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´╗┐Title: Wild Flowers - An Aid to Knowledge of Our Wild Flowers and Their Insect Visitors
Author: Blanchan, Neltje
Language: English
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An Aid to Knowledge of Our Wild Flowers and Their Insect Visitors

By Neltje Blanchan


Surely a foreword of explanation is called for from one who has
the temerity to offer a surfeited public still another book on
wild flowers. Inasmuch as science has proved that almost every
blossom in the world is everything it is because of its necessity
to attract insect friends or to repel its foes - its form,
mechanism, color, markings, odor, time of opening and closing,
and its season of blooming being the result of natural selection
by that special insect upon which each depends more or less
absolutely for help in perpetuating its species - it seems fully
time that the vitally important and interesting relationship
existing between our common wild flowers and their winged
benefactors should be presented in a popular book.

Is it enough to know merely the name of the flower you meet in
the meadow? The blossom has an inner meaning, hopes and fears
that inspire its brief existence, a scheme of salvation for its
species in the struggle for survival that it has been slowly
perfecting with some insect's help through the ages. It is not a
passive thing to be admired by human eyes, nor does it waste its
sweetness on the desert air. It is a sentient being, impelled to
act intelligently through the same strong desires that animate
us, and endowed with certain powers differing only in degree, but
not in kind, from those of the animal creation. Desire ever
creates form.

Do you doubt it? Then study the mechanism of one of our common
orchids or milkweeds that are adjusted with such marvelous
delicacy to the length of a bee's tongue or of a butterfly's leg;
learn why so many flowers have sticky calices or protective
hairs; why the skunk cabbage, purple trillium, and carrion flower
emit a fetid odor while other flowers, especially the white or
pale yellow night bloomers, charm with their delicious breath;
see if you cannot discover why the immigrant daisy already
whitens our fields with descendants as numerous as the sands of
the seashore, whereas you may tramp a whole day without finding a
single native ladies' slipper. What of the sundew that not only
catches insects, but secretes gastric juice to digest them? What
of the bladderwort, in whose inflated traps tiny crustaceans are
imprisoned, or the pitcher plant, that makes soup of its guests?
Why are gnats and flies seen about certain flowers, bees,
butterflies, moths or humming birds about others, each visitor
choosing the restaurant most to his liking? With what infinite
pains the wants of each guest are catered to! How relentlessly
are pilferers punished! The endless devices of the more ambitious
flowers to save their species from degeneracy by close inbreeding
through fertilization with their own pollen, alone prove the
operation of Mind through them. How plants travel, how they send
seeds abroad in the world to found new colonies, might be studied
with profit by Anglo-Saxon expansionists. Do vice and virtue
exist side by side in the vegetable world also? Yes, and every
sinner is branded as surely as was Cain. The dodder, Indian pipe,
broomrape and beech-drops wear the floral equivalent of the
striped suit and the shaved head. Although claiming most
respectable and exalted kinsfolk, they are degenerates not far
above the fungi. In short, this is a universe that we live in;
and all that share the One Life are one in essence, for natural
law is spiritual law. "Through Nature to God," flowers show a way
to the scientist lacking faith.

Although it has been stated by evolutionists for many years that
in order to know the flowers, their insect relationships must
first be understood, it is believed that "Nature's Garden" is the
first American work to explain them in any considerable number of
species. Dr. Asa Gray, William Hamilton Gibson, Clarence Moores
Weed, and Miss Maud Going in their delightful books or lectures
have shown the interdependence of a score or more of different
blossoms and their insect visitors. Hidden away in the
proceedings of scientific societies' technical papers are the
invaluable observations of such men as Dr. William Trelease of
Wisconsin and Professor Charles Robertson of Illinois. To the
latter especially, I am glad to acknowledge my indebtedness.
Sprengel, Darwin, Muller, Delpino, and Lubbock, among others,
have given the world classical volumes on European flora only,
but showing a vast array of facts which the theory of adaptation
to insects alone correlates and explains. That the results of
illumining researches should be so slow in enlightening the
popular mind can be due only to the technical, scientific
language used in setting them forth, language as foreign to the
average reader as Chinese, and not to be deciphered by the
average student either, without the help of a glossary. These
writings, as well as the vast array of popular books - too many
for individual mention - have been freely consulted after studies
made afield.

To Sprengel belongs the glory of first exalting flowers above the
level of botanical specimens. After studying the wild geranium he
became convinced, as he wrote in 1787, that "the wise Author of
Nature has not made even a single hair without a definite design.
A hundred years before, one, Nehemias Grew, had said that it was
necessary for pollen to reach the stigma of a flower in order
that it might set fertile seed, and Linnaeus bad to come to his
rescue with conclusive evidence to convince a doubting world that
he was right. Sprengel made the next step forward, but his
writings lay neglected over seventy years because he advanced the
then incredible and only partially true statement that a flower
is fertilized by insects which carry its pollen from its anthers
to its stigma. In spite of his discoveries that the hairs within
the wild geranium protect its nectar from rain for the insect
benefactor's benefit; that most flowers which secrete nectar have
what he termed "honey guides" - spots of bright color, heavy
veining, or some such pathfinder for the visitor on the petals;
that sometimes the male flowers, the staminate ones, are
separated from the seed-bearing or pistillate ones on distinct
plants, he left it to Darwin to show that cross-fertilization by
insects, the transfer of pollen from one blossom to another - not
from anthers to stigma of the same flower - is the great end to
which so much marvelous floral mechanism is adapted. The wind is
a wasteful, uncertain pollen distributor. Insects transfer it
more economically, especially the more highly organized and
industrious ones. In a few instances hummingbirds, as well,
unwittingly do the flower's bidding while they feast now here,
now there. In spite of Sprengel's most patient and scientific
research, that shed great light on the theory of natural
selection a half century before Darwin advanced it, he never knew
that flowers are nearly always sterile to pollen of another
species when carried to them on the bodies of insect visitors, or
that cross-pollenized blossoms defeat the self-pollinated ones in
the struggle for survival. These facts Darwin proved in endless

Because bees depend absolutely upon flowers, not only for their
own food but for that of future generations for whom they labor;
because they are the most diligent of all visitors, and are
rarely diverted from one species of flower to another while on
their rounds collecting, as they must, both nectar and pollen, it
follows they are the most important fertilizing agents. It is
estimated that, should they perish, more than half the flowers in
the world would be exterminated with them! Australian farmers
imported clover from Europe, and although they had luxuriant
fields of it, no seed was set for next year's planting, because
they had failed to import the bumblebee. After his arrival, their
loss was speedily made good.

Ages before men cultivated gardens, they had tiny helpers they
knew not of. Gardeners win all the glory of producing a Lawson
pink or a new chrysanthemum; but only for a few seasons do they
select, hybridize, according to their own rules of taste. They
take up the work where insects left it off after countless
centuries of toil. Thus it is to the night-flying moth, long of
tongue, keen of scent, that we are indebted for the deep, white,
fragrant Easter lily, for example, and not to the florist; albeit
the moth is in his turn indebted to the lily for the length of
his tongue and his keen nerves: neither could have advanced
without the other. What long vistas through the ages of creation
does not this interdependence of flowers and insects open!

Over five hundred flowers in this book have been classified
according to color, because it is believed that the novice, with
no knowledge of botany whatever, can most readily identify the
specimen found afield by this method, which has the added
advantage of being the simple one adopted by the higher insects
ages before books were written. Technicalities have been avoided
in the text wherever possible, not to discourage the beginner
from entering upon one of the most enjoyable and elevating
branches of Nature study. The scientific names and classification
follow that method adopted by the International Botanical
Congress which has now superseded all others; nevertheless the
titles employed by Gray, with which older botanists in this
country are familiar, are also indicated where they differ from
the new nomenclature.

NELTJE BLANCHAN, New York, March, 1900


List of Illustrations
Blue to Purple Flowers
Magenta to Pink Flowers
White and Greenish Flowers
Yellow and Orange Flowers
Red and Indefinites
   Fragrant Flowers or Leaves
   Unpleasantly Scented
   Plants and Shrubs Conspicuous in Fruit
   Plant Families Represented

"Let us content ourselves no longer with being mere 'botanists' -
historians of structural facts. The flowers are not mere comely
or curious vegetable creations, with colors, odors, petals,
stamens and innumerable technical attributes. The wonted insight
alike of scientist, philosopher, theologian, and dreamer is now
repudiated in the new revelation. Beauty is not 'its own excuse
for being,' nor was fragrance ever 'wasted on the desert air.'
The seer has at last heard and interpreted the voice in the
wilderness. The flower is no longer a simple passive victim in
the busy bee's sweet pillage, but rather a conscious being, with
hopes, aspirations and companionships. The insect is its
counterpart. Its fragrance is but a perfumed whisper of welcome,
its color is as the wooing blush and rosy lip, its portals are
decked for his coming, and its sweet hospitalities humored to his
tarrying; and as it speeds its parting affinity, rests content
that its life's consummation has been fulfilled." - William
Hamilton Gibson.

"I often think, when working over my plants, of what Linnaeus
once said of the unfolding of a blossom: 'I saw God in His glory
passing near me, and bowed my head in worship.' The scientific
aspect of the same thought has been put into words by Tennyson:

    'Flower in the crannied wall
     I pluck you out of the crannies,
     I hold you here, root and all in my hand
     Little flower, - but if I could understand
     What you are, root and all, and all in all,
     I should know what God and man is.'

No deeper thought was ever uttered by poet. For in this world of
plants, which, with its magician, chlorophyll, conjuring with
sunbeams, is ceaselessly at work bringing life out of death, - in
this quiet vegetable world we may find the elementary principles
of all life in almost visible operation." - JOHN FISKE in
"Through Nature to God."


"If blue is the favorite color of bees, and if bees have so much
to do with the origin of flowers, how is it that there are so few
blue ones? I believe the explanation to be that all blue flowers
have descended from ancestors in which the flowers were green;
or, to speak more precisely, in which the leaves surrounding the
stamens and pistil were green; and that they have passed through
stages of white or yellow, and generally red, before becoming
blue." - Sir John Lubbock in "Ants, Bees, and Wasps."

  (Commelina Virginica)  Spiderwort family

Flowers - Blue, 1 in. broad or less, irregular, grouped at end of
stem, and upheld by long leaf-like bracts. Calyx of 3 unequal
sepals; 3 petals, 1 inconspicuous, 2 showy, rounded. Perfect
stamens 3; the anther of 1 incurved stamen largest; 3
insignificant and sterile stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: Fleshy,
smooth, branched, mucilaginous. Leaves: Lance-shaped, 3 to 5 in.
long, sheathing the stem at base; upper leaves in a spathe-like
bract folding like a hood about flowers. Fruit: A 3-celled
capsule, seed in each cell.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, shady ground.
Flowering Season - June - September.
Distribution - Southern New York to Illinois and Michigan,
Nebraska, Texas, and through tropical America to Paraguay. -
Britton and Browne.

Delightful Linnaeus, who dearly loved his little joke, himself
confesses to have named the day-flowers after three brothers
Commelyn, Dutch botanists, because two of them - commemorated in
the two showy blue petals of the blossom - published their works;
the third, lacking application and ambition, amounted to nothing,
like the inconspicuous whitish third petal! Happily Kaspar
Commelyn died in 1731, before the joke was perpetrated in
"Species Plantarum."

In the morning we find the day-flower open and alert-looking,
owing to the sharp, erect bracts that give it support; after
noon, or as soon as it has been fertilized by the female bees,
that are its chief benefactors while collecting its abundant
pollen, the lovely petals roll up, never to open again, and
quickly wilt into a wet, shapeless mass, which, if we touch it,
leaves a sticky blue fluid on our finger-tips.

The SLENDER DAY-FLOWER (C. erecta), the next of kin, a more
fragile-looking, smaller-flowered, and narrower-leafed species,
blooms from August to October, from Pennsylvania southward to
tropical America and westward to Texas.

  (Tradescantia Virginiana)  Spiderwort family

Flowers - Purplish blue, rarely white, showy, ephemeral, 1 to 2
in. broad; usually several flowers, but more drooping buds,
clustered and seated between long blade-like bracts at end of
stern. Calyx of 3 sepals, much longer than capsule. Corolla of 3
regular petals; 6 fertile stamens, bearded; anthers orange; 1
pistil. Stem: 8 in. to 3 ft. tall, fleshy, erect, mucilaginous,
leafy. Leaves: Opposite, long, blade-like, keeled, clasping, or
sheathing stem at base. Fruit: 3-celled capsule.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods, thickets, gardens.
Flowering Season - May-August.
Distribution - New York and Virginia westward to South Dakota and

As so very many of our blue flowers are merely naturalized
immigrants from Europe, it is well to know we have sent to
England at least one native that was considered fit to adorn the
grounds of Hampton Court. John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I,
for whom the plant and its kin were named, had seeds sent him by
a relative in the Virginia colony; and before long the deep azure
blossoms with their golden anthers were seen in gardens on both
sides of the Atlantic - another one of the many instances where
the possibilities of our wild flowers under cultivation had to be
first pointed out to us by Europeans.

Like its relative the dayflower, the spiderwort opens for part of
a day only. In the morning it is wide awake and pert; early in
the afternoon its petals have begun to retreat within the calyx,
until presently they become "dissolved in tears," like Job or the
traditional widow. What was flower only a few hours ago is now a
fluid jelly that trickles at the touch. Tomorrow fresh buds will
open, and a continuous succession of bloom may be relied upon for
a long season. Since its stigma is widely separated from the
anthers and surpasses them, it is probable the flower cannot
fertilize itself, but is wholly dependent on the female bees and
other insects that come to it for pollen. Note the hairs on the
stamens provided as footholds for the bees.

The plant is a cousin of the "Wandering Jew" (T. repens), so
commonly grown either in water or earth in American
sitting-rooms. In a shady lane within New York city limits, where
a few stems were thrown out one spring about five years ago, the
entire bank is now covered with the vine, that has rooted by its
hairy joints, and, in spite of frosts and blizzards, continues to
bear its true-blue flowers throughout the summer.

  (Pontederia cordata)  Pickerel-weed family

Flowers - Bright purplish blue, including filaments, anthers, and
style; crowded in a dense spike; quickly fading; unpleasantly
odorous. Perianth tubular, 2-lipped, parted into 6 irregular
lobes, free from ovary; middle lobe of upper lip with 2 yellow
spots at base within. Stamens 6, placed at unequal distances on
tube, 3 opposite each lip. Pistil 1, the stigma minutely toothed.
Stem: Erect, stout, fleshy, to 4 ft. tall, not often over 2 ft.
above water line. Leaves: Several bract-like, sheathing stem at
base; leaf only, midway on flower-stalk, thick, polished,
triangular, or arrow-shaped, 4 to 8 in. long, 2 to 6 in. across
Preferred Habitat - Shallow water of ponds and streams.
Flowering Season - June-October.
Distribution - Eastern half of United States and Canada.

Grace of habit and the bright beauty of its long blue spikes of
ragged flowers above rich, glossy leaves give a charm to this
vigorous wader. Backwoodsmen will tell you that pickerels lay
their eggs among the leaves; but so they do among the sedges,
arums, wild rice, and various aquatic plants, like many another
fish. Bees and flies, that congregate about the blossoms to feed,
may sometimes fly too low, and so give a plausible reason for the
pickerel's choice of haunt. Each blossom lasts but a single day;
the upper portion, withering, leaves the base of the perianth to
harden about the ovary and protect the solitary seed. But as the
gradually lengthened spike keeps up an uninterrupted succession
of bloom for months, more than ample provision is made for the
perpetuation of the race - a necessity to any plant that refuses
to thrive unless it stands in water. Ponds and streams have an
unpleasant habit of drying up in summer, and often the pickerel
weed looks as brown as a bulrush where it is stranded in the
baked mud in August. When seed falls on such ground, if indeed it
germinates at all, the young plant naturally withers away.

In the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Mr. W. H. Leggett,
who made a careful study of the flower, tells that three forms
occur, not on the same, but on different plants, being even more
distinctly trimorphic than the purple Loosestrife. As these
flowers set no seed without insects' aid, the provisions made to
secure the greatest benefit from their visits are marvelous. Of
the three kinds of blossoms, one raises its stigma on a long
style reaching to the top of the flower; a second form lifts its
stigma only halfway up, and the third keeps its stigma in the
bottom of the tube. Now, there are two sets of stamens, three in
each set bearing pollen grains of different size and value.
Whenever the stigma is high, the two sets of stamens keep out of
its way by occupying the lowest and middle positions, or just
where the stigmas occur in the two other forms; or, let us say,
whenever the stigma is in one of the three positions, the
different sets of stamens occupy the other two. In a long series
of experiments on flowers occurring in two and three forms -
dimorphic and trimorphic - Darwin proved that perfect fertility
can be obtained only when the stigma in each form is pollenized
with grains carried from the stamens of a corresponding height.
For example, a bee on entering the flower must get his abdomen
dusted with pollen from the long stamens, his chest covered from
the middle-length stamens, and his tongue and chin from the set
in the bottom of the tube nearest the nectary. When he flies off
to visit another flower, these parts of his body coming in
contact with the stigmas that occupy precisely the position where
the stamens were in other individuals, he necessarily brushes off
each lot of pollen just where it will do the most good. Pollen
brought from high stamens, for example, to a low stigma, even
should it reach it, which is scarcely likely, takes little or no
effect. Thus cross-fertilization is absolutely essential, and in
three-formed flowers there are two chances to one of securing it.

  (Quamasia kyacinthina; Scilla Fraseri of Gray) Lily family

Flowers - Several or many, pale violet blue, or rarely white, in
a long, loose raceme; perianth of 6 equal, narrowly oblong,
widely spreading divisions, the thread-like filaments inserted at
their bases; style thread-like, with 3-lobed stigma. Scape: 1 to
2 ft. high, from egg-shaped, nearly black bulb, 1 to 1 1/2 in.
long. Leaves: Grass-like, shorter than flowering scape, from the
base. Fruit: A 3-angled, oval capsule containing shining black
Preferred Habitat - Meadows, prairies, and along banks of
Flowering Season - April-May.
Distribution - Pennsylvania and Ohio westward to Minnesota, south
to Alabama and Texas.

Coming with the crocuses, before the snow is off the ground, and
remaining long after their regal gold and purple chalices have
withered, the Siberian scillas sold by seedsmen here deserve a
place in every garden, for their porcelain-blue color is rare as
it is charming; the early date when they bloom makes them
especially welcome; and, once planted and left undisturbed, the
bulbs increase rapidly, without injury from overcrowding.
Evidently they need little encouragement to run wild.
Nevertheless they are not wild scillas, however commonly they may
be miscalled so. Certainly ladies' tresses, known as wild
hyacinth in parts of New England, has even less right to the

Our true native wild hyacinth, or scilla, is quite a different
flower, not so pure a blue as the Siberian scilla, and paler; yet
in the middle West, where it abounds, there are few lovelier
sights in spring than a colony of these blossoms directed
obliquely upward from slender, swaying scapes among the lush
grass. Their upward slant brings the stigma in immediate contact
with an incoming visitor's pollen-laden body. As the stamens
diverge with the spreading of the divisions of the perianth, to
which they are attached, the stigma receives pollen brought from
another flower, before the visitor dusts himself anew in
searching for refreshment, thus effecting cross-pollination.
Ants, bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, and beetles may be seen
about the wild hyacinth, which is obviously best adapted to the
bees. The smallest insects that visit it may possibly defeat
Nature's plan and obtain nectar without fertilizing the flower,
owing to the wide passage between stamens and stigma. In about an
hour, one May morning, Professor Charles Robertson captured over
six hundred insects, representing thirty-eight distinct species,
on a patch of wild hyacinths in Illinois.

The bulb of a MEDITERRANEAN SCILLA (S. maritima) furnishes the
sourish-sweet syrup of squills used in medicine for bronchial

The GRAPE HYACINTH (Muscari botrycides), also known as Baby's
Breath, because of its delicate faint fragrance, escapes from
gardens at slight encouragement to grow wild in the roadsides and
meadows from Massachusetts to Virginia and westward to Ohio. Its
tiny, deep-blue, globular flowers, stiffly set around a fleshy
scape that rises between erect, blade-like, channeled leaves,
appear spring after spring wherever the small bulbs have been
planted. On the east end of Long Island there are certain meadows
literally blued with the little runaways.

  (Trillium erectum)  Lily-of-the-Valley family

Flowers - Solitary, dark, dull purple, or purplish red; rarely
greenish, white, or pinkish; on erect or slightly inclined
footstalk. Calyx of 3 spreading sepals, 1 to 1 1/2 in. long, or
about length of 3 pointed, oval petals; stamens 6; anthers longer
than filaments; pistil spreading into 3 short, recurved stigmas.
Stem: Stout, 8 to i6 in. high, from tuber-like rootstock. Leaves:
In a whorl of 3; broadly ovate, abruptly pointed, netted-veined.
Fruit: A 6-angled, ovate, reddish berry.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia westward to Manitoba, southward to
North Carolina and Missouri.

Some weeks after the jubilant, alert robins have returned from
the South, the purple trillium unfurls its unattractive,
carrion-scented flower. In the variable colors found in different
regions, one can almost trace its evolution from green, white,
and red to purple, which, we are told, is the course all flowers
must follow to attain to blue. The white and pink forms, however
attractive to the eye, are never more agreeable to the nose than
the reddish-purple ones. Bees and butterflies, with delicate
appreciation of color and fragrance, let the blossom alone, since
it secretes no nectar; and one would naturally infer either that
it can fertilize itself without insect aid - a theory which
closer study of its organs goes far to disprove - or that the
carrion-scent, so repellent to us, is in itself an attraction to
certain insects needful for cross-pollination. Which are they?
Beetles have been observed crawling over the flower, but without
effecting any methodical result. One inclines to accept Mr.
Clarence M. Weed's theory of special adaptation to the common
green flesh-flies (Lucilia carnicina), which would naturally be
attracted to a flower resembling in color and odor a raw
beefsteak of uncertain age. These little creatures, seen in every
butcher shop throughout the summer, the flower furnishes with a
free lunch of pollen in consideration of the transportation of a
few grains to another blossom. Absence of the usual floral
attractions gives, the carrion flies a practical monopoly of the
pollen food, which no doubt tastes as it smells.

The SESSILE-FLOWERED WAKE-ROBIN (T. sessile), whose dark purple,
purplish-red, or greenish blossom, narrower of sepal and petals
than the preceding, is seated in a whorl of three egg-shaped,
sometimes blotched, leaves, possesses a rather pleasant odor;
nevertheless it seems. to have no great attraction for insects.
The stigmas, which are very large, almost touch the anthers
surrounding them; therefore the beetles which one frequently sees
crawling over them to feed on the pollen so jar them, no doubt,
as to self-fertilize the flower; but it is scarcely probable
these slow crawlers often transfer the grains from one blossom to
another. A degraded flower like this has little need of color and
perfume, one would suppose; yet it may be even now slowly
perfecting its way toward an ideal of which we see a part only
complete. In deep, rich, moist woods and thickets the. sessile
trillium blooms in April or May, from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and
Minnesota southward nearly to the Gulf.

  (Iris versicolor)  Iris family

Flowers - Several, 2 to 3 in. long, violet-blue variegated with
yellow, green, or white, and purple veined. Six divisions of the
perianth: 3 outer ones spreading, recurved; 1 of them bearded,
much longer and wider than the 3 erect inner divisions; all
united into a short tube. Three stamens under 3 overhanging
petal-like divisions of the style, notched at end; under each
notch is a thin plate, smooth on one side, rough and moist
(stigma) on side turned away from anther. Stem: 2 to 3 ft. high,
stout, straight, almost circular, sometimes branching above.
Leaves: Erect, sword-shaped, shorter than stem, somewhat hoary,
from 1/2 to 1 in. wide, folded, and in a compact flat cluster at
base; bracts usually longer than stem of flower. Fruit: Oblong
capsule, not prominently 3-lobed, and with 2 rows of round, flat
seeds closely packed in each cell. Rootstock: Creeping,
horizontal, fleshy.
Preferred Habitat - Marshes, wet meadows.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Newfoundland and Manitoba to Arkansas and Florida.

"The fleur-de-lys, which is the flower of chivalry," says Ruskin,
"has a sword for its leaf and a lily for its heart." When that
young and pious Crusader, Louis VII, adopted it for the emblem of
his house, spelling was scarcely an exact science, and the
fleur-de-Louis soon became corrupted into its present form.
Doubtless the royal flower was the white iris, and as li is the
Celtic for white, there is room for another theory as to the
origin of the name. It is our far more regal looking, but truly
democratic blossom, jostling its fellows in the marshes, that is
indeed "born in the purple."

When Napoleon wished to pose as the true successor of those
ancient French kings whose territory included the half of Europe
- ignoring every Louis who ever sat on the throne, for their very
name and emblem had become odious to the people - he discarded
the fleur-de-lis, to replace it with golden bees, the symbol in
armory for industry and perseverance. It is said some relics of
gold and fine stones, somewhat resembling an insect in shape, had
been found in the tomb of Clovis's father, and on the supposition
that these had been bees, Napoleon appropriated them for the
imperial badge. Henceforth "Napoleonic bees" appeared on his
coronation robe and wherever a heraldic emblem could be employed.

But even in the meadows of France Napoleon need not have looked
far from the fleurs-de-lis growing there to find bees. Indeed,
this gorgeous flower is thought by scientists to be all that it
is for the bees' benefit, which, of course, is its own also.
Abundant moisture, from which to manufacture nectar - a prime
necessity with most irises - certainly is for our blue flag. The
large showy blossom cannot but attract the passing bee, whose
favorite color (according to Sir John Lubbock) it waves. The bee
alights on the convenient, spreading platform, and, guided by the
dark veining and golden lines leading to the nectar, sips the
delectable fluid shortly to be changed to honey. Now, as he
raises his head and withdraws it from the nectary, he must rub it
against the pollen-laden anther above, and some of the pollen
necessarily falls on the visitor. As the sticky side of the plate
(stigma), just under the petal-like division of the style, faces
away from the anther, which is below it in any case, the flower
is marvelously guarded against fertilization from its own pollen.
The bee, flying off to another iris, must first brush past the
projecting lip of the over-arching style, and leave on the
stigmatic outer surface of the plate some of the pollen brought
from the first flower, before reaching the nectary. Thus
cross-fertilization is effected; and Darwin has shown how
necessary this is to insure the most vigorous and beautiful
offspring. Without this wonderful adaptation of the flower to the
requirements of its insect friends, and of the insect to the
needs of the flower, both must perish; the former from hunger,
the latter because unable to perpetuate its race. And yet man has
greedily appropriated all the beauties of the floral kingdom as
designed for his sole delight

The name iris, meaning a deified rainbow, which was given this
group of plants by the ancients, shows a fine appreciation of
their superb coloring, their ethereal texture, and the evanescent
beauty of the blossom.

In spite of the name given to another species, the SOUTHERN BLUE
FLAG (I. hexagona) is really the larger one; its leaves, which
are bright green, and never hoary, often equaling the stem in its
height of from two to three feet. The handsome solitary flower,
similar to that of the larger blue flag, nevertheless has its
broad outer divisions fully an inch larger, and is seated in the
axils at the top of the circular stem. The oblong, cylindric,
six-angled capsule also contains two rows of seeds in each
cavity. From South Carolina and Florida to Kentucky, Missouri,
and Texas one finds this iris blooming in the swamps during April
and May.

The SLENDER BLUE FLAG (I. prismatica; I. Virginica of Gray),
found growing from New Brunswick to North Carolina, but mainly
near the coast, and often in the same oozy ground with the larger
blue flag, may be known by its grass-like leaves, two or three of
which usually branch out from the slender flexuous stem; by its
solitary or two blue flowers, variegated with white and veined
with yellow, that rear themselves on slender foot-stems; and by
the sharply three-angled, narrow, oblong capsule, in which but
one row of seeds is borne in each cavity. This is the most
graceful member of a rather stiffly stately family.

  (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)  Iris family

Flowers - From blue to purple, with a yellow center; a Western
variety, white; usually several buds at the end of stem, between
2 erect unequal bracts; about 1/2 in. across; perianth of 6
spreading divisions, each pointed with a bristle from a notch;
stamens 3, the filaments united to above the middle; pistil 1,
its tip 3-cleft. Stem: 3 to 14 in. tall, pale hoary green, flat,
rigid, 2-edged. Leaves: Grass-like, pale, rigid, mostly from
base. Fruit: 3-celled capsule, nearly globose.
Preferred Habitat - Moist fields and meadows.
Flowering Season - May-August.
Distribution - Newfoundland to British Columbia, from eastern
slope of Rocky Mountains to Atlantic, south to Virginia and

Only for a day, and that must be a bright one, will this "little
sister of the stately blue flag" open its eyes, to close them in
indignation on being picked; nor will any coaxing but the
sunshine's induce it to open them again in water, immediately
after. The dainty flower, growing in dense tufts, makes up in
numbers what it lacks in size and lasting power, flecking our
meadows with purplish ultramarine blue in a sunny June morning.
Later in the day, apparently there are no blossoms there, for all
are tightly closed, never to bloom again. New buds will unfold to
tinge the field on the morrow.

Usually three buds nod from between a pair of bracts, the lower
one of which may be twice the length of the upper one but only
one flower opens at a time. Slight variations in this plant have
been considered sufficient to differentiate several species
formerly included by Gray and other American botanists under the
name of S. Bermudiana.

  (Habenaria grandiflora; H. fimbriata of Gray)  Orchid family

Flowers - Pink-purple and pale lilac, sometimes nearly white;
fragrant, alternate, clustered in thick, dense spikes from 3 to
15 in. long. Upper sepal and toothed petals erect; the lip of
deepest shade, 1/2 in. long, fan-shaped, 3-parted, fringed half
its length, and prolonged at base into slender, long spur; stamen
united with style into short column; 2 anther sacs slightly
divergent, the hollow between them glutinous, stigmatic. Stem. 1
to 5 ft. high, angled, twisted. Leaves: Oval, large, sheathing
the stem below; smaller, lance-shaped ones higher up; bracts
above. Root: Thick, fibrous.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist meadows, muddy places, woods.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Ontario; southward to North
Carolina, westward to Michigan.

Because of the singular and exquisitely unerring adaptations of
orchids as a family to their insect visitors, no group of plants
has greater interest for the botanist since Darwin interpreted
their marvelous mechanism, and Gray, his instant disciple,
revealed the hidden purposes of our native American species, no
less wonderfully constructed than the most costly exotic in a
millionaire's hothouse.

A glance at the spur of this orchid, one of the handsomest and
most striking of its clan, and the heavy perfume of the flower,
would seem to indicate that only a moth with a long proboscis
could reach the nectar secreted at the base of the thread-like
passage. Butterflies, attracted by the conspicuous color,
sometimes hover about the showy spikes of bloom, but it is
probable that, to secure a sip, all but possibly the very largest
of them must go to the smaller purple-fringed orchis, whose
shorter spur holds out a certain prospect of reward; for, in
these two cases, as in so many others, the flower's welcome for
an insect is in exact proportion to the length of its visitor's
tongue. Doubtless it is one of the smaller sphinx moths, such as
we see at dusk working about the evening primrose and other
flowers deep of chalice, and heavily perfumed to guide visitors
to their feast, that is the great purple-fringed orchid's
benefactor, since the length of its tongue is perfectly adapted
to its needs. Attracted by the showy, broad lower petal, his
wings ever in rapid motion, the moth proceeds to unroll his
proboscis and drain the cup, that is frequently an inch and a
half deep. Thrusting in his head, either one or both of his
large, projecting eyes are pressed against the sticky
button-shaped disks to which the pollen masses are attached by a
stalk, and as he raises his head to depart, feeling that he is
caught, he gives a little jerk that detaches them, and away he
flies with these still fastened to his eyes.

Even while he is flying to another flower, that is to say, in
half a minute, the stalks of the pollen masses bend downward from
the perpendicular and slightly toward the center, or just far
enough to require the moth, in thrusting his proboscis into the
nectary, to strike the glutinous, sticky stigma. Now, withdrawing
his head, either or both of the golden clubs he brought in with
him will be left on the precise spot where they will fertilize
the flower. Sometimes, but rarely, we catch a butterfly or moth
from the smaller or larger purple orchids with a pollen mass
attached to his tongue, instead of to his eyes; this is when he
does not make his entrance from the exact center - as in these
flowers he is not obliged to do - and in order to reach the
nectary his tongue necessarily brushes against one of the sticky
anther sacs. The performance may be successfully imitated by
thrusting some blunt point about the size of a moth's head, a
dull pencil or a knitting-needle, into the flower as an insect
would enter. Withdraw the pencil, and one or both of the pollen
masses will be found sticking to it, and already automatically
changing their attitude. In the case of the large, round-leaved
orchis, whose greenish-white flowers are fertilized in a similar
manner by the sphinx moth, the anther sacs converge, like little
horns; and their change of attitude while they are being carried
to fertilize another flower is quite as exquisitely exact.

Usually in wetter ground than we find its more beautiful big
sister growing in, most frequently in swamps and bogs, the
SMALLER PURPLE-FRINGED ORCHIS (H. psycodes) lifts its perfumed
lilac spires. Thither go the butterflies and long-lipped bees to
feast in July and August. Inasmuch as without their aid the
orchid must perish from its inability to set fertile seed, no
wonder it woos its benefactors with a showy mass of color,
charming fringes, sweet perfume, and copious draughts of nectar,
and makes their visits of the utmost value to itself by the
ingenious mechanism described above. Here is no waste of pollen;
that is snugly packed in little bundles, ready to be carried off,
but placed where they cannot come in contact with the adjoining
stigma, since every orchid, almost without exception, refuses to
be deteriorated through self-fertilization.

>From New Jersey and Illinois southward, particularly in
mountainous regions, if not among the mountains themselves, the
FRINGELESS PURPLE ORCHIS (H. perarnoena) may be found blooming in
moist meadows through July and August. Moisture, from which to
manufacture the nectar that orchids rely upon so largely to
entice insects to work for them, is naturally a prime necessity;
yet Sprengel attempted to prove that many orchids are gaudy shams
and produce no nectar, but exist by an organized system of
deception. "Scheinsaftblumen" he called them. From the number of
butterflies seen hovering about this fringeless orchis and its
more attractive kin, it is small wonder their nectaries are soon
exhausted and they are accused of being gay deceivers. Sprengel's
much-quoted theory would credit moths, butterflies, and even the
highly intelligent bees with scant sense; but Darwin, who
thoroughly tested it, forever exonerated these insects from
imputed stupidity and the flowers from gross dishonesty. He found
that many European orchids secrete their nectar between the outer
and inner walls of the tube, which a bumblebee can easily pierce,
but where Sprengel never thought to look for it. The large lip of
this orchis is not fringed, but has a fine picotee edge. The
showy violet-purple, long-spurred flowers are alternately set on
a stem that is doing its best if it reach a height of two and a
half feet.

  (Brasenia purpurea; B. peltata of Gray)  Water-lily family

Flowers - Small, dull purplish, about 1/2 in. across, on stout
footstalks from axils of upper leaves; 3 narrow sepals and
petals; stamens 12 to 18; pistils 4 to 18, forming 1 to 3-seeded
pods. Stem: From submerged rootstock; slender, branching, several
feet long, covered with clear jelly, as are footstalks and lower
leaf surfaces. Leaves: On long petioles attached to center of
underside of leaf, floating or rising, oval to roundish, 2 to 4
in. long, 1 1/2 to 2 in. wide.
Preferred Habitat - Still, rather deep water of ponds and slow
Flowering Season - All summer.
Distribution - Parts of Asia, Africa, and Australia, Nova Scotia
to Cuba, and westward from California to Puget Sound.

Of this pretty water plant Dr. Abbott says, in "Wasteland
Wanderings": "I gathered a number of floating, delicate leaves,
and endeavored to secure the entire stem also; but this was too
difficult a task for an August afternoon. The under side of the
stem and leaf are purplish brown and were covered with
translucent jelly, embedded in which were millions of what I took
to be insects' eggs. They certainly had that appearance. I was
far more interested to find that, usually, beneath each leaf
there was hiding a little pike. The largest was not two inches in
length. When disturbed, they swam a few inches, and seemed wholly
'at sea' if there was not another leaf near by to afford them

  (Aquilegia vulgaris)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Showy, blue, purple, or white, 1 1/2 to 2 in. broad, or
about as broad as long; spurs stout and strongly incurved.
General characteristics of plant resembling wild columbine.
Preferred Habitat - Escaped from gardens to woods and fields in
Eastern and Middle States. Native of Europe.
Flowering Season - May-July.

A heavier, less graceful flower than either the wild red and
yellow columbine or the exquisite, long-spurred, blue and white
species (A. coerulea) of the Rocky Mountain region; nevertheless
this European immigrant, now making itself at home here, is a
charming addition to our flora. How are insects to reach the well
of nectar secreted in the tip of its incurved, hooked spur?
Certain of the long-lipped bees, large bumblebees, whose tongues
have developed as rapidly as the flower, are able to drain it.
Hummingbirds, partial to red flowers, fertilize the wild
columbine, but let this one alone. Muller watched a female
bumblebee making several vain attempts to sip this blue one. Soon
the brilliant idea of biting a hole through each spur flashed
through her little brain, and the first experiment proving
delightfully successful, she proceeded to bite holes through
other flowers without first trying to suck them. Apparently she
satisfied her feminine conscience with the reflection that the
flower which made dining so difficult for its benefactors
deserved no better treatment.

  (Delphinium Consoilda)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Blue to pinkish and whitish, 1 to 1 1/2 in. long, hung
on slender stems and scattered along spreading branches; 5
petal-like sepals, the rear one prolonged into long, slender,
curving spur; 2 petals, united. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2 ft. high.
Leaves: Divided into very finely cut linear segments. Fruit:
Erect, smooth pod tipped with a short beak; open on one side.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides and fields.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Naturalized from Europe; from New Jersey
southward, occasionally escaped from gardens farther north.

Keats should certainly have extolled the larkspurs in his sonnet
on blue. No more beautiful group of plants contributes to the
charm of gardens, woods, and roadsides, where some have escaped
cultivation and become naturalized, than the delphinium, that
take their name from a fancied resemblance to a dolphin
(delphin), given them by Linnaeus in one of his wild flights of
imagination. Having lost the power to fertilize themselves,
according to Muller, they are pollenized by both bees and
butterflies, insects whose tongues have kept pace with the
development of certain flowers, such as the larkspur, columbine,
and violet, that they may reach into the deep recesses of the
spurs where the nectar is hidden from all but benefactors.

The TALL WILD LARKSPUR (D. urceolatum; D. exaltatum of Gray)
waves long, crowded, downy wands of intense purplish blue in the
rich woods of Western Pennsylvania, southward to the Carolinas
and Alabama, and westward to Nebraska. Its spur is nearly
straight, not to increase the difficulty a bee must have in
pressing his lips through the upper and lower petals to reach the
nectar at the end of it. First, the stamens successively raise
themselves in the passage back of the petals to dust his head;
then, when each has shed its pollen and bent down again, the
pistil takes its turn in occupying the place, so that a
pollen-laden bee, coming to visit the blossom from an earlier
flower; can scarcely help fertilizing it. It is said there are
but two insects in Europe with lips long enough to reach the
bottom of the long horn of plenty hung by the BEE LARKSPUR (D.
elatum), that we know only in gardens here. Its yellowish bearded
lower petals readily deceive one into thinking a bee has just
alighted there.

>From April to June the DWARF LARKSPUR or STAGGER-WEED (D.
tricorne), which, however, may sometimes grow three feet high,
lifts a loose raceme of blue, rarely white, flowers an inch or
more long, at the end of a stout stem rising from a tuberous
root. Its slightly ascending spur, its three widely spreading
seed vessels, and the deeply cut leaf of from five to seven
divisions are distinguishing characteristics. From Western
Pennsylvania and Georgia to Arkansas and Minnesota it is found in
rather stiff soil. Butterflies, which prefer erect flowers, have
some difficulty to cling while they drain the almost upright
spurs, especially the Papilios, which usually suck with their
wings in motion. But the bees, to which the delphinium are best
adapted, although butterflies visit them quite as frequently,
find a convenient landing place prepared for them, and fertilize
the flower while they sip with ease.

More slender, downy, and dwarf of stem than the preceding is the
CAROLINA LARKSPUR (D. Carolinianum), whose blue flowers, varying
to white, and its very finely cleft leaves, may be found in the
South, on prairies in the North and West, and in the Rocky
Mountain region.

  (Hepalica Hepatica; H. triloba of Gray)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Blue, lavender, purple, pinkish, or white;
occasionally, not always, fragrant; 6 to 12 petal-like, colored
sepals (not petals, as they appear to be), oval or oblong;
numerous stamens, all bearing anthers; pistils numerous 3 small,
sessile leaves, forming an involucre directly under flower,
simulate a calyx, for which they might be mistaken. Stems:
Spreading from the root, 4 to 6 in. high, a solitary flower or
leaf borne at end of each furry stem. Leaves: 3-lobed and
rounded, leathery, evergreen; sometimes mottled with, or
entirely, reddish purple; spreading on ground, rusty at blooming
time, the new leaves appearing after the flowers. Fruit: Usually
as many as pistils, dry, 1-seeded, oblong, sharply pointed, never
Preferred Habitat - Woods; light soil on hillsides.
Flowering Season - December-May.
Distribution - Canada to Northern Florida, Manitoba to Iowa and
Missouri. Most common East.

Even under the snow itself bravely blooms the delicate hepatica,
wrapped in fuzzy furs as if to protect its stems and nodding buds
from cold. After the plebeian skunk cabbage, that ought scarcely
to be reckoned among true flowers - and William Hamilton Gibson
claimed even before it - it is the first blossom to appear.
Winter sunshine, warming the hillsides and edges of woods, opens
its eyes,

       "Blue as the heaven it gates at,
    Startling the loiterer in the naked groves
    With unexpected beauty; for the time
    Of blossoms and green leaves is yet afar."

"There are many things left for May," says John Burroughs, "but
nothing fairer, if as fair, as the first flower, the hepatica. I
find I have never admired this little firstling half enough. When
at the maturity of its charms, it is certainly the gem of the
woods. What an individuality it has! No two clusters alike; all
shades and sizes.... A solitary blue-purple one, fully expanded
and rising over the brown leaves or the green moss, its cluster
of minute anthers showing like a group of pale stars on its
little firmament, is enough to arrest and hold the dullest eye.
Then,...there are individual hepaticas, or individual families
among them, that are sweet scented. The gift seems as capricious
as the gift of genius in families. You cannot tell which the
fragrant ones are till you try them. Sometimes it is the large
white ones, sometimes the large purple ones, sometimes the small
pink ones. The odor is faint and recalls that of the sweet
violets. A correspondent, who seems to have carefully observed
these fragrant hepaticas, writes me that this gift of odor is
constant in the same plant; that the plant which bears
sweet-scented flowers this year will bear them next."

It is not evident that insect aid is necessary to transfer the
tiny, hairy spiral ejected from each cell of the antherid, after
it has burst from ripeness, to the canal of the flask-shaped
organ at whose base the germ-cell is located. Perfect flowers can
fertilize themselves. But pollen-feeding flies, and female hive
bees which collect it, and the earliest butterflies trifle about
the blossoms when the first warm days come. Whether they are
rewarded by finding nectar or not is still a mooted question.
Possibly the papillae which cover the receptacle secrete nectar,
for almost without exception the insect visitors thrust their
proboscides down between the spreading filaments as if certain of
a sip. None merely feed on the pollen except the flies and the
hive bee.

The SHARP-LOBED LIVER-LEAF (Hepatica acuta) differs chiefly from
the preceding in having the ends of the lobes of its leaves and
the tips of the three leaflets that form its involucre quite
sharply pointed. Its range, while perhaps not actually more
westerly, appears so, since it is rare in the East, where its
cousin is so abundant; and common in the West, where the
round-lobed liver-leaf is scarce. It blooms in March and April.
Professor Halsted has noted that this species bears staminate
flowers on one plant and pistillate flowers on another; whereas
the Hepatica Hepatica usually bears flowers of both sexes above
the same root. The blossoms, which close at night to keep warm,
and open in the morning, remain on the beautiful plant for a long
time to accommodate the bees and flies that, in this case, are
essential to the perpetuation of the species.

  (Atragene Americana)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Showy, purplish blue, about 3 in. across; 4 sepals,
broadly expanded, thin, translucent, strongly veined, very large,
simulating petals; petals small, spoon-shaped; stamens very
numerous ; styles long, persistent, plumed throughout. Stem:
Trailing or partly climbing with the help of leafstalks and
leaflets. Leaves: Opposite, compounded of 3 egg-shaped, pointed
leaflets on slender petioles.
Preferred Habitat -  - Rocky woodlands.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Hudson Bay westward, south to Minnesota and

The day on which one finds this rare and beautiful flower in some
rocky ravine high among the hills or mountains becomes memorable
to the budding botanist. At an elevation of three thousand feet
in the Catskills it trails its way over the rocks, fallen trees,
and undergrowth of the forest, suggesting some of the handsome
Japanese species introduced by Sieboldt and Fortune to Occidental
gardens. No one who sees this broadly expanded blossom could
confuse it either with the thick and bell-shaped purple
LEATHER-FLOWER (C. Viorna), so exquisitely feathery in fruit,
that grows in rich, moist soil from Pennsylvania southward and
westward; or with the far more graceful and deliciously fragrant
purple MARSH CLEMATIS (C. crispa) of our Southern States. The
latter, though bell-shaped also, has thin, recurved sepals, and
its persistent styles are silky, not feathery at seed-time.

  (Sedum Telephium)  Orpine family

Flowers - Dull purplish, very pale or bright reddish purple in
close, round, terminal clusters, each flower 1/3 in. or less
across, 5-parted, the petals twice as long as the sepals; 10
stamens, alternate ones attached to petals; pistils 4 or 5. Stem:
2 ft. high or less, erect, simple, in tufts, very smooth, pale
green, juicy, leafy. Leaves: Alternate, oval, slightly scalloped,
thick, fleshy, smooth, juicy, pale gray green, with stout midrib,
seated on stalk.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, waysides, rocky soil, originally
escaped from gardens.
Flowering Season - June- September.
Distribution - Quebec westward, south to Michigan and Maryland.

Children know the live-forever, not so well by the variable
flower - for it is a niggardly bloomer - as by the thick leaf
that they delight to hold in the mouth until, having loosened the
membrane, they are able to inflate it like a paper bag. Sometimes
dull, sometimes bright, the flower clusters never fail to attract
many insects to their feast, which is accessible even to those of
short tongues. Each blossom is perfect in itself, i.e., it
contains both stamens and pistils; but to guard against
self-fertilization it ripens its anthers and sheds its pollen on
the insects that carry it away to older flowers before its own
stigmas mature and become susceptible to imported pollen. After
the seed-cases take on color, they might be mistaken for

As if the plant did not already possess enough popular names, it
needs must share with the European goldenrod and our common
mullein the title of Aaron's rod. Sedere, to sit, the root of the
generic name, applies with rare appropriateness to this entire
group that we usually find seated on garden walls, rocks, or, in
Europe, even on the roofs of old buildings. Rooting freely from
the joints, our plant forms thrifty tufts where there is little
apparent nourishment; yet its endurance through prolonged drought
is remarkable. Long after the farmer's scythe, sweeping over the
roadside, has laid it low, it thrives on the juices stored up in
fleshy leaves and stem until it proves its title to the most
lusty of all folk names.

  (Geum rivale)  Rose family

Flowers - Purple, with some orange chrome, 1 in. broad or less,
terminal, solitary, nodding; calyx 5-lobed, purplish, spreading;
5 petals, abruptly narrowed into claws, forming a cup-shaped
corolla; stamens and pistils of indefinite number; the styles,
jointed and bent in middle, persistent, feathery below. Stem: 1
to 2 ft. high, erect, simple or nearly so, hairy, from thickish
rootstock. Leaves: Chiefly from root, on footstems; lower leaves
irregularly parted; the side segments usually few and small; the
1 to 3 terminal segments sharply, irregularly lobed; the few
distant stem leaves 3-foliate or simple, mostly seated on stem.
Fruit: A dry, hairy head stalked in calyx.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps and low, wet ground.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Newfoundland far westward, south to Colorado,
eastward to Missouri and Pennsylvania, also northern parts of Old

Mischievous bumblebees, thrusting their long tongues between the
sepals and petals of these unopened flowers, steal nectar without
conferring any favor in return. Later, when they behave properly
and put their heads inside to feast at the disk on which the
stamens are inserted, they dutifully carry pollen from old
flowers to the early maturing stigmas of younger ones.
Self-fertilization must occur, however, if the bees have not
removed all the pollen when a blossom closes. When the purple
avens opens in Europe, the bees desert even the primrose to feast
upon its abundant nectar. Since water is the prime necessity in
the manufacture of this sweet, and since insects that feed upon
it have so much to do with the multiplication of flowers, it is
not surprising that the swamp, which has been called "nature's
sanctuary," should have its altars so exquisitely decked. This
blossom hangs its head, partly to protect its precious nectar
from rain, and partly to make pilfering well nigh impossible to
the unwelcome crawling insect that may have braved the forbidding
hairy stems.

  (Lupinus perennis)  Pea family

Flowers - Vivid blue, very rarely pink or white, butterfly-shaped
corolla consisting of standard, wings, and keel; about 1/2 in.
long, borne in a long raceme at end of stern; calyx 2-lipped,
deeply toothed. Stem: Erect, branching, leafy, to 2 ft. high.
Leaves: Palmnate, compounded of from 7 to 11 (usually 8)
leaflets. Fruit: A broad, flat, very hairy pod, 1 1/2 in. long,
and containing 4 or 5 seeds.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, sandy places, banks, and hillsides.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - United States east of Mississippi, and eastern

Farmers once thought that this plant preyed upon the fertility of
their soil, as we see in the derivation of its name, from lupus,
a wolf; whereas the lupine contents itself with sterile waste
land no one should grudge it - steep gravelly banks, railroad
tracks, exposed sunny hills, where even it must often burn out
under fierce sunshine did not its root penetrate to surprising
depths. It spreads far and wide in thrifty colonies, reflecting
the vivid color of June skies, until, as Thoreau says, "the earth
is blued with it."

What is the advantage gained in the pea-shaped blossom? As usual,
the insect that fertilizes the flower best knows the answer. The
corolla has five petals, the upper one called the standard,
chiefly a flaunted advertisement; two side wings, or platforms,
to alight on; and a keel like a miniature boat, formed by the two
lower petals, whose edges meet. In this the pistil, stamens, and
nectar are concealed and protected. The pressure of a bee's
weight as he alights on the wings, light as it must be, is
nevertheless sufficient to depress and open the keel, which is
elastically affected by their motion, and so to expose the pollen
just where the long-lipped bee must rub off some against his
underside as he sucks the nectar. He actually seems to pump the
pollen that has fallen into the forward part of the keel upon
himself, as he moves about. As soon as he leaves the flower, the
elastic wings resume their former position, thus closing the keel
to prevent waste of pollen. Take a sweet pea from the garden,
press down its wings with the thumb and forefinger to imitate the
action of the bee on them; note how the keel opens to display its
treasures, and resumes its customary shape when the pressure is

The lupine is another of those interesting plants which go to
sleep at night. Some members of the genus erect one half of the
leaf and droop the other half until it becomes a vertical instead
of the horizontal star it is by day. Frequently the leaflets
rotate as much as 90 degrees on their own axes. Some lupines fold
their leaflets, not at night only, but during the day also there
is more or less movement in the leaves. Sun dial, a popular name
for the wild lupine, has reference to this peculiarity. The leaf
of our species shuts downward around its stem, umbrella fashion,
or the leaflets are erected to prevent the chilling which comes
to horizontal surfaces by radiation, some scientists think. "That
the sleep movements of leaves are in some manner of high
importance to the plants which exhibit them," says Darwin, "few
will dispute who have observed how complex they sometimes are."

  (Meibomia Canadensis; Desmodium Canadense of Gray)  Pea family

Flowers - Pinkish or bluish purple, butterfly-shaped, about 1/2
in. long, borne in dense, terminal, elongated racemes. Stem;
Erect, hairy, leafy, 2 to 8 ft. high. Leaves: Compounded of 3
oblong leaflets, the central one largest; upper leaves nearly
seated on stem; bracts, conspicuous before flowering, early
falling off. Fruit: A flat pod, about 1 in. long, jointed, and
covered with minute hooked bristles, the lower edge of pod
scalloped; almost seated in calyx.
Preferred Habitat - Thickets, woods, riverbanks, bogs. Flowering
Season - July-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Northwest Territory, south to
North Carolina, westward to Indian Territory and Dakota.

As one travels hundreds or even thousands of miles in a
comfortable railway carriage and sees the same flowers growing
throughout the length and breadth of the area, one cannot but
wonder however the plants manage to make the journey. We know
some creep along the ground, or under it, a tortoise pace, but a
winning one; that some send their offspring flying away from
home, like dandelions and thistles; and many others with wings
and darts are blown by the wind. Berries have their seeds dropped
afar by birds. Aquatic plants and those that grow beside running
water travel by river and flood. European species reach our
shores among the ballast. Darwin raised over sixty wild plants
from seed carried in a pellet of mud taken from the leg of a
partridge. So on and so on. The imagination delights to picture
these floral vagabonds, each with its own clever method of
getting a fresh start in the world. But by none of these methods
just mentioned do the tick-trefoils spread abroad. Theirs is
indeed a by hook or by crook system. The scalloped, jointed pod,
where the seeds lie concealed, has minute crooked bristles, which
catch in the clothing of man or beast, so that every herd of
sheep, every dog, every man, woman, or child who passes through a
patch of trefoils gives them a lift. After a walk through the
woods and lanes of late summer and autumn, one's clothes reveal
scores of tramps that have stolen a ride in the hope of being
picked off and dropped amid better conditions in which to rear a

Only the largest bees can easily "explode" the showy
tick-trefoil. A bumblebee alights upon a flower, thrusts his head
under the base of the standard petal, and forces apart the wing
petals with his legs, in order to dislodge them from the
standard. This motion causes the keel, also connected with the
standard, to snap down violently, thus releasing the column
within and sending upward an explosion of pollen on the under
surface of the bee. Here we see the wing petals acting as
triggers to discharge the flower. Depress them and up flies the
fertilizing dust - once. The little gun will not "go off" twice.
No nectar rewards the visitor, which usually is a
pollen-collecting bee. The highly intelligent and important
bumblebee has the advantage over his smaller kin in being able to
discharge the pollen from both large and smaller flowers.

The NAKED-FLOWERED TICK-TREFOIL (M. nudiflora; D. nudiflorum of
Gray) lifts narrow, few-flowered panicles of rose-purple blooms
during July and August. The flowers are much smaller than those
of the showy trefoil; however, when seen in masses, they form
conspicuous patches of color in dry woods. Note that there is a
flower stalk which is usually leafless and also a leaf-bearing
stem rising from the base of the plant, the latter with its
leaves all crowded at the top, if you would distinguish this very
common species from its multitudinous kin. The trefoliate leaves
are pale beneath. The two or three jointed pod rises far above
the calyx on its own stalk, as in the next species.

The POINTED-LEAVED TICK-TREFOIL (M. grandifiora; D. acuminatum of
Gray) has for its distinguishing feature a cluster of leaves high
up on the same stem from which rises a stalk bearing a quantity
of purple flowers that are large by comparison only. The leaves
have leaflets from two to six inches long, rounded on the sides,
but acutely pointed, and with scattered hairs above and below.
This trefoil is found blooming in dry or rocky woods, throughout
a wide range, from June to September.

Lying outstretched for two to six feet on the dry ground of open
woods and copses east of the Mississippi, the PROSTRATE
TICK-TREFOIL (M. Michauxii; D. rotundifoliurn of Gray) can
certainly be named by its soft hairiness, the almost perfect
roundness of its trefoliate leaves, its rather loose racemes of
deep purple flowers that spring both from the leaf axils and from
the ends of the sometimes branching stem; and by its three to
five jointed pod, which is deeply scalloped on its lower edge and
somewhat indented above, as well.

  (Vicia Cracca)  Pea family

Flowers - Blue, later purple; 1/2 in. long, growing downward in
1-sided spike, 15 to 40 flowered; calyx oblique, small, with
unequal teeth; corolla butterfly-shaped, consisting of standard,
wings, and keel, all oblong; the first clawed, the second
oblique, and adhering to the shorter keel; 10 stamens, 1 detached
from other 9. Stem: Slender, weak, climbing or trailing, downy, 2
to 4 ft. long. Leaves: Tendril bearing, divided into 18 to 24
thin, narrow, oblong leaflets. Fruit: A smooth pod 1 in. long or
less, 5 to 8 seeded.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, fields, wastelands.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - United States from New Jersey, Kentucky, and Iowa
northward and northwestward. Europe and Asia.

Dry fields blued with the bright blossoms of the tufted vetch,
and roadsides and thickets where the angular vine sends forth
vivid patches of color, resound with the music of happy bees.
Although the parts of the flower fit closely together, they are
elastic, and opening with the energetic visitor's weight and
movement give ready access to the nectary. On his departure they
resume their original position, to protect both nectar and pollen
from rain and pilferers whose bodies are not perfectly adapted to
further the flower's cross-fertilization. The common bumblebee
(Bombus terrestris) plays a mean trick, all too frequently, when
he bites a hole at the base of the blossom, not only gaining easy
access to the sweets for himself, but opening the way for others
less intelligent than he, but quite ready to profit by his
mischief, and so defeat nature's plan. Dr. Ogle observed that the
same bee always acts in the same manner, one sucking the nectar
legitimately, another always biting a hole to obtain it
surreptitiously, the natural inference, of course, being that
some bees, like small boys, are naturally depraved.

In cultivated fields and waste places farther south and westward
to the Pacific Coast roams the COMMON or PEBBLE VETCH OR TARE (V.
saliva), another domesticated weed that has come to us from
Europe, where it is extensively grown for fodder. Let no reproach
fall on these innocent plants that bear an opprobrious name: the
tare of Scripture is altogether different, the bearded darnel of
Mediterranean regions, whose leaves deceive one by simulating
those of wheat, and whose smaller seeds, instead of nourishing
man, poison him. Only one or two light blue-purple flowers grow
in the axils of the leaves of our common vetch. The leaf,
compounded of from eight to fourteen leaflets, indented at the
top, has a long terminal tendril, whose little sharp tip assists
the awkward vine, like a grappling hook.

The AMERICAN VETCH or TARE or PEA VINE (V. Americana) boasts
slightly larger bluish-purple flowers than the blue vetch, but
fewer of them; from three to nine only forming its loose raceme.
In moist soil throughout a very broad northerly and westerly
range it climbs and trails its graceful way, with the help of the
tendrils on the tips of leaves compounded of from eight to
fourteen oblong, blunt, and veiny leaflets.

  (Lathyrus maritimus)  Pea family

Flowers - Purple, butterfly-shaped, consisting of standard petal,
wings, and keel; 1 in. long or less, clustered in short raceme at
end of slender footstalk from leaf axils; calyx 5-toothed;
stamens 10 (9 and 1); style curved, flattened, bearded on inner
side. Stem: to 2 ft. long, stout, reclining, spreading, leafy.
Leaves: Compounded of 3 to 6 pairs of oblong leaflets somewhat
larger than halberd-shaped stipules at base of leaf; branched
tendrils at end of it. Fruit: A flat, 2-valved, veiny pod,
continuous between the seeds.
Preferred Habitat - Beaches of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, also
of Great Lakes.
Flowering Season - May-August. Sometimes blooming again in
Distribution - New Jersey to Arctic Circle; also Northern Europe
and Asia.

Sturdy clumps of the beach pea, growing beyond reach of the tide
in the dunes and sandy wastelands back of the beach, afford the
bee the last restaurant where he may regale himself without fear
of drowning. From some members of the pea family, as from the
wild lupine, for example, his weight, as he moves about, actually
pumps the pollen that has fallen into the forward part of the
blossom's keel onto his body, that he may transfer it to another
flower. In some other members his weight so depresses the keel
that the stamens are forced out to dust him over, the flower
resuming its original position to protect its nectar and the
remaining pollen just as soon as the pressure is removed. Other
peas, again, burst at his pressure, and discharge their pollen on
him. Now, in the beach pea, and similarly in the vetches, the
style is hairy on its inner side, to brush out the pollen on the
visitor who sets the automatic sweeper in motion as he alights
and moves about. So perfectly have many members of this
interesting family adapted their structure to the requirements of
insects, and so implicitly do they rely on their automatic
mechanism, that they have actually lost the power to fertilize

In moist or wet ground throughout a northern range from ocean to
ocean, the MARSH VETCHLING (Lathyrus palustris) bears its purple,
butterfly-shaped flowers, that are the merest trifle over half
the size of those of the beach pea. From two to six of these
little blossoms are alternately set along the end of the stalk.
The leaflets, which are narrowly oblong, and acute at the apex,
stand up opposite each other in pairs (from two to four) along
the main leafstalk, that splits at the end to form hooked

  (Clitoria Mariana)  Pea family

Flowers - Bright lavender blue, showy, about 2 in. long; from 1
to 3 borne on a short peduncle. Calyx tubular, 5-toothed; corolla
butterfly-shaped, consisting of very large, erect standard petal,
notched at rounded apex; 2 oblong, curved wings, and shorter,
acute keel; 10 stamens; style incurved, and hairy along inner
side. Stem: Smooth, ascending or partly twining, 1 to 3 ft. high.
Leaves: Compounded of 3 oblong leaflets, paler beneath, each on
short stalk. Fruit: A few-seeded, acutely pointed pod about 1 in.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - New Jersey to Florida, westward to Missouri,
Texas, and Mexico.

A beautiful blossom, flaunting a large banner out of all
proportion to the size of its other parts, that it may arrest the
attention of its benefactors the bees. According to Henderson,
the plant, which is found in our Southern States and over the
Mexican border, grows also in the Khasia Mountains of India, but
in no intervening place. Several members of the tropic-loving
genus, that produce large, highly colored flowers, have been
introduced to American hothouses; but the blue butterfly pea is
our only native representative. The genus is thought to take its
name from kleio, to shut up, in reference to the habit these peas
have of seeding long before the flower drops off.

  (Falcata comosa; Amphicarpaea monoica of Gray)  Pea family

Flowers - Numerous small, showy ones, borne in drooping clusters
from axils of upper leaves; lilac, pale purplish, or rarely
white, butterfly-shaped, consisting of standard petal partly
enfolding wings and keel. Calyx tubular, 4 or 5 toothed; 10
stamens (9 and 1); 1 pistil. (Also solitary fertile flowers,
lacking petals, on thread-like, creeping branches from lower
axils or underground). Stem: Twining wiry brownish-hairy, to 8
ft. long. Leaves: Compounded of 3 thin leaflets, egg-shaped at
base, acutely pointed at tip. Fruit: Hairy pod 1 in. long. Also
1-seeded, pale, rounded, underground peanut.
Preferred Habitat - Moist thickets, shady roadsides.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick westward to Nebraska, south to Gulf
of Mexico.

Amphicarpaea ("seed at both ends"), the Greek name by which this
graceful vine was formerly known, emphasizes its most interesting
feature, that, nevertheless, seems to many a foolish duplication
of energy on Nature's part. Why should the same plant bear two
kinds of blossoms and seeds? Among the foliage of low shrubbery
and plants in shady lanes and woodside thickets, we see the
delicate, drooping clusters of lilac blossoms hanging where bees
can readily discover them and, in pilfering their sweets,
transfer their pollen from flower to flower. But in case of
failure to intercross these blossoms that are dependent upon
insect help to set fertile seed, what then? Must the plant run
the risk of extinction? Self-fertilization may be an evil, but
failure to produce seed at all is surely the greatest one. To
guard against such a calamity, insignificant looking flowers that
have no petals to open for the enticing of insects, but which
fertilize themselves with their own pollen, produce abundant seed
close to the ground or under it.Then what need of the showy
blossoms hanging in the thicket above? Close inbreeding in the
vegetable world, as in the animal, ultimately produces degenerate
offspring; and although the showy lilac blossoms of the wild
peanut yield comparatively few cross-fertilized seeds, these are
quite sufficient to enable the vine to maintain those desired
features which are the inheritance from ancestors that struggled
in their day and generation after perfection. No plant dares
depend upon its cleistogamous or blind flowers alone for
offspring; and in the sixty or more genera containing these
curious growths, that usually look like buds arrested in
development, every plant that bears them bears also showy flowers
dependent upon cross-pollination by insect aid.

The boy who

    "Drives home the cows from the pasture
     Up through the long shady lane"

knows how reluctantly they leave the feast afforded by the wild
peanut. Hogs, rooting about in the moist soil where it grows,
unearth the hairy pods that should produce next year's vines;
hence the poor excuse for branding a charming plant with a
repellent folk-name,

  (Viola)  Violet family

Lacking perfume only to be a perfectly satisfying flower, the
cucullata of Gray) has nevertheless established itself in the
hearts of the people from the Arctic to the Gulf as no
sweet-scented, showy, hothouse exotic has ever done. Royal in
color as in lavish profusion, it blossoms everywhere - in woods,
waysides, meadows, and marshes, but always in finer form in cool,
shady dells; with longer flowering scapes in meadow bogs; and
with longer leaves than wide in swampy woodlands. The
heart-shaped, saw-edged leaves, folded toward the center when
newly put forth, and the five-petalled, bluish-purple,
golden-hearted blossom are too familiar for more detailed
description. From the three-cornered stars of the elastic
capsules, the seeds are scattered abroad.

Beards on the spurred lower petal and the two side petals give
the bees a foothold when they turn head downward, as some must,
to suck nectar. This attitude enables them to receive the pollen
dusted on their abdomens, when they jar the flower, at a point
nearest their pollen-collecting hairs. It is also an economical
advantage to the flower which can sift the pollen downward on the
bee instead of exposing it to the pollen-eating interlopers.
Among the latter may be classed the bumblebees and butterflies
whose long lips and tongues pilfer ad libitum. "For the proper
visitors of the bearded violets," says Professor Robertson, "we
must look to the small bees, among which the Osmias are the most

When science was younger and hair splitting an uncommon
indulgence of botanists, the EARLY BLUE VIOLET (Viola palmata)
was thought to be simply a variety of the common purple violet,
whose heart-shaped leaves frequently show a tendency to divide
into lobes. But the early blue violet, however roundish or
heart-shaped its early leaves may be, has the later ones
variously divided into from three to thirteen lobes, often almost
as much cut on the sides as the leaves of the bird's-foot violet.
In dry soil, chiefly in the woods, this violet may be found from
Southern Canada westward to Minnesota, and south to northern
boundaries of the Gulf States. Only its side petals are bearded
to form footrests for the insects that search for the deeply
secreted nectar. Many butterflies visit this flower. On entering
it a bee must first touch the stigma before any fresh golden
pollen is released from the anther cone, and cross-fertilization
naturally results.

In shale and sandy soil, even in the gravel of hillsides, one
finds the narrowly divided, finely cut leaves and the bicolored
beardless blossom of the BIRD'S-FOOT VIOLET (V. pedata), pale
bluish purple on the lower petals, dark purple on one or two
upper ones, and with a heart of gold. The large, velvety,
pansy-like blossom and the unusual foliage which rises in rather
dense tufts are sufficient to distinguish the plant from its
numerous kin. This species produces no cleistogamous or blind
flowers. Frequently the bird's-foot violet blooms a second time,
in autumn, a delightful eccentricity of this family. The spur of
its lower petal is long and very slender, and, as might be
expected, the longest-tongued bees and butterflies are its most
frequent visitors. These receive the pollen on the base of the

The WOOLLY BLUE VIOLET (V. sororia), whose stems and younger
leaves, at least, are covered with hairs, and whose purplish-blue
flowers are more or less bearded within, prefers a shady but dry
situation; whereas its next of kin, the ARROW-LEAVED VIOLET (V.
sagittata), delights in moist but open meadows and marshes. The
latter's long, arrow, or halberd-shaped leaves, usually entire
above the middle, but slightly lobed below it, may rear
themselves nine inches high in favorable soil, or in dry uplands
perhaps only two inches. The flowering scapes grow as tall as the
leaves. All but the lower petal of the large, deep, dark,
purplish-blue flower are bearded. This species produces an
abundance of late cleistogamous flowers on erect stems. These
peculiar greenish flowers without petals, that are so often
mistaken for buds or seed vessels; that never open, but without
insect aid ripen quantities of fertile seed, are usually borne,
if not actually under ground, then not far above it, on nearly
all violet plants. It will be observed that all species which
bear blind flowers rely somewhat on showy, cross-fertilized
blossoms also to counteract degeneracy from close inbreeding.

