the ovaries are matured. The double asters of the 
future will have to be propagated entirely by cut- 

The old rhyme at the head of the chapter says 
that the daisies " sleep through the night.'' This 
is both truth and poetry. Soon after sunset the 
white rays close gently over the flower's golden 
eye, so that in the twilight the daisies look as if 
they had all become half-opened buds again. All 
day they have gazed at the sun and loved him, and 
made themselves as much like little suns as they 
possibly could, and now that he has withdrawn his 
glorious face the world has lost all its interest for 
the daisies till daylight comes again. 




A SLEEPING garden, so it seems, could exist no- 
where save in fairyland. It must surround the 
palace of the Sleeping Beauty. We can fancy 
that the gardener is napping and snoring while 
his idle tools lie rusting behind a great dusty cob- 
web. The spider dangling in it is dreaming of fat 
flies. The grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids 
are all silent. The butterflies hang motionless on 
the plants, like brightly colored leaves, and the 
usually busy ants and bees have gone home to 
slumber away a well-earned vacation. The pea- 
cock on the balustrade sits motionless beside his 
motionless shadow. The birds' little heads are all 
tucked under their wings and filled with visions of 
ripe cherries. 

But the flowers— what do they do ? And what 
goes on in the kitchen-garden ? Can one see, even 
in fairyland, slumbering bean-vines or dozing 
onions ? 

Strange to say, we need not journey to enchanted 



lands to find such things as these. I can see gar- 
den-beds (well named) full of sleeping plants any 
summer night in my suburban garden of plainest 
prose, where ill weeds flourish, and mosquitoes 
bite, and the tax-gatherer troubles, and street 
Arabs break through and steal. 

The portulaca drowses first. Its saucer-shaped 
flowers close at sunset, taking the aspect of open- 
ing buds. They worship the sun as devoutly as 
any Parsee of old, and have no real life except in 
his presence. To-morrow morning, if his face is 
hidden, the portulaca will not have the heart to 
unfurl a single blossom, but as soon as he appears 
the despondent plants will cheer up and don festal 
array to do him honor. After the portulaca 
flowers are settled for the night the leaves grow 
sleepy, and gradually they take their nocturnal 
position. They raise themselves upright, nestling 
close to the stalks of the plant and to each other. 
" Pusley," the portulaca's disreputable and vulgar 
cousin, also keeps early hours. Shortly after sun- 
set it, too, is asleep, with its leaves cuddled to- 
gether in little bunches, and thus it recuperates its 
dreadful energies for another onslaught on my 

When dusk begins to gather, it is bedtime for 


the clover-leaves (Fig. 23). The two aide leaflets 
of each cluster approach each other face to face, 
till they take the position of the covers of a closed 
book. Then the upper and central leaf bends for- 

FiG. 23.— Sleeping Clover. 

ward till it touches the edges of the other pair. 
The attitude of the little sleepy-heads seems to ex- 
press devotion rather than repose, for they look as 


if they were offering vesper prayers, with their 
heads bowed low over their folded palms. 

All through the summer we may see belated 
dandelions lingering in the grass, but at nightfall 
they vanish. Each flower has closed and has 
drawn its green outer garment over its yellow inner 
dress. They now look like buds, and are undistin- 
guishable from the surrounding grass and leaves. 
Though they have contrived to gather so much 
gold to deck themselves with, they do not follow 
the proverbial rule for becoming wealthy. They 
are early to bed to be sure, but by no means early 
to rise. The blossoms are not fairly awake and 
open before eight o'clock, even in sunny weather, 
while on stormy mornings they are — we must con- 
fess it — scandalously late. It is a pretty sight to 
see a field full of dandelions wake up under a 
bright spring sun. They twinkle out, one after 
another, as stars do at nightfall. The daisies, too, 
close at dusk, but they waken at sunrise. 

The grapevine and the wistaria are late up o' 
nights. Perhaps, living in towns so much, they 
have learned dissipated city habits. They scarcely 
begin to take their nocturnal positions before nine 
o'clock, and they are not fairly settled for the 
night till much later. The grape-leaves in sleep 


are raised at the edges and depressed in the mid- 
dle, so that they form shallow saucers. As we 
look np at the boughs of the vine, after the foliage 
has taken its nocturnal position, we see only the 
white under surfaces of the leaves, gleaming like 
silver in the moonlight. Wistaria leaflets droop 
in slumber as they do in excessive heat. One ex- 
pects them to feel as wilting leaves do — soft and 
limp— and their crisp firmness is a surprise. They 
crackle like stiff paper when bent, and they refuse 
stubbornly to be twisted into any other position 
but that which they have themselves chosen to 
take. This curious stiffness seems to be a char- 
acteristic of all sleeping foliage. 

The common locust settles down early. The end 
leaflet of the long cluster hangs like a plummet, 
and the side leaflets turn their points towards the 
ground and dangle in two rows back to back. 

The foliage of the beans in the vegetable bed 
assumes a like position. 

The leaves of the little Oxalis (Fig. 24), which 
children call "lady sour-grass," also sleep with 
their backs to one another and their tips pointed 
toward the earth. 

But some of the dwellers in my garden wake 
and watch while others are fast asleep. The 


honeysuckle grows more alive and alert as dusk 
closes in. The fresh flowers open sood after sun- 

FiQ. 24.— Slebpino Oxalib. 

set. They are slender vases, filled to the brim with 
perfume, which is shed forth upon the night air. 


Their sweetness is a mute invitation to the hum- 
ming-bird hawk-moth, and while twilight yet 
lingers we may see him among the flowers, begin- 
ning his night of revelry. He feels reasonably 
sure of a good supper. The cup of the flower is 
so slender and so deep that few insects can reach 
down to rifle its sweets, so that even the older 
blossoms may have saved their store for him, and 
the fresh buds, expanding to-night, contain nectar 
enough to satisfy any reasonable moth. Those 
which are neglected by him will remain open all 
day to-morrow, and bid for the attentions of the 
sunshine-loving butterflies. 

The white "day^^ or "Japan" lilies (Tunhia 
japonica), like the honeysuckles, open at evening, 
and live for a night and a day. Many, indeed 
most, deep- throated flowers are nocturnal. Their 
nectar can be drained only by insects with very 
long proboscides. Such insects are large and con- 
spicuous, and if they flew by daylight they would 
soon fall a prey to birds or other enemies. The 
day-lily's lover, like Romeo, must pay his addresses 
by night for fear of the Capulets, who would 
impale Mm if they could catch him — not on a 
sword, but on a beak or a big pin. 

"Adam's needle and thread," or Yucca fila- 



mentosa (Fig. 25), conspicuous in many gardens in 
later June and July, is another night-flower. 
The aspect of this plant is probably familiar to 
most readers. From a 
bristling clump of erect 
sword-like leaves rises a 
smooth stalk bearing a 
great pyramid of cream- 
colored flowers. 

Throughout the day 
these blossoms are scent- 
less, and they dangle 
from their stalks half- 
shut, like silent fairy- 
Fi8. 3S.-YCCCA. bells. If the night is 

cold and rainy, Its coming fails to awaken the 
yucca, but in fine warm weather the plant shows 
a marked change with the gathering of twilight. 

It begins to breathe forth an odor, not sweet, 
but fresh, pungent and peculiai", and this grows 
more and more noticeable as night settles down. 

The flowers, which have hnng half asleep all 
day, change their attitude and aspect. The 
petals draw backwards, the blossoms open widely 
and become great six-pointed stars. The yacca 
has an air of alert expectancy which is more 


than life-like — almost human. ^Ye cannot help 
regretting the disappointment that we fear 
awaits her. The friend for whom this southern 
fair one listens and longs is probably a thousand 
miles away, enjoying himself among the Mexican 
beauties. She wakes in vain for that great tropi- 
cal night-moth. We can fancy that she shivers a 
little in our chill northern dawn, and says to her- 
self, like Mariana, " He cometh not '^ — and then as 
sunrise reddens all the east, " He will not come.^^ 
As the night wanes the blossoms lose their star- 
like form, and daylight finds them drooping bells 
once more, dangling in limp dejection. They are 
not always thus disappointed. Last year a few 
capsules formed and ripened, probably by aid of 
pollen brought to the pistil by some large and rare 
nocturnal moth. But in some seasons no seeds 
form at all. 

Not every one has a garden, still less a yucca in 
the garden. But every one can find our common- 
est nocturnal wild flower, the evening primrose 
(J^nothera biennis) (Fig. 26). It grows every- 
where — in fields, in waste places, along country 
roadsides, and around the edges of woods, and it 
blossoms from June to September. The plant is a 
sturdy, upright affair from two to eight feet high. 


Fig. 20. — Ei'ENiNO PniuuosE (^Snolhet-a InennU). 


having the aspect of a weed. By day the flowers, 
which grow on a leafy spike, are all of the past or 
of the future. Towards evening, however, the 
buds begin to swell. A few moments after sunset 
they grow so fast that the increase is visible to any 
one who may be watching. Little starts and 
thrills go through the expanding blossom like the 
slight stirring and long breaths of an awakening 
child. Then the four yellow petals draw back, 
revealing the flower's heart. 

This pretty sight may be seen on any country 
roadside any bright summer evening. The garden 
evening primrose celebrates the appearance of its 
gay new flowers with floral fireworks, for each 
blossom expands with a little pop like that made 
by drawing a small but stubborn cork. 

As twilight falls, the primrose begins to breathe 
forth a fragrance which grows stronger and sweeter 
as darkness closes in. By this, and by the glim- 
mering of the yellow petals, the night-moth is 
lured to fertilize the flower. Let us notice that 
the pollen is very abundant and somewhat sticky. 
It even hangs from the stamens in long, gummy 
threads; so that a visiting moth is sure to carry 
some away on her velvety body. Sunrise finds the 
flower as pale and "used up'" as any belle the 


morning after the ball. But the limp petals, 
fading in the growing light, have done the work 
which Nature gave them. 

It was a pretty idea of one of the early botanists 
to plant a garden which should tell the time; an 
idea sportively used by Jean Paul llichter in one 
of the most charming passages in his "Flower, 
Fruit, and Thorn Pieces." Each hour was to be 
marked by the opening or by the closing of some 
blossom. One might have a garden which should 
present frequent and lovely changes, but the 
flowers are not accurate time-keepers. It would 
be disastrous to regulate dinner by the clock-gar- 
den, or to try to catch the train by it. The sleep- 
ing and waking of the flowers is governed by many 
other causes besides the flight of time. The state 
of the atmosphere, the amount of dew-fall, the 
brightness or dimness of the skies, may all affect 

that beautiful mystery — the sleep of plants. Yet 


darkness is not its cause, for the twilight which 
lulls one blossom to repose rouses another into 
intense life. As the butterflies go to rest moths 
begin to flit, and beetles come droning out of a 
thousand holes and corners, lighted to their revels 
by the fireflies. 

Through the still air there may drop down to us 


the soft calls of migrant birds. Guided by their 
God-given instincts, they are travelling on, league 
after league, between the dusky tree-tops and the 

After all, it is a mere figure of rhetoric to speak 
of the " sleep of the earth.^^ Mother Nature has 
no sooner hushed one set of children to rest than 
she begins to attend the needs and to superintend 
the labors and frolics of many more. 

Night is full of life as beautiful and intense as 
that of the day, and as unknown to many of us as 
that of another planet. 





The midsummer sunshine resting on still waters 
wooes the water-lily from the shadowy depths below 
into the brightness above. To a seeker after par- 
ables, the upward striving of the bud suggests the 
effort of a soul reaching out of darkness and the 
mire of sin, groping toward God's light, growing 
ever whiter and whiter, and at last attaining to 
purity and gladness. The blossoms, white and 
gold, recall the " fine cloth, white like flame,'' with 
the interwoven "golden threads," which Rossetti's 
" Blessed Damozel " and her companions wear in 

One wishes that the flower had a longer term of 
joy and beauty, and that it did not so soon with- 
draw into the depths again, having looked its last 
on the sun. But in this, as in most water-plants, 
the stem of the fertilized flower-head shortens, and 


thus the baby seeds are drawn down to ripen in 
the dark. 

The water-lily breathes forth fragrance and 
wears her fresh and lovely dress to attract the 
water-beetles, which, it is believed, act as messen- 
gers, carrying the pollen from flower to flower. 
The floating leaves are smooth and lustrous, as are 
those of most aquatic plants. To an artist's eye, 
the flashing of their polished surfaces seems to re- 
peat the flashing of the waters around them. 
Push them below the ripples with an oar, and they 
"bob up serenely,^' as shiny, and, seemingly, as dry 
as ever. Drops roll off the bright surfaces of such 
leaves as they roll off oil-skin, and in fact the skins 
which cover them are actually oiled. 

Every leaf consists, in the first place, of a fine 
network of branching tubes. We call it tlie 
" skeleton '^ ; it would be far more correct to speak 
of it as the "venous system ^^ of the leaf. Then 
in between these tubes lies leaf- tissue, which con- 
sists of countless cells set closely together. Over 
the whole is stretched a fine skin, quite trans- 
parent, very thin, and yet very tough. This, in 
water-plants, contains a little oil, and so sheds 
water easily; for though washing is good for 
foliage, soaking disagrees with it sadly. 



The leaf's skin (botaniets call it the epidermis) 
is full of hoIoB invisible to the naked eye, and 
almost innumerable (Fig. 37). Througli these the 

FiQ. S7a.— Structure or the Efiueuuib of a Leaf. 
(Prom The VenetabU World.) 

Fig. 276.— Vertical Skctiok thrwuqh One op the 
Stouata of a Cycob (mngnffled). 

(From Thr Vtgetable Wo-ld.) 

plant breatlicB, and if they get stopped up with 
dust it cannot thrive. Tliis is the reason why 
honse-phints are so benefited by an occasiorinl 
sponging or spniyiiig with clean tepid water. But 


a leaf which has all its little breathing- holes cov- 
ered with water is as badly smothered as one that 
has them all clogged with dust. This is why the 
shining foliage of the water-lily, the arrow-head, 
and the pickerel-weed is so contrived as to keep 
dry in circumstances in which it has boundless 
opportunities to get wet. 

The little breathing-holes, or "stomata,^' are 
usually much more numerous on the lower, or 
shadowed side of the leaf. If they were on the 
upper surface, exposed to direct sunshine, so much 
moisture would evaporate through them that the 
foliage would soon dry and wither. But in float- 
ing leaves this plan is reversed. The little mouths, 
if they were on the lower surface, would be stopped 
up by the water, and of no use whatever. So the 
floating foliage of water-plants has its breathing- 
holes on the upper surface, where fresh air is to 
be had. 

But many aquatic plants bear leaves which are 
always submerged. These live, as fishes do, on 
the air which is in the water. They are always 
delicately cut and fringed. This is partly in order 
that they may not be torn by the currents, as 
broader leaves might be, and partly because the 
long, green fringes, washing this way and that way. 


are able to gather up every floating bubble and 
find out every glint of light within a wide circle. 
Perhaps such foliage suggested the fabled sea- 
green hair of the raermaids. 

Yet even these water-nymphs of the vegetable 
world, though they enjoy getting their leaves wet, 
often take extraordinary pains to keep their 
flowers dry. A soaking might spoil the pollen, or 
the golden dust might be washed away altogether. 
Sometimes the blossom is sheathed in horny scales 
which are transparent enough to let in all the light 
there is, yet water-tight as a new overshoe. Some- 
times the sepals, like the leaves, have a glossy sur- 
face which sheds the drops, and the petals are 
wrapped in them with great care. AVhen the bud 
has emerged into the sunshine it sought, the beau- 
ties hitherto so carefully guarded are daintily dis- 
played to the marsh-flies and water-beetles. 

A little nearer shore than the floating lilies, a 
circle of cat-tails, stiff and tall, stand like sentinels 
around the edges of the pool. Their thick heads, 
which suggest the tops of pikes or maces, are, 
little as one would think it, dense masses of small 
flowers. The top part, which grows fluffy in latter 
summer, consists of countless tiny stamens, which. 



when they have fulfilled their mission and shed 
their pollen, blow away. 

The cat-tail, beloved of home decorators, is a 
mass of innumerable pistils, or rather little ovaries, 
each crowned by a tuft of soft fine hairs. " Each 
ovary," says Grant Allen, " is so extremely small 
that you cannot distinguish them separately at all .^, r 
with the naked eye; if you cut the spike across, f 

the only thing you can see is a thick mass of soft, »■ 
brownish hairs, black at the tips, and paler inside . 
toward the central stalk. How many hundreds of 
thousands of flowers are thus cribbed and cabined 
on a single stem, nobody has ever had the patience 
to count; a mere pinch pulled out between tl 
finger and thumb displays, under the microscope, 
an apparently infinite number of distinct florets, 
each with a single tiny ovary and a fluffy envelope 
of small hairs." 

A little bare stalk sticks up at the top of the 
cattail. This used to support the stamens which olf'J 
have all ungratefully gone off and left it naked in 
the cold world. The winged seeds when they are 
ripe will go off also; and if our cat-tails are 
gathered late in the season, when the ovaries are 
nearly mature, they will soon come to pieces in the 
warm house. lu that case we shall certainly be 

CA^r jF ' 


duly impressed with the numbers of these tiny 
seeds, and with their enterprise as travellers. 

The plant grows only along the edge of shallow 
waters; and since these are likely to dry up or 
shift their place from time to time, it requires 
great numbers of easily dispersed seeds to take 
advantage of every new spot which slight local 
changes may have fitted for its dwelling-place. 

