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"Shall little haughty ignorance pronounce
His works unwise, of which the smallest part
The tulip has no style, but its three parted stigma is attached to a three cornered germ. The corolla of the tulip is more expanded at the base than that of the lily. The stem of the tulip is never more than one flowered, while that of the lily usually has a number of flowers. Some native species of the tulip are found in North America, but those which you see in gardens are exotics. In no plant is the variation made by culture greater than in this; it is said, that of one single species, Tulipa gesneriana, one thousand and one hundred varieties are cultivated in Holland. About the middle of the seveneenth century, the rage for tulips was so great, that some were sold for four thousand dollars, and one variety, called the Vice-roi, for ten thousand dollars; but this extraordinary traffic was checked by the law that no tulip or other flower ld be sold for a sum exceeding one hundred and seventyfive dollars.
The amateurs of this flower may truly be said to have had the tulip mania, to have rendered such a law necessary. The Crown-imperial is truly a majestic flower, and presents, in the regularity of its parts, the curious appearance of its nectaries, and the liquid secretion which takes place in them, facts of great interest both to the departments of botanical classification and physiology. But we find in the fœtid odour of this splendid flower, a circumstance which leads us to prefer, as an ornament for our parlours, or as a gift to a friend, the humble mignionette or the lowly violet.
Besides the liliaceous plants, which include much of the beauty of our gardens, we find in the first order of the 6th class, several genera which belong to the natural family Ensatæ, having sword-form leaves; as the spiders wort, a beautiful flower whose symmetry we have already remarked. Many tenderly cherished exotics have less elegance than this neglected American plant. The snow-drop, which is one of the earliest flowers of spring, is of the same family.
It may excite your astonishment to know, that in the class and order with so many splendid and beautiful flowers are the onion (Allium), and the bulrush (Juncus). But you must recollect that in this artificial system, if a flower has six separate stamens and one pistil, it is entitled to a place in the 6th class and 1st order, even though this should place a very humble plant by the side of the most gaudy flower.
The onion belongs to a family of monocotyledonous plants,
Tulip-Ensate-Plants of different appearances found in the same classes.
which Jussieu calls Asphodeli (from asphodel, a spear). The Asphodel which gives name to the family, was among the ancients a funereal plant; it was made to grow around the tombs; and a belief prevailed that the manes of the departed were nourished by its roots. An inscription upon a very ancient tomb, commences thus, "I am nourished by the Asphodel." This plant was supposed to grow in abundance, upon the borders of the infernal regions of the ancient poets. Fig. 110, represents a flower of the Asphodel family (Eucomis).
The genus Scilla is an exotic, containing the squill, a medicinal plant, and the hare-bell of English poets; the latter is SCILLA nutans, or nodding; it abounds in the woods and glens of Scotland, and has a soft and elastic scape. says of the Lady of the Lake;
"A foot more light, a step more true,
Ne'er from the heath-flower dashed the dew;
Elastic, from her airy tread."
The flower which we term the hare-bell is the Campanula rotundifolia; this is very common near water-falls, and upon rocks in other situations. The barberry (Berberis), is found common in New England; its stamens possess an unusual degree of irritability; they recline upon the petals, but upon touching the base of the filaments by any substance, they instantly spring towards the pistil.
You may have observed that although we have remarked upon the beauty of some flowers to be found in this class, nothing has been said of their utility; the truth is, that their beauty, as is too often the case with external beauty, constitutes their chief merit. When we compare the advantages which the world derives from the costly race of showy tulips with the utility of the humble flax, we feel that though we may admire the one, reason would teach us to prefer the other. You may from this, derive a moral lesson, which may suggest to your minds some truths, applicable to human beings as well as flowers.
The genus Convallaria presents many delicate and interesting species. The flowers of some are funnel-shaped, and such are usually called Solomon's seal. The garden Solomon's seal is very common. This name is supposed to have been taken from certain marks on its roots, resembling the impres sions made by a seal. It has been much celebrated for medicinal properties.* The lily of the valley belongs to the genus Convallaria; its corolla is bell-form.
* Gerard, a very ancient botanist, has the following curious passage. "The
Asphodeli-Scilla- Hare-bell-Barberry-Flowers of this class more remarkable for beauty than utility-Convallaria.
In the first order of the sixth class are the Aloes and the Fanpalm, the fronds of which are of immense size.
We shall close this lecture by a few examples of the remaining orders of the class Hexandria, and a view of the very small class Heptandria.