The OVATE-LEAVED VIOLET (V. ovata), formerly reckoned as a mere
variety of the former species, is now accorded a distinct rank.
Not all the blossoms, but an occasional clump, has a faint
perfume like sweet clover. The leaf is elongated, but rather too
round to be halberd-shaped; the stems are hairy; and the flowers,
which closely resemble those of the arrow-leaved violet, are
earlier; making these two species, which are popularly mistaken
for one, among the earliest and commonest of their clan. The dry
soil of upland woods and thickets is the ovate-leaved violet's
preferred habitat.

In course of time the lovely ENGLISH, MARCH, or SWEET VIOLET, (V.
odorata), which has escaped from gardens, and which is now
rapidly increasing with the help of seed and runners on the
Atlantic and the Pacific coasts, may be established among our
wild flowers. No blossom figures so prominently in European
literature. In France, it has even entered the political field
since Napoleon's day. Yale University has adopted the violet for
its own especial flower, although it is the corn-flower, or
bachelor's button (Centaurea cyanus) that is the true Yale blue.
Sprengel, who made a most elaborate study of the violet,
condensed the result of his research into the following questions
and answers, which are given here because much that he says
applies to our own native species, which have been too little
studied in the modern scientific spirit:

"1. Why is the flower situated on a long stalk which is upright,
but curved downwards at the free end? In order that it may hang
down; which, firstly, prevents rain from obtaining access to the
nectar; and, secondly, places the stamens in such a position that
the pollen falls into the open space between the pistil and the
free ends of the stamens. If the flower were upright, the pollen
would fall into the space between the base of the stamen and the
base of the pistil, and would not come in contact with the bee.

"2. Why does the pollen differ from that of most other
insect-fertilized flowers? In most of such flowers the insects
themselves remove the pollen from the anthers, and it is
therefore important that the pollen should not easily be detached
and carried away by the wind. In the present case, on the
contrary, it is desirable that it should be looser and dryer, so
that it may easily fall into the space between the stamens and
the pistil. If it remained attached to the anther, it would not
be touched by the bee, and the flower would remain unfertilized.

"3. Why is the base of the style so thin? In order that the bee
may be more easily able to bend the style.

"4. Why is the base of the style bent? For the same reason. The
result of the curvature is that the pistil is much more easily
bent than would be the case if the style were straight.

"5. Finally, why does the membranous termination of the upper
filament overlap the corresponding portions of the two middle
stamens? Because this enables the bee to move the pistil, and
thereby to set free the pollen more easily than would be the case
under the reverse arrangement."

In high altitudes of New England, Colorado. and northward, where
the soil is wet and cold, the pale lilac, slightly bearded
petals, streaked with darker veins, of the MARSH VIOLET (V.
palustris), with its almost round leaves, may be found from May
to June. All through the White Mountains one finds it abundant.

A peculiarity of the DOG or RUNNING VIOLET (V. Labradorica) is
that its small, heart-shaped leaves are set along the branching
stem, and its pale purple blossoms rise from their angles, pansy
fashion. From March to May it blooms throughout its wide range in
wet, shady places. Its English prototype, called by the same
invidious name, was given the prefix "dog," because the word,
which is always intended to express contempt in the British mind,
is applied in this case for the flower's lack of fragrance. When
a bee visits this violet, his head coming in contact with the
stigma jars it, thus opening the little pollen box, whose
contents must fall out on his head and be carried away and rubbed
off where it will fertilize the next violet visited.

  (Limonium Carolinianum; Statice Limonium of Gray)  Plumbago

Flowers - Very tiny, pale, dull lavender, erect, set along upper
side of branches. Calyx 5-toothed, tubular, plaited; corolla of 5
petals opposite as many stamens; 1 pistil with 5 thread-like
styles. Scape: 1 to 2 ft. high, slender, leafless, much branched
above. Leaves: All from thick, fleshy rootstock, narrowly oblong,
tapering into margined petioles, thick, the edges slightly waved,
not toothed; midrib prominent.
Preferred Habitat - Salt meadows and marshes.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution  -  Atlantic coast from Labrador to Florida,
westward along the Gulf to Texas; also in Europe.

Seen in masses, from a little distance, this tiny flower looks
like blue-gray mist blown in over the meadows from the sea, and
on closer view each plant suggests sea-spray itself. Thrifty
housewives along the coast dry it for winter bouquets, partly for
ornament and partly because there is an old wives' tradition that
it keeps away moths. Statice, from the Greek verb to stop, hence
an astringent, was the generic name formerly applied to the
plants, with whose roots these same old women believed they cured
canker sores.

  (Gentiana crinita)  Gentian family

Flowers - Deep, bright blue, rarely white, several or many, about
2 in. high, stiffly erect, and solitary at ends of very long
foot-stalk. Calyx of 4 unequal, acutely pointed lobes. Corolla
funnel form, its four lobes spreading, rounded, fringed around
ends, but scarcely on sides. Four stamens inserted on corolla
tube; 1 pistil with 2 stigmas. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, usually
branched, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, upper ones acute at tip,
broadening to heart-shaped base, seated on stem. Fruit: A
spindle-shaped, 2-valved capsule, containing numerous scaly,
hairy seeds.
Preferred Habitat - Low, moist meadows and woods.
Flowering Season - September-November.
Distribution - Quebec, southward to Georgia, and westward beyond
the Mississippi.

    "Thou waitest late, and com'st alone
     When woods are bare and birds have flown,
     And frosts and shortening days portend
     The aged year is near his end.

    "Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
     Look through its fringes to the sky,
     Blue - blue - as if that sky let fail
     A flower from its cerulean wall."

When we come upon a bed of gentians on some sparkling October
day, we can but repeat Bryant's thoughts and express them
prosaically who attempt description. In dark weather this
sunshine lover remains shut, to protect its nectar and pollen
from possible showers. An elusive plant is this gentian, which by
no means always reappears in the same places year after year, for
it is an annual whose seeds alone perpetuate it. Seating
themselves on the winds when autumn gales shake them from out of
the home wall, these little hairy scales ride afar, and those
that are so fortunate as to strike into soft, moist soil at the
end of the journey, germinate. Because this flower is so rarely
beautiful that few can resist the temptation of picking it, it is
becoming sadly rare near large settlements.

The special importance of producing a quantity of fertile seed
has led the gentians to adopt proterandry - one of the commonest,
because most successful, methods of insuring it. The anthers,
coming to maturity early, shed their pollen on the bumblebees
that have been first attracted by their favorite color and the
enticing fringes before they crawl half way down the tube where
they can reach the nectar secreted in the walls. After the pollen
has been carried from the early flowers, and the stamens begin to
wither, up rises the pistil to be fertilized with pollen brought
from a newly opened blossom by the bee or butterfly. The late
development of the pistil accounts for the error often stated,
that some gentians have none. No doubt the fringe, which most
scientists regard simply as an additional attraction for winged
insects, serves a double purpose in entangling the feet of ants
and other crawlers that would climb over the edge to pilfer
sweets clearly intended for the bumblebee alone.

Fifteen species of gentian have been gathered during a half-hour
walk in Switzerland, where the pastures are spread with sheets of
blue. Indeed, one can little realize the beauty of these heavenly
flowers who has not seen them among the Alps.

quinquefolia; G. quinqueflora of Gray) has its five-parted,
small, picotee-edged blue flowers arranged in clusters, not
exceeding seven, at the ends of the branches or seated in the
leaf-axils. The slender, branching, ridged stem may rise only two
inches in dry soil; or perhaps two feet in rich, moist, rocky
ground, where it grows to perfection, especially in mountainous
regions. From Canada to Florida and westward to Missouri is its
range, and beginning to bloom in August southward, it may not be
found until September in the Catskills, and in October it is
still in its glory in Ontario. The colorless, bitter juice of
many of the gentian tribe has long been valued as a tonic in
medicine. Evidently the butterflies that pilfer this "ague-weed,"
and the bees that are its legitimate feasters, find something
more delectable in its blue walls.

A deep, intense blue is the CLOSED, BLIND, or BOTTLE GENTIAN (G.
Andrewsii), more truly the color of the "male bluebird's back,"
to which Thoreau likened the paler fringed gentian. Rarely some
degenerate plant bears white flowers. As it is a perennial, we
are likely to find it in its old haunts year after year;
nevertheless its winged seeds sail far abroad to seek pastures
new. This gentian also shows a preference for moist soil. Gray
thought that it expanded slightly, and for a short time only in
sunshine, but added that, although it is proterandrous, i.e. it
matures and sheds its pollen before its stigma is susceptible to
any, he believed it finally fertilized itself by the lobes of the
stigma curling backward until they touched the anthers. But Gray
was doubtless mistaken. Several authorities have recently proved
that the flower is adapted to bumblebees. It offers them the last
feast of the season, for although it comes into bloom in August
southward, farther northward - and it extends from Quebec to the
Northwest Territory - it lasts through October.

Now, how can a bumblebee enter this inhospitable-looking flower?
If he did but know it, it keeps closed for his special benefit,
having no fringes or hairs to entangle the feet of crawling
pilferers, and no better way of protecting its nectar from rain
and marauding butterflies that are not adapted to its needs. But
he is a powerful fellow. Watch him alight on a cluster of
blossoms, select the younger, nectar-bearing ones, that are
distinctly marked white against a light-blue background at the
mouth of the corolla for his special guidance. Old flowers from
which the nectar has been removed turn deep reddish purple, and
the white pathfinders become indistinct. With some difficulty, it
is true, the bumblebee (B. Americanorum) thrusts his tongue
through the valve of the chosen flower where the five plaited
lobes overlap one another; then he pushes with all his might
until his head having passed the entrance most of his body
follows, leaving only his hind legs and the tip of his abdomen
sticking out as he makes the circuit. He has much sense as well
as muscle, and does not risk imprisonment in what must prove a
tomb by a total and unnecessary disappearance within the bottle.
Presently he backs out, brushes the pollen from his head and
thorax into his baskets, and is off to fertilize an older,
stigmatic flower with the few grains of quickening dust that must
remain on his velvety head.

  (Phlox divaricata)  Phlox family

Flowers - Pale lilac blue, slightly fragrant, borne on sticky
pedicels, in loose, spreading clusters. Calyx with 5 long, sharp
teeth. Corolla of 5 flat lobes, indented like the top of a heart,
and united into a slender tube; 5 unequal, straight, short
stamens in corolla tube; 1 pistil with 3 stigmas. Stem: to 2 ft.
high, finely coated with sticky hairs above, erect or spreading,
and producing leafy shoots from base. Leaves: Of flowering stem -
opposite, oblong, tapering to a point; of sterile shoots - oblong
or egg-shaped, not pointed, 1 to 2 in. long.
Preferred habitat - Moist, rocky woods.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Eastern Canada to Florida, Minnesota to Arkansas.

The merest novice can have no difficulty in naming the flower
whose wild and cultivated relations abound throughout North
America, the almost exclusive home of the genus, although it is
to European horticulturists, as usual the first to see the
possibilities in our native flowers, that we owe the gay hybrids
in our gardens. Mr. Drummond, a collector from the Botanical
Society of Glasgow, early in the thirties sent home the seeds of
a species from Texas, which became the ancestor of the gorgeous
annuals, the Drummond phloxes of commerce today; and although he
died of fever in Cuba before the plants became generally known,
not even his kinsman, the author of "Natural Law in the Spiritual
World," has done more to immortalize the family name.

While the wild blue phlox is sometimes cultivated, it is the
GARDEN PHLOX (P. paniculata), common in woods and thickets from
Pennsylvania to Illinois and southward, that under a gardener's
care bears the large terminal clusters of purple, magenta,
crimson, pink, and white flowers abundant in old-fashioned, hardy
borders. From these it has escaped so freely in many sections of
the North and East as to be counted among the local wildflowers.
Unless the young offshoots are separated from the parent and
given a nook of their own, the flower quickly reverts to the
original type. European cultivators claim that the most brilliant
colors are obtained by crossing annual with perennial phloxes.

WILD SWEET WILLIAM (P. maculata), another perennial much sought
by cultivators, loves the moisture of low woods and the
neighborhood of streams in the Middle and Western States when it
is free to choose its habitat; but it, too, has so freely escaped
from gardens farther north into dry and dusty roadsides, that
anyone who has passed the ruins of Hawthorne's little red cottage
at Lenox, for example, and seen the way his wife's clump of white
phlox under his study window has spread to cover an acre of
hillside, would suppose it to be luxuriating in its favorite
locality. This variety of the species (var. Candida) lacks the
purplish flecks on stem and lower leaves responsible for the
specific name of the type. Pinkish purple or pink blossoms are
borne in a rather narrow, elongated panicle on the typical Sweet

Most members of the phlox family resort to the trick of coating
the upper stem and the peduncles immediately below the flowers
with a sticky secretion in which crawling insects, intent on
pilfering sweets, meet their death, just as birds are caught on
limed twigs. Butterflies, for whom phloxes have narrowed their
tubes to the exclusion of most other insects, are their
benefactors; but long-tongued bees and flies often seek their
nectar. Indeed, the number of strictly butterfly-flowers is
surprisingly small.

  (Mertensia Virginica)  Borage family

Flowers - Pinkish in bud, afterward purplish blue, fading to
light blue; about 1 in. long, tubular, funnel form, the tube of
corolla not crested; spreading or hanging on slender pedicels in
showy, loose clusters at end of smooth stem from 1 to 2 ft. high;
stamens 5, inserted on corolla; 1 pistil; ovary of 4 divisions.
Leaves: Large, entire, alternate, veiny, oblong or obovate, the
upper ones seated on stem; lower very large ones diminishing
toward base into long petioles; at first rich, dark purple,
afterward pale bluish gray. Fruit: 4 seed-like little nuts,
leathery, wrinkled when mature.
Preferred Habitat - Alluvial ground, low meadows, and along
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Southern Canada to South Carolina and Kansas, west
to Nebraska; most abundant in middle West.

Not to be outdone by its cousins the heliotrope and the
forget-me-not, this lovely and far more showy spring flower has
found its way into the rockwork and sheltered, moist nooks of
many gardens, especially in England, where Mr. W. Robinson, who
has appealed for its wider cultivation in that perennially
charming book, "The English Flower Garden," says of the
Mertensias: "There is something about them more beautiful in form
of foliage and stem, and in the graceful way in which they rise
to panicles of blue, than in almost any other family....
Handsomest of all is the Virginia cowslip." And yet Robinson
never saw the alluvial meadows in the Ohio Valley blued with
lovely masses of the plant in April.

A great variety of insects visit this blossom, which, being
tubular, conducts them straight to the ample feast; but not until
they have deposited some pollen brought from another flower on
the stigma in their way. The anthers are too widely separated
from the stigma to make self-fertilization likely. Occasionally
one finds the cowslips perforated by clever bumblebees. As only
the females, which are able to sip far deeper cups, are flying
when they bloom, they must be either too mischievous or too lazy
to drain them in the legitimate manner. Butterflies have only to
stand on a flower, not to enter it, in order to sip nectar from
the four glands that secrete it abundantly.

  (Myosotis Palustris)  Borage family

Flowers - Pure blue, pinkish, or white, with yellow eye; flat,
5-lobed, borne in many-flowered, long, often 1-sided racemes.
Calyx 5-cleft; the lobes narrow, spreading, erect, and open in
fruit; 5 stamens inserted on corolla tube; style threadlike;
ovary 4-celled. Stem: Low, branching, leafy, slender, hairy,
partially reclining. Leaves: (Myosotis = mouse-ear) oblong,
alternate, seated on stem, hairy. Fruit: Nutlets, angled and
keeled on inner side.
Preferred Habitat - Escaped from gardens to brooksides, marshes,
and low meadows.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Native of Europe and Asia, now rapidly spreading
from Nova Scotia southward to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and

How rare a color blue must have been originally among our flora
is evident from the majority of blue and purple flowers that,
although now abundant here and so perfectly at home, are really
quite recent immigrants from Europe and Asia. But our dryer,
hotter climate never brings to the perfection attained in England

    "The sweet forget-me-nots
     That grow for happy lovers."

Tennyson thus ignores the melancholy association of the flower in
the popular legend which tells how a lover, when trying to gather
some of these blossoms for his sweetheart, fell into a deep pool,
and threw a bunch on the bank, calling out, as he sank forever
from her sight, "Forget me not." Another dismal myth sends its
hero forth seeking hidden treasure caves in a mountain, under the
guidance of a fairy. He fills his pockets with gold, but not
heeding the fairy's warning to "forget not the best" - i.e., the
myosotis - he is crushed by the closing together of the mountain.
Happiest of all is the folk-tale of the Persians; as told by
their poet Shiraz: "It was in the golden morning of the early
world, when an angel sat weeping outside the closed gates of
Paradise. He had fallen from his high estate through loving a
daughter of earth, nor was he permitted to enter again until she
whom he loved had planted the flowers of the forget-me-not in
every corner of the world. He returned to earth and assisted her,
and together they went hand in hand. When their task was ended,
they entered Paradise together, for the fair woman, without
tasting the bitterness of death, became immortal like the angel
whose love her beauty had won when she sat by the river twining
forget-me-nots in her hair."

It was the golden ring around the forget-me-not's center that
first led Sprengel to believe the conspicuous markings at the
entrance of many flowers served as pathfinders to insects. This
golden circle also shelters the nectar from rain, and indicates
to the fly or bee just where it must probe between stigma and
anthers to touch them with opposite sides of its tongue. Since it
may probe from any point of the circle, it is quite likely that
the side of the tongue that touched a pollen-laden anther in one
flower will touch the stigma in the next one visited, and so
cross-fertilize it. But forget-me-nots are not wholly dependent
on insects. When these fail, a fully mature flower is still able
to set fertile seed by shedding its own pollen directly on the

The SMALLER FORGET-ME-NOT (M. laxa), formerly accounted a mere
variety of palustris, but now defined as a distinct species, is a
native, and therefore may serve to show how its European relative
here will deteriorate in the dryer atmosphere of the New World.
Its tiny turquoise flowers, borne on long stems from a very loose
raceme, gleam above wet, muddy places from Newfoundland and
Eastern Canada to Virginia and Tennessee.

Even smaller still are the blue or white flowers of the FIELD
stems and leaves are covered with bristly hairs. It blooms from
August to July in dry places, even on hillsides, an unusual
locality in which to find a member of this moisture-loving clan.
All the flowers remain long in bloom, continually forming new
buds on a lengthening stem, and leaving behind little empty green

  (Echium vulgare)  Borage family

Flowers - Bright blue, afterward reddish purple, pink in the bud,
numerous, clustered on short, 1-sided, curved spikes rolled up at
first, and straightening out as flowers expand. Calyx deeply
5-cleft; corolla 1 in. long or less, funnel form, the 5 lobes
unequal, acute; 5 stamens inserted on corolla tube, the filaments
spreading below, and united above into slender appendage, the
anthers forming a cone. 1 pistil with 2 stigmas. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2
ft. high; bristly-hairy, erect, spotted. Leaves: Hairy, rough,
oblong to lance-shaped, alternate, seated on stem, except at base
of plant.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, waste places; roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Virginia, westward to Nebraska;
Europe and Asia.

In England, from whose gardens this plant escaped long ago, a war
of extermination that has been waged against the vigorous,
beautiful weed by the farmers has at last driven it to the
extremity of the island, where a few stragglers about Penzance
testify to the vanquishing of what must once have been a mighty
army. From England a few refugees reached here in i683, no one
knows how; but they proved to be the vanguard of an aggressive
and victorious host that quickly overran our open, hospitable
country, as if to give vent to revenge for long years of
persecution at the hands of Europeans. "It is a fact that all our
more pernicious weeds, like our vermin, are of Old-World origin,"
says.John Burroughs. "...Perhaps the most notable thing about
them, when compared with our native species, is their
persistence, not to say pugnacity. They fight for the soil; they
plant colonies here and there, and will not be rooted out. Our
native weeds are for the most part shy and harmless, and retreat
before civilization.... We have hardly a weed we can call our

Years ago, when simple folk believed God had marked plants with
some sign to indicate the special use for which each was
intended, they regarded the spotted stem of the bugloss, and its
seeds shaped like a serpent's head, as certain indications that
the herb would cure snake bites. Indeed, the genus takes its name
from Echis, the Greek for viper.

Because it is showy and offers accessible nectar, a great variety
of insects visit the blue-weed; Muller alone observed sixty-seven
species about it. We need no longer wonder at its fertility. Of
the five stamens one remains in the tube, while the other four
project and form a convenient alighting place for visitors, which
necessarily dust their under sides with pollen as they enter; for
the red anthers were already ripe when the flower opened. Then,
however, the short, immature pistil was kept below. After the
stamens have shed their pollen and there can be no longer danger
of self-fertilization, it gradually elongates itself beyond the
point occupied by them, and divides into two little horns whose
stigmatic surfaces an incoming pollen-laden insect cannot well
fail to strike against. Cross-pollination is so thoroughly
secured in this case that the plant has completely lost the power
of fertilizing itself. Unwelcome visitors like ants, which would
pilfer nectar without rendering any useful service in return, are
warded off by the bristly, hairy foliage. Several kinds of female
bees seek the bugloss exclusively for food for their larvae as
well as for themselves, sweeping up the abundant pollen with
their abdominal brushes as they feast without effort.

  (Verbena hastala)  Vervain family

Flowers - Very small, purplish blue, in numerous slender, erect,
compact spikes. Calyx 5-toothed; corolla tubular, unequally
5-lobed; 2 pairs of stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: 3 to 7 ft. high,
rough, branched above, leafy, 4-sided. Leaves: Opposite, stemmed,
lance-shaped, saw-edged, rough; lower ones lobed at base.
Preferred Habitat - Moist meadows, roadsides, waste places.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - United States and Canada in almost every part.

Seeds below, a circle of insignificant purple-blue flowers in the
center, and buds at the top of the vervain's slender spires do
not produce a striking effect, yet this common plant certainly
does not lack beauty. John Burroughs, ever ready to say a kindly,
appreciative word for any weed, speaks of its drooping, knotted
threads, that "make a pretty etching upon the winter snow." Bees,
the vervain's benefactors, are usually seen clinging to the
blooming spikes, and apparently sleep on them. Borrowing the name
of simpler's joy from its European sister, the flower has also
appropriated much of the tradition and folk-lore centered about
that plant which herb-gatherers, or simplers, truly delighted to
see, since none was once more salable.

LIGHTNING PLANT, SIMPLER'S JOY, and so on through a long list of
popular names for the most part testifying to the plant's virtue
as a love-philter, bridal token, and general cure-all, has now
become naturalized from the Old World on the Atlantic and Pacific
Slopes; and is rapidly appropriating waste arid cultivated ground
until, in many places, it is truly troublesome. In general habit
like the blue vervain, its flowers are more purplish than blue,
and are scattered, not crowded, along the spikes. The leaves are
deeply, but less acutely, cut.

Ages before Christians ascribed healing virtues to the vervain -
found growing on Mount Calvary, and therefore possessing every
sort of miraculous power, according to the logic of simple
peasant folk - the Druids had counted it among their sacred
plants. "When the dog-star arose from unsunned spots" the priests
gathered it. Did not Shakespeare's witches learn some of their
uncanny rites from these reverend men of old? One is impressed
with the striking similarity of many customs recorded of both.
Two of the most frequently used ingredients in witches' cauldrons
were the vervain and the rue. "The former probably derived its
notoriety from the fact of its being sacred to Thor, an honor
which marked it out, like other lightning plants, as peculiarly
adapted for occult uses," says Mr. Thiselton Dyer in his
"Folk-lore of Plants." "Although vervain, therefore, as the
enchanter's plant, was gathered by witches to do mischief in
their incantations, yet, as Aubrey says, it 'hinders witches from
their will,' a circumstance to which Drayton further refers when
he speaks of the vervain as ''gainst witchcraft much avayling.'"
Now we understand why the children of Shakespeare's time hung
vervain and dill with a horseshoe over the door.

In his eighth Eclogue, Virgil refers to vervain as a charm to
recover lost love. Doubtless this was the verbena, the herba
sacra employed in ancient Roman sacrifices, according to Pliny.
In his day the bridal wreath was of verbena, gathered by the
bride herself.

NARROW-LEAVED VERVAIN (V. angustifolia), like the blue vervain,
has a densely crowded spike of tiny purple or blue flowers that
quickly give place to seeds, but usually there is only one spike
at the end of a branch. The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped,
acute, saw-edged, rough. From Massachusetts and Florida westward
to Minnesota and Arkansas one finds the plant blooming in dry
fields from June to August, after the parsimonious manner of the
vervain tribe.

It is curious that the vervain, or verbena, employed by brides
for centuries as the emblem of chastity, should be one of the
notorious botanical examples of a willful hybrid. Generally, the
individuals of distinct species do not interbreed; but verbenas
are often difficult to name correctly in every case because of
their susceptibility to each other's pollen - the reason why the
garden verbena may so easily be made to blossom forth into
whatever hue the gardener wills. His plants have been obtained,
for the most part, from the large-flowered verbena, the beautiful
purple, blue, or white species of our Western States (V.
Canadensis) crossed with brilliant-hued species imported from
South America.

  (Scutellaria lateriflora)  Mint family

Flowers - Blue, varying to whitish; several or many, 1/4 in.
long, growing in axils of upper leaves or in 1-sided spike-like
racemes. Calyx 2-lipped, the upper lip with a helmet-like
protuberance; corolla 2-lipped; the lower, 3-lobed lip spreading;
the middle lobe larger than the side ones. Stamens, 4, in pairs,
under the upper lip; upper pair the shorter; one pistil, the
style unequally cleft in two. Stem: Square, smooth, leafy,
branched, 8 in. to 2 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite, oblong to
lance-shaped, thin, toothed, on slender pedicles, 1 to 3 in.
long, growing gradually smaller toward top of stem. Fruit: 4
Preferred Habitat - Wet, shady ground.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Uneven throughout United States and the British

By the helmet-like appendage on the upper lip of the calyx, which
to the imaginative mind of Linnaeus suggested Scutellum (a little
dish), which children delight to spring open for a view of the
four tiny seeds attached at the base when in fruit, one knows
this to be a member of the skullcap tribe, a widely scattered
genus of blue and violet two-lipped flowers, some small to the
point of insignificance, like the present species, others showy
enough for the garden, but all rich in nectar, and eagerly sought
by bees. The wide middle lobe of the lower lip forms a convenient
platform on which to alight; the stamens in the roof of a newly
opened blossom dust the back of the visitor as he explores the
nectary; and as the stamens of an older flower wither when they
have shed their pollen, and the style then rises to occupy their
position, it follows that, in flying from the top of one spike of
flowers to the bottom of another, where the older ones are, the
visitor, for whom the whole scheme of color, form, and
arrangement was planned, deposits on the sticky top of the style
some of the pollen he has brought with him and so
cross-fertilizes the flower. When the seeds begin to form and the
now useless corolla drops off, the helmet-like appendage on the
top of the calyx enlarges and meets the lower lip, so enclosing
and protecting the tiny nutlets. After their maturity, either the
mouth gapes from dryness, or the appendage drops off altogether,
from the same cause, to release the seeds. Old herb doctors, who
professed to cure hydrophobia with this species, are responsible
for its English misnomer.

Perhaps the most beautiful member of the genus is the SHOWY
SKULLCAP (S. serrata), whose blue corolla, an inch long, has its
narrow upper lip shorter than the spreading lower one. The
flowers are set opposite each other at the end of the smooth
stem, which rises from one to two feet high in the woods
throughout a southerly and westerly range. As several other
skullcaps have distinctly saw-edged leaves, this plant might have
been given a more distinctive adjective, thinks one who did not
have the naming of 200,000 species!

Above dry, sandy soil from New York and Michigan southward the
HAIRY SKULLCAP (S. pilosa) lifts short racemes of blue flowers
that are only half an inch long, and whose lower lip and lobes at
either side are shorter than the arched upper lip. Most parts of
the plant are covered with down, the lower stem being especially
hairy; and this fact determines the species when connected with
its rather distant pairs of indented, veiny leaves, ranging from
oblong to egg-shaped, and furnished with petioles which grow
gradually shorter toward the top, where pairs of bracts, seated
on the stem, part to let the flowers spring from their axils.

The LARGER or HYSSOP SKULLCAP (S. integrifolia) rarely has a dent
in its rounded oblong leaves ,which, like the stem, are covered
with fine down. Its lovely, bright blue flowers, an inch long,
the lips of about equal length, are grouped opposite each other
at the top of a stem that never lifts them higher than two feet;
and so their beauty is often concealed in the tall grass of
roadsides and meadows and the undergrowth of woods and thickets,
where they bloom from May to August, from southern New England to
the Gulf of Mexico, westward to Texas.

This tribe of plants is almost exclusively North American, but
the hardy MARSH SKULLCAP or HOODED WILLOW-HERB (S. galericulata),
at least, roams over Europe, and Asia also, with the help of
runners, as well as seeds that, sinking into the soft earth of
swamps and the borders of brooks, find growth easy. The blue
flowers which grow singly in the axils of the upper leaves are
quite as long as those of the larger and the showy skullcaps; the
oblong, lance-shaped leaves, which are mostly seated on the
branching stem, opposite each other, have low teeth. Why do
leaves vary as they do, especially in closely allied species?
"The causes which have led to the different forms of leaves have
been, so far as I know," says Sir John Lubbock, "explained in
very few cases: those of the shapes and structure of seeds are
tolerably obvious in some species, but in the majority they are
still entirely unexplained; and, even as regards the blossoms
themselves, in spite of the numerous and conscientious labors of
so many eminent naturalists, there is as yet no single species
thoroughly known to us."

  (Glecoma hederacea; Nepeta Glechoma of Gray)  Mint family

Flowers - Light bluish purple, dotted with small specks of
reddish violet; growing singly or in clusters along stem, seated
in leaf axils; calyx hairy, with 5 sharp teeth; corolla tubular,
over 1/2 in. long, 2-lipped, the upper lip 2-lobed, lower lip
with 3 spreading lobes, middle one largest; 4 stamens in pairs
under upper lip; the anther sacs spreading; pistil with 2-lobed
style. Stem: Trailing, rooting at intervals, sometimes 18 in.
long, leafy, the branches ascending. Leaves: From 1/2 to 1 1/2
in. across; smooth, rounded, kidney-shaped, scallop-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Waste places, shady ground.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Eastern half of Canada and the United States, from
Georgia and Kansas northward.

Besides the larger flowers, containing both stamens and pistils,
borne on this little immigrant, smaller female flowers,
containing a pistil only, occur just as they do in thyme, mint,
marjoram, and doubtless other members of the great family to
which all belong. Muller attempted to prove that these small
flowers, being the least showy, are the last to be visited by
insects, which, having previously dusted themselves with pollen
from the stamens of the larger flowers when they first open, are
in a condition to make cross-fertilization certain. So much for
the small flower's method of making insects serve its end; the
larger flowers have another way. At first they are male; that is,
the pistil is as yet undeveloped and the four stamens are mature,
ready to shed pollen on any insect alighting on the lip. Later,
when the stamens are past maturity, the pistil elongates itself
and is ready for the reception of pollen brought from younger
flowers. Many blossoms are male on the first day of opening, and
female later, to protect themselves against self-fertilization.

In Europe, where the aromatic leaves of this little creeper were
long ago used for fermenting and clarifying beer, it is known by
such names as ale-hoof and gill ale-gill, it is said, being
derived from the old French word, guiller, to ferment or make
merry. Having trailed across Europe, the persistent hardy plant
is now creeping its way over our continent, much to the disgust
of cattle, which show unmistakable dislike for a single leaf
caught up in a mouthful of herbage.

Very closely allied to the ground ivy is the CATMINT or CATNIP
(Nepela Cataria) ,whose pale-purple, or nearly white flowers,
dark-spotted, may be most easily named by crushing the coarsely
toothed leaves in one's hand. It is curious how cats will seek
out this hoary-hairy plant in the waste places where it grows and
become half-crazed with delight over its aromatic odor.

(Prunella vulgaris) Mint family

Flowers - Purple and violet, in dense spikes, somewhat resembling
a clover head; from 1/2 to 1 in. long in flower, becoming 4 times
the length in fruit. Corolla tubular, irregularly 2-lipped, the
upper lip darker and hood-like; the lower one 3-lobed, spreading,
the middle and largest lobe fringed; 4 twin-like stamens
ascending under upper lip; filaments ofthe lower and longer pair
2-toothed at summit, one of the teeth bearing an anther, the
other tooth sterile; style thread-like, shorter than stamens, and
terminating in a 2-cleft stigma. Calyx 2-parted, half the length
of corolla, its teeth often hairy on edges. Stem: 2 in. to 2 ft.
high, erect or reclining, simple or branched. Leaves: Opposite,
oblong. Fruit: 4 nutlets, round and smooth.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, roadsides, waste places.
Flowering Season - May-October.
Distribution - North America, Europe, Asia.

This humble, rusty green plant, weakly lopping over the
surrounding grass, so that often only its insignificant purple,
clover-like flower heads are visible, is another of those
immigrants from the old countries which, having proved fittest in
the fiercer struggle for existence there, has soon after its
introduction here exceeded most of our more favored native
flowers in numbers. Everywhere we find the heal-all, sometimes
dusty and stunted by the roadside, sometimes truly beautiful in
its fresh purple, violet, and white when perfectly developed
under happy conditions. In England, where most flowers are deeper
hued than with us, the heal-all is rich purple. What is the
secret of this flower's successful march across three continents?
As usual, the chief reason is to be found in the facility it
offers insects to secure food; and the quantity of fertile seed
it is therefore able to ripen as the result of their visits is
its reward. Also, its flowering season is unusually long, and it
is a tireless bloomer. It is finical in no respect; its sprawling
stems root easily at the joints, and it is very hardy.

Several species of bumblebees enter the flower, which being set
in dense clusters enables them to suck the nectar from each with
the minimum loss of time, the smaller bee spending about two
seconds to each. After allowing for the fraction of time it takes
him to sweep his eyes and the top of his head with his forelegs
to free them from the pollen which must inevitably be shaken from
the stamen in the arch of the corolla as he dives deeply after
the nectar in the bottom of the throat, and to pass the pollen,
just as honeybees do, with the most amazing quickness, from the
forelegs to the middle ones, and thence to the hairy "basket" on
the hind ones - after making all allowances for such delays, this
small worker is able to fertilize all the flowers in the fullest
cluster in half a minute! When the contents of the baskets of two
different species of bumblebees caught on this blossom were
examined under the microscope, the pollen in one case proved to
be heal-all, with some from the goldenrod, and a few grains of a
third kind not identified; and in the other case; heal-all pollen
and a small proportion of some unknown kind. Bees that are
evidently out for both nectar and pollen on the same trip have
been detected visiting white and yellow flowers on their way from
one heal-all cluster to another; and this fact, together with the
presence of more than one kind of pollen in the basket, shows
that the generally accepted statement that bees confine
themselves to flowers of one kind or color during a trip is not
always according to fact.

The older name of the plant, Brunella, and the significant one,
altered by Linnaeus into the softer sound it now bears, is
doubtless derived from the German word, braune, the quinsy.
Quaint old Parkinson reads: "This is generally called prunella
and brunella from the Germans who called it brunellen, because it
cureth that disease which they call die bruen, common to soldiers
in campe, but especially in garrison, which is an inflammation of
the mouth, throat, and tongue." Among the old herbalists who
pretended to cure every ill that flesh is heir to with it, it was
variously known as carpenter's herb, sicklewort, hook-heal,
slough-heal, and brownwort.

  (Hedeoma pulegioides)  Mint family

Flowers - Very small, bluish purple, clustered in axils of upper
leaves. Calyx tubular, unequally 5-cleft; teeth of upper lip
triangular, hairy in throat. Corolla 2-lipped, upper lip erect,
notched; lower one 3-cleft, spreading; 2 anther-bearing stamens
under upper lip; 2 sterile but apparent; 1 pistil with 2-cleft
style. Stem: Low, erect, branched, square, hairy, 6 to 18 in.
high. Leaves: Small, opposite, ovate to oblong, scantily toothed,
strongly aromatic, pungent.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, open woodland.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Cape Breton Island westward to Nebraska, south to

However insignificant its flower, this common little plant
unmistakably proclaims its presence throughout the neighborhood.
So powerful is the pungent aroma of its leaves that dog doctors
sprinkle them about freely in the kennels to kill fleas, a pest
by no means exterminated in Southern Europe, however, where the
true pennyroyal of commerce (Mentha Pulegium) is native. Herb
gatherers who collect our pennyroyal, that is so similar to the
European species it is similarly employed in medicine, say they
can scent it from a greater distance than any other plant.

BASTARD PENNYROYAL, which, like the Self-heal, is sometimes
called BLUE CURLS (Trichostema dichotomum), chooses dry fields,
but preferably sandy ones, where we find its abundant, tiny blue
flowers, that later change to purple, from July to October. Its
balsam-like odor is not agreeable, neither has the plant beauty
to recommend it; yet where it grows, from Maine to Florida, and
west to Texas, it is likely to be so common we cannot well pass
it unnoticed. The low, stiff, slender, much-branched, and rather
clammy stem bears opposite, oblong, smooth-edged leaves narrowed
into petioles. One, two, or three flowers, borne at the tips of
the branches, soon fall off, leaving the 5-cleft calyx to cradle
four exposed nutlets.

>From the five-lobed tubular corolla protrude four very long,
curling, blue or violet stamens - hair stamens the Greek generic
title signifies - and the pretty popular name of blue curls also
has reference to these conspicuous filaments that are spirally
coiled in the bud.

In general habit like the two preceding plants, the FALSE
PENNYROYAL (Isanthus brachiatus) nevertheless prefers that its
sandy home should be near streams. From Quebec to Georgia,
westward to Minnesota and Texas, it blooms in midsummer, lifting
its small, tubular, pale blue flowers from the axils of pointed,
opposite leaves. An unusual characteristic in one of the mint
tribe is that the five sharp lobes of its bell-shaped calyx, and
the five rounded, spreading lobes of the corolla, are of equal
length, hence its Greek name signifying an equal flower.

  (Thymus Serpyllum)  Mint family

Flowers - Very small purple or pink purple, fragrant, clustered
at ends of branches or in leaf axils. Hairy calyx and corolla
2-lipped, the latter with lower lip 3-cleft; stamens 4; style
2-cleft. Leaves: Oblong, opposite, aromatic. Stem: 4 to 12 in.
long) creeping, woody, branched, forming dense cushions.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, dry banks, and waste places.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Naturalized from Europe. Nova Scotia to Middle

    "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
     Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows;
     Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
     With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine."
                        - A Midsummer Night's Dream.

According to Danish tradition, anyone waiting by an elder-bush on
Midsummer Night at twelve o'clock will see the king of fairyland
and all his retinue pass by and disport themselves in favorite
haunts, among others the mounds of fragrant wild thyme. How well
Shakespeare knew his folklore!

Thyme is said to have been one of the three plants which made the
Virgin Mary's bed. Indeed, the European peasants have as many
myths as there are quotations from the poets about this classic
plant. Its very name denotes that it was used as an incense in
Greek temples. No doubt it was the Common Thyme (T. vulgaris), an
erect, tall plant cultivated in gardens here as a savory, that
Horace says the Romans used so extensively for bee culture.

Dense cushions of creeping thyme usually contain two forms of
blossoms on separate plants - hermaphrodite (male and female
which are much the commoner; and pistillate, or only female,
flowers, in which the stamens develop no pollen. The latter are
more fertile; none can fertilize itself. But blossoms so rich in
nectar naturally attract quantities of insects - bees and
butterflies chiefly. A newly opened hermaphrodite flower, male on
the first day, dusts its visitors as they pass the ripe stamens.
This pollen they carry to a flower two days old, which, having
reached the female stage, receives it on the mature two-cleft
stigma, now erect and tall, whereas the stamens are past

  (Mentha spicata; M. viridis of Gray)  Mint family

Flowers - Small, pale bluish, or pinkish purple, in whorls,
forming terminal, interrupted, narrow spikes, 2 to 4 in. long in
fruit, the central one surpassing lateral ones. Calyx
bell-shaped, toothed; corolla tubular, 4-cleft. Stamens 4; style
2-cleft. Stem: Smooth, 1 to 1 1/2 ft. high, branched. Leaves:
Opposite, narrowly oblong, acute, saw-edged, aromatic.
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil.
Flowering Season  - July-September.
Distribution - Eastern half of Canada and United States. Also
Europe and Asia.

The poets tell us that Proserpine, Pluto's wife, in a fit of
jealousy changed a hated rival into the mint plant, whose name
Mentha, in its Latin form, or Minthe, the Greek equivalent, is
still that of the metamorphosed beauty, a daughter of Cocytus,
who was also Pluto's wife. Proserpine certainly contrived to keep
her rival's memory fragrant. But how she must delight in seeing
her under the chopping-knife and served up as sauce!

It is a curious fact that among the Labiates, or two-lipped
blossoms to which thymes and mints belong, there very frequently
occur species bearing flowers that are male on the first day
(staminate) and female, or pistillate, on the second day, and
also smaller female flowers on distinct plants. Muller believed
this plan was devised to attract insects, first by the more showy
hermaphrodite flower, that they might carry its pollen to the
less conspicuous female flower, which they would naturally visit
last; but this interesting theory has yet to be proved. Nineteen
species of flies, to which the mints are specially adapted, have
been taken in the act of transferring pollen. Ten varieties of
the lower hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and others) commonly resort
to the fragrant spikes of bloom.

PEPPERMINT (M. piiterita), similar in manner of growth to the
preceding, is another importation from Europe now thoroughly at
home here in wet soil. The volatile oil obtained by distilling
its leaves has long been an important item of trade in Wayne
County, New York. One has only to crush the leaves in one's hand
to name the flower.

Our native WILD MINT (M. Canadensis), common along brook-sides
and in moist soil from New Brunswick to Virginia and far
westward, has its whorls of small purplish flowers seated in the
leaf axils. Its odor is like pennyroyal. The true PENNYROYAL, not
to be confused with our spurious woodland annual, is M. Pulegium,
a native of Europe, whence a number of its less valuable
relatives, all perennials, have traveled to become naturalized

In dry open woods and thickets and by the roadside, from late
August throughout September, we find blooming the aromatic
(Cunila origanoides; C. Mariana of Gray). Its small pink-purple,
lilac, or whitish flowers, that are only about half as long as
the protruding pair of stamens, are borne in loose terminal
clusters at the ends of the stiff, branched, slender, sometimes
reddish, stem. A pair of rudimentary, useless stamens remain
within the two-lipped tube; the exserted pair, affording the most
convenient alighting place for the visiting flies, dust their
undersides with pollen the first day the flower opens; on the
next, the stigma will be ready to receive pollen carried from
young flowers.

  (Solanum Dulcamara)  Potato family

Flowers - Blue, purple, or, rarely, white with greenish spots on
each lobe; about 1/2 in. broad, clustered in slender, drooping
cymes. Calyx 5-lobed, oblong, persistent on the berry; corolla
deeply, sharply 5-cleft, wheel-shaped, or points curved backward;
5 stamens inserted on throat, yellow, protruding, the anthers
united to form a cone; stigma small. Stem: Climbing or
straggling, woody below, branched, 2 to 8 ft. long. Leaves:
Alternate, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 2 1/2 in. wide, pointed at the
apex, usually heart-shaped at base; some with 2 distinct leaflets
below on the petiole, others have leaflets united with leaf like
lower lobes or wings. Fruit: A bright red, oval berry.
Preferred Habitat - Moist thickets, fence rows.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - United States east of Kansas, north of New Jersey.
Canada, Europe, and Asia.

More beautiful than the graceful flowers are the drooping cymes
of bright berries, turning from green to yellow, then to orange
and scarlet, in the tangled thicket by the shady roadside in
autumn, when the unpretending, shrubby vine, that has crowded its
way through the rank midsummer vegetation, becomes a joy to the
eye. Another bittersweet, so-called, festoons the hedgerows with
yellow berries which, bursting, show their scarlet-coated seeds.
Rose hips and mountain-ash berries, among many other conspicuous
bits of color, arrest attention, but not for us were they
designed. Now the birds are migrating, and, hungry with their
long flight, they gladly stop to feed upon fare so attractive.
Hard, indigestible seeds traverse the alimentary canal without
alteration and are deposited many miles from the parent that bore
them. Nature's methods for widely distributing plants cannot but
stir the dullest imagination.

The purple pendent flowers of this nightshade secrete no nectar,
therefore many insects let them alone; but it is now believed
that no part of the plant is poisonous. Certainly one that claims
the potato, tomato, and eggplant among its kin has no right to be
dangerous. The BLACK, GARDEN, or DEADLY NIGHTSHADE, also called
MOREL (S. nigrum), bears jet-black berries that are alleged to be
fatal. Nevertheless, female bumblebees, to which its white
flowers are specially adapted, visit them to draw out pollen from
the chinks of the anthers with their jaws, just as they do in the
case of the wild, sensitive plant, and with no more disastrous
result. It has been well said that the nightshades are a blessing
both to the sick and to the doctors. The present species takes
its name from dulcis, sweet, and amaras, bitter, referring to the
taste of the juice; the generic name is derived from solamen,
solace or consolation, referring to the relief afforded by the
narcotic properties of some of these plants.

  (Linaria Canadensis)  Figwort family

Flowers - Pale blue to purple, small, irregular, in slender
spikes. Calyx 5-pointed; corolla 2-lipped, with curved spur
longer than its tube, which is nearly closed by a white, 2-ridged
projection or palate; the upper lip erect, 2-lobed; lower lip
3-lobed, spreading. Stamens 4, in pairs, in throat; 1 pistil.
Stem: Slender, weak, of sterile shoots, prostrate; flowering
stem, ascending or erect, 4 in. to 2 ft. high. Leaves: Small,
linear, alternately scattered along stem, or oblong in pairs or
threes on leafy sterile shoots.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, gravel, or sand.
Flowering Season - May-October.
Distribution - North, Central, and South Americas.

Sometimes lying prostrate in the dust, sometimes erect, the
linaria's delicate spikes of bloom wear an air of injured
innocence, yet the plant, weak as it looks, has managed to spread
over three Americas from ocean to ocean. More beautiful than the
rather scrawny flowers are the tufts of cool green foliage made
by the sterile shoots that take complete possession of a wide
area around the parent plants.

Unlike its relative butter-and-eggs, the corolla of this toadflax
is so contracted that bees cannot enter it; but by inserting
their long tongues, they nevertheless manage to drain it. Small,
short-tongued bees contrive to reach only a little nectar. The
palate, so valuable to the other linaria, has in this one lost
its function; and the larger flies, taking advantage of the
flower's weakness, pilfer both sweets and pollen. Butterflies, to
which a slender spurred flower is especially attractive, visit
this one in great numbers, and as they cannot regale themselves
without touching the anthers and stigma, they may be regarded as
the legitimate visitors.

Wolf, rat, mouse, sow, cow, cat, snake, dragon, dog, toad, are
among the many animal prefixes to the names of flowers that the
English country people have given for various and often most
interesting reasons. Just as dog, used as a prefix, expresses an
idea of worthlessness to them, so toad suggests a spurious plant;
the toadflax being made to bear what is meant to be an odious
name because before flowering it resembles the true flax, linum,
from which the generic title is derived.

  (Scrophularia Marylandica; S. nodosa of Gray)  Figwort family

Flowers - Very small, dull green on outside; vivid, shining
brownish purple within; borne in almost leafless terminal
clusters on slender stems; Calyx 5-parted.; corolla of 5 rounded
lobes, the 2 upper ones erect, side ones ascending, lower one
bent downward; 5 staroens, 4 of them twin-like and bearing
anthers, the fifth sterile, a mere scale on roof of the globular
corolla tube; style with knot-like stigma. Stem: From 3 to 10 ft.
high, square, with grooved sides, widely. branching. Leaves: From
3 to 12 in. long, oblong, pointed, coarsely toothed, on slender
stems, strong smelling.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, shady ground.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - New York to the Carolinas, westward to Tennessee
and Kansas; possibly beyond.

An insignificant little flower by itself, conspicuous only
because it rears itself in clusters on a level with one's eyes,
lacking beauty, perfume, and all that makes a blossom charming to
the human mind - why has it been elevated by the botanists to the
dignity of lending its name to a large and important family, and
why is it mentioned at all in a popular flower book beside the
more showy ornaments of nature's garden? Both questions have the
same answer: Because it is the typical flower of the family, and
therefore serves as an illustration of the manner in which many
others are fertilized. Beautiful blossoms are by no means always
the most important ones.

It well repays one to observe the relative times of maturing
anthers and stigmas in the flowers, as thereby hangs a tale in
which some insect plays an interesting role. The figwort matures
its stigma at the lip of the style before its anthers have
ripened their pollen. Why? By having the stigma of a newly opened
flower thrust forward to the mouth of the corolla, an insect
alighting on the lip, which forms his only convenient landing
place, must brush against it and leave upon it some pollen
brought from an older flower, whose anthers are already matured.
At this early stage of the flower's development its stamens lie
curved over in the tube of the corolla; but presently, as the
already fertilized style begins to wither, and its stigma is dry
and no longer receptive to pollen, then, since there can be no
longer any fear of self-pollination - the horror of so many
flowers - the figwort uncurls and elevates its stamens. The
insect visitor in search of nectar must get dusted with pollen
from the late maturing anthers now ready for him. By this
ingenious method the flower becomes cross-fertilized and wastes
the least pollen.

Bees and wasps evidently pursue opposite routes in going to work,
the former beginning at the bottom of a spike or raceme, where
the older, more mature flowers are, and working upward; the wasps
commencing at the top, among the newly opened ones. In spite of
the fact that we usually see hive bees about this plant,
pilfering the generous supply of nectar in each tiny cup, it is
undoubtedly the wasp that is the flower's truest benefactor,
since he carries pollen from the older blossoms of the last
raceme visited to the projecting stigmas of the newly opened
flowers at the top of the next cluster. Manifestly no flower,
even though it were especially adapted to wasps, as this one is,
could exclude bees. About one-third of all its visitors are

  (Pentstemon hirsutus; P. pubescens of Gray)  Figwort family

Flowers - Dull violet or lilac and white, about 1 in. long, borne
in a loose spike. Calyx 5-parted, the sharply pointed sepals
overlapping; corolla, a gradually inflated tube widening where
the mouth divides into a 2-lobed upper lip and a 3-lobed lower
lip; the throat nearly closed by hairy palate at base of lower
lip; sterile fifth stamen densely bearded for half its length; 4
anther-bearing stamens, the anthers divergent. Stem: 1 to 3 ft.
high, erect, downy above. Leaves: Oblong to lance shape, upper
ones seated on stem; lower ones narrowed into petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Dry or rocky fields, thickets, and open
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Ontario to Florida, Manitoba to Texas.

It is the densely bearded, yellow, fifth stamen (pente =five,
stemon = a stamen) which gives this flower its scientific name
and its chief interest to the structural botanist. From the fact
that a blossom has a lip in the center of the lower half of its
corolla, that an insect must use as its landing place, comes the
necessity for the pistil to occupy a central position. Naturally,
a fifth stamen would be only in its way, an encumbrance to be
banished in time. In the figwort, for example, we have seen the
fifth stamen reduced, from long sterility, to a mere scale on the
roof of the corolla tube in other lipped flowers, the useless
organ has disappeared; but in the beard-tongue, it goes through a
series of curious curves from the upper to the under side of the
flower to get out of the way of the pistil. Yet it serves an
admirable purpose in helping close the mouth of the flower, which
the hairy lip alone could not adequately guard against pilferers.
A long-tongued bee, thrusting in his head up to his eyes only,
receives the pollen in his face. The blossom is male (staminate)
in its first stage and female (pistillate) in its second.

While this is the beard-tongue commonly found in the Eastern
United States, particularly southward, and one of the most
beautiful of its clan, the western species have been selected by
the gardeners for hybridizing into those more showy, but often
less charming, flowers now quite extensively cultivated. Several
varieties of these, having escaped from gardens in the East, are
locally common wild.

The LARGE-FLOWERED BEARD-TONGUE (P. grandiflorus), one of the
finest prairie species, whose lavender-blue, bell-shaped corolla
is abruptly dilated above the calyx, measures nearly two inches
long. Its sterile filament, curved over at the summit, is bearded
there only.

Handsomest of all is the COBEA BEARD-TONGUE, a native of the
Southwest, with a broadly rounded, bell-shaped corolla, hairy
without, like the leaves, but smooth within. The pale purple
blossom, delicately suffused with yellow, and pencilled with red
lines - pathfinders for the bees - has the base of its tube
creamy white. Few flowers hang from each stout clammy spike.

The more densely crowded spikes of the large SMOOTH BEARD-TONGUE
(P. glaber), a smaller blue or purple flowered, narrower-leaved
species, that shows an unusual preference for moist soil
throughout its range, is, like the other beard-tongues mentioned,
better known to the British gardener, perhaps, than to Americans,
who have yet to learn the value of many of their wild flowers
under cultivation.

The tall FOXGLOVE BEARD-TONGUE (P. digitalis), with large, showy
white blossoms tinged with purple, the one most commonly grown in
gardens here, escapes on the slightest encouragement to run wild
again from Maine to Virginia, west to Illinois and Arkansas.
Small bees crawl into the broad tube, and butterflies drain the
nectar evidently secreted for long-tongued bees, but without
certainly transferring pollen. To insure cross-fertilization, the
flower first develops its anthers, whose saw-edges grating
against the visitors thorax, aid in sifting out the dry pollen;
and later the style, which when immature clung to the top of the
corolla, lowers its receptive stigma to oppose the bee's
entrance. Professor Robertson has frequently detected the common
wasp nipping holes with her sharp jaws in the base of the tube.
With remarkable intelligence she invariably chose to insert her
tongue at the precise spots where the nectar is stored on either
side of the sterile filament.

  (Collinsia verna)  Figwort family

Flowers - On slender, weak stalks; whorled in axils of upper
leaves. Blue on lower lip of corolla, its middle lobe folded
lengthwise to enclose 4 adhering stamens and pistil; upper lip
white, with scalloped margins; corolla from 1/2 to 3/4 in. long,
its throat about equaling the deeply 5-cleft calyx. Stem: Hoary,
slender, simple or branched, from 6 in. to 2 ft. high. Leaves:
Thin, opposite; upper and more acute ones clasping the stem;
lower, ovate ones on short petioles. Fruit: A round capsule to
which the enlarged calyx adheres.
Preferred Habitat - Moist meadows, woods, and thickets. Flowering
Season - April-June.
Distribution - Western New York and Pennsylvania to Wisconsin,
Kentucky, and Indian Territory.

Next of kin to the great Paulonia tree, whose deliciously sweet,
vanilla-scented, trumpet-shaped violet flowers are happily fast
becoming as common here as in their native Japan, what has this
fragile, odorless blossom of the meadows in common with it?
Apparently nothing; but superficial appearances count for little
or nothing among scientists, to whom the structure of floral
organs is of prime importance; and analysis instantly shows the
close relationship between these dissimilar-looking cousins. Even
without analysis one can readily see that the monkey flower is
not far removed.

Because few writers have arisen as yet in the newly settled
regions of the middle West and Southwest, where blue-eyed Mary
dyes acres of meadow land with her heavenly color, her praises
are little sung in the books, but are loudly buzzed by myriads of
bees that are her most devoted lovers. "I regard the flower as
especially adapted to the early flying bees with abdominal
collecting brushes for pollen - i.e., species of Osmia - and
these bees," says Professor Robertson of Illinois, "although not
the exclusive visitors, are far more abundant and important than
all the other visitors together." For them are the brownish marks
on the palate provided as pathfinders. At the pressure of their
strong heads the palate yields to give them entrance, and at
their removal it springs back to protect the pollen against the
inroads of flies, mining bees, and beetles. As the longer stamens
shed their pollen before the shorter ones mature theirs, bees
must visit the flower several times to collect it all.

  (Minulus ringens)  Figwort family

Flowers - Purple, violet, or lilac, rarely whitish; about 1 in.
long, solitary, borne on slender footstems from axils of upper
leaves. Calyx prismatic, 5-angled, 5-toothed; corolla irregular,
tubular, narrow in throat, 2-lipped; upper lip 2-lobed, erect;
under lip 3-lobed, spreading; 4 stamens, a long and a short pair,
inserted on corolla tube; pistil with 2-lobed, plate-like stigma.
Stem: Square, erect, usually branched, 1 to 3 ft. high. Leaves:
Opposite, oblong to lance-shaped, saw-edged, mostly seated on
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, beside streams and ponds.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Manitoba, Nebraska, and Texas, eastward to
Atlantic Ocean.

No wader is the square-stemmed Monkey-flower whose grinning
corolla peers at one from grassy tuffets in swamps, from the
brookside, the springy soil of low meadows, and damp hollows
beside the road; but moisture it must have to fill its nectary
and to soften the ground for the easier transit of its creeping
rootstock. Imaginative eyes see what appears to them the gaping
(ringens) face of a little ape or buffoon (mimulus) in this
common flower whose drolleries, such as they are, call forth the
only applause desired - the buzz of insects that become
pollen-laden during the entertainment.

Now the advanced stigma of this flower is peculiarly irritable,
and closes up on contact with an incoming visitor's body, thus
exposing the pollen-laden anthers behind it, and, except in rare
cases, preventing self-fertilization. Delpino was the first to
guess what advantage so sensitive a stigma might mean. Probably
the smaller bees find the tube too long for their short tongues.
The yellow palate, which partially guards the entrance to the
nectary from pilferers, of course serves also as a pathfinder to
the long-tongued bees.

  (Veronica Americana)  Figwort family

Flowers - Light blue to white, usually striped with deep blue or
purple structure of flower similar to that of V. officinalis, but
borne in long, loose racemes branching outward on stems that
spring from axils of most of the leaves. Stem: Without hairs,
usually branched, 6 in. to 3 ft. long, lying partly on ground and
rooting from lower joints. Leaves: Oblong, lance-shaped,
saw-edged, opposite, petioled, and lacking hairs; 1 to 3 in.
long, 1/4 to 1 in. wide. Fruit: A nearly round, compressed, but
not flat, capsule with flat seeds in 2 cells.
Preferred Habitat - In brooks, ponds, ditches, swamps.
Flowering Season - April-September.
Distribution - From Atlantic to Pacific, Alaska to California and
New Mexico, Quebec to Pennsylvania.

This, the perhaps most beautiful native speedwell, whose sheets
of blue along the brookside are so frequently mistaken for masses
of forget-me-nots by the hasty observer, of course shows marked
differences on closer investigation; its tiny blue flowers are
marked with purple pathfinders, and the plant is not hairy, to
mention only two. But the poets of England are responsible for
most of whatever confusion stills lurks in the popular mind
concerning these two flowers. Speedwell, a common medieval
benediction from a friend, equivalent to our farewell or adieu,
and forget - me-not of similar intent, have been used
interchangeably by some writers in connection with parting gifts
of small blue flowers. It was the germander speedwell that in
literature and botanies alike was most commonly known as the
forget-me-not for over two hundred years, or until only fifty
years ago. When the "Mayflower" and her sister ships were
launched; "Speedwell" was considered a happier name for a vessel
than it proved to be.

The WATER SPEEDWELL, or PIMPERNEL (V. Anagallis-aquatica),
differs from the preceding chiefly in having most of its leaves
seated on the stalk, only the lower ones possessing stems, and
those short ones. In autumn the increased growth of sterile
shoots from runners produce almost circular leaves, often two
inches broad, a certain aid to identification.

Another close relation, the MARSH or SKULLCAP SPEEDWELL (V.
scutellata), on the other hand, has long, very slender, acute
leaves, their teeth far apart; and as these three species are the
only members of their clan likely to be found in watery places
within our limits, a close examination of the leaves of any
water-loving plant bearing small four-lobed blue flowers, usually
marked with lines of a deeper blue or purple, should enable one
to correctly name the species. None of these blossoms can be
carried far after being picked; they have a tantalizing habit of
dropping off, leaving a bouquet of tiny green calices chiefly.

Many kinds of bees, wasps, flies, and butterflies fertilize all
these little flowers, which are first staminate, then pistillate,
simply by crawling over them in search of nectar.

  (Veronica officinalis)  Figwort family

Flowers - Pale blue, very small, crowded on spike-like racemes
from axils of leaves, often from alternate axils. Calyx 4-parted;
corolla of 4 lobes, lower lobe commonly narrowest ; 2 divergent
stamens inserted at base and on either side of upper corolla lobe
; a knob-like stigma on solitary pistil. Stem: From 3 to 10 in.
long, hairy, often prostrate, and rooting at joints. Leaves:
Opposite, oblong, obtuse, saw-edged, narrowed at base. Fruit:
Compressed heart-shaped capsule, containing numerous flat seeds.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, uplands, open woods.
Flowering Season - May-August.
Distribution - From Michigan and Tennessee eastward, also from
Ontario to Nova Scotia. Probably an immigrant from Europe and

An ancient tradition of the Roman Church relates that when Jesus
was on His way to Calvary, He passed the home of a certain Jewish
maiden, who, when she saw the drops of agony on His brow, ran
after Him along the road to wipe His face with her kerchief. This
linen, the monks declared, ever after bore the impress of the
sacred features - vera iconica, the true likeness. When the
Church wished to canonize the pitying maiden, an abbreviated form
of the Latin words was given her, St. Veronica, and her kerchief
became one of the most precious relics at St. Peter's, where it
is said to be still preserved. Medieval flower lovers, whose
piety seems to have been eclipsed only by their imaginations,
named this little flower from a fancied resemblance to the relic.
Of course, special healing virtue was attributed to the square of
pictured linen, and since all could not go to Rome to be cured by
it, naturally the next step was to employ the common, wayside
plant that bore the saint's name. Mental healers will not be
surprised to learn that because of the strong popular belief in
its efficacy to cure all fleshly ills, it actually seemed to
possess miraculous powers. For scrofula it was said to be the
infallible remedy, and presently we find Linnaeus grouping this
flower, and all its relatives under the family name of
Scrofulariaceae. "What's in a name?" Religion, theology,
medicine, folk-lore, metaphysics, what not?

One of the most common wild flowers in England is this same
familiar little blossom of that lovely shade of blue known by
Chinese artists as "the sky after rain." "The prettiest of all
humble roadside flowers I saw," says Burroughs, in "A Glance at
British Wild Flowers." "It is prettier than the violet, and
larger and deeper colored than our houstonia. It is a small and
delicate edition of our hepatica, done in indigo blue, and wonted
to the grass in the fields and by the waysides.

    'The little speedwell's darling blue'

sings Tennyson. I saw it blooming with the daisy and buttercup
upon the grave of Carlyle. The tender human and poetic element of
his stern, rocky nature was well expressed by it."

Only as it grows in masses is the speedwell conspicuous - a
sufficient reason for its habit of forming colonies and of
gathering its insignificant blossoms together into dense spikes,
since by these methods it issues a flaunting advertisement of its
nectar. The flower that simplifies dining for insects has its
certain reward in rapidly increased and vigorous descendants. To
save repetition, the reader interested in the process of
fertilization is referred to the account of the Maryland figwort,
since many members of the large family to which both belong
employ the same method of economizing pollen and insuring fertile
seed. In this case visitors have only to crawl over the tiny

>From Labrador to Alaska, throughout almost every section of the
United States, in South America, Europe, and Asia, roams the
THYME-LEAVED SPEEDWELL (V. serpyllifolia), by the help of its
numerous flat seeds, that are easily transported on the wind, and
by its branching stem, that lies partly on the ground, rooting
where the joints touch earth. The small oval leaves, barely half
an inch long, grow in pairs. The tiny blue, or sometimes white,
flowers, with dark pathfinders to the nectary, are borne on
spike-like racemes at the ends of the stem and branches that rear
themselves upward in fields and thickets to display their bloom
before the passing bee.

  (Thalesia uniflora; Aphyllon uniflorum of Gray)  Broom-rape

Flowers - Violet, rarely white, delicately fragrant, solitary at
end of erect, glandular peduncles. Calyx hairy, bell-shaped,
5-toothed, not half the length of corolla, which is 1 in. or less
long, with curved tube spreading into 2 lips, 5-lobed,
yellow-bearded within; 4 stamens, in pairs, inserted on tube of
corolla ; 1 pistil. Stem: About 1 in. long, scaly, often entirely
underground; the 1 to 4 brownish scape-like peduncles, on which
flowers are borne, from 3 to 8 in. high. Leaves: None. Fruit: An
elongated, egg-shaped, 1-celled capsule containing numerous
Preferred Habitat - Damp woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - British Possessions and United States from coast
to coast, southward to Virginia, and Texas.

A curious, beautiful parasite, fastened on the roots of honest
plants from which it draws its nourishment. The ancestors of this
species, having deserted the path of rectitude ages ago to live
by piracy, gradually lost the use of their leaves, upon which
virtuous plants depend as upon a part of their digestive
apparatus; they grew smaller and smaller, shriveled and dried,
until now that the one-flowered broom-rape sucks its food,
rendered already digestible through another's assimilation, no
leaves remain on its brownish scapes. Disuse of any talent in the
vegetable kingdom, as in the spiritual, leads to inevitable loss:
"Unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath
not, even that he hath shall be taken away."

  (Ruellia ciliosa)  Acanthus family

Flowers - Pale violet blue, showy, about 2 in. long, solitary or
clustered in the axils or at the end of stem. Calyx of 5
bristle-shaped hairy segments; corolla with very slender tube
expanding above in 5 nearly equal obtuse lobes; stamens 4; pistil
with recurved style. Stem: Hairy, especially above, erect, 1 to 2
1/2 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite, oblong, narrowed at apex, entire,
covered with soft white hairs.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - New Jersey southward to the Gulf and westward to
Michigan and Nebraska.

Many charming ruellias from the tropics adorn hothouses and
window gardens in winter; but so far north as the New Jersey pine
barrens, and westward where killing frosts occur, this perennial
proves to be perfectly hardy. In addition to its showy blossoms,
which so successfully invite insects to transfer their pollen,
thereby counteracting the bad effects of close inbreeding, the
plant bears inconspicuous cleistogamous or blind ones also. These
look like arrested buds that never open; but, being fertilized
with their own pollen, ripen abundant seed nevertheless.

One frequently finds holes bitten in these flowers, as in so many
others long of tube or spur. Bumblebees, among the most
intelligent and mischievous of insects, are apt to be the chief
offenders; but wasps are guilty too, and the female carpenter
bee, which ordinarily slits holes to extract nectar, has been
detected in the act of removing circular pieces of the corolla
from this ruellia with which to plug up a thimble-shaped tube in
some decayed tree. Here she deposits an egg on top of a layer of
baby food, consisting of a paste of pollen and nectar, and seals
up the nursery with another bit of leaf or flower, repeating the
process until the long tunnel is filled with eggs and food for
larvae. Then she dies, leaving her entire race apparently
extinct, and living only in embryo for months. This is the bee
which commonly cuts her round plugs from rose leaves.

The SMOOTH RUELLIA (R. strepens), an earlier bloomer than the
preceding, and with a more southerly range, has a shorter,
thicker tube to its handsome blue flower, and lacks the hairs
which guard its relative from crawling pilferers.

  (Houstonia caerulea)  Madder family

Flowers - Very small, light to purplish blue or white, with
yellow center, and borne at end of each erect slender stem that
rises from 3 to 7 in. high. Corolla funnel-shaped, with 4 oval,
pointed, spreading lobes that equal the slender tube in length;
rarely the corolla has more divisions; 4 stamens inserted on tube
of corolla; 2 stigmas; calyx 4-lobed. Leaves: Opposite, seated on
stem, oblong, tiny; the lower ones spatulate. Fruit: A 2-lobed
pod, broader than long, its upper half free from calyx; seeds
deeply concave. Root stock: Slender, spreading, forming dense
Preferred Habitat - Moist meadows, wet rocks and banks.
Flowering Season - April-July, or sparsely through summer.
Distribution - Eastern Canada and United States west to Michigan,
south to Georgia and Alabama.

Millions of these dainty wee flowers, scattered through the grass
of moist meadows and by the wayside, reflect the blue and the
serenity of heaven in their pure, upturned faces. Where the white
variety grows, one might think a light snowfall had powdered the
grass, or a milky way of tiny floral stars had streaked a
terrestrial path. Linnaeus named the flower for Dr. Houston, a
young English physician, botanist, and collector, who died in
South America in 1733, after an exhausting tramp about the Gulf
of Mexico.