Along the edges of brooks, ponds, and ditches, 
all through the summer we may find the pretty 
veronica, brooklime, or water-speedwell. The flow- 
ers have four spreading petals, pale blue with purple 
stripes, and grow all along a common stalk, form- 
ing a slender spire of bloom. The common speed- 
well (Fig. 28) grows in fields or on open hillsides. 
The stem, bearing a profusion of leaves, crouches 
close to the ground, and from it rise erect sprays 
of little flowers as blue as heaven. They are not 
much more than a quarter of an inch broad, but 
stand close together on their stalk, and as we stroll 
across the meadow they catch our eyes by their 
lovelj vivid color. 

" Speedwell ^' is an old word used in bidding 
good-by to a friend who is going on a journey. 
It has the same meaning as farewell, and expresses 
a hope that the traveller will reach his destination 


Fia. 28. — Common Speedwell ( Veronica offUinalii). 


soon and safely. We say it to this little flower be- 
cause it is going to leave us; for the pretty corolla 
drops so soon after it unfolds, that if we .do not 
take leave of it now, before it vanishes, we will 
not have the chance to do so at all. 

A more serious explanation is attached to the 
flower's botanic name, veronica. Among the 
daughters of Jerusalem who followed our Lord on 
his sad road to Calvary, weeping and wailing, 
there was, says the legend, one Jewish maiden 
whose heart was stirred by the divine face marred 
with anguish. Her feeling could express itself 
only in one trifling act. She handed the Saviour 
a handkerchief that He might wipe from His face 
the wayside dust, the damps of suffering, and the 
blood flowing from the wounds made by the crown 
of thorns. When He gave it back it was found 
that the stains on the linen made a perfect like- 
ness of His face. 

A pictured square of linen said to be this very 
handkerchief is still preserved at St. Peter's in 
Kome. Long ago it was called Vera Iconica, the 
real likeness. Later monkish writers, growing 
hazy in church tradition, changed the name some- 
what, and transferred it from the handkerchief 


itself to the Jewish girl to whom it belonged. She 
was called St. Veronica. 

The botanist who named the speedwell was 
thinking of the earlier version of the legend when 
he called the pretty flower veronica, " because its 
blue and innocent eye is the vera iconica (veritable 
likeness) of the pure heaven at which it gazes.^' 

Midsummer finds the blue-flag, or wild iris, still 
lingering on the edge of sunny waters, or in low, 
moist fields. This is the famed lily of France, 
which was blazoned in gold on the banners carried 
to Cressy and Agincourt. Henry the Fifth, after 
this latter fight, quartered the arms of England, 
his by inheritance, with those of France, his 
by conquest, and took for. his standard " three 
golden leopards (or lions) sporting in a ruby 
field, and three golden lilies blooming in an azure 

In Ireland the iris is really golden, and blooms 
in a field, not of azure, but of emerald. Some yel- 
low varieties are found in this country, but our 
common sorts are in various shades of purple and 
lilac. There are three erect petals, and three 
backward-curving sepals. The latter are adorned 
with a tracery in dark purples and gold, elaborate 
enough to have occupied an artist all day. And 


all this beauty may be seen only by some wander- 
ing bee or marsh-fly. 

A most complex and wonderful structure fits 
the iris to attract bees or larger insects, and repel 
crawlers, and prevents it from setting seed by its 
own pollen. AU this is entertainingly described 
in Prof. Gray's " How Plants Behave.'' 

Iris was the classic goddess of the rainbow, who, 
it was fabled, wore a robe radiant with many tints, 
as are these petals. Flower-de-luce, another name 
given to this blossom, is a corruption of the French 
fleur-de-lis (flower of the lily). 

Growing near the iris, we shall probably find 
jewel-weed (Fig. 29) or wild balsam, which is very 
plentiful along the margins of brooks and rills. The 
flowers of the common variety are orange-colored, 
thickly spotted with reddish brown ; a rarer sort 
bears pale yellow blossoms sparingly dotted with 
dull, deep red. The flowers nod and sway grace- 
fully on slender stalks. They are in shape some- 
thing like a cornucopia, with the small end doubled 
up into a little spur or tail. The plants are from two 
to four feet high, and bear a profusion of smooth, 
dark green leaves, which, like the blossoms, droop 
as soon as they are picked. 

Jewel-weed is a sort of second cousin to the 


Fig, 39,— Touch-me-not. or Jewel-weed 

(Impalkns ftdca). _ ^f.P.j^f^ ■* yt 


nasturtium, and a first cousin to our garden- 
balsam, or " lady's-slipper/' Its botanic name is 
impatiens (impatient), because the ripe seed-vessel 
recoils from one's touch with a quick, petulant 
motion. The little pod suddenly bursts, and the 
elastic movement shoots off the liberated seeds in 
every direction. This trick earns for the plant its 
common names, " touch-me-not " and " snap-weed/* 
The jewel- weed, like the violet, bears two sorts of 
flowers. Besides the showy ones we know, which 
are gotten up to lure the insects whose visits they 
need, there are small ones which are fertilized in 
the bud with their own pollen. 

Some of our native plants have made their way 
eastward against the flood of emigration and the 
tide of empire. Like the potato, the Colorado 
beetle, the United States railway-check system, 
and — dare we say it ? — the American belle, they 
have entered the Old World, and in their various 
lines achieved success. Among these importations 
from Uncle Sam's dominions is our jewel-weed, 
which has made itself quite at home along the 
banks of the Wey and other Surrey streams. 

Of all the flowers which grow by the water or 
beneath it, the most wonderful are those produced 
by the vallisneria. This plant, better known as 


" tape-grass '* or "eel-grass," is common in slug- 
gish streams and shallow lakes, and excites the 
execration of rowers by twisting its long, tough, 
grass-like leaves around the oar-blades and seri- 
ously impeding progress. Its organization fills 
the naturalist with delight, and supplies the poet 
with a theme. 

The stamens and pistils grow not only in sepa- 
rate blossoms, but on different plants. 

The pistillate flower is borne on a very long 
stalk, which rises through the water, corkscrew- 
fashion, in a beautifully symmetrical spiral. 

The stamen-bearing flowers grow crowded to- 
gether in a cone-shaped head, which is borne on a 
very short stalk, and grows under water, close to 
the bottom of the pond. When the staminate 
flower-buds are ready to burst, the cone-shaped 
cluster breaks from its moorings and rises to the 

Here in the sunshine the flowers expand, the 
anthers open, and the pollen is shed upon the face 
of the water. About the same time the stalk of 
the pistillate flower uncoils. The flower is now, 
as it Were, tethered by a very long line, or an- 
chored by a long rope, and sways over a large cir- 
cuit at the impulse of wind or ripples. Soon it 


floats in amid the scattered pollen, and receives 
upon its stigma some of the golden grains. Now 
the purpose for which the blossom rose into the 
air and sunlight is accomplished. The long stem 
coils itself up once more, drawing its spirals closer 
and closer, as a watch-spring does when the watch 
is wound. The fertilized flower-head is thus 
drawn down into the cool depth of the pond, and 
there the fruit is matured. 



A SERIES of receptions, or rather one continuous 
reception, is held in my garden all summer long. 
The flowers are the hostesses, and they have put 
on glorious apparel in honor of their guests. 
They send out perfumes as cards of invitation, 
and these are carried hither and thither by the 
breezes. When the visitors arrive they are enter- 
tained with a feast of nectar. The invited guests 
are moths, butterflies, humming-birds, beetles, 
wasps, and, chief though last, the busy bees. A 
few flies also are favored with invitations. The 
hospitalities of the flowers are only too highly 
appreciated, and they are sponged upon by a host 
of undesired guests. Ants, and indeed all crawl- 
ers, are neither wanted nor welcomed. It seems 
that poor people who have to walk are regarded 
with some contumely even in the vegetable world. 
In fact, the ant is an extremely unpopular char- 
acter in the garden, and the flowers have all laid 
their pretty heads together to circumvent and 


thwart her. If they could speak, they would 
bring forward surprising accusations against that 
model insect, the embodiment of industry and 
thrift, the instructor of the sluggard, and the 
admired of Dr. Watts. They would tell us that 
she is an arrant thief. Every housekeeper knows 
how fond ants are of sweet things. When they 
have got into the store-closet, the sugar-jars and 
the cake-box must be closed with the utmost care. 
So among flowers ants are terrible honey-thieves. 
They are so small that they can slip down the 
throat of a flower, devour all its store of sweets, 
and clamber out again without shaking or even 
touching the stamens. They often come out as 
clean as they went in, and do not carry away with 
them one grain of the golden dust which the 
flower is so anxious to send to its neighbors. 

The ill-used flower cannot employ a better 
messenger to do the work which the ant neglected 
to do, because its nectar is all gone, so that it has 
not the wherewithal to hire one. If we watch a 
bee among the blossoms, we shall see that she 
hovers for a moment over each as if undecided 
whether to stop and sip or not. Sometimes she 
seems to conclude that the blossom has been 
already visited and drained, and that there is 


nothing there for her. It appears that the insect 
detects a delicate odor from the nectar in the 
flower, besides the stronger perfume which we can 
enjoy with her. So the robberies of ants prevent 
the really useful visits of bees, and thus not only 
impoverish the flower, bu fc also spoil its prospects. 
Moreover, if the bee happens to call while the ant 
is within, her delicate proboscis may be seized in 
the intruder's nippers and shrewdly pinched, and 
after a few such painful surprises, the bee, if she 
be wise, will avoid the flowers in which she experi- 
enced them. 

Moreover, when a crawling insect visits a flower 
and is dusted with its pollen it rarely carries the 
load where it ought to go — to another blossom of 
the same species. The wee pedestrian, after trav- 
elling down the stalk of one plant, clambers up that 
of whatever happens to grow nearest. Having 
visited and rifled the portulaca, for instance, she 
climbs with yellow legs among the flowers of the 
mignonette. These would be glad of gold-dust 
from another head of mignonette, but they have no 
more use for portulaca-pollen than the guests at a 
New York dinner have for chop-sticks. The ant, 
however, makes the mignonette pay for what it 
does not want, and helps herself to the honey with 


great assurance. So for sundry, divers, and suffi- 
cient reasons flowers desire to exclude crawlers in 
general and ants in particular, and Nature has 
many devices to this end. 

"Nothing," says Sir John Lubbock, "bothers 
ants like hairs, and it has been found that they are 
quite unable to climb up a table or a safe if a little 
old fur or a strip of flannel is gummed around the 
legs." This mode of excluding the crawling rogues 
has been generally adopted by plants. Stalks are 
rarely quite smooth, but are almost always clothed 
with fine soft hairs or tiny bristles. The gera- 
nium, the rose, the squash-blossom, and the petu- 
nia are thus protected from creeping marauders, 
which have more difficulty in forcing their way 
through the vegetable fur than we should have in 
penetrating a jungle. Sometimes the intruder 
finds her way as easy at the outset as the paths of 
sin proverbially are, but she meets insuperable 
obstacles just as she nears the goal of her hopes. 
The pansy and the violet have smooth stalks, 
easily climbed, but just in the throat of the flower, 
directly on the road to the honey, is a great tuft 
of silky hairs, to the ant veritable cJievaux-de- 
frise. The pansy thus saves her honey for the 
bee, which can readily run her long string probos 


cis through the silky tuft and into the bottom of 
the nectary. 

Cyclamen, snowdrop, fuchsia, and lily of the 
valley, are protected by the droop of the blossoms. 
In vain do ants try to get into such flowers. The 
curved smooth stalks baffle them. They find 
themselves, like the wicked, set in slippery places, 
and when they come to the downward slope which 
leads to the blossom, they invariably tumble oflf to 
the ground again. In fact, such hanging flowers 
protect their honey from ants as the swinging 
nests of the weaver-bird and the oriole protect 
their eggs and chicks from snakes. 

In aquatic plants the access of crawlers is pre- 
vented by the surrounding water. Some land- 
plants have secured to themselves the same advan- 
tage by preparing little basins in which to drown 
intruders. The lower leaves of the common road- 
side teasel are so arranged as to form a deep cup 
around the stem. Kain and dew collect in it, and 
are retained for some time, so that the basin is 
seldom empty, even in dry weather, and in the 
little pool float the corpses of deluded crawlers 
which sought sweets and found a watery grave. 

• Several sorts of plants have a series of such cups, 
one at each joint of the stem. 


Sometimes the flowers are surrounded and pro- 
tected by a sort of collar of leaves with recurved 
edges. "I have assured myself/' says Kerner, a 
great German naturalist, '^not only by observation, 
but by experiment, that wingless insects, and nota- 
bly ants, find it impossible to mount upward over 
such leaves as these. The little creatures run up 
the stem, and may even traverse the under surface 
of the leaves, but the reflexed and slippery margin 
is more than the best climbers among them can 
get over, and if they attempt it, they invariably 
fall to the ground." The petals of the tiger-lily 
curl backwards at the edges, to the confusion of 
small insects which may try to crawl up the stem 
and into the flower. 

An invention similar to the " sticky fly-paper " 
of commerce was brought out by Nature ages ago, 
for some flower-stalks are glutinous, and crawlers 
get hopelessly gummed down to them. The blos- 
soms of some varieties of sweet-william and those 
of the campion, or " catch-fly," are thus protected, 
and a like plan of defence has been adopted by 
the common purple swamp-thistles. These flow- 
ers are rich in honey, and hence they attract 
much attention from insects. 

One which blooms in a damp spot by the road- 


side opposite, entertains butterfly and bee visitors 
from the moment when the flower "comes out/' 
The ants sniff the dainties overhead, for their 
sense of smell is extraordinarily keen, and they 
too wish to share in the festivities. The ascent to 
the flower-head is toilsome and tedious, on ac- 
count of the fuzz which clothes the stem. When 
the persevering insect has labored to its top, she 
finds herself before a formidable fortification which 
Nature throws around the blossoms, a close frill of 
small leaves thickly set with thorns. When she 
has somehow worried through this, and success 
seems secured at last, she ni.eets and succumbs to a 
worse difficulty still. The slender-throated flow- 
ers, which compose the thistle-head, are set close 
together into a deep green cup. This cup (as all 
who have made the pretty thistle-balls know very 
well) is composed of many overlapping scales. In 
the centre of each scale is a whitish streak. 
Touch it with a pin, or finely pointed pencil, and 
you find that it is glutinous. The ant comes 
hopelessly to grief on these green scales, at the 
end of her toilsome journey and in full view of 
her goal. She is held fast on the gummy streaks, 
and her frantic struggles to get free only bog her 
more hopelessly. The gum, after a while, stops 


up the little holes in her sides, through which she 
breathes, and thus she is smothered to death. I 
have seen more than twenty dead or dying ants 
stuck upon the head of a thistle which grew just 
above their nest. 

It is certainly a little difficult to pardon the 
thistle for such wholesale slaughter; but after all, 
except in the estimation of patriotic Scotchmen, 
the thistle is only a vegetable gamin, without cul- 
ture or social consideration, a tramp with no home 
but the wayside, an Ishmaelite waging war upon 
the community, which in turn wages war upon it. 
Such conditions can scarcely fail to be demoraliz- 
ing even to a weed. 

The snap-dragon protects itself after a manner 
less cruel but equally efficacious, and the same 
plan has been adopted by the familiar roadside 
linaria, which children call " butter-and-eggs.'' 
(Fig. 30). 

This plant is very common, in latter summer, 
everywhere. It puts up stalks from one to three 
feet long, each bearing many smooth, narrow 
leaves, and above them a spike of flowers. The 
blossoms are of an odd, two-lipped form, like those 
of garden snap-dragon, and each has a pointed 
spur or tail. They are bright yellow, all except 


I.— Toad-flax (Linaria wilgarit). 


the little pouting lips, which are orange-colored. 
By pressing gently at the corners of the mouth 
we can force the lips apart, and then we see that 
the stamens and pistil are well inside in a position 
corresponding to that of the tonsils, while the 
honey — to continue the comparison — is down the 
throat. The lips close firmly over the pollen and 
honey, and a small creeping insect is quite unable 
to force an entrance between them. It is like the 
undesired guest of fairy lore, who finds the doors 
barred, and all the way beset with difficulties. 
The bee is the wished-for guest, to whom all bar- 
riers yield. When she comes to call, she alights 
upon the lower lip, and her weight causes it to 
drop. Then she sees two bright golden bands 
running along the palate of the flower. They 
guide her attention to the mouth of a deep horn- 
shaped pocket, in which the honey is stored, and 
in order to reach it she must jostle the stamens, 
which stand directly in the way. Then she flies 
off, pollen-laden, to another snap-dragon flower, 
while the lip, relieved of her weight, springs back, 
and closes as silently and as strangely as the door 
of rock did behind departing Ali Baba. 



High up on the Alps, close to the eternal snows, 
there are wild gardens, wherein the laborers are 
wind, rain, frost, and sunshine. In these cloud- 
girt gardens, by myriads and myriads the blue 
gentians blow. The breezes perhaps carry the 
news of their beauty and sweetness down to the 
under-world, and the bees come up to visit them 
from far-off valley nests and hives. The bees' en- 
terprise is more commendable than their honesty, 
for the honey in the gentians is not intended for 
them; the flowers are trying to reserve it for the 
butterflies, in cups so slender and deep that bees 
cannot reach it by straightforward methods. They 
know this, and they waste no time at the top of 
the blossom, but fly straight to the base, gnaw a 
hole through the blue corolla, and reach after the 
honey from the outside. 