We here find but one genus, Rice (Oryza); this belongs to the family of grasses, which are mostly found in the class Triandria, but having six stamens, this plant is separated by the artificial system from those to which it is allied by natural characters. No plant in the world appears of such general utility as an article of food as this. It is the prevailing grain of Asia, Africa, the southern parts of America, and is exported into every part of Europe.
Here we find the genus Rumex, which contains the dock and sorrel; they have no corolla, but the six stamens and three pistils are surrounded by a six leaved calyx.
The first order of this class contains the chick-winter-green (Trientalis); this plant has a calyx with 7 leaves, corolla 7 parted. One species of it is said to defend its stamens against injury from rain, by closing its petals and hanging down its head in wet weather.
The Horse-chesnut (sculus), (Fig. 111), is a native of the northern part of Asia, and was introduced into Europe about the year 1500; it was not probably brought to America until sometime after the settlement of this country by Europeans. It is a small tree which produces white flowers, variega
ted with red, crowded together in the form of a pannicle; the whole resembling a pyramid. In appearance it is very showy,
root of Solomon's seal stamped, while it is fresh and greene, and applied, taketh away in one night, or two at the most, any bruse, black or blew spots gotten by fals, or women's wilfulness, in stumbling upon their hasty husband's fists, or such like."
Aloes and Fan-palm-Order Digynia-Trigynia-Trientalis-Horse chesnut.
the more agreeable to us as we have so few trees whose flowers are conspicuous. The blossom is very irregular in its parts, that is, its number of other divisions do not correspond with the usual number of stamens; the stamens, however, vary as to number. The seeds in form have a resemblance to chesnuts, but their taste is bitter. A very large species, the pallida, having pale flowers, is a native of the southern and western states. The horse-chesnut exhibits in its buds, in a very conspicuous manner, the woolly envelope which surrounds the young flowers, the scales which cover this envelope, and the varnish which covers the whole. The wood of this tree affords a good subject for studying the formation and growth of woody or exogenous stems.
There is but one plant with four pistils known in the class Heptandria; this alone constitutes the fourth order; its common name is lizard's tail (Saururus); it has arrow shaped leaves, flowers destitute of a corolla, and growing upon a spike; it is to be found in stagnant waters.
The septas, a native of the Cape of Good Hope, is considered as the most perfect plant in this class; it has 7 stamens, 7 pistils, 7 petals, a calyx 7 parted, and 7 germs (one to each pistil), which germs become 7 capsules, or seed vessels.
Heptandria is the smallest of all the classes; we do not find here, as in most of the other classes, any natural families of plants; but the few genera which it contains not only differ in natural characters from other plants, but seem to have no general points of resemblance among themselves.
Tetragynia-Order Heptagynia-Remarks upon the class Heptandria.
CLASS VIII.-OCTANDRIA. CLASS IX.-ENNEANDRIA.
The eighth class, although not large, contains some beautiful and useful plants. One of the first which we meet with in this class, is the scabish (Enothera), sometimes called evening primrose. Many species of this are common to our country; some grow to the height of five feet. The flow. ers are generally of a pale yellow, and in some species they remain closed during the greater part of the day, and open as the sun is near setting. This process of their opening is very curious, the calyx suddenly springs out and turns itself back. quite to the stem, and the petals being thus released from the confinement in which they had been held by the calyx, immediately expand; there are few flowers which thus hail the setting sun, though many salute it at its rising. The flowers of the Enothera are thickly clustered on a spike, and it is said that "each one after expanding once, fades, and never again blossoms."* This singular flower has been observed in dark nights to throw out a light resembling that of phosphorus. The regularity of the parts of this flower renders it a good example of the eighth class; the different parts of its corolla preserve in their divisions the number four, or half the number of stamens. It has 4 large yellow petals, the stigma is 4 cleft, capsule 4 celled, 4 valved, the seeds are affixed to a 4 sided receptacle.
The evening primrose belongs to a family of dicotyledonous plants called Onagræ ;† the characters of which are four petals above the calyx; stamens inserted in the same manner, and equal or double the number of petals; the fruit a capsule or berry.
To the same natural family as the Enothera belongs the willow herb (Epilobium), a very branching plant with red flowers and feathery seeds.
The cranberry (Oxycoccus), also belongs to the same family, but having ten stamens, is in the class Decandria; in this case, a natural affinity is made to yield to the artificial system. The fruit of the cranberry consists of large scarlet berries, which
+ The common name for the evening primrose is, in French, onagre'.
Evening Primrose-Willow herb-Cranberry.