To secure cross-fertilization, the object toward which so much
marvelous floral organism is directed, this little plant puts
forth two forms of blossoms - one with the stamens in the lower
portion of the corolla tube, and the stigmas exserted; the other
form with the stigmas below, and the stamens elevated to the
mouth of the corolla. But the two kinds do not grow in the same
patch, seed from either producing after its kind. Many insects
visit these blossoms, but chiefly small bees and butterflies.
Conspicuous among the latter is the common little meadow
fritillary (Brenthis bellona), whose tawny, dark-speckled wings
expand and close in apparent ecstasy as he tastes the tiny drop
of nectar in each dainty enameled cup. Coming to feast with his
tongue dusted from anthers nearest the nectary, he pollenizes the
large stigmas of a short-styled blossom without touching its tall
anthers. But it is evident that he could not be depended on to
fertilize the long-styled form, with its smaller stigma, because
of this ability to insert his slender tongue from the side where
it avoids contact. Flies and beetles enter the blossoms, but
small bees are best adapted as all-round benefactors. This
simple-looking blossom, that measures barely half an inch across,
is clever enough to multiply its lovely species a thousand fold,
while many a larger, and therefore one might suppose a wiser,
flower dwindles toward extinction.

John Burroughs found a single bluet in blossom one January, near
Washington, when the clump of earth on which it grew was frozen
solid. A pot of roots gathered in autumn and placed in a sunny
window has sent up a little colony of star-like flowers
throughout a winter.

  (Dipsacus sylvestris)  Teasel family

Flowers - Purple or lilac, small, packed in dense, cylindric
heads, 3 to 4 in. long; growing singly on ends of footstalks, the
flowers set among stiffly pointed, slender scales. Calyx
cup-shaped, 4-toothed. Corolla 4-lobed; stamens 4; leaves of
involucre, slender, bristled, curved upward as high as
flower-head or beyond. Stems: 3 to 6 ft. high, stout, branched,
leafy, with numerous short prickles. Leaves: Opposite,
lance-shaped, seated on stem, with bristles along the stout
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides and waste places.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Maine to Virginia, westward to Ontario and the
Mississippi. Europe and Asia.

Manufacturers find that no invention can equal the natural teasel
head for raising a nap on woolen cloth, because it breaks at any
serious obstruction, whereas a metal substitute, in such a case,
tears the material. Accordingly, the plant is largely cultivated
in the west of England, and quantities that have been imported
from France and Germany may be seen in wagons on the way to the
factories in any of the woolen-trade towns. After the
flower-heads wither, the stems are cut about eight inches long,
stripped of prickles, to provide a handle, and after drying, the
natural tool is ready for use.

Bristling with armor, the teasel is not often attacked by
browsing cattle. Occasionally even the upper leaf surfaces are
dotted over with prickles enough to tear a tender tongue. This is
a curious feature, for prickles usually grow out of veins. In the
receptacle formed where the bases of the upper leaves grow
together, rain and dew are found collected - a certain cure for
warts, country people say. Venus' Cup, Bath, or Basin, and Water
Thistle, are a few of the teasel's folk names earned by its
curious little tank. In it many small insects are drowned, and
these are supposed to contribute nourishment to the plant; for
Mr. Francis Darwin has noted that protoplasmic filaments reach
out into the liquid.

Owing to the stiff spines which radiate from the flower cluster,
the bumblebees, which principally fertilize it, can reach the
florets only with their heads, and not pollenize them by merely
crawling over them as in the true compositae. But by first
maturing its anthers, then when they have shed their pollen,
elevating its stigmas, the teasel prevents self-fertilization.

  (Campanula rotundifolia)  Bellflower family

Flowers - Bright blue or violet blue, bell-shaped, 1/2 in. long
or over, drooping from hair-like stalks. Calyx of 5-pointed,
narrow, spreading lobes; slender stamens alternate with lobes of
corolla, and borne on summit of calyx tube, which is adherent to
ovary; pistil with 3 stigmas in maturity only. Stem: Very
slender, 6 in. to 3 ft. high, often several from same root;
simple or branching. Leaves: Lower ones nearly round, usually
withered and gone by flowering season; stem leaves narrow,
pointed, seated on stem. Fruit: An egg-shaped, pendent, 3-celled
capsule with short openings near base; seeds very numerous, tiny.
Preferred Habitat - Moist rocks, uplands.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and America;
southward on this continent, through Canada to New Jersey and
Pennsylvania; westward to Nebraska, to Arizona in the Rockies,
and to California in the Sierra Nevadas.

The inaccessible crevice of a precipice, moist rocks sprayed with
the dashing waters of a lake or some tumbling mountain stream,
wind-swept upland meadows, and shady places by the roadside may
hold bright bunches of these hardy bells, swaying with exquisite
grace on tremulous, hair-like stems that are fitted to withstand
the fiercest mountain blasts, however frail they appear. How
dainty, slender, tempting these little flowers are! One gladly
risks a watery grave or broken bones to bring down a bunch from
its aerial cranny.

It was a long stride forward in the evolutionary scale when the
harebell welded its five once separate petals together; first at
the base, then farther and farther up the sides, until a solid
bell-shaped structure resulted. This arrangement which makes
insect fertilization a more certain process because none of the
pollen is lost through apertures, and because the visitor must
enter the flower only at the vital point where the stigmas come
in contact with his pollen-laden body, has given to all the
flowers that have attained to it, marked ascendency.

Like most inverted blossoms, the harebell hangs its head to
protect its nectar and pollen, not only from rain, but from the
intrusion of undesirable crawling insects which would simply
brush off its pollen in the grass before reaching the pistil of
another flower, and so defeat cross-fertilization, the end and
aim of so many blossoms. Advertising for winged insects by its
bright color, the harebell attracts bees, butterflies, and many
others. These visitors cannot well walk on the upright petals,
and sooner or later must clasp the pistil if they would secure
the nectar secreted at the base. In doing so, they will dust
themselves and the immature pistil with the pollen from the
surrounding anthers; but a newly opened flower is incapable of
fertilization. The pollen, although partially discharged in the
unopened bud, is prevented from falling out by a coat of hairs on
the upper part of the style. By the time all the pollen has been
removed by visitors, however, and the stamens which matured early
have withered, the pistil has grown longer, until it looks like
the clapper in a bell; the stigma at its top has separated into
three horizontal lobes which, being sticky on the under side, a
pollen-laden insect on entering the bell must certainly brush
against them and render them fertile. But bumblebees, its chief
benefactors, and others may not have done their duty by the
flower; what then? Why, the stigmas in that case finally bend
backward to reach the left over pollen, and fertilize themselves,
obviously the next best thing for them to do. How one's reverence
increases when one begins to understand, be it ever so little of,
the divine plan!

"Probably the most striking blue and purple wild flowers we
have," says John Burroughs, "are of European origin. These
colors, except with the fall asters and gentians, seem rather
unstable in our flora." This theory is certainly borne out in the
rapunculoides), now detected in the act of escaping from gardens
from New Brunswick to Ontario, Southern New York, Pennsylvania,
and Ohio, and making itself very much at home in our fields and
along the waysides. Compared with the delicate little harebell,
it is a plant of rank, rigid habit. Its erect, rather stout stem,
set with elongated oval, hairy, alternate leaves, and crowned
with a one-sided raceme of widely expanded, purple-blue bells
rising about two feet above the ground, has little of the
exquisite grace of its cousin. It blooms from July to September.
This is the species whose roots are eaten by the omnivorous
European peasant.

One of the few native campanulas, the TALL BELLFLOWER (C.
Americana), waves long, slender wands studded with blue or
sometimes whitish flowers high above the ground of moist thickets
and woods throughout the eastern half of this country, but rarely
near the sea. Doubtless the salt air, which intensifies the color
of so many flowers, would brighten its rather slatey blue. The
corolla, which is flat, round, about an inch across, and deeply
cleft into five pointed petals, has the effect of a miniature
pinwheel in motion. Mature flowers have the style elongated, bent
downward, then curved upward, that the stigmas may certainly be
in the way of the visiting insect pollen-laden from an earlier
bloomer, and be cross-fertilized. The larger bees, its
benefactors, which visit it for nectar, touch only the upper side
of the style, on which they must alight; but the anthers waste
pollen by shedding it on all sides. No insect can take shelter
from rain or pass the night in this flower, as he frequently does
in its more hospitable relative, the harebell. English gardeners,
more appreciative than our own of our native flora, frequently
utilize this charming plant in their rockwork, increasing their
stock by a division of the dense, leafy rosettes.

  (Legouzia perfoliata; Specularia perfoliata of Gray)
Bellflower family

Flowers - Violet blue, from 1/2 to 3/4 in. across; solitary or 2
or 3 together, seated, in axils of upper leaves. Calyx lobes
varying from 3 to 5 in earlier and later flowers, acute, rigid;
corolla a 5-spoked wheel; 5 stamens; pistil with 3 stigmas. Stem:
6 in. to 2 ft. long, hairy, densely leafy, slender, weak. Leaves:
Round, clasped about stem by heart-shaped base.
Preferred Habitat - Sterile waste places, dry woods.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - From British Columbia, Oregon, and Mexico, east to
Atlantic Ocean.

At the top of a gradually lengthened and apparently overburdened
leafy stalk, weakly leaning upon surrounding vegetation, a few
perfect blossoms spread their violet wheels, while below them
insignificant earlier flowers, which, although they have never
opened, nor reared their heads above the hollows of the little
shell-like leaves where they lie secluded, have, nevertheless,
been producing seed without imported pollen while their showy
sisters slept. But the later blooms, by attracting insects, set
cross-fertilized seed to counteract any evil tendencies that
might weaken the species if it depended upon self-fertilization
only. When the European Venus' looking-glass used to be
cultivated in gardens here, our grandmothers tell us it was
altogether too prolific, crowding out of existence its less
fruitful, but more lovely, neighbors.

The SMALL VENUS' LOOKING-GLASS (L. biflora), of similar habit to
the preceding, but with egg-shaped or oblong leaves seated on,
not clasping, its smooth and very slender stem, grows in the
South and westward to California.

  (Lobelia syphilitica)  Bellflower family

Flowers - Bright blue, touched with white, fading to pale blue,
about 1 in. long, borne on tall, erect, leafy spike. Calyx
5-parted, the lobes sharply cut, hairy. Corolla tubular, open to
base on one side, 2-lipped, irregularly 5-lobed, the petals
pronounced at maturity only. Stamens 5, united by their hairy
anthers into a tube around the style; larger anthers smooth.
Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, stout, simple, leafy, slightly hairy.
Leaves: Alternate, oblong, tapering, pointed, irregularly
toothed, 2 to 6 in. long, 1/2 to 2 in. wide.
Preferred Habitat - Moist or wet soil; beside streams.
Flowering Season - July-October
Distribution - Ontario and northern United States west to Dakota,
south to Kansas and Georgia.

To the evolutionist, ever on the lookout for connecting links,
the lobelias form an interesting group, because their corolla,
slit down the upper side and somewhat flattened, shows the
beginning of the tendency toward the strap or ray flowers that
are nearly confined to the composites of much later development,
of course, than tubular single blossoms. Next to massing their
flowers in showy heads, as the composites do, the lobelias have
the almost equally advantageous plan of crowding theirs along a
stem so as to make a conspicuous advertisement to attract the
passing bee and to offer him the special inducement of numerous
feeding places close together.

The handsome GREAT LOBELIA, constantly and invidiously compared
with its gorgeous sister the cardinal flower, suffers unfairly.
When asked what his favorite color was, Eugene Field replied:
"Why, I like any color at all so long as it's red!" Most men, at
least, agree with him, and certainly hummingbirds do; our
scarcity of red flowers being due, we must believe, to the
scarcity of hummingbirds, which chiefly fertilize them. But how
bees love the blue blossoms!

There are many cases where the pistil of a flower necessarily
comes in contact with its own pollen, yet fertilization does not
take place, however improbable this may appear. Most orchids, for
example, are not susceptible to their own pollen. It would seem
as if our lobelia, in elevating its stigma through the ring
formed by the united anthers, must come in contact with some of
the pollen they have previously discharged from their tips, not
only on the bumblebee that shakes it out of them when he jars the
flower, but also within the tube. But when the anthers are
mature, the two lobes of the still immature stigma are pressed
together, and cannot be fertilized. Nevertheless, the hairy tips
of some of the anthers brush off the pollen grains that may have
lodged on the stigma as it passes through the ring in its ascent,
thus making surety doubly sure. Only after the stigma projects
beyond the ring of anthers does it expand its lobes, which are
now ready to receive pollen brought from another later flower by
the incoming bumblebee to which it is adapted.

Linnaeus named this group of plants for Matthias de l'Obel, a
Flemish botanist, or herbalist more likely, who became physician
to James I. of England.

Preferably in dry, sandy soil or in meadows, and over a wide
range, the slender, straight shoots of PALE SPIKED LOBELIA (L.
spicata) bloom early and throughout the summer months, the
inflorescence itself sometimes reaching a height of two feet. At
the base of the plant there is usually a tuft of broadly oblong
leaves; those higher up narrow first into spoon-shaped, then into
pointed, bracts, along the thick and gradually lengthened spike
of scattered bloom. The flowers are oft en pale enough to be
called white. Like their relatives, they first ripen their
anthers to prevent self-fertilization.

The lithe, graceful little BROOK LOBELIA (L. Kalmii), whose
light-blue flowers, at the end of thread-like footstems, form a
loose raceme, sways with a company of its fellows among the grass
on wet banks, beside meadow runnels and brooks, particularly in
limestone soil, from Nova Scotia to the Northwest Territory and
southward to New Jersey. It bears an insignificant capsule, not
inflated like the Indian tobacco's; and long, narrow,
spoon-shaped leaves. Twenty inches is the greatest height this
little plant may hope to attain.

Not only beside water, and in it, but often totally immersed,
grows the WATER LOBELIA or GLADIOLE (L. Dortmanna). The slender,
hollow, smooth stem rises from a submerged tuft of round, hollow,
fleshy leaves longitudinally divided by a partition, and bears at
the top a scattered array of pale-blue flowers from August to

  (Lobelia inflata)  Bellflower family

Flowers - Pale blue or violet, small, borne at short intervals in
spike-like leafy racemes. Calyx 5-parted, its awl-shaped lobes
1/4 in. long, or as long as the tubular, 2-lipped, 5-cleft,
corolla that opens to base of tube on upper side. Stamens, 5
united by their hairy anthers into a ring around the 2-lobed
style. Stem: From 1 to 3 feet high, hairy, very acrid, much
branched, leafy. Leaves: Alternate, oblong or ovate, toothed, the
upper ones acute, seated on stem; lower ones obtuse, petioled, to
2 1/2 in. long. Fruit: A much inflated, rounded, ribbed, many
seeded capsule.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields and thickets; poor soil.
Flowering Season - July-November.
Distribution - Labrador westward to the Missouri River, south to
Arkansas and Georgia.

The most stupid of the lower animals knows enough to let this
poisonous, acrid plant alone; but not so man, who formerly made a
quack medicine from it in the days when a drug that set one's
internal organism on fire was supposed to be especially
beneficial. One taste of the plant gives a realizing sense of its
value as an emetic. How the red man enjoyed smoking and chewing
the bitter leaves, except for the drowsiness that followed, is a

On account of the smallness of its flowers and their scantiness,
the Indian tobacco is perhaps the least attractive of the
lobelias, none of which has so inflated a seed vessel, the
distinguishing characteristic of this common plant.

  (Cichorium Intybus)  Chicory family

Flower-head - Bright, deep azure to gray blue, rarely pinkish or
white, 1 to 1 1/2 in. broad, set close to stem, often in small
clusters for nearly the entire length; each head a composite of
ray flowers only, 5-toothed at upper edge, and set in a flat
green receptacle. Stem: Rigid, branching, to 3 ft. high. Leaves:
Lower ones spreading on ground, 3 to 6 in. long, spatulate, with
deeply cut or irregular edges, narrowed into petioles, from a
deep tap-root; upper leaves of stem and branches minute,
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, waste places, fields.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribuition - Common in Eastern United States and Canada, south
to the Carolinas; also sparingly westward to Nebraska.

At least the dried and ground root of this European invader is
known to hosts of people who buy it undisguised or not, according
as they count it an improvement to their coffee or a disagreeable
adulterant. So great is the demand for chicory that,
notwithstanding its cheapness, it is often in its turn
adulterated with roasted wheat, rye, acorns, and carrots. Forced
and blanched in a warm, dark place, the bitter leaves find a
ready market as a salad known as "barbe de Capucin" by the
fanciful French. Endive and dandelion, the chicory's relatives,
appear on the table too, in spring, where people have learned the
possibilities of salads, as they certainly have in Europe.

>From the depth to which the tap-root penetrates, it is not
unlikely the succory derived its name from the Latin succurrere =
to run under. The Arabic name chicourey testifies to the almost
universal influence of Arabian physicians and writers in Europe
after the Conquest. As chicoree, achicoria, chicoria, cicorea,
chicorie, cichorei, cikorie, tsikorei, and cicorie the plant is
known respectively to the French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians,
Germans, Dutch, Swedes, Russians, and Danes.

On cloudy days or in the morning only throughout midsummer the
"peasant posy" opens its "dear blue eyes"

     "Where tired feet
      Toil to and fro;
      Where flaunting Sin
      May see thy heavenly hue,
      Or weary Sorrow look from thee
      Toward a tenderer blue!"
                          - Margaret Deland.

In his "Humble Bee" Emerson, too, sees only beauty in the
"Succory to match the sky;" but, mirabile dictu, Vergil, rarely
caught in a prosaic, practical mood, wrote, "And spreading
succ'ry chokes the rising field."

  (Vernonia Noveboracensis)  Thistle family.

Flower-head - Composite of tubular florets only, intense
reddish-purple thistle-like heads, borne on short, branched
peduncles and forming broad, flat clusters; bracts of involucre,
brownish purple, tipped with awl-shaped bristles. Stem: 3 to 9
ft. high, rough or hairy, branched. Leaves: Alternate, narrowly
oblong or lanceolate, saw-edged, 3 to 10 in. long, rough.
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil, meadows, fields.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Massachusetts to Georgia, and westward to the

Emerson says a weed is a plant whose virtues we have not yet
discovered; but surely it is no small virtue in the iron-weed to
brighten the roadsides and low meadows throughout the summer with
bright clusters of bloom. When it is on the wane, the asters, for
which it is sometimes mistaken, begin to appear, but an instant's
comparison shows the difference between the two flowers. After
noting the yellow disk in the center of an aster, it is not
likely the iron-weed's thistle-like head of ray florets only will
ever again be confused with it. Another rank-growing neighbor
with which it has been confounded by the novice is the Joe Pye
weed, a far paler, pinkish flower.

To each tiny floret, secreting nectar in its tube, many insects,
attracted by the bright color of the iron-weed standing high
above surrounding vegetation, come to feast. Long-lipped bees and
flies rest awhile for refreshment, but butterflies of many
beautiful kinds are by far the most abundant visitors. Pollen
carried out by the long, hairy styles as they extend to maturity
must attach itself to their tongues. The tiger swallow-tail
butterfly appears to have a special preference for this flower.
(See Self-Heal.)

  (Lacinaria squarrosa; Liatris squarrosa of Gray)  Thistle

Flower-heads - Composite, about 1 in. long, bright purple or rose
purple, of tubular florets only, from an involucre of
overlapping, rigid, pointed bracts; each of the few flower-heads
from the leaf axils along a slender stem in a wand-like raceme.
Stem: 1/2 to 2 ft. high. Leaves: Alternate, narrow, entire.
Preferred habitat - Dry, rich soil.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Ontario to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to

Beginning at the top, the apparently fringed flower-heads open
downward along the wand, whose length depends upon the richness
of the soil. All of the flowers are perfect and attract
long-tongued bees and flies (especially Exoprosopa fasciata) and
butterflies, which, as they sip from the corolla tube, receive
the pollen carried out and exposed on the long divisions of the
style. Some people have pretended to cure rattlesnake bites with
applications of the globular tuber of this and the next species.

scariosa), may attain six feet, but usually not more than half
that height; and its round flower-heads normally stand well away
from the stout stem on foot-stems of their own. The bristling
scales of the involucre, often tinged with purple at the tips,
are a conspicuous feature. With much the same range and choice of
habitat as the last species, this Blazing Star is a later
bloomer, coming into flower in August, and helping the goldenrods
and asters brighten the landscape throughout the early autumn.
The name of gay feather, miscellaneously applied to several
blazing stars, is especially deserved by this showy beauty of the

Unlike others of its class, the DENSE BUTTON SNAKEROOT, DEVIL'S
spicata), the commonest species we have, chooses moist soil, even
salt marshes near the coast, and low meadows throughout a range
nearly corresponding with that of the scaly blazing star.
Resembling its relatives in general manner of growth, we note
that its oblong involucre, rounded at the base, has blunt, not
sharply pointed, bracts; that the flower-heads are densely set
close to the wand for from four to fifteen inches; that the five
to thirteen bright rose-purple florets which compose each head
occasionally come white; that its leaves are long and very
narrow, and that October is not too late to find the plant in

  Thistle family

Evolution teaches us that thistles, daisies, sunflowers, asters,
and all the triumphant horde of composites were once very
different flowers from what we see today. Through ages of natural
selection of the fittest among their ancestral types, having
finally arrived at the most successful adaptation of their
various parts to their surroundings in the whole floral kingdom,
they are now overrunning the earth. Doubtless the aster's remote
ancestors were simple green leaves around the vital organs, and
depended upon the wind, as the grasses do - a most extravagant
method - to transfer their pollen. Then some rudimentary flower
changed its outer row of stamens into petals, which gradually
took on color to attract insects and insure a more economical
method of transfer. Gardeners today take advantage of a blossom's
natural tendency to change stamens into petals when they wish to
produce double flowers. As flowers and insects developed side by
side, and there came to be a better and better understanding
between them of each other's requirements, mutual adaptation
followed. The flower that offered the best advertisement, as the
composites do, by its showy rays; that secreted nectar in tubular
flowers where no useless insect could pilfer it; that fastened
its stamens to the inside wall of the tube where they must dust
with pollen the underside of every insect, unwittingly
cross-fertilizing the blossom as he crawled over it; that massed
a great number of these tubular florets together where insects
might readily discover them and feast with the least possible
loss of time - this flower became the winner in life's race.
Small wonder that our June fields are white with daisies and the
autumn landscape is glorified with goldenrod and asters!

Since North America boasts the greater part of the two hundred
and fifty asters named by scientists, and as variations in many
of our common species frequently occur, the tyro need expect no
easy task in identifying every one he meets afield. However, the
following are possible acquaintances to everyone:

In dry, shady places the LARGE or BROAD-LEAVED ASTER (A.
macrophyllus), so called from its three or four conspicuous,
heart-shaped leaves on long petioles, in a clump next the ground,
may be more easily identified by these than by the pale lavender
or violet flower-heads of about sixteen rays each which crown its
reddish angular stem in August and September. The disk turns
reddish brown.

In prairie soil, especially about the edges of woods in western
New York, southward and westward to Texas and Minnesota, the
beautiful SKY-BLUE ASTER (A. azureus) blooms from August till
after frost. Its slender, stiff, rough stem branches above to
display the numerous bright blue flowers, whose ten to twenty
rays measure only about a quarter of an inch in length. The upper
leaves are reduced to small flat bracts; the next are linear; and
the lower ones, which approach a heart shape, are rough on both
sides, and may be five or six inches long.

Much more branched and bushy is the COMMON BLUE, BRANCHING, WOOD,
or HEART-LEAVED ASTER (A. cordifolius), whose generous masses of
small, pale lavender flower-heads look like a mist hanging from
one to five feet above the earth in and about the woods and shady
roadsides from September even to December in favored places.

has a stiff, rough, hairy, widely branching stalk, whose thick,
rough lowest leaves are heart-shaped and set on long foot-stems;
above these, the leaves have shorter stems, dilating where they
clasp the stalk; the upper leaves, lacking stems, are seated on
it, while those of the branches are shaped like tiny awls. The
flowers, which measure less than an inch across, often grow along
one side of an axis as well as in the usual raceme. Eight to
fifteen pale blue to violet rays surround the disks which, yellow
at first, become reddish brown in maturity. We find the plant in
dry soil, blooming in September and October.

By no means tardy, the LATE PURPLE ASTER, so-called, or PURPLE
DAISY (A. patens), begins to display its purplish-blue,
daisy-like flower-heads early in August, and farther north may be
found in dry, exposed places only until October. Rarely the
solitary flowers, that are an inch across or more, are a deep,
rich violet. The twenty to thirty rays which surround the disk,
curling inward to dry, expose the vase-shaped, green, shingled
cups that terminate each little branch. The thick, somewhat
rigid, oblong leaves, tapering at the tip, broaden at the base to
clasp the rough, slender stalk. Range similar to the next

Certainly from Massachusetts, northern New York, and Minnesota
southward to the Gulf of Mexico one may expect to find the NEW
ENGLAND ASTER or STARWORT (A. Novae-Angliae) one of the most
striking and widely distributed of the tribe, in spite of its
local name. It is not unknown in Canada. The branching clusters
of violet or magenta-purple flower-heads, from one to two inches
across - composites containing as many as forty to fifty purple
ray florets around a multitude of perfect five-lobed, tubular,
yellow disk florets in a sticky cup - shine out with royal
splendor above the swamps, moist fields, and roadsides from
August to October. The stout, bristle-hairy stem bears a quantity
of alternate lance-shaped leaves lobed at the base where they
clasp it.

In even wetter ground we find the RED-STALKED, PURPLE-STEMMED, or
puniceus) blooming as early as July or as late as November. Its
stout, rigid stem, bristling with rigid hairs, may reach a height
of eight feet to display the branching clusters of pale violet or
lavender flowers. The long, blade-like leaves, usually very rough
above and hairy along the midrib beneath, are seated on the stem.
The lovely SMOOTH or BLUE ASTER (A. laevis), whose sky-blue or
violet flower-heads, about one inch broad, are common through
September and October in dry soil and open woods, has strongly
clasping, oblong, tapering leaves, rough margined, but rarely
with a saw-tooth, toward the top of the stem, while those low
down on it gradually narrow into clasping wings.

In dry, sandy soil, mostly near the coast, from Massachusetts to
Delaware, grows one of the loveliest of all this beautiful clan,
the LOW, SHOWY, or SEASIDE PURPLE ASTER (A. spectabilis). The
stiff, usually unbranched stem does its best in attaining a
height of two feet. Above, the leaves are blade-like or narrowly
oblong, seated on the stem, whereas the tapering, oval basal
leaves are furnished with long footstems, as is customary with
most asters. The handsome, bright, violet-purple flower-heads,
measuring about an inch and a half across, have from fifteen to
thirty rays, or only about half as many as the familiar New
England aster. Season August to November.

The low-growing BOG ASTER (A. nemoralis), not to be confused with
the much taller Red-stalked species often found growing in the
same swamp, and having, like it, flower-heads measuring about an
inch and a half across, has rays that vary from light violet
purple to rose pink. Its oblong to lance-shaped leaves, only two
inches long at best, taper to a point at both ends, and are
seated on the stem. We look for this aster in sandy bogs from New
Jersey northward and westward during August and September.

(Ionactis linariifolius), now separated from the other asters
into a genus by itself, is a low, branching little plant with no
basal leaves, but some that are very narrow and blade-like,
rigid, entire and one-nerved, ascending the stiff stems. The
leaves along the branches are minute and awl-shaped, like those
on a branch of pine. Only from ten to fifteen violet ray flowers
(pistillate) surround the perfect disk florets. From Quebec to
the Gulf of Mexico, and westward beyond the Mississippi this prim
little shrub grows in tufts on dry or rocky soil, and blooms from
July to October.

  (Erigeron pulchellus; E. bellifolium of Gray)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Composite, daisy-like, 1 to 1/2 in. across; the
outer circle of about 50 pale bluish-violet ray florets; the disk
florets greenish yellow. Stem: Simple, erect, hairy, juicy,
flexible, from 10 in. to 2 ft. high, producing runners and
offsets from base. Leaves: Spatulate, in a flat tuft about the
root; stem leaves narrow, more acute, seated, or partly clasping.
Preferred Habitat - Moist ground, hills, banks, grassy fields.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - United States and Canada, east of the Mississippi.

Like an aster blooming long before its season, Robin's plantain
wears a finely cut lavender fringe around a yellow disk of minute
florets; but one of the first, not the last, in the long
procession of composites has appeared when we see gay companies
of these flowers nodding their heads above the grass in the
spring breezes as if they were village gossips.

Doubtless it was the necessity for attracting insects which led
the Robin's plantain and other composites to group a quantity of
minute florets, each one of which was once an independent,
detached blossom, into a common head. In union there is strength.
Each floret still contains, however, its own tiny drop of nectar,
its own stamens, its own pistil connected with embryonic seed
below; therefore, when an insect alights where he can get the
greatest amount of nectar for the least effort, and turns round
and round to exhaust each nectary, he is sure to dust the pistils
with pollen, and so fertilize an entire flower-head in a trice.
The lavender fringe and the hairy involucre and stem serve the
end of discouraging crawling insects, which cannot transfer
pollen from plant to plant, from pilfering sweets that cannot be
properly paid for. Small wonder that, although the composites
have attained to their socialistic practices at a comparatively
recent day as evolutionists count time, they have become as
individuals and as species the most numerous in the world; the
thistle family, dominant everywhere, containing not less than ten
thousand members.

a smaller edition of Robin's plantain, with a more findely cut
fringe, its reddish-purple ray florets often numbering one
hundred and fifty, may be found in low fields and woods
throughout North America, except in the circumpolar regions.

  (Carduus)  Thistle family

Is land fulfilling the primal curse because it brings forth
thistles? So thinks the farmer, no doubt, but not the goldfinches
which daintily feed among the fluffy seeds, nor the bees, nor the
"painted lady," which may be seen in all parts of the world where
thistles grow, hovering about the beautiful rose-purple flowers.
In the prickly cradle of leaves, the caterpillar of this thistle
butterfly weaves a web around its main food store.

When the Danes invaded Scotland, they stole a silent night march
upon the Scottish camp by marching barefoot; but a Dane
inadvertently stepped on a thistle, and his sudden, sharp cry,
arousing the sleeping Scots, saved them and their country: hence
the Scotch emblem.

>From July to November blooms the COMMON, BURR, SPEAR, PLUME,
(C. lanceolatus or Circium lanceolatum of Gray), a native of
Europe and Asia, now a most thoroughly naturalized American from
Newfoundland to Georgia, westward to Nebraska. Its violet
flower-heads, about an inch and a half across, and as high as
wide, are mostly solitary at the ends of formidable branches, up
which few crawling creatures venture. But in the deep tube of
each floret there is nectar secreted for the flying visitor who
can properly transfer pollen from flower to flower. Such a one
suffers no inconvenience from the prickles, but, on the contrary,
finds a larger feast saved for him because of them. Dense,
matted, wool-like hairs, that cover the bristling stems of most
thistles, make climbing mighty unpleasant for ants, which ever
delight in pilfering sweets. Perhaps one has the temerity to
start upward.

     "Fain would I climb, yet fear to fall."
     "If thy heart fail thee, climb not at all,"

might be the ant's passionate outburst to the thistle, and the
thistle's reply, instead of a Sir Walter and Queen Elizabeth
couplet. Long, lance-shaped, deeply cleft, sharply pointed, and
prickly dark green leaves make the ascent almost unendurable;
nevertheless the ant bravely mounts to where the bristle-pointed,
overlapping scales of the deep green cup hold the luscious
flowers. Now his feet becoming entangled in the cottony fibers
wound about the scaly armor, and a bristling bodyguard thrusting
spears at him in his struggles to escape, death happily releases
him. All this tragedy to insure the thistle's cross-fertilized
seed that, seated on the autumn winds, shall be blown far and
wide in quest of happy conditions for the offspring!

Sometimes the PASTURE or FRAGRANT THISTLE (C. odoratus or C.
pumilum of Gray) still further protects its beautiful, odorous
purple or whitish flower-head, that often measures three inches
across, with a formidable array of prickly small leaves just
below it. In case a would-be pilferer breaks through these lines,
however, there is a slight glutinous strip on the outside of the
bracts that compose the cup wherein the nectar-filled florets are
packed; and here, in sight of Mecca, he meets his death, just as
a bird is caught on limed twigs. The pasture thistle, whose range
is only from Maine to Delaware, blooms from July to September.

Even gentle Professor Gray hurls anathema at the CANADA THISTLE;
"a vile pest" he calls it. As CURSED, CORN, HARD, and CREEPING
THISTLE it is variously known here and in Europe, whence it came
to overrun our land from Newfoundland to Virginia, westward to
Nebraska. By horizontal rootstocks it creeps and forms patches
almost impossible to eradicate. The small reddish-purple
flower-heads, barely an inch across, usually contain about a
hundred florets each. In their tubes the abundant nectar rises
high, so that numerous insects, even with the shortest tongues,
are able to enjoy it. Not only bees and butterflies, but wasps,
flies, and beetles feast diligently. When a floret opens, a
quantity of pollen emerges at the upper end of the anther
cylinder, pressed up by the growing style. Owing to their slight
stickiness and the sharp processes over their entire surface, the
pollen grains, which readily cling to the hairs of insects, are
transported to the two-branched, hairy stigma of an older floret.
But even should insects not visit the flower (and in fine weather
they swarm about it), it is marvelously adapted to fertilize
itself. Farmers may well despair of exterminating a plant so
perfectly equipped in every part; to win life's battles.

"The colour of purple...was, amongst the ancients, typical of
royalty. It was a kind of red richly shot with blue, and the dye
producing it was attained from a shell found in considerable
numbers off the coast of Tyre, and on the shore near the site of
that ancient city, great heaps of such shells are still to be
found. The production of the true royal purple dye was a very
costly affair, and therefore it was often imitated with a mixture
of cochineal and indigo..." - J. JAMES TISSOT.

As many so-called purple flowers are more strictly magenta, the
reader is referred to the next group if he has not found the
flower for which he is in search here. Also to the "White and
Greenish" section since many colored flowers show a tendency to
revert to the white type from which, doubtless, all were evolved.
He should remember that all flowers are more or less variable in
shade, according to varying conditions.


"Botany is a sequel of murder and a chronicle of the dead." -

"A plant is not to be studied as an absolutely dead thing, but
rather as a sentient being.... To measure petals, to count
stamens, to describe pistils without reference to their
functions, or the why and wherefore of their existence, is to
content one's self with husks in the presence of a feast of
fatness - to listen to the rattle of dry bones rather than the
heavenly harmonies of life. We have reason to be profoundly
thankful for the signs to be seen on every side, that the dreary
stuff which was called botany in the teaching of the past will
soon cease to masquerade in its stolen costume, and that our
children and our children's children will study not dried
specimens or drier books, but the living things which Nature
furnishes in such profusion....

"The reason of this radical change is not far to seek. Since man
has learned that the universal brotherhood of life includes
himself as the highest link in the chain of organic creation, his
interest in all things that live and move and have a being has
greatly increased. The movements of the monad now appeal to him
in a way that was impossible under the old conceptions. He sees
in each of the millions of living forms with which the earth is
teeming, the action of many of the laws which are operating in
himself; and has learned that to a great extent his welfare is
dependent on these seemingly insignificant relations; that in
ways undreamed of a century ago they affect human progress." -


  (Streptopus roseus)  Lily-of-the-Valley family

Flowers - Dull, purplish pink, 1/2 in. long or less, solitary, on
threadlike, curved footstalks longer than the small flower
itself, nodding from leaf-axils. Perianth bill-shaped, of 6
spreading segments; stamens 6, 2-horned; style spreading into 3
branches, stigmatic on inner side. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2 ft. high,
simple or forked. Leaves: Thin, alternate, green on both sides,
many nerved, tapering at end, rounded at base, where they are
seated on stem. Fruit: A round, red, many-seeded berry.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woods.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - North America east and west, southward to Georgia
and Oregon.

As we look down on this graceful plant, no blossoms are visible;
but if we bend the zig-zagged stem backward, we shall discover
the little rosy bells swaying from the base of the leaves on
curved footstalks (streptos = twisted, pous = a foot or stalk)
very much as the plant's relatives the Solomon's seals grow. In
the confident expectation of having its seeds dropped far and
wide, it bears showy red berries in August for the birds now
wandering through the woods with increased, hungry families.

The CLASPING-LEAVED TWISTED-STALK (S. amplexifolius), which has
one or two greenish-white bells nodding from its axils, may be
distinguished when not in flower by its leaves, which are hoary -
not green - on the under side, or by its oval berry. Indeed most
plants living in wet soil have a coating of down on the under
sides of their leaves to prevent the pores from clogging with
rising vapors.

  (Cypripedium acaule)  Orchid family

Flowers - Fragrant, solitary, large, showy, drooping from end of
scape, 6 to 12 in. high. Sepals lance-shaped, spreading, greenish
purple, 2 in. long or less; petals narrower and longer than
sepals. Lip an inflated sac, often over 2 in. long, slit down the
middle, and folded inwardly above, pale magenta, veined with
darker pink upper part of interior crested with long white hairs.
Stamens united with style into unsymmetrical declined column,
bearing an anther on either side, and a dilated triangular
petal-like sterile stamen above, arching over the broad concave
stigma. Leaves: 2, from the base; elliptic, thick, 6 to 8 in.
Preferred Habitat - Deep, rocky, or sandy woods.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Canada southward to North Carolina, westward to
Minnesota and Kentucky.

Because most people cannot forbear picking this exquisite flower
that seems too beautiful to be found outside a millionaire's
hothouse, it is becoming rarer every year, until the finding of
one in the deep forest, where it must now hide, has become the
event of a day's walk. Once it was the commonest of the orchids.

"Cross-fertilization," says Darwin, "results in offspring which
vanquish the offspring of self-fertilization in the struggle for
existence." This has been the motto of the orchid family for
ages. No group of plants has taken more elaborate precautions
against self-pollination or developed more elaborate and
ingenious mechanism to compel insects to transfer their pollen
than this.

The fissure down the front of the pink lady's slipper is not so
wide but that a bee must use some force to push against its
elastic sloping sides and enter the large banquet chamber where
he finds generous entertainment secreted among the fine white
hairs in the upper part. Presently he has feasted enough. Now one
can hear him buzzing about inside, trying to find a way out of
the trap. Toward the two little gleams of light through apertures
at the end of a passage beyond the nectary hairs, he at length
finds his way. Narrower and narrower grows the passage until it
would seem as if he could never struggle through; nor can he
until his back has rubbed along the sticky, overhanging stigma,
which is furnished with minute, rigid, sharply pointed papillae,
all directed forward, and placed there for the express purpose of
combing out the pollen he has brought from another flower on his
back or head. The imported pollen having been safely removed, he
still has to struggle on toward freedom through one of the narrow
openings, where an anther almost blocks his way.

As he works outward, this anther, drawn downward on its hinge,
plasters his back with yellow granular pollen as a parting gift,
and away he flies to another lady's slipper to have it combed out
by the sticky stigma as described above. The smallest bees can
squeeze through the passage without paying toll. To those of the
Andrena and Halictus tribe the flower is evidently best adapted.
Sometimes the largest bumblebees, either unable or unwilling to
get out by the legitimate route, bite their way to liberty.
Mutilated sacs are not uncommon. But when unable to get out by
fair means, and too bewildered to escape by foul, the large bee
must sometimes perish miserably in his gorgeous prison.

  (Orchis spectabilis)  Orchid family

Flowers - Purplish pink, of deeper and lighter shade, the lower
lip white, and thick of texture; from 3 to 6 on a spike;
fragrant. Sepals pointed, united, arching above the converging
petals, and resembling a hood; lip large, spreading, prolonged
into a spur, which is largest at the tip and as long as the
twisted footstem. Sterm: 4 to 12 in. high, thick, fleshy,
5-sided. Leaves: 2 large, broadly ovate, glossy green, silvery on
under side, rising from a few scales from root. Fruit: A sharply
angled capsule, 1 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods, especially under hemlocks.
Flowering Season  - April-June.
Distribution - From New Brunswick and Ontario southward to our
Southern States, westward to Nebraska.

Of the six floral leaves which every orchid, terrestrial or
aerial, possesses, one is always peculiar in form, pouch-shaped,
or a cornucopia filled with nectar, or a flaunted, fringed
banner, or a broad platform for the insect visitors to alight on.
Some orchids look to imaginative eyes as if they were
masquerading in the disguise of bees, moths, frogs, birds,
butterflies. A number of these queer freaks are to be found in
Europe. Spring traps, adhesive plasters, and hair-triggers
attached to explosive shells of pollen are among the many devices
by which orchids compel insects to cross-fertilize them, these
flowers as a family showing the most marvelous mechanism adapted
to their requirements from insects in the whole floral kingdom.
No other blossoms can so well afford to wear magenta, the ugliest
shade nature produces, the "lovely rosy purple" of Dutch bulb
growers, a color that has an unpleasant effect on not a few
American stomachs outside of Hoboken.

But an orchid, from the amazing cleverness of its operations, is
attractive under any circumstances to whomever understands
it. This earliest member of the family to appear charms the
female bumblebee, to whose anatomy it is especially adapted. The
males, whose faces are hairy where the females' are bare, and
therefore not calculated to retain the sticky pollen masses, are
not yet flying when the showy orchis blooms. Bombus Americanorum,
which can drain the longest spurs, B. separatus, B. terricola,
and, rarely, butterflies as well, have been caught with its
pollen masses attached. The bee alights on the projecting lip,
pushes her head into the mouth of the corolla, and, as she sips
the nectar from the horn of plenty, ruptures by the slight
pressure a membrane of the pouch where two sticky buttons, to
which two pollen masses are attached, lie imbedded. Instantly
after contact these adhere to the round bare spots on her face,
the viscid cement hardening before her head is fairly withdrawn.
Now the diverging pollen masses, that look like antennae, fall
from the perpendicular, by remarkable power of contraction, to a
horizontal attitude, that they may be in the precise position to
fertilize the stigma of the next flower visited - just as if they
possessed a reasoning intelligence! Even after all the pollen has
been deposited on the sticky stigmas of various blossoms,
stump-like caudicles to which the two little sacs were attached
have been found still plastered on a long-suffering bee. But so
rich in nectar are the moisture-loving orchids that, to obtain a
draught, the sticky plasters which she must carry do not seem too
dear a price to pay. In this showy orchis the nectar often rises
an eighth of an inch in the tube, and sufficient pressure to
cause a rupture will eject it a foot.

  (Pogonia ophioglossoides)  Orchid family

Flowers - Pale rose pink, fragrant, about  1 in. long, usually
solitary at end of stem 8 to 15 in. high, and subtended by a
leaf-like bract. Sepals and petals equal, oval, about 1/2 in.
long, the lip spoon-shaped, crested, and fringed. Column shorter
than petals, thick, club-shaped. Anther terminal, attached to
back of column, pollen mass in each of its 2 sacs. Stigma a
flattened disk below anther. Leaves: 1 to 3, erect, lance-oblong,
sometimes one with long footstem from fibrous root.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps and low meadows.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Canada to Florida, westward to Kansas.

Rearing its head above the low sedges, often brightened with
colonies of the grass pink at the same time, this shy recluse of
the swamps woos the passing bee with lovely color, a fragrance
like fresh red raspberries, an alluring alighting place all
fringed and crested, and with the prospect of hospitable
entertainment in the nectary beyond. So in she goes, between the
platform and the column overhead, pushing first her head, then
brushing her back against the stigma just below the end of the
thick column that almost closes the passage. Any powdery pollen
she brought on her back from another pogonia must now be brushed
off against the sticky stigma. Her feast ended, out she backs.
And now a wonderful thing happens. The lid of the anther which is
at the end of the column, catching in her shoulders, swings
outward on its elastic hinge, releasing a little shower of golden
dust, which she must carry on the hairs of her head or back until
the sticky stigma of the next pogonia entered kindly wipes it
off! This is one of the few orchids whose pollen, usually found
in masses, is not united by threads. Without the bee's aid in
releasing it from its little box, the lovely species would
quickly perish from the face of the earth.

 (Arethusa bulbosa)  Orchid family

Flowers - 1 to 2 in. long, bright purple pink, solitary, violet
scented, rising from between a pair of small scales at end of
smooth scape from 5 to 10 in. high. Lip dropping beneath sepals
and petals, broad, rounded, toothed, or fringed, blotched with
purple, and with three hairy ridges down its surface. Leaf:
Solitary, hidden at first, coming after the flower, but attaining
length of 6 in. Root: Bulbous. Fruit: A 6-ribbed capsule, 1 in.
long, rarely maturing.
Preferred Habitat - Northern bogs and swamps.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - From North Carolina and Indiana northward to the
Fur Countries.

One flower to a plant, and that one rarely maturing seed; a
temptingly beautiful prize which few refrain from carrying home,
to have it wither on the way pursued by that more persistent
lover than Alpheus, the orchid-hunter who exports the bulbs to
European collectors - little wonder this exquisite orchid is
rare, and that from certain of those cranberry bogs of Eastern
New England, which it formerly brightened with its vivid pink, it
has now gone forever. Like Arethusa, the nymph whom Diana changed
into a fountain that she might escape from the infatuated river
god, Linnaeus fancied this flower a maiden in the midst of a
spring bubbling from wet places where presumably none may follow

But the bee, our Arethusa's devoted lover, although no villain,
still pursues her. He knows that moisture-loving plants secrete
the most nectar. When the head of the bee enters the flower to
sip, nothing happens; but as he raises his head to depart, it
cannot help lifting the lid of the helmet-shaped anther and so
letting fall a few soft pellets of pollen on it. Now, after he
has drained the next arethusa, his pollen-laden head must rub
against the long sticky stigma before it touches the helmet-like
anther lid and precipitates another volley of pollen. In some
such manner most of our orchids compel insects to work for them
in preventing self-fertilization.

Another charming, but much smaller, orchid, that we must don our
rubber boots to find where it hides in cool, peaty bogs from
Canada and the Northern United States to California, and
southward in the Rockies to Arizona, is the CALYPSO (Calypso
bulbosa). It is a solitary little flower, standing out from the
top of a jointed scape that never rises more than six inches from
the solid bulb, hidden in the moss, nor boasts more than one
nearly round leaf near its base. The blossom itself suggests one
of the lady's slipper orchids, with its rosy purple, narrow,
pointed sepals and petals clustered at the top above a large,
sac-shaped, whitish lip. The latter is divided into two parts,
heavily blotched with cinnamon brown, and woolly with a patch of
yellow hairs near the point of the division. May - June.

  (Limodorum tuberosum; Calopogon pulchellus of Gray)  Orchid

Flowers - Purplish pink, 1 in. long, 3 to 15 around a long, loose
spike. Sepals and petals similar, oval, acute; the lip on upper
side of flower is broad at the summit, tapering into a claw,
flexible as if hinged, densely bearded on its face with white,
yellow, and magenta hairs (Calopogon = beautiful beard). Column
below lip (ovary not twisted in this exceptional case); sticky
stigma at summit of column, and just below it a 2-celled anther,
each cell containing 2 pollen masses, the grain lightly connected
by threads. Scape: 1 to 1 1/2 ft. high, slender, naked. Leaf:
Solitary, long, grass-like, from a round bulb arising from bulb
of previous year.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, cranberry bogs, and low meadows.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Florida, and westward to the

Fortunately this lovely orchid, one of the most interesting of
its highly organized family, is far from rare, and where we find
the rose pogonia and other bog-loving relatives growing, the
calopogon usually outnumbers them all. Limodorum translated reads
meadow-gift; but we find the flower less frequently in grassy
places than those who have waded into its favorite haunts could

Owing to the crested lip being oddly situated on the upper part
of the flower, which appears to be growing upside down in
consequence, one might suppose a visiting insect would not choose
to alight on it. The pretty club-shaped, vari-colored hairs,
which he may mistake for stamens, and which keep his feet from
slipping, irresistibly invite him there, however, when, presto!
down drops the fringed lip with startling suddenness. Of course,
the bee strikes his back against the column when he falls. Now,
there are two slightly upturned little wings on either side of
the column, which keep his body from slipping off at either side
and necessitate its exit from the end where the stigma smears it
with viscid matter. The pressure of the insect on this part
starts the pollen masses from their pocket just below; and as the
bee slides off the end of the column, the exposed, cobwebby
threads to which the pollen grains are attached cling to his
sticky body. The sticky substance instantly hardening, the pollen
masses, which are drawn out from their pocket as he escapes, are
cemented to his abdomen in the precise spot where they must
strike against the stigma of the next calopogon he tumbles in;
hence cross-fertilization results. What recompense does the bee
get for such rough handling? None at all, so far as is known. The
flower, which secretes no nectar, is doubtless one of those gay
deceivers that Sprengel named "Scheinsaftblumen," only it leads
its visitors to look for pollen instead of nectar, on the
supposition that the club-shaped hairs on the crests are stamens.
The wonder is that the intelligent little bees (a species of
Andrenidae), which chiefly are its Victims, have not yet learned
to boycott it.

"Calopogon," says Professor Robertson, who knows more about the
fertilization of American wild flowers by insects than most
writers, "is one of a few flowers which move the insect toward
the stigma.... There is no expenditure in keeping up a supply of
nectar, and the flower, although requiring a smooth insect of a
certain size and weight, suffers nothing from the visits of those
it cannot utilize. Then, there is no delay caused by the insect
waiting to suck; but as soon as it alights it is thrown down
against the stigma. This occurs so quickly that, while standing
net in hand, I have seen insects effect pollination and escape
before I could catch them. So many orchids fasten their pollinia
upon the faces and tongues of insects that it is interesting to
find one which applies them regularly to the first abdominal
segment. Mr. Darwin has observed that absence of hair on the
tongues of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and on the faces
of Hymenoptera (bees; wasps, etc.) has led to the more usual
adaptations, and sparseness of hair has its influence in this
case. Species of Augochlora are the only insects on which I found
pollinia. These bees are very smooth, depending for ornament on
the metallic sheen of their bodies. An Halictus repeatedly pulled
down the labella (lips) of flowers from which pollinia had not
been removed; and the only reason I can assign for its failure to
extract pollinia is that it is more hairy than the Augochlora.

  (Polygonum Pennsylvanicum)  Buckwheat family

Flowers - Very small, pink, collected in terminal, dense, narrow,
obtuse spikes, 1 to 2 in. long. Calyx pink or greenish, 5-parted,
like petals; no corolla; stamens 8 or less; style 2-parted. Stem:
1 to 3 ft. high, simple or branched, often partly red, the joints
swollen and sheathed; the branches above, and peduncles
glandular. Leaves: Oblong, lance-shaped, entire edged, 2 to 11
in. long, with stout midrib, sharply tapering at tip, rounded
into short petioles below.
Preferred Habitat - Waste places, roadsides, moist soil.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico; westward to
Texas and Minnesota.

Everywhere we meet this commonest of plants or some of its
similar kin, the erect pink spikes brightening roadsides, rubbish
heaps, fields, and waste places, from midsummer to frost. The
little flowers, which open without method anywhere on the spike
they choose, attract many insects, the smaller bees (Andrena)
conspicuous among the host. As the spreading divisions of the
perianth make nectar-stealing all too easy for ants and other
crawlers that would not come in contact with anthers and stigma
where they enter a flower near its base, most buckwheat plants
whose blossoms secrete sweets protect themselves from theft by
coating the upper stems with glandular hairs that effectually
discourage the pilferers. Shortly after fertilization, the little
rounded, flat-sided fruit begins to form inside the persistent
pink calyx. At any time the spike-like racemes contain more
bright pink buds and shining seeds than flowers. Familiarity
alone breeds contempt for this plant, that certainly possesses
much beauty.

The LADY'S THUMB (P. Persicaria), often a troublesome weed, roams
over the whole of North America, except at the extreme north -
another illustration of the riotous profusion of European floral
immigrants rejoicing in the easier struggle for existence here.
Its pink spikes are shorter and less slender than those of the
preceding taller, but similar species, and its leaves, which are
nearly seated on the stem, have dark triangular or lunar marks
near the center in the majority of cases.

An insignificant little plant, found all over our continent,
Europe, and Asia, is the familiar KNOT-GRASS or DOORWEED (P.
aviculare), often trailing its leafy, jointed stems over the
ground, but at times weakly erect, to display its tiny greenish
or white pink-edged flowers, clustered in the axils of oblong,
bluish-green leaves that are considerably less than an inch long.
Although in bloom from June to October, insects seldom visit it,
for it secretes very little, if any, nectar. As might be expected
in such a case, its stem is smooth.

When the amphibious WATER PERSICARIA (P. amphibium) lifts its
short, dense, rose-colored ovoid or oblong club of bloom above
ponds and lakes, it is sufficiently protected from crawling
pilferers, of course, by the water in which it grows. But suppose
the pond dries up and the plant is left on dry ground, what then?
Now, a remarkable thing happens: protective glandular, sticky
hairs appear on the epidermis of the leaves and stems, which were
perfectly smooth when the flowers grew in water. Such small
wingless insects as might pilfer nectar without bringing to their
hostess any pollen from other blossoms are held as fast as on
bird-lime. The stem, which sometimes floats, sometimes is
immersed, may attain a length of twenty feet; the rounded,
elliptic, petioled leaves may be four inches long or only half
that size. From Quebec to New Jersey, and westward to the
Pacific, the solitary, showy inflorescence, which does well to
attain a height of an inch, may be found during July and August.

Throughout the summer, narrow, terminal, erect, spike-like
racemes of small, pale pink, flesh-colored, or greenish flowers
are sent upward by the MILD WATER PEPPER (P. hydropiperoides). It
is like a slender, pale variety of the common pink persicaria.
One finds its inconspicuous, but very common, flowers from June
to September. The plant, which grows in shallow water, swamps,
and moist places throughout the Union and considerably north and
south of it, rises three feet or less. The cylindric sheaths
around the swollen joints of the stem are fringed with long
bristles - a clue to identification. Another similar WATER PEPPER
or SMARTWEED (P. hydropiper) is so called because of its acrid,
biting juice.

The CLIMBING FALSE BUCKWHEAT (P. scandens) straggles over bushes
in woods, thickets, and by the waysides throughout a very wide
range; yet its small, dull, greenish-yellow and pinkish flowers,
loosely clustered in long pedicelled racemes, are so
inconspicuous during August and September, when the showy
composites are in their glory, that we give them scarcely a
glance. The alternate leaves, which are heart-shaped at the base
and pointed at the lip, suggesting those of the morning glory,
are on petioles arising from sheaths over the enlarged joints
which, in this family, are always a most prominent characteristic
- (Poly = many, gonum = a knee). The three outer sepals, keeled
when in flower, are irregularly winged when the three-angled,
smooth achene hangs from the matured blossom in autumn, the
season at which the vine assumes its greatest attractiveness.

The ARROW-LEAVED TEAR THUMB (P. sagittatum), found in ditches and
swampy wet soil, weakly leans on other plants, or climbs over
them with the help of the many sharp, recurved prickles which arm
its four-angled stem. Even the petioles and underside of the
leaf's midrib are set with prickles. The light green leaves, that
combine the lance and the arrow shapes, take on a beautiful
russet-red tint in autumn. The little, five-parted rose-colored
or greenish-white flowers grow in small, close terminal heads
from July to September from Nova Scotia to the Gulf and far

SEASIDE or COAST JOINTWEED or KNOT-GRASS (Polygonella articulata;
Polygonum articulatum of Gray) a low, slender, wiry, diffusely
spreading little plant, with thread-like leaves seated on its
much-jointed stem, rises cleanly from out the sand of the coast
from Maine to Florida, and the shores of the Great Lakes. Very
slender racemes of tiny, nodding, rose-tinted white flowers, with
a dark midrib to each of the five calyx segments, are
insignificant of themselves; but when seen in masses, from July
to October, they tinge the upper beaches and sandy meadows with a
pink blush that not a few artists have transferred to the
foreground of their marine pictures.

  (Agrostemma Githago; Lychnis Githago of Gray)  Pink family

Flowers - Magenta or bright purplish crimson, to 3 in. broad,
solitary at end of long, stout footstem; 5 lobes of calyx
leaf-like, very long and narrow, exceeding petals. Corolla of 5
broad, rounded petals; 10 stamens; 5 styles alternating with
calyx lobes, opposite petals. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, erect, with
few or no branches, leafy, the plant covered with fine white
hairs. Leaves: Opposite, seated on stem, long, narrow, pointed,
erect. Fruit: a 1-celled, many-seeded capsule.
Preferred Habitat - Wheat and other grain fields; dry, waste
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - United States at large; most common in Central and
Western States. Also in Europe and Asia.

"Allons! allons! sow'd cockle, reap'd no corn," exclaims Biron in
"Love's Labor Lost." Evidently the farmers even in Shakespeare's
day counted this brilliant blossom the pest it has become in many
of our own grain fields just as it was in ancient times, when
Job, after solemnly protesting his righteousness, called on his
own land to bear record against him if his words were false. "Let
thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley," he
cried, according to James the First's translators; but the
"noisome weeds" of the original text seem to indicate that these
good men were more anxious to give the English people an adequate
conception of Job's willingness to suffer for his honor's sake
than to translate literally. Possibly the cockle grew in Southern
Asia in Job's time : today its range is north.

Like many another immigrant to our hospitable shores, this
vigorous invader shows a tendency to outstrip native blossoms in
life's race. Having won in the struggle for survival in the old
country, where the contest has been most fiercely waged for
centuries, it finds life here easy, enjoyable. What are its
methods for insuring an abundance of fertile seed? We see that
the tube of the flower is so nearly closed by the stamens and
five-styled pistil as to be adapted only to the long, slender
tongues of moths and butterflies, for which benefactors it became
narrow and deep to reserve the nectar. "A certain night-flying
moth (one of the Dianthaecia) fertilizes flowers of this genus
exclusively, and its larvae feed on their unripe seeds as a
staple. Bees and some long-tongued flies seen about the corn
cockle doubtless get pollen only; but there are few flowers so
deep that the longest-tongued bees cannot sip them. Butterflies,
attracted by the bright color of the flower - and to them color
is the most catchy of advertisements - are guided by a few dark
lines on the petals to the nectary.

Soon after the blossom opens, five of the stamens emerge from the
tube and shed their pollen on the early visitor. Later, the five
other stamens empty the contents of their anthers on more tardy
comers. Finally, when all danger of self-fertilization is past,
the styles stretch upward, and the butterfly, whose head is
dusted with pollen brought from earlier flowers, necessarily
leaves some on their sticky surfaces as he takes the leavings in
the nectary.

So much cross-fertilized seed as the plant now produces and
scatters through the grain fields may well fill the farmer's
prosaic mind with despair. To him there is no glory in the
scarlet of the poppy comparable with the glitter of a silver
dollar; no charm in the heavenly blue of the corn-flower, that
likewise preys upon the fertility of his soil; the vivid flecks
of color with which the cockle lights up his fields mean only
loss of productiveness in the earth that would yield him greater
profit without them. Moreover, seeds of this so-called weed not
only darken his wheat when they are threshed out together, but
are positively injurious if swallowed in any quantity. Emerson
said every plant is called a weed until its usefulness is
discovered. Linnaeus called this flower Agrostemma = the
crown-of-the-field. Agriculturalists never realize that beauty is
in itself a sufficient plea for respected existence. Not a few of
the cockle's relatives adorn men's gardens.

  (Silene Caroliniana; S. Pennsylvanica of Gray)  Pink family

Flowers - Rose pink, deep or very pale; about inch broad, on
slender footstalks, in terminal clusters. Calyx tubular,
5-toothed, much enlarged in fruit, sticky; 5  petals with claws
enclosed in calyx, wedged-shaped above, slightly notched. Stamens
10; pistil with 3 styles. Stem: 4 to 10 in. high, hairy, sticky
above, growing in tufts. Leaves: Basal ones spatulate; 2 or 3
pairs of lance-shaped, smaller leaves seated on stem.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, gravelly, sandy, or rocky soil.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - New England, south to Georgia, westward to

Fresh, dainty, and innocent-looking as Spring herself are these
bright flowers. Alas, for the tiny creatures that try to climb up
the rosy tufts to pilfer nectar, they and their relatives are not
so innocent as they appear! While the little crawlers are almost
within reach of the cup of sweets, their feet are gummed to the
viscid matter that coats it, and here their struggles end as
flies' do on sticky fly-paper, or birds' on limed twigs. A
naturalist counted sixty-two little corpses on the sticky stem of
a single pink. All this tragedy to protect a little nectar for
the butterflies which, in sipping it, transfer the pollen from
one flower to another, and so help them to produce the most
beautiful and robust offspring.

The pink, which has two sets of stamens of five each, elevates
first one set, then the other, for economy's sake and to run less
risk of failure to get its pollen transferred in case of rain
when its friends are not flying. After all the golden dust has
been shed, however, up come the three recurved styles from the
depth of the tube to receive pollen brought by butterflies from
younger flowers. There are few cups so deep that the largest
bumblebees cannot suck them. Flies which feed on the pink's
pollen only, sometimes come by mistake to older blossoms in the
stigmatic stage, and doubtless cross-fertilize them once in a

In waste places and woods farther southward and westward, and
throughout the range of the Wild Pink as well, clusters of the
SLEEPY CATCHFLY (S. antirrhina) open their tiny pink flowers for
a short time only in the sunshine. At any stage they are mostly
calyx, but in fruit this part is much expanded. Swollen, sticky
joints are the plant's means of defense from crawlers. Season:

When moths begin their rounds at dusk, the NIGHT-FLOWERING
CATCHFLY (S. noctiflora) opens its pinkish or white flowers to
emit a fragrance that guides them to a feast prepared for them
alone. Day-blooming catchflies have no perfume, nor do they need
it; their color and markings are a sufficient guide to the
butterflies. Sticky hairs along the stems of this plant
ruthlessly destroy, not flies, but ants chiefly, that would
pilfer nectar without being able to render the flower any
service. Yet the calyx is beautifully veined, as if to tantalize
the crawlers by indicating the path to a banquet hail they may
never reach. Only a very few flowers, an inch across or less, are
clustered at the top of the plant, which blooms from July to
September in waste places east of the Mississippi and in Canada.

  (Saponaria officinalis)  Pink family

Flowers - Pink or whitish, fragrant, about 1 inch broad, loosely
clustered at end of stem, also sparingly from axils of upper
leaves. Calyx tubular, 5-toothed, about 3/4 in. long; 5 petals,
the claws inserted in deep tube. Stamens 10, in 2 sets; 1 pistil
with 2 styles. Flowers frequently double. Stem: to 2 ft. high,
erect, stout, sparingly branched, leafy. Leaves: Opposite,
acutely oval, 2 to 3 in. long, about 1 in. wide, 3 to 5 ribbed.
Fruit: An oblong capsule, shorter than calyx, opening at top by 4
short teeth or valves.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, banks, and waste places.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Generally common. Naturalized from Europe.

A stout, buxom, exuberantly healthy lassie among flowers is
bouncing Bet, who long ago escaped from gardens whither she was
brought from Europe, and ran wild beyond colonial farms to
roadsides, along which she has traveled over nearly our entire
area. Underground runners and abundant seed soon form thrifty
colonies. This plant, to which our grandmothers ascribed healing
virtues, makes a cleansing, soap-like lather when its bruised
leaves are agitated in water.

Butterflies, which delight in bright colors and distinct
markings, find little to charm them here; but the pale shade of
pink or white, easily distinguished in the dark, and the
fragrance, strongest after sunset, effectively advertise the
flower at dusk when its benefactors begin to fly. The sphinx
moth, a frequent visitor, works as rapidly in extracting nectar
from the deep tube as any hawk moth, so frequently mistaken for a
hummingbird. The little cliff-dwelling bees (Halictus), among
others, visit the flowers by day for pollen only. At first five
outer stamens protrude slightly from the flower and shed their
pollen on the visitor, immediately over the entrance. Afterward,
having spread apart to leave the entrance free, the path is clear
for the five inner stamens to follow the same course. Now the
styles are still enclosed in the tube but when there is no longer
fear of self-fertilization - that is to say, when the pollen has
all been carried off, and the stamens have withered - up they
come and spread apart to expose their rough upper surfaces to
pollen brought from younger flowers by the moths.

  (Dianthus Armeria)  Pink family

Flowers - Pink, with whitish dots, small, borne in small clusters
at end of stem. Calyx tubular, 5-toothed, with several bract-like
leaves at base; 5 petals with toothed edges, clawed at base
within deep calyx; 10 stamens; 1 pistil with 2 styles. Stem: 6 to
18 in. high, stiff, erect, finely hairy, few branches. Leaves:
Opposite, blade-shaped, or lower ones rounded at end.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Southern Ontario, New England, south to Maryland,
west to Michigan.

The true pinks of Europe, among which are the SWEET WILLIAM or
BUNCH PINK (D. barbatus) of our gardens, occasionally wild here,
and the deliciously spicy CLOVE PINK (D. Carophyllus), ancestor
of the superb carnations of the present day, that have reached a
climax in the Lawson pink of newspaper fame, were once held
sacred to Jupiter, hence Dianthus = Jove's own flower. The
Deptford pink, a rather insignificant little European immigrant,
without fragrance, has a decided charm, nevertheless, when seen
in bright patches among the dry grass of early autumn, with small
butterflies, that are its devoted admirers, hovering above.

  (Capnoides sempervirens; Corydalis glauca of Gray)  Poppy

Flowers - Pink, with yellow tip, about 1/2 in. long, a few borne
in a loose, terminal raceme. Calyx of 2 small sepals; corolla
irregular, of 4 erect, closed, and flattened petals joined, 1 of
outer pair with short rounded spur at base, the interior ones
narrow and keeled on back. Stamens 6, in 2 sets, Opposite outer
petals; 1 pistil. Stem: Smooth, curved, branched, 1 to 2 feet
high. Leaves: Pale grayish green, delicate, divided into
variously and finely cut leaflets. Fruit: Very narrow, erect pod,
1 to 2 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Rocky, rich, cool woods.
Flowering Season - April-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia westward to Alaska, south to Minnesota
and North Carolina.

Dainty little pink sacs, yellow at the mouth, hang upside down
along a graceful stem, and instantly suggest the Dutchman's
breeches, squirrel corn, bleeding heart, and climbing fumitory,
to which the plant is next of kin. Because the lark (Korydalos)
has a spur, the flower, which boasts a small one also, borrows
its Greek name.

Hildebrand proved by patient experiments that some flowers of
this genus have not only lost the power of self-fertilization,
but that they produce fertile seed only when pollen from another
plant is carried to them. Yet how difficult they make dining for
their benefactors! The bumblebee, which can reach the nectar, but
not lap it conveniently, often "gets square" with the secretive
blossom by nipping holes through its spur, to which the hive bees
and others hasten for refreshment. We frequently find these
punctured flowers. But hive and other bees visiting the blossom
for pollen, some rubs off against their breast when they depress
the two middle petals, a sort of sheath that contains pistil and

  (Spiraea tomentosa)  Rose family

Flowers - Pink or magenta, rarely white, very small, in dense,
pyramidal clusters. Calyx of 5 sepals; corolla of 5 rounded
petals; stamens, 20 to 60; usually 5 pistils, downy. Stem: 2 to 3
ft. high, erect, shrubby, simple, downy. Leaves: Dark green
above, covered with whitish woolly hairs beneath; oval,
saw-edged, 1 to 2 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Low moist ground, roadside ditches, swamps.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia westward, and southward to Georgia and

These bright spires of pink bloom attract our attention no less
than the countless eyes of flies, beetles, and bees, ever on the
lookout for food to be eaten on the spot or stored up for future
progeny. Pollen-feeding insects such as these, delight in the
spireas, most of which secrete little or no nectar, but yield an
abundance of pollen, which they can gather from the crowded
panicles with little loss of time, transferring some of it to the
pistils, of course, as they move over the tiny blossoms. But most
spireas are also able to fertilize themselves, insects failing

An instant's comparison shows the steeple bush to be closely
related to the fleecy, white meadow-sweet, often found growing
near. The pink spires, which bloom from the top downward, have
pale brown tips where the withered flowers are, toward the end of

Why is the under side of the leaves so woolly? Not as a
protection against wingless insects crawling upward, that is
certain; for such could only benefit these tiny clustered
flowers. Not against the sun's rays, for it is only the under
surface that is coated. When the upper leaf surface is hairy, we
know that the plant is protected in this way from perspiring too
freely. Doubtless these leaves of the steeple bush, like those of
other plants that choose a similar habitat, have woolly hairs
beneath as an absorbent to protect their pores from clogging with
the vapors that must rise from the damp ground where the plant
grows. If these pores were filled with moisture from without, how
could they possibly throw off the waste of the plant? All plants
are largely dependent upon free perspiration for health, but
especially those whose roots, struck in wet ground, are
constantly sending up moisture through the stem and leaves.