The gentians have guarded against thieving 
inroads of ants by various devices. At the en- 


trances to the flower-tubes are fringes to entangle 
the marauders, or thickets of fuzz to baffle them, 
and one species has a little trap-door cunningly 
arranged to shut them out. But despite these 
contrivances, the flower is unable to save its sweets 
for the butterflies. It succeeds in baffling the 
ants, to be sure, but it is outwitted and defrauded 
by the bees. 

The blossoms of my garden are not more fortu- 
nate, nor are the bees which visit here more honor- 
able than their Swiss relations. The nasturtium 
is plundered and pillaged in a shameful manner. 
Its honey is in the base of the long horn, or spur, 
which projects below and behind the flower. This 
is a feast prepared for the butterflies. When one 
of them visits the nasturtium, he perches on the 
lowest petal, which projects forward and forms a 
convenieAt alighting-board for him. Standing 
there much at his ease, he can push his long pro- 
boscis into the bottom of the spur, and in so doing 
he must brush against the stamens, which, when 
ripe, project beyond the mouth of the flower tube. 
Some pollen adheres to his velvety head, and when 
he visits another nasturtium he will probably run 
against the pistil in such a way as to leave part of 
this load of gold-dust upon it. He thus acts as 


messenger for the nasturtiums, and honestly earns 
the nectar which they bestow. 

But the bee contrives to get their honey without 
doing a stroke of work for them in return. The 
sight of the great pocketful of sweets is a tempta- 
tion too strong for her to resist, and she gets pos- 
session of the contents by ingenuity, coupled with 
fraud. The proboscis is too short to reach down 
to the honey, and the spur is so narrow that she 
cannot possibly crawl down inside it to gather the 
sweets stored in its depths. So she gnaws a hole 
in it from the outside and helps herself to its 
whole contents. Thus she at once deprives the 
flower of the means of hospitality and disappoints 
the butterfly of its luncheon. She has not touched 
the stamens nor the pistil. She has neither 
brought any pollen with her nor helped to carry 
any away. The nectar which she takes is not 
earned, but stolen. Weigela rosea, the pretty shrub 
which grows in everybody's garden, is robbed in 
the same manner by bumblebees. Each May the 
bush decks itself with a profusion of flowers in 
shape like those of yellow jessamine. When they 
open, they are creamy white, with touches of pink 
on the outside; as they grow older they turn deep 
pink inside and out. At this stage they generally 


bear scars resulting from the abuse which they 
have received. If we gather a cluster of the 
flowers we shall see that three out of five are 
marked, at the base of the corolla, with one or two 
short brown lines, and on closer examination these 
prove to be cuts made by the bumblebees. Honey- 
bees have no temptation to deal thus unfairly with 
the Weigela, for they are small enough to go into 
the flower and get the honey in the correct way. 
When we see the honey-bees among the nastur- 
tiums, however, we find that they are quite as 
guileful as their stouter cousins. 

The honeysuckles are pierced and plundered 
after the same fashion. The fresh blossoms un- 
fold about sunset, and breathe forth a fragrance 
which grows more and more sweet as dusk closes 
in. This is a mute invitation to the humming- 
bird hawk-moth, the vine's chosen messenger. 
Some flowers are yet unvisited when dawn puts an 
end to his night of revelry, and these remain open 
through the day, and bid for the attentions of the 
sunshine-loving butterflies. But the bee is a very 
early riser. She comes betimes to the honey- 
suckles' feast, though she is neither expected nor 
wanted, and the butterfly arrives only to find that 
the nectar has been emptied through a breach in 


its delicate wall. Yet the honeysuckle stores its 
sweets in very deep and slender vases, on purpose 
to keep them out of reach of all insects save moths 
and butterflies. 

All the flowers of which we have spoken are 
" highly adapted for insect fertilization/' but Na- 
ture, it seems, has neglected to take a few last pre- 
cautions, and for lack of these it sometimes hap- 
pens that all her plans, pains, and contrivances 
are set at naught. The insects have learned 
roguery faster than the flowers have learned de- 
fence — as the burglars in the human world have 
become more proficient than the locksmiths. 

These pillaged flowers present a problem to the 
evolutionist. How is it that, while every one of 
these blossoms has adapted itself in so many ways 
to the needs and tastes of its own insect friend, 
none of them has evolved any scheme to save itself 
from robbery and ruin at last ? 

The common geranium knows a trick worth two 
of the unprofitable allurements of these thriftless 
flowers, and keeps its store of honey securely 
guarded from all insect vagabonds. In the gera- 
nium the honey is at the bottom of a little well, 
sunk into the slender green stalk which supports 


the flower. What seems the stem of each single 
blossom is really a combination of stalk and honey- 
bearing spur. '^Pull off the two upper petals of a 
single geranium/' says Grant Allen, "and you will 
see that behind them there lies a deep pouch or 
tube running along the top of the flower-stalk. 
Cut the stalk across, and you will find it hollow 
on the top; cut it down lengthwise, and if you 
follow up the tube throughout its whole length 
you will learn that it leads at last to a drop of 

Wild geraniums store their honey in five glands 
borne on an open disk, and any small insect can 
easily thieve it; but the garden-geranium plans 
more wisely and has secreted all its nectar in this 
deep pocket. The sensitive surface of the pistil 
turns down to meet the pollen on the insect's head, 
as it poises on level wings before the deep nectary, 
and this surface itself consists of five spreading 
fingers covered (under a slight magnifying power) 
with beautiful crystalline glands to which the pol- 
len readily adheres. The irregularity in the petals 
is a guide to the insect, the upper pair being 
slightly raised on claws in order to let him get 
more easily at the mouth of the tube. 


The nectar is so cleverly concealed that the in- 
sect cannot divine its whereabouts unless he calls, 
with proper ceremony, at the entrance to the blos- 
som; then the irregularity of the petals serves 
as a guide to him. The upper pair are slightly 
raised on claws, in order to let him get more easily 
at the mouth of the honey-pouch. In reaching 
after the flower^s sweets he is sure to rub against 
the stamens and receive a load of pollen with 
which to fly to another flower. 

So the geranium never parts with her treasures 
except in just payment for services received, en- 
forcing the apostolic dictum that if any one will 
not work, neither shall he eat. 

A plundered flower has not of necessity lost for- 
ever all its chances of attracting other insects and 
getting its seed set. After honey has been ab- 
stracted from the blossom's cup, it begins to form 
again. In warm weather and under a bright sky 
this process goes on quickly. In cold, rainy 
weather it is slow, or perhaps checked altogether; 
yet there must be some moisture in the air, or the 
dainty work will not go forward at all. 

An old flower when rifled may not find the 
energy to set about repairing damages; so that it 
is only now and then that a robbed flower is able 


to set itself up in business again. Hence we can- 
not excuse the conduct of the usually exemplary 
bee when she thus plays the blossoms false. And 
while she is stealing the moth's supper or the 
butterfly's breakfast, she is surrounded by flower 
friends which offer her abundant dainty fare, ask- 
ing only very moderate services in return. 

00RB-FL0WBR8, 165 



The insects which eat plants are so many, so 
adventurous, and so insatiable that we know them 
only too well. The harassed gardener wages 
ceaseless and hopeless war on them all summer 
long. His happiest condition is only a sort of 
armed truce, and it may comfort his sorely-tried 
soul to know that there are plants in the world 
which avenge their fellow-plants and "turn the 
tables" by eating insects. 

The commonest and the most wonderful of 
these ogre-flowers is the little sundew {Drosera), 
which Darwin thought a worthy object for long 
and patient study (Fig. 31). The plant is found 
in wet, sunny places. It grows in mossy bogs, and 
in moist sandy spots along the New Jersey and 
New England coasts. I have also met it quite un- 
expectedly when it was making itself very much 
at home on a mouldering log which lay at the 
edge of a stream among the Catskills. 

The leaves of one sort are round and long- 


stalked, pressed flat in a rosette against the 
ground, and rather red than green, even at the 

first casual glance. A stem 
which bends downward at the 
tip bears a number of buds 
and one white flower. An- 
other less common variety of 
sundew has pretty rose-col- 
ored blossoms half an inch 
broad, and long, thread-like 
leaves which when they are 
young are coiled over. at the 
tips like baby ferns. The 

Fm. 31.~SUNDEW fi^^^;"^ ^^ ^^*^ «^^« ^P«^ 
(Drosera rotundifoUa), only in the sunshine* 

As they nod in the breeze and rejoroe in the 

midsummer brightness, they certainly do not look 

very bloodthirsty or mischievous. Yet at this 

very moment they are lying in wait for living 

prey, for the sundew is one of the most marvellous 

of insect-eating plants. If we examine the leaves 

closely we see that their actual surface is green 

after all. They look red at first, because they are 

covered with living, movable, sticky hairs, each 

tipped by a ruby-colored gland no bigger than a 

pin-head. Some of the leaves have their edges 


folded over or rolled inward; and if you open 
them you will find two or three decaying carcasses 
of flies. 

When an insect lights on the leaf, attracted by 
the bright red glands with their honey-like gum, 
he gets clogged by the sticky hairs, and cannot 
drag himself free for all his frantic efforts. The 
hairs bend toward the prisoner till their glands 
touch his body, reaching after him from all sides 
so eagerly that the leaf itself is rolled by their 
motion. The mora the fly struggles, the more it 
excites the living hairs to grasp it, while tha sticky 
fluid pours from the red glands till the little legs 
and wings are so tied and plastered down that 
they can strive no longer. The gum stops up the 
tiny holes in the insect's sides through which it 
breathes, and it soon dies, strangled and exhausted. 

When the game is lured, secured, and killed, 
the next thing in oJrder is the banquet. The little 
victim is eaten and digested. The fluid, which 
has all this time been exuding from the rosy 
glands, continues to flow, but becomes somewhat 
changed in its nature. If a chemist examined it 
now he would tell us that it was like pepsin; and 
it dissolves the sundew's dinner just as the pepsin 
in the human stomach dissolves what has been 


swallowed in the last meal. If you put a grain of 
sand or a little bit of wood on the leaf, the glands 
bend over it at first, but soon find out their mis- 
take and let go again. And this wonderful plant, 
like gluttons who stand higher on the scale of 
creation, sometimes has to pay the penalties for 
greediness. Darwin experimented on the leaves 
with tiny scraps of raw beef, and he found that 
some which had feasted too heartily suffered, 
apparently, the pangs of acute dyspepsia. They 
changed color, refused all food, grew limp and 
dejected, and died miserably. 

Sundew is not alone in its strange practices. 
The Venus^ fly-trap {Dioncea rmiscipula) (Fig. 
32), another dweller in the bogs, also catches in- 
sects and eats them. 

*^This plant abounds in the low savannas 
around Wilmington, North Carolina,'' says Prof. 
Gray, " and is native nowhere else. It is not very 
difficult to cultivate, at least for a time, and it is 
kept in many choice conservatories as a vegetable 

At the end of each leaf is what looks like a 
smaller leaf, nearly circular in outline, about an 
inch in diameter, and edged all around with stout 
sharp bristles. This is the fly-trap. It folds 


YiQ. 32«.— VENne' Fly-tbap {DUmcea mvBdpula). 


down the middle, as if it worked upon a hinge, 
and on its upper surface are six very delicate 

If these are touched with finger or pencil-point, 
the open trap shuts with a swift motion, and 
after a considerable interval it opens again. 
AVhen a flitting insect brushes against the bristles 
the trap promptly closes, generally imprisoning 
the intruder. " It closes at first," says Prof. Gray, 
" with the sides convex, and the bristles crossing 
each other, like the fingers of interlocked hands. 
. . . But soon the sides of the trap flatten down 
and press firmly upon the victim, and it now re- 
quires a very considerable force to open the trap. 
If nothing is caught, the trap presently reopens, 
of itself and is ready for another attempt. When 
an insect is captured it is held until it dies — is 
crushed to death indeed and consumed. The face 
of this living trap is thickly sprinkled with glands 
of elaborate structure under the microscope, but 
large enough to be clearly seen with a hand lens. 
These glands, soon after an insect is closed upon, 
give out a saliva-like liquid which moistens the 
body and dissolves all its soft parts. In a week or 
two the meal is digested, and the leaf opens for 
another capture and another feast. But its mo- 

0ORE-FL0WER8. 161 

tions are now more sluggish than before, and 
after three, or at most four, orgies the trap loses 
its sensibility and the leaf decays. 

Another familiar vegetable trap is the sidesad- 
dle-flower, or pitcher-plant, which grows in bogs 
in our Eastern and Middle States. This strange 
plant is often shown in florists^ windows as a curi- 
osity. The hollow leaves are shaped like inverted 
horns, and are usually half full of water and 
drowned insects. A row of honey-bearing glands 
running up the outside of the hollow horn tempts 
the deluded fly to climb the wall of the ogress 
castle. Having reached the top, he too often tum- 
bles down into the hollow leaf. Here is a little 
well all ready to drown him; and if, being of a 
dauntless and persevering nature, he gets ashore 
and tries to clamber up the sides of the well 
toward sunlight and freedom, his escape is cut off 
by a row of stiff, curved bristles, pointing down- 
ward. These stand in a ring just inside the 
mouth of the hollow horn, and, like the withes 
around the entrance of a lobster-pot, make it easy 
enough to get in but impossible to get out. 

" It is impossible,'* says Grant Allen, " not to 
feel a little thrill of horror at this battle between 
the sentient and the insentient, where the in- 


sentient always wins — this combination of seeming 
cunning and apparent hunger for blood on the 
part of a rooted, inanimate plant against a breath- 
ing, flying, conscious insect. . . . These insect- 
eating plants grow in damp places, rooted in 
moist moss or decaying vegetation. In such situ- 
ations they cannot get those materials from the 
soil which are usually supplied by constant relays 
of vegetable manure.'* Their ways of supplement- 
ing the rations gathered by their roots are cer- 
tainly wonderfully like the actions of conscious, 
thinking beings. 

And who can say positively that they are not 
conscious beings ? Life, after all the nature-study 
of our times, remains as deep a mystery as ever. 
Those who try to define it only give it a new 

In our own frames we seem to have two lives, 
one independent of the will and one controlled by 
it. Much of our physical life goes on without our 
knowledge and independent of, or sometimes in 
spite of, our will. Wo cannot add one inch to our 
growth, or retain one power or charm which age 
wishes to steal from us. Our hearts beat, our 
blood circulates, our food is changed to living 
tissue, without any exercise of our thought or 


will. This mechanical life it is probable we share 
with God's humble vegetable creation. 

But who can say positively that there are not 
some plants endowed with a fuller life than this ? 
May not this wonderful little sundew, for instance, 
be closer to animal intelligences than we incline 
to suppose? Swinburne thinks so, for this is 
what he says of it in one of his poems, those 
poems which are like the image in Nebuchadnez- 
zar's dream — part of fine gold and part of clay : 

'* You call it Sundew ; how it grows, 
If with its color it have breath. 
If life taste sweet to it, if death 

Pain its soft petal, no man knows : 
Man hath no sight or sense that saith«" 



'/ Fig. 83.— Butterfly-orchid. 

A DISPLAY of orchids is like a floral fancy-dress 
ball. The blossoms seem to be masquerading. 
The characters which they assume have been sug- 
gested by their insect friends and admirers, and 
they are gotten up in costume as bees, moths, and 

Soberly speaking, orchids are the strangest-look- 
ing of flowers, and their outlines suggest the forms 
of living tilings. Fancy has followed out these 
hints, and thus the blossoms get credit for being 
better mimics than they are. The " spider'* (Fig* 


34) and "butterfly'^ orchids curiously resemble 
the insects after which they are called ; but the 
" bee," " frog/^ and " lizard " orchids were named 
by some one very clever at tracing resemblances. 

We can all see in the " swan-flower " the shape 
of a bird with long arched neck and partially ex- 
panded wings; but whose was the vivid fancy that 
found among the petals of the " owl " orchid any- 
thing like the round eyes and solemn face of 
Minerva's feathered attendant ? 

One member of this strange family is like a large, 
gorgeous, spotted butterfly. The " baby " orchid 
cradles at its heart the tiny image of an infant in 
long robes. Some blossoms have an elfish look of 
malicious shrewdness, yet close to their little 
mocking faces there may bloom, fair and ethereal, 
the flowers of the "Holy Spirit" orchid, with a 
snow-white dove in each flower. 

The blossoms of some are held aloft like ban- 
ners; those of others droop like chimes of fairy 
bells. One variety bears flowers several inches 
long; those of another sort are so minute that the 
cluster resembles a head of blossoming grass. The 
plants are adorned with royal profusion : one bore 
at one time tliroe hundred and sevcntv-eio^ht 
flowers, and we read of an Australian orchid 


glorious with forty thousand blossoms! Every 
hue of the rainbow is found among them, and 
some that the rainbow has not. 

The family is divided into two great classes. 
*' Terrestrial " orchids are of the earth, earthy, and 
grub a living in the soil, like any humdrum cab- 
bage. The second division bear the strange name 
of Epiphytes, a Greek word meaning growing 
upon other plants; these do not penetrate the bark 
of their vegetable hosts, nor feed upon their juices. 
They are not boarders, only lodgers. 

They require no sustenance except what they 
draw from the atmosphere — gases, sunshine, and 
vapor. All they ask is a home. In their native 
climates they live on the branches of trees, forever 
suspended, like Mahomet's coffin, between heaven 
and earth. In the orchid-house they grow upon 
bits of bark or cross-sections of small trees, which 
hang from the roof by wires, and from these 
great sprays sweep downward, bearing dozens of 
strange and exquisite flowers. 