  (Rubus odoratus)  Rose family

Flowers - Royal purple or bluish pink, showy, fragrant, 1 to 2
in. broad, loosely clustered at top of stem. Calyx sticky-hairy,
deeply 5-parted, with long pointed tips; corolla of 5 rounded
petals; stamens and pistils very numerous. Stem: 3 to 5 ft. high,
erect, branched, shrubby, bristly, not prickly. Leaves:
Alternate, petioled, 3 to 5 lobed, middle lobe largest, and all
pointed; saw-edged lower leaves immense. Fruit: A depressed red
berry, scarcely edible.
Preferred Habitat - Rocky woods, dells, shady roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Northern Canada south to Georgia, westward to
Michigan and Tennessee.

To be an unappreciated, unloved relative of the exquisite wild
rose, with which this flower is so often likened, must be a
similar misfortune to being the untalented son of a great man, or
the unhappy author of a successful first book never equaled in
later attempts. But where the bright blossoms of the Virginia
raspberry burst forth above the roadside tangle and shady
woodland dells, even those who despise magenta see beauty in them
where abundant green tones all discordant notes into harmony.
Purple, as we of today understand the color, the flower is not;
but rather the purple of ancient Orientals. On cool, cloudy days
the petals are a deep, clear purplish rose, that soon fades and
dulls with age, or changes into pale, bluish pink when the sun is

Many yellow stamens help conceal the nectar secreted in a narrow
ring between the filaments and the base of the receptacle.
Bumblebees, the principal and most efficient visitors, which can
reach sweets more readily than most insects, although numerous
others help to self-fertilize the flower, bring to the mature
stigmas of a newly opened blossom pollen carried on their
undersides from the anthers of a flower a day or two older. When
the inner row of anthers shed their pollen, some doubtless falls
on the stigmas below them, and so spontaneous self-fertilization
may occur. Fruit sets quickly; nevertheless the shrub keeps on
flowering nearly all summer. Children often fold the lower
leaves, which sometimes measure a foot across, to make

  (Ulmaria rubra; Spirea lobata of Gray)  Rose family

Flowers - Deep pink, like the peach blossom, fragrant, about 1/3
in. across, clustered in large cymose panicles on a long
footstalk. Calyx 5-lobed; 5-clawed, rose-like petals; stamens
numerous; pistils 5 to 15, usually 10. Stem: 2 to 8 ft. tall,
smooth, grooved, branched. Leaves: Mostly near the ground, large,
rarely measuring 3 ft. long, compounded of from 3 to 7 leaflets;
end leaflet, of 7 to 9 divisions, much the largest; side leaflets
opposite, seated on stem, 3 to 5 lobed or parted; all lobes
acute, and edges unequally incised. Prominent kidney-shaped
Preferred Habitat - Moist meadows and prairies.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Western Pennsylvania to Michigan and Iowa, and

A stately, beautiful native plant, seen to perfection where it
rears bright panicles of bloom above the ranker growth in the low
moist meadows of the Ohio Valley. When we find it in the East, it
has only recently escaped from man's gardens into Nature's.
Butterflies and bees pay grateful homage to this queen. Indeed,
butterflies appear to have a special fondness for pink, as bees
have for blue flowers. Cattle delight to chew the leaves, which,
when crushed, give out a fragrance like sweet birch.

  (Rosa)  Rose family

Just as many members of the lily tribe show a preference for the
rule of three in the arrangements of their floral parts, so the
wild roses cling to the quinary method of some primitive
ancestor, a favorite one also with the buttercup and many of its
kin, the geraniums, mallows, and various others. Most of our
fruit trees and bushes are near relatives of the rose. Five
petals and five sepals, then, we always find on roses in a state
of nature; and although the progressive gardener of today has
nowhere shown his skill more than in the development of a
multitude of petals from stamens in the magnificent roses of
fashionable society, the most highly cultivated darling of the
greenhouses quickly reverts to the original wild type, setting
his work of years at naught, if once it regain its natural
liberties through neglect.

To protect its foliage from being eaten by hungry cattle, the
rose goes armed into the battle of life with curved, sharp
prickles, not true thorns or modified branches, but merely
surface appliances which peel off with the bark. To destroy
crawling pilferers of pollen, several species coat their calices,
at least, with fine hairs or sticky gum; and to insure wide
distribution of offspring, the seeds are packed in the
attractive, bright red calyx tube or hip, a favorite food of many
birds, which drop them miles away. When shall we ever learn that
not even a hair has been added to or taken from a blossom without
a lawful cause, and study it accordingly? Fragrance, abundant
pollen, and bright-colored petals naturally attract many insects;
but roses secrete no nectar. Some species of bees, and a common
beetle (Trichius piger) for example, seem to depend upon certain
wild roses exclusively for pollen to feed themselves and their
larvae. Bumblebees, to which roses are adapted, require a firmer
support than the petals would give, and so alight on the center
of the flower, where the pistil receives pollen carried by them
from other roses. Although the numerous stamens and the pistils
mature simultaneously, the former are usually turned outward,
that the incoming pollen-laden insect may strike the stigma
first. When the large bees cease their visits as they may in
long-continued dull or rainy weather, the rose, turning toward
the sun, stands more or less obliquely, and some of the pollen
must fall on its stigma. Occasional self-fertilization matters

If plants have insect benefactors, they have their foes as well
and hordes of tiny aphids, commonly known as green flies or plant
lice, moored by their sucking tubes to the tender sprays of
roses, wild and cultivated, live by extracting their juices. A
curious relationship exists between these little creatures and
the ants, which "milk" them by stroking and caressing them with
their antennae until they emit a tiny drop of sweet, white fluid.
The yellow ant, that lives an almost subterranean life, actually
domesticates flocks and herds of root-feeding aphids; the brown
ant appropriates those that live among the bark of trees; and the
common black garden ant (Lasius niger), devoting itself to the
aphis of the rose bushes, protects it in extraordinary ways,
delightfully described by the author of "Ants, Bees, and Wasps."

In literature, ancient and modern, sacred and profane, no flower
figures so conspicuously as the rose. To the Romans it was most
significant when placed over the door of a public or private
banquet hall. Each who passed beneath it bound himself thereby
not to disclose anything said or done within; hence the
expression sub rosa, common to this day.

The PRAIRIE, CLIMBING, or MICHIGAN ROSE (R. setigera) lifts
clusters of deep, bright pink flowers, that after a while fade
almost white, above the thickets and rich prairie soil, from
southern Ontario and Wisconsin to the Gulf, as far eastward as
Florida. Its distinguishing characteristics are: Stout, widely
separated prickles along the stem, that grows several feet long;
leaves compounded of three, rarely five, oval leaflets, acute or
obtuse at the apex; stalks and calyx often glandular; odorless
flowers that, opening in June and July, measure about two and a
half inches across, their styles cohering in a smooth column on
which bees are tempted to alight; and a round hip, or seed
vessel, formed by the fruiting calyx, which is more or less
glandular. From this parent stock several valuable
double-flowering roses have been derived, among others the Queen
and the Gem of the Prairies, but it is our only native rose that
has ever passed into cultivation.

The SMOOTH, EARLY, or MEADOW ROSE (R. blanda), found blooming in
June and July in moist, rocky places from Newfoundland to New
Jersey and a thousand miles westward, has a trifle larger and
slightly fragrant flowers, at first pink, later pure white. Their
styles are separate, not cohering in a column nor projecting as
in the climbing rose. This is a leafy, low bush mostly less than
three feet high; it is either entirely unarmed, or else provided
with only a few weak prickles; the stipules are rather broad, and
the leaf is compounded of from five to seven oval, blunt, and
pale green leaflets, often hoary below.

In swamps and low wet ground from Quebec to Florida, and westward
to the Mississippi, the SWAMP ROSE (R. Carolina) blooms late in
May and on to midsummer. The bush may grow taller than a man, or
perhaps only a foot high. It is armed with stout, hooked, rather
distant prickles, and few or no bristles. The leaflets, from five
to nine, but usually seven, to a leaf, are smooth, pale, or
perhaps hairy beneath to protect the pores from filling with
moisture arising from the wet ground. Long, sharp calyx lobes,
which drop off before the cup swells in fruit into a round,
glandular, hairy red hip, are conspicuous among the clustered
pink flowers and buds.

Surely no description of our COMMON, LOW, DWARF, or PASTURE ROSE
(R. humilis; R. lucida of Gray) is needed. One's acquaintance
with flowers must be limited indeed, if it does not include this
most abundant of all the wild roses from Ontario to Georgia, and
westward to Wisconsin. In light, dry, or rocky soil we find the
exquisite, but usually solitary, blossom late in May until July,
and, like most roses, it has the pleasant practice of putting
forth a stray blossom or two in early autumn. The stamens of this
species are turned outward so strongly that self- pollination
must very rarely take place.

Among the following charming wild roses, not natives, but
naturalized immigrants from foreign lands, that have escaped from
gardens, is Shakespeare's CANKER-BLOOM, the lovely DOG ROSE or
WILD BRIER (R. canina), that spreads its long, straggling
branches along the roadsides and banks, covering the waste lands
with its smooth, beautiful foliage, and in June and July with
pink or white roses. Because it lacks the fragrance of
sweetbrier, which it otherwise closely resembles, it has been
branded with the dog prefix as a mark of contempt. Professor Koch
says that long before it was customary to surround gardens with
walls, men had rose hedges. "Each of the four great peoples of
Asia," he continues, "possessed its own variety of rose, and
carried it during all wanderings, until finally all four became
the common property of the four peoples. The great Indo-Germanic
stock chose the 'hundred-leaved' and RED ROSE (R. Gallica);
nevertheless, after the Niebelungen the common dog rose played an
important part among the ancient Germans. The DAMASCUS ROSE (R.
Damascena), which blooms twice a year, as well as the MUSK ROSE
(R. moschata), were cherished by the Semitic or Arabic stock;
while the Turkish-Mongolian people planted by preference the
YELLOW ROSE (R. lutea). Eastern Asia (China and Japan) is the
fatherland of the INDIAN and TEA ROSES."

How fragrant are the pages of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare
with the Eglantine! This delicious plant, known here as
SWEETBRIAR (R. rubIginosa), emits its very aromatic odor from
russet glands on the under, downy side of the small leaflets,
always a certain means of identification. From eastern Canada to
Virginia and Tennessee the plant has happily escaped from man's
gardens back to Nature's.

In spite of its American Indian name, the lovely white CHEROKEE
ROSE (R. Sinica), that runs wild in the South, climbing, rambling
and rioting with a truly Oriental abandon and luxuriance, did
indeed come from China. Would that our northern thickets and
roadsides might be decked with its pure flowers and almost
equally beautiful dark, glossy, evergreen leaves!

  (Trifolium pratense)  Pea family

Flowers - Magenta, pink, or rarely whitish, sweet-scented, the
tubular corollas set in dense round, oval, or egg-shaped heads
about 1 in. long, and seated in a sparingly hairy calyx. Stem: 6
in. to 2 ft. high, branching, reclining, or erect, more or less
hairy. Leaves: On long petioles, commonly compounded of 3, but
sometimes of 4 to 11 oval or oblong leaflets, marked with white
crescent, often dark-spotted near center; stipules egg-shaped,
sharply pointed, strongly veined, over 1/2 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, meadows, roadsides.
Flowering Season - April-November.
Distribution - Common throughout Canada and United States.

Meadows bright with clover-heads among the grasses, daisies, and
buttercups in June resound with the murmur of unwearying industry
and rapturous enjoyment. Bumblebees by the tens of thousands
buzzing above acres of the farmer's clover blossoms should be
happy in a knowledge of their benefactions, which doubtless
concern them not at all. They have never heard the story of the
Australians who imported quantities of clover for fodder, and had
glorious fields of it that season, but not a seed to plant next
year's crops, simply because the farmers had failed to import the
bumblebee. After her immigration the clovers multiplied
prodigiously. No; the bee's happiness rests on her knowledge that
only the butterflies' long tongues can honestly share with her
the brimming wells of nectar in each tiny floret. Children who
have sucked them too appreciate her rapture. If we examine a
little flower under the magnifying glass, we shall see why its
structure places it in the pea family. Bumblebees so depress the
keel either when they sip, or feed on pollen, that their heads
and tongues get well dusted with the yellow powder, which they
transfer to the stigmas of other flowers; whereas the butterflies
are of doubtful value, if not injurious, since their long,
slender tongues easily drain the nectar without depressing the
keel. Even if a few grains of pollen should cling to their
tongues, it would probably be wiped off as they withdrew them
through the narrow slit, where the petals nearly meet, at the
mouth of the flower. Bombus terrestris delights in nipping holes
at the base of the tube, which other pilferers also profit by.
Our country is so much richer in butterflies than Europe, it is
scarcely surprising that Professor Robertson found thirteen
Lepidoptera out of twenty insect visitors to this clover in
Illinois, whereas Muller caught only eight butterflies on it out
of a list of thirty-nine visitors in Germany. The fritillaries
and the sulphurs are always seen about the clover fields among
many others, and the "dusky wings" and the caterpillar of several
species feeds almost exclusively on this plant.

"To live in clover," from the insect's point of view at least,
may well mean a life of luxury and affluence. Most peasants in
Europe will tell you that a dream about the flower foretells not
only a happy marriage, but long life and prosperity. For ages the
clover has been counted a mystic plant, and all sorts of good and
bad luck were said to attend the finding of variations of its
leaves which had more than the common number of leaflets. At
evening these leaflets fold downward, the side ones like two
hands clasped in prayer, the end one bowed over them. In this
fashion the leaves of the white and other clovers also go to
sleep, to protect their sensitive surfaces from cold by
radiation, it is thought.

The ZIG-ZAG CLOVER, COW or MARL-GRASS (T. Medium), a native of
Europe and Asia, now naturalized in the eastern half of the
United States and Canada, may scarcely be told from the common
red clover, except by its crooked, angular stems - often
provokingly straight - by its unspotted leaves, and the short
peduncle in which its heads are elevated above the calyx.

Farmers here are beginning to learn the value of the beautiful
incarnatum), and happily there are many fields and waste places
in the East already harboring the brilliant runaways. The narrow
heads may be two and a half inches long. A meadow of this fodder
plant makes one envious of the very cattle that may spend the
summer day wading through acres of its deep bright bloom.

  (Cracca Virginiana; Tephrosia Virginiana of Gray)  Pea family

Flowers - In terminal cluster, each 1/2 in. long or over,
butterfly-shaped, consisting of greenish, cream-yellow standard,
purplish-rose wings, and curved keel of greenish yellow tinged
with rose; petals clawed; 10 stamens (9 and 1); calyx 5-toothed.
Stem: Hoary, with white, silky hairs, rather woody, 1 to 2 feet
high. Leaves: Compounded of 7 to 25 oblong leaflets. Root: Long,
fibrous, tough. Fruit: A hoary, narrow pod, to 2 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, sandy soil, edges of pine woods.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Southern New England, westward to Minnesota, south
to Florida, Louisiana, and Mexico.

Flowers far less showy and attractive than this denizen of sandy
wastelands, a cousin of the wisteria vine and the locust tree,
have been introduced to American gardens. Striking its long
fibrous root deep into the dry soil, the plant spreads in thrifty
clumps through heat and drought - and so tough are its fibers
they might almost be used for violin strings. As in the case of
the lupine, the partridge pea and certain others akin to it, the
leaves of the hoary pea "go to sleep" at night, but after a
manner of their own, i.e., by lying along the stem and turning on
their own bases.

In similar situations from New York south and southwestward, the
MILK PEA (Galactia regularis; G. glabella of Gray) lies prostrate
along the ground, the matted, usually branched stems sending up
at regular intervals a raceme of rose-purple flowers in July and
August from the axil of the trefoliate leaf.

  (Lespedeza procumbens)  Pea family

Flowers - Purplish pink or violet, veined, the butterfly-shaped
ones having standard petal, wings, and keel, clustered at end of
peduncles; the minute flowers lacking a corolla, nearly sessile.
Calyx of 5 slender, nearly equal lobes. Stems: Prostrate,
trailing, or sometimes ascending, woolly or downy, leafy. Leaves:
Clover-like, trefoliate. Fruit: A very small, hairy, flat,
rounded, acute pod.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil open, sandy places.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - Massachusetts to the Gulf, and westward to the

Springing upward from a mass of clover-like leaves, these showy
little blossoms elevate themselves to arrest, not our attention,
but the notice of the passing bee. As the claw of the standard
petal and the calyx are short, he need not have a long tongue to
drain the nectary pointed out to him by a triangular white mark
at the base of the banner. Now, as his weight depresses the
incurved keel, wherein the vital organs are protected, the stigma
strikes the visitor in advance of the anthers, so that pollen
brought on his underside from another flower must come off on
this one before he receives fresh pollen to transfer to a third
blossom. At first the keel returns to its original position when
depressed; later it loses its elasticity. But besides these showy
flowers intended to be cross-fertilized by insects, the bush
clovers bear, among the others, insignificant-looking, tightly
closed, bud-like ones that produce abundant self-fertilized seed.
The petaliferous flowers are simply to counteract the inevitable
evils resulting from close inbreeding. One usually finds
caterpillars of the "dusky wings" butterfly feeding on the
foliage and the similar tick trefoils which are its staple. At
night the bush clover leaves turn upward, completely changing the
aspect of these plants as we know them by day. Michaux named the
group of flowers for his patron, Lespedez, a governor of Florida
under the Spanish regime.

Perhaps the commonest of the tribe is the VIOLET BUSH CLOVER (L.
violacea), a variable, branching, erect, or spreading plant,
sometimes only a foot high, or again three times as tall. Its
thin leaves are more elliptic than the decidedly clover-like ones
of the preceding species; its rose-purple flowers are more
loosely clustered, and the stems are only sparingly hairy, never

On the top of the erect, usually unbranched, but very leafy stem
of the WAND-LIKE BUSH CLOVER (L. frutescens), the two kinds of
flowers grow in a crowded cluster, and more sparingly from the
axils below. The clover-like leaflets, dark green and smooth
above, are paler and hairy below. Like the rest of its kin, this
bush clover delights in dry soil, particularly in open, sandy
places near woods of pine and oak. One readily distinguishes the
SLENDER BUSH CLOVER (L. Virginica) by the very narrowly oblong
leaves along its wand, which bears two kinds of bright rose
flowers, clustered at the top chiefly, and in the axils.

Yellowish-white flowers, about a quarter of an inch long, and
with a purplish-rose spot on the standard petal to serve as a
pathfinder to the nectary, are crowded in oblong spikes an inch
and a half long or less on the HAIRY BUSH CLOVER (L. hirta). The
stem, which may attain four feet, or half that height, is usually
branched; and the entire plant is often downy to the point of

Dense clusters of the yellowish-white flowers of the ROUND-HEADED
BUSH CLOVER (L. capitata) are seated in the upper axils of the
silvery-hairy, wand-like stem. Pink streaks at the base of the
standard petal serve as pathfinders, and its infolded edges guide
the bee's tongue straight to the opening in the stamen tube
through which he sucks.

  (Geranium maculatum)  Geranium family

Flowers - Pale magenta, purplish pink, or lavender, regular, 1 to
1 1/2 in. broad, solitary or a pair, borne on elongated
peduncles, generally with pair of leaves at their base. Calyx of
5 lapping, pointed sepals; 5 petals, woolly at base; 10 stamens;
pistil with 5 styles. Fruit: A slender capsule pointed like a
crane's bill. In maturity it ejects seeds elastically far from
the parent plant. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high, hairy, slender, simple
or branching above. Leaves: Older ones sometimes spotted with
white; basal ones 3 to 6 in. wide, 3 to 5 parted, variously cleft
and toothed; 2 stem leaves opposite.
Preferred Habitat - Open woods, thickets, and shady roadsides.
Flowering Season - April-July.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Georgia, and westward a thousand

Sprengel, who was the first to exalt flowers above the level of
mere botanical specimens, had his attention led to the intimate
relationship existing between plants and insects by studying out
the meaning of the hairy corolla of the common wild geranium of
Germany (G. sylvaticum), being convinced, as he wrote in 1787,
that "the wise Author of Nature has not made even a single hair
without a definite design." A hundred years before, Nehemias Grew
had said that it was necessary for pollen to reach the stigma of
a flower in order that it might set fertile seed; and Linnaeus
had to come to his aid with conclusive evidence to convince a
doubting world that this was true. Sprengel made the next step
forward, but his writings lay neglected over seventy years
because he advanced the then incredible and only partially true
statement that a flower is fertilized by insects which carry its
pollen from its anthers to its stigma. In spite of his
discoveries that the hairs inside the geranium's corolla protect
its nectar from rain for the insect's benefit, just as eyebrows
keep perspiration from falling into the eye; that most flowers
which secrete nectar have what he termed "honey guides" - spots
of bright color, heavy veining, or some such pathfinder on the
petals - in spite of the most patient and scientific research
that shed great light on natural selection a half-century before
Darwin advanced the theory, he left it for the author of "The
Origin of Species" to show that cross-fertilization - the
transfer of pollen from one blossom to another, not from anthers
to stigma of the same flower - is the great end to which so much
marvelous mechanism is chiefly adapted. Cross-fertilized blossoms
defeat self-fertilized flowers in the struggle for existence.

No wonder Sprengel's theory was disproved by his scornful
contemporaries in the very case of his wild geranium, which sheds
its pollen before it has developed a stigma to receive any;
therefore no insect that had not brought pollen from an earlier
bloom could possibly fertilize this flower. How amazing that he
did not see this! Our common wild crane's-bill, which also has
lost the power to fertilize itself, not only ripens first the
outer, then the inner, row of anthers, but actually drops them
off after their pollen has been removed, to overcome the barest
chance of self-fertilization as the stigmas become receptive.
This is the geranium's and many other flowers' method to compel
cross-fertilization by insects. In cold, stormy, cloudy weather a
geranium blossom may remain in the male stage several days before
becoming female; while on a warm, sunny day, when plenty of
insects are flying, the change sometimes takes place in a few
hours. Among others, the common sulphur or puddle butterfly, that
sits in swarms on muddy roads and makes the clover fields gay
with its bright little wings, pilfers nectar from the geranium
without bringing its long tongue in contact with the pollen.
Neither do the smaller bees and flies which alight on the petals
necessarily come in contact with the anthers and stigmas.
Doubtless the larger bees are the flowers' true benefactors.

The so-called geraniums in cultivation are pelargoniums, strictly

In barren soil, from Canada to the Gulf, and far westward, the
CAROLINA CRANE'S-BILL (G. Carolinianum), an erect, much-branched
little plant resembling the spotted geranium in general features,
bears more compact clusters of pale rose or whitish flowers,
barely half an inch across. As their inner row of anthers comes
very close to the stigmas, spontaneous self-fertilization may
sometimes occur; although in fine weather small bees, especially,
visit them constantly. The beak of the seed vessel measures
nearly an inch long.

  (Geranium Robertianum)  Geranium family

Flowers - Purplish rose, about 1/2 in. across, borne chiefly in
pairs on slender peduncles. Five sepals and petals; stamens 10;
pistil with 5 styles. Stem: Weak, slender, much branched, forked,
and spreading, slightly hairy, 6 to i8 in. high. Leaves: Strongly
scented, opposite, thin, of 3 divisions, much subdivided and
cleft. Fruit: Capsular, elastic, the beak 1 in. long,
Preferreed Habitat - Rocky, moist woods and shady roadsides
Flowering Season - May-October
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Pennsylvania, and westward to

Who was the Robert for whom this his "holy herb" was named? Many
suppose that he was St. Robert, a Benedictine monk, to whom the
twenty-ninth of April - the day the plant comes into flower in
Europe - is dedicated. Others assert that Robert Duke of
Normandy, for whom the "Ortus Sanitatis," a standard medical
guide for some hundred of years, was written, is the man honored;
and since there is now no way of deciding the mooted question, we
may take our choice.

Only when the stems are young are they green; later the plant
well earns the name of red shanks, and when its leaves show
crimson stains, of dragon's blood.

At any time the herb gives forth a disagreeable odor, but
especially when its leaves and stem have been crushed until they
emit a resinous secretion once an alleged cure for the plague.
Flies, that never object to a noxious smell, constantly visit the
flower, and have their tongues guided through passages between
little ridge-like processes on each petal to the nectar secreted
by the base of the filaments at the base of each sepal. To
prevent self-fertilization the five stigmas are folded close
together when the flower opens, nor do they spread apart and
become receptive until after the outer row of anthers, then the
inner row, have shed their pollen. When the elastic carpels have
ripened their seed, bang! go the little guns, scattering them far
and wide.

  (Oxalis acetosella)  Wood-sorrel family

Flowers - White or delicate pink, veined with deep pink, about
1/2 in. long. Five sepals; 5 spreading petals rounded at tips; 10
stamens, 5 longer, 5 shorter, all anther-bearing; 1 pistil with 5
stigmatic styles. Scape: Slender, leafless, 1-flowered, 2 to 5
in, high. Leaf: Clover-like, of 3 leaflets, on long petioles from
scaly, creeping rootstock.
Preferred Habitat - Cold, damp woods.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia and Manitoba, southward to North
Carolina. Also a native of Europe.

Clumps of these delicate little pinkish blossoms and abundant
leaves, cuddled close to the cold earth of northern forests,
usually conceal near the dry leaves or moss from which they
spring blind flowers that never open - cleistogamous the
botanists call them - flowers that lack petals, as if they were
immature buds; that lack odor, nectar, and entrance; yet they are
perfectly mature, self-fertilized, and abundantly fruitful.
Fifty-five genera of plants contain one or more species on which
these peculiar products are found, the pea family having more
than any other, although violets offer perhaps the most familiar
instance to most of us. Many of these species bury their
offspring below ground; but the wood-sorrel bears its blind
flowers nodding from the top of a curved scape at the base of the
plant, where we can readily find them. By having no petals, and
other features assumed by an ordinary flower to attract insects,
and chiefly in saving pollen, they produce seed with literally
the closest economy. It is estimated that the average blind
flower of the wood-sorrel does its work with four hundred pollen
grains, while the prodigal peony scatters with the help of wind
and insect visitors over three and a half millions!

Yet no plant, however economically inclined, can afford to
deteriorate its species through self-fertilization; therefore, to
overcome the evils of in-breeding, the wood-sorrel, like other
plants that bear cleistogamous flowers, takes special pains to
produce showy blossoms to attract insects, on which they
absolutely depend to transfer their pollen from flower to flower.
These have their organs so arranged as to make self-fertilization

Every child knows how the wood-sorrel "goes to sleep" by drooping
its three leaflets until they touch back to back at evening,
regaining the horizontal at sunrise - a performance most
scientists now agree protects the peculiarly sensitive leaf from
cold by radiation. During the day, as well, seedling, scape, and
leaves go through some interesting movements, closely followed by
Darwin in his "Power of Movement in Plants," which should be read
by all interested.

Oxalis, the Greek for sour, applies to all sorrels because of
their acid juice; but acetosella = vinegar salt, the specific
name of this plant, indicates that from it druggists obtain salt
of lemons. Twenty pounds of leaves yield between two and three
ounces of oxalic acid by crystallization. Names locally given the
plant in the Old World are wood sour or sower, cuckoo's meat,
sour trefoil, and shamrock - for this is St. Patrick's own
flower, the true shamrock of the ancient Irish, some claim.
Alleluia, another folk-name, refers to the joyousness of the
Easter season, when the plant comes into bloom in England.

  (Oxalis violacea)  Wood-sorrel family

Flowers - Pinkish purple, lavender, or pale magenta; less than 1
in. long; borne on slender stems in umbels or forking clusters,
each containing from 3 to 12 flowers. Calyx of 5 obtuse sepals; 5
petals; 10 (5 longer, 5 shorter) stamens; 5 styles persistent
above 5-celled ovary. Stem: From brownish, scaly bulb 4 to 9 in.
high. Leaves: About 1 in. wide, compounded of 3 rounded,
clover-like leaflets with prominent midrib, borne at end of
slender petioles, springing from root.
Preferred Habitat - Rocky and sandy woods.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Northern United States to Rocky Mountains, south
to Florida and New Mexico; more abundant southward.

Beauty of Leaf and blossom is not the only attraction possessed
by this charming little plant. As a family the wood-sorrels have
great interest for botanists since Darwin devoted such exhaustive
study to their power of movement, and many other scientists have
described the several forms assumed by perfect flowers of the
same species to secure cross-fertilization. Some members of the
clan also bear blind flowers, which have been described in the
account of the white wood-sorrel given above. Even the
rudimentary leaves of the seedlings "go to sleep" at evening, and
during the day are in constant movement up and down. The stems,
too, are restless; and as for the mature leaves, every child
knows how they droop their three leaflets back to back against
the stem at evening, elevating them to the perfect horizontal
again by day. Extreme sensitiveness to light has been thought to
be the true explanation of so much activity, and yet this is not
a satisfactory theory in many cases. It is certain that drooping
leaves suffer far less from frost than those whose upper surfaces
are flatly exposed to the zenith. This view that the sleep of
leaves saves them from being chilled at night by radiation is
Darwin's own, supported by innumerable experiments; and probably
it would have been advanced by Linnaeus, too, since so many of
his observations in "Somnus Plantarum" verify the theory, had the
principle of radiation been discovered in his day.
The violet wood-sorrel produces two sorts of perfect flowers
reciprocally adapted to each other, but on different plants in
the same neighborhood. The two are essentially alike, except in
arrangement of stamens and pistil; one flower having high anthers
and low stigmas, the other having lower anthers and higher
stigmas; and as the high stigmas are fertile only when pollenized
with grains from a flower having high anthers, it is evident
insect aid to transfer pollen is indispensable here. Small bees,
which visit these blossoms abundantly, are their benefactors;
although there is nothing to prevent pollen from falling on the
stigmas of the short-styled form. Hildebrand proved that
productiveness is greatest, or exists only, after legitimate
fertilization. To accomplish cross-pollination, many plants bear
flowers of opposite sexes on different individuals; but the
violet wood-sorrel's plan, utilized by the bluet and
partridge-vine also, has the advantage in that both kinds of its
flowers are fruitful.

  (Polygala viridescens; P. sanguinca of Gray) Milkwort family

Flowers - Numerous, very small, variable; bright magenta, pink,
or almost red, or pale to whiteness, or greenish, clustered in a
globular clover-like head, gradually lengthening to a cylindric
spike. Stem: 6 to 15 in. high, smooth, branched above, leafy.
Leaves: Alternate, narrowly oblong, entire.
Preferred Habitat - Fields and meadows, moist or sandy.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Southern Canada to North Carolina, westward to the

When these bright clover-like heads and the inconspicuous
greenish ones grow together, the difference between them is so
striking it is no wonder Linnaeus thought they were borne by two
distinct species, sanguinea and viridescens, whereas they are now
known to be merely two forms of the same flower. At first glance
one might mistake the irregular little blossom for a member of
the pea family; two of the five very unequal sepals - not petals
- are colored wings. These bright-hued calyx-parts overlap around
the flower-head like tiles on a roof. Within each pair of wings
are three petals united into a tube, split on the back, to expose
the vital organs to contact with the bee, the milkwort's best

Plants of this genus were named polygala, the Greek for much
milk, not because they have milky juice - for it is bitter and
clear - but because feeding on them is supposed to increase the
flow of cattle's milk.

In sandy swamps, especially near the coast from Maine to the
Gulf, and westward to the Mississippi, grows the MARSH or
CROSS-LEAVED MILKWORT (P. cruciata). Most of its leaves,
especially the lower ones, are in whorls of four, and from July
to September its dense, bright purple-pink, white, or greenish
flower-heads, the wings awn-pointed, are seated on the ends of
the square branching stem of this low, mossy little plant.

  (Polygala paucifolia)  Milkwort family

Flowers - Purplish rose, rarely white, showy, over 1/2 in. long,
from 1 to 4 on short, slender peduncles from among upper leaves.
Calyx of 5 unequal sepals, of which 2 are wing-like and highly
colored like petals. Corolla irregular, its crest finely fringed;
6 stamens; pistil. Also pale, pouch-like, cleistogamous flowers
underground. Stem: Prostrate, 6 to 15 in. long, slender, from
creeping rootstock, sending up flowering shoots 4 to 7 in. high.
Leaves: Clustered at summit, oblong, or pointed egg-shaped, 1 1/2
in. long or less; those on lower part of shoots scale-like.
Preferred habitat - Moist, rich woods, pine lands, light soil.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Northern Canada, southward and westward to Georgia
and Illinois.

Gay companies of these charming, bright little blossoms hidden
away in the woods suggest a swarm of tiny mauve butterflies that
have settled among the wintergreen leaves. Unlike the common
milkwort and many of its kin that grow in clover-like heads, each
one of the gay wings has beauty enough to stand alone, Its oddity
of structure, its lovely color and enticing fringe, lead one to
suspect it of extraordinary desire to woo some insect that will
carry its pollen from blossom to blossom and so enable the plant
to produce cross-fertilized seed to counteract the evil
tendencies resulting from the more prolific self-fertilized
cleistogamous flowers buried in the ground below. It has been
said that the fringed polygala keeps "one flower for beauty and
one for use"; "one playful flower for the world, another for
serious use and posterity"; but surely the showy flowers, the
"giddy sisters," borne by all cleistogamous species to save them
from degenerating through close inbreeding, are no idle,
irresponsible beauties. Let us watch a bumblebee as she alights
on the convenient fringe which edges the lower petal of this
milkwort. Now the weight of her body so depresses the keel, or
tubular petals, wherein the stamens and pistil lie protected from
the rain and useless insects, that as soon as it is pressed
downward a spoon-tipped pistil pushes out the pollen through the
slit on the top on the bee's abdomen. The stigmatic surface of
the pistil is on the opposite side of the spoon, nearest the base
of the flower, to guard against self-pollination. After the
pollen has been removed, a bumblebee, already dusted from other
blossoms, must leave some on the stigma as she sucks the nectar.
Indeed, every feature possessed by this pretty flower has been
developed for the most serious purpose of life - the salvation of
the species.

Only locally common throughout a wide area, embracing the eastern
half of the United States and Canada, is the RACEMED MILKWORT (P.
polygama), whose small, purple-pink, but showy flowers, clustered
along the upper part of numerous leafy stems, are found in dry
soil during June and July. Like the fringed milkwort, this one
bears many cleistogamous, or blind flowers, on underground
branches, flowers that always set an abundance of fertile
self-planted seed in case of failure to form any on the part of
their showy sisters, which are utterly dependent upon the bee's
ministrations. During prolonged stormy weather few insects are

  (Hibiscus Moscheutos)  Mallow family

Flowers - Very large, clear rose pink, sometimes white, often
with crimson center, 4 to 7 in. across, solitary, or clustered on
peduncles at summit of stems. Calyx 5-cleft, subtended by
numerous narrow bractlets; 5 large, veined petals; stamens united
into a valvular column bearing anthers on the outside for much of
its length; 1 pistil partly enclosed in the column, and with five
button-tipped stigmatic branches above. Stem: 4 to 7 ft. tall,
stout, from perennial root. Leaves: 3 to 7 in. long, tapering,
pointed, egg-shaped, densely white, downy beneath lower leaves,
or sometimes all, lobed at middle.
Preferred Habitat - Brackish marshes, riversides, lake shores,
saline situations.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to
Louisiana; found locally in the interior, but chiefly along
Atlantic seaboard.

Stately ranks of these magnificent flowers, growing among the
tall sedges and "cat-tails" of the marshes, make the most
insensate traveler exclaim at their amazing loveliness. To reach
them one must don rubber boots and risk sudden seats in the
slippery ooze; nevertheless, with spade in hand to give one
support, it is well worthwhile to seek them out and dig up some
roots to transplant to the garden. Here, strange to say, without
salt soil or more water than the average garden receives from
showers and hose, this handsomest of our wild flowers soon makes
itself delightfully at home under cultivation. Such good, deep
earth, well enriched and moistened, as the hollyhock thrives in,
suits it perfectly. Now we have a better opportunity to note how
the bees suck the five nectaries at the base of the petals and
collect the abundant pollen of the newly opened flowers, which
they perforce transfer to the five button-shaped stigmas
intentionally impeding the entrance to older blossoms. Only its
cousin the hollyhock, a native of China, can vie with the
rose-mallow's decorative splendor among the shrubbery; and the
ROSE OF CHINA (Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis), cultivated in greenhouses
here, eclipse it in the beauty of the individual blossom. This
latter flower, whose superb scarlet corolla stains black, is
employed by the Chinese married women, it is said, to discolor
their teeth; but in the West Indies it sinks to even greater
ignominy as a dauber for blacking shoes!

MARSH MALLOW (Althaea officinalis), a name frequently misapplied
to the swamp rose-mallow, is properly given to a much smaller
pink flower, measuring only an inch and a half across at the
most, and a far rarer one, being a naturalized immigrant from
Europe found only in the salt marshes from the Massachusetts
coast to New York. It is also known as WYMOTE. This is a bushy,
leafy plant, two to four feet high, and covered with velvety down
as a protection against the clogging of its pores by the moisture
arising from its wet retreats. Plants that live in swamps must
"perspire" freely and keep their pores open. From the marsh
mallow's thick roots the mucilage used in confectionery is
obtained, a soothing demulcent long esteemed in medicine. Another
relative, the OKRA or GUMBO PLANT of vegetable gardens (Hibiscus
esculentus), has mucilage enough in its narrow pods to thicken a
potful of soup. Its pale yellow, crimson-centered flowers are
quite as beautiful as any hollyhock, but not nearly so
conspicuous, because of the plant's bushy habit of growth. In
spite of its name, the ALTHAEA of our gardens, or ROSE OF SHARON
(Hibiscus Syriacus), is not so closely allied to Althaea
officinalis as to the swamp rose-mallow.

Another immigrant from Europe and Asia sparingly naturalized in
waste places and roadsides in Canada, the United States, and
(Malva sylvestris). Its purplish-rose flowers, from which the
French have derived their word mauve, first applied to this
plant, appear in small clusters on slender pedicels from the leaf
axils along a leafy, rather weak, but ascending stem, maybe only
a foot high, or perhaps a yard, throughout the summer months. The
leaf, borne on a petiole two to six inches long, is divided into
from five to nine shallow, angular, or rounded saw-edged lobes.
Country children eat unlimited quantities of the harmless little
circular, flattened "cheeses" or seed vessels, a characteristic
of the genus Malva. Since the flower invites a great number of
insects to feast on its nectar, secreted in five little pits
(protected for them from the rain by hairs at the base of the
petals), and compels its visitors to wipe off pollen brought from
the pyramidal group of anthers in a newly opened blossom to the
exserted, radiating stigmas of older ones, the mallow produces
more cheeses than all the dairies of the world. So rich is its
store of nectar that the hive-bee, shut out from a legitimate
entrance to the flower when it closes in the late afternoon,
climbs up the outside of the calyx, and inserting his tongue
between the five petals, empties the nectaries one after another
- intelligent rogue that he is!

The LOW, DWARF, or RUNNING MALLOW (M. rotundifolia), a very
common little weed throughout our territory, Europe, and Asia,
depends scarcely at all upon insects to transfer its pollen, as
might be inferred from its unattractive pale blue to white
flowers, that measure only about half an inch across. In default
of visitors, its pollen-laden anthers, instead of drooping to get
out of the way of the stigmas, as in the showy high mallow,
remain extended so as to come in contact with the rough, sticky
sides of the long curling stigmas. The leaves of this spreading
plant, which are nearly round, with five to nine shallow,
saw-edged lobes, are thin, and furnished with long petioles;
whereas the flowers which spring from their axils keep close to
the main stem. Usually there are about fifteen rounded carpels
that go to make up the Dutch, doll, or fairy cheeses, as the seed
vessels are called by children. Only once is the mallow mentioned
in the Bible, and then as food for the most abject and despised
poor (Job 30: 4); but as eighteen species of mallow grow in
Palestine, who is the higher critic to name the species eaten?

Occasionally we meet by the roadside in Canada, the Eastern,
Middle, and Southern States pink, sometimes white, flowers, about
two inches across, growing in small clusters at the top of a stem
a foot or two high, the whole plant emitting a faint odor of
musk. If the stem leaves are deeply divided into several narrow,
much-cleft segments, and the little cheeses are densely hairy, we
may safely call the plant MUSK MALLOW (M. moschata), and expect
to find it blooming throughout the summer.

  (Triadenum Virginicum; Elodea Virginica of Gray)
St.-John's-wort family

Flowers - Pale magenta, pink, or flesh color, about 1/2 in.
across, in terminal clusters, or from leaf axils. Calyx of 5
equal sepals, persistent on fruit; 5 petals; 9 or more stamens
united in 3 sets; pistil of 3 distinct styles. Stem: to 1 1/2 ft.
high, simple, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, pale, with black,
glandular dots, broadly oblong, entire edged, seated on stem or
clasping by heart-shaped base. Fruit: An oblong, acute, deep red
Preferred Habitat - Swamps and cranberry bogs.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Labrador to the Gulf, and westward to Nebraska.

Late in the summer, after the rather insignificant pink flowers
have withered, this low plant, which almost never lacks some
color in its green parts, greatly increases its beauty by tinting
stems, leaves, and seed vessels with red. Like other members of
the family, the flower arranges its stamens in little bundles of
three, and when an insect comes to feast on the abundant pollen -
no nectar being secreted - he cannot avoid rubbing some off on
the stigmas that are on a level with the anthers. He may
sometimes carry pollen from blossom to blossom, it is true, but
certainly the St.-John's-wort takes no adequate precautions
against self-fertilization at any time. Toward the close of its
existence the flower draws its petals together toward the axils,
thus bringing anthers and stigmas in contact.

  (Lythrum Salicaria)  Loosestrife family

Flowers - Bright magenta (royal purple) or pinkish purple, about
1/2 in. broad, crowded in whorls around long bracted spikes.
Calyx tubular, ribbed, 5 to 7 toothed, with small projections
between. Corolla of 5 or 6 slightly wrinkled or twisted petals.
Stamens, in 2 whorls of 5 or 6 each, and 1 pistil, occurring in
three different lengths. Stem: 2 to 3 ft. high, leafy, branched.
Leaves: Opposite, or sometimes in whorls of 3; lance-shaped, with
heart-shaped base clasping stem.
Preferred Habitat - Wet meadows, watery places, ditches, and
banks of streams.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Eastern Canada to Delaware, and westward through
Middle States; also in Europe.

Through Darwin's patient study of this trimorphic flower, it has
assumed so important a place in his theory of the origin of
species that its fertilization by insects deserves special
attention. On page 5, the method by which the pickerel weed,
another flower whose stamens and pistil occur in three different
lengths, should be read to avoid much repetition. Now the
loosestrife produces six different kinds of yellow and green
pollen on its two sets of three stamens; and when this pollen is
applied by insects to the stigmatic surface of three different
lengths of pistil, it follows that there are eighteen ways in
which it may be transferred. But Darwin proved that only pollen
brought from the shortest stamens to the shortest pistil, from
the middle-length stamens to the middle-length pistil, and from
the long stamens to the long pistil effectually fertilizes the
flower. And as all the flowers on any one plant are of the same
kind, we have here a marvelous mechanism to secure
cross-fertilization. His experiments with this loosestrife also
demonstrated that "reproductive organs, when of different length,
behave to one another like different species of the same genus in
regard both to direct productiveness and the character of the
offspring; and that consequently mutual barrenness, which was
once thought conclusive proof of difference of species, is
worthless as such, and the last barrier that was raised between
species and varieties is broken down." (Muller.)

Naturally the bright-hued, hospitable flower, which secretes
abundant nectar at the base of its tube, attracts many insects,
among others, bees of larger and middle size, and the butterflies
for which it is especially adapted. They alight on the stamens
and pistil on the upper side of the flower. Those with the
longest tongues stand on one blossom to sip from the next one:
this is the butterfly's customary attitude. But nearly every
visitor comes in contact with at least one set of organs. When
Darwin first interpreted the trimorphism of the loosestrife, we
can realize something of the enthusiasm such a man must have felt
in writing to Gray: "I am almost stark, staring mad over
lythrum.... For the love of Heaven have a look at some of your
species, and if you can get me some seed, do!"

Long ago this beautiful plant reached our shores from Europe, and
year by year is extending its triumphal march westward,
brightening its course of empire through low meadows and marshes
with torches that lengthen even as they glow. It is not a spring
flower, even in England; and so when Shakespeare, whose knowledge
of floral nature was second only to that of human nature, wrote
of Ophelia,

    "With fantastic garlands did she come,
     Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,"

is it probable he so combined flowers having different seasons of
bloom? Dr. Prior suggests that the purple orchis (0. mascula)
might have been the flower Ophelia wore; but, as long purples has
been the folk name of this loosestrife from time immemorial in
England, it seems likely that Shakespeare for once may have made
a mistake.

  (Parsonia petiolata; Cuphea viscosissima of Gray)  Loosestrife

Flowers - Purplish pink, about 1/4 in. across, on short peduncles
from leaf axils, solitary or clustered. Calyx sticky, tubular,
12-ribbed, with 6 primary teeth, oblique at mouth, extending into
a rounded swelling on upper side at base; 6 unequal, wrinkled
petals, on short claws; 11 or 12 stamens inserted on calyx
throat; pistil with 2-lobed stigma. Stem: 6 to 20 in. high,
branched, very sticky-hairy. Leaves: Opposite, on slender
petioles, lance-shaped, rounded at base, harsh to the touch.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, waste places, fields, roadsides.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - Rhode Island to Georgia, westward to Louisiana,
Kansas, and Illinois.

A first cousin of the familiar Mexican cigar plant, or
fire-cracker plant (Cuphea platycentra), whose abundant little
vermilion tubes, with black-edged lower lip tipped with white,
brighten the borders of so many Northern flower-beds. Kyphos, the
Greek for curved, from which cuphea was derived, has reference to
the peculiar, swollen little seedpod. From a slit on one side of
the clammy cuphea's capsule the placenta, set with tiny flattened
seeds, sticks out like a handle. Probably the flower has already
fertilized itself in the bud, although, from the fact that the
plant has taken such pains to punish crawling insect foes by
coating itself with sticky hairs, one might imagine it was wholly
dependent upon winged insects to transfer its pollen. What an
unworthy relative of the purple loosestrife, whose elaborate
scheme to insure cross-fertilization is one of the botanical

  (Rhexia Virginica)  Meadow-beauty family

Flowers - Purplish pink, 1 to 1 1/2 in. across, pedicelled,
clustered at top of stem. Calyx 4-lobed, tubular or urn-shaped,
narrowest at neck; 4 rounded, spreading petals, joined for half
their length; 8 equal, prominent stamens in 2 rows; pistil. Stem:
1 to 1 1/2 ft. high, square, more or less hairy, erect, sometimes
branching at top. Leaves: Opposite, ascending, seated on stem,
oval, acute at tip, mostly 5-nerved, the margins saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Sandy swamps or near water.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - United States, chiefly east of Mississippi.

Suggesting a brilliant magenta evening primrose in form, the
meadow-beauty is likewise a rather niggardly bloomer, only a few
flowers in each cluster opening at once; but where masses adorn
our marshes, we cannot wonder so effective a plant is exported to
European peat gardens. Its lovely sister, the MARYLAND
MEADOW-BEAUTY (R. Mariana), a smaller, less brilliant flower,
found no farther north than the swamps and pine barrens of New
Jersey, also goes abroad to be admired; yet neither is of any
value for cutting, for the delicate petals quickly discolor and
drop off when handled. Blossoms so attractively colored naturally
have many winged visitors to transfer their pollen. All too soon
after fertilization the now useless petals fall, leaving the
pretty urn-shaped calyx, with the large yellow protruding
stamens, far more conspicuous than some flowers. "Its
seed-vessels are perfect little cream pitchers of graceful form,"
said Thoreau. Within the smooth capsule the minute seeds are
coiled like snail-shells.

  (Chamaenerion angustifolium; Epilobium angustifolium of Gray)
Evening Primrose family

Flowers - Magenta or pink, sometimes pale, or rarely white, more
or less than 1 in. across, in an elongated, terminal, spike-like
raceme. Calyx tubular, narrow, in 4 segments; 4 rounded,
spreading petals; 8 stamens; 1 pistil, hairy at base; the stigma
4-lobed. Stem: 2 to 8 ft. high, simple, smooth, leafy. Leaves:
Narrow, tapering, willow-like, 2 to 6 in. long. Fruit: A slender,
curved, violet-tinted capsule, from 2 to 3 in. long, containing
numerous seeds attached to tufts of fluffy, white, silky threads.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, fields, roadsides, especially in
burnt-over districts.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - From Atlantic to Pacific, with few interruptions;
British Possessions and United States southward to the Carolinas
and Arizona. Also Europe and Asia.

Spikes of these beautiful brilliant flowers towering upward above
dry soil, particularly where the woodsman's axe and forest fires
have devastated the landscape, illustrate Nature's abhorrence of
ugliness. Other kindly plants have earned the name of fire-weed,
but none so quickly beautifies the blackened clearings of the
pioneer, nor blossoms over the charred trail in the wake of the
locomotive. Beginning at the bottom of the long spike, the
flowers open in slow succession upward throughout the summer,
leaving behind the attractive seed-vessels, which, splitting
lengthwise in September, send adrift white silky tufts attached
to seeds that will one day cover far distant wastes with beauty.
Almost perfect rosettes, made by the young plants, are met with
on one's winter walks.

Epi, upon, and lobos, a pod, combine to make a name applicable to
many flowers of this family. In general structure the fire-weed
closely resembles its relative the evening primrose. Bees, not
moths, however, are its benefactors. Coming to a newly opened
flower, the bee finds abundant pollen on the anthers and a sip of
nectar in the cup below. At this stage the flower keeps its still
immature style curved downward and backward lest it should become
self-fertilized - an evil ever to be guarded against by ambitious
plants. In a few days, or after the pollen has been removed, up
stretches the style, spreading its four receptive stigmas just
where an incoming bee, well dusted from a younger flower, must
certainly leave some pollen on their sticky surfaces.

The GREAT HAIRY WILLOW-HERB (Epilobium hirsutum), whose white
tufted seeds came over from Europe in the ballast to be blown
over Ontario and the Eastern States, spreads also by underground
shoots, until it seems destined to occupy wide areas. In these
showy magenta flowers, about one inch across, the stigmas and
anthers mature simultaneously but cross-fertilization is usually
insured because the former surpass the latter, and naturally are
first touched by the insect visitor. In default of visits,
however, the stigmas, at length curling backward, come in contact
with the pollen-laden anthers. The fire-weed, on the contrary, is
unable to fertilize itself.

A pale magenta-pink or whitish, very small-flowered, branching
species, one to two feet high, found in swamps from New Brunswick
to the Pacific, and southward to Delaware, is the LINEAR-LEAVED
WILLOW-HERB (F. lineare), whose distinguishing features are its
very narrow, acute leaves, its hoariness throughout, the dingy
threads on its tiny seeds, and the occasional bulblets it bears
near the base of the stem. It is scarcely to be distinguished by
one not well up in field practice from another bog lover, the
DOWNY or SOFT WILLOW-HERB (F. strictum), which, however, is a
trifle taller, glandular throughout, and with sessile, not
petioled, leaves. The PURPLE-LEAVED WILLOW-HERB (E. coloratum),
common in low grounds, may best be named by the reddish-brown
coma to which its seeds are attached. Both leaves and stem are
often highly colored.

  (Pyrola uliginosa; P. rotundifolia, var. uliginosa of Gray)
Wintergreen family

Flowers - Magenta pink, fragrant, about 1/2 in. across, 7 to 15
on a leafless scape 6 to 15 in. high. Calyx 5-parted; 5 concave
petals; 10 stamens; style curved upward, exserted. Leaves: From
the root, broadly oval or round, rather thick and dull, on
Preferred Habitat - Swamps and bogs.
Flowering Season - June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to British Columbia, southward to New
York and Colorado.

Fragrant colonies of this little plant cuddled close to the moss
of cool, northern peat bogs draw forth our admiration when we go
orchid hunting in early summer. A similar species, the LIVER-LEAF
WINTERGREEN (P. asarifolia), with shining, not dull, leaves and
rose-colored flowers, not to mention minor differences, is
likewise found in swamps and wet woods. These two wintergreens,
formerly counted mere varieties of the white-flowered
rotundifolia, a lover of dry woods, have now been given specific
individuality by later-day systematists. Short-lipped bees and
flies may be detected in the act of applying their mouths to the
orifices of the anthers through which pollen is shed, and some
must be carried to the stigma of another flower.

  (Chimaphila umbellata)  Wintergreen family

Flowers - Flesh-colored, or pinkish, fragrant, waxy, usually with
deep pink ring around center, and the anthers colored; about 1/2
in. across; several flowers in loose, terminal cluster. Calyx
5-cleft; corolla of 5 concave, rounded, spreading petals; 10
stamens, the filaments hairy style short, conical, with a round
stigma. Stem: Trailing far along ground, creeping, or partly
subterranean, sending up sterile and flowering branches 3 to 10
in. high. Leaves: Opposite or in whorls, evergreen, bright,
shining, spatulate to lance-shaped, sharply saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Dry woods, sandy leaf-mould.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - British Possessions and the United States north of
Georgia from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Also Mexico, Europe,
and Asia.

A lover of winter indeed (cheima = winter and phileo = to love)
is the prince's pine, whose beautiful dark leaves keep their
color and gloss in spite of snow and intense cold. A few yards of
the trailing stem, easily ripped from the light soil of its
woodland home, make a charming indoor decoration, especially when
the little brown seed-cases remain. Few flowers are more
suggestive of the woods than these shy, dainty, deliciously
fragrant little blossoms.

The SPOTTED WINTERGREEN, or PIPSISSEWA (C. maculata), closely
resembles the prince's pine, except that its slightly larger
white or pinkish flowers lack the deep pink ring; and the
lance-shaped leaves, with rather distant saw-teeth, are
beautifully mottled with white along the veins. When we see
short-lipped bees and flies about these flowers, we may be sure
their pollen-covered mouths come in contact with the moist stigma
on the summit of the little top-shaped style, and so effect

  (Azalea nudiflora)  Heath family

Flowers - Crimson pink, purplish or rose pink, to nearly white, 1
1/2 to 2 in. across, faintly fragrant, clustered, opening before
or with the leaves, and developed from cone-like, scaly brown
buds. Calyx minute, 5-parted; corolla funnel-shaped, the tube
narrow, hairy, with 5 regular, spreading lobes; 5 long red
stamens; 1 pistil, declined, protruding. Stem: Shrubby, usually
simple below, but branching above, 2 to 6 ft. high. Leaves:
Usually clustered, deciduous, oblong, acute at both ends, hairy
on midrib.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, rocky woods, or dry woods and
Flowering Season - April-May.
Distribution - Maine to Illinois, and southward to the Gulf.

Woods and hillsides are glowing with fragrant, rosy masses of
this lovely azalea, the Pinxter-bloem or Whitsunday flower of the
Dutch colonists, long before the seventh Sunday after Easter.
Among our earliest exports, this hardy shrub, the swamp azalea,
and the superb flame-colored species of the Alleghanies, were
sent early in the eighteenth century to the old country, and
there crossed with A. Pontica of southern Europe by the Belgian
horticulturalists, to whom we owe the Ghent azaleas, the final
triumphs of the hybridizer, that glorify the shrubberies on our
own lawns to-day. The azalea became the national flower of
Flanders. These hardy species lose their leaves in winter,
whereas the hothouse varieties of A. Indica, a native of China
and Japan, have thickish leaves, almost if not quite evergreen. A
few of the latter stand our northern winters, especially the pure
white variety now quite commonly planted in cemetery lots. In
that delightfully enthusiastic little book, "The Garden's Story,"
Mr. Ellwanger says of the Ghent azalea "In it I find a charm
presented by no other flower. Its soft tints of buff, sulphur,
and primrose; its dazzling shades of apricot, salmon, orange, and
vermilion are always a fresh revelation of color. They have no
parallel among flowers, and exist only in opals, sunset skies,
and the flush of autumn woods." Certainly American
horticulturists were not clever in allowing the industry of
raising these plants from our native stock to thrive on foreign

Naturally the azalea's protruding style forms the most convenient
alighting place for the female bee, its chief friend; and there
she leaves a few grains of pollen, brought on her hairy underside
from another flower, before again dusting herself there as she
crawls over the pretty colored anthers on her way to the nectary.
Honey produced from azaleas by the hive bee is in bad repute. All
too soon after fertilization the now useless corolla slides along
to the tip of the pistil, where it swings a while before dropping
to earth.

Our beautiful wild honeysuckle, called naked (nudiflora), because
very often the flowers appear before the leaves, has a peculiar
Japanese grace on that account. Every farmer's boy's mouth waters
at sight of the cool, juicy May-apple, the extraordinary pulpy
growth on this plant and the swamp pink. This excrescence seems
to have no other use than that of a gratuitous, harmless gift to
the thirsty child, from whom it exacts no reward of carrying
seeds to plant distant colonies, as the mandrake's yellow,
tomato-like May-apple does. But let him beware, as he is likely
to, of the similar looking, but hollow, stringy apples growing on
the bushy Andromeda, which turn black with age.

>From Maine to Florida and westward to Texas, chiefly near the
coast, in low, wet places only need we look for the SWAMP PINK or
HONEYSUCKLE, WHITE or CLAMMY AZALEA (A. viscosa), a more hairy
species than the Pinxter-flower, with a very sticky, glandular
corolla tube, and deliciously fragrant blossoms, by no means
invariably white. John Burroughs is not the only one who has
passed "several patches of swamp honeysuckles, red with blossoms"
("Wake-Robin"). But as this species does not bloom until June and
July, when the sun quickly bleaches the delicate flowers, it is
true we most frequently find them white, merely tinged with pink.
The leaves are well developed before the blossoms appear.
Concerning azaleas' poisonous property, see the discussion under
mountain laurel that follows.

  (Rhodora Canadensis; Rhododendron Rhodora of Gray)  Heath

Flowers - Purplish pink, rose, or nearly white, 1 1/2 in. broad
or less, in clusters on short, stiff, hairy pedicels, and usually
appearing before the leaves, from scaly, terminal buds. Calyx
minute; corolla 2-lipped, upper lip unequally 2-3 lobed; lower
lip 2-cleft; 10 stamens; pistil, the style slightly protruding.
Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, shrubby, branching. Leaves: Deciduous,
oval to oblong, dark green above, pale and hairy beneath.
Preferred Habitat - Wet hillsides, damp woods, beside sluggish
streams, cool bogs.
Flowering Season - May.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Pennsylvania mountains.

A superficial glance at this low, little, thin shrub might
mistake it for a magenta variety of the leafless Pinxter-flower.
It does its best to console the New Englanders for the scarcity
of the magnificent rhododendron, with which it was formerly
classed. The Sage of Concord, who became so enamored of it that
Massachusetts people often speak of it as "Emerson's flower,"
extols its loveliness in a sonnet:

     "Rhodora! If the sages ask thee why
      This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
      Tell them, dear, if eyes were made for seeing,
      Then Beauty is its own excuse for being."

  (Rhododendron maximum)  Heath family

Flowers - Rose pink, varying to white, greenish in the throat,
spotted with yellow or orange, in broad clusters set like a
bouquet among leaves, and developed from scaly, cone-like buds;
pedicels sticky-hairy. Calyx 5-parted, minute; corolla 5-lobed,
broadly bell-shaped, 2 in. broad or less usually 10 stamens,
equally spreading; pistil. Stem: Sometimes a tree attaining a
height of 40 ft., usually 6 to 20 ft., shrubby, woody. Leaves:
Evergreen, drooping in winter, leathery, dark green on both
sides, lance-oblong, 4 to 10 in. long, entire edged, narrowing
into stout petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Mountainous woodland, hillsides near streams.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Uncommon from Ohio and New England to Nova Scotia;
abundant through the Alleghanies to Georgia.

When this most magnificent of our native shrubs covers whole
mountain sides throughout the Alleghany region with bloom, one
stands awed in the presence of such overwhelming beauty. Nowhere
else does the rhododendron attain such size or luxuriance. There
it produces a tall trunk, and towers among the trees; it spreads
its branches far and wide until they interlock and form almost
impenetrable thickets locally called "hells;" it glorifies the
loneliest mountain road with superb bouquets of its delicate
flowers set among dark, glossy foliage scarcely less attractive.
The mountain in bloom is worth travelling a thousand miles to

Farther south the more purplish-pink or lilac-flowered CAROLINA
RHODODENDRON (R. Catawbiense) flourishes. This southern shrub,
which is perfectly hardy, unlike its northern sister, has been
used by cultivators as a basis for producing the fine hybrids now
so extensively grown on lawns in this country and Europe. Crossed
with the Nepal species (R. arboreum) the best results follow.
Americans, ever too prone to make the eagle scream on their trips
abroad, need not monopolize all the glory for the cultivated
rhododendron, as they are apt to do when they see it on fine
estates in England. The Himalayas, which are covered with
rhododendrons of brighter hue than ours, furnish many of the
shrubs of commerce. Our rhododendron produces one of the hardest
and strongest of woods, weighing thirty-nine pounds per cubic

Rhododendrons, azaleas, and laurels fall under a common ban
pronounced by bee-keepers. The bees which transfer pollen from
blossom to blossom while gathering nectar, manufacture honey said
to be poisonous. Cattle know enough to let all this foliage
alone. Apparently the ants fear no more evil results from the
nectar than the bees themselves; and were it not for the sticky
parts nearest the flowers, on which they crawl to meet their
death, the blossom's true benefactors would find little
refreshment left.

  (Kalmia latifolia)  Heath family

Flowers - Buds and new flowers bright rose pink, afterward fading
white, and only lined with pink, 1 in. across, or less, numerous,
in terminal clusters. Calyx small, 5-parted, sticky corolla like
a 5-pointed saucer, with 10 projections on outside; 10 arching
stamens, an anther lodged in each projection; 1 pistil. Stem:
Shrubby, woody, stiffly branched, 2 to 20 ft. high. Leaves:
Evergreen, entire, oval to elliptic, pointed at both ends,
tapering into petioles. Fruit: A round, brown capsule, with the
style long remaining on it.
Preferred Habitat - Sandy or rocky woods, especially in hilly or
mountainous country.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - New Brunswick and Ontario, southward to the Gulf
of Mexico, and westward to Ohio.

It would be well if Americans, imitating the Japanese in making
pilgrimages to scenes of supreme natural beauty, visited the
mountains, rocky, woody hillsides, ravines, and tree-girt uplands
when the laurel is in its glory; when masses of its pink and
white blossoms, set among the dark evergreen leaves, flush the
landscape like Aurora, and are reflected from the pools of
streams and the serene depths of mountain lakes. Peter Kalm, a
Swedish pupil of Linnaeus, who traveled here early in the
eighteenth century, was more impressed by its beauty than that of
any other flower. He introduced the plant to Europe, where it is
known as kalmia, and extensively cultivated on fine estates that
are thrown open to the public during the flowering season. Even a
flower is not without honor, save in its own country. We have
only to prepare a border of leaf-mould, take up the young plant
without injuring the roots or allowing them to dry, hurry them
into the ground, and prune back the bush a little, to establish
it in our gardens, where it will bloom freely after the second

All the kalmias resort to a most ingenious device for compelling
insect visitors to carry their pollen from blossom to blossom. A
newly opened flower has its stigma erected where the incoming bee
must leave on its sticky surface the four minute orange-like
grains carried from the anther of another flower on the hairy
underside of her body. Now, each anther is tucked away in one of
the ten little pockets of the saucer-shaped blossom, and the
elastic filaments are strained upward like a bow. After hovering
above the nectary, the bee has only to descend toward it, when
her leg, touching against one of the hair-triggers of the spring
trap, pop goes the little anther-gun, discharging pollen from its
bores as it flies upward. So delicately is the mechanism
adjusted, the slightest jar or rough handling releases the
anthers; but, on the other hand, should insects be excluded by a
net stretched over the plant, the flowers will fall off and
wither without firing off their pollen-charged guns. At least,
this is true in the great majority of tests. As in the case of
hothouse flowers no fertile seed is set when nets keep away the
laurel's benefactors. One has only to touch the hair-trigger with
the end of a pin to see how exquisitely delicate is this
provision for cross-fertilization.

However much we may be cautioned by the apiculturalists against
honey made from laurel nectar, the bees themselves ignore all
warnings and apparently without evil results - happily for
flowers dependent upon them and their kin. Mr. Frank R. Cheshire,
in "Bees and Bee-keeping," the standard English work on the
subject, writes: "During the celebrated Retreat of the Ten
Thousand, as recorded by Xenophon in his 'Anabasis,' the soldiers
regaled themselves upon some honey found near Trebizonde where
were many beehives. Intoxication with vomiting was the result.
Some were so overcome, he states, as to be incapable of standing.
Not a soldier died, but very many were greatly weakened for
several days. Tournefort endeavored to ascertain whether this
account was corroborated by anything ascertainable in the
locality, and had good reason to be satisfied respecting it. He
concluded that the honey had been gathered from a shrub growing
in the neighborhood of Trebizonde, which is well known there as
producing the before-mentioned effects. It is now agreed that the
plants were species of rhododendron and azaleas. Lamberti
confirms Xenophon's account by stating that similar effects are
produced by honey of Colchis, where the same shrubs are common.
In 1790, even, fatal cases occurred in America in consequence of
eating wild honey, which was traced to Kahmia latifolia by an
inquiry instituted under direction of the American government.
Happily, our American cousins are now never likely to thus
suffer, thanks to drainage, the plow, and the bee-farm."

One of the beautiful swallow-tail butterflies lays its eggs on
laurel leaves, that the larvae may feed on them later; yet the
foliage often proves deadly to more highly organized creatures.
Most cattle know enough to let it alone; nevertheless some fall
victims to it every year. Even the intelligent grouse, hard
pressed with hunger when deep snow covers much of their chosen
food are sometimes found dead and their crops distended by these
leaves. How far more unkind than the bristly armored thistle's is
the laurel's method of protecting itself against destruction!
Even the ant, intent on pilfering sweets secreted for bees, it
ruthlessly glues to death against its sticky stems and calices.
According to Dr. Barton the Indians drink a decoction of kalmia
leaves when they wish to commit suicide.

As laurel wood is very hard and solid, weighing forty-four pounds
to the cubic foot, it is in great demand for various purposes,
one of them indicated in the plant's popular name of Spoon-wood.

NARROW-LEAVED LAUREL (K. angustifolia), and so on through a list
of folk names testifying chiefly to the plant's wickedness in the
pasture, may be especially deadly food for cattle, but it
certainly is a feast to the eyes. However much we may admire the
small, deep crimson-pink flowers that we find in June and July in
moist fields or swampy ground or on the hillsides, few of us will
agree with Thoreau, who claimed that it is "handsomer than the
mountain laurel." The low shrub may be only six inches high, or
it may attain three feet. The narrow evergreen leaves, pale on
the underside, have a tendency to form groups of threes, standing
upright when newly put forth, but bent downward with the weight
of age. A peculiarity of the plant is that clusters of leaves
usually terminate the woody stem, for the flowers grow in whorls
or in clusters at the side of it below.

The PALE or SWAMP LAUREL (K. glauca), found in cool bogs from
Newfoundland to New Jersey and Michigan, and westward to the
Pacific Coast, coats the under side of its mostly upright leaves
with a smooth whitish bloom like the cabbage's. It is a
straggling little bush, even lower than the lamb-kill, and an
earlier bloomer, putting forth its loose, niggardly clusters of
deep rose or lilac-colored flowers in June.

  (Epigaea repens)  Heath family

Flowers - Pink, fading to nearly white, very fragrant about 1/2
in. across when expanded, few or many in clusters at ends of
branches. Calyx of 5 dry overlapping sepals; corolla
salver-shaped, the slender, hairy tube spreading into 5 equal
lobes; 10 stamens; 1 pistil with a column-like style and a
5-lobed stigma. Stem: Spreading over the ground (Epigaea = on the
earth); woody, the leafy twigs covered with rusty hairs. Leaves:
Alternate, oval, rounded at the base, smooth above, more or less
hairy below, evergreen, weather-worn, on short, rusty, hairy
Preferred Habitat - Light sandy loam in woods, especially under
evergreen trees, or in mossy, rocky places.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Florida, west to Kentucky, and the
Northwest Territory.

Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring -
that delicious commingling of the perfume of arbutus, the odor of
pines, and the snow-soaked soil just warming into life? Those who
know the flower only as it is sold in the city streets, tied with
wet, dirty string into tight bunches, withered and forlorn, can
have little idea of the joy of finding the pink, pearly blossoms
freshly opened among the withered leaves of oak and chestnut,
moss, and pine needles in which they nestle close to the cold
earth in the leafless, windy northern forest. Even in Florida,
where broad patches carpet the woods in February, one misses
something of the arbutus's accustomed charm simply because there
are no slushy remnants of snow drifts, no reminders of winter
hardships in the vicinity. There can be no glad surprise at
finding dainty spring flowers in a land of perpetual summer.
Little wonder that the Pilgrim Fathers, after the first awful
winter on the "stern New England coast," loved this early
messenger of hope and gladness above the frozen ground at
Plymouth. In an introductory note to his poem "The Mayflowers,"
Whittier states that the name was familiar in England, as the
application of it to the historic vessel shows; but it was
applied by the English, and still is, to the hawthorn. Its use in
New England in connection with the trailing arbutus dates from a
very early day, some claiming that the first Pilgrims so used it
in affectionate memory of the vessel and its English flower

    "Sad Mayflower I watched by winter stars,
       And nursed by winter gales,
     With petals of the sleeted spars,
       And leaves of frozen sails!

    "But warmer suns ere long shall bring
       To life the frozen sod,
     And through dead leaves of hope shall spring
       Afresh the flowers of God!"

Some have attempted to show that the Pilgrims did not find the
flowers until the last month of spring, and that, therefore, they
were named Mayflowers. Certainly the arbutus is not a typical May
blossom even in New England. Bryant associates it with the
hepatica, our earliest spring flower, in his poem, "The,
Twenty-seventh of March":

               "Within the woods
     Tufts of ground laurel, creeping underneath
     The leaves of the last summer, send their sweets
     Upon the chilly air, and by the oak,
     The squirrel cups, a graceful company
     Hide in their bells a soft aerial blue."

There is little use trying to coax this shyest of sylvan flowers
into our gardens where other members of its family,
rhododendrons, laurels, and azaleas make themselves delightfully
at home. It is wild as a hawk, an untamable creature that slowly
pines to death when brought into contact with civilization.
Greedy street venders, who ruthlessly tear up the plant by the
yard, and others without even the excuse of eking out a paltry
income by its sale, have already exterminated it within a wide
radius of our Eastern cities. How curious that the majority of
people show their appreciation of a flower's beauty only by
selfishly, ignorantly picking every specimen they can find!

In many localities the arbutus sets no fruit, for it is still
undergoing evolutionary changes looking toward the perfecting of
an elaborate system to insure cross-fertilization. Already it has
attained to perfume, nectar, and color to attract quantities of
insects, chiefly flies and small female bees but in some flowers
the anthers produce no pollen for them to carry, while others are
filled with grains, yet all the stigmas in the neighboring
clusters may be defective. The styles and the filaments are of
several different lengths, showing a tendency toward trimorphism,
perhaps, like the wonderful purple loosestrife; but at present
the flower pursues a most wasteful method of distributing pollen,
and in different sections of the country acts so differently that
its phases are impossible to describe except to the advanced
student. They may, however, be best summarized in the words of
Professor Asa Gray: "The flowers are of two kinds, each with two
modifications; the two main kinds characterized by the nature and
perfection of the stigma, along with more or less abortion of the
stamens; their modifications by the length of the style."

When our English cousins speak of the arbutus, they have in mind
a very different species from ours. Theirs is the late flowering
strawberry-tree, an evergreen shrub with clustering white
blossoms and beautiful rough, red berries. Indeed, the name
arbutus is derived from the Celtic word Arboise, meaning rough

  (Oxycoccus macrocarpus; Vaccinium macrocarpon of Gray)
Huckleberry family

Flowers - Light pink, about 1/2 in. across, nodding on slender
pedicels from sides and tips of erect branches. Calyx round, 4-or
5-parted; corolla a long cone in bud, its four or five nearly
separate, narrow petals turned far backward later; 8 or 10
stamens, the anthers united into a protruding cone, its hollow
tubes shedding pollen by a pore at tip. Stem: Creeping or
trailing, slender, woody, 1 to 3 ft. long, its leafy branches 8
in. high or less. Leaves: Small, alternate, oblong, evergreen,
pale beneath, the edges rolled backward. Fruit: An oblong or
ovoid, many seeded, juicy red berry (Oxycoccus = sour berry).
Preferred Habitat - Bogs; sandy, swampy meadows.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - North Carolina, Michigan, and Minnesota northward
and westward.

A hundred thousand people are interested in the berry of this
pretty vine to one who has ever seen its flowers. Yet if the
blossom were less attractive, to insects at least, and took less
pains to shake out its pollen upon them as they cling to the cone
to sip its nectar, few berries would accompany the festive
Thanksgiving turkey. Cultivators of the cranberry know how
important it is to have the flooded bogs well drained before the
flowering season. Water (or ice) may cover the plants to the
depth of a foot or more all winter and until the 10th of May; and
during the late summer it is often advisable to overflow the bogs
to prevent injury of the fine, delicate roots from drought, and
to destroy the worm that is the plant's worst enemy; but until
the flowers have wooed the bees, flies, and other winged
benefactors, and fruit is well formed, every cultivator knows
enough not to submerge his bog. With flowers under water there
are no insect visitors, consequently no berries. Dense mats of
the wiry vines should yield about one hundred and fifty bushels
of berries to the acre, under skilful cultivation - a most
profitable industry, since the cranberry costs less to cultivate,
gather, and market than the strawberry or any of the small
perishable fruits. Planted in muck and sand in the garden, the
vines yield surprisingly good results. The Cape Cod Bell is the
best known market berry. One of the interesting sights to the
city loiterer about the New England coast in early autumn is the
berry picking that is conducted on an immense scale. Men, women,
and children drop all other work; whole villages are nearly
depopulated while daylight lasts; temporary buildings set up on
the edges of the bogs contain throngs of busy people sorting,
measuring, and packing fruit; and lonely railroad stations, piled
high with crates, give the branch line its heaviest freight
business of the year.

  (Dodecatheon Meadia)  Primrose family

Flowers - Purplish pink or yellowish white, the cone tipped with
yellow; few or numerous, hanging on slender, recurved pedicels in
an umbel at top of a simple scape 6 in. to 2 ft. high. Calyx
deeply 5-parted; corolla of 5 narrow lobes bent backward and
upward; the tube very short, thickened at throat, and marked with
dark reddish-purple dots; 5 stamens united into a protruding
cone; 1 pistil, protruding beyond them. Leaves: Oblong or
spatulate 3 to 12 in. long, narrowed into petioles, all from
fibrous roots. Fruit: A 5-valved capsule on erect pedicels.
Preferred Habitat - Prairies, open woods, moist cliffs. Flowering
Season - April-May.
Distribution - Pennsylvania southward and westward, and from
Texas to Manitoba.

Ages ago Theophrastus called an entirely different plant by this
same scientific name, derived from dodeka = twelve, and theos =
gods; and although our plant is native of a land unknown to the
ancients, the fanciful Linnaeus imagined he saw in the flowers of
its umbel a little congress of their divinities seated around a
miniature Olympus! Who has said science kills imagination? These
handsome, interesting flowers so familiar in the Middle West and
Southwest, especially, somewhat resemble the cyclamen in oddity
of form, indeed, these prairie wildflowers are not unknown in
florists' shops in Eastern cities.

Many flowers like the shooting star, cyclamen, and nightshade,
with protruding cones made up of united stamens, are so designed
that, as the bees must cling to them while sucking nectar, they
receive pollen jarred out from the end of the cone on their
undersides. The reflexed petals serve three purposes: First, in
making the flower more conspicuous; secondly, in facilitating
access to nectar and pollen; and, finally, in discouraging
crawling intruders. Where the short tube is thickened, the bee
finds her foothold while she forces her tongue between the anther
tips. The nectar is well concealed and quite deeply seated,
thanks to the rigid cone. Few bee workers are flying at the
shooting star's early blooming season. Undoubtedly the female
bumblebees, which, by striking the protruding stigma before they
jar out any pollen, cross-fertilize it, are the flower's
benefactors; but one frequently sees the little yellow puddle
butterfly clinging to the pretty blossoms.

Very different from the bright yellow cowslip of Europe is our
odd, misnamed blossom.

  (Sabbatia angularis)  Gentian family

Flowers - Clear rose pink, with greenish star in center, rarely
white, fragrant, 1 1/2 in. broad or less, usually solitary on
long peduncles at ends of branches. Calyx lobes very narrow;
corolla of 5 rounded segments; stamens 5; style 2-cleft. Stem:
Sharply 4-angled, 2 to 3 ft. high, with opposite branches, leafy.
Leaves: Opposite, 5-nerved, oval, tapering at tip, and clasping
stem by broad base.
Preferred Habitat - Rich soil, meadows, thickets.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - New York to Florida, westward to Ontario,
Michigan, and Indian Territory.

During the drought of midsummer the lovely rose-pink blooms
inland with cheerful readiness to adapt itself to harder
conditions than most of its moisture-loving kin will tolerate;
but it may be noticed that although we may oftentimes find it
growing in dry soil, it never spreads in such luxuriant clusters
as when the roots are struck beside meadow runnels and ditches.
Probably the plant would be commoner than it is about populous
Eastern districts were it not so much sought after as a tonic

It was the Centaurea, represented here by the blue ragged sailor
of gardens, and not our Centaury, a distinctly American group of
plants, which, Ovid tells us, cured a wound in the foot of the
Centaur Chiron, made by an arrow hurled by Hercules.

Three exquisite members of the Sabbatia tribe keep close to the
Atlantic coast in salt meadows and marshes, along the borders of
brackish rivers, and very rarely in the sand at the edges of
fresh-water ponds a little way inland. From Maine to Florida they
range, and less frequently are met along the shores of the Gulf
of Mexico so far as Louisiana. How bright and dainty and are!
Whole meadows are radiant with their blushing lovliness. Probably
if they consented to live far away from the sea, they would lose
some of the deep, clear pink from out their lovely petals, since
all flowers show a tendency to brighten their colors as they
approach the coast. In England some of the same wildflowers we
have here are far deeper-hued, owing, no doubt to the fact that
they live on a sea-girt, moisture-laden island, and also that the
sun never scorches and blanches at the far north as it does in
the United States.

As might be expected, blossoms so bright of hue as the marsh
pinks attract many insects. Guided by the yellow eye that serves
as a pathfinder to the nectary, they feast on the generour supply
of sweets; but all unwittingly they must pay for their
entertainment by carrying pollen from early to later flowers.
Like so many other blossoms, the sabbatias guard themselves
against the evils of self-fertilization by shedding their pollen
before they mature and spread their two-cleft style, which is now
ready to receive the golden, quickening dust on its stigmatic
inner surfaces.

The SEA or MARSH PINK, or ROSE OF PLYMOUTH (S. stellaris), whose
graceful alternate branching stem attains a height of two feet
only under most favorable conditions, from July to September
opens a succession of pink flowers that often fade to white. The
yellow eye is bordered with carmine. They measure about one inch
across, and are usually solitary at the ends of branches, or else
sway on slender peduncles from the axils. The upper leaves are
narrow and bract-like; those lower down gradually widen as they
approach the root.

Similar to the Rose of Plymouth is the even more graceful SLENDER
MARSH PINK (S. Campanulata - the S. gracilis of Gray), whose
upper leaves are almost thread-like in their narrowness. Its five
calyx lobes, too, are exceedingly slender, and often as long as
the corolla lobes. One of our soldiers in Cuba, during the
Spanish War, sent home to his sister in Massachusetts some of
these same little flowers in a letter. "You would just love to
see the marshes here," he wrote. "They are filled with beautiful
little pink flowers. I wish I knew their names." That soldier had
passed by New England marshes aglow with the blossoms all his
life, but he had never noticed them until all his perceptions
became quickened by the stimulus of travel and the excitement of
war. How blind and deaf we all are in some directions; having
eyes we see not, and ears we hear not, in the natural as in the
spiritual realm.

No danger of confusing the LARGE MARSH PINK (S. dodecandra - S.
chloroides of Gray) with its smaller, more branching relatives.
It displays few flowers to a plant, but each measures two and a
half inches or less across, and has from nine to twelve pink (or
rarely white) petals. This sabbatia often chooses the sandy
borders of ponds for its habitat.

  (Apocynum androsaemifolium)  Dogbane family

Flowers - Delicate pink, veined with a deeper shade, fragrant,
bell-shaped, about 1/3 in. across, borne in loose terminal cymes.
Calyx 5-parted; corolla of 5 spreading, recurved lobes united
into a tube; within the tube 5 tiny, triangular appendages
alternate with stamens; the arrow-shaped anthers united around
the stigma and slightly adhering to it. Stem: 1 to 4 ft. high,
with forking, spreading, leafy branches. Leaves: Opposite,
entire-edged, broadly oval, narrow at base, paler, and more or
less hairy below. Fruit: Two pods about 4 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, thickets, beside roads, lanes, and
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Northern part of British Possessions south to
Georgia, westward to Nebraska.

Everywhere at the North we come across this interesting, rather
shrubby plant, with its pretty but inconspicuous little
rose-veined bells suggesting pink lilies-of-the-valley. Now that
we have learned to read the faces of flowers, as it were, we
instantly suspect by the color, fragrance, pathfinders, and
structure that these are artful wilers, intent on gaining ends of
their own through their insect admirers. What are they up to?

Let us watch. Bees, flies, moths, and butterflies, especially the
latter, hover near. Alighting, the butterfly visitor unrolls his
long tongue and inserts it where the five pink veins tell him to,
for five nectar-bearing glands stand in a ring around the base of
the pistil. Now, as he withdraws his slender tongue through one
of the V-shaped cavities that make a circle of traps, he may
count himself lucky to escape with no heavier toll imposed than
pollen cemented to it. This granular dust he is required to rub
off against the stigma of the next flower entered. Some bees,
too, have been taken with the dogbane's pollen cemented to their
tongues. But suppose a fly call upon this innocent-looking
blossom? His short tongue, as well as the butterfly's, is guided
into one of the V-shaped cavities after he has sipped; but,
getting wedged between the trap's horny teeth, the poor little
victim is held a prisoner there until he slowly dies of
starvation in sight of plenty. This is the penalty he must pay
for trespassing on the butterfly's preserves! The dogbane, which
is perfectly adapted to the butterfly, and dependent upon it for
help in producing fertile seed, ruthlessly destroys all poachers
that are not big or strong enough to jerk away from its vise-like
grasp. One often sees small flies and even moths dead and
dangling by the tongue from the wicked little charmers. If the
flower assimilated their dead bodies as the pitcher plant, for
example, does those of its victims, the fly's fate would seem
less cruel. To be killed by slow torture and dangled like a
scarecrow simply for pilfering a drop of nectar is surely an
execution of justice medieval in its severity.

In July the most splendid of our native beetles, the green dandy
(Eumolpus auratus) fastens itself to the dogbane's foliage in
numbers until often the leaves appear to be studded with these
brilliant little jewels. "It is not easy," says William Hamilton
Gibson, "to describe its burnished hue, which is either
shimmering green, or peacock blue, or purplish-green, or
refulgent ruby, according to the position in which it rests." But
it is not golden, as its specific name would imply. It confines
itself exclusively to the dogbane. To prevent capture, it has a
trick of drawing up its legs and rolling off into the grass its
body so cleverly matches.

>From the silky coma on which the small seeds float away from long
pods to found new colonies, from the opposite leaves, milky
juice, and certain structural resemblances in the flowers, one
might guess this plant belonged to the milkweed tribe. Formerly
it was so classed; and although the botanists have now removed
its family one step away, the milkweed butterflies, especially
the Monarch (Anosia plexippus), ignoring the arbitrary dividing
line of man, still includes the dogbane on its visiting list. We
know that this plant derived its name from the fact that it was
considered poisonous to dogs; and we also know that all the tribe
of milkweed butterflies are provided with protective secretions
which are distasteful to birds and predaceous insects, enjoying
their immunity from attack, it is thought, from the acrid,
poisonous character of the foliage on which the caterpillars

  (Asclepias Syriaca; A. cornuti of Gray)  Milkweed family

Flowers - Dull pale greenish purple pink, or brownish pink, borne
on pedicels, in many flowered, broad umbels. Calyx inferior,
5-parted; corolla deeply 5-cleft, the segments turned backward.
Above them an erect, 5-parted crown, each part called a hood,
containing a nectary, and with a tooth on either side, and an
incurved horn projecting from within. Behind the crown the short,
stout stamens, united by their filaments in a tube, are inserted
on the corolla. Broad anthers united around a thick column of
pistils terminating in a large, sticky, 5-angled disk. The anther
sacs tipped with a winged membrane; a waxy, pear-shaped
pollen-mass in each sac connected with the stigma in pairs or
fours by a dark gland, and suspended by a stalk like a pair of
saddle-bags. Stem: Stout, leafy, usually unbranched, 3 to 5 ft.
high, juice milky. Leaves: Opposite, oblong, entire-edged smooth
above, hairy below, 4 to 9 in. long. Fruit: 2 thick, warty pods,
usually only one filled with compressed seeds attached to tufts
of silky, white, fluffy hairs.
Preferred Habitat - Fields and waste places, roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-September
Distribution - New Brunswick, far westward and southward to North
Carolina and Kansas.

After the orchids, no flowers show greater executive ability,
none have adopted more ingenious methods of compelling insects to
work for them than the milkweeds. Wonderfully have they perfected
their mechanism in every part until no member of the family even
attempts to fertilize itself; hence their triumphal, vigorous
march around the earth, the tribe numbering over nineteen hundred
species located chiefly in those tropical and warm, temperate
regions that teem with insect life.

Commonest of all with us is this rank weed, which possesses the
dignity of a rubber plant. Much more attractive to human eyes, at
least, than the dull, pale, brownish-pink umbels of flowers are
its exquisite silky seed-tufts. But not so with insects. Knowing
that the slightly fragrant blossoms are rich in nectar, bees,
wasps, flies, beetles, and butterflies come to feast. Now, the
visitor finding his alighting place slippery, his feet claw about
in all directions to secure a hold, just as it was planned they
should for in his struggles some of his feet must get caught in
the fine little clefts at the base of the flower. His efforts to
extricate his foot only draw it into a slot at the end of which
lies a little dark-brown body. In a newly opened flower five of
these little bodies may be seen between the horns of the crown,
at equal distances around it. This tiny brown excrescence is hard
and horny, with a notch in its face. It is continuous with and
forms the end of the slot in which the visitor's foot is caught.
Into this he must draw his foot or claw, and finding it rather
tightly held, must give a vigorous jerk to get it free. Attached
to either side of the little horny piece is a flattened yellow
pollen-mass, and so away he flies with a pair of these pollinia,
that look like tiny saddle-bags, dangling from his feet. One
might think that such rough handling as many insects must submit
to from flowers would discourage them from making any more
visits; but the desire for food is a mighty passion. While the
insect is flying off to another blossom, the stalk to which the
saddlebags are attached twists until it brings them together,
that, when his feet get caught in other slots, they may be in the
position to get broken off in his struggles for freedom precisely
where they will fertilize the stigmatic chambers. Now the visitor
flies away with the stalks alone sticking to his claws.
Bumblebees and hive-bees have been caught with a dozen
pollen-masses dangling from a single foot. Outrageous imposition!

Does this wonderful mechanism always work to perfection? Alas!
no. It is a common thing to find dead hive-bees and flies hanging
from the flowers. While still struggling to escape, the unhappy
victims will be attacked by ants, beetles, and spiders, or killed
by heavy showers. Larger and stronger insects than honeybees are
required to regularly effect pollination and free themselves,
especially when they are so unfortunate as to catch several feet
in the grooves. Doubtless it is the bumblebee that can transfer
pollen with impunity; but very many other insects, not perfectly
adapted to the flowers, occasionally benefit them. Among the
large butterflies the Papilios, which suck with their wings in
motion, are the most useful, because in using their legs to
offset the motion of their wings they rapidly repeat those
movements which are necessary to draw the pollinia from the
anther cells and insert them in the stigmatic chambers of other
flowers. "Large butterflies like Danais," says Professor
Robertson, "hold their wings still in sucking, spending more time
on an umbel, but generally carrying pollinia. Small butterflies
are worse than useless. They remain long on the umbels sucking,
but resting their feet superficially on the flowers.

Since several moths were found entrapped, pollination must often
be brought about by night-flying Lepidoptera. As a rule, Diptera
(flies) either do not transfer pollinia at all, or become
hopelessly entangled when they do. "Occasionally pollen-masses
are found on the tongues of insects, especially on those of bees
and wasps, which move about with their unruly member sticking
out. Probably no one has ever made the exhaustive and absorbingly
interesting study of the milkweeds that Professor Robertson has.

Better than any written description of the milkweed blossom's
mechanism is a simple experiment. If you have neither time nor
patience to sit in the hot sun, magnifying glass in hand, and
watch for an unwary insect to get caught, take an ordinary
housefly, and hold it by the wings so that it may claw at one of
the newly opened flowers from which no pollinia have been
removed. It tries frantically to hold on, and with a little
direction it may be led to catch its claws in the slots of the
flower. Now pull it gently away, and you will find a pair of
saddlebags slung over his foot by a slender curved stalk. If you
are rarely skilful, you may induce your fly to withdraw the
pollinia from all five slots on as many of his feet. And they are
not to be thrown or scraped off, let the fly try as hard as he
pleases. You may now invite the fly to take a walk on another
flower in which he will probably leave one or more pollinia in
its stigmatic cavities.

Dr. Kerner thought the milky juice in milkweed plants, especially
abundant in the uppermost leaves and stems, serves to protect the
flowers from useless crawling pilferers. He once started a number
of ants to climb up a milky stalk. When they neared the summit,
he noticed that at each movement the terminal hooks of their feet
cut through the tender epiderm, and from the little clefts the
milky juice began to flow, bedraggling their feet and the hind
part of their bodies. "The ants were much impeded in their
movements," he writes, "and in order to rid themselves of the
annoyance, drew their feet through their mouths. Their movements
however, which accompanied these efforts, simply resulted in
making fresh fissures and fresh discharges of milky juice, so
that the position of the ants became each moment worse and worse.
Many escaped by getting to the edge of a leaf and dropping to the
ground. Others tried this method of escape too late, for the air
soon hardened the milky juice into a tough brown substance, and
after this, all the strugglings of the ants to free themselves
from the viscid matter were in vain." Nature's methods of
preserving a flower's nectar for the insects that are especially
adapted to fertilize it, and of punishing all useless intruders,
often shock us yet justice is ever stern, ever kind in the
largest sense.

If the asclepias really do kill some insects with their juice,
others doubtless owe their lives to it. Among the "protected"
insects are the milkweed butterflies and their caterpillars,
which are provided with secretions that are distasteful to birds
and predaceous insects. "These acrid secretions are probably due
to the character of the plants upon which the caterpillars feed,"
says Dr. Holland, in his beautiful and invaluable "Butterfly
Book." "Enjoying on this account immunity from attack, they have
all, in the process of time, been mimicked by species in other
genera which have not the same immunity." "One cannot stay long
around a patch of milkweeds without seeing the monarch butterfly.
(Anosia plexippus), that splendid, bright, reddish-brown winged
fellow, the borders and veins broadly black, with two rows of
white spots on the outer borders and two rows of pale spots
across the tip of the fore wings. There is a black scent-pouch on
the hind wings. The caterpillar, which is bright yellow or
greenish yellow, banded with shining black, is furnished with
black fleshy 'horns' fore and aft."

Like the dandelion, thistle, and other triumphant strugglers for
survival, the milkweed sends its offspring adrift on the winds to
found fresh colonies afar. Children delight in making pompons for
their hats by removing the silky seed-tufts from pods before they
burst, and winding them, one by one, on slender stems with fine
thread. Hung in the sunshine, how charmingly fluffy and soft they

Among the comparatively few butterfly flowers - although, of
course, other insects not adapted to them are visitors - is the
PURPLE MILKWEED (A. purpurasceus), whose deep magenta umbels are
so conspicuous through the summer months. Hummingbirds
occasionally seek it too. From Eastern Massachusetts to Virginia,
and westward to the Mississippi, or beyond, it is to be found in
dry fields, woods, and thickets.

The SWAMP MILKWEED (A. incarnata), on the other hand, rears its
intense purplish-red or pinkish hoods in wet places. Its leaves
are lance-shaped or oblong-lanceolate, whereas the purple
milkweed's leaves are oblong or ovate-oblong. This is a smooth
plant; and a similar species once reckoned as a mere variety (A.
pulchra) is the HAIRY MILKWEED. It differs chiefly in having some
hairs on the under side of its leaves, and a great many hairs on
its stem. Both plants bear erect, rather slender, tapering pods.

The POKE or TALL MILKWEED (A. exaltata - A. phytolaecoides of
Gray) may attain a height of six feet if the moist soil in which
it grows be exactly to its liking. Drooping or spreading umbels
of flowers whose corolla segments are pale purplish green, and
whose crown is clear ivory white or pink, appear from June to
August from Maine to Georgia and far westward. Sometimes the
tapering oblong leaves may be nine inches long. The erect
seedpods are drawn out to an unusually long point.

One may always distinguish the low-growing FOUR-LEAVED MILKWEED
(A. quadrifolia) from its relatives of ranker growth by its
general air of refinement, as well as by the two pairs of thin,
tapering leaves that grow in an upright whorl near the middle of
the slender stem. Usually there are no leaves on the lower part.
Small terminal umbels of delicate pink and white fragrant
flowers, which appear from May till July, give place to very
narrow pointed pods in late summer. From Maine to Ontario
southward to North Carolina and Arkansas is its range, in woods
and thickets chiefly.


  (Convolvulus sepium; Calystegia sepium of Gray)  Morning-glory

Flowers - Light pink, with white stripes or all white,
bell-shaped, about 2 in. long, twisted in the bud, solitary, on
long peduncles from leaf axils. Calyx of 5 sepals, concealed by 2
large bracts at base. Corolla 5-lobed, the 5 included stamens
inserted on its tube; style with 2 oblong stigmas. Stem: Smooth
or hairy, 3 to 10 ft. long, twining or trailing over ground.
Leaves: Triangular or arrow-shaped, 2 to 5 in. long, on slender
Preferred Habitat - Wayside hedges, thickets, fields, walls.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to North Carolina, westward to
Nebraska. Europe and Asia.

No one need be told that the pretty, bell-shaped pink and white
flower on the vigorous vine clambering over stone walls and
winding about the shrubbery of wayside thickets in a suffocating
embrace is akin to the morning-glory of the garden trellis (C.
major). An exceedingly rapid climber, the twining stem often
describes a complete circle in two hours, turning against the
sun, or just contrary to the hands of a watch. Late in the
season, when an abundance of seed has been set, the flower can
well afford to keep open longer hours, also in rainy weather; but
early in the summer, at least, it must attend to business only
while the sun shines and its benefactors are flying. Usually it
closes at sundown. On moonlight nights, however, the hospitable
blossom keeps open for the benefit of certain moths. In Europe
the plant's range is supposed to be limited to that of a
crepuscular moth (Sphinx convolvuli), and where that benefactor
is rare, as in England, the bindweed sets few seeds where it does
not occur, as in Scotland, this convolvulus is seldom found wild;
whereas in Italy Delpino tells of catching numbers of the moths
in hedges overgrown with the common plant, by standing with thumb
and forefinger over a flower, ready to close it when the insect
has entered. We know that every floral clock is regulated by the
hours of flight of its insect friends. When they have retired,
the flowers close to protect nectar and pollen from useless
pilferers. In this country various species of bees chiefly
fertilize the bindweed blossoms. Guided by the white streaks, or
pathfinders, they crawl into the deep tube and sip through one of
the five narrow passages leading to the nectary. A transverse
section of the flower cut to show these five passages standing in
a circle around the central ovary looks like the end of a
five-barreled revolver. Insects without a suitably long proboscis
are, of course, excluded by this arrangement.

>From July until hard frost look for that exquisite little beetle,
Cassida aurichalcea, like a drop of molten gold, clinging beneath
the bindweed's leaves. The small perforations reveal his hiding
places. "But you must be quick if you would capture him," says
William Hamilton Gibson, "for he is off in a spangling streak of
glitter. Nor is this golden sheen all the resource of the little
insect; for in the space of a few seconds, as you hold him in
your hand, he has become a milky, iridescent opal, and now
mother-of-pearl, and finally crawls before you in a coat of dull
orange." A dead beetle loses all this wonderful luster. Even on
the morning-glory in our gardens we may sometimes find these
jeweled mites, or their fork-tailed, black larvae, or the tiny
chrysalids suspended by their tails, although it is the wild
bindweed that is ever their favorite abiding place.

The small FIELD BINDWEED (C. arvensis), a common immigrant from
Europe, which has taken up its abode from Nova Scotia and Ontario
southward to New Jersey, and westward to Kansas, trails over the
ground with a deathless persistency which fills farmers with
dismay. It is like a small edition of the hedge bind weed, only
its calyx lacks the leaf-like bracts at its base, its slender
stem rarely exceeds two feet in length, and the little pink and
white flowers often grow in pairs. Their habit of closing both in
the evening and in rainy weather indicates that they are adapted
for diurnal insects only; but if the bell hang down, or if the
corolla drop off, the pollen must fall on the stigma and effect
self-fertilization. Many more insects visit this flower than the
large bindweed, attracted by the peculiar fragrance, and led by
the white streaks to the orange-colored under surface of the
ovary, where the nectar lies concealed. Stigmas and anthers
mature at the same time; but as the former are slightly the
longer, they receive pollen brought from another flower before
the visitor gets freshly dusted.

  (Phlox subulata)  Phlox family

Flowers - Very numerous, small, deep purplish pink, lavender or
rose, varying to white, with a darker eye, growing in simple
cymes, or solitary in a Western variety. Calyx with 5 slender
teeth; corolla salver-form with 5 spreading lobes; 5 stamens
inserted on corolla tube; style 3-lobed. Stems: Rarely exceeding
6 in. in height, tufted like mats, much branched, plentifully set
with awl-shaped, evergreen leaves barely 1/2 in. long, growing in
tufts at joints of stem.
Preferred Habitat - Rocky ground, hillsides.
Flowering Season - April-June
Distribution - Southern New York to Florida, westward to Michigan
and Kentucky.

A charming little plant, growing in dense evergreen mats with
which Nature carpets dry, sandy, and rocky hillsides, is often
completely hidden beneath its wealth of flowers. Far beyond its
natural range, as well as within it, the moss pink glows in
gardens, cemeteries and parks, wherever there are rocks to
conceal or sterile wastes to beautify. Very slight encouragement
induces it to run wild. There are great rocks in Central Park,
New York, worth travelling miles to see in early May, when their
stern faces are flushed and smiling with these blossoms.

Another low ground species is the CRAWLING PHLOX (P. reptans). It
rarely exceeds six inches in height; nevertheless its larger
pink, purple, or white flowers, clustered after the manner of the
tall garden phloxes, are among the most showy to be found in the
spring woods. A number of sterile shoots with obovate leaves,
tapering toward the base, rise from the runners and set off the
brilliant blossoms among their neat foliage. From Pennsylvania
southward and westward is its range, especially in mountainous
regions; but this plant, too, was long ago transplanted from
Nature's gardens into man's.

Large patches of the DOWNY PHLOX (P. pilosa) brighten dry prairie
land with its pinkish blossoms in late spring. Britton and
Brown's botany gives its range as "Ontario to Manitoba, New
Jersey, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas." The plant does its best to
attain a height of two feet; usually its flowers are much nearer
the ground. Butterflies, the principal visitors of most phloxes,
although long-tongued bees and even flies can sip their nectar,
are ever seen hovering above them and transferring pollen,
although in this species the style is so short pollen must often
fall into the tube and self-fertilize the stigma. To protect the
flowers from useless crawling visitors, the calices are coated
with sticky matter, and the stems are downy.

  (Physostegia Virginiana)  Mint family

Flowers - Pale magenta, purplish rose, or flesh-colored, often
variegated with white, 1 in. long or over, in dense spikes from 4
to 8 in. long. Calyx a 5-toothed oblong bell, swollen and
remaining open in fruit, held up by lance-shaped bracts. Corolla
tubular and much enlarged where it divides into 2 lips, the upper
lip concave, rounded, entire, the lower lip 3 lobed. Stamens 4,
in two pairs under roof of upper lip, the filaments hairy; 1
pistil. Stem: 1 to 4 ft. high, simple or branched above, leafy.
Leaves: Opposite, firm, oblong to oblong-lanceolate, narrowing at
base, deeply saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Quebec to the Northwest Territory, southward to
the Gulf of Mexico as far west as Texas.

Bright patches of this curious flower enliven railroad ditches,
gutters, moist meadows and brooksides - curious, for it has the
peculiarity of remaining in any position in which it is placed.
With one puff a child can easily blow the blossoms to the
opposite side of the spike, there to stay in meek obedience to
his will. "The flowers are made to assume their definite
position," says Professor W. W. Bailey in the "Botanical
Gazette," "by friction of the pedicels against the subtending
bracts. Remove the bracts, and they at once fall limp."

Qf course the plant has some better reason for this peculiar
obedience to every breath that blows than to amuse windy-cheeked
boys and girls. Is not the ready movement useful during stormy
weather in turning the mouth of the flower away from driving
rain, and in fair days, when insects are abroad, in presenting
its gaping lips where they can best alight? We all know that
insects, like birds, make long flights most easily with the wind,
but in rising and alighting it is their practice to turn against
it. When bees, for example, are out for food on windy days, and
must make frequent stops for refreshment among the flowers, they
will be found going against the wind, possibly to catch the
whiffs of fragrance borne on it that guide them to feast, but
more likely that they may rise and alight readily. One always
sees bumblebees conspicuous among the obedient plant's visitors.
After the anthers have shed their pollen - and tiny teeth at the
edges of the outer pair aid its complete removal by insects - the
stigma comes up to occupy their place under the roof. Certainly
this flower; which is so ill-adapted to fertilize itself, has
every reason to court insect messengers in fair and stormy

  (Leonurus Cardiaca)  Mint family.

Flowers - Dull purple pink, pale purple, or white, small,
clustered in axils of upper leaves. Calyx tubular, bell-shaped,
with 5 rigid awl-like teeth; corolla 2-lipped, upper lip arched,
woolly without; lower lip 3-lobed, spreading, mottled; the tube
with oblique ring of hairs inside. Four twin-like stamens,
anterior pair longer, reaching under upper lip; style 2-cleft at
summit. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. tall, straight, branched, leafy,
purplish. Leaves: Opposite, on slender petioles; lower ones
rounded, 2 to 4 in. broad, palmately cut into 2 to 5 lobes; upper
leaves narrower, 3-cleft or 3- toothed.
Preferred Habitat - Waste places near dwellings.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia southward to North Carolina, west to
Minnesota and Nebraska. Naturalized from Europe and Asia.

"One is tempted to say that the most human plants, after all, are
the weeds," says John Burroughs. "How they cling to man and
follow him around the world, and spring up wherever he sets foot
How they crowd around his barns and dwellings, and throng his
garden, and jostle and override each other in their strife to be
near him! Some of them are so domestic and familiar, and so
harmless withal, that one comes to regard them with positive
affection. Motherwort, catnip, plantain, tansy, wild mustard -
what a homely, human look they have! They are an integral part of
every old homestead. Your smart, new place will wait long before
they draw near it."

How the bees love this generous, old-fashioned entertainer! One
nearly always sees them clinging to the close whorls of flowers
that are strung along the stem, and of course transferring
pollen, in recompense, as they journey on. A more credulous
generation imported the plant for its alleged healing virtues.
What is the significance of its Greek name, meaning a lion's
tail? Let no one suggest, by a far-stretched metaphor, that our
grandmothers, in Revolutionary days, enjoyed pulling it to vent
their animosity against the British.

  (Monarda fisiulosa)  Mint family

Flowers - Extremely variable, purplish, lavender, magenta, rose,
pink, yellowish pink, or whitish, dotted; clustered in a
solitary, nearly flat terminal head. Calyx tubular, narrow,
5-toothed, very hairy within. Corolla 1 to 1 1/2 in. long,
tubular, 2-lipped, upper lip erect, toothed; lower lip spreading,
3-lobed, middle lobe longest; 2 anther-bearing stamens
protruding; 1 pistil; the style 2-lobed. Stem: 2 to 3 ft. high,
rough, branched. Leaves: Opposite, lance-shaped, saw-edged, on
slender petioles, aromatic, bracts and upper leaves whitish or
the color of flower.
Preferred Habitat - Open woods, thickets, dry rocky hills.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Eastern Canada and Maine, westward to Minnesota,
south to Gulf of Mexico.

Half a dozen different shades of bloom worn by this handsome,
robust perennial afford an excellent illustration of the trials
that beset one who would arbitrarily group flowers according to
color. If the capricious blossom shows a decided preference for
any shade, it is for magenta, the royal purple of the ancients,
scarcely tolerated now except by Hoboken Dutch and the belles of
the kitchen, whose Sunday hats are resplendent with intense

Only a few bergamot flowers open at a time; the rest of the
slightly rounded head, thickly set with hairy calices, looks as
if it might be placed in a glass cup and make an excellent pen
wiper. If the cultivated human eye (and stomach) revolt at
magenta, It is ever a favorite shade with butterflies. They
flutter in ecstasy over the gay flowers; indeed, they are the
principal visitors and benefactors, for the erect corollas,
exposed organs, and level-topped heads are well adapted to their
requirements. That exquisite little feathered jewel, the
ruby-throated hummingbird, flashes about the bright patches an
instant, and is gone; but he too has paid for his feast in
transferring pollen. Insects which land anywhere they please on
the flowers, receive pollen on various places, just as in the
case of the scarlet Oswego tea, of similar formation. Small bees,
which if unable to drain the brimming tubes of nectar, at least
sip from them and help themselves to pollen also, without paying
the flower's price; and certain mischievous wasps, forever bent
on nipping holes in tubes they cannot honestly drain, give a
score of other pilferers an opportunity to steal sweets.

  (Chelone glabra)  Figwort family

Flowers - White tinged with pink, or all white, about 1 in. long,
growing in a dense terminal cluster. Calyx 5-parted, bracted at
base; corolla irregular, broadly tubular, 2-lipped; upper lip
arched, swollen, slightly notched; lower lip 3-lobed, spreading,
woolly within; 5 stamens, sterile, 4 in pairs, anther-bearing,
woolly; 1 pistil. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, erect, smooth, simple,
leafy. Leaves: Opposite, lance-shaped, saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Ditches, beside streams, swamps.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Florida, and half way across the

It requires something of a struggle for even so strong and
vigorous an insect as the bumblebee to gain admission to this
inhospitable-looking flower before maturity; and even he abandons
the attempt over and over again in its earliest stage before the
little heart-shaped anthers are prepared to dust him over. As
they mature, it opens slightly, but his weight alone is
insufficient to bend down the stiff, yet elastic, lower lip.
Energetic prying admits first his head, then he squeezes his body
through, brushing past the stamens as he finally disappears
inside. At the moment when he is forcing his way in, causing the
lower lip to spring up and down, the eyeless turtle seems to chew
and chew until the most sedate beholder must smile at the
paradoxical show. Of course it is the bee that is feeding, though
the flower would seem to be masticating the bee with the keenest
relish The counterfeit tortoise soon disgorges its lively
mouthful, however, and away flies the bee, carrying pollen on his
velvety back to rub on the stigma of an older flower. After the
anthers have shed their pollen and become effete, the stigma
matures, and occupies their place. By this time the flower
presents a wider entrance, and as the moisture-loving plant keeps
the nectaries abundantly filled, what is to prevent insects too
small to come in contact with anthers and stigma in the roof from
pilfering to their heart's content? The woolly throat discourages
many, to be sure; but the turtle-head, like its cousins the
beard-tongues, has a sterile fifth stamen, whose greatest use is
to act as a drop-bar across the base of the flower. The
long-tongued bumblebee can get his drink over the bar, but
smaller, unwelcome visitors are literally barred out.

If bees are the preferred visitors of the turtle-head, why do we
find the Baltimore butterfly, that very beautiful, but freaky,
creature (Melitaea phaeton) hovering near? - that is, when we
find it at all; for where it is present, it swarms, and keeps
away from other localities altogether. On the under side of the
leaves we shall often see patches of its crimson eggs. Later the
caterpillars use the plant as their main, if not exclusive, food
store. They are the innocent culprits which nine times out of ten
mutilate the foliage.

  (Gerardia purpurea)  Figwort family

Flowers - Bright purplish pink, deep magenta, or pale to whitish,
about 1 in. long and broad, growing along the rigid, spreading
branches. Calyx 5-toothed; corolla funnel-form, the tube much
inflated above and spreading into 5 unequal, rounded lobes,
spotted within, or sometimes downy; 4 stamens in pairs, the
filaments hairy; 1 pistil. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2 ft. high, slender,
branches erect or spreading. Leaves: Opposite, very narrow, 1 to
1 1/2 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Low fields and meadows; moist, sandy soil.
Flowering Season - August-October.
Distribution - Northern United States to Florida, chiefly along
Atlantic coast.

Low-lying meadows gay with gerardias were never seen by that
quaint old botanist and surgeon, John Gerarde, author of the
famous "Herball or General Historie of Plants," a folio of nearly
fourteen hundred pages, published in London toward the close of
Queen Elizabeth's reign. He died without knowing how much he was
to be honored by Linnaeus in giving his name to this charming
American genus.

Large patches of the lavender-pink gerardia, peeping above the
grass, make the wayfarer pause to feast his eyes, while the
practical bee, meanwhile, takes a more substantial meal within
the spreading funnels. It is his practice to hang upside down
while sucking, using the hairs on the filaments as footholds.
Naturally he receives the pollen on his underside - just where it
will be rubbed off against the stigma impeding his entrance to
the next funnel visited. Any of the very dry pollen that may have
fallen on the hairy filaments drops upon him.

    "And 'tis my faith that every flower
     Enjoys the air it breathes,"

chanted Wordsworth. It is a special pity to gather the gerardias,
which, as they grow, seem to enjoy life to the full, and when
picked, to be so miserable they turn black as they dry. Like
their relatives the foxgloves, they are difficult to transplant,
because it is said they are more or less parasitic, fastening
their roots on those of other plants. When robbery becomes
flagrant, Nature brands sinners in the vegetable kingdom by
taking away their color, and perhaps their leaves, as in the case
of the broom-rape and Indian pipe; but the fair faces of the
gerardias and foxgloves give no hint of the petty thefts
committed under cover of darkness in the soil below.

The SMALL-FLOWERED GERARDIA (G. Paupercula) so like the preceding
species it was once thought to be a mere variety, ranges westward
as far as Wisconsin, especially about the Great Lakes. But it is
a lower plant, with more erect branches, smaller flowers, quite
woolly within, and with a decided preference for bogs as well as
low meadows.

In salt marshes along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico,
from Maine to Louisiana, the SEA-SIDE GERARDIA (G. maritima)
flowers in midsummer, or a few weeks ahead of the autumnal,
upland species. The plant, which rarely exceeds a foot in height,
is sometimes only four inches above ground; and although at the
North the paler magenta blossoms are only about half the length
of the purple gerardias, in the South they are sometimes quite as

In dry woods and thickets, on banks and hills from Quebec to
Georgia, and westward to the Mississippi we find the SLENDER
GERARDIA (G. tenuifolia), its pale magenta, spotted, compressed
corolla about half an inch long; its very slender, low stem set
with exceedingly narrow leaves.

  (Linnaea borealis)  Honeysuckle family

Flowers - Delicate pink or white tinged with rose, bell-shaped,
about 1/2 in. long, fragrant, nodding in pairs on slender, curved
pedicels from an erect peduncle, 2-bracted where they join. Calyx
5-toothed, sticky; corolla 5-lobed, bell-shaped, hairy within; 4
stamens in pairs inserted near base of tube; 1 pistil. Stem:
Trailing, 6 in. to 2 ft. long; the branches erect. Leaves:
Opposite, rounded, petioled, evergreen.
Preferred Habitat - Deep, cool, mossy woods.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Northern parts of America, Europe, and Asia. In
the United States southward as far as the mountains of Maryland,
and the Sierra Nevadas in California.

With the consent of modest Linnaeus himself, Dr. Gronovius
selected this typical woodland blossom to transmit the great
master's flame to posterity -

    "Monument of the man of flowers."

But small and shy as it is, does Nature's garden contain a
lovelier sight than scores of these deliciously fragrant pink
bells swaying above a carpet of the little evergreen leaves in
the dim aisle of some deep, cool, lonely forest? Trailing over
prostrate logs and mossy rocks, racing with the partridge vine
among the ferns and dwarf cornels, the plant sends up "twin-born
heads" that seem more fair and sweet than the most showy pampered
darlings of the millionaire's conservatory. Little wonder that
Linnaeus loved these little twin sisters, or that Emerson
enshrined them in his verse.

Contrary to popular impression, this vine, that suggests the dim
old forest and exhales the very breath of the spring woods, will
consent to run about our rock gardens, although it seems almost a
sacrilege to move it from natural surroundings so impressively
beautiful. Unlike the arbutus, which remains ever a wildling,
pining slowly to death on close contact with civilization, the
twin-flower thrives in light, moist garden soil where the sun
peeps for a little while only in the morning. By nodding its head
the flower protects its precious contents from rain, the hairs
inside exclude small pilferers; but bees, attracted by the
fragrance and color, are guided to the nectary by five dark lines
and a patch of orange color near it.

  (Eupatorium purpureum)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Pale or dull magenta or lavender pink, slightly
fragrant, of tubular florets only, very numerous, in large,
terminal, loose, compound clusters, generally elongated. Several
series of pink overlapping bracts form the oblong involucre from
which the tubular floret and its protruding fringe of
style-branches arise. Stem: 3 to 10 ft. high, green or purplish,
leafy, usually branching toward top. Leaves: In whorls of 3 to 6
(usually 4), oval to lance-shaped, saw-edged, petioled, thin,
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil, meadows, woods, low ground.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to
Manitoba and Texas.

Towering above the surrounding vegetation of low-lying meadows,
this vigorous composite spreads clusters of soft, fringy bloom
that, however deep or pale of tint, are ever conspicuous
advertisements, even when the goldenrods, sunflowers, and asters
enter into close competition for insect trade. Slight fragrance,
which to the delicate perception of butterflies is doubtless
heavy enough, the florets' color and slender tubular form
indicate an adaptation to them, and they are by far the most
abundant visitors, which is not to say that long-tongued bees and
flies never reach the nectar and transfer pollen, for they do.
But an excellent place for the butterfly collector to carry his
net is to a patch of Joe-Pye weed in September. As the spreading
style-branches that fringe each tiny floret are furnished with
hairs for three-quarters of their length, the pollen caught in
them comes in contact with the alighting visitor. Later, the
lower portion of the style-branches, that is covered with
stigmatic papillae along the edge, emerges from the tube to
receive pollen carried from younger flowers when the visitor sips
his reward. If the hairs still contain pollen when the stigmatic
part of the style is exposed, insects self-fertilize the flower;
and if in stormy, weather no insects are flying, the flower is
nevertheless able to fertilize itself, because the hairy fringe
must often come in contact with the stigmas of neighboring
florets. It is only when we study flowers with reference to their
motives and methods that we understand why one is abundant and
another rare. Composites long ago utilized many principles of
success in life that the triumphant Anglo-Saxon carries into
larger affairs today.

Joe-Pye, an Indian medicine-man of New England, earned fame and
fortune by curing typhus fever and other horrors with decoctions
made from this plant.

  (Arctium minus; Lappa officinalis: var. minor of Gray)  Thistle

Flower-heads - Composite of tubular florets only, about 1/2 in.
broad; magenta varying to purplish or white; the prominent round
involucre of many overlapping leathery bracts, tipped with hooked
bristles. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. high, simple or branching, coarse.
Leaves: Large, the lower ones often 1 ft. long, broadly ovate,
entire edged, pale or loosely cottony beneath, on hollow
Preferred Habitat - Waste ground, waysides, fields, barnyards.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - Common throughout our area. Naturalized from

A larger burdock than this (A. Lappa) may be more common in a few
localities of the East, but wherever one wanders, this plebeian
boldly asserts itself. In close-cropped pastures it still
flourishes with the well-armed thistles and mulleins, for the
great leaves contain an exceedingly bitter, sour juice,
distasteful to grazers. Nevertheless the unpaid cattle, like
every other beast and man, must nolens volens transplant the burs
far away from the parent plant to found new colonies. Literally
by hook or by crook they steal a ride on every switching tail,
every hairy dog and woolly sheep, every trouser-leg or petticoat.
Even the children, who make dolls and baskets of burdock burs,
aid them in their insatiate love of travel. Wherever man goes,
they follow, until, having crossed Europe - with the Romans? -
they are now at home throughout this continent. Their vitality is
amazing; persecution with scythe and plow may retard, but never
check their victorious march. Opportunity for a seed to germinate
may not come until late in the summer; but at once the plant sets
to work putting forth flowers and maturing seed, losing no time
in developing superfluous stalk and branches. Butterflies, which,
like the Hoboken Dutch, ever delight in magenta, and bees of
various kinds, find these flowers, with a slight fragrance as an
additional attraction, generous entertainers.

Pink, of all colors, is the most unstable in our flora, and the
most likely to fade. Magentas incline to purple, on the one hand,
or to pure pink on the other, and delicate shades quickly blanch
when long exposed to the sun's rays. Thus we frequently find
white blossoms of the once pink rhododendron, laurel, azalea,
bouncing Bet, and turtle-head. Albinos, too, regularly occur in
numerous species. Many colored flowers show a tendency among
individuals to revert to the white type of their ancestors. The
reader should bear these facts in mind, and search for his
unidentified flower in the previous section or in the following
one if this group does not contain it.


"The transition from wind-fertilization to insect-fertilization
and the first traces of adaptation to insects, could only be due
to the influence of quite short-lipped insects with feebly
developed color sense. The most primitive flowers are therefore
for the most part simple, widely open, regular, devoid of nectar
or with their nectar unconcealed and easily accessible, and
greenish, white, or yellow in color.... Lepidoptera, by the
thinness, sometimes by the length, of their tongues, were able to
produce special modifications. Through their agency were
developed flowers with long and narrow tubes, whose colors and
time of opening were in relation to the tastes and habits of
their visitors." - Hermann Muller.

"Of all colors, white is the prevailing one; and of white flowers
a considerably larger proportion smell sweetly than of any other
color, namely, 14.6 per cent; of red only 8.2 per cent are
odoriferous. The fact of a large proportion of white flowers
smelling sweetly may depend in part on those which are fertilized
by moths requiring the double aid of conspicuousness in the dusk
and of odor. So great is the economy of Nature, that most flowers
which are fertilized by crepuscular or nocturnal insects emit
their odor chiefly or exclusively in the evening." - Charles

  (Alisma Plantago-aquatica)  Water-plantain family

Flowers - Very small and numerous, white, or pale pink, whorled
in bracted clusters forming a large, loose panicle 6 to 15 in.
long on a usually solitary scape 1/2 to 3 ft. high. Calyx of 3
sepals corolla of 3 deciduous petals; 6 or more stamens; many
carpels in a ring on a small flat receptacle. Leaves: Erect or
floating, oblong or ovate, with several ribs, or lance-shaped or
grass-like, petioled, all from root.
Perferred Habitat - Shallow water, mud, marshes.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - North America, Europe, Asia.

Unlike its far more showy, decorative cousin the arrow-head, this
wee-blossomed plant, whose misty white panicles rise with
compensating generosity the world around, bears only perfect,
regular flowers. Twelve infinitesimal drops of nectar, secreted
in a fleshy ring around the center, are eagerly sought by flies.
As the anthers point obliquely outward and away from the stigmas,
an incoming fly, bearing pollen on his under side, usually
alights in the center, and leaves some of the vitalizing dust
just where it is most needed. But a "fly starting from a petal,"
says Muller, "usually applies its tongue to the nectar-drops one
by one, and after each it strokes an anther with its labellae; in
so doing it may bring various parts of its body in contact with
the anthers. As a rule, however, the parts which come in contact
with the anthers are not those which come in contact with the
stigmas in the same flower." Any plant that lives in shallow
water, which may dry up as summer advances, is under special
necessity to produce an extra quantity of cross-fertilized seed
to guard against extinction during drought. For the same reason
it bears several kinds of leaves adapted to its environment:
broad ones that spread their surfaces to the sunshine, and long
grass-like ones to glide through currents of water that would
tear those of any other shape. What diversity of leaf-form and
structure we meet daily, and yet how very little does the wisest
man of science understand of the reasons underlying such
marvellous adaptability!

  (Sagittaria latifolia; S. variabilis of Gray)  Water-plantain

Flowers - White, 1 to 1 1/2 in. wide, in 3-bracted whorls of 3,
borne near the summit of a leafless scape 4 in. to 4 ft. tall.
Calyx of 3 sepals corolla of 3 rounded, spreading petals. Stamens
and pistils numerous, the former yellow in upper flowers usually
absent or imperfect in lower pistillate flowers. Leaves:
Exceedingly variable; those under water usually long and
grasslike; upper ones sharply arrow-shaped or blunt and broad,
spongy or leathery, on long petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Shallow water and mud.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - From Mexico northward throughout our area to the
circumpolar regions.

Wading into shallow water or standing on some muddy shore, like a
heron, this striking plant, so often found in that bird's haunts,
is quite as decorative in a picture, and, happily, far more
approachable in life. Indeed, one of the comforts of botany as
compared with bird study is that we may get close enough to the
flowers to observe their last detail, whereas the bird we have
followed laboriously over hill and dale, through briers and
swamps, darts away beyond the range of field-glasses with
tantalizing swiftness.

While no single plant is yet thoroughly known to scientists, in
spite of the years of study devoted by specialists to separate
groups, no plant remains wholly meaningless. When Keppler
discovered the majestic order of movement of the heavenly bodies,
he exclaimed, "Oh God, I think Thy thoughts after Thee!" - the
expression of a discipleship every reverent soul must be
conscious of in penetrating, be it ever so little a way, into the
inner meaning of the humblest wayside weed.

Fragile, delicate, pure white, golden-centered flowers of the
arrowhead, usually clustered about the top of the scape,
naturally are the first to attract the attention whether of man
or insect. Below these, dull green, unattractive collections of
pistils, which by courtesy only may be called flowers, also form
little groups of three. Like the Quakers at meeting, the male and
female arrowhead flowers are separated, often on distinct plants.
Of course the insect visitors - bees and flies chiefly - alight
on the showy staminate blossoms first, and transfer pollen from
them to the dull pistillate ones later, as it was intended they
should, to prevent self-fertilization. How endless are the
devices of the flowers to guard against this evil and to compel
insects to cross-pollinate them! The most minute detail of the
mechanism involved, which the microscope reveals, only increases
our interest and wonder.

Any plant which elects to grow in shallow water must be
amphibious; it must be able to breathe beneath the surface as the
fish do, and also be adapted to thrive without those parts that
correspond to gills; for ponds and streams have an unpleasant way
of drying up in summer, leaving it stranded on the shore. This
accounts in part for the variable leaves on the arrowhead, those
underneath the water being long and ribbon-like, to bring the
greatest possible area into contact with the air with which the
water is charged. Broad leaves would be torn to shreds by the
current through which grass-like blades glide harmlessly; but
when this plant grows on shore, having no longer use for its
lower ribbons, it loses them, and expands only broad arrow-shaped
surfaces to the sunny air, leaves to be supplied with carbonic
acid to assimilate, and sunshine to turn off the oxygen and store
up the carbon into their system.

  (Calla palustris)  Arum family

Flowers - Minute, greenish yellow, clustered on a cylinder-like,
fleshy spadix about 1 in. long, partly enfolded by a large,
white, oval, pointed, erect spathe, the whole resembling a small
calla lily open in front. The solitary "flower" on a scape as
long as the petioles of leaves, and, like them, sheathed at base.
Leaves: Thick, somewhat heart-shaped, their spreading or erect
petioles 4 to 8 in. long. Fruit: Red berries clustered in a head.
Preferred Habitat - Cool Northern bogs; in or beside sluggish
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia southward to Virginia, westward to
Minnesota and Iowa.

At a glance one knows this beautiful denizen of Northern bogs and
ditches to be a poor relation of the stately Ethiopian calla lily
of our greenhouses. Where the arum grows in rich, cool retreats,
it is apt to be abundant, its slender rootstocks running hither
and thither through the yielding soil with thrifty rapidity until
the place is carpeted with its handsome dark leaves, from which
the pure white "flowers" arise; and yet many flower lovers well
up in field practice know it not. Thoreau, for example, was no
longer young when he first saw, or, rather, noticed it. "Having
found this in one place," he wrote, "I now find it in another.
Many an object is not seen, though it falls within the range of
our visual ray, because it does not come within the range of our
intellectual ray. So, in the largest sense, we find only the
world we look for."

Now, the true flowers of the arum and all its spadix-bearing kin
are so minute that one scarcely notices them where they are
clustered on the club-shaped column in the center of the apparent
"flower." The beautiful white banner of the marsh calla, or the
green and maroon striped pulpit from which Jack preaches, is no
more the flower proper than the papery sheath below the daffodil
is the daffodil. In the arum the white advertisement flaunted
before flying insects is not even essential to the florets'
existence, except as it helps them attract their pollen-carrying
friends. Almost all waterside plants, it will be noticed, depend
chiefly upon flies and midges, and these lack aesthetic taste.
"Such plants have usually acquired small and inconspicuous
separate flowers," says Grant Allen; "and then, to make up for
their loss in attractiveness, like cheap sweetmeats, they have
very largely increased their numbers. Or, to put the matter more
simply and physically, in waterside situations those plants
succeed best which have a relatively large number of individually
small and unnoticeable flowers massed together into large and
closely serried bundles. Hence, in such situations, there is a
tendency for petals to be suppressed, and for blossoms to grow
minute; because the large and bright flowers seldom succeed in
attracting big land insects like bees or butterflies, while the
small and thick-set ones usually do succeed in attracting a great
many little flitting midges." Flies, which are guided far more by
their sense of smell than by sight, resort to the petalless,
insignificant florets of the ill-scented marsh calla in numbers;
and as the uppermost clusters are staminate only, while the lower
florets contain stamens and pistil, it follows they must often
effect cross-pollination as they crawl over the spadix. But here
is no trap to catch the tiny benefactors such as is set by wicked
Jack-in-the-pulpit, or the skunk-cabbage, or another cousin, a
still more terrible executioner, the cuckoo-pint (Arum maculatum)
of Europe.

Few coroner's inquests are held over the dead bodies of our
feathered friends; and it is not known whether the
innocent-looking marsh calla really poisons the birds on which it
depends to carry its bright seeds afar or not. The cuckoo-pint,
as is well known, destroys the winged messenger bearing its
offspring to plant fresh colonies in a distant bog, because the
decayed body of the bird acts as the best possible fertilizer
into which the seedling may strike its roots. Most of our noxious
weeds, like our vermin, have come to us from Europe; but Heaven
deliver us from this cannibalistic pest!

The very common GREEN ARROW-ARUM (Peltandra Virginica), found in
shallow water, ditches, swamps, and the muddy shores of ponds
throughout the eastern half of the United States, attracts us
more by its stately growth and the beauty of its bright, lustrous
green arrow-shaped leaves (which have been found thirty inches
long), than by the insignificant florets clustered on the spadix
within a long pointed green sheath that closely enfolds it.
Pistillate florets cover it for only about one-fourth its length.
To them flies carry pollen from the staminate florets covering
the rest of the spadix. After the club is set with green berries
- green, for this plant has no need to attract birds with bright
red ones - the flower stalk curves, bends downward, and the
pointed leathery sheath acting as an auger, it bores a hole into
the soft mud in which the seeds germinate with the help of their
surrounding jelly as a fertilizer.

  (Veratrum viride)  Bunch-flower family

Flowers - Dingy, pale yellowish or whitish green, growing greener
with age, 1 in. or less across, very numerous, in
stiff-branching, spike-like, dense-flowered panicles. Perianth of
6 oblong segments; 6 short curved stamens; 3 styles. Stem: Stout,
leafy, 2 to 8 ft. tall. Leaves: Plaited, lower ones broadly oval,
pointed, 6 to 12 in. long; parallel ribbed, sheathing the stem
where they clasp it; upper leaves gradually narrowing; those
among flowers small.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, wet woods, low meadows.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - British Possessions from ocean to ocean; southward
in the United States to Georgia, Tennessee, and Minnesota.

    "Borage and hellebore fill two scenes -
     Sovereign plants to purge the veins
     Of melancholy, and cheer the heart
     Of those black fumes which make it smart."

Such are the antidotes for madness prescribed by Burton in his
"Anatomie of Melancholy." But like most medicines, so the
homeopaths have taught us, the plant that heals may also poison;
and the coarse, thick rootstock of this hellebore sometimes does
deadly work. The shining plaited leaves, put forth so early in
the spring they are especially tempting to grazing cattle on that
account, are too well known by most animals, however, to be
touched by them - precisely the end desired, of course, by the
hellebore, nightshade, aconite, cyclamen, Jamestown weed, and a
host of others that resort, for protection, to the low trick of
mixing poisonous chemicals with their cellular juices. Pliny told
how the horses, oxen, and swine of his day were killed by eating
the foliage of the black hellebore. Flies, which visit the dirty,
yellowish-green flowers in abundance, must cross-fertilize them,
as the anthers mature before the stigmas are ready to receive
pollen. Apparently the visitors suffer no ill effects from the
nectar. We nave just seen how the green arrow-arum bores a hole
in the mud and plants its own seeds in autumn. The hellebore uses
its auger in the spring, when we find the stout, shining, solid
tool above ground with the early skunk-cabbage.

 (Ornithogalum umbellatum)  Lily family

Flowers - Opening in the sunshine, white within, greenish on the
outside, veined, borne on slender pedicels in an erect, loose
cluster. Perianth of 6 narrowly oblong divisions, 1/2 in. long or
over, or about twice as long as the flattened stamens; style
short, 3-sided. Scape: Slender, 4 to 12 in. high, with narrow,
blade-like bracts above. Leaves: Narrow, grass-like with white
midvein, fleshy, all from coated, egg-shaped bulb.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, grassy meadows, old lawns. Flowering
Season - May-June.
Distribution - Escaped from gardens from Massachusetts to

The finding of these exquisite little flowers, growing wild among
the lush grass of a meadow not far from some old homestead where
their ancestors, with crocuses and grape hyacinths, once
brightened the lawn in early spring, makes one long to start a
Parkinson Society instantly. Some school children not far from
New York, receiving their inspiration from Mrs. Ewing's little
book, "Mary's Meadow," have spread the gospel of beauty, like the
true missionaries they are, by systematically planting in lanes
and fields sweet violets, golden coreopsis, hardy poppies, blue
corn-flowers, Japanese roses, orange day-lilies, larkspurs, and
many other charming garden flowers that need only the slightest
encouragement to run wild. Immense quantities of seed, that go to
loss in every garden, might so easily be sprinkled at large on
our walks. Nearly all the beautiful hardy perennials cultivated
here grow in Nature's garden in Europe or Asia, and will do so in
America if they are but given the chance. The Star of Bethlehem
is a case in point. Several members of the large group of
charming spring flowers to which it belongs grow in such
abundance in the Old World that for centuries the bulbs have
furnished food to the omnivorous Italian and Asiatic peasants. If
we cannot spare offsets from the garden, and will wait a few
years for seeds to bear, the rich, light loam of our grassy
meadows, too, will be streaked with a Milky Way of floral stars,
as they are in Italy.

The Greek generic name of the Star of Bethlehem, meaning "bird's
milk" (a popular folk expression in Europe for some marvellous
thing) was applied by Linnaeus because of the flower's likeness
to the wonderful star in the East which guided the Wise Men to
the manger where Jesus lay.

  (Aletris farinosa)  Lily family

Flowers - Small, oblong-tubular, pure white or yellowish, about
1/4 in. long, set obliquely in a long, wand-like, spiked raceme,
at the end of a slender scape 2 to 3 ft. tall. Perianth somewhat
bell-shaped, 6-pointed, rough or mealy outside; 6 stamens,
inserted below each point; style 3-cleft at tip. (A Southern form
or distinct species (?) has yellower, fragrant flowers.) Leaves:
>From the base, lance-shaped, 2 to 6 in. long, thin, pale
yellowish green, in a spreading cluster.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil; roadsides; open, grassy, sandy
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - From Ontario and the Mississippi eastward to the

Herb gatherers have searched far and wide for this plant's
bitter, fibrous root, because of its supposed medicinal virtues.
What decoctions have not men swallowed from babyhood to old age
to get relief from griping colic! In partial shade, colonies of
the tufted yellow-green leaves send up from the center gradually
lengthening spikes of bloom that may finally attain over a foot
in length. The plant is not unknown in borders of men's gardens.
The Greek word (aletron = meal) from which its generic title is
derived, refers to the rough, granular surface of the little
oblong white flower.

  (Vagnera racemosa; Smilacina racemosa of Gray)
Lily-of-the-Valley family

Flowers - White or greenish, small, slightly fragrant, in a
densely flowered terminal raceme. Perianth of 6 separate,
spreading segments; 6 stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: Simple, somewhat
angled, 1 to 3 ft. high, scaly below, leafy, and sometimes finely
hairy above. Leaves: Alternate and seated along stem, oblong,
lance-shaped, 3 to 6 in. long, finely hairy beneath. Rootstock:
Thick, fleshy. Fruit: A cluster of aromatic, round, pale red
speckled berries.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woods, thickets, hillsides.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia; westward to Arizona and
British Columbia.

As if to offer opportunities for comparison to the confused
novice, the true Solomon's seal and the so-called false species -
quite as honest a plant - usually grow near each other. Grace of
line, rather than beauty of blossom, gives them both their chief
charm. But the feathery plume of greenish-white blossoms that
crowns the false Solomon's seal's somewhat zig-zagged stem is
very different from the small, greenish, bell-shaped flowers,
usually nodding in pairs along the stem, under the leaves, from
the axils of the true Solomon's seal. Later in summer, when
hungry birds wander through the woods with increased families,
the wild spikenard offers them branching clusters of pale red
speckled berries, whereas the latter plant feasts them with
blue-black fruit, in the hope that they will drop the seeds miles

By clustering its small, slightly fragrant flowers at the end of
its stem, the wild spikenard offers a more taking advertisement
to its insect friends than its cousin can show. A few flies and
beetles visit them; but apparently the less specialized bees,
chiefly those of the Halictus tribe, which predominate in May,
are the principal guests. These alight in the center of the
widely expanded blossoms set on the upper side of the branching
raceme so as to make their nectar and pollen easily accessible;
and as the newly opened flower has its stigma already receptive
to pollen brought to it while its own anthers are closed, it
follows the plant is dependent upon the bees' help, as well as
the birds', to perpetuate itself.

The STAR-FLOWERED SOLOMON'S SEAL (V. stellata), found from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, from Newfoundland as far south as
Kansas, has larger, but fewer, flowers than the wild spikenard,
at the end of its erect, low-growing stem. Where the two species
grow together - and they often do - it will be noticed that the
star-flowered one frequently forms colonies on rich, moist banks,
its leaves partly clasp the stem, and its berries, which may be
entirely black, are more frequently green, with six black

(Unifolium Canadense), very common in moist woods and thickets
North and West, is a curious little plant, sometimes with only a
solitary, long-petioled leaf; but where many of these sterile
plants grow together, forming shining beds. Other individuals
lift a white-flowered raceme six inches above the ground; and on
the slender, often zig-zagged flowering stem there may be one to
three, but usually two, ovate leaves, pointed at the apex,
heart-shaped at the base, either seated on it, one above the
other, or standing out from it on distinct but short petioles.
This flower has only four segments and four stamens. Like the
wild spikenard, the little plant bears clusters of pale red
speckled berries in autumn.

  (Polygonatum biftorum)  Lily-of-the-Valley family

Flowers - Whitish or yellowish green, tubular, bell-shaped, 1 to
4, but usually 2, drooping on slender peduncles from leaf axils.
Perianth 6-lobed at entrance, but not spreading; 6 stamens, the
filaments roughened; 1 pistil. Stem: Simple, slender, arching,
leafy, 8 in. to 3 ft. long. Leaves: Oval, pointed, or
lance-shaped, alternate, 2 to 4 in. long, seated on stem, pale
beneath and softly hairy along veins. Rootstock: Thick,
horizontal, jointed, scarred. (Polygonatum = many joints). Fruit:
A blue-black berry.
Preferred Habitat - Woods, thickets, shady banks.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Florida, westward to Michigan.