But what is an orchid ? Not a floral eccentric- 
ity, for some members of the family, to a casual 
glance, show no peculiarities to distinguish them 
from other flowers; not a plant living in and on 


the air, for the terrestrial orchids wonld not 
thrive on such ethereal food any better than we 

Orchids are members of one great family. At 
first they appear very diverse; but closer examina- 
tion shows that they are all formed on a common 
plan, and they are all descended, naturalists think, 
from a common ancestor. The founder of the 
family, which lived ages ago, was a flower some- 
thing like a lily, with three outer and three inner 
flower-leaves. Six flower-leaves are still worn by 
every member of the tribe, but one of these is 
always peculiar in form. Sometimes it is pro- 
longed into a cornucopia, full of sweets for the 
expected moth or bee; sometimes it is like a 
pouch ; and sometimes it projects in front of the 
flower, making a platform for the insect to alight 

The seed of the orchid can only be quickened 
by pollen brought from another blossom, or, better 
still, from another plant altogether. The undevel- 
oped seeds will not be perfected at all by aid of 
pollen from the same flower; indeed, in some 
instances it blights them and acts almost as 

Insects are the messengers which carry the life- 


giving dust from one orchid to another, and the 
strange forms and gorgeous colors of the flowers 
are worn to lure these desired visitors.. The 
winged caller finds the domestic economy of the 
orchid different from that of other flowers. The 
pollen is stored in two long deep pockets, which 
botanists consider as one great double anther. 
The pistils appear as two gummy patches on the 
blossom's face. The pollen is not loose like meal, 
as in most flowers: it is collected into lumps, and 
a number of these lumps are tied together, by 
elastic threads, into a pear-shaped bundle, which 
is fastened to a sticky button. This button is 
placed just where it will be sure to adhere to the 
head of any insect that calls for honey. 

All these peculiarities of structure can be 
plainly seen in the beautiful "greater green 
orchid '* (Fig* ^^)> which grows wild along the 
shores of Lake Superior and in the Alleghanies. 
No bee or wasp can reach down to drain the honey- 
tube of this flower, for it is over an inch long. 
Indeed, we have hardly a butterfly which can ex- 
tract the sweets fro.n this deep cup which Nature 
fills and reserves for the night-flying sphinx-moths 
(Fig. 36). Some of these have been caught with a 
remarkable object on each great eye : the pollen- 


mass of the orchid with its stalk and gummy 

button, the latter clinging fast to the moth's eye. 

How did it got there ? When the moth called 

for refreehmeutfi, she alighted on the lip which 


projects before the entrance to the flower-tube, 
offering, like the roomy porches of the old inns, a 
mute invitation to the passing wayfarer. Stand- 
ing there at ease she reached into the long pocket, 

ORCniDB. 171 

in the depths of which she hoped to find some 
honey. As she did so, her large, projecting eyes 
were pressed against the sticky buttons, which 

—1, Side View of Head of Sphinx-moth, with 

'ACHED Pollen ■ masses. 2, Fhokt 
View of the same, with Pendekt Pollen- 


were in position, one on each side of the mouth of 
the honey-tiibe. When slie raised her head and 
departed, the buttons, with their attached pollen- 
masses, were carried away bodily. 
Were the moth's eyes like ours, a stick in g-plas- 


ter clinging to the organs of vision would seriously 
impede her future operations; but each of her 
great compound eyes is composed of thousands of 
smaller ones, so that even when some are tempo- 
rarily blinded she has plenty left to guide her with 
her load of pollen to another flower. 

It seems evident that the pollen-mass will only 
be pushed against the next pollen-pocket. IIow, 
then, can the life-giving grains reach the spot 
Nature has prepared for them ? " This is effected/* 
says Darwin, " by a beautiful contrivance. Though 
the sticky button remains firmly glued where it 
first took hold, the stalk which bears up the pollen- 
mass has wonderful powers of contraction.*' The 
pollen-masses of some varieties of orchids move 
downwards and outwards, those of other sorts 
hang like plummets, and those of yet other varie- 
ties move downward and at the same time con- 
verge like the sides of the letter V. They make 
these movements in about thirty seconds, and in 
every case they place themselves so that by the 
time the insect has flitted to another flower of the 
same sort the pollen- masses are exactly in position 
to strike the stigmas of that flower. "A poet 
might imagine," says Darwin, "that while the 
pollen-masses are carried through the air they 


voluntarily and eagerly place themselves in that 
exact position in which alone they can hope to 
gain their wish and perpetuate their race.'* 

So viscid are the buttons to which the pollen- 
masses are attached that 'they stick firmly to 
whatever they touch. Moreover, the gum has the 
quality of setting hard, like cement, in a few 
moments, so that when the insect withdraws her 
head after drinking her fill, one of the pollen- 
masses at least is firmly glued to her. 

But why do not the button-shaped disks glue 
themselves to the spot where they grow ? Nature 
has provided against this mischance also. As 
they rest in their birthplace in the flower, before 
the insect calls for them, they are set in a sort of 
bath which keeps the gum soft and prevents the 
disk from fastening itself to the place where Nature 
does not mean it to stay. When the insect carries 
the pollen-bundle to another flower and presses it 
against the stigma, some of the cobwebby threads 
which • bind the golden grains together break. 
Perhaps the moth leaves but a small donation 
here and carries the rest of her load to another 
flower; so the mass of pollen is borne from blos- 
som to blossom, and every grain is turned to good 


A lifetime might be spent in studying this one 
family of plants; and a volume might be filled 
with tales of the many strange modes in which 
orchids compel insects to work for them. It has 
been said that ** moth-traps and spring-guns set on 
these grounds " might well be the motto of these 
flowers. There are channels of approach along 
which nectar-loving insects are surely guided, so 
as to bring them exactly to the spots " where they 
will do the most good.'' There are adhesive plas- 
ters nicely adjusted to fit their proboscides or catch 
their brows so as to unload their pollen-burdens. 
Sometimes, exactly in the gangway to the honey, 
there are hair-triggers communicating with explo- 
sive shells that project the pollen-bundles, with 
unerring aim, upon their bodies. Lastly, in many 
species the petals project and form a pent-house 
which protects the pollen and the gummy stigmas 
from the rain. 

Recently Fashion has interested herself in these 
fantastic flowers, and wealthy owners of hot-houses 
have grown reckless of the "almighty dollar" 
when a rare or new orchid can be secured. A 
plant valued at one thousand dollars has been 
exliibited in New York, and florists have none at 
a lower price than five dollars. One orchid cost a 


wealthy lady three thousand two hundred dollars, 
and is surely the dearest flower on record since 
the days when the usually frugal Hollanders went 
tulip-mad and would expend a fortune for a root. 

It is refreshing to learn that, after all, the 
cheaper varieties can be depended upon to furnish 
the most flowers; for they will bloom yearly with 
proper care, while some costly orchids flower but 
once in three or four years. 

After reading of the toils, risks, and difficulties 
of orchid-collecting, one only wonders that the 
plants are so cheap. The regal flowers are natives 
of the tropics, and those who gather them must go 
into the most unhealthy parts of fever-breeding 
lands, and pursue their labors where food is scarce 
and where no comforts of civilization can be ob- 
tained. They are wet through day after day for 
weeks. One zealous searcher is reported to have 
waded for a fortnight up to his middle in mud. 
When we consider that these fatigues and priva- 
tions are endured in moist forests, at the season 
when deadly exhalations are rising under a tropic 
summer sun, we cannot wonder that many orchid- 
seekers have lost their lives. 

But to discover a new orchid is but the begin- 
ning of difficulties: it must be secured, packed. 


and transported through the sweltering lowlands 
to a shipping-place. Before the plants start on 
their travels they are picked over, and damaged 
specimens or pieces rejected, as they would decay 
on the long, hot journey to the sea, and spoil the 
rest. The survivors are fixed with copper wire on 
sticks which are nailed across boxes for transporta- 
tion. The exquisite South American varieties are 
brought down the Amazon on flat-bottomed steam- 
ers. The boxes containing them are piled on deck 
and covered with blankets, a thatch of palm-leaves 
is laid over these, and all day long the pile is 
soused with water. 

Even when the precious cargo has at last reached 
the Atlantic in good condition, the collector's 
troubles are not over. Not un frequently the 
plants which have cost so much time, money, 
danger, and fatigue die on the voyage. In one 
instance only two plants survived out of a consign- 
ment of twenty-seven thousand; and English im- 
porters of orchids have paid large sums for freight 
on cases which when opened were found not to 
contain a living thing. 

Orchids imported in this manner are of course 
very costly. The cheaper and more familiar varie- 
ties are not immigrants, but Americans by birth. 


having been raised in the hot-house from cuttings. 
Some pretty terrestrial orchids, northern cousins 
of these tropic queens, may be found in our 
country walks. The one who seeks them must 
bo stoutly shod, for they are partial to peat- 
bogs, damp woods, and moist meadows. The 
little SpirantheSy or " lady Vtresses ^' (Fig. 37), is 
common in low-lying fields. The white flowers 
seem to have been strung into a chain and then 
wound, corkscrew-fashion, around a green wand. 
In latter May we may find the beautiful wild 
"lady's-slipper" (Fig. 38). "Our Lady's slip- 
per" our English forefathers called it, while to 
the French it is "the Virgin's sabot," and to the 
Indians "moccasin-flower." One sort is pale yel- 
low, another is rosy purple mingled with white. 
Both are so showy and lovely that the lucky 
finder can seldom resist the temptation to pluck 
them, and thus they grow rarer year by year. 

Botanists tell us that orchids are the most 
highly organized of all flowers; florists say they 
are the costliest; our eyes assure us they are the 
most gorgeous; and tlius they have a triple claim 
to the title of the "royal family of plants. 
Nevertheless one of their majesties is " in trade, 


— is, indeed, connected with the confectionery 
business, for vanilla, used in flavoring, is ex- 
tracted from the seed-pod of a tropical climbing 



Ak anecdote tells us of some one who, like 
Shelley, loved the skylark, but— he loved it in a 

Many persons love flowers with a like devour- 
ing passion, and pluck them so unsparingly that 
some of our sweetest and fairest sorts are being 
fairly appreciated off the face of the earth. The 
spoiler " makes a clean sweep '' of them whenever 
and wherever they are found. None are left to 
go to seed, and the species will soon be killed off 
like the buffalo. 

To the real lover of nature a flower loses half 
its charm when it is taken from among the lovely 
and appropriate surroundings which enhance its 
beauty as the setting of a gem shows off the gem. 
When the fair thing lives so short a time at best, 
he will not willingly hasten its death, and he 
knows that some flowers must be left to go to 
seed or we shall have none at all next year. 

The insatiate picker, at thought of whom we 


fancy the flowers must shake on their stalks and 
cower under their leaves, is fast exterminating the 
fairest of our autumn blossoms, the fringed gen- 
tian which Bryant loved and praised. We fear 
that there are now only a few favored localities in 
which it is still, as Professor Gray says, " rather 
common/' But we may come upon it in some 
September ramble, growing in a meadow close to 
the border of a quiet stream. 

It is of that color rare in vegetation, real blue. 
Most flower-blues incline to purple; but this is, as 
Bryant tells us, the tint of the upper part of a 
clear summer sky. The bell-shaped corolla is 
raised upright like a vase, and the edges of the 
petals are delicately fringed. The length of the 
blossom is about two inches. A smaller sort of 
gentian, with petals less deeply fringed, grows in 
moist meadows in the Northern and Western 
States; and these two varieties have a plainer 
cousin, the five-flowered gentian, which we may 
find in dry, hilly woods. This has several stems, 
each about a foot high, and smooth, shining, 
dark-green leaves; and about five pale-blue flow- 
ers, which are always partly closed and which 
never seem more than half-awake, are clustered 
on the top of each stem. 


In August and September, country roadsides 
are gay with the blossoms of " bouncing-bet," or 
common soap wort. They are in shape like single 
pinks, and grow in large bunches. Their color 
varies from white, through delicate, faint shades 
of pink, to rose-color. Bet blushes so often and 
so prettily that it is rather hard to call her by 
that equivocal term " bouncing." The blossom is 
so deep that not even a bumblebee can reach the 
honey, which is accessible to butterflies alone. It 
is nearly related to our garden-pinks and carna- 

The leaves of the plant are dark and smooth. 
The stems contain a gummy juice which makes a 
lather when it is mixed with water, and this is 
why our English cousins have given the plant the 
unpoetical name of " soap wort." 

It has crossed the Atlantic to us, faithfully fol- 
lowed us from Maine to California, and liked us 
well enough, on the whole, to wish to become a 
naturalized resident of the United States. 

In rocky or mountainous country in late sum- 
mer we find the lovely campanula (Fig. 39). 
It is often called bluebell, but it is in reality the 
harebell of the Scottish poets and another fair 
immigrant from the Old World. The branching 


Pig. 39,— Uarebell {Campanula rotundifolia). 


stalks are very slender, and the leaves narrow and 
grass like. The plant swings its dainty blossoms 
from rocky ledges wherever it can find a cranny 
for its delicate roots. The purple-blue drooping 
bells nod provokingly just at that part of the 
cliff where one cannot reach them from above or 
clamber after them from below. They cling to 
the sides of those Catskill cliffs on which are 
perched the Overlook Hotel and the Old Moun- 
tain House. They fringe the islands and parts of 
the rocky shores of Lake Erie, growing where 
they are continually wet with dashing spray. It 
is wonderful to see them sustaining their frail 
lives there — dainty, slender little things ! — where 
winds and waves often rage furiously and where 
many a boat has gone to pieces. They are visited, 
and probably fertilized, by great brown and 
golden butterflies, and rowers meet these enter- 
prising honey-seekers flitting from island to isl- 
and, across the open lake, and far from any shore. 
This gorgeous visitor will find the honey he 
seeks at the base of the bell-shaped corolla. Per- 
haps we can secure a nearly-open bud without 
running too great a risk of broken bones or a 
watery grave. If we split it down lengthwise with 
a sharp penknife, we shall see that the stamens in 


a close ring surround and clasp the pistil, which 
is no longer than they are themselves. In this 
position the anthers split down the inner side and 
shed their pollen, which remains sticking to the 
top of the pistil. Then the anthers, having done 
their work, shrivel away, and we shall find, even 
in a newly-opened flower, that they have shed their 
pollen and shrunk to mere little threads. It looks 
as if the harebell pistil, at least, meant to set its 
seed by the aid of pollen produced at home. But 
it will not use any of the golden dust which the 
stamens have bestowed upon it so liberally, and 
unless its wants are speedily and exactly attended 
to it will not set any seed at all. 

On the inner surface of the corolla are little 
scattered, stiff hairs. " Insects visiting the flower 
for the sake of the honey ,^^ says Sir John Lub- 
bock, " do not, as far as I have observed, generally 
walk on the petals, being deterred by the stiff hairs 
which are scattered on their inner surface. In 
any case, however, they are almost sure, sooner or 
later, to clasp the style, when they necessarily dust 
themselves with the pollen.^' 

When the pollen has all been removed, and car- 
ried off to other flowers by the bees and the but- 
terflies, the pistil separates at its tip into four 


parts, and spreads abroad, in the form of a Greek 
cross, four sticky little arms. These have till now 
been all raised upright and pressed together, so 
that the sticky (or stigmatic) surfaces were inside 
and covered up. They had no use for the home- 
made pollen, and "studied to avoid'' coming in 
contact with it. Now that it is all gone, the pistil 
spreads its arms abroad to receive by some winged 
messenger a gift of pollen from another flower. 

The cardinal- flower. Lobelia cardinalis, is an- 
other beautiful autumn blossom which, we fear, 
will soon be exterminated, " loved," not into, but 
out of being. In fields around our town, where it 
was once plentiful, it is no longer to be found. 
The blossoms, of rich, deep " cardinal '' red, grow 
on a long, leafy spike, and the lower ones open 
first. The corolla is curiously split all along the 
upper side, and through the rent an odd-looking 
beak pokes up: this is the group of stamens, all 
joined in a tube around the pistil. The long 
leaves are shaped like lance-heads and toothed 
along the edges. 

The artist who makes studies from nature will 
do well to seek this glorious lobelia. A flower 
more effective for decorative work could scarcely 
be found, and being uncommon, except in a few 


favored regions, it is seldom represented, and hence 
something of a novelty. It must be sought in 
moist, shady places and along the banks of brooks. 

The great blue lobelia, a near relation, is fonder 
of the sunshine. The flowers of this meadow 
beauty are bright blue, touched with white, and 
are mingled with leaves and crowded down the 
sides of a sturdy, hairy stem. 

In marshy meadows and along brackish ditches 
marsh-mallow opens its beautiful flowers. They 
are of a lovely rose-color, several inches broad, and 
in form like our garden hollyhocks. In August 
and early September they adorn Hackensack 
meadows in profusion. A recent writer prettily 
compares this flower to a rosy country beauty, 
glad in her innocent youth and glowing health, 
and loving to tell with smiles and blushes how she 
is admired. If we are shod so as to be able to 
secure a mallow without the discomfort of soaked 
feet, we shall see that the stamens and pistils have 
literally and metaphorically formed a club, for tlio 
many filaments and anthers are all united into one 
smooth, stout stalk. At the top of this is a tuft 
composed of the many stigmas and anthers. The 
whole affair is like the small brushes used to clean 
the insides of bottles. The hollyhock and the 


rose of Sharon have the same peculiarity of struc- 
ture. A gum extracted from the roots of the 
marsh-mallow is used in flavoring those soft white 
candies dear to our childhood. • 

"Beechdrops" will be found in beech woods. 
The whole plant, flowers, stems, and all, is in 
pretty delicate tints of cream-color, straw-color, 
and golden brown. Little scattered scales with 
yellow or brown edges take the place of the leaves 
with which the plant is no longer endowed. For, 
prepossessing though its appearance may be, this 
is a worthless character in the vegetable world — a 
mere idler and hanger-on, too lazy to support 
itself. It chooses rather to levy contributions 
from the beecli-roots, and is at this very moment 
shamelessly robbing that much-enduring tree. 

Botanists recognize nine or ten species of these 
" root-parasites,'' all alike destitute of green foliage. 
The most familiar of them, to non-botanists, 
is the Indian-pipe, called also "ghost-flower," 
"corpse-plant," and "pine-sap" (Fig. 40). 

It is found in rich dark woods, often nearly 
buried in fallen pine-needles or last year's decay- 
ing leaves. The whole plant is white and waxy- 
looking; the six parted flowers, which bend down 
from the tops of stalks five or six inches long, are 


Fio. 40.— INDIAB-PIPK {Monotropa uniflora). 


also white and waxy. They begin to turn black 
if subjected to the action of sunlight. Sometimes 
this plant lives, like a fungus, on decaying vegeta- 
ble matter; but oftener it fastens itself to the root 
of a tree and sucks away its vital juices, as a leech 
sucks the blood of an animal. Well may the 
flower bend its head when it knows that its way of 
getting a living is so dishonest ! — though the 
white, unwholesome look of the plant seems to 
show that, after all, it has not found dishonesty 
very profitable. On the stems are scattered scales, 
which are substitutes and apologies for leaves. 

An honest, hard-working plant, which grubs for 
its own living, contains in stem and leaves a sub- 
stance called chlorophyl. By this the plant is 
enabled to digest what it gathers from earth and 
air, and chlorophyl is ornamental as well as very 
useful; for to its presence is due the vivid green 
of leaves. But the lazy Indian-pipe, instead of 
making vegetable juices for itself, steals them 
already prepared from the tree-roots. So the 
chlorophyl which the members of this family once 
had and did not use has been taken from them. 
" From him that hath not shall be taken away " is 
as true in the natural as in tlie spiritual world. 

Long ago the ancestors of tliese parasites forsook 


the paths of industry and rectitude, and began 
to eke out their living with stolen food, sucked, 
ready prepared, from the tree-roots. The leaves, 
which are the plant's digestive organs, had less to 
do in consequence. Fewer and smaller ones were 
needed to do the plant's work, and so, through 
many generations, they dwindled and shrivelled, 
and tlie broom-rape and Indian-pipe became more 
and more addicted, partly from sheer force of 
necessity, to evil practices. Alike in the animal 
and in the vegetable world, unused organs shrivel 
away. Thus fish living in the dark pools of the 
Mammoth Cave have in the course of generations 
become blind. 

The pretty eye-bright of our New-England 
States has, as we have seen, entered on a course of 
parasitism, and its roots already draw nutriment 
from tlie roots of whatever grasses and herbs hap- 
pen to be near neighbors. " It does so little harm 
in a meadow," says Grant Allen, " that farmers 
scarcely recognize it as an enemy at all. But this 
we fear is but the initial stage of a downward 

Evil tricks will become easy because often in- 
dulged in, and then they will be indulged in again 
because they are so easy. This is the devil's circle 


wliicli exists both in the natural and in the spirit- 
ual world; and thus in organisms, as in souls, the 
unjust are unjust still and the righteous are right- 
eous stilL 



The crowning labor of a plant is to form, vital- 
ize, mature, and distribute its seed. For this end 
the buds form and the blossoms blow. The 
shape of the flower, its color, and its time of open- 
ing are all so arranged as to secure the fertilization 
of the tiny immature seeds. This object attained, 
the flower withers and falls. 

The plant, however, has yet a work to do, for 
the seed must be nourished till it is old enough to 
be turned out on the world to shift for itself. 
When this is done the plant's summer labors are 
over; and the growing things fade through the 
autumn days, not so much because early frosts 
have nipped them as because their work is done. 

If we take up a box full of the mignonette, 
which has bloomed all summer in the garden 
border, it will survive its outdoor companions 
and perhaps bear a few blossoms; but there will 
not be again such 2)rofusion of sweet flowers as we 
enjoy in July and August. 


The streDgth of the plant has gone into its sum*- 
mer flowers and into the seeds stored in numerous 
little green and brown pockets. The apple-trees 
have put their energies partly into the flowers 
which whitened the orchards in spring, partly into 
the fruit " pleasant to the eye and good for food." 

Now they lay aside their green robes and pre- 
pare for a long rest. 

Every gardener knows that a plant cannot grow 
all summer, and all winter too, for many succes- 
sive seasons. 

Greenhouse plants screened from cold must 
have their time of rest, and florists artificially pro- 
duce a dormant state in their charges by keeping 
them in semi-darkness and partially depriving 
them of water. 

The dry season of the tropics, like our winter, 
prevents vegetation from exhausting itself by con- 
tinuous effort. 

Evergreens have a time of lusty growth and 
blossoming in spring, and for the rest of the year 
merely ** hold their own." 

The botanist's view of autumn is a cheerful one. 
He knows that next spring's leaves are already 
formed in the tiny brown buds which stud the 
denuded trees, and under the bark is stored nour- 



iahment on wl 'cl they w'll feed wh'le tl ey do 
the r grow g ne'ct sp ng 

The tl ftj t ees befo e cast ng away their 
leaves sa e f om then son e n ater 1 to be 
' wo ked over ad s d a^a Ihe f me or 
steletou of a leaf s a netwo k of del cate ve s; 
the 8^ aces betwee these e u a e filled n w th 
CO ntless cell set almost is lose as tl ose of a 
honeycomb and full of clear jellj (F g 41) In 

F o 41 —Trans 

Ibct on of a Leaf suow no 

tl s float t u} g 8 of a s I ta ce called cl loro- 

lljl n m ose ou^jh to g e tl olor to the 

lole CO te ts of tl 11 is (1 o ^ a 1 lo- 

w t _ tl e wl t u to tl e t Ihen 


over the whole leaf — veins, cells, and all — is 
stretched a very delicate, perfectly transparent 

The oflBce of the chlorophyl in the economy of 
the plant is digestion. By its action dead or min- 
eral matter is changed into living vegetable tissue. 
Thus the plant does its digesting in its leaves, 
which we may regard as so many little stomachs. 

Chlorophyl is only formed under the action of 
sunlight. Leaves which have lived in a dark 
place have been able to make but little and hence 
are pallid. Celery leaves and stalks, grown par- 
tially under ground, are almost white. When a 
plant which has been struggling for life in a cellar 
is brought to the sunshine, chlorophyl at once be- 
gins to form in the numberless leaf-cells, and as 
this process goes on the foliage grows hourly 

We have all noticed the bright colors of newly 
unfolded leaves. When spring showers coax up 
the young beets, they appear with deep rose-red 
foliage, making their debut in apparel as gorgeous 
as that of Lady Peony, whose first leaves are of 
much the same rich hue. Budding willow-leaves 
are golden green, almost yellow. Young maple- 
leaves are purplish red. Indeed, scarcely any of 


the tender foliage which appears in April and early 
May is really green. 

Even in latter July the tender tips of growing 
shoots are often purple, red, or pale yellow-green. 
These rich hues of young foliage are due to the 
absence of chlorophyl. As the unfolding leaves 
spread out more and more surface to the sunlight, 
green chlorophyl is rapidly developed within them, 
and they assume their true color and their active 
life. The tender leaves of spring, red, yellow, and 
purple, are leaves into which chlorophyl has not 
yet come. The red, yellow, and purple autumn 
leaves are leaves from which the chlorophyl has 
been withdrawn. 

" What falls in autumn,** says Grant Allen, " is 
not the living part of the leaves; it is only the 
dead skeleton, empty cells, and stringy fibre. 
The active protoplasm (that is, the jelly in the 
cells) and green chlorophyl from each cell of the 
leaf moved slowly out, with strange, groping, ser- 
pentine motions, at the first autumn frosts, and 
stored themselves up securely in the permanent 
tissues of the stem. All winter long these living 
principles of the dead leaves remain stored up 
within the trunk or branches, and when the sun 
returns to us again they are pushed up anew into 


the bursting buds, and go to form the young 
leaves of the new year/' 

Of course, the material withdrawn and saved 
this fall will not by any means be sufficient to fill 

and color all next summer's leaves. Each leaf 


that drops this autumn leaves behind it a bud 
capable of unfolding into a pair or cluster of 
leaves. The spring leaves will be started in life 
with materials saved up for them by the thrifty 
trees, but will soon have to go to work to form 
more protoplasm and more chlorophyl for them- 

Underground in bulb and root-stock rich food 
is laid by for next spring's flowers. 

The iris, Solomon's-seal and trillium, and many 
varieties of lily have even formed next year's 
leaves. They lie curled up underground asleep, 
ready to issue forth as soon as the sunshine and 
the south wind shall come to awaken them. 

But sad to relate, some spring flowers seem so 
eager to appear in their new dress that they can- 
not wait till the proper time to don it. Their 
materials are close at hand and their "spring 
styles " alter not. The autumn sunshine beguiles 
them, and some bright day they come too soon 
into a world unfit to receive them. I have found 


yellow star-of-Bethlehem, a May blossom, in latter 
August, crocuses in October, and violets after 
Thanksgiving. Fall rains sometimes coax the 
dandelions to smile once more, and wild strawber- 
ries sometimes flower abundantly in late autumn. 
A few such mistaken blossoms, " born out of due 
time," and the gay denizens of our garden-borders 
which are not acclimated here, are the only flowers 
really killed by frost. Poetic fancy laments the 
fate of the beauties laid low by the pitiless north 
wind, but Nature does her best to prevent any 
such wholesale slaughter of the innocents. Our 
native plants are exactly adapted to the climate 
in which they live. Their programme is so ar- 
ranged that each and all have time to finish their 
pretty performance before winter arrives to silence 
the bird and insect orchestra, dim the lights, and 
take away the decorations of earth. 

Some plants — the "annuals" — never awaken 
from their winter sleep. One brief summer is 
their span of life. But these are only a small pro- 
portion of the vegetable world, and even these, 
before summer is ended, have attained their full 
growth, brought forth flowers, and set and ripened 
their seed. They have fulfilled the end for which 
they were created, and lived their life to its close. 


They fade slowly through the bright early autumn 
days, not because the first frost has blighted them, 
but because old age has come upon them and 
their work on earth is done. Where each blossom 
died there is left a seed, or perhaps a little 
pocketful of seeds, each a prophecy and a pledge 
of the flowers that shall gladden the earth next 
year. The possibilities of sweetness and beauty 
are hidden under their small brown coats as surely 
as "the music of the moon sleeps in the plain 
eggs of the nightingale." 

There will be many blossoms next summer for 
each that has faded this year, for, in the words of 
Hugh MacMillan, " Nature's graves have not more 
of ending in them than of beginning.'' 




The seed whicli dies 
That it may live, laughing with lightsome blade 
Death's dread away. — Edwin Arnold, 

The plant not only gives birth to the seed, 
nourishes it, protects it, and matures it: like a 
wise and loving parent it takes care to place its 
children advantageously in life, and screen them 
as far as possible from coming dangers. Some of 
the humblest jilants act as if they knew all about 
the rotation of crojis — which, indeed, was patent 
to the weeds long before it was discovered by the 

Nature in many cases takes great care that the 
seed shall find its way to " fresh fields and pic- 
tures new," instead of dro])i)ing close by the roots 
of the parent 2)lant into an exhausted soil. The 
thistle, milkweed, and dandelion provide their 
seeds with little tufts of ilown which fly before 
the lightest breeze and in autumn gales must 
travel fast and far (Fig. 42). 


The seeds ol maple, elm, and ash, of the tmm- 
pet-creeper, and of the pine-tree are made buoyant 

Cotton. Valaiiao, 

Fig. 43.— Plumed Seeds. 

(From The Vegetable Worlit.i 

with papery, ontspread wings (Fig. 43). These 
winged and tufted seeds are found only in fruits 
that split open at maturity. They are produced 
by a great number of plants, and every pufE of 

204 wrrn the wild flowers. 

autumn wind carries along a mised company of 
Buch tiny travellers. 

Fio. 48.— WiNOKD Seeds. 

(From Tht Vegetable Iforld.) 

By means of little claws and hooks some seeds 
are enabled to cliug tenaciously to tlie hair of 


cattle and dogs, the wool of sheep, and the cloth- 
ing of persons forced to lend unconscious or un- 
willing help to the burs' or " stickers' " schemes 
for placing themselves in life. By the time we 
discover the imposition that has been practised on 
us by the weed§, we shall probably have gone 
some distance from the place where the shooting- 
coat or tramping-dress was utilized as a means of 
conveyance by the clawed pests. We pick them 
oif, and probably throw them into fresh soil some 
distance from the spot where the parent plant 
gi-ew, thus aiding nature's plans, and distributing 
the weed still wider. The " stickers " which cling 
to the coats of animals will by and by be rubbed 
off and dropped to the ground. 

The garden-balsam, or " lady's-slipper," has yet 
another scheme for putting her children out upon 
the world. At the least touch the ripe seed-vessel 
curls up elastically, shooting the seeds away in all 
directions. The pod seems to jerk itself away as 
if it resented being meddled with. Hence the 
balsam has its Latin name impatiens (impatient), 
and its old English name "touch-me-not." The 
squirting cucumber, when ripe, shoots out, as from 
a syringe, streams of juice mingled with seeds. 

Some plants insure dissemination by inclosing 


hard or bitter seeds in a covering " pleasant to the 
eyes and good for food." The peaches, which 
make such wealth of beautiful color on the ft*uit- 
erer's stalls, may have been brought a long dis- 
tance for the sake of the luscious flesh around the 
" pip," or seed. When the peaches are eaten, the 
stones may be thrown to some spot where they can 
settle down and grow. Peaches have thus travelled 
" on their good looks " and sweetness all the way 
from Persia, where the family originated. The 
plum and the cherry have paid their way across 
Europe and the United States in the same man- 

Oranges, limes, and lemons are carried all over 
the country for their refreshing juices, and when 
the fruit is used the nauseous seeds are sure to be 
thrown away. 

Apples, pears, and quinces surround their hard, 
uninteresting little seeds with a nourishing pulp 
overlaid with fair colors. 

Hose-hips, the fruits of bitter-sweet and moun- 
tain ash, and all the pretty shining berries which 
bead the autumn hedgerows, are gotten up to at- 
tract the attention and please the fancy of birds 
with a view to getting their seeds sown. " Om- 
nivorous birds," says the great French botanist 


De Candolle, "often search for fruiis containing 
little, hard, indigestible seeds, such as grapes, 
raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, etc.; it ap- 
pears that small seeds can traverse the alimentary 
canal without alteration. When these birds are 
migratory, which is often the case in temperate 
and northern regions, they carry the seeds to a 
great distance, particularly when in autumn they 
leave northern climates to seek the sunny south.'^ 

In all the modes of seed -distribution already 
mentioned, nature assists. They are, as it were, 
regular routes, or modes, of vegetable travel. 
Besides these there are a number of curious acci- 
dental ways by which a species may be spread 
over a wider and wider area. Seeds may be con- 
tained in the little balls of earth which often 
cling to the legs of birds. Darwin raised eighty- 
two plants from one ball of dry mud which had 
clung to the leg of a partridge. " With such a 
fact before us,'' he says, "can we doubt that the 
many birds which are annually blown by gales 
across great spaces of ocean, and which annually 
migrate — for instance, the millions of quail across 
the Mediterranean, — must occasionally transport 
seeds in dirt adhering to their feet and beaks?" 

Nuts growing near river banks may fall into the 


stream, float out to sea, and be washed up by cur- 
rents on other shores. The cocoa arid cashew 
nuts, and the seeds of the mahogany tree, are 
known to have made long voyages in this way. 
Estimating the average rate of Atlantic currents 
at thirty- three miles a day, Darwin calculated that 
many sorts of seed would still have life in them 
after floating across nine hundred miles of sea. 
Several sorts, he found, survived soaking in salt 
water for a hundred and thirty-seven days. On the 
Hebrides and on the northwest coast of Scotland 
Charles Kingsley found plants which he thought 
must have grown from seeds brought across from 
America by birds or ocean currents. Waifs from 
the western world are every year washed up by 
the gulf-stream on the shores of Ireland, Scot- 
land, and Norway. Seeds have also floated long 
distances lodged in the crevices of driftwood. 
Many of these will wash up on barren sands or on 
coasts where the climate gives but a cool reception 
to a wanderer from the tropics; but of the num- 
ber of seeds which take voyages each year Bome 
will surely get a chance to grow. 

If the voyage is but a short one, and if the 
change of climate is not very great, the chance to 
grow is of course all the better. Seeds from a 


wide area are every aiitunm washed or dropped 
into the great lakes, and carried down the stream 
of the Niagara River. Some settle down and 
grow on the islands just above the falls, but in 
this much- visited neighborhood every pretty or 
conspicuous blossom is sure to be plucked as soon 
as it expands. But down the river's gorge, below 
the falls, there is a happy hunting-ground for bot- 
anists, where the picnicker ceases from troubling 
and where the excursionist never comes. 