>From a many-jointed, thick rootstock a single graceful curved
stem arises each spring, withers after fruiting, and leaves a
round scar, whose outlines suggested to the fanciful man who
named the genus the seal of Israel's wise king. Thus one may know
the age of a root by its seals, as one tells that of a tree by
the rings in its trunk.

The dingy little cylindric flowers, hidden beneath the leaves,
may be either self-pollenized or cross-pollenized by the
bumblebees to which they are adapted. "We may suppose," says
Professor Robertson, "that the pendulous position of the flowers
owes its origin to the fact that it renders them less convenient
to other insects, but equally convenient to the higher bees which
are the most efficient pollinators; and that the resulting
protection to pollen and nectar is merely an incidental effect."
Certain Lepidoptera, and small insects which crawl into the
cylinder, visit all the Solomon's seals.

The SMOOTH SOLOMON'S SEAL (P. commutatum; P.giganteum of Gray),
with much the same range as its smaller relative, grows in moist
woods and along shaded streams. It is a variable, capricious
plant, with a stout or slender stem, perhaps only one foot high,
or again towering above the tallest man's head; the oval leaves
also vary greatly in breadth and length; and a solitary flower
may droop from an axil, or perhaps eight dingy greenish cylinders
may hang in a cluster. But the plant is always smooth throughout.
Even the incurved filaments which obstruct the entrance to this
flower are smooth where those of the preceding species are
rough-hairy. The style is so short that it may never come in
contact with the anthers, although the winged visitors must often
leave pollen of the same flower on the stigma.

  (Trillium nivale)  Lily-of-the-Valley family

Flowers - Solitary, pure white, about 1 in. long, on an erect or
curved peduncle, from a whorl of 3 leaves at summit of stem.
Three spreading, green, narrowly oblong sepals; 3 oval or oblong
petals; 6 stamens, the anthers about as long as filaments; 3
slender styles stigmatic along inner side. Stem: 2 to 6 in. high,
from a short, tuber-like rootstock. Leaves: 3 in a whorl below
the flower, 1 to 2 in. long, broadly oval, rounded at end, on
short petioles. Fruit: A 3-lobed reddish berry, about 1/2 in. in
diameter, the sepals adhering.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Pennsylvania, westward to Minnesota and Iowa,
south to Kentucky.

Only this delicate little flower, as white as the snow it
sometimes must push through to reach the sunshine melting the
last drifts in the leafless woods, can be said to wake the robins
into song; a full chorus of feathered love-makers greets the
appearance of the more widely distributed, and therefore better
known, species.

By the rule of three all the trilliums, as their name implies,
regulate their affairs. Three sepals, three petals, twice three
stamens, three styles, a three-celled ovary, the flower growing
out from a whorl of three leaves, make the naming of wake-robins
a simple matter to the novice. Rarely do the parts divide into
fours, or the petals and sepals revert to primitive green leaves.
With the exception of the painted trillium which sometimes grows
in bogs, all the clan live in rich, moist woods. It is said the
roots are poisonous. In them the next year's leaves lie curled
through the winter, as in the iris and Solomon's seal, among

One of the most chastely beautiful of our native wild flowers -
so lovely that many shady nooks in English rock-gardens and
ferneries contain imported clumps of the vigorous plant - is the
Under favorable conditions the waxy, thin, white, or occasionally
pink, strongly veined petals may exceed two inches; and in
Michigan a monstrous form has been found. The broadly rhombic
leaves, tapering to a point, and lacking petioles, are seated in
the usual whorl of three, at the summit of the stem, which may
attain a foot and a half in height; from the center the
decorative flower arises on a long peduncle. At first the
entrance to the blossom is closed by the long anthers which much
exceed the filaments; and hive-bees, among other insects, in
collecting pollen, transfer it to older and now expanded flowers,
in which the low stigmas appear between the tall separated
stamens. Nectar stored in septal glands at the base invites the
visitor laden with pollen from young flowers to come in contact
with the three late maturing stigmas. The berry is black. From
Quebec to Florida and far westward we find this tardy wake-robin
in May or June.

Certainly the commonest trillium in the East, although it thrives
as far westward as Ontario and Missouri, and south to Georgia, is
the NODDING WAKE-ROBIN (T. cernuum), whose white or pinkish
flower droops from its peduncle until it is all but hidden under
the whorl of broadly rhombic, tapering leaves. The wavy margined
petals, about as long as the sepals - that is to say, half an
inch long or over - curve backward at maturity. According to Miss
Carter, who studied the flower in the Botanical Garden at South
Hadley, Mass., it is slightly proterandrous, maturing its anthers
first, but with a chance of spontaneous self-pollination by the
stigmas recurving to meet the shorter stamens. She saw bumblebees
visiting it for nectar. In late summer an egg-shaped, pendulous
red-purple berry swings from the summit. One finds the plant in
bloom from April to June, according to the climate of its long

Perhaps the most strikingly beautiful member of the tribe is the
PAINTED TRILLIUM (T. undulatum; T. erythrocarpum of Gray). At the
summit of the slender stem, rising perhaps only eight inches, or
maybe twice as high, this charming flower spreads its long,
wavy-edged, waxy-white petals veined and striped with deep pink
or wine color. The large ovate leaves, long-tapering to a point,
are rounded at the base into short petioles. The rounded,
three-angled, bright red, shining berry is seated in the
persistent calyx. With the same range as the nodding trillium's,
the painted wake-robin comes into bloom nearly a month later - in
May and June - when all the birds are not only wide awake, but
have finished courting, and are busily engaged in the most
serious business of life.

  (Cypripedium reginae; C. spectabile of Gray)  Orchid family

Flowers - Usually solitary, at summit of stem, white, or the
inflated white lip painted with purplish pink and white stripes;
sepals rounded oval, spreading, white, not longer than the lip;
petals narrower, white; the broad sac-shaped pouch open in front,
1 in. long or over. Stem: Stout, leafy, 1 to 2 ft. high. Leaves:
3 to 8 in. long, downy, elliptic, pointed, many ribbed.
Preferred Habitat - Peat-bogs; rich, low, wet woods.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, westward to the
Mississippi. Chiefly North.

Quite different from the showy orchis, is this far more chaste
showy lady's slipper which Dr. Gray has called "the most
beautiful of the genus." Because the plants live in inaccessible
swampy places, where only the most zealous flower lover
penetrates, they have a reputation for rarity at which one who
knows a dozen places to find colonies of the stately exquisites
during a morning's walk, must smile with superiority. Wine
appears to overflow the large white cup and trickle down its
sides. Sometimes unstained, pure white chalices are found. C.
album is the name by which the plant is known in England. See
note after Common Daisy.

  (Habenaria orbiculata) Orchid family

Flowers - Greenish white, in a loosely set spike; the upper sepal
short, rounded; side ones spreading; petals smaller, arching; the
lip long, narrow, drooping, white, prolonged into a spur often 1
1/2 in. long, curved and enlarged at base; anther sacs prominent,
converging. Scape: 1 to 2 ft. high. Leaves: 2, spreading flat on
ground, glossy above, silvery underneath, parallel-veined,
slightly longer than wide, very large, from 4 to 7 in. across.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods in mountainous regions,
especially near evergreens.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - From British Columbia to the Atlantic; eastern
half of the United States southward to the Carolinas.

Wonderfully interesting structure and the comparative rarity of
this orchid, rather than superficial beauty, are responsible for
the thrill of pleasure one experiences at the sight of the spike
of unpretentious flowers. Two great leaves, sometimes as large as
dinner plates, attract the eye to where they glisten on the
ground. The spur of the blossom, the nectary, "implies a welcome
to a tongue two inches long, and will reward none other," says
William Hamilton Gibson. "This clearly shuts out the bees,
butterflies, and smaller moths. What insect, then, is here
implied? The sphinx moth, one of the lesser of the group. A
larger individual might sip the nectar, it is true, but its
longer tongue would reach the base of the tube without effecting
the slightest contact with the pollen, which is, of course, the
desideratum." How the moth, in sipping the nectar, thrusts his
head against the sticky buttons to which the pollen messes are
attached, and, in trying to release himself, loosens them; how he
flies off with these little clubs sticking to his eyes; how they
automatically adjust themselves to the attitude where they will
come in contact with the stigma of the next flower visited, and
so cross-fertilize it, has been told in the account of the great
purple-fringed orchis of similar construction. To that species
the interested reader is, therefore, referred; or, better still,
to the luminous description by Dr. Asa Gray.

  (Habenaria blephariglottis)  Orchid family

Flowers - Pure white, fragrant, borne on a spike from 3 to 6 in.
long. Spur long, slender; oval sepals; smaller petals toothed;
the oblong lip deeply fringed. Stem: Slender, 1 to 2 ft. high.
Leaves: Lance-shaped, parallel-veined, clasping the stem; upper
ones smallest.
Preferred Habitat - Peat-bogs and swamps.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - Northeastern United States and eastern Canada to

One who selfishly imagines that all the floral beauty of the
earth was created for man's sole delight will wonder why a flower
so exquisitely beautiful as this dainty little orchid should be
hidden in inaccessible peat-bogs, where overshoes and tempers get
lost with deplorable frequency, and the water-snake and bittern
mock at man's intrusion of their realm by the ease with which
they move away from him. Not for man, but for the bee, the moth,
and the butterfly, are orchids where they are and what they are.
The white-fringed orchis grows in watery places that it may more
easily manufacture nectar, and protect itself from crawling
pilferers; its flowers are clustered on a spike, their lips are
fringed, they have been given fragrance and a snowy-white color
that they may effectually advertise their sweets on whose removal
by an insect benefactor that will carry pollen from flower to
flower as he feeds depends their chance of producing fertile
seed. It is probable the flower is white that night-flying moths
may see it shine in the gloaming. From the length and slenderness
of its spur it is doubtless adapted to the sphinx moth.

At the entrance to the nectary, two sticky disks stand on guard,
ready to fasten themselves to the eyes of the first moth that
inserts his tongue; and he finds on withdrawing his head that two
pollen-masses attached to these disks have been removed with
them. This plastering over of insects' eyes by the orchids might
be serious business, indeed, were not the lepidoptera gifted with
numerous pairs. The fragrance of many orchids, however, would be
a sufficient guide even to a blind insect. With the pollen-masses
sticking to his forehead, the moth enters another flower and
necessarily rubs off some grains from the pollen masses, that
have changed their attitude during his flight that they may be in
the precise position to fertilize the viscid stigma. In almost
the same way the similar Yellow-Fringed Orchis (H. ciliaris) and
the great green orchids compel insects to work for them.

A larger-flowered species, the PRAIRIE WHITE-FRINGED ORCHIS (H.
lepicophea), found in bloom in June and July, on moist, open
ground from western New York to Minnesota and Arkansas, differs
from the preceding chiefly in having larger and greenish-white
flowers, the lip cleft into wedge-shaped segments deeply fringed.
The hawk-moth removes on its tongue one, but not often both, of
the pollinia attached to disks on either side of the entrance to
the spur.

  (Gyrostachys cernua; Spiranthes cernua of Gray)  Orchid family

Flowers - Small, white or yellowish, without a spur, fragrant,
nodding or spreading in 3 rows on a cylindrical, slightly twisted
spike 4 or 5 in. long. Side sepals free, the upper ones arching,
and united with petals; the oblong, spreading lip crinkle-edged,
and bearing minute, hairy callosities at bases Stem: 6 in. to 2
ft. tall, with several pointed, wrapping bracts. Leaves: From or
near the base, linear, almost grass-like.
Preferred Habitat - Low meadows, ditches, and swamps.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, and westward to
the Mississippi.

This last orchid of the season, and perhaps the commonest of its
interesting tribe in the eastern United States, at least, bears
flowers that, however insignificant in size, are marvelous pieces
of mechanism, to which such men as Charles Darwin and Asa Gray
have devoted hours of study and, these two men particularly, much

Just as a woodpecker begins at the bottom of a tree and taps his
way upward, so a bee begins at the lower and older flowers on a
spike and works up to the younger ones; a fact on which this
little orchid, like many another plant that arranges its b1ossoms
in long racemes, depends. Let us not note for the present what
happens in the older flowers, but begin our observations, with
the help of a powerful lens, when the bee has alighted on the
spreading lip of a newly opened blossom toward the top of the
spire. As nectar is already secreted for her in its receptacle,
she thrusts her tongue through the channel provided to guide it
aright, and by the slight contact with the furrowed rostellum, it
splits, and releases a boat-shaped disk standing vertically on
its stern in the passage. Within the boat is an extremely sticky
cement that hardens almost instantly on exposure to the air. The
splitting of the rostellum, curiously enough, never happens
without insect aid; but if a bristle or needle be passed over it
ever so lightly, a stream of sticky, milky fluid exudes, hardens,
and the boat-shaped disk, with pollen masses attached, may be
withdrawn on the bristle just as the bee removes them with her
tongue. Each pollinium consists of two leaves of pollen united
for about half their length in the middle with elastic threads.
As the pollinia are attached parallel to the disk, they stick
parallel on the bee's tongue, yet she may fold up her proboscis
under her head, if she choose, without inconvenience from the
pollen masses, or without danger of loosening them. Now, having
finished sucking the newly opened flowers at the top of the
spike, away she flies to an older flower at the bottom of another
one. Here a marvelous thing has happened. The passage which, when
the flower first expanded, scarcely permitted a bristle to pass,
has now widened through the automatic downward movement of the
column in order to expose the stigmatic surfaces to contact with
the pollen masses brought by the bee. Without the bee's help this
orchid, with a host of other flowers, must disappear from the
face of the earth. So very many species which have lost the power
to fertilize themselves now depend absolutely on these little
pollen carriers, it is safe to say that, should the bees perish,
one half our flora would be exterminated with them. On the slight
downward movement of the column in the ladies' tresses, then, as
well as on the bee's ministrations, the fertilization of the
flower absolutely depends. "If the stigma of the lowest flower
has already been fully fertilized," says Darwin, "little or no
pollen will be left on its dried surface; but on the next
succeeding flower, of which the stigma is adhesive, large sheets
of pollen will be left. Then as soon as the bee arrives near the
summit of the spike she will withdraw fresh pollinia, will fly to
the lower flowers on another plant, and fertilize them; and thus,
as she goes her rounds and adds to her store of honey, she
continually fertilizes fresh flowers and perpetuates the race of
autumnal spiranthes, which will yield honey to future generations
of bees."

The SLENDER LADIES' TRESSES (G. gracilis; [S. gracilis]), with a
range and season of blossom similar to the preceding species, and
with even smaller white, fragrant flowers, growing on one side of
a twisted spike, chooses dry fields, hillsides, open woods, and
sandy places - queer habitats for a member of its moisture-loving
tribe. Its leaves have usually fallen by flowering time. The
cluster of tuberous, spindle-shaped roots are an aid to

  (Peramium repens; Goodyera repens of Gray)  Orchid family

Flowers - Small, greenish white, the lip pocket-shaped, borne on
one side of a bracted spike 5 to 10 in. high, from a fleshy,
thick fibrous root. Leaves: From the base, tufted, or ascending
the stem on one side for a few inches, 1/2 in. to over 1 in.
long, ovate, the silvery-white veins forming a network, or leaf
blotched with white.
Preferred Habitat - Woods, especially under evergreens.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - Colorado eastward to the Atlantic, from Nova
Scotia to Florida. Europe and Asia.

Tufts of these beautifully marked little leaves carpeting the
ground in the shadow of the hemlocks attract the eye, rather than
the spires of insignificantly small flowers. Whoever wishes to
know how the bumblebee ruptures the sensitive membrane within the
tiny blossom with her tongue, and draws out the pollinia that are
instantly cemented to it after much the same plan employed by the
ladies' tresses, must use a good lens in studying the operation.
To the structural botanist the rattlesnake plantains form an
interesting connecting link between orchids of d1stinct forms. In
them we see a tendency to lengthen the pollen-masses into
caudicles as the showy orchis, for example, has done. "Goodyera
probably shows us the state of organs in a group of orchids now
mostly extinct," says Darwin; "but the parents of many living

It has been said that the Indians use this plant to cure bites of
the rattlesnake; that they will handle the deadly creature
without fear if some of these leaves are near at hand - in fact,
a good deal is said about Indians by palefaces that makes even
the stolid red man smile when confronted with the white man's
tales about him. An intelligent Indian student declares that none
of his race will handle a rattlesnake unless its fangs have been
removed; that this plant takes its name from the resemblance of
its netted-veined leaves to the belly of a serpent, and not to
their curative powers; and, finally, that the Southern tribes,
especially so reverence the rattlesnake that, far from trying to
cure its bite, they count themselves blessed to be bitten to
death by one. Indeed, the rattle, a sacred symbol, has been
employed in religious ceremonies of most tribes. Snakes may be
revered in other lands, but only in America is the rattlesnake
worshipped. Among the Moquis there still survives much of the
religion of the snake-worshipping Aztecs. Bernal Diaz tells how
living rattlesnakes, kept in the great temple at Mexico as sacred
and petted objects, were fed with the bodies of the sacrificed.
Cortes found a town called by the Spaniards Terraguea, or the
city of serpents, whose walls and temples were decorated with
figures of the reptiles, which the inhabitants worshiped as gods.

The DOWNY RATTLESNAKE PLANTAIN (P. pubescens), usually a taller
plant than the preceding, with larger cream-white,
globular-lipped flowers on both sides of its spike, and
glandular-hairy throughout, has even more strongly marked leaves.
These, the most conspicuous parts, are dark grayish green,
heavily netted with greenish or silvery-white veins, silky to the
touch, and often wavy edged. This plant scarcely strays westward
beyond the Mississippi, but it is common East. It also blooms in
midsummer, and shows a preference for dry woods where oak and
pine abound.

  (Saurus cernuus)  Lizard's-tail family

Flowers - Fragrant, very small, white, lacking a perianth,
bracted, densely crowded on peduncled, slender spikes 4 to 6 in.
long and nodding at the tip. Stamens 6 to 8, the filaments white;
carpels 3 or 4, united at base, dangling. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. high,
jointed, sparingly branched, leafy. Leaves: Heart-shaped,
palmately ribbed, dark green, thin, on stout petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, shallow water.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Southern New England to the Gulf, westward to
Minnesota and Texas.

The fragrance arising from these curious, drooping, tail-like
spikes of flowers, where they grow in numbers, must lure their
insect friends as it does us, since no showy petals or sepals
advertise their presence. Nevertheless they are what are known as
perfect flowers, each possessing stamens and pistils, the only
truly essential parts, however desirable a gaily colored perianth
may be to blossoms attempting to woo such large land insects as
the bumblebee and butterfly. Since flies, whose color sense is by
no means so acute as their sense of smell, are by far the most
abundant fertilizers of waterside plants, we can see a tendency
in such to suppress their petals, for the flowers to become
minute and massed in series that the little visitors may more
readily transfer pollen from one to another, and to become
fragrant - just what the lizard's tail has done.

  (Claytonia Virginica)  Purslane family.

Flowers - White veined with pink, or all pink, the veinings of
deeper shade, on curving, slender pedicels, several borne in a
terminal loose raceme, the flowers mostly turned one way
(secund). Calyx of 2 ovate sepals; corolla of 5 petals slightly
united by their bases; 5 stamens, 1 inserted on base of each
petal; the style 3-cleft. Stem: Weak, 6 to 12 in. long, from a
deep, tuberous root. Leaves: Opposite above, linear to
lance-shaped, shorter than basal ones, which are 3 to 7 in. long;
breadth variable.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woods, open groves, low meadows.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Nova Scotia and far westward, south to Georgia and

Dainty clusters of these delicate, starry blossoms, mostly turned
in one direction, expand in the sunshine only, like their gaudy
cousin the portulaca and the insignificant little yellow flowers
of another relative, the ubiquitous, invincible "pussley"
immortalized in "My Summer in a Garden." At night and during
cloudy, stormy weather, when their benefactors are not flying,
the claytonias economically close their petals to protect nectar
and pollen from rain and pilferers. Pick them, the whole plant
droops, and the blossoms close with indignation; nor will any
coaxing but a combination of hot water and sunshine induce them
to open again. Theirs is a long beauty sleep. They are
supersensitive exquisites, however hardy.

Very early in the spring a race is run with the hepatica,
arbutus, adder's tongue, blood-root, squirrel corn, and anemone
for the honor of being the earliest wild flower; and although
John Burroughs and Dr. Abbott have had the exceptional experience
of finding the claytonia even before the hepatica - certainly the
earliest spring blossom worthy the name in the Middle and New
England States - of course the rank skunk-cabbage, whose name is
snobbishly excluded from the list of fair competitors, has
quietly opened dozens of minute florets in its incurved horn
before the others have even started.

Whether the petals of the spring beauty are white or pink, they
are always exquisitely marked with pink lines converging near the
base and ending in a yellow blotch to serve as pathfinders for
the female bumblebees and the little brown bombylius, among other
pollen carriers. A newly opened flower, with its stamens
surrounding the pistil, must be in peril of self-fertilization
one would think who did not notice that when the pollen is in
condition for removal by the bees and flies, the stigmatic
surfaces of the three-cleft style are tightly pressed together
that not a grain may touch them. But when the anthers have shed
their pollen, and the filaments have spread outward and away from
the pistil, the three stigmatic arms branch out to receive the
fertilizing dust carried from younger flowers by their busy

  (Silene stellata)  Pink family

Flowers - White, about 1/2 in. broad or over, loosely clustered
in a showy, pyramidal panicle. Calyx bell-shaped, swollen,
5-toothed, sticky; 5 fringed and clawed petals; 10 long, exserted
stamens; 3 styles. Stem: Erect, leafy, 2 to 3 1/2 ft. tall,
rough-hairy. Leaves: Oval, tapering to a point, 2 to 4 in. long,
seated in whorls of 4 around stem, or loose ones opposite.
Preferred Habitat - Woods, shady banks.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Rhode Island westward to Mississippi, south to the
Carolinas and Arkansas.

Feathery white panicles of the starry campion, whose protruding
stamens and fringed petals give it a certain fleeciness, are
dainty enough for spring; by midsummer we expect plants of ranker
growth and more gaudy flowers. To save the nectar in each deep
tube for the moths and butterflies which cross-fertilize all this
tribe of night and day blossoms, most of them - and the campions
are notorious examples - spread their calices, and some their
pedicels as well, with a sticky substance to entrap little
crawling pilferers. Although a popular name for the genus is
catchfly, it is usually the ant that is glued to the viscid
parts, for the fly that moves through the air alights directly on
the flower it is too short-lipped to suck. An ant catching its
feet on the miniature lime-twig, at first raises one foot after
another and draws it through its mouth, hoping to rid it of the
sticky stuff, but only with the result of gluing up its head and
other parts of the body. In ten minutes all the pathetic
struggles are ended. Let no one guilty of torturing flies to
death on sticky paper condemn the Silenes!

The BLADDER CAMPION (S. vulgaris; S. inflata of Gray) to be
recognized by its much inflated calyx, especially round in fruit,
the two-cleft white petals; and its opposite leaves that are
spatulate at the base of the plant, is a European immigrant now
naturalized and locally very common from Illinois eastward to New
Jersey and north to New Brunswick. Like the night-flowering
catchfly this blossom has adapted itself to the night-flying
moths; but when either remains open in the morning, bumblebees
gladly take the leavings in the deep cup. To insure
cross-fertilization, some of the bladder-campion flowers have
stamens only, some have a pistil only; some have both organs
maturing at different times. In all the night-flowering Silene,
each flower, unless unusually disturbed, lasts three days and
three nights. Late in the afternoon of the first day, when the
petals begin to expand, the five stamens opposite the sepals
lengthen in about two hours, and by sunset the anthers, which
have matured at the same time, are covered with pollen. So they
remain until the forenoon of the second day, and then the emptied
anthers hang like shriveled bags, or drop off altogether. Late in
the second afternoon, the second set of stamens repeat the
actions of their predecessors, bend backward and shed their
anthers the following, that is to say the third, morning. But on
the third afternoon up rise the S-shaped, twisted stigmas, which
until now had been hidden in the center of the flower. Moths,
therefore, must transfer pollen from younger to older blossoms.

"With this lengthening and bending of the stamens and stigmas,"
says Dr. Kerner, "goes hand in hand the opening and shutting of
the corolla. With the approach of dusk, the bifid limbs of the
petals spread out in a flat surface and fall back against the
calyx. In this position they remain through the night, and not
till the following morning do they begin (more quickly in
sunshine and with a mild temperature, more slowly with a cloudy
sky and in cold, wet weather) to curl themselves up in an
in-curved spire, while at the same time they form longitudinal
creases, and look as though they were gathered in, or
wrinkled;...but no sooner does evening return than the wrinkles
disappear, the petals become smooth, uncurl themselves, and fall
back upon the calyx, and the corolla is again expanded."

Curiously enough, these flowers, which by day we should certainly
say were not fragrant, give forth a strong perfume at evening the
better to guide moths to their feast. From eight in the evening
until three in the morning the fragrance is especially strong.
The white blossoms, so conspicuous at night, have little
attraction for color-loving butterflies and bees by day; then, as
there is no pollen to be carried from the shriveled anther sacs,
no visitor is welcome, and the petals close to protect the nectar
for the flower's true benefactors. Indeed, few flowers show more
thorough adaptation to the night-flying moths than these Silene.

  (Phytolacca decandra)  Pokeweed family

Flowers - White, with a green centre, pink-tinted outside, about
1/4 in. across, in bracted racemes 2 to 8 in. long. Calyx of 4 or
5 rounded persistent sepals, simulating petals; no corolla; 10
short stamens; 10-celled ovary, green, conspicuous; styles
curved. Stem: Stout, pithy, erect, branching, reddening toward
the end of summer, 4 to 10 ft. tall, from a large, perennial,
poisonous root. Leaves: Alternate, petioled, oblong to
lance-shaped, tapering at both ends, 8 to 12 in. long. Fruit:
Very juicy, dark purplish berries, hanging in long clusters from
reddened footstalks; ripe, August-October.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, thickets, field borders, and waste
soil, especially in burnt-over districts.
Flowering Season - June-October.
Distribution - Maine and Ontario to Florida and Texas.

When the pokeweed is "all on fire with ripeness," as Thoreau
said; when the stout, vigorous stem (which he coveted for a
cane), the large leaves, and even the footstalks, take on
splendid tints of crimson lake, and the dark berries hang heavy
with juice in the thickets, then the birds, with increased,
hungry families, gather in flocks as a preliminary step to
traveling southward. Has the brilliant, strong-scented plant no
ulterior motive in thus attracting their attention at this
particular time? Surely! Robins, flickers, and downy woodpeckers,
chewinks and rose-breasted grosbeaks, among other feathered
agents, may be detected in the act of gormandizing on the fruit,
whose undigested seeds they will disperse far and wide. Their
droppings form the best of fertilizers for young seedlings;
therefore the plants which depend on birds to distribute seeds,
as most berry bearers do, send their children abroad to found new
colonies, well equipped for a vigorous start in life. What a
hideous mockery to continue to call this fruit the pigeon-berry,
when the exquisite bird whose favorite food it once was, has been
annihilated from this land of liberty by the fowler's net! And
yet flocks of wild pigeons, containing not thousands but millions
of birds, nested here even thirty years ago. When the market
became glutted with them, they were fed to hogs in the West!

Children, and some grown-ups, find the deep magenta juice of the
ink-berry useful. Notwithstanding the poisonous properties of the
root, in some sections the young shoots are boiled and eaten like
asparagus, evidently with no disastrous consequences. For any
service this plant may render to man and bird, they are under
special obligation to the little Halictus bees, but to other
short-tongued bees and flies as well. These small visitors,
flying from such of the flowers as mature their anthers first,
carry pollen to those in the female, or pistillate, stage.
Exposed nectar rewards their involuntary kindness. In stormy
weather, when no benefactors can fly, the flowers are adapted to
fertilize themselves through the curving of the styles.

  (Aisine media; Stellaria media of Gray)  Pink family

Flowers - Small, white, on slender pedicels from leaf axils, also
in terminal clusters. Calyx (usually) of 5 sepals, much longer
than the 5 (usually) 2-parted petals; 2-10 stamens; 3 or 4
styles. Stem: Weak, branched, tufted, leafy, 4 to 6 in long, a
hairy fringe on one side. Leaves: Opposite, acutely oval, lower
ones petioled, upper ones seated on stem.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, shady soil; woods; meadows.
Flowering Season - Throughout the year.
Distribution - Almost universal.

The sole use man has discovered for this often pestiferous weed
with which nature carpets moist soil the world around is to feed
caged song-birds. What is the secret of the insignificant little
plant's triumphal progress? Like most immigrants that have
undergone ages of selective struggle in the Old World, it
successfully competes with our native blossoms by readily
adjusting itself to new conditions, filling places unoccupied,
and chiefly by prolonging its season of bloom beyond theirs, to
get relief from the pressure of competition for insect trade in
the busy season. Except during the most cruel frosts, there is
scarcely a day in the year when we may not find the little
star-like chickweed flowers. Contrast this season with that of a
CHICKWEED] (A. longifolia [S. longifolia]), blooming only from
May till July, when competition is fiercest! Also, the common
chickweed has its parts so arranged that it can fertilize itself
when it is too cold for insect pollen-carriers to fly; then,
especially, are many of its stamens abortive, not to waste the
precious dust. Yet even in winter it produces abundant seed. In
sunny, fine spring weather, however, when so much nectar is
secreted the fine little drops may be easily seen by the naked
eye, small bees, flies, and even thrips visit the blossoms whose
anthers shed pollen one by one before the three stigmatic
surfaces are ready to receive any from younger flowers.

  (Castalia odorata; Nymphaea odorata of Gray)  Water-lily family

Flowers - Pure white or pink tinged, rarely deep pink, solitary,
3 to 8 in. across, deliciously fragrant, floating. Calyx of 4
sepals, green outside; petals of indefinite number, overlapping
in many rows, and gradually passing into an indefinite number of
stamens; outer row of stamens with petaloid filaments and short
anthers, the inner yellow stamens with slender filaments and
elongated anthers; carpels of indefinite number, united into a
compound pistil, with spreading and projecting stigmas. Leaves:
Floating, nearly round, slit at bottom, shining green above,
reddish and more or less hairy below, 4 to 12 in. across,
attached to petiole at center of lower surface. Petioles and
peduncles round and rubber-like, with 4 main air-channels.
Rootstock: (Not true stem), thick, simple or with few branches,
very long.
Preferred Habitat - Still water, ponds, lakes, slow streams.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Gulf of Mexico, and westward to the

Sumptuous queen of our native aquatic plants, of the royal family
to which the gigantic Victoria regia of Brazil belongs, and all
the lovely rose, lavender, blue, and golden exotic water lilies
in the fountains of our city parks, to her man, beast, and insect
pay grateful homage. In Egypt, India, China, Japan, Persia, and
Asiatic Russia, how many millions have bent their heads in
adoration of her relative the sacred lotus! From its center
Brahma came forth; Buddha, too, whose symbol is the lotus, first
appeared floating on the mystic flower (Nelumbo nelumbo, formerly
Nelumbium speciosum). Happily the lovely pink or white "sacred
bean" or "rose-lily" of the Nile, often cultivated here, has been
successfully naturalized in ponds about Bordentown, New Jersey,
and maybe elsewhere. If he who planteth a tree is greater than he
who taketh a city, that man should be canonized who introduces
the magnificent wild flowers of foreign lands to our area of
Nature's garden.

Now, cultivation of our native water lilies and all their hardy
kin, like charity, begins at home. Their culture in tubs, casks,
or fountains on the lawn, is so very simple a matter, and the
flowers bloom so freely, every garden should have a corner for
aquatic plants. Secure the water-lily roots as early in the
spring as possible, and barely cover them with good rich loam or
muck spread over the bottom of the sunken tub to a depth of six
or eight inches. After it has been filled with water, and
replenished from time to time to make good the loss by
evaporation, the water garden needs no attention until autumn.
Then the tub should be drained, and removed to a cellar, or it
may be covered over with a thick mattress of dry leaves to
protect from hard freezing. In their natural haunts, water lilies
sink to the bottom, where the water is warmest in winter.
Possibly the seed is ripened below the surface for the same
reason. At no time should the crown of the cultivated plant be
lower than two feet below the water. If a number of species are
grown, it is best to plant each kind in a separate basket, sunk
in the shallow tub, to prevent the roots from growing together,
as well as to obtain more effective decoration. Charming results
may be obtained with small outlay of either money or time.
Nothing brings more birds about the house than one of these water
gardens; that serves at once as drinking fountain and bath to our
not over-squeamish feathered neighbors. The number of insects
these destroy, not to mention the joy of their presence, would
alone compensate the householder of economic bent for the cost of
a shallow concrete tank.

Opening some time after six o'clock in the morning, the white
water lily spreads its many-petalled, deliciously fragrant,
golden-centered chalice to welcome the late-flying bees and
flower flies, the chief pollinators. Beetles, "skippers," and
many other creatures on wings alight too. "I have named two
species of bees (Halictus nelumbonis and Prosopis nelumbonis) on
account of their close economic relation to these flowers," says
Professor Robertson, who has captured over two hundred and fifty
species of bees near his home in Carlinville, Illinois, and
described nearly a third of them as new. Linnaeus, no doubt the
first to conceive the pretty idea of making a floral clock, drew
up a list of blossoms whose times of opening and closing marked
the hours on its face; but even Linnaeus failed to understand
that the flight of insects is the mainspring on which flowers
depend to set the mechanism going. In spite of its whiteness and
fragrance, the water lily requires no help from night-flying
insects in getting its pollen transferred; therefore, when the
bees and flies rest from their labors at sundown, it may close
the blinds of its shop, business being ended for the day.

"When doctors disagree, who shall decide?" It is contended by one
group of scientists that the water lily, which shows the plainest
metamorphosis of some sort, has developed its stamens from petals
- just the reverse of Nature's method, other botanists claim. A
perfect flower, we know, may consist of only a stamen and a
pistil, the essential organs, all other parts being desirable,
but of only secondary importance. Gardeners, taking advantage of
a wild flower's natural tendency to develop petals from stamens
and to become "double," are able to produce the magnificent roses
and chrysanthemums of today; and so it would seem that the water
lily, which may be either self-fertilized or cross-fertilized by
pollen-carriers in its present state of development, is looking
to a more ideal condition by increasing its attractiveness to
insects as it increases the number of its petals, and by
economizing pollen in transforming some of the superfluous
stamens into petals.

Scientific speculation, incited by the very fumes of the student
lamp, may weary us in winter, but just as surely is it dispelled
by the fragrance of the lilies in June. Then, floating about in a
birch canoe among the lily-pads, while one envies the very moose
and deer that may feed on fare so dainty and spend their lives
amid scenes of such exquisite beauty, one lets thought also float
as idly as the little clouds high overhead.

  (Magnolia Virginiana; M. glauca of Gray)  Magnolia family

Flowers - White, 2 to 3 in. across, globular, depressed,
deliciously fragrant, solitary at ends of branches. Calyx of 3
petal-like, spreading sepals. Corolla of 6 to 12 concave rounded
petals in rows; stamens very numerous, short, with long anthers;
carpels also numerous, and borne on the thick, green, elongated
receptacle. Trunk: 4 to 70 ft. high. Leaves: Enfolded in the bud
by stipules that fall later and leave rings around gradually
lengthening branch; the leaves 3 to 6 in. long in maturity,
broadly oblong, thick, almost evergreen, dark above, pale
beneath, on short petioles. Fruit: An oblong, reddish pink cone,
fleshy, from which the scarlet seeds hang by slender threads.
Preferred Habitat - Swampy woods and open swamps.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Atlantic States from Massachusetts southward, and
Gulf States from Florida to Texas.

"Every flower its own bo-quet!" shouted by a New York street
vender of the lovely magnolia blossoms he had just gathered from
the Jersey swamps, emphasized only one of the many claims they
have upon popular attention. Far and wide the handsome shrub,
which frequently attains a tree's height, is exported from its
native hiding-places to adorn men's gardens, and there, where a
better opportunity to know it at all seasons is granted, one
cannot tell which to admire most, the dark, bluish-green leathery
leaves, silvery beneath; the cream-white, deliciously fragrant
blossoms that turn pale apricot with age; or the brilliant
fruiting cone with the scarlet seeds a-dangling. At all seasons
it is a delight. When most members of this lovely tribe confine
themselves to warm latitudes, we especially prize the species
that naturally endures the rigorous climate of the "stern New
England coast."

Beavers (when they used to be common in the East) so often made
use of the laurel magnolia, not only of the roots for food, but
of the trunk, whose bitter bark, white sapwood, and soft,
reddish-brown heartwood were gnawed in constructing their huts,
that in some sections it is still known as the beaver-tree.
According to Delpino, the conspicuous, pollen-laden magnolia
flowers, with their easily accessible nectar, attract beetles
chiefly. These winged messengers, entering the heart of a newly
opened blossom, find shelter beneath the inner petals that form a
vault above their heads, and warmth that may be felt by the
finger, and abundant food; consequently they remain long in an
asylum so delightful, or until the expanding petals turn them out
to carry the pollen, with which they have been thoroughly dusted
during their hospitable entertainment, to younger flowers. As the
blossoms mature their stigmas in the first stage and the anthers
in the second, it follows the beetles must regularly
cross-fertilize them as they fly from one shelter to another.

  (Coptis trifolia)  Crowfoot family [Buttercup family]

Flowers - Small white, solitary, on a slender scape 3 to 6 in.
high. Sepals 5 to 7, petal-like, falling early; petals 5 or 6,
inconspicuous, like club-shaped columns; stamens numerous carpels
few, the stigmatic surfaces curved. Leaves: From the base, long
petioled, divided into 3 somewhat fan-shaped, shining, evergreen,
sharply toothed leaflets. Rootstock: Thread-like, long, bright
yellow, wiry, bitter.
Preferred Habitat - Cool mossy bogs, damp woods.
Flowering Season - May-August
Distribution - Maryland and Minnesota northward to circumpolar

The shining, evergreen, thrice-parted leaves with which this
charming little plant carpets its retreats form the best of
backgrounds to set off the fragile, tiny white flowers that look
like small wood anemones. Why does the gold-thread choose to
dwell where bees and butterflies, most flowers' best friends,
rarely penetrate? Doubtless because the cool, damp habitat that
develops abundant fungi also perfectly suits the fungus gnats and
certain fungus-feeding beetles that are its principal
benefactors. "The entire flower is constructed with reference to
their visits," says Mr. Clarence Moores Weed; "the showy sepals
attract their attention; the abnormal petals furnish them food;
the many small stamens with white anthers and white pollen
furnish a surface to walk upon, and a foreground in which the
yellow nectar-cups are distinctly visible; the long-spreading
recurved stigmas cover so large a portion of the blossom that it
would be difficult even for one of the tiny visitors to take many
steps without contact with one of them." On a sunny June day the
lens usually reveals at least one tiny gnat making his way from
one club-shaped petal to another - for the insignificant petals
are mere nectaries - and transferring pollen from flower to

Dig up a plant, and the fine tangled, yellow roots tell why it
was given its name. In the good old days when decoctions of any
herb that was particularly nauseous were swallowed in the simple
faith that virtue resided in them in proportion to their
revolting taste, the gold-thread's bitter roots furnished a tea
much valued as a spring tonic and as a cure for ulcerated throats
and canker-sore mouths of helpless children.

  (Actaea alba)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Small, white, in a terminal oblong raceme. Calyx of 3
to 5 petal-like, early-falling sepals; petals very small, 4 to
10, spatulate, clawed; stamens white, numerous, longer than
petals; 1 pistil with a broad stigma. Stem: Erect, bushy, to 2
ft. high. Leaves: Twice or thrice compounded of sharply toothed
and pointed, sometimes lobed, leaflets, petioled. Fruit: Clusters
of poisonous oval white berries with dark purple spot on end,
formed from the pistils. Both pedicels and peduncles much
thickened and often red after fruiting.
Preferred Habitat - Cool, shady, moist woods.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia and far West.

However insignificant the short fuzzy clusters of flowers lifted
by this bushy little plant, we cannot fail to name it after it
has set those curious white berries with a dark spot on the end,
which Mrs. Starr Dana graphically compares to "the china eyes
that small children occasionally manage to gouge from their
dolls' heads." For generations they have been called "doll's
eyes" in Massachusetts. Especially after these poisonous berries
fully ripen and the rigid stems which bear them thicken and
redden, we cannot fail to notice them. As the sepals fall early,
the white stamens and stigmas are the most conspicuous parts of
the flowers. A cluster opening its blossoms almost
simultaneously, the plant's only hope of cross-fertilization lies
in the expectation that the small female bees (Halictus) which
come for pollen - no nectar being secreted - will leave some
brought from another flower on the stigma as they enter, and
before collecting a fresh supply. The time elapsing between the
maturity of the stigmas and the anthers is barely perceptible;
nevertheless there is a tendency toward the former maturing

spicata, var. rubra of Gray) - a more common species northward,
although with a range, habit, and aspect similar to the
preceding, may be known by its more ovoid raceme of feathery
white flowers, its less sharply pointed leaves, and, above all,
by its rigid clusters of oval red berries on slender pedicels, so
conspicuous in the woods of late summer.

  (Cimicifuga racemosa)  Crowfoot family [Buttercup family]

Flowers - Fetid, feathery, white, in an elongated wand-like
raceme, 6 in. to 2 ft. long, at the end of a stem 3 to 8 ft.
high. Sepals petal-like, falling early; 4 to 8 small stamen-like
petals 2-cleft; stamens very numerous, with long filaments; 1 or
2 sessile pistils with broad stigmas. Leaves: Alternate, on long
petioles, thrice compounded of oblong, deeply toothed or cleft
leaflets, the end leaflet often again compound. Fruit: Dry oval
pods, their seeds in 2 rows.
Preferred Habitat - Rich woods and woodland borders, hillsides.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Maine to Georgia, and westward from Ontario to

Tall white rockets, shooting upward from a mass of large handsome
leaves in some heavily shaded midsummer woodland border, cannot
fail to impress themselves through more than one sense, for their
odor is as disagreeable as the fleecy white blossoms are
striking. Obviously such flowers would be most attractive to the
carrion and meat flies. Cimicifuga, meaning to drive away bugs,
and the old folk-name of bugbane testify to a degree of
offensiveness to other insects, where the flies' enjoyment
begins. As these are the only insects one is likely to see about
the fleecy wands, doubtless they are their benefactors. The
countless stamens which feed them generously with pollen
willingly left for them alone must also dust them well as they
crawl about before flying to another fetid lunch.

The close kinship with the baneberries is detected at once on
examining one of these flowers. Were the vigorous plant less
offensive to the nostrils, many a garden would be proud to own so
decorative an addition to the shrubbery border.

  (Anemone quinquefolia)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Solitary, about 1 in. broad, white or delicately tinted
with blue or pink outside. Calyx of 4 to 9 oval, petal-like
sepals; no petals; stamens and carpels numerous, of indefinite
number. Stem: Slender, 4 to 9 in. high, from horizontal elongated
rootstock. Leaves: On slender petioles, in a whorl of 3 to 5
below the flower, each leaf divided into 3 to 5 variously cut and
lobed parts; also a late-appearing leaf from the base.
Preferred Habitat - Woodlands, hillsides, light soil, partial
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Canada and United States, south to Georgia, west
to Rocky Mountains.

According to one poetical Greek tradition, Anemos, the wind,
employs these exquisitely delicate little star-like namesakes as
heralds of his coming in early spring, while woods and hillsides
still lack foliage to break his gust's rude force. Pliny declared
that only the wind could open anemones! Another legend utilized
by countless poets pictures Venus wandering through the forests
grief-stricken over the death of her youthful lover.

    "Alas, the Paphian! fair Adonis slain!
     Tears plenteous as his blood she pours amain;
     But gentle flowers are born and bloom around
     From every drop that falls upon the ground:
     Where streams his blood, there blushing springs the rose;
     And where a tear has dropped, a wind-flower blows."

Indeed, in reading the poets ancient and modern for references to
this favorite blossom, one realizes as never before the
significance of an anthology, literally a flower gathering.

But it is chiefly the European anemone that is extolled by the
poets. Nevertheless our more slender, fragile, paler-leaved, and
smaller-flowered species, known, strange to say, by the same
scientific name, possesses the greater charm. Doctors, with more
prosaic eyes than the poets, find acrid and dangerous juices in
the anemone and its kin. Certain European peasants will run past
a colony of these pure innocent blossoms in the belief that the
very air is tainted by them. Yet the Romans ceremonially picked
the first anemone of the year, with an incantation supposed to
guard them against fever. The identical plant that blooms in our
woods, which may be found also in Asia, is planted on graves by
the Chinese, who call it the "death flower."

To leave legend and folk lore, the practical scientist sees in
the anemone, trembling and bending before the wind, a perfect
adaptation to its environment. Anchored in the light soil by a
horizontal rootstock; furnished with a stem so slender and
pliable no blast can break it; its pretty leaves whorled where
they form a background to set off the fragile beauty of the
solitary flower above them; a corolla economically dispensed
with, since the white sepals are made to do the advertising for
insects; the slightly nodding attitude of the blossom in cloudy
weather, that the stigmas may be in the line of the fall of
pollen jarred out by the wind in case visitors seeking pollen
fail to bring any from other anemones -  all these features teach
that every plant is what it is for excellent reasons of its own;
that it is a sentient being, not to be admired for superficial
beauty merely, but also for those same traits which operate in
the human race, making it the most interesting of studies.

Note the clusters of tuberous dahlia-like roots, the whorl of
thin three-lobed rounded leaflets on long, fine petioles
immediately below the smaller pure white or pinkish flowers
usually growing in loose clusters, to distinguish the more common
RUE-ANEMONE (Syndesmon thalictroides - Thalictrum anemonoides of
Gray) from its cousin the solitary flowered wood or true anemone.
Generally there are three blossoms of the rue-anemone to a
cluster, the central one opening first, the side ones only after
it has developed its stamens and pistils to prolong the season of
bloom and encourage cross-pollination by insects. In the eastern
half of the United States, and less abundantly in Canada, these
are among the most familiar spring wild flowers. Pick them and
they soon wilt miserably; lift the plants early, with a good ball
of soil about the roots, and they will unfold their fragile
blossoms indoors, bringing with them something of the unspeakable
charm of their native woods and hillsides just waking into life.

The TALL or SUMMER ANEMONE (A. Virginiana), called also
THIMBLE-WEED from its oblong, thimble-like fruit-head, bears
solitary, inconspicuous greenish or white flowers, often over an
inch across, and generally with five rounded sepals, on erect,
long stalks from June to August. Contrasted with the dainty
tremulous little spring anemones, it is a rather coarse, stiff,
hairy plant two or three feet tall. Its preference is for
woodlands, whereas another summer bloomer, the LONG-FRUITED
ANEMONE (A. cylindrica), a smaller, silky-hairy plant often
confused with it, chooses open places, fields, and roadsides. The
leaves of the thimble-weed, which are set in a whorl high up on
the stem, and also spring from the root, after the true anemone
fashion, are long petioled, three-parted, the divisions variously
cut, lobed, and saw-edged. The flower-stalks which spring from
this whorl continue to rise throughout the summer. The first, or
middle of these peduncles, lacks leaves; later ones bear two
leaves in the middle, from which more flower-stalks arise, and so

  (Clematis Virginiana)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - White and greenish, about 1 in. across or less, in
loose clusters from the axils. Calyx of 4 or 5 petal-like sepals;
no petals; stamens and pistils numerous, of indefinite number;
the staminate and pistillate flowers on separate plants; the
styles feathery, and over 1 in. long in fruit. Stem: Climbing,
slightly woody. Leaves: Opposite, slender petioled, divided into
3 pointed and widely toothed or lobed leaflets.
Preferred Habitat - Climbing over woodland borders, thickets,
roadside shrubbery, fences, and walls; rich, moist soil.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Georgia and Kansas northward less common beyond
the Canadian border.

Fleecy white clusters of wild clematis, festooning woodland and
roadside thickets, vary so much in size and attractiveness that
one cannot but investigate the reason. Examination shows that
comparatively few of the flowers are perfect, that is, few
contain both stamens and pistils; the great majority are either
male - the more showy ones - or female - the ones so conspicuous
in fruit - and, like Quakers in meeting, the sexes are divided.
The plant that bears staminate blossoms produces none that are
pistillate, and vice versa - another marvelous protection against
that horror of the floral race, self-fertilization, and a case of
absolute dependence on insect help to perpetuate the race. Since
the clematis blooms while insect life is at its height, and after
most, if not all, of the Ranunculaceae have withdrawn from the
competition for trade; moreover, since its white color, so
conspicuous in shady retreats, and its accessible nectar attract
hosts of flies and the small, short-tongued bees chiefly, that
are compelled to work for it by transferring pollen while they
feed, it goes without saying that the vine is a winner in life's

Charles Darwin, who made so many interesting studies of the power
of movement in various plants, devoted special attention to the
clematis clan, of which about one hundred species exist but,
alas! none to our traveller's joy, that flings out the right hand
of good fellowship to every twig within reach, winds about the
sapling in brotherly embrace, drapes a festoon of flowers from
shrub to shrub, hooks even its sensitive leafstalks over any
available support as it clambers and riots on its lovely way. By
rubbing the footstalk of a young leaf with a twig a few times on
any side, Darwin found a clematis leaf would bend to that side in
the course of a few hours, but return to the straight again if
nothing remained on which to hook itself. "To show how sensitive
the young petioles are," he wrote, "I may mention that I just
touched the undersides of two with a little watercolor which,
when dry, formed an excessively thin and minute crust but this
sufficed in twenty-four hours to cause both to bend downwards."

In early autumn, when the long, silvery, decorative plumes
attached to a ball of seeds form feathery, hoary masses even more
fascinating than the flower clusters, the name of old man's beard
is most suggestive. These seeds never open, but, when ripe, each
is borne on the autumn gales, to sink into the first moist,
springy resting place.

The English counterpart of our virgin's bower is fragrant.

  (Thalictrum polyganum; T. Cornuti of Gray)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Greenish white, the calyx of 4 or 5 sepals, falling
early; no petals; numerous white, thread-like, green-tipped
stamens, spreading in feathery tufts, borne in large, loose,
compound terminal clusters 1 ft. long or more. Stem: Stout,
erect, 3 to 11 ft. high, leafy, branching above. Leaves: Arranged
in threes, compounded of various shaped leaflets, the lobes
pointed or rounded, dark above, paler below.
Preferred Habitat- Open sunny swamps, beside sluggish water, low
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Quebec to Florida, westward to Ohio.

Masses of these soft, feathery flowers, towering above the ranker
growth of midsummer, possess an unseasonable, ethereal, chaste,
spring-like beauty. On some plants the flowers are white and
exquisite; others, again, are dull and coarser. Why is this?
Because these are what botanists term polygamous flowers, i.e.,
some of them are perfect, containing both stamens and pistils;
some are male only others, again, are female. Naturally an
insect, like ourselves, is first attracted to the more beautiful
male blossoms, the pollen bearers, and of course it transfers the
vitalizing dust to the dull pistillate flowers visited later. But
the meadow-rue, which produces a superabundance of very light,
dry pollen, easily blown by the wind, is often fertilized through
that agent also, just as grasses, plantains, sedges, birches,
oaks, pines, and all cone-bearing trees are. As might be
expected, a plant which has not yet ascended the evolutionary
scale high enough to economize its pollen by making insects carry
it invariably, overtops surrounding vegetation to take advantage
of every breeze that blows.

The EARLY MEADOW-RUE (T. dioicum), found blooming in open, rocky
woods during April and May, from Alabama northward to Labrador,
and westward to Missouri, grows only one or two feet high, and,
like its tall sister, bears fleecy, greenish-white flowers, the
staminate and the pistillate ones on different plants. These
produce no nectar; they offer no showy corolla advertisement to
catch the eye of passing insects; yet so abundant is the dry
pollen produced by the male blossoms that insects which come to
feed on it must occasionally transfer some, albeit this primitive
genus still depends largely on the wind. Not its flower, but the
exquisite foliage resembling sprays of a robust maidenhair fern,
is this meadow-rue's chief charm.

The PURPLISH MEADOW-RUE (T. purpurascens), so like the tall
species in general characteristics that one cannot tell the dried
and pressed specimens of these variable plants apart, is easily
named afield by the purplish tinge of its green polygamous
flowers. Often its stems show color also. Sometimes, not always,
the plant is downy, and the comparatively thick leaflets, which
are dark green above, are waxy beneath. We look for this
meadow-rue in copses and woodlands from Northern Canada to
Florida, and far westward after the early meadow-rue has
flowered, but before the tall one spreads its fleecy panicles.
Quite as decorative as the flower clusters are the compound
seed-bearing stars.

  (Jeffersonia diphylla)  Barberry family

Flowers - White, 1 in. broad, solitary, on a naked scape about 7
in. high in flower, more than twice as tall in fruit. Calyx of 4
petal-like sepals falling early; 8 longer, flat, oblong petals; 8
stamens; 1 pistil. Leaves: From the root, long-petioled, rounded,
palmately veined, cleft into 2 divisions. Fruit: A leathery,
many-seeded capsule, slit horizontally.
Preferred habitat - Rich shady woods.
Flowering Season - April-May.
Distribution - New York to Virginia, west to Ontario and

Like many little darkies in the United States, this low plant was
named for Thomas Jefferson. One suspects from a glance at its
solitary white flower and deeply divided leaves that it is not
far removed from the May apple, which is characterized by even
greater Jeffersonian simplicity of habit, although separated into
another genus.

  (Podophyllum peltatum)  Barberry family

Flowers - White, solitary, large, unpleasantly scented, nodding
from the fork between a pair of terminal leaves. Calyx of 6
short-lived sepals; 6 to 9 rounded, flat petals stamens as many
as petals or (usually) twice as many; 1 pistil, with a thick
stigma. Stem: 1 to 1 1/2 ft. high, from a long, running
rootstock. Leaves: Of flowerless stems (from separate
root-stock), solitary, on a long petiole from base, nearly 1 ft.
across, rounded, centrally peltate, umbrella fashion, 5 to 7
lobed, the lobes 2-cleft, dark above, light green below. Leaves
of flowering stem 1 to 3, usually a pair, similar to others, but
smaller. Fruit: A fleshy, yellowish, egg-shaped, many-seeded
fruit about 2 in. long.
Preferred habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering Season - May.
Distribution - Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to
Minnesota and Texas.

In giving this plant its abridged scientific name, Linnaeus
seemed to see in its leaves a resemblance to a duck's foot
(Anapodophyllum) but equally imaginative American children call
them green umbrellas, and declare they unfurl only during April
showers. In July, a sweetly mawkish, many-seeded fruit,
resembling a yellow egg-tomato, delights the uncritical palates
of little people, who should be warned, however, against putting
any other part of this poisonous, drastic plant in their mouths.
Physicians best know its uses. Dr. Asa Gray's statement about the
harmless fruit "eaten by pigs and boys" aroused William Hamilton
Gibson, who had happy memories of his own youthful gorges on
anything edible that grew. "Think of it, boys!" he wrote; "and
think of what else he says of it: 'Ovary ovoid, stigma sessile,
undulate, seeds covering the lateral placenta each enclosed in an
aril.' Now it may be safe for pigs and billygoats to tackle such
a compound as that, but we boys all like to know what we are
eating, and I cannot but feel that the public health officials of
every township should require this formula of Dr. Gray's to he
printed on every one of these big loaded pills, if that is what
they are really made of."

  (Sanguinaria Canadensis)  Poppy family

Flowers - Pure white, rarely pinkish, golden centered, 1 to 1 1/2
in. across, solitary, at end of a smooth naked scape 6 to 14 in.
tall. Calyx of 2 short-lived sepals; corolla of 8 to 12 oblong
petals, early falling; stamens numerous; 1 short pistil composed
of 2 carpels. Leaves: Rounded, deeply and palmately lobed, the 5
to 9 lobes often cleft. Rootstock: Thick, several inches long,
with fibrous roots, and filled with orange-red juice.
Preferred habitat - Rich woods and borders; low hillsides.
Flowering Season - April-May.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, westward to Nebraska.

Snugly protected in a papery sheath enfolding a silvery-green
leaf-cloak, the solitary erect bud slowly rises from its embrace,
sheds its sepals, expands into an immaculate golden-centered
blossom that, poppy-like, offers but a glimpse of its fleeting
loveliness ere it drops its snow-white petals and is gone. But
were the flowers less ephemeral, were we always certain of
hitting upon the very time its colonies are starring the
woodland, would it have so great a charm? Here to-day, if there
comes a sudden burst of warm sunshine; gone tomorrow, if the
spring winds, rushing through the nearly leafless woods, are too
rude to the fragile petals - no blossom has a more evanescent
beauty, none is more lovely. After its charms have been
displayed, up rises the circular leaf-cloak on its smooth reddish
petiole, unrolls, and at length overtops the narrow, oblong
seed-vessel. Wound the plant in any part, and there flows an
orange-red juice, which old-fashioned mothers used to drop on
lumps of sugar and administer when their children had coughs and
colds. As this fluid stains whatever it touches - hence its value
to the Indians as a war-paint - one should be careful in picking
the flower. It has no value for cutting, of course; but in some
rich, shady corner of the garden, a clump of the plants will
thrive and bring a suggestive picture of the spring woods to our
very doors. It will be noticed that plants having thick
rootstocks, corms, and bulbs, which store up food during the
winter, like the irises, Solomon's seals, bloodroot, adder's
tongue, and crocuses, are prepared to rush into blossom far
earlier in spring than fibrous-rooted species that must
accumulate nourishment after the season has opened.

A newly opened flower which is in the female stage has its
anthers tightly closed, and pollen must therefore be carried from
distinct plants by the short-tongued bees and flies out
collecting it. No nectar rewards their search, although they
alight on young blossoms in the expectation of finding some food,
and so cross-fertilize them. Late in the afternoon the petals,
which have been in a showy horizontal position during the day,
rise to the perpendicular before closing to protect the flower's
precious contents for the morrow's visitors. In the blossom's
staminate stage, abundant pollen is collected by the hive bees
chiefly; but, those of the Halictus tribe, the mining bees and
the Syrphidae flies also pay profitable visits. Inasmuch as the
hive bee is a naturalized foreigner, not a native, the bloodroot
probably depended upon the other little bees to fertilize it
before her arrival. For ages this bee's small relatives and the
flowers they depended upon developed side by side, adapting
themselves to each other's wants. Now along comes an immigrant
and profits by their centuries of effort.

  (Bicuculla Cucullaria; Dicentra cucullaria of Gray)  Poppy

Flowers - White, tipped with yellow, nodding in a 1-sided raceme.
Two scale-like sepals; corolla of 4 petals, in 2 pairs, somewhat
cohering into a heart-shaped, flattened, irregular flower, the
outer pair of petals extended into 2 widely spread spurs, the
small inner petals united above; 6 stamens in 2 sets; style
slender, with a 2-lobed stigma. Scape: 5 to 10 in. high, smooth,
from a bulbous root. Leaves: Finely cut, thrice compound, pale
beneath, on slender petioles, all from base
Preferred Habitat - Rich, rocky woods.
Flowering Season- - April-May.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, west to Nebraska.

Rich leaf mould, accumulated between crevices of rock, makes the
ideal home of this delicate, yet striking, flower, coarse-named,
but refined in all its parts. Consistent with the dainty,
heart-shaped blossoms that hang trembling along the slender stem
like pendants from a lady's ear, are the finely dissected,
lace-like leaves, the whole plant repudiating by its femininity
its most popular name. It was Thoreau who observed that only
those plants which require but little light, and can stand the
drip of trees, prefer to dwell in the woods - plants which have
commonly more beauty in their leaves than in their pale and
almost colorless blossoms. Certainly few woodland dwellers have
more delicately beautiful foliage than the fumitory tribe.

Owing to this flower's early season of bloom and to the depth of
its spurs, in which nectar is secreted by two long processes of
the middle stamens, only the long-tongued female bumblebees then
flying are implied by its curious formation. Two canals leading
to the sweets invite the visitor to thrust in her tongue, and as
she hangs from the white heart and presses forward to drain the
luscious drops, first on one side, then on the other, her hairy
underside necessarily comes in contact with the pollen of younger
flowers and - with the later maturing stigmas of older ones, to
which she carries it later. But, as might be expected, this
intelligent bee occasionally nips holes through the spurs of the
flower that makes dining so difficult for her - holes that lesser
fry are not slow to investigate.

According to the Rev. Alexander S. Wilson, bumblebees make holes
with jagged edges; wasps make clean-cut, circular openings; and
the carpenter bees cut slits, through which they steal nectar
from deep flowers. Who has tested this statement about the guilty
little pilferers on our side of the Atlantic?

  (Bicuculla Canadensis)  Poppy family

Flowers - Irregular, greenish white tinged with rose, slightly
fragrant, heart-shaped, with 2 short rounded spurs, over 1/2 in.
long, nodding on a slender scape. Calyx of 2 scale-like sepals;
corolla heart-shaped at base, consisting of 4 petals in 2 united
pairs, a prominent crest on tips of inner ones; 6 stamens in 2
sets; style with 2-lobed stigma. Scape: Smooth, 6 to 12 in. high,
the rootstock bearing many small, round, yellow tubers like
kernels of corn. Leaves: All from root, delicate, compounded of 3
very finely dissected divisions.
Prferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Virginia, and westward to the

Any one familiar with the Bleeding-heart (B. eximia) of old-
fashioned gardens, found growing wild in the Alleghanies, and
with the exquisite White Mountain Fringe (Adlumia fungosa) often
brought from the woods to be planted over shady trellises, or
with the Dutchman's breeches, need not be told that the little
squirrel corn is next of kin or far removed from the pink
corydalis. It is not until we dig up the plant and look at its
roots that we see why it received its name. A delicious perfume
like hyacinths, only fainter and subtler, rises from the dainty


  (Cardamine bulbosa; C. rhomboidea of Gray)  Mustard family

Flowers - White, about 1/2 in. across, clustered in a simple
terminal raceme. Calyx of four sepals; corolla of 4 petals in
form of a cross; 6 stamens; 1 compound pistil with a 2-lobed
style. Stem: 6 to 18 in. high, erect, smooth, from a tuberous
base. Leaves: Basal ones rounded, on long petioles; upper leaves
oblong or lance-shaped, toothed or entire-edged, short petioled
or seated on stem. Fruit: Very slender, erect pods about 1 in.
long, tapering at each end, tipped with a slender style, the
stigma prominent; 1 row of seeds in each cell, the pods rapidly
following flowers up the stem and opening suddenly.
Preferred Habitat - Wet meadows, low ground, near springs.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Minnesota and

Pretty masses of this flower, that look like borders of garden
candy-tuft planted beside some trickling brook, are visited and
cross-fertilized by small bees, of the Andrena and Halictus clans
chiefly. How well the butterflies understand scientific
classification with instinct for their sure guide! The
caterpillar of that exquisite little white butterfly with a dark
yellow triangular spot across his wings, the fulcate orange-tip
(Euchloe genutia), a first-cousin of the common small white
cabbage butterfly, feeds on this plant and several of its kin,
knowing better than if the books had told it so, that all belong
to the same cross-bearing family. The watery, biting juice in the
Cruciferae - the radishes, nasturtiums, cabbage, peppergrass,
water-cress, mustards, and horseradish - by no means protects
them from preying worms and caterpillars; but ants, the worst
pilferers of nectar extant, let them alone. Authorities declare
that the chloride of potassium and iodine these plants contain
increase their food value to mankind.

The PURPLE CRESS (C. purpurea), formerly counted a mere variety
of the preceding, has now been ranked as a distinct species. Its
purplish-pink flowers, found about cold, springy places
northward, appear two or three weeks earlier than those of the
white spring cress.\
CUCKOO-FLOWER (C. pratensis), an immigrant from Europe and Asia
now naturalized here north of New Jersey from coast to coast,
lifts its larger and more showy white or purplish-pink flowers,
that stand well out from the stem on slender pedicels, in loose
clusters above watery low-lying ground in April and May.

    "Lady-smocks all silver white"

now paint our meadows with delight, as they do Shakespeare's
England; but ours have quite frequently a decided pink tinge. The
light and graceful growth, and the pinnately divided foliage,
give the plant a special charm. In olden times, when it was
counted a valuable remedy in hysteria and epilepsy, Linnaeus gave
it its generic name Cardamine from two Greek words signifying

More bees, flies, butterflies, and other insects visit the
ladies' smock than perhaps any other crucifer found here, since
it has showy flowers and so much nectar the long-persistent
sepals require little pouches to hold it. No wonder this plant
has triumphantly marched around the world, leaving its relatives
that take less pains to woo and work insects far behind in the
race. Owing to a partial revolution of the tall stamens away from
the stigmas, a visitor in sipping nectar must brush off some
pollen on his head or tongue, although in stormy weather, when
the movement of the stamens is incomplete, self-pollination may
occasionally occur, according to Muller.

  (Dentaria diphylla)  Mustard family

Flowers - White, about 1/2 in. across, in a terminal loose
cluster, the formation of each similar to that of bulbous cress.
Stem: 8 to 15 in. high. Root stock: Long, crinkled, toothed,
fleshy, crisp, edible. Leaves: 2, opposite or nearly so, on the
stem, compounded of 3 ovate and toothed leaflets; also larger,
broader leaves on larger petioles from the rootstock. Fruit:
Flat, lance-shaped pods, 1 in. long or over, tipped with the
slender style.
Perferred Habitat - Rich leaf mould in woods, sometimes in
thickets and meadows.
Flowering Season - May.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, west to the

Clusters of these pretty, white, cross-shaped flowers, found near
the bloodroot, claytonia, anemones, and a host of other delicate
spring blossoms, enter into a short but fierce competition with
them for the visits of the small Andrena and Halictus bees then
flying to collect nectar and pollen for a generation still
unborn. In tunnels underground, or in soft, partially decayed
wood, each busy little mother places the pellets of pollen and
nectar paste, then when her eggs have been laid on the food
supply in separate nurseries and sealed up, she dies from
exhaustion, leaving her grub progeny to eat its way through the
larva into the chrysalis state, and finally into that of a winged
bee that flies away to liberty. These are the little bees so
constantly seen about willow catkins.

Country children, on their way to school through the woods, often
dig up the curious, long crisp root of the toothwort, which
tastes much like the water-cress, to eat with their sandwiches at
the noon recess. Then, as they examine the little pointed
projections on the rootstock, they see why the plant received its

Another toothwort found throughout a similar range, the
CUT-LEAVED TOOTHWORT, or PEPPER-ROOT (D. laciniata), has its
equally edible rootstock scarcely toothed, but rather constricted
in places, giving its little tubers the appearance of beads
strung into a necklace. Its white or pale purplish-pink
cross-shaped flowers, loosely clustered at the end of an
unbranched stem, rise by preference above moist ground in rich
woods, often beside a spring, from April to June - a longer
season for wooing and working its insect friends than the
two-leaved toothwort has attained to - hence it is the commoner
plant. Instead of having two leaves on its stem, this species
spreads whorls of three leaves, thrice divided, almost to the
base, the divisions toothed or lobed, and the side ones sometimes
deeply cleft. The larger, longer petioled leaves that rise
directly from the rootstock have scarcely developed at flowering

  (Bursa Bursa-pastoris; Capsella Bursa-pastoris of Gray)
Mustard family

Flowers - Small, white, in a long loose raceme, followed by
triangular and notched (somewhat heart-shaped) pods, the valves
boat-shaped and keeled. Sepals and petals 4; stamens 6; 1 pistil.
Stem: 6 to 18 in. high, from a deep root. Leaves: Forming a
rosette at base, 2 to 5 in. long, more or less cut (pinnatifid),
a few pointed, arrow-shaped leaves also scattered along stem and
partly clasping it.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, roadsides, waste places.
Flowering Season - Almost throughout the year.
Distribution - Over nearly all parts of the earth.