Plants also travel far by the unconscious agency 
of man. They may be brought over seas in the 
clothing, among the bedding, or clinging to the 
tools of emigrants. Some of our most trouble- 
some weeds are from Europe, and may have ef- 
fected an entrance into the country in these ways; 
or perhaps their seeds accidentally got mixed with 
those of vegetables and grains brought by the first 
settlers. Ballast-heaps near seaport towns are 
favorite hunting-grounds for botanists, and in 
these spots introduced plants are often found. 

At the edge of the river Lez, near Montpellier, 
in France, American wools are cleaned before they 
are sold to the cloth-makers. Seeds of American 
plants which have been brought in these fleeces 
have S2)rung up in the environs of Montpellier; so 


that botanists have found, in this small place in 
South France, many flowers belonging to the land- 
scapes of Mexico and Buenos Ayres. 

A little island in Tierra del Fuego was found to 
bo almost covered with a growth of " shepherd's- 
purse,'' a weed well known to English farmers. 
It seemed impossible to account for the presence 
of this green stranger. A naturalist at last found 
that the weed had its headquarters around the 
grave of an English sailor who had died aboard a 
passing vessel and been buried by his messmates 
on this lonely island. The weed must have de- 
scended from a seed or seeds which had clung to 
the spade used in digging the solitary grave. 

Seeds may be carried from place to place mixed 
with the earth used in making roads or railway 
embankments. Wherever a certain sort of gravel 
has been used, for instance in making repairs on 
the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton road^ the 
edges of the track are each spring decked with a 
very pretty spurred violet not to be found in any 
of the adjacent woods and meadows. 

The movements of armies are apt to have the 
result, unthought of by commanders-in-chief, of 
spreading plants. Some fresh species were intro- 
duced by the Germans into France; and at least a 


dozen kinds, notably the scarlet poppy, were 
brought by Roman invaders into Britain. 

New plants are apt to enter a country, as 
human immigrants do, by the railroad. Seeds 
may be raised by the wind the train makes in pass- 
ing, and may then cling to the platforms of cars. 
They may be mingled with the litter on the floors 
of freight and cattle cars, and brushed out when 
(if ever) the cars are swept; or they may cling to 
freight and be dropped when it is deposited at its 
destination. This is why new flower-faces smile 
provokingly at us as we look and long from the 
window of a rushing train. They may be new 
settlers which have not yet spread far from the 

They never seem to grow near the depot, unfor- 
tunately, because that " other " who gets so many 
of the good things of life has picked any that 
were within easy reach. 

There is a natural rotation of crops, as yet little 
understood. Where a pine forest has been cleared 
away, oaks come up; and a botanist can tell be- 
forehand just what flowers will appear in the 
clearings of pine woods. In Northern Ohio, when 
a piece of forest-land is cleared, a particuilur sort 
of grass appears. When that is ])loughed under, a 


growth of tho golden coreopsis comes up, aud the 
pretty yellow blossoms are followed in their turn 
by plebeian rag-weed, which takes possession of tho 
entire field. In Central California a " complemen- 
tary crop " of wild oats comes up of itself where 
wheat has been grown the previous summer. 

Sometimes a i)lant will a])pear in a certain sec- 
tion of the country, occupy the land for a while, 
and tlie;i vanish as mysteriously as it came. 

A piece of forest land in the Adirondacks was 
swe])t by a devouring fire. In the luxuriant vege- 
tation which after a while sprung from beneath 
the ashes was a great growth of young wild cherry, 
though there was no tree of the sort within thirty 
miles, and had not been, the natives said, for 

Recent discoveries go to prove that a plant takes 
in from rain, air, eartli, and sunlight more nour- 
ishment than it needs. This waste matter, which 
is hurtful to the plant, is constantly being cast 
away by tlie root. Soil in which one sort of tree 
has been growing for years becomes, after a while, 
unfit to support tliat particular tree, though well 
a))l(^ to sustain one of another sort. In ground 
where wild cherries have long grown, for instance, 
the minerals which wild clierries especially re- 


quire have been largely used up, and this exhaus- 
tion of the soil, with the waste from the roots, has 
unfitted the earth for supporting other trees of the 
sort, while an oak or pine might grow and prosper 

The young trees which appeared so unexpectedly 
after the Adirondack fire probably sprung from 
seed which fell long before on soil which had sup- 
ported growths of wild cherry till it was unable to 
nourish any more trees of the sort. They lay 
latent, biding their time. "All things come," says 
the French proverb, " to the man " (or the vegeta- 
ble) " that knows how to wait.'' Slow natural 
processes restored the lost elements to the soil, 
fitting it to meet again a wild cherry's needs. 
Then fire "made a clean sweep" of the green 
things in possession of the field, and there were 
air and sunshine and " elbow-room " for the seeds 
which had waited so long. 

There is something almost Hiagical in the ap- 
pearance of new plants in a spot which circum- 
stances have fitted for their reception. A pond is 
made in a meadow, or the surface of the land is 
artificially altered so that there is a wet spot caused 
by drainage. Before many seasons have passed 
away, the new body of water is surrounded by 


those flowers which love to keep their feet wet, iris, 
jewel-weed, bur-marigold, and loose-strife. The 
seeds of these plants were probably dropped into 
our meadow just the same when the ground was 
dry and unfit to nourish them. Then they must 
have perished, as .countless thousands of wandering 
seeds do every year. 

The pretty Primula mistassinica or drip-prim- 
rose grows always and only on broken shale, ^under 
slowly-dropping water which trickles over lime- 
stone and brings down a little lime in solution. 
If the water oozes too slowly, the flower perishes 
of thirst. 

If it drops too fast, the primrose is washed away 
altogether, and without its tincture of limestone 
the little plant cannot thrive at all. There are 
only a few spots in the country where Primula 
mistassinica can find all the conditions necessary 
to its well-being. 

These spots ar(f widely separated, but in every 
one of them we find the flower. 

Some plants, like some birds, seem to love peo- 
ple, and are never found far from human homes. 
A sparrow is rarely, if ever, seen half a mile from 
a dwelling-house; and when we see the goldenrod 
we may know that human habitations are near. 


The common plantain, or rib-grass, is called by the 
Indians " the print of the white man's foot,'' and 
follows the Caucasian race around the world. 

The natives of Ceylon have a popular saying to 
the effect that " the cocoanut-palm will not grow 
beyond the sound of the sea- waves nor the human 

Burdock, nettles, thistles, plantain, and the de- 
spised " pusley" are social in their tastes, and only 
cling to us more faithfully for all the merciless be- 
heading and uprooting they get at our hands and 

When a remote piece of forest land is cleared, 
and becomes at first a hunter's, miner's, or logger's 
camp, afterward a settlement growing into a town, 
the faithful burdock, pusley, docks, and thistles, 
so different from the surrounding forest growth, 
will presently appear. How do they get there ? 
Where do they come from ? 

How did it get rumored among the parent weeds 
that out there through the forest towards the west 
there was literally an opening for their offspring ? 

We are as unable to solve the mystery as was the 
Adirondack guide of whom we read in Dudley 
Warner's charming Smiuncr in a Garden: 

"We were lying under the tent of spruce- 


boughs/' says Charles Dudley Warner, " talking, 
after supper, when Phelps (the guide) suddenly 
exclaimed, with uncommon energy, * Wall, there's 
one thing that beats me ! ' 

" ' What's that ? ' we asked, with undisguised 

" ' That's pusley,' he replied, in the tone of a 
man who has come to one door in life which is 
hopelessly shut and from which he retires in de- 
spair. ' Where it comes from I don't know, nor 
what to do with it. It's in my garden, and I can't 
get rid of it. It beats me ! ' 

" About pusley the guide had no theory and no 

" A feeling of awe came over me as we lay there, 
at midnight, hushed by the sound of the stream, 
and the rising wind in the spruce-tops. 

"Then man can go nowhere that pusley will 
not attend him. 

" Though he camp on the Upper Au Sable, or 
penetrate the forest where rolls the AUegash, and 
hears no sound save its own Allegations, he will 
not escape it. It has entered the happy valley of 
Keene, although there is yet no church there, and 
only a feeble school part of the year. Sin travels 
faster than they that ride in chariots.*' 

F0E8 AFIELD. 217 



Shakespeare says that the most perfect blame- 
lessness does not save one from calumny ; and this 
truth holds, it seems, even in the vegetable world. 
Unjust suspicions attach to our most beautiful 
wild vine, though it looks quite unlike the poison- 
ous clamberer with which it is confounded, and 
thus it avoids the very appearance of evil. 

English ivy is honored by poets, who have 
written charming things in its praise; and our 
graceful American ivy, or Virginia creeper, is 
equally deserving of honorable mention. It is fer- 
tile in resources: it clings to the rock, if it can lay 
hold of one, with a number of stout little "suck- 
ers^'; but if no rock or wall be near, the suckers 
turn into delicate tendrils which clasp boughs and 
twigs, and thus the vine adapts itself to any station 
in life, and makes the utmost of its opportunities. 


It covers the blank wall or gaunt dead tree with a 
living curtain, luxuriantly green all summer, and 
glowing at the touch of frost with a wealth of 
color which would put the most gorgeous tapestry 
to shame. Yet no poet writes a sonnet to this 
charming ivy of ours; the unbotanical public are 
inclined to shun it, and slander says that it i^ 

American ivy and poison-ivy are not even akiii, 
but belong to wholly distinct botanical families; 
for the Virginia creeper is first cousin to the gi'ape, 
while poison-ivy is closely related to the common 
sumach. The leaves of the American ivy are long 
and tapering, like lance-heads, and their edges are 
cut into points like the teeth of a saw. They grow 
in groups of five, the leaves of each quintet 
clustering around the top of one long stalk, which 
is the common support of all. Botanists regard 
the whole cluster as one "compound leaf.'* They 
compare the five members of the group to the out- 
spread fingers of a hand, and hence the compound 
leaves are called digitate, from the Latin digiius, 
a finger. From the same comparison the vine is 
sometimes called "five-finger." 

The very young leaves are coral -red; those a 
little older are pink, and when the five small leaf- 


Fig. 44. — Virginia Creeper {AmpeU)pti» quinqu^olia). 

(ARer drawing in Dtmoreefi Magaxiac.) 


lets are only partially unfolded, they might suggest 
rosy baby hands half closed. 

The Virginia creeper (Pig. 44) bears juicy, 
shining black berries, which grow in flat, spread- 
ing clusters on rosy stalks and ripen in October. 
The vine is slender and clinging. Its main stem 
is seldom two inches in diameter, and its boughs 
are short, slender, and drooping. When it scales 
a tree it often throws out no boughs at all, but 
wraps itself about the tnank and limbs almost as 
tightly as their own bark. Sometimes a consump- 
tive tree is smothered in this close embrace; and 
this is the worst misdeed ever committed by the 
Virginia creeper, which is not in the slightest 
degree poisonous, " any way you may take it.^' 

Our real foe afield, the poison-ivy {Rhus toxi- 
codendron) (Fig. 45), is, unhappily for us, ex- 
ceedingly common everywhere,— on rocks, along 
stone walls, in fence-corners, or clambering up 
tree-trunks in thickets and moist meadows. It 
only needs sunshine and a little dampness at its 
roots. It puts out no tendrils, but clings to its 
support with a great number of short, woody 
threads or "aerial rootlets." These sometimes 
grow from the trunk and larger branches in such 


Fia. 45.— a, Poison-ivt (R/iks toxicndendron). b, Bnq- 

Lisn Ivy (Hederii Mix). 

(After .in.viiie Id i^tiiiorEsCs Mugazine.) 


numbers that they almost hide the bark and give 
the limbs of the vine a mossy appearance. 

The main stem of a mature plant is a sturdy 
affair, sometimes thicker than a man's wrist. It 
throws out vigorous horizontal branches, and 
when the vine scales a tree its boughs are often as 
long as those of its host and victim. The leaves 
grow in groups of three. The middle leaf is 
raised on a stalk an inch or two above the point 
at which the pair of side leaves are joined to each 
other and to the long stem which upholds the 
whole trio. The leaves are oval, and each narrows 
to a slender point at the tip. When full grown 
they are generally from four to six inches in 
length and from three to five in breadth. They 
are thin, glossy on the upper surface, and some- 
what downy on the under side. Their edges are 
sometimes rudely scalloped and notched, and 
sometimes irregularly cut into large, jagged 
points, but usually entirely plain and unadorned. 
The young foliage is highly lustrous and of a 
brownish-red color. * 

The flowers appear in latter May or early June. 
They are of a pale greenish-yellow color, and they 
grow as grapes do in long, drooping clusters. 
They exhale a delicate fragrance, like that of 


white clover, and receive much attention from 
flies and bees. On the vine we may see clusters 
of last year's fruit. These are dried up by winter 
winds, and are stony, . silvery in color, and about 
as large as grains of barley. They made their 
debuty late last summer, as little, pale brown 
berries. Poison-ivy is often simply and vaguely 
called "poison-vine." In early youth it some- 
times stands erect, like a shrub, and then it is 
known as "poison-oak.'' 

There is only one other native plant which we 
shun. This is a near relation to poison-ivy, the 
poison-sumach {Rhus venenata) (Fig. 46). It is a 
fine instance of the truth of the copy-book axiom, 
" Appearances are deceitful " ; for ^it is the most 
beautiful shrub of the swamps and virulently 
poisonous. Poison-sumach grows in marshy spots, 
often rooted in a pool of water. It is a compact 
bush, generally from eight to fifteen feet high, 
though occasionally it grows into a small tree 
from twenty to thirty feet in altitude. The wood 
is remarkably smooth, very brittle, and covered 
with satiny, ashen -gray bark. The main stem is 
from two to five inches in diameter. 

The leaf -stalks are of a beautiful rose-purple 
color, deep yet vivid. Each bears nine small 


Fig. 46.— a, Poikon-somach <fl/.tt« aenenafa). b, Noh- 
POiaoNous i^uuACii {ll/irm typMrui). 

(After ilrawtnu ia Veniorttfa JlfugaEtnc.) 

F0E8 AFIELD, 225 

leaves or " leaflets/' one at the tip of the stalk, 
and the remaining eight ranged along its sides in 
pail's. Their upper surface is richly lustrous, and 
they are pale green on the under side. The blos- 
soms open in June. They are very small and of a 
greenish-yellow color, and grow in slender, loosely 
branching clusters, from eight to fourteen inches 
long. In latter summer they give place to little 
greenish-white berries, sometimes marked with 
delicate purple lines. The clusters of flowers and 
fruit spring from the points at which the leaf- 
stalks join the boughs. 

In general appearance poison-sumach resembles 
its near relation, the " smoke-plant '' of the gar- 
den. With its shining bark, lustrous foliage, and 
rich red leaf-stalks it looks like a stranger from 
the tropics, rather than an aboriginal of the soil. 
It may be found in any fresh-water swamp in the 
United States, from Canada to Louisiana. Like 
other bad characters it has more than one alias. 
Indeed, it bears a different name in almost every 
State of the Union, and is variously known as 
" poison - wood," " poison - ash," " poison - elder," 
" poison-alder," " swamp-sumach," and poison- 
tree." In Massachusetts it is known as "dog- 
wood," though that name really belongs to a tree 


of widely differing species, which bears large, 
conspicuous, white flowers. 

There are four non- poisonous varieties of su- 
mach. Three of these are very common every- 
where. They differ widely from the poison- 
sumach in their choice of residence, for they are 
found in dry, barren soil, on mountain slopes and 
stony hillsides. Their foliage takes on gorgeous 
and varied hues at the first touch of frost. The 
leaves may be gathered with impunity, and as they 
do not fade when pressed, they are the chief de- 
light of the collector of autumn foliage. The 
blossoms of these hillside sumachs are green and 
pallid, like those of the scapegrace of the fan^ly, 
but they differ entirely from the poisonous flowers 
in their mode of growth. They are borne in up- 
right, dense, compact, pyramidal clusters, and the 
fruits which follow them in latter summer are vel- 
vety, and of a very rich and beautiful scarlet. 
They grow darker with age, so that the fruit - 
cluster often presents a lovely gradation of color, 
the older fruits at the base of the pyramid being 
deep garnet, while the young ones at its apex are 
the color of scarlet coral. 

The fragrant sumach (Pig. 47), a rarer non- 
poisonous variety,- also grows in dry, rocky soil, so 



that any sumach found in swampy ground must be 
regarded as an enemy. The flowers of fragrant 
sumach are very small indeed, and they come out 
before the leaves unfold. They grow in close, 
slender spikes, like catkins, and the fruits which 
follow them are scarlet and velvety. 

Thus the smooth whitish or dun-colored fruit is 
a distinguishing mark of the unworthy and dis- 
reputable members of the family Rhus, 

Poison-sumach is far more noxious than its 
clambering cousin, but it does less mischief, on 
the whole, as we are not so liable to meet with it. 
The virulent properties of both plants are most 
active when the sap is stirring and the leaves un- 
folding in spring. They are also especially to be 
shunned at flowering-time. 

People are more apt to be alfected by the poison 
if they are exposed to its influences while in a state 
of perspiration. Some persons can gather flowers 
and foliage of both plants with impunity. Some 
can even rub, chew, and swallow the leaves of the 
poison-sumach without subsequent unpleasantness. 
Others are badly poisoned even by the breath of 
the plants if it is brought to them by the breeze. 
Such susceptibility as this, however, must be quite 
exceptional, for poison-ivy is very common along 


country roadsides, where people pass it frequently. 

The Rhus cousins, doing their worst, cannot 
kill their victim; but they can make life a heavy 
burden for ten days or a fortnight. The trouble 
does not begin till several hours after exposure to 
the noxious influence of the plant. The symp- 
toms of poisoning are swelling of the parts affected 
or, in aggravated cases, swelling of the whole body. 
Sometimes the swelling is so great that the eyes 
are closed, the face shapeless, and the features al- 
most obliterated, as in malignant small-pox. 

The skin becomes much inflamed, and itches 
and burns intolerably; and sometimes gatherings 
or blisters form. The distress reaches its height 
on the fourth or sixth day after the luckless en- 
counter with the Rhus, and then the skin peels 
off the inflamed parts, anfl the soreness and swell- 
ing gradually subside. 

There is probably a remedy in nature for every 
physical ill, if we only knew where to find it. 
The antidote for ivy or sumach poisoning is sugar 
of lead, which may be bought from any apothe- 
cary in the form of a dry powder. Explicit direc- 
tions as to its use should be obtained at the same 
time. It is dissolved in water and sometimes a 
little tincture of opium is added to the solution. 


Cloths are dipped into the liquid and then applied 
to the inflamed parts. Sugar of lead is itself a 
poison, and the two foes of mankind, Rhus poison 
and lead poison, fall to fighting each other, like 
the Kilkenny cats, till both are destroyed, or at 
least rendered incapable of mischief. 

Unhappily for those who a're susceptible to the 
Rhus poison, it is not like the proverbial lightning 
which " never strikes twice in the same place.'^ 
" A gentleman residing in the country," says an 
excellent authority, "told me that he had been 
seven times poisoned to the most violent degree." 
"I have known individuals badly poisoned in 
winter," says the same writer, " from the wood of 
poison-ivy accidentally burned in the fire." 

These foes afield are not foes always, for they 
have occasionally rendered service to mankind. 
The juice of poison -ivy, at first yellowish and 
milky, becomes black by exposure to the air. It 
has been used as marking-ink, and on linen it is 
indelible. A decoction of the bark has given re- 
lief to asthmatic and consumptive patients, and an 
infusion of the leaves has been used with success 
for the cure of paralysis. An extract of the plant 
has also been of great benefit to persons suffering 
from dyspepsia. 


Poison-sumach, too, may have its redeeming 
qualities; for it is believed to be identical with 
the Rhus vernicifera, which yields the much- 
admired black varnish of Japan. 

* Though not strictly poisonous, the nettle might 
be classed among our foes afield, as all will agree 
who have inadvertently come in contact with it. 
The genus Urtica (from urere, to burn) consists 
principally of herbaceous plants supplied with 
stinging hairs, each terminating in an exceeding 
sharp, fragile point which breaks off after entering 
the skin, allowing an irritating juice, contained in 
a bulb at the base, to flow into the wound. If the 
plant be grasped roughly, these points are broken 
before entering the skin, and little or no incon- 
venience results: hence the value of the advice to 
grasp a nettle firmly. The small nettle {Urtica 
urens) (Fig. 48) is familiar to all, and is found 
near dwellings. It usually grows from eight to 
twelve inches high, and has comparatively few 
stings. The common nettle {Urtica dioicd) is 
more liberally endowed with stings, so much so 
that it has been quaintly said, "it may be found by 
feeling on the darkest night." It grows from two 
to three feet high. 

* The description of the nettle is by M. I. Findley. 



Several common wild plants produce berries or 
secrete juices which would play the very mischief 
with us if they were taken into the stomach. 
Hence little ones should be earnestly cautioned 
against the common childish habit of munching 
unknown leaves, stems, and berries gathered out 
of doors. But poison-ivy and poison-sumach are 
the only plants, among all the green inhabitants 
of wood and field, to be avoided on account of be- 
ing really poisonous to the touch; and these are 
so easily recognized that we can all learn to know 
and shun them, and thus enjoy our summer ram. 
bles with quiet minds. 




"Flowers preach to us if we will but hear/' 
says Christina Rossetti; and there is a whole dem- 
ocratic sermon against family pride in the fact 
that no plants are better connected than the 

Aconite, which contains the most death-dealing 
vegetable juices known, is closely related to our 
pretty columbine and larkspur. English bella- 
donna and henbane, which are sometimes seen 
along our own waysides, possess deadly narcotic 
properties, but nevertheless they belong to the 
solanum family, which includes among its mem- 
bers the egg-plant, the tomato, and the indispen- 
sable potato. But these worthy vegetables are no 
worse off, in the matter of relatives, than are the 
carrots and parsnips growing in the next bed. 
Those guileless attendants upon the corned beef 
belong to the parsley family and are closely akin 


to water-parsnip, poison-hemlock, and fooPs-pars- 
ley, all exceedingly poisonous herbs, but all never- 
theless first cousins to celery, lovage, and the 
plant which yields caraway seeds. 

At times, however, the disreputable members of 
honorable botanical families prove themselves not 
unworthy of their kith and kin. 

" There is some soul of goodness in things evil, 
Would men observinglj distil it out," 

and this is especially true of things evil in the vege- 
table world. Some of the most valued remedies in 
the pharmacopoeia are the expressed and con- 
centrated juices of poisonous plants. Ordinarily 
these juices are the very essence of death and pain, 
but used at the fitting time and with scientific 
knowledge they become bes towers of life and 
comfort; hence plants which are poisonous if 
takeu internally are all described and portrayed in 
works on medical botany in company with boneset, 
catnip, and camomile. 

The list of our flora conveys the idea that every 
living thing has its dearest vegetable foe. There 
are bugbane, cowbane, dogbane, henbane, and 
fleabane, fly-poison, beaver-poison, and lambkill. 
Some of these names are merely memorials of old 


superstitions; nevertheless it is true* that plants 
poisonous to the animal or human stomach are far 
more numerous than those which are poisonons to 
the touch. Indeed, they abound on every side; 
but, luckily for us, neither the children nor the 
cows are likely to kill themselves, though the sum- 
mer fields afford them great facilities for doing so. 
However some old-school theologians may quarrel 
with the doctrine, God's creatures are so rightly 
as well as wonderfully made that, in the main, 
they do like what is good for them and dislike 
what is hurtful. 

To our palates most poisonous plants are biting, 
acrid, or nauseous; and animals are even more 
clearly warned against evil by beneficent Mother 
Nature. Indian tobacco, for instance, is poisonous, 
but it sets one's mouth and throat on fire, and one 
taste of it suffices for a lifetime. 

Buttercups in quantities would be poisonous to 
the cows, but they are so acrid that grazing cattle 
generally let them alone, even in closely-cropped 
pastures. A few buttercups mixed with the grass 
act as a condiment and digestive: it is only in 
large quantities that they are mischievous. It has 
been proved by experiment that their expressed 
juice, when taken into the stomach, is highly poi- 


sonons, and a small quantity of it has been known 
to kill a dog. It contains a chemical called aco- 
nitia, the most virulent vegetable poison known. 

This murderous substance abounds in the pretty 
monk's-hood, or aconite, which may be this mo- 
ment growing and blowing in the reader's garden. 
It is an enemy within the gates. "Any parent 
who suffers it to grow within reach of his chil- 
dren," says Bigelow, " is either ignorant, foolhardy, 
or florist-mad; and any amateur not willing to 
adopt some of the finest larkspur as a substitute 
deserves to be condemned for a season to regale 
himself on docks and dandelions." Every part of 
the common garden Aconitum napelhis (monk's- 
hood) (Fig. 49) is poisonous in a green state, root, 
stem, blossoms, and foliage. When the leaves are 
chewed they cause a tingling and a curious numb 
sensation in the tongue and mouth. 

This funny feeling might induce children to 
munch the foliage, though it is not pleasant to the 
taste, for boys, and girls, too, sometimes, enjoy 
games in which the strife is to see who can longest 
endure discomfort. A person who had foolishly 
eaten some of the leaves of aconite became mani- 
acal. The poison excites great gastric irritation, 
which may be followed by stupor and death. 


Fio. 49. — AcoNiTB {Aamitam napellui). 


The monkVhood which bears blue flowers is 
believed to be much more mischievous than those 
species which get up effects in yellow or in white. 
This is truly discouraging to the gardener. Eeal 
blue flowers are so beautiful, and Nature offers us 
so few of them, that it is grievous to part with one. 
But even the blue aconite is not the worst member 
of its family; a still more deadly species grows 
wild in the Nepaul Mountains, and is used by the 
natives to poison their arrows. 

The pretty foxglove (Digitalis), which is becom- 
ing popular in gardens, is also poisonous to the 
human interior. 

It contains " digitalin,^^ which has a peculiar 
action upon the heart, slowing it down and mak- 
ing its pulsations irregular. Other effects of it 
are pain, vomiting, and purging. All parts of the 
plant are hurtful if taken internally, but the seeds 
are especially mischievous. 

The Datura stramonium or thorn-apple, pop- 
ularly known as " Jimson '^ or "Jamestown'' weed 
(Fig. 50), and opprobriously known as "stink- 
weed/' is so familiar everywhere that a descrip- 
tion of it may not be unnecessary. 

It is a rank, vigorous weed, very common in 
waste ground around dwellings, and along road- 


FiQ. 60. — JiMSUN-WBED {Datura siramo/tium). 

F0E8 AFIELD. 241 

sides. The plant branches freely and grows from 
two to five feet high. 

The shining leaves, described as "tooth-edged," 
are dark green upon their upper surfaces. 

The flowers are funnel-shaped, deep-throated, 
large, and white, and plaited around the border 
into five ridges. The fruit, about the size of a 
walnut, is covered with sharp spines. The plant 
is a native of Asia, and has been introduced here 
by the gypsies, who use it as a medicine. 

Like most medicines it can harm as well as 
heal. No small number of cases of poisoning 
have occurred among children from eating thorn- 
apple seeds. All parts of the plant, and especially 
the seeds, are narcotic-poisonous. 

The leaves and roots of the May-apple {Podo- 
phi/lliwi peUahwi) are drastic and poisonous. 

English or green hellebore {Helleborus viridis) 
(Fig. 51) has somehow entered the domains of 
Uncle Sam, and has settled in the vicinity of 
Brooklyn, and in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 
Its lush foliage may tempt grazing cattle with 
consequences very grievous to the farmer. Pliny 
states that horses, oxen, and swine are killed by 
eating *' black hellebore," which is supposed to 


be Helleborus viridis, or a closely-allied species. 
The plant is an acrid narcotic poison. 

Fi<3. 51.— Obbbn Hellebube {HelWxmtt tiridii). 

In man it causes singing in the ears, vertigo, 
thirst, a feeling of suffocation, swelling of the 


feet, slowing of the pulse, and it may be collapse 
and death. Green hellebore is sometimes grown 
in gardens, as an ornamental annual, but its poi- 
sonous qualities should not be forgotten. 

The many shining lush leaves are borne upon 
stalks which rise directly from the root. Each 
stalk supports five leaflets which diverge like the 
points of a star or the toes of a bird's foot. 
Botanists would call the foliage " palmate " or 
"pedate." Slender stalks rise out of its glossy 
abundance, each upholding one or two large 
greenish-yellow flowers, which, at first sight, bear 
a strong family resemblance to their cousin the 

On closer examination we find that the five 
golden-green decorations, which at first appeared 
to be petals, are sepals. The real petals, eight or 
ten in number, are very unostentatious affairs 
and will not be seen till one looks for them. In- 
sect rovers know where to find them, for Nature 
has fashioned them into little pockets which con- 
tain honey. 

Indian-poke, itch- weed, or American hellebore 
{Veratrtim viride) is a native of the soil, much 
commoner than its European namesake and hence 
more mischievous. 


It may be found anywhere, in damp ground, 
from Canada to the Carolinas. 

The appearance of this plant is prepossessing. 
It is an erect spire-shaped perennial, from three 
to five feet high, with curiously plaited leaves 
regularly alternating up the stem and overlapping 
each other at the base. The yellowish or greenish- 
white flowers are borne in numerous dense spikes 
on the top of the stem, the whole forming a py- 
ramidal cluster. Each blossom is composed of six 
separate and spreading sepals. 

The root is exceedingly poisonous, and has 
killed children who dug it up and ate it, mistak- 
ing it for its innocent neighbor, sweet-flag root. 

The vigorous leaves are among the first green 
things to appear in spring. 

This juicy foliage has tempted browsing cattle 
tired of dry winter diet and eager for a change in 
the bill of fare, and the gastronomic experiment 
has been productive of disaster both to cows and 
to proprietor. 




The most mischievous of poisonous plants are 
those disreputable cousins of the carrots and par- 
snips, foors-parsley, poison-hemlock, water-hem- 
lock, and water-parsnip. Their appearance is 
attractive and they strongly resemble worthy 
relatives of unimpeached respectability. 

Poison-hemlock, water-hemlock, and water-par- 
snip are not refused by cattle, and are highly 
injurious to them. FoolVparsley is said to pro- 
duce palsv in horses if they eat it in quantities, and 
it has also done much injury to persons who have 
been deceived by its close resemblance to garden- 
parsley. Poison-hemlock has sickened and killed 
children who ate its roots, supposing it "to be 
"sweet-cicely.'^ All these herbs are exceedingly 
common, and, as so many crimes are proved 
against them, it is advisable that we should all 
learn to identify and detect them. 


Poison-homlock, or Conium maculatum (Fig. 
52) grows in old gardens and waste grounds. Its 
main stem is erect, hollow, stout below and much 
branched above. It is perfectly smooth, bright 
green, mottled with irregular stains of wine-color, 
and covered with a white bloom which is very 
easily rubbed off. The leaves are very smooth 
and of a uniform deep green. The lower leaves 
are very large, sometimes over two feet in length, 
and are borne on long stalks. The upper leaves 
have scarcely any stalks whatever. They are 
broadly triangular in general outline, and are 
finely cut and fringed. Each scallop, or tooth, of 
these lace-like leaves is tipped with a little sharp 
white point. 

The white flowers grow like those of the wild 
carrot, in a flat circular cluster which is composed 
of many similar, but smaller, clusters massed to- 
gether. There are " wheels within a wheel " of 
bloom. The seeds are small and of a dull green- 
ish gray, and up and down them run toothed or 
wavy ridges. By these oddly decorated seeds 
poison-hemlock may be distinguished from some 
cousifts which resemble it closely. It can also be 
recognized by its imposing size, by the claret-col- 
ored blotches on its large smooth stalks, by the 



luxuriant green of its foliage, and by a very offen- 
sive, " mousy '^ odor which its leaves emit when 
they are cut or bruised. 

One would think that this last characteristic 
would discourage children or animals from pursu- 
ing acquaintance with poison-hemlock ; but it has 
often been eaten with grievous results. Cattle 
turned out to pasture in spring, after being shut 
up all winter, are liable to eat this plant, and to 
be seriously injured or even killed by it. Tliey 
sometimes obscurely show the symptoms and 
evince a stupor which is mistaken for stomach 
trouble, or an excitement and fury which are sup- 
posed to be madness. 

Winter does not kill the poison-hemlock, which 
comes up the second spring lustier than ever, and 
often attains a height of six or eight feet — a liv- 
ing illustration of the truth that *^ ill weeds grow 
apace." "Mowing close to the ground," says an 
excellent authority, " will destroy it in two seasons." 

Conium maculatum is an unwelcome immigrant 
from the Old World. Europe presents it to us in 
return for many similar favors received. It has 
been noted as a poison from remote antiquity. 
The Athenians gave a cup of hemlock to those 
who were condemned to death by the council of 


the Areopagus, and many distinguished ancients, 
among them Socrates and Phocion, suffered death 
by the agency of this destroyer. Plato describes 
the famed hemlock of antiquity, which, it seems, 
looked exactly like our common Conitim macula- 
turn. But the vegetable murderer of Socrates 
differed somewhat from the common Conitim in 
its effects : the dying sage suffered no pain, only a 
great and growing numbness, which crept grad- 
ually from his feet to his heart. The poison- 
hemlock of our fields may differ slightly from the 
Greek species, or it has adapted itself to the en- 
lightened age of dynamite and the "Woolwich 
Infant": our hemlock can not only kill its victim, 
but it can make his death exceedingly distressful. 
Some botanists think that the slayer of the 
Greek sages was the too common Cicuta maculata 
(Fig. 53). This plant is variously known as 
American hemlock, musquash root, water-hem- 
lock, snakeweed, and beaver-poison. It grows in 
wet meadows and along the banks of ditches, 
ponds, and streams. It often abounds among the 
grass in low-lying fields, and is frequently cut 
with hay. Fortunately for farmers it is not, in a 
dry state, very injurious to cattle. Its fresh leaves 
act upon them as a violent poison, and hence 


Fia. 58.— American Hkmloce {Cieula maetilaia). 


another of the plant's popular names, spotted 
cowbane. Any of it within reach of a farm ought 
to be exterminated. 

The plant may be identified by its root, which 
is composed of a number of fleshy tubers diverging 
from the base of the stem and about as long as 
one's finger. It looks like a cluster of small par- 
snips tied together as hucksters tie them. The 
root has a strong, penetrating smell and a warm, 
acrid taste, and when it is pressed it emits a yel- 
lowish juice with a pungent fl^yor. 

The stem is smooth, branched at the top, hol- 
low, and marked with little grooves and little 
ridges running lengthwise. Generally it is 
strongly streaked with purple. Spotted cowbane 
grows from three to six feet tall. Its leaves are. 
much cut, their edges are toothed like a saw, and 
the leaf -veins terminate in the notches, not at 
the points of the foliage. 