>From Europe this little low plant found its way, to become the
commonest of our weeds, so completing its march around the globe.
At a glance one knows it to be related to the alyssum and
candy-tuft of our gardens, albeit a poor relation in spite of its
vaunted purses - the tiny, heart-shaped seed-pods that so rapidly
succeed the flowers. What is the secret of its successful march
over the face of the earth? Like the equally triumphant
chickweed, it is easily satisfied with unoccupied wasteland, it
avoids the fiercest competition for insect trade by prolonging
its season of bloom far beyond that of any native flower, for
there is not a month in the year when one may not find it even in
New England in sheltered places. Having vanquished in the fiercer
struggle for survival in the Old World, it finds life here one
long holiday; and finally, by clustering a large number of
relatively small flowers together, it attracts the insects that
this method of arrangement pleases best, the flies (Syrphidae and
Muscidae) which cross-fertilize it in fine weather, transferring
enough pollen from plant to plant to save the species from
degeneracy through close inbreeding. However, the long stamens
standing on a level with the stigma are well calculated to
self-pollenize the flowers, the flies failing them.

  (Draba verna)  Mustard family

Flowers - Very small, white, distant, growing on numerous scapes
1 to 5 in. high; in formation each flower is similar to all the
mustards, except that the 4 petals are 2-cleft, destroying the
cross-like effect. Leaves: 1/2 to 1 in. long, in a tuft or
rosette on the ground, oblong or spatulate, covered with stiff
Preferred Habitat - Waste lands, sandy fields, and roadsides.
Flowering Season - February-May.
Distribution - Throughout our area; naturalized from Europe and

An insignificantly small plant, too common, however, to be wholly
ignored. Although each tiny flower secretes four drops of nectar
between the bases of the short stamens and the long ones next
them, it would be unreasonable to depend wholly upon insects to
carry pollen, since there is so little else to attract them.
Therefore the anthers of the four long stamens regularly shed
directly upon the stigma below them, leaving to the few visitors,
the small bees chiefly, the transferring from flower to flower of
pollen from the two short stamens which must be touched if they
would reach the nectar. In spite of the persistency with which
these little blossoms fertilize themselves, they certainly
increase at a prodigious rate; but how much larger and more
beautiful might they not be if they possessed more executive

A similar but larger plant, with its hairy leaves not only tufted
at the base, but also alternating up the stiff stem, is the HAIRY
ROCK-CRESS (Arabis hirsuta), whose white or greenish flowers,
growing in racemes after the usual mustard fashion, are quickly
followed by very narrow, flattened pods two inches long or less.
Around the world this small traveler has likewise found its way,
choosing rocky places to display its insignificant flowers
throughout the entire summer to such small bees and flies as seek
the nectar in its two tiny glands. It is not to be confused with
the saxifrage or stone-breaker.

  (Drosera rotundifolia)  Sundew family

Flowers - Small, white, growing in a 1-sided, curved raceme of
buds chiefly. Calyx usually 5-parted; usually 5 petals, and as
many stamens as petals; usually 3 styles, but 2-cleft, thus
appearing to be twice as many. Scape: 4 to 10 in. high. Leaves:
Growing in an open rosette on the ground; round or broader,
clothed with reddish bristly hairs tipped with purple glands, and
narrowed into long, flat, hairy petioles; young leaves curled
like fern fronds.
Preferred Habitat - Bogs, sandy and sunny marshes.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico and westward. From
Alaska to California. Europe and Asia.

Here is a bloodthirsty little miscreant that lives by reversing
the natural order of higher forms of life preying upon lower
ones, an anomaly in that the vegetable actually eats the animal!
The dogbane, as we have seen, simply catches the flies that dare
trespass upon the butterflies' preserves, for excellent reasons
of its own; the Silenes and phloxes, among others, spread their
calices with a sticky gum that acts as limed twigs do to birds,
in order to guard the nectar secreted for flying benefactors from
pilfering ants; the honey bee being an imported, not a native,
insect, and therefore not perfectly adapted to the milkweed,
occasionally gets entrapped by it; the big bumblebee is sometimes
fatally imprisoned in the moccasin flower's gorgeous tomb - the
punishment of insects that do not benefit the flowers is infinite
in its variety. But the local Venus's flytrap (Dionaea
muscipula), gathered only from the low savannas in North Carolina
to entertain the owners of hothouses as it promptly closes the
crushing trap at the end of its sensitive leaves over a hapless
fly, and the common sundew that tinges the peat-bogs of three
continents with its little reddish leaves, belong to a distinct
class of carnivorous plants which actually masticate their animal
food, depending upon it for nourishment as men do upon cattle
slaughtered in an abattoir. Darwin's luminous account of these
two species alone, which occupies over three hundred absorbingly
interesting pages of his "Insectivorous Plants" should be read by
everyone interested in these freaks of nature.

When we go to some sunny cranberry bog to look for these sundews,
nothing could be more innocent looking than the tiny plant, its
nodding raceme of buds, usually with only a solitary little
blossom (that opens only in the sunshine) at the top of the
curve, its leaves glistening with what looks like dew, though the
midsummer sun may be high in the heavens. A little fly or gnat,
attracted by the bright jewels, alights on a leaf only to find
that the clear drops, more sticky than honey, instantly glue his
feet, that the pretty reddish hairs about him act like tentacles,
reaching inward, to imprison him within their slowly closing
embrace. Here is one of the horrors of the Inquisition operating
in this land of liberty before our very eyes! Excited by the
struggles of the victim, the sensitive hairs close only the
faster, working on the same principle that a vine's tendrils do
when they come in contact with a trellis. More of the sticky
fluid pours upon the hapless fly, plastering over his legs and
wings and the pores on his body through which he draws his
breath. Slowly, surely, the leaf rolls inward, making a temporary
stomach; the cruel hairs bind, the glue suffocates and holds him
fast. Death alone releases him. And now the leafs orgy begins:
moistening the fly with a fresh peptic fluid, which helps in the
assimilation, the plant proceeds to digest its food. Curiously
enough, chemical analysis proves that this sundew secretes a
complex fluid corresponding almost exactly to the gastric juice
in the stomach of animals.

Darwin, who fed these leaves with various articles, found that
they could dissolve matter out of pollen, seeds, grass, etc.; yet
without a human caterer, how could a leaf turn vegetarian? When a
bit of any undesirable substance, such as chalk or wood, was
placed on the hairs and excited them, they might embrace it
temporarily; but as soon as the mistake was discovered, it would
be dropped! He also poisoned the plants by administering acids,
and gave them fatal attacks of indigestion by overfeeding them
with bits of raw beef!

Other common sundews, the SPATULATE-LEAVED SUNDEW (D. intermedia)
and the THREAD-LEAVED SUNDEW (D. filiformis) whose purplish-pink
flowers are reared above wet sand along the coast, possess
contrivances similar to the round-leaved plant's to pursue their
gruesome business. Why should these vegetables turn carnivorous?
Doubtless because the soil in which they grow can supply little
or no nitrogen. Very small roots testify to the small use they
serve. The water sucked up through them from the bog aids in the
manufacture of the fluid so freely exuded by the bristly glands,
but nitrogen must be obtained by other means, even at the
sacrifice of insect victims.

  (Saxifraga Virginiensis)  Saxifrage family

Flowers - White, small, numerous, perfect, spreading into a loose
panicle. Calyx 5-lobed; 5 petals; 10 stamens; 1 pistil with 2
styles. Scape: 4 to 12 in. high, naked, sticky-hairy. Leaves:
Clustered at the base, rather thick, obovate, toothed, and
narrowed into spatulate-margined petioles. Fruit: Widely spread,
purplish-brown pods.
Preferred Habitat - Rocky woodlands, hillsides.
Flowering Season - March-May
Distribution - New Brunswick to Georgia, and westward a thousand
miles or more.

Rooted in clefts of rock that, therefore, appears to be broken by
this vigorous plant, the saxifrage shows rosettes of fresh green
leaves in earliest spring, and soon whitens with its blossoms the
most forbidding niches. (Saxum = a rock; frango = 1 break.) At
first a small ball of green buds nestles in the leafy tuffet,
then pushes upward on a bare scape, opening its tiny, white,
five-pointed star flowers as it ascends, until, having reached
the allotted height, it scatters them in spreading clusters that
last a fortnight. Again we see that, however insignificantly
small nectar-bearing flowers may be, they are somehow protected
from crawling pilferers; in this case by the commonly employed
sticky hairs in which ants' feet become ensnared. As the anthers
mature before the stigmas are ready to receive pollen, certainly
the flowers cannot afford to send empty away the benefactors on
whom the perpetuation of their race depends; and must prevent it
even with the most heroic measures.

  (Tiarella cordifolia)  Saxifrage family.

Flowers - White, small, feathery, borne in a close raceme at the
top of a scape 6 to 12 in. high. Calyx white, 9-lobed; 5 clawed
petals; 10 stamens, long-exserted; 1 pistil with 2 styles.
Leaves: Long-petioled from the rootstock or runners, rounded or
broadly heart-shaped, 3 to 7-lobed, toothed, often downy along
veins beneath.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods, especially along
Flowering Season - April-May.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, and westward scarcely to
the Mississippi.

Fuzzy, bright white foam-flowers are most conspicuous in the
forest when seen against their unevenly colored leaves that
carpet the ground. A relative, the TRUE MITERWORT or BISHOP'S CAP
(Mittella diphylla), with similar foliage, except that two
opposite leaves may be found almost seated near the middle of its
hairy stem, has its flowers rather distantly scattered on the
raceme, and their fine petals deeply cut like fringe. Both
species may be found in bloom at the same time, offering an
opportunity for comparison to the confused novice. Now, tiarella,
meaning a little tiara, and mitella, a little miter, refer, of
course, to the odd forms of their seed-cases; but all of us are
not gifted with the imaginative eyes of Linnaeus, who named the
plants. Xenophon's assertion that the royal tiara or turban of
the Persians was encircled with a crown helps us no more to see
what Linnaeus saw in the one case than the fact that the papal
miter is encircled by three crowns helps in the other. And as for
the lofty, two-peaked cap worn by bishops in the Roman Church, a
dozen plants, with equal propriety, might be said to wear it.

  (Parnassia Caroliniana)  Saxifrage family

Flowers - Creamy white, delicately veined with greenish,
solitary, 1 in. broad or over, at the end of a scape 8 in. to 2
ft. high, 1 ovate leaf clasping it. Calyx deeply 5-lobed; corolla
of 5 spreading, parallel veined petals; 5 fertile stamens
alternating with them, and 3 stout imperfect stamens clustered at
base of each petal; 1 very short pistil with 4 stigmas. Leaves:
>From the root, on long petioles, broadly oval or rounded,
heart-shaped at base, rather thick.
Preferred Habitat - Wet ground, low meadows, swamps.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Virginia, west to Iowa.

What's in a name? Certainly our common grass of Parnassus, which
is no grass at all, never starred the meadows round about the
home of the Muses, nor sought the steaming savannas of the
Carolinas. The European counterpart (P. palustris), fabled to
have sprung up on Mount Parnassus, is at home here only in the
Canadian border States and northward.

At first analysis one is puzzled by the clusters of filaments at
the base of each petal. Of what use are they? We have seen in the
case of the beard-tongue and the turtle-head that even imperfect
stamens sometimes serve useful ends, or they would doubtless have
been abolished. A fly or bee mistaking, as he well may, the
abortive anthers for beads of nectar on this flower, alights on
one of the white petals, a convenient, spreading landing place;
but finding his mistake, and guided by the greenish lines, the
pathfinders to the true nectaries situated on the other side of
the curious fringy structures, he must, because of their
troublesome presence, climb over them into the center of the
flower to suck its sweets from the point where he will dust
himself with pollen in young blossoms. Of course he will carry
some of their vitalizing powder to the late maturing stigmas of
older ones. Without the fringe of imperfect stamens, that serves
as a harmless trellis easily climbed over, the visitor might
stand on the petals and sip nectar without rendering any
assistance in cross-fertilizing his entertainers.

  (Opulaster opulifolius; Spiraea opulifolia of Gray)  Rose

Flowers - White or pink, small, in numerous rounded terminal
clusters to 2 in. broad. Calyx 5-lobed; 5 rounded petals inserted
in its throat; 20 to 40 stamens; several pistils. Stem: Shrubby,
3 to 10 ft. high, with long, recurved branches, the loose bark
peeling off annually in thin strips. Leaves: Simple, heart-shaped
or rounded, 3-lobed, toothed. Fruit: 3 to 5 smooth, shining,
reddish, inflated, pointed pods.
Preferred Habitat - Rocky banks, riversides.
Flowering Season - June.
Distribution - Canada to Georgia, west to Kansas.

Whether the nurserymen agree with Dr. Gray or not when he says
these balls of white flowers possess "no beauty," the fact
remains that numbers of the shrubs are sold for ornament,
especially a golden-leaved variety. But the charm certainly lies
in their fruit. (Opulus = a wild cranberry tree.) When this is
plentifully set at the ends of long branches that curve backward,
and the bladder-like pods have taken on a rich purplish or
reddish hue, the shrub is undeniably decorative. Even the old
flowers, after they have had their pollen carried away by the
small bees and flies, show a reddish tint on the ovaries which
deepens as the fruit forms; and Ludwig states that this is not
only to increase the conspicuousness of the shrubs, but to entice
unbidden guests away from the younger flowers. Who will tell us
why the old bark should loosen every year and the thin layers
separate into not nine, but dozens of ragged strips?

  (Spiraea salicifolia)  Rose family

Flowers - Small, white or flesh pink, clustered in dense
pyramidal terminal panicles. Calyx 5 cleft; carolla of 5 rounded
petals; stamens numerous; pistils 5 to 8. Stem: 2 to 4 ft. high,
simple or bushy, smooth, usually reddish. Leaves: Alternate, oval
or oblong, saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Low meadows, swamps, fence-rows, ditches.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Rocky Mountains.
Europe and Asia.

Fleecy white plumes of meadow-sweet, the "spires of closely
clustered bloom" sung by Dora Read Goodale, are surely not
frequently found near dusty "waysides scorched with barren heat,"
even in her Berkshires; their preference is for moister soil,
often in the same habitat with a first cousin, the pink
steeple-bush. But plants, like humans, are capricious creatures.
If the meadow-sweet always elected to grow in damp ground whose
rising mists would clog the pores of its leaves, doubtless they
would be protected with a woolly absorbent, as its cousins are.

Inasmuch as perfume serves as an attraction to the more highly
specialized, aesthetic insects, not required by the spiraeas, our
meadow-sweet has none, in spite of its misleading name. Small
bees (especially Andrenidae), flies (Syrphidae), and beetles,
among other visitors, come in great numbers, seeking the
accessible pollen, and, in this case, nectar also, secreted in a
conspicuous orange-colored disk. When a floret first opens, or
even before, the already mature stigmas overtop the incurved,
undeveloped stamens, so that any visitor dusted from other
clusters cross-fertilizes it; but as the stigmas remain fresh
even after the stamens have risen and shed their abundant pollen,
it follows that in long-continued stormy weather, when few
insects are flying, the flowers fertilize themselves.
Self-fertilization with insect help must often occur in the
flower's second stage. The fragrant yellowish-white ENGLISH
MEADOW-SWEET (S. ulmaria), often cultivated in old-fashioned
gardens here, has escaped locally.

In long, slender, forking spikes the GOAT'S-BEARD (Aruncus
Aruncus - Spiraea aruncus of Gray) lifts its graceful panicles of
minute whitish flowers in May and June from three to seven feet
above the rich soil of its woodland home. The petioled, pinnate
leaves are compounded of several leaflets like those on its
relative the rose-bush. From New York southward and westward to
Missouri, also on the Pacific Coast to Alaska, is its range on
this Continent. Very many more beetles than any other visitors
transfer pollen from the staminate flowers on one plant to the
pistillate ones on another; other plants produce only perfect
flowers - the reason different panicles vary so much in

Another herbaceous perennial once counted a spiraea is the common
INDIAN PHYSIC or BOWMAN'S-ROOT (Porteranthus trifoliatus -
Gillensia trifoliata of Gray) found blooming in the rich woods
during June and July from western New York southward and
westward. Two to four feet high, it displays its very loose,
pretty clusters of white or pale pink flowers, comparatively few
in the whole panicle, each blossom measuring about a half inch
across and borne on a slender pedicel. A tubular, 5-toothed calyx
has the long slender petals inserted within. Owing to the depth
and narrowness of the tube, the small, long-tongued bees cannot
reach the nectar without dusting their heads with pollen from the
anthers inserted in a ring around the entrance or leaving some on
the stigmas of other blossoms. Later, the five carpels make as
many hairy, awl-tipped little pods within the reddish cup. The
leaves may be compounded of three oblong or ovate, saw-edged
leaflets, or merely three-lobed, and with small stipules at their

  (Rubus strigosus)  Rose family

Flowers - White, about 1/2 in. across, on slender, bristly
pedicels, in a loose cluster. Calyx deeply 5-parted, persistent
in fruit; 5 erect, short-lived petals, about the length of the
sepals; stamens numerous; carpels numerous, inserted on a convex
spongy receptacle, and ripening into drupelets. Stem: 3 to 6 ft.
high, shrubby, densely covered with bristles; older, woody stems
with rigid, hooked prickles. Leaves: Compounded of 3 to 5 ovate,
pointed, and irregularly saw-edged leaflets, downy beneath, on
bristly petioles. Fruit: A light red, watery, tender,
high-flavored, edible berry; ripe July-September.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, rocky hillsides, fence-rows,
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Labrador to North Carolina, also in Rocky Mountain

Who but the bees and such small visitors care about the raspberry
blossoms? Notwithstanding the nectar secreted in a fleshy ring
for their benefit, comparatively few insects enter the flowers,
whose small, erect petals imply no hospitable welcome.
Occasionally a visitor laden with pollen from another plant
alights in the center of a blossom, and leaves some on the
stigmas in bending his head down between them and the stamens to
reach the refreshment; but inasmuch as the erect petals allow no
room for the stamens to spread out and away from the stigmas, it
follows that self-fertilization very commonly occurs.

Of course, men and children, bears and birds, are vastly more
interested in the delicious berries; men for the reason that
several excellent market varieties, some white or pale red, the
Cuthbert and Hansall berries among others, owe their origin to
this hardy native. Many superior sorts derived from its European
counterpart (R. Idaeus) cannot well endure our rigorous northern
climate. As in the case of most berry-bearing species, the
raspberry depends upon the birds to drop its undigested seeds
over the country, that new colonies may arise under freer
conditions. Indeed, one of the best places for the budding
ornithologist to take opera-glasses and notebook is to a
raspberry patch early in the morning.

occidentalis), common in such situations as the red raspberry
chooses, but especially in burned-over districts from Virginia
northward and westward, has very long, smooth, cane-like stems,
often bending low until they root again at the tips. These are
only sparingly armed with small, hooked prickles, no bristles.
The flowers, which are similar to the preceding, but clustered
more compactly, are sparingly visited by insects; nevertheless
when self-fertilized, as they usually are, abundant
purplish-black berries, hollow like a thimble where they drop
from the spongy receptacle, ripen in July. Numerous garden
hybrids have been derived from this prolific species also. Indeed
its offspring are the easiest raspberries to grow, since they
form new plants at the tips of the branches, yet do not weaken
themselves with suckers, and so, even without care, yield immense
crops. One need not stir many feet around a good raspberry patch
to enjoy a Transcendental feast.

 (Rubus villosus)  Rose family

Flowers - White, 1 in. or less across, in terminal raceme-like
clusters. Calyx deeply 5-parted, persistent; 5 large petals;
stamens and carpels numerous, the latter inserted on a pulpy
receptacle. Stem: 3 to 10 ft. high, woody, furrowed, curved,
armed with stout, recurved prickles. Leaves: Compounded of 3 to 5
ovate, saw-edged leaflets, the end one stalked, all hairy
beneath. Fruit: Firmly attached to the receptacle; nearly black,
oblong juicy berries 1 in. long or less, hanging in clusters.
Ripe, July-August.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, thickets, fence-rows, old fields,
waysides. Low altitudes.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - New England to Florida, and far westward.

     "There was a man of our town,
      And he was wondrous wise,
      He jumped into a bramble bush" -

If we must have poetical associations for every flower, Mother
Goose furnishes several.

But for the practical mind this plant's chief interest lies in
the fact that from its wild varieties the famous Lawton and
Kittatinny blackberries have been derived. The late Peter
Henderson used to tell how the former came to be introduced. A
certain Mr. Secor found an unusually fine blackberry growing wild
in a hedge at New Rochelle, New York, and removed it to his
garden, where it increased apace. But not even for a gift could
he induce a neighbor to relieve him of the superfluous bushes, so
little esteemed were blackberries in his day. However, a shrewd
lawyer named Lawton at length took hold of it, exhibited the
fruit, advertised it cleverly, and succeeded in pocketing a snug
little fortune from the sale of the prolific plants. Another fine
variety of the common wild blackberry, which was discovered by a
clergyman at the edge of the woods on the Kittatinny Mountains in
New Jersey, has produced fruit under skilled cultivation that
still remains the best of its class. When clusters of blossoms
and fruit in various stages of green, red, and black hang on the
same bush, few ornaments in Nature's garden are more decorative.

Because bramble flowers show greater executive ability than the
raspberries do, they flaunt much larger petals, and spread them
out flat to attract insect workers as well as to make room for
the stamens to spread away from the stigmas - an arrangement
which gives freer access to the nectar secreted in a fleshy ring
at the base. Heavy bumblebees, which require a firm support,
naturally alight in the center, just as they do in the wild
roses, and deposit on the early maturing stigmas some imported
pollen. They may therefore be regarded as the truest benefactors,
and it will be noticed that for their special benefit the nectar
is rather deeply concealed, where short-tongued insects cannot
rob them of it. Small bees, which come only to gather pollen from
first the outer and then the inner rows of stamens, and a long
list of other light-weight visitors, too often alight on the
petals to effect cross-fertilization regularly, but they usually
self-fertilize the blossoms. Competition between these flowers
and the next is fierce, for their seasons overlap.

trails its woody stem by the dusty roadside, in dry fields, and
on sterile, rocky hillsides, calls forth maledictions from the
bare-footed farmer's boy, except during June and July, when its
prickles are freely forgiven it in consideration of the
delicious, black, seedy berries it bears. He is the last one in
the world to confuse this vine with the SWAMP BLACKBERRY (R.
hispidus), a smaller flowered runner, slender and weakly prickly
as to its stem, and insignificant and sour as to its fruit. Its
greatest charm is when we come upon it in some low meadow in
winter, when its still persistent, shining, large leaves, that
have taken on rich autumnal reds, glow among the dry, dead weeds
and grasses.

  (Dalibarda repens)  Rose family

Flowers - White, solitary, or 2 at end of a scape 2 to 5 in.
high. Calyx deeply, unevenly 5 or 6 parted, the larger divisions
toothed; 5 petals falling early; numerous stamens; 5 to 10
carpels forming as many dry drupelets within the persistent
calyx. Stem: Creeping, slender, no prickles. Leaves: Long
petioled, in tufts from the runner, almost round, heart-shaped at
base, crenate-edged, both sides hairy.
Preferred habitat - Woods and wooded hillsides.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Pennsylvania, and westward to the

This delicate blossom, which one might mistake for a white violet
among a low tuft of violet-like leaves, shows its rose kinship by
its rule of five and its numerous stamens. Like the violet again,
however, it bears curious little economical flowers near the
ground - flowers which never open, and so save pollen. These,
requiring no insects to fertilize them, waste no energy in
putting forth petals to advertise for visitors. Nevertheless, to
save the species from degeneracy from close inbreeding, this
little plant needs must display a few showy blossoms to insure
cross-fertilized seed; for the offspring of such defeats the
offspring of self-fertilized plants in the struggle for

  (Fragaria Virginiana)  Rose family

Flowers - White, loosely clustered at summit of an erect hairy
scape usually shorter than the leaves. Calyx persistent in fruit,
deeply 5-cleft, with 5 bracts between the divisions; 5 petals;
stamens and pistils numerous, the latter inserted on a
cushion-like receptacle becoming fleshy in fruit. Staminate and
pistillate flowers, from separate roots. Stem: Running, and
forming new plants. Leaves: Tufted from the root, on hairy
petioles 2 to 6 in. tall, compounded of 3 broadly oval, saw-edged
leaflets. Fruit. An ovoid, glistening red berry, the minute
achenes imbedded in pits on its surface. Ripe, June-July. (Latin,
fragum = fragrant fruit, the strawberry.)
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, banks, roadsides, woodlands.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - New Brunswick to the Gulf of Mexico, and westward
to Dakota.

"Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God
never did." Whether one is kneeling in the fields, gathering the
sun-kissed, fragrant, luscious, wet scarlet berries nodding among
the grass, or eating the huge cultivated fruit smothered with
sugar and cream, one fervently quotes Dr. Boteler with dear old
lzaak Walton. Shakespeare says : "My lord of Ely, when I was last
in Holborn, I saw good strawberries in your garden there." Is not
this the first reference to the strawberry under cultivation?
Since the time of Henry V, what multitudes of garden varieties
past the reckoning have been evolved from the smooth, conic
EUROPEAN WOOD STRAWBERRY (F. vesca) now naturalized in our
Eastern and Middle States, as well as from our own precious
pitted native! Some authorities claim the berry received its name
from the straw laid between garden rows to keep the fruit clean,
but in earliest Anglo-Saxon it was called streowberie, and later
straberry, from the peculiarity of its straying suckers lying as
if strewn on the ground; and so, after making due allowance for
the erratic, go-as-you-please spelling of early writers, it would
seem that there might be two theories as to the origin of the

Since the different sexes of these flowers frequently occur on
separate plants, good reason have they to woo insect messengers
with a showy corolla, a ring of nectar, and abundant pollen to be
transferred while they are feasted. Lucky is the gardener who
succeeds in keeping birds from pecking their share of the berries
which, of course, were primarily intended for them. In English
gardens one is almost certain to find a thrush or two imprisoned
under the nets so futilely spread over strawberry beds, just as
their American cousin, the robin, is caught here in June.

A young botanist may be interested to note the difference in the
formation of the raspberry or blackberry and the strawberry: in
the former it is the carpels (ovaries) that swell around the
spongy receptacle into numerous little fruits (drupelets) united
into one berry, whereas it is the cushion-like receptacle itself
in the strawberry blossom that swells and reddens into fruit,
carrying with it the tiny yellow pistils to the surface.

The NORTHERN WILD STRAWBERRY (F. Canadensis), with clusters of
elongated, oblong little berries delightful to three senses,
comes over the Canadian border no farther south than the
Catskills. Nearly all strawberry plants show the useless but
charming eccentricity of bursting into bloom again in autumn, the
little white-petaled blossoms coming like unexpected flurries of

No one will confuse our common, fruiting species with the small,
yellow-flowered DRY or BARREN STRAWBERRY (Waldsteinia
fragarioides), more nearly related to the cinquefoils. Tufts of
its pretty trefoliate leaves, sent up from a creeping rootstock,
carpet the woods and hillsides from New England and along the
Alleghanies to Georgia, and westward a thousand miles or more.
Flowers in May and June.

  (Geum Canadense; G. album of Gray)  Rose family

Flowers - White or pale greenish yellow, about 1/2 in. across,
loosely scattered in small clusters on slender peduncles. Calyx
persistent, 5-cleft, with little bracts between the reflexed
divisions; 5 petals, equaling or shorter than the sepals; stamens
and carpels numerous, the latter collected on a short,
bristly-hairy receptacle; styles smooth below, hairy above,
jointed. Stem: 2 1/2 ft. high or less, slender, branching above.
Leaves: Seated on stem or short petioled, of 3 to 5 divisions, or
lobed, toothed small stipules; also irregularly divided large
root-leaves on long petioles, 3-foliate, usually the terminal
leaflet large, broadly ovate side leaflets much smaller, all more
or less lobed and toothed. Fruit: A ball of achenes, each ending
in an elongated, hooked style.
Preferred Habitat - Woodland borders, shady thickets and
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, west to the Mississippi or

Small bees and flies attracted to sheltered, shady places by
these loosely scattered flowers at the ends of zig-zagged stems,
pay for the nectar they sip from the disk where the stamens are
inserted, by carrying some of the pollen lunch on their heads
from the older to the younger flowers, which mature stigmas
first. But saucy bumblebees, undutiful pilferers from the purple
avens, rarely visit blossoms so inconspicuous. Insects failing
these, they are well adapted to pollenize themselves. Most of us
are all too familiar with the seeds, clinging by barbed styles to
any garment passing their way, in the hope that their stolen ride
will eventually land them in good colonizing ground. Whoever
spends an hour patiently picking off the various seed tramps from
his clothes after a walk through the woods and fields in autumn,
realizes that the by hook or by crook method of scattering
offspring is one of Nature's favorites. Simpler plants than those
with hooked achenia produce enormous numbers of spores so light
and tiny that the wind and rain distribute them wholesale.

  (Aronia arbutifolia; Pyrus arbutifolia of Gray)  Apple family

Flowers - White or magenta tinged, 1/2 in. across or less, in
terminal, compound cymes, finally overtopped by young sterile
shoots. Calyx 5-lobed, hairy; 5 concave, spreading petals;
stamens numerous; 3 to 5 styles united at base; ovary woolly.
Stem: Shrubby, branching, usually low, rarely 12 ft. high.
Leaves: Alternate, petioled, oval to oblong, finely cut-edged,
smooth above, matted with woolly hairs underneath. Fruit: Small,
round or top-shaped, bright red berries.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, low ground, wet thickets.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Gulf of Mexico, westward to the

Another common species often found in the same haunts, the BLACK
CHOKE-BERRY (A. nigra), with similar flowers, the berries very
dark purple, was formerly confounded with the red choke-berry.
But because it sometimes elects to live in dry ground its leaves
require no woolly mat on the underside to absorb vapors arising
from wet retreats. No wonder that the insipid little berries.
related to apples, pears, and other luscious fruits, should share
with a cousin, the mountain ash, or rowan, the reproachful name
of dogberry.

  (Amelanchier Canadensis)  Apple family

Flowers - Pure white, over 1 in. across, on long, slender
pedicels, in spreading or drooping racemes, with silky, reddish
bracts, early falling, among them. Calyx persistent, 5-parted; 5
long, narrow, tapering petals, 3 or 4 times the length of calyx;
numerous stamens inserted on calyx throat; 2 to 5 styles, hairy
at base. Stem: A large shrub or tree, usually much less than 25
ft. high, rarely twice that height, wood very hard and heavy.
Leaves: Alternate, oval, tapering at tip, finely saw-edged,
smooth (like the pear tree's), often hairy when young. Fruit.
Round, crimson, sweet, edible, seedy berries, ripe in June and
Preferred Habitat - Woodland borders, pasture thickets, dry soil.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico, westward over
a thousand miles.

Silvery-white chandeliers, hanging from the edges of the woods,
light Flora's path in earliest spring, before the trees and
shrubbery about them have begun to put forth foliage, much less
flowers. Little plants that hug the earth for protection while
rude winds rush through the forest and across the hillsides, are
already starring her way with fragile, dainty blossoms; but what
other shrub, except the serviceberry's twin sister the shadbush,
or perhaps the spicebush, has the temerity to burst into bloom
while March gusts howl through the naked forests? Little female
bees of the Andrena tribe, already at work collecting pollen and
nectar for generations yet unborn, buzz their gratitude about the
beautiful feathery clusters that lean away from the crowded
thicket with a wild, irregular grace. Nesting birds have abundant
cause for gratitude also, for the attractive, sweet berries, that
ripen providentially early; but, of course, the bees which
transfer pollen from flower to flower, and the birds which drop
the seeds far and wide, are not the receivers of wholly
disinterested favors.

The SHADBUSH or SWAMP SUGAR-PEAR (A. Botryapium), because it was
formerly accounted a mere variety (oblongifolia) of the preceding
species, still shares with it its popular names; but swamps,
river banks, brook sides, and moist thickets are its habitat.
Consequently both its inflorescence and pale green, glossy
foliage are covered with a sort of whitish cotton, absorbent when
young, to prevent the pores from clogging with vapors arising
from its damp retreats. Late in the season, when streams narrow
or dry up altogether, and the air becomes drier, as the sun rises
higher in the heavens, the foliage is usually quite smooth. It
will be noticed that, lovely as the shadbush is, its smaller
flowers have shorter pedicels than the serviceberry's;
consequently its feathery sprays, which are flung outward to the
sunshine in April and May, lack something of the grace for which
its sister stands preeminent. Under cultivation both species
assume conventional form, and lose the wild irregularities of
growth that charm us in Nature's garden. Indians believed, what
is an obvious fact, that when this bush whitens the swampy river
banks, shad are swimming up the stream from the sea to spawn.
Then, too, the nighthawk, returning from its winter visit south,
booms forth its curious whirring, vibrating, jarring sound as it
drops through the air at unseen heights, a dismal, weird noise
which the red man thought proceeded from the shad spirits come to
warn the schools of fish of their impending fate.

  (Cratoegus coccinea)  Apple family

Flowers - White, rarely pinkish, usually less than 1 in. across,
numerous, in terminal corymbs. Calyx 5-lobed; 5 spreading petals
inserted in its throat numerous stamens; styles 3 to 5. Stem: A
shrub or small tree, rarely attaining 30 ft. in height (Kratos =
strength, in reference to hardness and toughness of the wood);
branches spreading, and beset with stout spines (thorns) nearly 2
in. long. Leaves: Alternate, petioled, 2 to 3 in. long, ovate,
very sharply cut or lobed, the teeth glandular-tipped. Fruit:
Coral red, round or oval; not edible.
Preferred Habitat - Thickets, fence-rows, woodland borders.
Flowering Season - May.
Distribution - Newfoundland and Manitoba southward to the Gulf of

     "The fair maid who, the first of May,
      Goes to the fields at break of day
      And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree
      Will ever after handsome be."

Here is a popular recipe omitted from that volume of
heart-to-heart talks entitled "How to Be Pretty though Plain"!

The sombre-thoughted Scotchman, looking for trouble, tersely

     "Mony haws,
      Mony snaws."

But in delicious, blossoming May, when the joy of living fairly
intoxicates one, and every bird's throat is swelling with happy
music, who but a Calvinist would croak dismal prophecies? In
Ireland, old crones tell marvelous tales about the hawthorns, and
the banshees which have a predilection for them. So much for

As one might suspect from the rather disagreeable odor of these
blossoms, they are most attractive to flies and beetles, which,
carrying pollen from older flowers, leave some on the stigmas
that are already mature in newly-opened ones. A concave
nectar-secreting disk, not concealed by the filaments in this
case, is eagerly pilfered by numerous little short-lipped insects
which render no benefit in return; but many others assist in
self-pollination after the anthers ripen. The splendid monarch
butterfly (Anosia plexippus), the banded purple (Basilarchia
arthemis), whose caterpillar feeds on hawthorn foliage, and the
light brown hunter's butterfly [American painted lady] (Pyrameis
huntera [Vanessa virginiensis]) are, among the visitors seen
flitting about this exquisite little tree in early May, when it
is fairly white with bloom.

The RED-FRUITED THORN (C. mollis), more hairy on its twigs,
petioles, calices, and fruit than the preceding, but so like it
in most respects it was formerly accounted a mere variety, is an
earlier and even more prolific bloomer, the generous, large
clusters of malodorous flowers coming with the leaves in April,
and lasting until the common hawthorn starts into lively
competition with it for insect trade.

Numerous long, slender thorns, often measuring a finger-length,
distinguish the COCKSPUR or NEWCASTLE THORN (C. Crus-Galli),
whose abundant small flowers and shining, leathery leaves, dull
underneath, are conspicuous in thickets from Quebec to the Gulf.
Immense numbers of little bees, among many other visitors, may be
noted on a fine day in May and early June about this showy shrub
or tree. Because it blooms later than its rival sisters, it has
the insect wooers then abroad all to itself.

While most of our beautiful native hawthorns have been introduced
to European gardens, it is the WHITE THORN or MAY (C. Oxyacantha)
of Europe and Asia which is most commonly cultivated here. Truly
a shrub, like a prophet, is not without honor save in its own

  (Melilotus alba)  Pea family

Flowers - Small, white, fragrant, papilionaceous, the standard
petal a trifle longer than the wings; borne in slender racemes.
Stem: 3 to 10 ft. tall, branching. Leaves: Rather distant,
petioled, compounded of 3 oblong, saw-edged leaflets; fragrant,
especially when dry.
Preferred Habitat - Wastelands, roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-November.
Distribution - United States, Europe, Asia.

Happy must the honeybees have been to find that the sweet clover,
one of their dearest delights in the Old World, had preceded them
in immigrating to the New. Immense numbers of insects - bees in
great variety, wasps, flies, moths, and beetles - visit the
little blossoms that provide entertainment so generous and
accessible; but honey-bees are ever especially abundant. Slight
weight depresses the keel, releasing the stigma and anthers
therefore, so soon as a bee alights and opens the flower, he is
hit below the belt by the projecting stigma. Pollen carried by
him there from other clovers comes off on its sticky surface
before his abdomen gets freshly dusted from the anthers, which
are necessarily rubbed against while he sips nectar. On the
removal of his pressure, the floret springs back to its closed
condition, to protect the precious nectar and pollen from rain
and pilferers. As the stigma projects too far beyond the anthers
to be likely to receive any of the flower's own pollen, good
reason is there for the blossoms guarding their attractions for
the benefit of their friends, which transfer the vitalizing dust
from one floret to another. By clustering its small flowers in
spikes, to make them conspicuous, as well as to facilitate dining
for its benefactors; by prolonging its season of bloom, to get
relief from the fiercest competition for insect trade, and so to
insure an abundance of vigorous cross-fertilized seed, this plant
reveals at a glance some of the reasons why it has been able to
establish itself so quickly throughout our vast area.

Both the white and the yellow sweet clover put their leaves to
sleep at night in a remarkable manner: the three leaflets of each
leaf twist through an angle of 90 degrees, until one edge of each
vertical blade is uppermost. The two side leaflets, Darwin found,
always tend to face the north with their upper surface, one
facing north-northwest and the other north-northeast, while the
terminal leaflet escapes the chilling of its sensitive upper
surface through radiation by twisting to a vertical also, but
bending to either east or west, until it comes in contact with
the vertical upper surface of either of the side leaflets. Thus
the upper surface of the terminal and of at least one of the side
leaflets is sure to be well protected through the night; one is
"left out in the cold."

The dried branches of sweet clover will fill a room with
delightful fragrance; but they will not drive away flies, nor
protect woolens from the ravages of moths, as old women once
taught us to believe.

The ubiquitous WHITE or DUTCH CLOVER (Trifolium repens), whose
creeping branches send up solitary round heads of white or
pinkish flowers on erect, leafless stems, from May to December,
in fields, open waste land, and cultivated places throughout our
area, Europe, and Asia, devotes itself to wooing bees, since
these are the only insects that effect cross-fertilization
regularly, other visitors aiding it only occasionally. When nets
are stretched over these flowers to exclude insects, only
one-tenth the normal quantity of fertile seed is set. Therefore,
for the bee's benefit, does each little floret conceal nectar in
a tube so deep that small pilferers cannot reach it; but when a
honeybee, for example, depresses the keel of the papilionaceous
blossom, abundant reward awaits him in consideration of his
services in transferring pollen. After the floret which he has
been the means of fertilizing closes over its seed-vessel on his
departure, it gradually withers, grows brown, and hangs downward,
partly to indicate to the next bee that comes along which fords
in the head still contain nectar, and which are done for; partly
to hide the precious little vigorous green seed-pod in the center
of each withered, papery corolla from the visitation of certain
insects whose minute grubs destroy countless millions of the
progeny of less careful plants. Thus the erect florets in a head
stand awaiting their benefactors; those drooping around the outer
edge are engaged in the most serious business of life. Sometimes
a solitary old maid remains standing, looking anxiously for a
lover, at the end of the season. Usually all the florets are then
bent down around the stem in a brown and crumpled mass. But
however successfully the clover guards its seeds from
annihilation, its foliage is the favorite food of very many
species of caterpillars and of all grazing cattle the world
around. This is still another plant frequently miscalled
shamrock. Good luck or bad attends the finding of the leaves,
when compounded of an even or an odd number of leaflets more than
the normal count, according to the saying of many simple-minded

arvense) has silky plumed calices to hold its minute whitish
florets, giving the dense, oblong heads a charming softness and
dove color after it has gone to seed. Like most other clovers, it
has come to us from the Old World.

  (Euphorbia corollata)  Spurge family

Flowers - (Apparently) white, small, borne in forked,
long-stalked umbels, subtended by green bracts; but the true
flowers are minute, and situated within the white cup-shaped
involucre, usually mistaken for a corolla. Staminate flowers
scattered over inner surface of involucre, each composed of a
single stamen on a thread-like pedicel with a rudimentary calyx
or tiny bract below it. A solitary pistillate flower at bottom of
involucre, consisting of 3-celled ovary; 3 styles, 2-cleft, at
length forming an erect 3-lobed capsule separating into 3
2-valved carpels. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, often brightly spotted,
simple below, umbellately 5-branched above (usually). Leaves:
Linear, lance-shaped or oblong, entire; lower ones alternate,
upper ones whorled.
Preferred Habitat -  Dry soil, gravelly or sandy.
Flowering Season - April-October.
Distribution - From Kansas and Ontario to the Atlantic.

A very commonplace and uninteresting looking weed is this spurge,
which no one but a botanist would suspect of kinship with the
brilliant vermilion poinsettia, so commonly grown in American
greenhouses. Examination shows that these little bright white
cups of the flowering spurge, simulating a five-cleft corolla,
are no more the true flowers in the one case than the large red
bracts around the poinsettia's globular greenish blossom
involucres are in the other. From the milky juice alone one might
guess the spurge to be related to the rubber plant. Still another
familiar cousin is the stately castor-oil plant; and while the
common dull purplish IPECAC SPURGE (E. Ipecacuanhae) also
suggests unpleasant doses, it is really a member of quite another
family that furnishes the old-fashioned emetic. The flowering
spurge, having its staminate and pistillate flowers distinct,
depends upon flies, its truest benefactors, to transfer pollen
from the former to the latter.

  (Rhus hirta; R. typhina of Gray)  Sumac family

Flowers - Greenish or yellowish white, very small, usually
5-parted, and borne in dense upright, terminal, pyramidal
clusters. Stem: A shrub or small tree, 6 to 40 ft. high, the ends
of branches forked somewhat like a stag's horns. Leaves.
Compounded of 11 to 31 lance-shaped, saw-edged leaflets, dark
green above, pale below; the petioles and twigs often
velvety-hairy. Fruit: Small globules, very thickly covered with
crimson hairs.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, rough or rocky places, banks, roadsides.
Flowering Season - June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, and westward 1500 miles.

Painted with glorious scarlet, crimson, and gold, the autumnal
foliage of the sumacs, and even the fruit, so far eclipse their
inconspicuous flowers in attractiveness that one quite ignores
them. Not so the small, short-tongued bees (chiefly Andrenidae)
and flies (Dipteria) seeking the freely exposed nectar secreted
in five orange-colored glands in the shallow little cups. As some
of the flowers are staminate and some pistillate, although others
show a tendency to revert to the perfect condition of their
ancestors, it behooves them to entertain their little
pollen-carrying visitors generously, otherwise no seed can
possibly be set. And how the autumnal landscape would suffer from
the loss of the decorative, dark-red, velvety panicles! Beware
only of the poison sumac's deadly, round grayish-white berries.

Most sumacs contain more or less tannin in their bark and leaves,
that are therefore eagerly sought by agents for the leather
merchants. The beautiful SMOKE or MIST TREE (R. cotinus),
commonly imported from southern Europe to adorn our lawns
(although a similar species grows wild in the Southwest), serves
a more utilitarian purpose in supplying commerce with a rich
orange-yellow dye-wood known as young fustic. All this tribe of
shrubs and trees contain resinous, milky juice, drying dark like
varnish, which in a Japanese species is transformed by the clever
native artisans into their famous lacquer. With a commercial
instinct worthy of the Hebrew, they guard this process as a
national secret.

The SMOOTH, UPLAND, or SCARLET SUMAC (R. glabra), similar to the
staghorn, but lacking its velvety down, and usually of much lower
growth, is the very common and widely distributed shrub of dry
roadsides, railroad banks, and barren fields. Another
low-growing, but more or less downy upland sumac, the DWARF,
BLACK, or MOUNTAIN SUMAC (R. copallina), may be known by its
dark, glossy green foliage, pale on the underside, and by the
broadening of the stem into wings between the leaflets. Hungry
migrating birds alight to feast on the harmless acid red fruit
when the gorgeous autumnal foliage illuminates their route
southward. But while they are, of course, the natural agents for
distributing the plants over the country, men find that by
cutting bits of any sumac root and planting them in good garden
soil, strong specimens are secured within a year. An exquisite
cut-leaved variety of the smooth sumac adorns many fine lawns.

Everyone should know the POISON SUMAC (R. Vernix - R. venenata of
Gray) as the shrub above all others to avoid. Like its cousin,
the POISON or THREE-LEAVED IVY (R. radicans), which once had the
specific name Toxicodendron, although Linnaeus applied that title
to a hairy shrub of the Southern States, the poison sumac causes
most painful swelling and irritation to the skin of some people,
though they do nothing more than pass it by when the wind is
blowing over it. Others may handle both these plants with
impunity. In spring they are especially noisome; but when the
pores of the skin are opened by perspiration, people who are at
all sensitive should give them a wide berth at any season.
Usually the poison sumac grows in wet or swampy ground; its bark
is gray, its leaf-stalks are red; the leaves are compounded, of
fewer leaflets than those of the innocent sumacs - that is, of
from seven to thirteen - which are green on both sides; the
flowers, which are dull whitish-green, grow in loose panicles
from the axils of the leaves, and naturally the berries follow
them in the same unusual situation. "By their fruits ye shall
know them:" all the harmless sumacs have red fruit clusters at
the ends of the branches, whereas both the poison sumac's and the
poison ivy's axillary clusters are dull grayish-white.

  (Ilex opaca)  Holly family

Flowers - Very small, greenish or yellowish white, from 3 to 10
staminate ones in a short cyme; fertile flowers usually solitary,
scattered. Stem: A small tree of very slow growth, rarely
attaining any great height. Leaves: Evergreen, thick, rigid,
glossy, elliptical, scalloped edged, spiny-tipped. Fruit: Round,
red berries.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, west to Texas,
chiefly near the coast and south of New York.

Happily we continue to borrow all the beautiful Old World
associations, poetical and legendary, that cluster about the
holly at Christmas time, although our native tree furnishes most
of our holiday decorations. So far back as Pliny's day, the
European holly had all manner of supernatural qualities
attributed to it: its insignificant little flowers caused water
to freeze, he tells us; because it was believed to repel
lightning, the Romans planted it near their houses; and a branch
of it thrown after any refractory animal, even if it did not hit
him, would subdue him instantly, and cause him to lie down meekly
beside the stick! Can it be that the Italian peasants, who still
believe cattle kneel in their stalls at midnight on the
anniversary of Jesus' birth, decorate the mangers on Christmas
eve with holly, among other plants, because of a survival of this
old pagan notion about its subduing effect on animals?

Would that the beautiful holly of English gardens (I.
Aquifolium), more glossy and spiny of leaf and redder of berry
than our own, might live here; but it is too tender to withstand
New England winters, and the hot, dry summers farther south soon
prove fatal. Ilex was the ancient name, not of these plants, but
of the holly oak.

The MOUNTAIN HOLLY (Ilicioides mucronata - Nemopanthes Canadensis
of Gray) a shrub of the northern swamps, about six feet high, and
by no means confined to mountainous regions, since it is also
abundant in the middle West, has smooth-edged, elliptic, petioled
leaves, ash-colored bark, small, solitary, narrow-petalled
staminate and pistillate flowers on long, threadlike pedicels
from the leaf-axils in May. In August dull pale-red berries
appear. Darwin proved that seed set with the help of pollen
brought from distinct plants produces offspring that vanquishes
the offspring of seed set with pollen brought from another flower
on the same plant in the struggle for existence. Thus we see, in
very many ambitious plants besides those of the holly tribe, a
tendency to separate the male and the female flowers as widely as

  (Ilex verticillata)  Holly family

Flowers - Small, greenish white, the staminate clusters 2 to 10
flowered the fertile ones 1 to 3 flowered. Stem: A shrub 6 to 25
ft. high. Leaves: Oval, tapering to a point, about 1 in. wide,
saw-edged, dark green, smooth above, hairy, especially along
veins underneath. Fruit: Bright red berries, about the size of a
pea, apparently whorled around the twigs.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, ditches, fencerows, and low thickets.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Missouri.

Beautiful bright red berries, dotted or clustered along the naked
twigs of the black alder, add an indispensable cheeriness to the
somber winter landscape. Bunches of them, commonly sold in the
city streets for household decoration, bring twenty-five cents
each; hence the shrubs within a large radius of each market get
ample pruning every autumn. The leaves turn black before dropping

The SMOOTH WINTERBERRY (I. laevigata), a similar species, but of
more restricted range, ripens its larger, orange-red berries
earlier than the preceding, and before its leaves, which turn
yellow, not black, in autumn, have fallen. Another distinguishing
feature is that its small, greenish-white staminate flowers grow
on long, very slender pedicels; whereas the solitary fertile
flowers are much nearer the stern.

  (Celastrus scandens)  Staff-tree family

Flowers - Small, greenish-white, 5-parted, some staminate, some
pistillate only; in terminal compound racemes 4 in. long or less.
Stem: Woody, twining. Leaves: Alternate, oval, tapering, finely
toothed, thin, with a tendency to show white variations. Fruit: A
yellow-orange berry-like capsule, splitting at maturity and
curling back to display the scarlet, pulpy coating of the seeds
Preferred Habitat - Rich soil of thickets, fence rows, and
wayslde tangles.
Flowering Season - June.
Distribution - North Carolina, New Mexico, and far north.

Not to be hung above mirror and picture frames in farmhouse
parlors, as we have been wont to think, do the brilliant clusters
of orange-red wax-work berries attract the eye, where they
brighten old walls, copses, and fence rows in autumn; but to
advertise their charming wares to hungry migrating birds, which
will drop the seeds concealed within the red berry perhaps a
thousand miles away, and so plant new colonies. On the smaller,
less specialized bees and flies the vine depends in June to carry
pollen from its staminate flowers to the fertile ones, whose
thick, erect pistil would wither without fruiting without their

But the best laid plans of other creatures than mice and men
"gang aft a-gley." What mean the little cottony tufts all along
the stems of so very many bittersweet vines, but that these have
foes as well as friends? Curious little parasitic tree-hoppers
(Membracis binotata), which spend their entire lives on the
stems, sucking the juices through their little beaks, just as the
aphids moor themselves to the tender rose-twigs, might be
mistaken for thorns during one of their protective masquerades.
Again they look like diminutive flocks of fowl, their heads ever
pointing in one direction, no matter how the vine may twist and
turn - always toward the top of the branch, that they may the
better siphon the sap down their tiny throats. Toward the end of
summer the females, which have a sharp instrument at the rear of
their bodies, cut deeply into the juicy food-store, the cambium
layer of bark, and there deposit their eggs. Presently, a nest
being filled, the mother emits a substantial froth at the end of
her ovipositor, and proceeds to construct the cottony, corrugated
dome over her nursery which first attracted our attention. This
is especially skilful work, for she works behind her, evidently
not from sight, but from instinct only. Inasmuch as the young
hoppers will not come forth until the following summer, some such
snug protection is required during winter's cold and snows. With
hordes of little parasites constantly preying on its juices, is
it any wonder the vine is often too enfeebled to produce seed, or
that the leaves lose part of their color and become, as we say,
variegated? Occasionally one finds the cottony nursery domes of
this little hopper on the locust tree - the favorite home of its
big, noisy relative, the so-called locust, or cicada.

  (Ceanothus Americanus)  Buckthorn family

Flowers - Small, white, on white pedicels, crowded in dense,
oblong, terminal clusters. Calyx white, hemispheric, 5-lobed;
petals, hooded and long-clawed; 5 stamens with long filaments;
style short, 3-cleft. Stems: Shrubby, 1 to 3 ft. high, usually
several, from a deep reddish root. Leaves: Alternate,
ovate-oblong, acute at tip, finely saw-edged, 3-nerved, on short
Preferred Habitat - Dry, open woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Ontario south and west to the Gulf of Mexico.

Light, feathery clusters of white little flowers crowded on the
twigs of this low shrub interested thrifty colonial housewives of
Revolutionary days not at all; the tender, young, rusty, downy
leaves were what they sought to dry as a substitute for imported
tea. Doubtless the thought that they were thereby evading George
the Third's tax and brewing patriotism in every kettleful added a
sweetness to the homemade beverage that sugar itself could not
impart. The American troops were glad enough to use New Jersey
tea throughout the war. A nankeen or cinnamon-colored dye is made
from the reddish root.

  (Vitis Labrusca)  Grape family

Flowers - Greenish, small, deliciously fragrant, some staminate,
some pistillate, rarely perfect; the fertile flowers in more
compact panicles than the sterile ones. Stem: Climbing with the
help of tendrils; woody, bark loose. Leaves: Large, rounded or
lobed, toothed, rusty-hairy underneath, especially when young,
each leathery leaf opposite a tendril or a flower cluster. Fruit:
Clusters containing a few brownish, purple, musky-scented grapes,
3/4 in. across. Ripe, August-September.
Preferred Habitat - Sunny thickets, loamy or gravelly soil.
Flowering Season - June.
Distribution - New England to Georgia, west to Minnesota and

Aesop's fox may never have touched the grapes of fable, but this,
our wild species, certainly retains a strong foxy odor, which at
least suggests that he came very near them. Tough pulp and thick
skin by no means deter birds and beasts from feasting on this
fruit, and so dispersing the seeds; but mankind prefers the
tender, delightful flavored Isabella, Catawba, and Concord grapes
derived from it. The Massachusetts man who produced the Concord
variety in the town whose name he gave it, declares he would be a
millionaire had he received only a penny royalty on every Concord
grapevine planted.

What fragrance is more delicious than that of the blossoming
grape? To swing in a loop made by some strong old vine, when the
air almost intoxicates one with its sweetness on a June evening,
is many a country child's idea of perfect bliss. Not until about
nine o'clock do the leaves "go to sleep" by becoming depressed in
the center like saucers. This was the signal for bedtime that one
child, at least, used to wait for. We have seen in the clematis
how its sensitive leafstalks hook themselves over any support
they rub against; but the grapevine has gone a step farther, and
by discarding an occasional flower cluster and prolonging the
flower stalk into a coiling, forking tendril it moors itself to
the thicket. We know that all tendrils are either transformed
leaves, as in the case of the pea vine, where each branch of its
tendril represents a modified leaflet; or they are transformed
flower stalks or other organs. Occasionally the tendril of a
grapevine reveals its ancestry by bearing a blossom or a cluster
of flowers, and sometimes even fruit, about midway on the coil,
which attempts to fill all offices at once like Pooh Bah.

The phylloxera having destroyed many of the finest vineyards in
Europe, it would seem that Americans have the best of chances to
supply the world with high-class wines, for there is not a State
in the Union where the vine will not flourish. Here its worst
enemy is mildew, a parasitical fungus which attacks the leaves,
revealing itself in yellowish-brown patches on the upper side,
and thin, frosty patches underneath. Soon the leaves become sere,
and then they fall. The microscope reveals a miniature forest of
growth in each leaf, with the threadlike roots of the fungi
searching about the leaf cells for food. To burn old leaves, and
to blow sulphur over the vine while it is wet, are efficacious
remedies. Bees and wasps which puncture grapes to feast on them,
are the innocent means of destroying quantities.

Both the RIVERSIDE or SWEET-SCENTED GRAPE (V. vulpina; formerly
V. cordifolia, var. riparia) - whose bluish-black, bloom-covered
fruit begins to ripen in July; and the FROST, CHICKEN, POSSUM, or
WINTER GRAPE (V. cordifolia), whose smaller, shining black
berries are not at their best till after frost, grow along
streams and preferably in rocky situations. The shining, light
green, thin leaves of the sweet-scented species are sharply
lobed, the three to seven lobes have acute teeth, and the
tendrils are intermittent. The frost grape's leaves, which are
commonly three or four inches wide, are deeply heart-shaped,
entire (rarely slightly three-lobed), tapering to a long point
and acutely toothed.

Another familiar member of the Grape family, the VIRGINIA
erroneously called WOODBINE (Parthenocissus quinquefolia;
formerly Ampelopsis quinquefolia) - is far more charming in its
glorious autumnal foliage, when its small dark blue berries hang
from red peduncles, than when its insignificant greenish flower
clusters appear in July. The leaves, compounded of five leaflets,
should sufficiently distinguish the harmless vine from the
three-leaved poison ivy, sometimes confounded with it. From
Manitoba and Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, and even in Cuba, the
Virginia creeper rambles over thickets, fences, and walls,
ascends trees, festoons rocky woodlands, drapes our verandas,
making its way with the help of modified flower stalks that are
now branching tendrils, each branch bearing an adhesive disk at
the end. "In the course of about two days after a tendril has
arranged its branches so as to press upon any surface," says
Darwin, "its curved tips swell, become bright red, and form on
their undersides little disks or cushions with which they adhere
firmly." It is supposed that these disks secrete a cement. At any
rate, we know that they have a very tenacious hold, because often
one contracting tendril, as elastic as a steel spring, supports,
by means of these little disks, the entire weight of the branch
it lifts up. Darwin concluded that a tendril with five
disk-bearing branches, on which he experimented, would stand a
strain of ten pounds, even after ten years' exposure to high
winds and softening rains.

  (Viola)  Violet family

Three small-flowered, white, purple-veined, and almost beardless
species which prefer to dwell in moist meadows, damp, mossy
places, and along the borders of streams, are the LANCE-LEAVED
prirnulaefolia), and the SWEET WHITE VIOLET (V. blanda), whose
leaves show successive gradations from the narrow, tapering,
smooth, long-petioled blades of the first to the oval form of the
second and the almost circular, cordate leaf of the delicately
fragrant, little white blanda, the dearest violet of all.
Inasmuch as these are short-spurred species, requiring no effort
for bees to drain their nectaries, no footholds in the form of
beards on the side petals are provided for them. The purple
veinings show the stupidest visitor the path to the sweets.

The sprightly CANADA VIOLET (V. Canadensis), widely distributed
in woodlands, chiefly in hilly and mountainous regions, rears
tall, leafy stems terminated by faintly fragrant white or pale
lavender blossoms, purple-tinged without and purple veined, the
side petals bearded, the long sepals tapering to sharp points.
Here we see a violet in the process of changing from the white
ancestral type to the purple color which Sir John Lubbock, among
other scientists, considers the highest step in chromatic
evolution. This species has heart-shaped, saw-edged leaves which
taper acutely. From May even to July is its regular blooming
season; but the delightful family eccentricity of flowering again
in autumn appears to be a confirmed habit with the Canada violet.

  (Circaea Lutetiana)  Evening Primrose family

Flowers - Very small, white, slender pedicelled, in terminal and
lateral racemes. Calyx 2-parted, hairy 2 petals, 2 alternate
stamens. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high, slender, branching, swollen at
nodes. Leaves: Opposite, tapering to a point, distantly toothed,
2 to 4 in. long, slender petioled. Fruit: Pear-shaped, 2-celled,
densely covered with stiff, hooked hairs.
Preferred Habitat - Woods; shady roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, westward to Nebraska.
Europe and Asia.

Why Circe, the enchantress, skilled in the use of poisonous
herbs, should have had her name applied to this innocent and
insignificant looking little plant is not now obvious; neither is
the title of nightshade any more appropriate.

Each tiny flower having a hairy calyx, that acts as a stockade
against ants and other such crawling pilferers, we suspect there
are abundant sweets secreted in the fleshy ring at the base of
the styles for the benefit of the numerous flies seen hovering
about. Among other visitors, watch the common housefly alighting
on the knobby stigma, a most convenient landing place, where he
leaves some pollen carried on his underside from other nightshade
blossoms. In clasping the bases of the two pliable stamens, his
only available supports as he sucks, he will surely get well
dusted again, that he may fertilize the next blossom he flies to
for refreshment. The nightshade's little pear-shaped seed
vessels, armed with hooked bristles by which they steal a ride on
any passing petticoat or trouser leg, reveal at a glance how this
plant has contrived to travel around the globe.

A smaller, weaker species (Circaea alpina), found in cool, moist
woods, chiefly north, has thin, shining leaves and soft, hooked
hairs on its vagabond seeds. Less dependence seems to be placed
on these ineffective hooks to help perpetuate the plant than on
the tiny pink bulblets growing at the end of an exceedingly
slender thread sent out by the parent roots.

  (Aralia racemosa)  Ginseng family

Flowers - Greenish white, small, 5-parted, mostly imperfect, in a
drooping compound raceme of rounded clusters. Stem: 3 to 6 ft.
high, branches spreading. Roots: Large, thick, fragrant. Leaves:
Compounded of heart-shaped, sharply tapering, saw-edged leaflets
from 2 to 5 in. long, often downy underneath. Lower leaves often
enormous. Fruit: Dark reddish-brown berries.
Preferred Habitat - Rich open woods, wayside thickets, light
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Georgia, west to the Mississippi.

A striking, decorative plant, once much sought after for its
medicinal virtues - still another herb with which old women
delight to dose their victims for any malady from a cold to a
carbuncle. Quite a different plant, but a relative, is the one
with hairy, spike-like shoots from its fragrant roots, from which
the "very precious" ointment poured by Mary upon the Saviour's
head was made. The nard, an Indian product from that plant, which
is still found growing on the distant Himalayas, could then be
imported into Palestine only by the rich.

The wild spikenard, or false Solomon's seal, has not the remotest
connection with this tribe of plants. Inasmuch as some of the
American spikenard's tiny flowers are staminate and some
pistillate, while others again are perfect, they depend upon
flies chiefly - but on some wasps and beetles, too - to transfer
pollen and enable the fertile ones to set seed. How certain of
the winter birds gormandize on the resinous, spicy little
berries! A flock of juncos will strip the fruit from every
spikenard in the neighborhood the first day it arrives from the

The WILD or FALSE SARSAPARILLA (A. nudicaulis), so common in
woods, hillsides, and thickets, shelters its three spreading
umbels of greenish-white flowers in May and June beneath a canopy
formed by a large, solitary, compound leaf. The aromatic roots,
which run horizontally sometimes three feet or more through the
soil, send up a very short, smooth proper stem which lifts a tall
leafstalk and a shorter, naked flower stalk. The single large
leaf, of exquisite bronzy tints when young, is compounded of from
three to five oval, toothed leaflets on each of its three
divisions. The tiny five-parted flowers have their petals curved
backward over the calyx to make their refreshments more
accessible for the flies, on which they chiefly rely for aid in
producing those close clusters of dark-purple berries on which
migrating birds feast in early autumn. By these agents the plant
has been distributed from Newfoundland to the Carolinas, westward
from Manitoba to Missouri, which is not surprising when we
remember that certain birds travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the
Great Lakes in a single night. While the true sarsaparilla of
medicine should come from a quite different herb that flourishes
in Mexico and South America, this one furnishes a commercial
substitute enormously used as a blood purifier and cooling summer
drink. Burrowing rabbits delight to nibble the long, slender,
fragrant roots.

The GINSENG (Panax quinquefolium; Aralia quinquefolia of Gray)
found in rich woods from Quebec to Alabama, and westward to
Nebraska - that is, where found at all, for much hunting has all
but exterminated it in many regions - bears a solitary umbel of
small yellowish-green, five-parted, polygamous flowers in July
and August at the end of a smooth stem about a foot high. Bright
crimson berries follow the clusters on the female plants in early
autumn. Three long-petioled leaves, which grow in a whorl at the
top of the low stem, are palmately divided into five thin, ovate,
pointed, and irregularly toothed leaflets. But it is the deep
fusiform root, simple or branched, about which the Americanized
Chinese, at least, are most concerned. For centuries Chinese
physicians have ascribed miraculous virtues to the Manchurian
ginseng. Not only can it remove fatigue and restore lost powers,
but by its use veterans became frisky youths again according to
these wise men of the East. In short, they consider it the
panacea for all ills (Panax: pan = all, akos = remedy) - the
source of immortality. Naturally the roots were and are in great
demand, especially such as branch so as to resemble the human
form. (Both the Chinese name Schin-sen, and Garan-toguen, the
Indian one, are said to mean like a man. Here is an interesting
clue for the ethnologists to follow !) Imperial edict prohibited
the Chinese from digging up their native plant lest it be
exterminated. So Jesuit missionaries, who discovered our similar
ginseng, were not slow in exporting it to China when it was
literally worth its weight in gold. Indeed, it is always sold by
weight - a fact on which the heathen Chinee "with ways that are
dark and tricks that are vain" not infrequently relies. Chinamen,
who gather large quantities in our Western States to sell to the
wholesale druggists for export, sometimes drill holes into the
largest roots, pour in melted lead, and plug up the drills so
ingeniously that druggists refuse to pay for a Chinaman's
diggings until they have handled and weighed each root

The DWARF GINSENG, OR GROUND NUT (P. trifolium; Aralia trifolia
of Gray) whose little white flowers are clustered in feathery,
fluffy balls above the whorl of three compound leaves in April
and May, chooses low thickets and moist woods for its habitat -
often in the same neighborhood with its larger relative.
Yellowish berries follow the fragrant white pompons. One must
burrow deep, like the rabbits, to find its round, pungent, sweet,
nut-like root, measuring about half an inch across, which few
have ever seen.

  (Daucus Carota)  Carrot family

Flowers - Small, of unequal sizes (polygamous), white, rarely
pinkish gray, 5-parted, in a compound, flat, circular umbel, the
central floret often dark crimson; the umbels very concave in
fruit. An involucre of narrow, pinnately cut bracts. Stem: 1 to 3
ft. high, with stiff hairs; from a deep, fleshy, conic root.
Leaves: Cut into fine, fringy divisions; upper ones smaller and
less dissected.
Preferred Habitat - Wastelands, fields, roadsides. Flowering
Season - June-September.
Distribution - Eastern half of United States and Canada. Europe
and Asia.

A pest to farmers, a joy to the flower lover, and a welcome
signal for refreshment to hosts of flies, beetles, bees, and
wasps, especially to the paper-nest builders, the sprangly wild
carrot lifts its fringy foliage and exquisite lacy, blossoms
above the dry soil of three continents. From Europe it has come
to spread its delicate wheels over our summer landscape, until
whole fields are whitened by them east of the Mississippi. Having
proved fittest in the struggle for survival in the fiercer
competition of plants in the over-cultivated Old World, it takes
its course of empire westward year by year, Finding most
favorable conditions for colonizing in our vast, uncultivated
area; and the less aggressive, native occupants of our soil are
only too readily crowded out. Would that the advocates of
unrestricted immigration of foreign peasants studied the parallel
examples among floral invaders!

What is the secret of the wild carrots' triumphal march? As
usual, it is to be sought chiefly in the flower's scheme to
attract and utilize visitors. Nectar being secreted in open disks
near to one another, the shortest-tongued insects can lick it up
from the Umbelliferae with even less loss of time than from the
tubular florets of the Cornpositae. Over sixty distinct species
of insects may be taken on the wild carrot by any amateur, since
it blooms while insect life is at its height but, as might be
expected, the long-tongued and color-loving, specialized bees and
butterflies do not often waste time on florets so easily drained
by the mob. Ants find the stiff hairs on the stem disagreeable
obstacles to pilfering; but no visitors seem to object to the
flowers' suffocating odor.

One of these lacy, white umbels must be examined under a lens
before its delicate structure and perfection of detail can be
appreciated. Naturally a visitor is attracted first by the
largest, most showy florets situated around the outer edge of the
wheel, on which he leaves pollen, brought from another umbel; and
any vitalizing dust remaining on his under side may be left on
the less conspicuous hermaphrodite blossoms as he makes his way
toward the center, where the tiny, pollen-bearing florets are
grouped. From the latter, as he flies away, he will carry fresh
pollen to the outer row of florets on another umbel, and so on -
at least this is the usual and highly advantageous method. After
general fertilization, the slender flower-stalks curl inward, and
the umbel forms a hollow nest that gradually contracts as it
dries, almost, if not quite, closing at the top, albeit the
fiction that bees and spiders make their home in the seeding
umbels circulates freely.

Still another fiction is that the cultivated carrot, introduced
to England by the Dutch in Queen Elizabeth's reign, was derived
from this wild species. Miller, the celebrated English botanist
and gardener, among many others, has disproved this statement by
utterly failing again and again to produce an edible vegetable
from this wild root. When cultivation of the garden carrot lapses
for a few generations, it reverts to the ancestral type -a
species quite distinct from Daucus Carota.