The white flowers appear in July and August. 
They are borne in a compound wheel, or umbel, 
as they are in all the members of the parsley tribe. 
In most of the numerous parsley cousins the head 
of tiny, five-petalled blossoms is encircled by a full 
ruche, or collar, of slender leaves; these leaves 
grow at the bases of the little stalks which uphold 


the little wheels of bloom, and they form what 
botanists call the " general involucre." But 
spotted cowbane follows a recent fashion and 
goes all collarless : it has no " general involucre," 
and only occasionally an apology for one in the 
shape of a single leaf. The little circles of bloom 
are not numerous, and instead of crowding to- 
gether, as they do in the wild carrot, each keeps at 
an unsocial distance from the rest. 

There are many recorded cases in which chil- 
dren have eaten the roots of Cicuta maculata with 
fatal results. In western Pennsylvania it de- 
stroyed several persons who ate the root, mistak- 
ing it for angelica. Three little boys in Dutchess 
County, New York, went in search of sweet-flag 
root, and dug up and ate roots of the spotted 
cowbane by mistake. Two died in convulsions 
about an hour after having swallowed the poison. 
" Many cases like these," says Bigelow, " must 
have happened unrecorded. The plant is ex- 
tremely common in many parts of the United 
States, and I believe its true character is not gen- 
erally suspected. A very respectable jihysiciiin 
informed me that it was much used in his vicinity 
as a gargle by people unsuspicious of its quali- 

F0E8 AFIELD. 253 

Though this plant is poisonous to cows, it is 
eaten with impunity by sheep and goats. It 
comes up year after year from the same root; 
mowing the ground, therefore, will not extermi- 
nate it, and only thorough ploughing will rid us 
of it. 

Mowing will, however, destroy fool's-parsley 
{^^thusa cyyiapium) (Fig. 54) for the summer is 
its span of life. Fool's-parsley is a slender herb, 
with a small, branched, tapering root of a pale 
brownish-white color. Its erect stem is from six 
inches to two feet high and has many ascending 
branches. It is perfectly smooth, hollow at the 
base, solid above, and of a bright apple-green color 
tinged with red. Stains and streaks of red and' 
purple brand most of the evil-doers of the parsley 

The lace-like leaves of ^tliusa are broadly tri- 
angular in general outline, very smooth on both 
sides, and of a rich dark green, often tinged 
with dull red. Except for these criminal marks 
the foliage of jElhusa resembles that of the 
straight-leaved garden -parsley so closely that the 
poisonous plant has often been mistaken for the 
worthy vegetable with disastrous results. Curled 
parsley can be at once distinguished from its dis- 



reputable relative by its crisp leaves, and it is 
recommended that curled parsley only should be 
cultivated, to avoid mistakes. No mistake could 
arise were the plants compared when in blossom, 
for the flowers of fool's-parsley are white, while 
those of garden-parsley are yellow. 

The whole plant of jEthusa has a burning taste, 
and when the leaves are bruised they emit a pe- 
culiar disagreeable odor altogether different from 
that of garden-parsley. FooFs-parsley is a com- 
mon weed about cultivated ground in the Northern 
and Eastern States, and it abounds in the vicinity 
of Boston. It blossoms in July. In all recorded 
experiments this plant has had a poisonous effect 
upon animals. 

Water-parsnip {Slum) (Fig. 55) also blooms in 
later summer. It grows in swamps and marshy 
meadows and along the banks of streams and 
ditches. Often it is found rooted in water with 
some of its leaves submerged. This floating foli- 
age is lace-like, and the leaves which rise into the 
sunshine are also delicately cut and toothed. The 
white flowers resemble those of Ciaita, but they 
are surrounded by an involucre of several tiny 

Cowbane, another water- loving member of the 


parsley family, is also poisonons. It, too, has 
compound, or divided, leaves and a wheel-shaped 

mass of delicate white flowers; but its individual 
characteristics are so obscure and so variable that 


it would be almost impossible to describe them, 
even by resorting to crabbed botanical terms. 

Those parsley relations, or umhelliferm, which 
are amphibious in their tastes and aquatic in their 
habits need not be distinguished one from the 
other. They can all be included in one sweeping 
condemnation. It is a rule sanctioned by the ob- 
servations of medical botanists that all unihelUf- 
ercB gi'owing in and about water are poisonous. 
There are very few exceptions to thisS-ule; so 
every plant growing in a wet place and bearing 
lace-like leaves and blossoms closely resembling 
those of the wild carrot must be considered guilty 
till it is proved innocent. 

The baneful juices of these poisonous iwiheUif- 
ercB are called, in medical language, acro-narcotic 
poisons. They act chiefly on the brain and spinal 
marrow, producing dizziness and stupor, and 
sometimes a sort of intoxication, delirium, and 
convulsions. There is generally much nausea, 
and Nature's effort to rid the stomach of the hurt- 
ful stuff should be assisted by a dose of sulphate 
of zinc or of tartar emetic : the first is preferable 
on account of its speedy action. Hot lemon-juice 
and hot vinegar should be given, but they must 
on no account be administered before the poison 


is expelled from the stomach. Strong coffee and 
strong tea are the best antidotes for the stupor, 
which is sometimes almost overpowering. The 
patient must not be allowed to yield to it, but his 
attention must be aroused by every possible means. 

But as an ounce of prevention is worth many 
pounds of cure, children should be earnestly cau- 
tioned against eating unfamiliar roots, seeds, and 
berries. " Sweet-cicely '^ and angelica* differ but 
slightly in appearance from violently poisonous 
members of the parsley family; most disastrous 
mistakes have thus occurred, and hence " sweet- 
cicely '^ and angelica had better be forsworn alto- 

The plants described are injurious only when 
they are taken into the stomach. None of them 
is in the least degree poisonous to the touch, and 
if any one of them has made its home in our ter- 
ritory, we need not fear to grasp it boldly, pluck 
it up, and cast it out. 



Aconite 234,238 

Aconiiia 237 

Aconitum napellus 238 

Adam's needle and thread 115 

Adder's-tougue 90 

^nothera biennis 117 

.^Ethtisa cynapium 253, 254 

Alder-tassels 47 

Almond 34 

Amaryllis 19 

Ampelopsis quinquefolia 219 

Anemone nemei'osa 60 

Anemone, rue 61 

Anemone, wood 59 

Anemones 43, 56 

Angelica 258 

Annuals 200 

Anther , 19 

Apple-blossoms 85 

Aquilegia Canadensis 91 

Arbor-vitae 25 

Ariscema triphyllum 69 

Arum, arrow 74 

Arum, water. . • , 73 

Arum, wild 68 


Ash 203 

Aspbodel 4d 

Aster 106 

Aslera 67,85 

Balsam, garden 184, 205 

BalMim, wild 132 

Barberry 19 

Bean H. 118 

BeaD, Cflstor-oll 80 

Bean, haricot 13 

Bcavei- poison 349 

Bcecbdrops 189 

Beet M 

Belladoana 334 

Birch 34,47 

BlUeraweet 57,206 

B1t«(iing-heart 97 

Bluebell 66, 183 

Bhiellag 131 

Bhie-flags 138 

Boneset.. 57, 100 

Bolrychiiim 15 

Boiiuciiig-lioL 188 

Brooklime 138 - 

Broiimrape. 193 

Buds 84-39 

Bum 305 

fiiill«T-«nd-egga 144 

Bullercup 63,85,236 

Cabbage, skunk 82 

Calico-bush 94 

Calla 68 

Calla, marah 73 

Culyx 17 

Campanula 188 

Campanula rolundifoUa 184 

CampioD 148 

CaruatioQ 17 

Carrot 44 

Carrot, wild 46 

Catcb-fly 1. 93, 142 

Oat-tail 183, 126 

Cherry- bloom 76, 78 

Cieuta maeulata S4B 

Cbloropbjll 191,197 

Chrysautlieinum 106 

Clover. 37,85 

Clover, purple 37 

Clover, I'ed SI 

Clover, sleeping. Ill 

Clover, while 67 

Columbine 85, 90, 91, 384 

Conium maculnium 246 

CoreopaU 813 

Corn iDdlan 80 

Corn-sillt 82 

Coro-cociik- 13 

Corpse-plant 189 

Corolla 17 

Cotton 303 

Cotlonwood 76, 83 

Cowbane 355 

Cowbaue, spotted 351 

Crane's-bill 96 

CrociiB 43.85.87, 200 

Cryptognms 7, 11. 14 

Cuckoo-buds 86 

262 INDEX, 


Cuckoo-pint 73 

Cucumber, squirting 205 

Cuscuta , 3 

Cyclamen 141 

Cycus 124 

Cypripedium niveum 179 

Daffodil 41,45 

Dahlias 107 

Daisies 103, 112 

Daisies, field 100 

Daisy 57 

Dandelion 61 , 202 

Dandelions 56, 112, 200 

Diatoms 8 

Datura stramonium 239 

Dcsmids. 9 

Diceutra 97 

Digitalis 239 

Dioncea muscipula 159 

Dodder 3 

Dros&ra rotundifolia 155 

Dutcbman's-breecbes 97 

Eel-grass 122, 135 

Elm 203 

Epidermis 124 

EpipJiytes 166 

Enifironium ♦ 90 

Eye-brigbt 192 

Fern, bracken 15 

Fern, leaf 13 

Fern, maidenhair 15 

Ferns 8. 9, 14 

INDEX, 263 


Filament 19 

Fleur-de-lis 132 

Flower-de-luce 133 

Flower, cardinal 187 

Flower, divided 50 

Flower, moccasin 178 

Flower, perfect 50 

Flower, watereide 122 

Flowers, composite 107 

Flow^ers, disk 107 

Flowers, pond 122 

Flowers, ray 104, 107 

Flowers, side-saddle 161 

Flowers, willow 51 

Fool's-parsley 235, 245, 253, 254 

Foxglove 239 

F uchsia 66, 141 

Fungi 8, 11 

Fungus 1, 4 

Garlic 20 

Gentian, blue 147 

Gentian, five-flowered 182 

Gentian, fringed 182 

Geranium 63, 88, 151 

Geranium, Lady Washington 64 

Geranium maeulatum 96 

Geranium Bobertianum 98 

Geranium, rose 64 

Geranium, wild, 96, 98, 152 

Ghost-flower 3, 189 

Gladiolus 42 

Gold cups 86 

Goldeniod „ . .57, 85, 106 

Grapevine 112 

Habenaria orbieulala 170 

Harebell 183 

Heartsease 04 

BedtraMias 221 

Hepadca 56.58 

Hellebore, Americau 343 

Hellebore, Eugliah 241 

Hellebore, green 341, 343 

JJelleborua tii-idii 841, 342 

Hemlock, American 349, 250 

Hemlock, poison 385, 345, 347 

Hemlock, water 345,249 

Heubaoe 334 

Hollyliock 30, 188 

Houey-guideB 63 

Honeysuckle 114 

HoDeysiickles 150 

Hoi'setaUB 8,9 

HyacintU 42,43.66,87,88 

Hyacioths 85 

Hydrangeas 16 

ImpalieDS 205 

Impatient fnlm 133 

ludian pipe 3, 189 

Indiau-poke 243 

Indian tobacco 386 

Iris 19,42,09.199.814 

Iris, wild 131 

Ironweed 106 

Itchweed 243 

Ivy. American 217 

Ivy, English 317 

Ivy, poison 230 

JiLCket-aud-breccbcs 00 

INDEX. 265 


Jack-in-tlie-pulpit 68 

Jewel-weed 132, 132, 133, 214 

Jimson-weed 240 

King-cups 86 

Lady sour-grass 88, 113 

Lady's-slipper 134, 178, 205 

Lady's-tresses 178 

Larkspur 234 

Laurel 19 

Laurel, mountain 27, 94 

Laurel, swamp 94 

Lettuce 106 

Lichens 8, 9, 10, 11 

Lichens, rock 9 

Lily 1,20, 122 

Lily, calla 28,68 

Lily, day 115 

Lily, Japan 115 

Lily-of-the-valley 66, 141 

Lily, pond 43 

Lily, tiger 1 42 

Lily, water 63, 99, 122 

Linaria 144 

Linaria vulgaris 145 

Lobelia, blue 188 

Lobelia cardinalis 187 

Locust 113 

Locust, honey 37 

Loose-strife 214 

Lords-and-ladies 73 

Maple 50, 203 

Maples, red 47 

Marigold 106 

266 INDEX. 


Marigold, bur 314 

Marsh-calla 73 

Marshmallow 188 

May-apple 241 

Microscopic plauts 4 

Milkweed 203 

Monk's-hood 237, 239 

Monoiropa unifloi^a 190 

Morning-gloiy 17 

Mosses 8, 9 

Moulds 6 

Mountain ash 206 

Mullein 57 

Mushrooms 11 

Musk-plant 20 

Musquash-root 249 

Narcissus 42, 45 

Nasturtium 134,148 

Nettle 231 

Nettles 215 

Oak 81 

Odontoglossum coi'datum 167 

Ogre-flowers. 155 

Onion 44 

Orchid, baby 165 

Orchid, bee 165 

Orchid, butterfly 164 

Orchid, epiphytes 166 

Orchid, frog 165 

Orchid, greater green 169 

Orchid, Holy Spirit 165 

Orchid, lizard 165 

Orchid, owl 165 

INDEX, 267 


Orchid, spider 164 

Orchid, swan-flower 165 

Orchid, terrestrial 166 

Orchids 164 

Ovaries 82 

Oyster-plant 44 

Oxalis 12, 113 

Pansy 63, 140 

Parasitic plants 2 

Parsnip 44 

Parsnip, water 235. 245, 255. 256 

Peltandra virginica 74, 75 

Perianth 87 

Petal 17 

Petunia 93 

Phanerogams 7, 11 

Phlox (pollen-grain) 20 

Pine-sap 189 

Pine (flower) ' 81 

Pine (seed) 203 

Pinks, wild 92 

Pinks, scarlet 92 

Pipe, Indian 3, 189 

Pistil 20 

Pistillate flowers 81 

Pitcher-plant 161 

Plantain 215 

Podophyllum peltatum 241 

Poison-alder 225 

Poison-ash 225 

Poison-elder 225 

Poison-ivy 221, 223 

Poison-oak 223 

Poison-sumach , .... 225 

268 INDEX. 


Poison-tree 225 

Poison-viDe 223 

Poison-wood 225 

Poplar, silver 88 

Poppy (pistil) 21 

Poppy, scarlet 211 

Portulaca r 110 

Pollen 19 

Pollen-grains 20 

Pollen-tube 78 

Primrose, evening 20, 118 

Primrose, Chinese (pistil) 21 

Primrose, drip 214 

Primula mistaasinica 214 

Pasley 110, 215 

Radish * 44 

Rag-weed. 212 

Bhvs aramattca^ 227 

RJius toxicodendron 221 

B7m8 iyphina 224 

Bhua venenata 224 

B7iii8 mrnidfera 231 

Rib-grass 215 

Rose 17, 18 

Rose, cabbage 16, 23 

Rose-hips 206 

Rose of Sharon 20. 189 

Rose, wild 28 

Root-parasites 189 

Rushes, scouring 9 

Sepal 17 

Shepherd's-purse 210 

Sium aicutctfolium 256 

INDEX. 269 


Smoke-plant 225 

Snakeweed 249 

Snapdragon 144 

Snapweed 134 

Snowballs 16 

Snowdrop 42, 66, 141 

Soapwort 188 

Solanum 19, 234 

Solomon's- seal 199 

Speedwell 122 

Speedwell, water 128 

Speedwell, common \ 129 

8(pirant1ie8 gracilis 177 

Spores 11, 14 

Squills 86 

Stamens 18, 19 

Staminate flowers 81 

Star-of -Bethlehem 200 

Stigma 21 

Stomata 124 

Stone-crop 88 

Stork's-beak 96 

Strawberries, wild 200 

Sumach 37 

Sumach, fragrant 227 

Sumach, poison 226 

Sumach, swamp • 225 

Sundew 155 

Sunflower 101, 106 

Sweet-cicely 245, 258 

Sweet-william 142 

Tape-grass 135 

Taraxacum 61 

270 INDEX. 


Teasel 151 

Thistle 85, 106, 202, 215 

Thistle, swamp 142 

Toad-flax 145 

Toadstools 11 

Touch-me-not 134, 205 

Trillium .' 87,88. 199 

Truffles 11 

Tulip 42 

Tunkia japonica 115 

Turnip 44 

Turnip, Indian '. 68. 69 

UmbellifercB 257 

Urtica urens 231 

Urtica dioica 231 

Vallisneria 134 

Venus' fly-trap 158 

Vera Iconica 181 

Verat7'um viride 243 

Veronica 128 

Veronica officinalis 129 

Violet 62,65, 140 

Violet, dogtooth 90 

Violet, pansy 64 

Violet, spurred 210 

Violets 56. 86, 200 

Virginia creeper 217 

Virgin's sabot 178 

Wake-robin 89 

Weigela rosea 149 

Wheat 20,25 

INDEX, "ill 


Willow-pussies 47, 85 

Willow, swamp 50 

Wind-flower 61 

Wistaria 113 

Yucca 116 

Yucca JUamentosa 115 


WITH THE WILD FLOWERS, from Pussy-willow 
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for the Beginner. By W. I. Lincoln Adams, Editor 
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WITHIN COLLEGE WALLS. By Charles Franklin 
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■I ^— ^^ 


a hitherto unpublished Portrait. By Charles J. 
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