  (Washingtonia longistylis; Osmorrhiza longistylis of Gray)
Carrot family

Flowers - Small, white, 5-parted; in few rayed, long-peduncled
umbels, with small bracts below them. Stem: 1 1/2 to 3 ft. high,
branching, from thick, fleshy, fragrant, edible roots. Leaves:
Lower ones often very large, long-petioled, thrice-compound, and
again divided, the leaflets ovate, pointed, deeply toothed,
slightly downy; upper leaves less compound, nearly sessile.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, westward to Dakota.

Graceful in gesture, with delicate, fernlike leaves and
anise-scented roots that children, like rabbits, delight to
nibble, the sweet cicely attracts attention by its fragrance,
however insignificant its flowers. In wooded places, such as it
prefers to dwell in, white blossoms, which are far more
noticeable in a dim light than colored ones, and finely cut
leaves that can best withstand the drip from trees, abound. These
white umbels bear a large proportion of male, or pollen-bearing,
florets to the number of hermaphrodite, or two-sexed, florets;
but as the latter mature their pollen before their stigmas become
susceptible to it, self-fertilization is well guarded against,
and cross-fertilization is effected with the help of as many
flies as small bees, which come in numbers to lick up the nectar
so freely exposed in consideration of their short tongues. We
have to thank these little creatures for the long, slender seeds,
armed with short bristles along the ribs, that they may snatch
rides on our garments, together with the beggar-ticks, burdock,
cleavers, and other vagabond colonists in search of unoccupied
ground. Be sure you know the difference between sweet cicely and
the poisonous water hemlock before tasting the former's spicy

Was there no more important genus - containing, if possible, red,
white, and blue flowers - to have named in honor of the Father of
his Country?

Another member of the Carrot family, the SANICLE or BLACK
SNAKEROOT (Sanicula Marylandica), found blooming from May to July
in such rich, moist woodlands and shrubbery as the sweet cicely
prefers, lifts spreading, two to four rayed umbels of
insignificant-looking but interesting little greenish-white
florets. At first the tips of the five petals are tucked into the
center of each little flower; underneath them the stamens are now
imprisoned while any danger of self-fertilizing the stigma
remains. The few hermaphrodite florets have their styles
protruding from the start, and incoming insects leave pollen
brought from staminate florets on the early-maturing stigmas.
After cross-fertilization has been effected, it is the pistil's
turn to keep out of the way, and give the imprisoned stamens a
chance: the styles curve until the stigmas are pressed against
the sides of the ovary, that not a grain of pollen may touch
them; the petals spread and release the stamens; but so great is
the flower's zeal not to be fertilized with its own pollen that
it sometimes holds the anthers tightly between the petals until
all the vitalizing dust has been shed! Around the hermaphrodite
florets are a large number of male florets in each hemispheric
cluster. Hooked bristles and slender, curved styles protrude from
the little burr-like seeds, that any creature passing by may give
them a lift to fresh colonizing land! The firm bluish-green
leaves, palmately divided into from five to seven oblong,
irregularly saw-edged segments, the upper leaves seated on the
stem, the lower ones long-petioled, help us to identify this
common weed.

With splendid, vigorous gesture the COW-PARSNIP (Heracleum
lanatum) rears itself from four to eight feet above moist, rich
soil from ocean to ocean in circumpolar regions as in temperate
climes. A perfect Hercules for coarseness and strength does it
appear when contrasted with some of the dainty members of the
carrot tribe. In June and July, when a myriad of winged creatures
are flying, large, compound, many-rayed umbels of both
hermaphrodite and male white flowers are spread to attract their
benefactors the flies, of which twenty-one species visit them
regularly, besides small bees, wasps, and other short-tongued
insects, which have no difficulty in licking up the freely
exposed nectar. The anthers, maturing first, compel
cross-fertilization which accounts for the plant's vigor and its
aggressive march across the continent. A very stout, ridged,
hairy stem, the petioled leaves compounded of three broadly
ovate, lobed and saw-edged divisions, downy on the underside, and
the great umbels, which sometimes measure a foot across, all bear
out the general impression of a Hercules of the fields.

FOOL'S PARSLEY, or CICELY, or DOG-POISON (Aethusa cynapium), a
European immigrant found in waste ground and rubbish heaps from
Nova Scotia to New Jersey and westward to the Mississippi, should
be known only to be avoided. The dark bluish-green, finely
divided, rather glossy leaves when bruised do not give out the
familiar fragrance of true parsley; the little narrow bracts,
turned downward around each separate flower-cluster, give it a
bearded appearance, otherwise the white umbel suggests a small
wild carrot head of bloom. Cows have died from eating this
innocent-looking little plant among the herbage; but most
creatures know by instinct that it must not be touched.

Strange that a family which furnishes the carrot, parsnip,
parsley, fennel, caraway, coriander, and celery to mankind,
should contain many members with deadly properties. Fortunately
or BEAVER-POISON (Cicuta maculata) has been branded as a
murderer. Purple streaks along its erect branching stem
correspond to the marks on Cain's brow. Above swamps and low
ground it towers. Twice or thrice pinnate leaves, the lower ones
long-stalked and often enormous, the leaflets' conspicuous veins
apparently ending in the notches of the coarse, sharp teeth, help
to distinguish it from its innocent relations sometimes
confounded with it. Its several tuberiform fleshy roots contain
an especially deadly poison; nevertheless, some highly
intelligent animals, beavers, rabbits, and the omnivorous small
boy among others have mistaken it for sweet-cicely with fatal
results. Indeed, the potion drunk by Socrates and other
philosophers and criminals at Athens, is thought to have been a
decoction made from the roots of this very hemlock. Many little
white flowers in each cluster make up a large umbel; and many
umbels to a plant attract great numbers of flies, small bees, and
wasps, which sip the freely exposed nectar apparently with only
the happiest consequences, as they transfer pollen from the male
to the proterandrous hermaphrodite flowers. Just as the
cow-parsnip shows a preponderance of flies among its visitors, so
the water hemlock seems to attract far more bees and wasps than
any of the umbel-bearing carrot tribe. It blooms from the end of
June through August.

Still another poisonous species is the HEMLOCK WATER-PARSNIP
(Sium cicutaefolium), found in swampy places throughout Canada
and the United States from ocean to ocean. The compound,
long-rayed umbels of small white flowers, fringy-bracted below,
which measure two or three inches across; the extremely variable
pinnate leaves, which may be divided into from three to six pairs
of narrow and sharply toothed leaflets (or perhaps the lower
long-stalked ones as finely dissected as a wild carrot leaf where
they grow in water), and the stout, grooved, branching stem, from
two to six feet tall, are its distinguishing characteristics. In
these umbels it will be noticed there are far more hermaphrodite,
or two-sexed, florets (maturing their anthers first), than there
are male ones; consequently quantities of unwelcome seed are set
with the help of small bees, wasps, and flies, which receive
generous entertainment from July to October.

The MOCK BISHOP'S-WEED (Ptilimnium capillaceum), a slender,
delicate, dainty weed found chiefly in saltwater meadows from
Massachusetts to Florida and around the Gulf coast to Texas, has
very finely dissected, fringy leaves and compound umbels two to
four inches across, of tiny white florets, with threadlike bracts
below. It blooms throughout the summer.

  (Cornus florida)  Dogwood family

Flowers - (Apparently) large, white or pinkish, the four
conspicuous parts simulating petals, notched at the top, being
really bracts of an involucre below the true flowers, clustered,
in the center, which are very small, greenish yellow, 4-parted,
perfect. Stem: A large shrub or small tree, wood hard, bark
rough. Leaves: Opposite, oval, entire-edged, petioled, paler
underneath. Fruit: Clusters of egg-shaped scarlet berries, tipped
with the persistent calyx.
Preferred Habitat - Woodlands rocky thickets, wooded roadsides.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Maine to Florida, west to Ontario and Texas.

Has Nature's garden a more decorative ornament than the flowering
dogwood, whose spreading flattened branches whiten the woodland
borders in May as if an untimely snowstorm had come down upon
them, and in autumn paint the landscape with glorious crimson,
scarlet, and gold, dulled by comparison only with the clusters of
vivid red berries among the foliage? Little wonder that
nurserymen sell enormous numbers of these small trees to be
planted on lawns. The horrors of pompous monuments, urns, busts,
shafts, angels, lambs, and long-drawn-out eulogies in stone in
many a cemetery are mercifully concealed in part by these boughs,
laden with blossoms of heavenly purity.

    "Let dead names be eternized in dead stone,
     But living names by living shafts be known.
     Plant thou a tree whose leaves shall sing
     Thy deeds and thee each fresh, recurrent spring."

Fit symbol of immortality! Even before the dogwood's leaves fall
in autumn, the round buds for next year's bloom appear on the
twigs, to remain in consoling evidence all winter with the
scarlet fruit. When the buds begin to swell in spring, the four
reddish-purple, scale-like bracts expand, revealing a dozen or
more tiny green flowers clustered within for the large, white,
petal-like parts, with notched, tinted, and puckered lips, into
which these reddish bracts speedily develop, and which some of us
have mistaken for a corolla, are not petals at all - not the true
flowers - merely appendages around the real ones, placed there,
like showy advertisements, to attract customers. Nectar, secreted
in a disk on each minute ovary, is eagerly sought by little
Andrena and other bees, besides flies and butterflies. Insects
crawling about these clusters, whose florets are all of one kind,
get their heads and undersides dusted with pollen, which they
transfer as they suck. Hungry winter birds, which bolt the red
fruit only when they can get no choicer fare, distribute the
smooth, indigestible stones far and wide.

When the Massachusetts farmers think they hear the first brown
thrasher in April advising them to plant their Indian corn,
reassuringly calling, "Drop it, drop it - cover it up, cover it
up - pull it up, pull it up, pull it up" (Thoreau), they look to
the dogwood flowers to confirm the thrasher's advice before
taking it.

The LOW or DWARF CORNEL, or BUNCHBERRY (C. canadensus) whose
scaly stem does its best to attain a height of nine inches, bears
a whorl of from four to six oval, pointed, smooth leaves at the
summit. From the midst of this whorl comes a cluster of minute
greenish florets, encircled by four to six large, showy, white
petal-like bracts, quite like a small edition of the flowering
dogwood blossom. Tight clusters of round berries, that are lifted
upward on a gradually lengthened peduncle after the flowers fade
(May-July), brighten with vivid touches of scarlet shadowy, mossy
places in cool, rich woods, where the dwarf cornels, with the
partridge vine, twin flower, gold thread, and fern, form the most
charming of carpets.

Other common dogwoods there are - shrubs from three to ten feet
in height - which bear flat clusters of small white flowers
without the showy petal-like bracts, imitating a corolla, as in
the two preceding species, but each little four-parted blossom
attracting its miscellaneous crowd of benefactors by association
with dozens of its counterparts in a showy cyme. Because these
flowers expand farther than the minute florets of the dwarf
cornel or the flowering dogwood, and the sweets are therefore
more accessible, all the insects which fertilize them come to the
shrub dogwoods too, and in addition very many beetles, to which
their odor seems especially attractive. ("Odore carabico o
scarabeo" - Delpino.) The ROUND-LEAVED CORNEL or DOGWOOD [now
ROUNDLEAF DOGWOOD] (C. circinata), found on shady hillsides, in
open woodlands, and roadside thickets - especially in rocky
districts - from Nova Scotia to Virginia, and westward to Iowa,
may be known by its greenish, warty twigs; its broadly ovate, or
round petioled, opposite leaves, short-tapering to a point, and
downy beneath; and, in May and June, by its small, flat, white
flower-clusters about two inches across, that are followed by
light-blue (not edible) berries.

Even more abundant is the SILKY CORNEL, KINNIKINNICK, or SWAMP
DOGWOOD [now SILKY DOGWOOD] (C. amonum; C. sericca of Gray) found
in low, wet ground, and beside streams, from Nebraska to the
Atlantic Ocean, south to Florida and north to New Brunswick. Its
dull-reddish twigs, oval or oblong leaves, rounded at the base
but tapering to a point at the apex, and usually silky-downy with
fine, brownish hairs underneath (to prevent the pores from
clogging with vapors arising from its damp habitat); its rather
compact, flat clusters of white flowers from May to July, and its
bluish berries are its distinguishing features. The Indians loved
to smoke its bark for its alleged tonic effect.

The RED-OSIER CORNEL or DOGWOOD (C. stolonifera), which has
spread, with the help of running shoots, through the soft soil of
its moist retreats, over the British Possessions north of us and
throughout the United States from ocean to ocean, except at the
extreme south, may be known by its bright purplish-red twigs; its
opposite, slender, petioled leaves, rather abruptly pointed at
the apex, roughish on both sides, but white or nearly so beneath;
its small, flat-topped white flower-clusters in June or July; and
finally, by its white or lead-colored fruit.

In good, rich, moist soil another white-fruited species, the
PANICLED CORNEL or DOGWOOD (C. candidissima; C. paniculata of
Gray) rears its much-branched, smooth, gray stems. In May or June
the shrub is beautiful with numerous convex, loose clusters of
white flowers at the ends of the twigs. So far do the stamens
diverge from the pistil that self-pollination is not likely; but
an especially large number of the less specialized insects,
seeking the freely exposed nectar, do all the necessary work as
they crawl about and fly from shrub to shrub. This species bears
comparatively long and narrow leaves, pale underneath. Its range
is from Maine to the Carolinas and westward to Nebraska.

  (Clethra alnifolia)  White Alder family

Flowers - Very fragrant, white, about 1/3 in. across, borne in
long, narrow, upright, clustered spikes, with awl-shaped bracts.
Calyx of 5 sepals; 5 longer petals; 10 protruding stamens, the
style longest. Stem: A much-branched shrub, 3 to 10 ft. high.
Leaves: Alternate, oblong or ovate, finely saw-edged above the
middle at least, green on both sides, tapering at base into short
Preferred Habitat - Low, wet woodland and roadside thickets;
swamps; beside slow streams; meadows.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - Chiefly near the coast, in States bordering the
Atlantic Ocean.

Like many another neglected native plant, the beautiful sweet
pepperbush improves under cultivation; and when the departed
lilacs, syringa, snowball, and blossoming almond, found with
almost monotonous frequency in every American garden, leave a
blank in the shrubbery at midsummer, these fleecy white spikes
should exhale their spicy breath about our homes. But wild
flowers, like a prophet, may remain long without honor in their
own country. This and a similar but more hairy species found in
the Alleghany region, the MOUNTAIN SWEET PEPPERBUSH (C.
acuminata), with pointed leaves, pale beneath, and spreading or
drooping flower-spikes, go abroad to be appreciated. Planted
beside lakes and streams on noblemen's estates, how overpowering
must their fragrance be in the heavy, moisture-laden air of
England! Even in our drier atmosphere, it hangs about the
thickets like incense.

  (Pyrola rolundifolia)  Wintergreen family

Flowers - Very fragrant, white, in a spike; 6 to 20, nodding from
an erect, bracted scape 6 to 20 in. high. Calyx 5-parted corolla,
over 1/2 in. across, of 5 concave, obtuse petals 10 stamens,
protruding pistil, style curved, stigma 5-lobed. Leaves: All
spreading from the base by margined petioles; shining leathery
green, round or broadly oval, obtuse, 1 1/2 to 3 in. long,
persistent through the winter.
Preferred Habitat - Open woods.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, west to Ohio and

Deliciously fragrant little flowers, nodding from an erect,
slender stalk, when seen at a distance are often mistaken for
lilies-of-the-valley growing wild. But closer inspection of the
rounded, pearlike leaves in a cluster from the running root, and
the concave, not bell-shaped, white, waxen blossoms, with the
pistil protruding and curved, indicate the commonest of the
pyrolas. Some of its kin dwell in bogs and wet places, but this
plant and the shin-leaf carpet drier woodland where dwarf
cornels, partridge vines, pipsissewa, and goldthread weave their
charming patterns too. Certain of the lovely pyrola clan, whose
blossoms range from greenish white, flesh-color, and pink to deep
purplish rose, have so many features in common they were once
counted mere varieties of this round-leaved wintergreen - an
easygoing classification broken up by later-day systematists, who
now rank the varieties as distinct species. It will be noticed
that all these flowers have their anthers erect in the bud but
reversed at flowering time, each of the two sacs opening by a
pore which, in reality, is at the base of the sac, though by
reversion it appears to be at the top. To these pores small bees
and flies fasten their short lips to feed on pollen, some of
which will be necessarily .jarred out on them as they struggle
for a foothold on the stamens, and will be carried by them to
another flower's protruding stigma, which impedes their entrance
purposely to receive the imported pollen.

By reason of the old custom of clapping on a so-called
"shinplaster" to every bruise, regardless of its location on the
human body, a lovely little plant, whose leaves were once counted
a first aid to the injured, still suffers instead under an
unlovely name. The SHIN-LEAF (P. elliptica) sends up a naked
flower-stalk, scaly at the base, often with a bract midway, and
bearing at the top from seven to fifteen very fragrant, nodding,
waxen, greenish-white blossoms, similar to the round-leaved
wintergreen's. But on the thinner, dull, dark-green, upright
leaves, with slight wavy indentations, scarcely to be called
teeth, on the margins, their shorter leaf-stalks often reddish,
one chiefly depends to name this common plant. It is usually
found, in company with a few or many of its fellows, in rich
woodlands so far west as the Rocky Mountains, blooming from June
to August, according to the climate of its wide range.

When the little SERRATED or ONE-SIDED WINTERGREEN (P. secunda)
first sends up its slender raceme in June or July, it is erect
but presently the small, greenish-white flowers, opening
irregularly along one side, appear to weigh it downward into a
curve. Usually several bracted scapes rise from a running,
branched rootstock, to a height of from three to (rarely) ten
inches above a cluster of basal evergreen leaves. These latter
are rather thin, oval, slightly pointed, wavy or slightly
saw-edged, the midrib prominent above and below. A peculiarity of
the flowers is, that their petals are partially welded together
into little bells, with the clapper (alias the straight green
pistil) protruding, and the stamens united around its base. After
the blossoms have been fertilized, the tiny, round,
five-scalloped seed capsules, with the pistil still protruding,
remain in evidence for months, as is usual in the pyrola clan.
Small as the plant is, it has managed to distribute itself over
Europe, Asia, and the woods and thickets of our own land from
Labrador to Alaska, southward to California, Mexico, and the
District of Columbia.

Another little globe-trotter, so insignificant in size that one
is apt to overlook it until its surprisingly large blossom
appears in June or July, is the ONE-FLOWERED WINTERGREEN (Moneses
uniflora), found in cool northern woods, especially about the
roots of pines, in such yielding soil as will enable its long
stem to run just below the surface. ONE-FLOWERED PYROLA, it is
often called, although it belongs to a genus all its own. A
boldly curved stalk, like a miniature Bo-peep crook, enables the
solitary white or pink widely open flower to droop from the tip,
thus protecting its precious contents from rain, and from
crawling pilferers, to whom a pendent blossom is as inaccessible
as a hanging bird's nest is to snakes. This five-petalled waxen
flower, half an inch across or over, with its ten white,
yellow-tipped stamens, and green, club-shaped pistil projecting
from a conspicuous round ovary, never nods more than six inches
above the ground, often at only half that height. When there is
no longer need for the stalk to crook, that is to say, after the
flower has begun to fruit, it gradually straightens itself out so
that the little seed capsule, with the style and its five-lobed
stigma still persistent, is held erect. The thin, rounded, finely
notched leaves, measuring barely an inch in length, are clustered
in whorls next the ground. Whether one comes upon colonies of
this gregarious little plant, or upon a lonely straggler, the
"single delight" (moneses), as Dr. Gray called the solitary
flower, is one of the joys of a tramp through the summer woods.

  (Monotropa uniflora)  Indian-pipe family

Flowers - Solitary, smooth, waxy, white (rarely pink),
oblong-bell shaped, nodding from the tip of a fleshy, white,
scaly scape 4 to 10 in. tall. Calyx of 2 to 4 early-falling white
sepals; 4 or 5 oblong, scale-like petals; 8 or 10 tawny, hairy
stamens; a 5-celled, egg-shaped ovary, narrowed into the short,
thick style. Leaves: None. Roots: A mass of brittle fibers, from
which usually a cluster of several white scapes arises. Fruit: A
5-valved, many-seeded, erect capsule.
Preferred Habitat - Heavily shaded, moist, rich woods, especially
under oak and pine trees.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Almost throughout temperate North America.

Colorless in every part, waxy, cold, and clammy, Indian pipes
rise like a company of wraiths in the dim forest that suits them
well. Ghoulish parasites, uncanny saprophytes, for their matted
roots prey either on the juices of living plants or on the
decaying matter of dead ones, how weirdly beautiful and
decorative, they are! The strange plant grows also in Japan, and
one can readily imagine how fascinated the native artists must be
by its chaste charms.

Yet to one who can read the faces of flowers, as it were, it
stands a branded sinner. Doubtless its ancestors were
industrious, honest creatures, seeking their food in the soil,
and digesting it with the help of leaves filled with good green
matter (chlorophyll) on which virtuous vegetable life depends;
but some ancestral knave elected to live by piracy, to drain the
already digested food of its neighbors; so the Indian pipe
gradually lost the use of parts for which it had need no longer,
until we find it today without color and its leaves degenerated
into mere scaly bracts. Nature has manifold ways of illustrating
the parable of the ten pieces of money. Spiritual law is natural
law: "From him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken
away." Among plants as among souls, there are all degrees of
backsliders. The foxglove, which is guilty of only sly, petty
larceny, wears not the equivalent of the striped suit and the
shaved head; nor does the mistletoe, which steals crude food from
the tree, but still digests it itself, and is therefore only a
dingy yellowish green. Such plants, however, as the broomrape,
pinesap, beechdrops, the Indian pipe, and the dodder - which
marks the lowest stage of degradation of them all - appear among
their race branded with the mark of crime as surely as was Cain.

No wonder this degenerate hangs its head; no wonder it grows
black with shame on being picked, as if its wickedness were only
just then discovered! To think that a plant related on one side
to many of the loveliest flowers in Nature's garden- - the
azaleas, laurels, rhododendrons, and the bonny heather - and on
the other side to the modest but no less charming wintergreen
tribe, should have fallen from grace to such a depth! Its
scientific name, meaning a flower once turned, describes it
during only a part of its career. When the minute, innumerable
seeds begin to form, it proudly raises its head erect, as if
conscious that it had performed the one righteous act of its

  (Ledum Groenlandicum; L. latifolium of Gray)  Heath family

Flowers - White, 5-parted, 1/2 in. across or less, numerous,
borne in terminal, umbellate clusters rising from scaly, sticky
bud-bracts. Stem: A compact shrub 1 to 4 ft. high, resinous, the
twigs woolly-hairy. Leaves: Alternate, thick, evergreen, oblong,
obtuse, small, dull above, rusty-woolly beneath, the margins
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, bogs, wet mountain woods. Flowering
Season - May-June.
Distribution - Greenland to Pennsylvania, west to Wisconsin.

Whoever has used the homeopathic lotion distilled from the leaves
of Ledum palustre, a similar species found at the far North,
knows the tea-like fragrance given forth by the leaves of this
common shrub when crushed in a warm hand. But because the
homeopathists claim that like is cured by like, are we to assume
that these little bushes, both of which afford a soothing lotion,
also irritate and poison? It may be; for they are next of kin to
the azaleas, laurels, and rhododendrons, known to be injurious
since Xenophon's day. At the end of May, when the Labrador tea is
white with abundant flower clusters, one cannot but wonder why so
desirable an acquisition is never seen in men's gardens here
among its relatives. Over a hundred years ago the dense, compact
little shrub was taken to England to adorn sunny bog gardens on
fine estates. Doubtless the leaves have woolly mats underneath
for the reason given in reference to the Steeple-bush.

  (Andromeda Polifolia)  Heath family

Flowers - White or pink-tinted, small, round, tubular, 5-toothed
at the tip; drooping from curved footstalks in few-flowered
terminal umbels. Calyx deeply 5-parted; 10 bearded stamens; style
like a column. Stem: A sparingly branched, dwarf shrub, 6 in. to
3 ft. tall. Leaves: Linear to lance-shape, evergreen, dark and
glossy above, with a prominent white bloom underneath, the
margins curled.
Preferred Habitat - Cool bogs, wet places.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Pennsylvania and Michigan, far northward.

Only a delightfully imaginative optimist like Linnaeus could feel
the enthusiasm he expended on this dwarf shrub, with its little,
white, heath-like flowers, which most of us consider rather
insignificant, if the truth be told. But then the blossoms he
found in Lapland must have been much pinker than any seen in
American swamps, since they reminded him of "a fine female

"This plant is always fixed on some little turfy hillock in the
midst of the swamps," he wrote, "just as Andromeda herself was
chained to a rock in the sea, which bathed her feet as the fresh
water does the roots of this plant.... As the distressed virgin
cast down her blushing face through excessive affliction, so does
this rosy-colored flower hang its head, growing paler and paler
till it withers away." Under the old go-as-you-please method of
applying scientific names, most of this shrub's relatives shared
with it the name of the fair maid whom Perseus rescued from the

The beautiful, low-growing STAGGERBUSH (Pieris Mariana) has its
small, cylindric, five-parted, white or pink-tinted flowers
clustered at intervals along one side of the upright, nearly
leafless, smooth, dark-dotted branches of the preceding year.
When the glossy oval leaves, black dotted beneath, are freshly
put forth in early summer - for the shrub is not strictly an
evergreen, however late the old leaves may cling - it is said
that stupid sheep and calves, which find them irresistibly
attractive, stagger about from their poisonous effect just as
they do after feeding on this shrub's relative the Lambkill
(q.v.). In sandy soil from southern New England to Florida,
rarely far inland, one finds the staggerbush in bloom from May to
July. On the dry plains of Long Island, where it is common
indeed, it appears a not unworthy relative of the FETTERBUSH
(Pieris fioribunda), that exquisite little evergreen with
quantities of small white urns drooping along its twigs, which
nurserymen acquire from the mountains of our Southern States to
adorn garden shrubbery at home and abroad. Mr. William Robinson,
in his delightful book, "The English Flower Garden" (a book, by
the way, that Rudyard Kipling reads as the Puritan read his
Bible), counts this fetterbush among the "indispensables."

Much taller than the preceding dwarfs is the COMMON PRIVET
ANDROMEDA found in swamps and low ground from New England to the
Gulf and in the southwest (Xolisma ligustrina). Whoever has seen
the privet almost universally grown in hedges is familiar with
the general aspect of this much-branched shrub. Most farmers'
boys know the Andromeda's mock May-apple, a hollow, stringy
growth of insect origin, which they are not likely to confuse
with the pulpy, juicy apple found on the closely related azaleas
(q.v.). Abundant terminal spike-like or branched clusters of
white, globular, four or five parted flowers in close array,
attract quantities of bees from the end of May to early July,
notwithstanding each individual flower measures barely an eighth
of an inch across. We have seen the fine hair-triggers which
other members of this same family, the beautiful pink laurels
(q.v.), have set to be sprung by an incoming visitor. Now this
Andromeda, and similarly several of its immediate kin, have a
quite different, but equally effective, method of throwing pollen
on its friends who come to call. When one of the little banded
bees clings, as he must, to the tiny flower scarce half his size,
thrusting his tongue obliquely through the globe's narrow opening
to reach the nectar, suddenly a shower of pollen is inhospitably
thrown upon him from within. In probing between the ring of
anthers (that are pressed against the style by the S-shaped
curvature of the filaments so as to retain the pollen), he needs
must displace some of them and release the vitalizing dust
through the large terminal pores in the anther-sacs. Is he
discouraged by such rough treatment? Not at all. Off he flies to
another Andromeda blossom, and leaves some of the dust with which
he is powdered on the sticky stigma that impedes his entrance,
before precipitating a fresh shower as he sips another reward.
The straight column-like pistil, stigmatic on its tip only,
allows the flower's own pollen to slide harmlessly down its
sides. How exquisite are the most minute adjustments of floral
mechanism! Is it possible for one to remain an agnostic after the
evidences even the flowers show us of infinite wisdom and love?

Another denizen of swamps and low ground, next of kin to the
trailing arbutus, is the LEATHERLEAF, or DWARF CASSANDRA
(Chamaedaphne calyculata), a modest little shrub, its stiff,
slender branches plentifully set with thick oblong leaves that
grow gradually smaller the higher they go, and when young are
densely covered with minute scurfy scales. Sometimes before the
snow has melted in April, the leafy terminal shoots are hung with
multitudes of little waxy-white, cylindric, typical heath flowers
only about a quarter of an inch long, each nodding from a leaf
axil, and the whole forming one-sided racemes. But as the shrub
ranges from Newfoundland to Georgia, and westward to Illinois,
British Columbia, and Alaska, some people find it blooming even
in July.
Mythological names were evidently in high favor among the
botanists who labeled the genuses comprising the heath family:
Phyllodoce, the sea-nymph; Cassiope, mother of Andromeda;
Leucothoe; Andromeda herself; Pieris, a name sometimes applied to
the Muses from their supposed abode at Pieria, Thessaly; and
Cassandra, daughter of Priam, the prophetess who was shut up in a
mad-house because she prophesied the ruin of Troy - these names
are as familiar to the student of this group of shrubs today as
they were to the devout Greeks in the brave days of old.

  (Gaultheria procumbens)  Heath family

Flowers - White, small, usually solitary, nodding from a leaf
axil. Corolla rounded bell-shape, 5-toothed; calyx 5-parted,
persistent; 10 included stamens, their anther-sacs opening by a
pore at the top. Stem: Creeping above or below ground, its
branches 2 to 6 in. high. Leaves: Mostly clustered at top of
branches; alternate, glossy, leathery, evergreen, much darker
above than underneath, oval to oblong, very finely saw-edged; the
entire plant aromatic. Fruit: Bright red, mealy, spicy,
berry-like; ripe in October.
Preferred Habitat - Cool woods, especially under evergreens.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Georgia, westward to Michigan and

However truly the poets may make us feel the spirit of Nature in
their verse, can many be trusted when it comes to the letter of
natural science? "Where camels arch their cool, dark boughs o'er
beds of wintergreen," wrote Bryant; yet it is safe to say that
nine colonies of this hardy little plant out of every ten he saw
were under evergreen trees, not dogwoods. When the July sun melts
the fragrance out of the pines high overhead, and the dim, cool
forest aisles are more fragrant with commingled incense from a
hundred natural censers than any stone cathedral's, the
wintergreen's little waxy bells hang among the glossy leaves that
form their aromatic carpet. On such a day, in such a resting
place, how one thrills with the consciousness that it is good to
be alive!

Omnivorous children who are addicted to birch-chewing, prefer
these tender yellow-green leaves tinged with red, when newly put
forth in June - "Youngsters" rural New Englanders call them then.
In some sections a kind of tea is steeped from the leaves, which
also furnish the old-fashioned embrocation, wintergreen oil. Late
in the year the glossy bronze carpet of old leaves dotted over
with vivid red "berries" invites much trampling by hungry birds
and beasts, especially deer and bears, not to mention well-fed
humans. Coveys of Bob Whites and packs of grouse will plunge
beneath the snow for fare so delicious as this spicy, mealy fruit
that hangs on the plant till spring, of course for the benefit of
just such colonizing agents as they. Quite a different species,
belonging to another family, bears the true Partridgeberry,
albeit the wintergreen shares with it a number of popular names.
In a strict sense neither of these plants produces a berry; for
the fruit of the true partridge[berry] vine (Mitchella repens) is
a double drupe, or stone bearer, each half containing four hard,
seed-like nutlets; while the wintergreen's so called berry is
merely the calyx grown thick, fleshy, and gaily colored - only a
coating for the five-celled ovary that contains the minute seeds.
Little baskets of wintergreen berries bring none too high prices
in the fancy fruit and grocery shops when we calculate how many
charming plants such unnatural use of them sacrifices.

Closely allied to the wintergreen is the RED BEARBERRY,
variously called (Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi = bearberry). Trailing
its spreading branches over sandy ground, rocky hillsides and
steeps until it sometimes forms luxuriant mats, it closely
resembles its cousin the arbutus in its manner of growth, and has
been mistaken for it by at least one poet. But its tiny, rounded,
urn-shaped flowers, which come in May and June, are white, not
salver form and pink; the entire plant is not rusty-hairy; the
dark little leathery evergreen leaves are spatulate, and,
moreover, it bears small but abundant clusters of round,
berry-like fruit, an attainment the arbutus still struggles for,
but cannot yet reach. Bumblebees are the flower's chief
benefactors. Game fowl, especially grouse, but many other birds
too, and various animals which are glad to add the clusters of
smooth red bearberries to their scanty winter menu, however
insipid and dry they may be, have distributed the seed from
Labrador across Arctic America to Alaska, southward to
Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nebraska, and California. How plants do
compel insects, birds, and beasts to work for them! The entire
plant is astringent, and has been used in medicine; also by
leather dressers.

  (Gaylussacia resinosa)  Huckleberry family

Flowers - White and pink, pale or deep, small, cylindric,
bell-shaped. 5-parted, borne in 1-sided racemes from the sides of
the stiff, grayish branches. Stem: A shrub to 3 ft. high. Leaves:
Alternate, oval to oblong, firm, entire edged, green on both
sides, dotted underneath with resinous spots, especially when
young. Fruit: A round, black, bloomless, sweet, berry-like drupe,
containing 10 seed-like nutlets, in each of which is a solitary
seed. Ripe, July-August.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, sandy soil, thickets, open woods.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Manitoba and

This common huckleberry, oftener found in pies and muffins by the
average observer than in its native thickets, unfortunately
ripens in fly-time, when the squeamish boarder in the summer
hotel does well to carefully scrutinize each mouthful. For the
abundant fruit set on huckleberry bushes, as on so many others,
we are indebted chiefly to the lesser bees, which, receiving the
pollen jarred out from the terminal chinks in the anther-sacs on
their undersides as they cling, transfer it to the protruding
stigmas of the next blossom visited. After fertilization, when
the now useless corolla falls, the ten-celled ovary is protected
by the encircling calyx, that grows rapidly, swells, fills with
juice, and takes on color until it and the ovary together become
a so-called berry, whose seeds are dropped far and wide by birds
and beasts. "The name huckleberry, which is applied
indiscriminately to several species of Vaccinium and
Gaylussacia," says Professor L. H. Bailey, "is evidently a
corruption of whortleberry. Whortleberry is in turn a corruption
of myrtleberry. In the Middle Ages, the true myrtleberry was
largely used in cookery and medicine, but the European bilberry
or Vaccinium so closely resembled it that the name was
transferred to the latter plant, a circumstance commemorated by
Linnaeus in the giving of the name Vaccinium Myrtillus to the
bilberry. From the European whortleberry the name was transferred
to the similar American plants."

A common little bushy shrub, not a true blueberry, found in moist
woods, especially beside streams, from New England to the Gulf
States, and westward to Ohio, is the BLUE TANGLE, TANGLEBERRY, or
DANGLEBERRY [now TALL HUCKLEBERRY (G. frondosa). It bears a few
tiny greenish-pink flowers dangling from pedicels in loose
racemes, and corresponding clusters of most delicious, sweet,
dark-blue berries, covered with hoary bloom in midsummer. The
abundant resinous leaves on its slender gray branches are pale
and hoary beneath. The caterpillars of several species of sulphur
butterflies (Colias) feed on huckleberry leaves.

To a genus quite distinct from the huckleberries belong the true
blueberries, however interchangeably these names are misused.
Perhaps the first species to send its fruit to market in June and
July is the DWARF, SUGAR, or LOW-BUSH BLUEBERRY (Vaccinium
Pennsylvanicum), sometimes six inches tall, never more than
twenty inches. It prefers sandy or rocky soil from southern New
Jersey far northward, and west to Illinois. Shortly after the
small, bell-shaped, white or pink flowers, that grow in racemes
on the ends or sides of the angular, green, warty branches of
nearly all blueberry bushes, have been fertilized by bees, this
species forms an especially sweet berry with a bloom on its blue
surface. The alternate oblong leaves, smooth and green on both
sides, are very finely and sharply saw-edged.

Another, and perhaps the commonest, as it is the finest, species,
whose immature fruit is still green or red when the dwarf's is
ripe, is the HIGH-BUSH, TALL, or SWAMP BLUEBERRY (V. corymbosum),
found in low wet ground from Virginia westward to the
Mississippi, and very far north. Only the bees and their kind
concern themselves with the little cylindric, five-parted,
nectar-bearing flowers. These appear with the oblong, entire
leaves, paler below than above. But thousands of fruit sellers
and housekeepers depend on the sweet blueberries (with a pleasant
acid flavor) as a market staple. In July and August, even in
early September, the berries arrive in the cities. One picker in
New Jersey claims to have filled an entire crate with the fruit
of a single bush.

common in dry woods and thickets from Maine and Minnesota to the
Gulf States, puts forth quantities of small greenish-white,
yellow, or purplish-green, open bell-shaped, five-cleft flowers,
nodding from hair-like pedicels in graceful, leafy-bracted
racemes. Both the tips of the stamens and the style protrude like
a fringe. No creature, unless hard pressed by hunger, could
relish the greenish or yellowish berries. This is a low-growing,
spreading shrub, with firm oval or oblong tapering leaves, dull
above, and pale, sometimes even hoary, underneath.

  (Chiogenes hispidula)  Huckleberry family

Flowers - Very small, white, few, solitary, nodding on short,
curved peduncles from the leaf axils. Calyx 2-bracted, 4-cleft;
corolla a short 4-cleft bell; 8 short stamens, each anther sac
opening by a slit to the middle; 1 pistil, the ovary 4-celled.
Stem: Creeping along the ground, the slender, leafy, hairy
branches 3 to 12 in. long. Leaves: Evergreen, alternate,
2-ranked, oval, very small, dark and glossy above, coated with
stiff, rusty hairs underneath, the edges curled. Fruit: A
snow-white, round or oval, mealy, aromatic berry; ripe
Preferred Habitat - Cool bogs; low, moist, mossy woods.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - North Carolina and Michigan northward to the
British Possessions.

Allied on the one hand to the cranberry, so often found with it
in the cool northern peat bogs, and on the other to the delicious
blueberries, this "snow-born" berry, which appears on no dining
table, nevertheless furnishes many a good meal to hungry birds
and fagged pedestrians. Both the pretty foliage and the fruit
have the refreshing flavor of sweet birch.

  (Pyxidanthera barbulata)  Diapensia family

Flowers - Abundant, white, or sometimes pink, about 1/4 in.
across, 5-parted, solitary, seated at tips of branches. Stem:
Prostrate, creeping, much branched, the main branches often 1 ft.
long, very leafy, growing in mat-like patches. Leaves: Moss-like,
very narrow, pointed, seated on stem, and overlapping like
scales, on upper part of branches.
Preferred Habitat - Dry sandy soil; pine barrens.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - New Jersey, south to North Carolina.

Curiously enough, this creeping, tufted, mat-like little plant is
botanically known as a shrub, yet it is lower than many mosses,
and would seem to the untrained eye to be certainly of their kin.
In earliest spring, when Lenten penitents, jaded with the
winter's frivolities in the large cities, seek the salubrious
pine lands of southern New Jersey and beyond, they are amazed and
delighted to find the abundant little evergreen mounds of pyxie
already starred with blossoms. The dense mossy cushions,
plentifully sprinkled with pink buds and white flowers, are so
beautiful, one cannot resist taking a few tuffets home to
naturalize in the rock garden. Planted in a mixture of clear sand
and leaf-mould, with exposure to the morning sun, pyxie will
smile up at us from under our very windows, spring after spring,
with increased charms; whereas the arbutus, that untamable
wildling, carried home from the pinewoods at the same time, soon
sulks itself to death.

  (Trientalis Americana)  Primrose family

Flowers - White, solitary, or a few rising on slender, wiry
foot-stalks above a whorl of leaves. Calyx of 5 to 9 (usually 7)
narrow sepals. Corolla wheel-shaped, 1/2 in. across or less,
deeply cut into (usually) 7 tapering, spreading, petal-like
segments. Stem: A long horizontal rootstock, sending up smooth
stem-like branches 3 to 9 in. high, usually with a scale or two
below. (Trientalis = one-third of a foot, the usual height of a
plant.) Leaves: 5 to 10, in a whorl at summit; thin, tapering at
both ends, of unequal size, 1 1/2 to 4 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Moist shade of woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - From Virginia and Illinois far north.

Is any other blossom poised quite so airily above its whorl of
leaves as the delicate, frosty-white little starflower? It is
none of the anemone kin, of course, in spite of one of its
misleading folk names; but only the wind-flower has a similar
lightness and grace. No nectar rewards the small bee and fly
visitors; they get pollen only. Those coming from older blossoms
to a newly opened one leave some of the vitalizing dust clinging
to them on the moist and sticky stigma, which will wither to
prevent self-fertilization before the flower's own curved anthers
mature and shed their grains. Sometimes, when the blossoms do not
run on schedule time, or the insects are not flying in stormy
weather, this well laid plan may gang a-gley. An occasional lapse
matters little; it is perpetual self-fertilization that Nature

  (Apocynum cannabinum)  Dogbane family

Flowers - Greenish white, about 1/4 in. across, on short
pedicels, in dense clusters at ends of branches and from the
axils. Calyx of 5 segments; corolla nearly erect, bell-shaped,
5-lobed, with 5 small triangular appendages alternating with the
stamens within its tube. Stem: 1 to 4 ft. high, branching,
smooth, often dull reddish, from a deep, vertical root. Leaves:
Opposite, entire, 2 to 6 in. long, mostly oblong, abruptly
pointed, variable. Fruit: A pair of slender pods, the numerous
seeds tipped with tufts of hairs.
Preferred Habitat - Gravelly soil, banks of streams, low fields.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Almost throughout the United States and British

Instead of setting a trap to catch flies and hold them by the
tongue in a vise-like grip until death alone releases them, as
its heartless sister the spreading dogbane does (q.v.), this
awkward, rank herb lifts clusters of smaller, less conspicuous,
but innocent, flowers, with nectar secreted in rather shallow
receptacles, that even short-tongued insects may feast without
harm. Honey and mining bees, among others; wasps and flies in
variety, and great numbers of the spangled fritillary (Argynnis
cybele) and the banded hair-streak (Thecla calanus) among the
butterfly tribe; destructive bugs and beetles attracted by the
white color, a faint odor, and liberal entertainment, may be seen
about the clusters. Many visitors are useless pilferers, no
doubt; but certainly the bees which depart with pollen masses
cemented to their lips or tongues, to leave them in the stigmatic
cavities of the next blossoms their heads enter, pay a fair price
for all they get.

>From the fact that Indians used to substitute this very common
plant's tough fiber for hemp in making their fishnets, mats,
baskets, and clothing, came its popular name; and from their use
of the juices to poison mangy old dogs about their camps, its
scientific one.

  (Asclepias verticillata)  Milkweed family

Flowers - White or greenish, on short pedicels, in several small
terminal clusters. Calyx inferior; corolla deeply 5-parted, the
oblong segments turned back; a 5-parted, erect crown of hooded
nectaries between them and the stamens, each shorter than the
incurved horn within. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2 ft. tall, simple or
sparingly branched, hairy, leafy to summit, containing milky
juice. Leaves: In upright groups, very narrow, almost
thread-like, from 3 to 7 in each whorl. Fruit: 2 smooth, narrow,
spindle-shaped, upright pods, the seeds attached to silky fluff;
1 pod usually abortive.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, hills, uplands.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Maine and far westward, south to Florida and

In describing the common milkweed (q.v.), so many statements were
made that apply quite as truly to this far daintier and more
ethereal species, the reader is referred back to the pink and
magenta section. Compared with some of its rank-growing, heavy
relatives, how exquisite is this little denizen of the uplands,
with its whorls of needle-like leaves set at intervals along a
slender swaying stem! The entire plant, with its delicate foliage
and greenish-white umbels of flowers, rather suggests a member of
the carrot tribe; and much the same class of small-sized,
short-tongued visitors come to seek its accessible nectar as we
find about the parsnips, for example. When little bees alight -
and these are the truest benefactors, however frequently larger
bees, wasps, flies, and even the almost useless butterflies come
around - their feet slip about within the low crown to find a
secure lodging. As they rise to fly away after sucking, the
pollen masses which have attached themselves to the hairs on the
lower part of their legs are drawn out, to be transferred to
other blossoms, perhaps today, perhaps not for a fortnight.
Annoying as they may be, it is very rarely, indeed, that an
insect can rid itself of the pollen masses carried from either
orchids or milkweeds, except by the method Nature intended; and
it is not until the long-suffering bee is outrageously loaded
that he attains his greatest usefulness to milkweed blossoms. "Of
ninety-two specimens bearing corpuscula of Asclepias
verticillata," says Professor Robertson, "eighty-eight have them
on hairs alone, and four on the hairs and claws." And again: "As
far as the mere application of pollen to an insect is concerned,
a flower with loose pollen has the advantage. But the advantage
is on the side of Asclepias after the insect is loaded with it.
It is only a general rule that insects keep to flowers of a
particular species on their honey and pollen gathering
expeditions. If a bee dusted with loose pollen visits flowers of
another species, it will not long retain pollen in sufficient
quantity to effectually fertilize flowers of the original
species. On the other hand, if an insect returns at any time
during the day, or even after a few days, to the species of
Asclepias from which it got a load of pollinia, it may bring with
it all or most of the pollinia which it has carried from the
first plants visited. The firmness with which the pollinia keep
their hold on the insect is one of the best adaptations for

Ants, the worst pilferers of nectar extant, find the hairy stem
of the whorled milkweed, as well as its sticky juice, most
discouraging, if not fatal, obstacles to climbing. How daintily
the goldfinch picks at the milkweed pods and sets adrift the
seeds attached to silky aeronautic fluff!

  (Ipomoea pandurata)  Morning-glory family

Flowers - Funnel form, wide-spread, 2 to 3 in. long, pure white
or pinkish purple inside the throat; the peduncles 1 to 5
flowered. Stem: Trailing over the ground or weakly twining, 2 to
12 ft. long. Leaves: Heart, fiddle, or halbert shaped (rarely
3-lobed), on slender petioles. Root: Enormous, fleshy.
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, sandy or gravelly fields or hills.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Ontario, Michigan, and Texas, east to the Atlantic

No one need be told that this flaring, trumpet-shaped flower is
next of kin to the morning-glory that clambers over the trellises
of countless kitchen porches, and escapes back to Nature's garden
whenever it can. When the ancestors of these blossoms welded
their five petals into a solid deep bell, which still shows on
its edges the trace of five once separate parts, they did much to
protect their precious contents from rain; but some additional
protection was surely needed against the little interlopers not
adapted to fertilize the flower, which could so easily crawl down
its tube. Doubtless the hairs on the base of the filaments,
between which certain bumblebees and other long-tongued
benefactors can easily penetrate to suck the nectar secreted in a
fleshy disk below, act as a stockade to little would-be
pilferers. The color in the throat serves as a pathfinder to the
deep-hidden sweets. How pleasant the way is made for such insects
as a flower must needs encourage! For these the perennial wild
potato vine keeps open house far later in the day than its annual
relatives. Professor Robertson says it is dependent mainly upon
two bees, Entechnia taurea and Xenoglossa ipomoeae, the latter
its namesake.

One has to dig deep to find the huge, fleshy, potato-like root
from which the vine derived its name of man-of-the-earth. Such a
storehouse of juices is surely necessary in the dry soil where
the wild potato lives.

Happily, the COMMON MORNING-GLORY (I. purpurea)  - the
Convolvulus major of seedsmen's catalogues - has so commonly
escaped from cultivation in the eastern half of the United States
and Canada as now to deserve counting among our wild flowers,
albeit South America is its true home. Surely no description of
this commonest of all garden climbers is needed; everyone has an
opportunity to watch how the bees cross-fertilize it.

The vine has a special interest because of Darwin's illuminating
experiments upon it when he planted six self-fertilized seeds and
six seeds fertilized with the pollen brought from flowers on a
different vine, on opposite sides of the same pot. Vines produced
by the former reached an average height of five feet four inches,
whereas the cross-pollenized seed sent its stems up two feet
higher, and produced very many more flowers. If so marked a
benefit from imported pollen may be observed in a single
generation, is it any wonder that ambitious plants employ every
sort of ingenious device to compel insects to bring them pollen
from distant flowers of the same species? How punctually the
MOON-FLOWER (I. grandiflora), next of kin to the morning-glory,
opens its immense, pure white, sweet-scented flowers at night to
attract night-flying moths, because their long tongues, which
only can drain the nectar, may not be withdrawn until they are
dusted with vitalizing powder for export to some waiting sister.

  (Cuscuta gronovii)  Dodder family

Flowers - Dull white, minute, numerous, in dense clusters. Calyx
inferior, greenish white, 5-parted; corolla bell-shaped, the 5
lobes spreading, 5 fringed scales within; 5 stamens, each
inserted on corolla throat above a scale; 2 slender styles. Stem:
Bright orange yellow, thread-like, twining high, leafless.
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil, meadows, ditches, beside streams.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia and Manitoba, south to the Gulf

Like tangled yellow yarn wound spirally about the herbage and
shrubbery in moist thickets, the dodder grows, its beautiful
bright threads plentifully studded with small flowers tightly
bunched. Try to loosen its hold on the support it is climbing up,
and the secret of its guilt is out at once; for no honest vine is
this, but a parasite, a degenerate of the lowest type, with
numerous sharp suckers (haustoria) penetrating the bark of its
victim, and spreading in the softer tissues beneath to steal all
their nourishment. So firmly are these suckers attached, that the
golden thread-like stem will break before they can be torn from
their hold.

Not a leaf now remains on the vine to tell of virtue in its
remote ancestors; the absence of green matter (chlorophyll)
testifies to dishonest methods of gaining a living (see Indian
pipe); not even a root is left after the seedling is old enough
to twine about its hard-working, respectable neighbors. Starting
out in life with apparently the best intentions, suddenly the
tender young twiner develops an appetite for strong drink and
murder combined, such as would terrify any budding criminal in
Five Points or Seven Dials! No sooner has it laid hold of its
victim and tapped it, than the now useless root and lower portion
wither away, leaving the dodder in mid-air, without any
connection with the soil below, but abundantly nourished with
juices already stored up, and even assimilated, at its host's
expense. By rapidly lengthening the cells on the outer side of
its stem more than on the inner side, the former becomes convex,
the latter concave; that is to say, a section of spiral is formed
by the new shoot, which, twining upward, devitalizes its
benefactor as it goes. Abundant, globular seed vessels, which
develop rapidly, while the blossoming continues unabated, soon
sink into the soft soil to begin their piratical careers close
beside the criminals which bore them; or better still, from their
point of view, float downstream to found new colonies afar. When
the beautiful jewelweed - a conspicuous sufferer - is hung about
with dodder, one must be grateful for at least such symphony of

  (Hydrophyllum Virginicum)  Waterleaf family

Flowers - White or purplish tinged, in a single or forking
cluster on a long peduncle. Calyx deeply 5-parted, the spreading
segments very narrow, bristly hairy. Corolla erect, bell-shaped,
deeply 5-lobed; 5 protruding stamens, with soft hairs about their
middle; 2 styles united to almost the summit. Stem: Slender,
rather weak, to 3 ft. long, leafy, sparingly branched, from a
scaly rootstock. Leaves: Alternate, lower ones on long petioles,
6 to 10 in. long, pinnately divided into 5 to 7 oblong, sharply
toothed, acute leaflets or segments; upper leaves similar, but
smaller, and with fewer divisions.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering season - May-August.
Distribution - Quebec to South Carolina, west to Kansas and

So very many flowers especially adapted to the bumblebee are in
bloom when the cymes of the waterleaf uncoil, like the borages,
from their immature roll, that some special inducement to attract
this benefactor were surely needed. In high altitudes the
clusters became deeper hued; but much as the more specialized
bees love color, food appeals to them far more. Accordingly the
five lobes of each little flower stand erect to increase the
difficulty a short-tongued insect would have to drain its
precious stores; the stamens are provided with hairs for the same
reason; and even the calyx is bristly, to discourage crawling
ants, the worst pilferers out. By these precautions against
theft, plenty of nectar remains for the large bees. To prevent
self-fertilization, pollen is shed on visitors, which remove it
from a newly opened flower before the stigmas become receptive to
any; but in any case these are elevated in maturity above the
anthers, well out of harm's way.

Early in spring the large lower leaves are calculated to hold the
drip from the trees overhead, hence the plant's scientific and
popular names.

  (Datura stramonium)  Potato family

Flowers - Showy, large, about 4 in. high, solitary, erect,
growing from the forks of branches. Calyx tubular, nearly half as
long as the corolla, 5-toothed, prismatic; corolla funnel-form,
deep-throated, the spreading limb 2 in. across or less, plaited,
5-pointed; stamens 5; 1 pistil. Stem: Stout, branching, smooth, 1
to 5 ft. high. Leaves: Alternate, large, rather thin, petioled,
egg-shaped in outline, the edges irregularly wavy-toothed or
angled, rank-scented. Fruit: A densely prickly, egg-shaped
capsule, the lower prickles smallest. The seeds and stems contain
a powerful narcotic poison.
Preferred Habitat - Light soil, fields, waste land near
dwellings, rubbish heaps.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, westward beyond
the Mississippi.

When we consider that there are over five million Gypsies
wandering about the globe, and that the narcotic seeds of the
thorn apple, which apparently heal, as well as poison, have been
a favorite medicine of theirs for ages, we can understand at
least one means of the weed reaching these shores from tropical
Asia. (Hindoo, dhatura). Our Indians, who call it "white man's
plant," associate it with the Jamestown settlement - a plausible
connection, for Raleigh's colonists would have been likely to
carry with them to the New World the seeds of an herb yielding an
alkaloid more esteemed in the England of their day than the
alkaloid of opium known as morphine. Daturina, the narcotic, and
another product, known in medicine as stramonium, smoked by
asthmatics, are by no means despised by up-to-date practitioners.
Were it not for the rank odor of its leaves, the vigorous weed,
coarse as it is, would be welcome in men's gardens. Indeed, many
of its similar relatives adorn them. The fragrant petunia and
tobacco plants of the flower beds, the potato, tomato, and
egg-plant in the kitchen garden, call it cousin.

Late in the afternoon the plaited corolla of this long
trumpet-shaped flower expands to welcome the sphinx moths. So
deep a tube implies their tongues; not that these are the
benefactors to which the blossom originally adapted itself - they
were doubtless left behind in Asia - but apparently our moths
make excellent substitutes, for there is no abatement of the
weed's vigor here, as there surely would be did it habitually
fertilize itself. Any time after four o'clock in the afternoon,
according to the light, the sphinx moth, a creature of the
gloaming, begins its rounds, to be mistaken for a hummingbird
seven times out of ten. Hovering about its chosen white or yellow
flowers, that open for it at the approach of twilight, it remains
poised above one a second, as if motionless - although the faint
hum of its wings, while sucking, indicates that no magic suspends
it - then darts swift as thought to another deep tube to feast
again, of course transferring pollen as it goes. But what if the
Jamestown weed miscalculate the hour of her lover's call and open
too soon? Mischievous bees, quick to seize so golden an
opportunity, squeeze into the flower when it begins to unfold
(flies and beetles following them), to steal pollen, which will
sometimes be entirely removed before the moth's arrival.

The THORN-APPLE [now PURPLE THORN-APPLE, considered a variant of
JIMSONWEED]; PURPLE STRAMONIUM (D. tatula), a similar species,
usually with darker leaves, and pale lavender or violet flowers,
or with its long, slender tube white, has become at home in so
many fields and waste lands east of Minnesota and Texas that no
one thinks of it as belonging to tropical America.

Only sphinx moths can reach its deep well of nectar, from which
bees are literally barred out by an inward turn of the stamens
toward the center of the tube. Caterpillars of our commonest
member of the sphinx tribe conceal themselves on the tomato vine
by a mimicry of its color so faultless that a bright eye only may
detect their presence. In the South the caterpillar of another of
these moths (Sphinx Carolina) does fearful havoc under its
appropriate alias of "tobacco worm."

(Leptandra Virginica; Veronica Virginica of Gray)  Figwort family

Flowers - Small, white or rarely bluish, crowded in dense
spike-like racemes 3 to 9 in. long, usually several spikes at top
of stem or from upper axils. Calyx 4-parted, very small; corolla
tubular, 4-lobed; 2 stamens protruding; pistil. Stem: Straight,
erect, usually unbranched, 2 to 7 ft. tall. Leaves: Whorled, from
3 to 9 in a cluster, lance-shaped or oblong, and long-tapering,
sharply saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods, thickets, meadows.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Alabama, west to Nebraska.

Slender, erect white wands make conspicuous advertisements in
shady retreats at midsummer, when insect life is at its height
and floral competition for insect favors at its fiercest. Next of
kin to the tiny blue speedwell, these minute, pallid blossoms
could have little hope of winning wooers were they not living
examples of the adage, "In union there is strength.' Great
numbers crowded together on a single spike, and several spikes in
a cluster that towers above the woodland undergrowth, cannot well
be overlooked by the dullest insects, especially as nectar
rewards the search of those having midlength or long tongues.
Simply by crawling over the spikes, of which the terminal one
usually matures first, they fertilize the little flowers. The
pollen thrust far out of each tube in the early stage of bloom,
has usually all been brushed off on the underside of bees, wasps,
butterflies, flies, and beetles before the stigma matures;
nevertheless, when it becomes susceptible, the anthers spread
apart to keep out of its way lest any leftover pollen should
touch it.

"The leaves of the herbage at our feet," says Ruskin, "take all
kinds of strange shapes, as if to invite us to examine them.
Star-shaped. heart-shaped, spear-shaped, arrow-shaped, fretted,
fringed, cleft, furrowed, serrated, in whorls, in tufts, in
wreaths, in spires, endlessly expressive, deceptive, fantastic,
never the same from footstalks to blossom, they seem perpetually
to tempt our watchfulness, and take delight in outstripping our
wonder." Doubtless light is the factor with the greatest effect
in determining the position of the leaves on the stem, if not
their shape. After plenty of light has been secured, any aid they
may render the flowers in increasing their attractiveness is
gladly rendered. Who shall deny that the brilliant foliage of the
sumacs, the dogwood, and the pokeweed in autumn does not greatly
help them in attracting the attention of migrating birds to their
fruit, whose seeds they wish distributed? Or that the clustered
leaves of the dwarf cornel and Culver's-root, among others, do
not set off to great advantage their white flowers which, when
seen by an insect flying overhead, are made doubly conspicuous by
the leafy background formed by the whorl?

  (Cephalanthus occidentalis)  Madder family

Flowers - Fragrant, white, small, tubular, hairy within,
4-parted, the long, yellow-tipped style far protruding; the
florets clustered on a fleshy receptacle, in round heads (about 1
in. across), elevated on long peduncles from leaf-axils or ends
of branches. Stem: A shrub 3 to 12 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite or
in small whorls, petioled, oval, tapering at the tip, entire.
Preferred Habitat - Beside streams and ponds; swamps, low ground.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Florida and Cuba, westward to
Arizona and California.

Delicious fragrance, faintly suggesting jasmine, leads one over
marshy ground to where the buttonbush displays dense,
creamy-white globes of bloom, heads that Miss Lounsberry aptly
likens to "little cushions full of pins." Not far away the sweet
breath of the white-spiked clethra comes at the same season, and
one cannot but wonder why these two bushes, which are so
beautiful when most garden shrubbery is out of flower, should be
left to waste their sweetness, if not on desert air exactly, on
air that blows far from the homes of men. Partially shaded and
sheltered positions near a house, if possible, suit these water
lovers admirably. Cultivation only increases their charms. We
have not so many fragrant wild flowers that any can be neglected.
John Burroughs, who included the blossoms of several trees in his
list of fragrant ones, found only thirty-odd species in New
England and New York.

Examine a well-developed ball of bloom on the button-bush under a
magnifying glass to appreciate its perfection of detail. After
counting two hundred and fifty minute florets, tightly clustered,
one's tired eyes give out. A honey-ball, with a well of nectar in
each of these narrow tubes, invites hosts of insects to its
hospitable feast; but only visitors long and slender of tongue
can drain the last drop, therefore the vicinity of this bush is
an excellent place for a butterfly collector to carry his net.
Butterflies are by far the most abundant visitors; honey-bees
also abound, bumblebees, carpenter and mining bees, wasps, a
horde of flies, and some destructive beetles; but the short
tongues can reach little nectar. Why do the pistils of the
florets protrude so far? Even before each minute bud opened, all
its pollen had been shed on the tip of the style, to be in a
position to be removed by the first visitor alighting on the ball
of bloom. After the removal of the pollen from the still immature
stigma, it becomes sticky, to receive the importation from other
blossoms. Did not the floret pass through two distinct stages,
first male, then female, self-fertilization, not
cross-fertilization, would be the inevitable result. The dull red
and green seed-balls, which take on brown and bronze tints after
frost, make beautiful additions to an autumn bouquet. The bush is
next of kin to the coffee.

  (Mitchella repens)  Madder family

Flowers - Waxy, white (pink in bud), fragrant, growing in pairs
at ends of the branches. Calyx usually 4-lobed; corolla
funnel-form, about 1/2 in. long, the 4 spreading lobes bearded
within; 4 stamens inserted on corolla throat; style with 4
stigmas; the ovaries of the twin flowers united. (The style is
long when the stamens are short, or vice versa). Stem: Slender,
trailing, rooting at joints, 6 to 12 in. long, with numerous
erect branches. Leaves: Opposite, entire, short petioled, oval or
rounded, evergreen, dark, sometimes white veined. Fruit: A small,
red, edible, double berry-like drupe.
Preferred Habitat - Woods; usually, but not always, dry ones.
Flowering Season - April-June. Sometimes again in autumn.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Gulf States, westward to
Minnesota and Texas.

A carpet of these dark, shining, little evergreen leaves, spread
at the foot of forest trees, whether sprinkled over in June with
pairs of waxy, cream-white, pink-tipped, velvety, lilac-scented
flowers that suggest attenuated arbutus blossoms, or with
coral-red "berries" in autumn and winter, is surely one of the
loveliest sights in the woods. Transplanted to the home garden in
closely packed, generous clumps, with plenty of leaf-mould, or,
better still, chopped sphagnum, about them, they soon spread into
thick mats in the rockery, the hardy fernery, or about the roots
of rhododendrons and the taller shrubs that permit some sunlight
to reach them. No woodland creeper rewards our care with greater
luxuriance of growth. Growing near our homes, the partridge vine
offers an excellent opportunity for study.

The two flowers at the tip of a branch may grow distinct down to
their united ovaries, or their tubes may be partly united, like
Siamese twins - a union which in either case accounts for the odd
shape of the so-called berry, that shows further traces of
consolidation in its "two eyes," the remnants of eight calyx
teeth. Experiment proves that when only one of the twin flowers
is pollenized by insects (excluded from the other one by a net),
fruit is rarely set; but when both are, a healthy seeded berry
follows. To secure cross-fertilization, the partridge flower,
like the bluets (q.v.), occurs in two different forms on distinct
plants, seed from either producing after its kind. In one form
the style is low within the tube, and the stamens protrude; in
the other form the stamens are concealed, and the style, with its
four spreading stigmas, is exserted. No single flower matures
both its reproductive organs. Short-tongued small bees and flies
cannot reach the nectar reserved for the blossom's benefactors
because of the hairs inside the tube, which nearly close it; but
larger bees and butterflies coming to suck a flower with tall
stamens receive pollen on the precise spot on their long tongues
that will come in contact with the sticky stigmas of the
long-styled form visited later, and there rub the pollen off. The
lobes' velvety surface keeps insect feet from slipping.

What endless confusion arises through giving the same popular
folk names to different species! The Bob White, which is called
quail in New England or wherever the ruffed grouse is known as
partridge, is called partridge in the Middle and Southern States,
where the ruffed grouse is known as pheasant. But as both these
distributing agents, like most winter rovers, whether bird or
beast, are inordinately fond of this tasteless partridge berry,
as well as of the spicy fruit of quite another species, the
aromatic wintergreen (q.v.), which shares with it a number of
common names, every one may associate whatever bird and berry
that best suit him. The delicious little twin-flower, beloved of
Linnaeus, also comes in for a share of lost identity through
confusion with the partridge vine.

  (Galium Aparine)  Madder family

Flowers - Small, white, 4-parted, inconspicuous, in clusters of 1
to 3 on peduncles from the axils of upper leaves. Stem: 2 to 5
ft. long, scrambling, weak, square; bristly on the angles.
Leaves: in whorls of 6 or 8, narrow, midrib and edges very rough.
Fruit: Rounded, twin seed-vessels, beset with many hooked
Preferred Habitat - Shady ground.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Eastern half of United States and Canada.

Among some seventy other English folk names by which cleavers are
known are the following, taken from Britton and Brown's
SWEETHEARTS." From these it will be seen that the insignificant
little white flowers impress not the popular mind. But the twin
burs which steal a ride on every passing animal, whether man or
beast, in the hope of reaching new colonizing ground far from the
parent plant, rarely fail to make an impression on one who has to
pick trailing sprays beset with them off woollen clothing.

Several other similar bur-bearing relatives there are, common in
various parts of America as they are in Europe. The SWEET-SCENTED
BEDSTRAW (G. trifolium), always with three little greenish
flowers at the end of a footstalk, or branched into three
pedicels that are one to three flowered, and with narrowly oval,
one-nerved leaves arranged in whorls of six on its square stem,
ranges from ocean to ocean on this continent, over northern
Europe, and in Asia from Japan to the Himalayas. It will be
noticed that plants depending upon the by hook or by crook method
of travel are among the best of globe trotters. This species
becomes increasingly fragrant as it dries.

  (Sambucus Canadensis)  Honeysuckle family

Flowers - Small, creamy, white, numerous, odorous, in large,
flat-topped, or convex cymes at ends of branches. Calyx tubular,
minute; corolla of 5 spreading lobes; 5 stamens; style short,
3-parted. Stem: A shrub 4 to 10 ft. high, smooth, pithy, with
little wood. Leaves: Opposite, pinnately compounded of 5 to 11
(usually 7) oval, pointed, and saw-edged leaflets, heavy-scented
when crushed. Fruit: Reddish-black, juicy "berries" (drupes).
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist soil; open situation.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, and westward
2,000 miles.

Flowers far less beautiful than these flat-spread, misty
clusters, that are borne in such profusion along the country lane
and meadow hedgerows in June, are brought from the ends of the
earth to adorn our over-conventional gardens. Certain European
relatives, with golden or otherwise variegated foliage that looks
sickly after the first resplendent outburst in spring, receive
places of honor with monotonous frequency in American shrubbery

Like the wild carrot among all the umbel-bearers, and the daisy
among the horde of composites, the elder flower has massed its
minute florets together, knowing that there was no hope of
attracting insect friends, except in such union. Where clumps of
elder grow - and society it ever prefers to solitude - few
shrubs, looked at from above, which, of course, is the winged
insect's point of view, offer a better advertisement. There are
people who object to the honey-like odor of the flowers.
Doubtless this is what most attracts the flies and beetles, while
the lesser bees, that frequent them also, are more strongly
appealed to through the eye. No nectar rewards visitors,
consequently butterflies rarely stop on the flat clusters; but
there is an abundant lunch of pollen for such as like it. Each
minute floret has its five anthers so widely spread away from the
stigmas that self-pollination is impossible; but with the help of
small, winged pollen carriers plenty of cross-fertilized fruit
forms. With the help of migrating birds, the minute nutlets
within the "berries" are distributed far and wide.

When clusters of dark, juicy fruit make the bush top-heavy, it
is, of course, no part of their plan to be gathered into pails,
crushed and boiled and fermented into the spicy elderberry wine
that is still as regularly made in some old-fashioned kitchens as
currant jelly and pickled peaches. Both flowers and fruit have
strong medicinal properties. Snuffling children are not loath to
swallow sugar pills moistened with the homeopathic tincture of
Sambucus. The common European species (S. nigra), a mystic plant,
was once employed to cure every ill that flesh is heir to; not
only that, but, when used as a switch, it was believed to check a
lad's growth. Very likely! Every whittling schoolboy knows how
easy it is to remove the white pith from an elder stem. An
ancient musical instrument, the sambuca, was doubtless made from
many such hollow reed-like sticks properly attuned.

A more woody species than the common elder, whose stems are so
green it is scarcely like a true shrub, is the very beautiful
RED-BERRIED or MOUNTAIN ELDER (S. pubens), found in rocky places,
especially in uplands and high altitudes, from the British
Possessions north of us to Georgia on the Atlantic Coast, and to
California on the Pacific. Coming into bloom in April or May, it
produces numerous flower clusters which are longer than broad,
pyramidal rather than flat-topped. They turn brown when drying.
In young twigs the pith is reddish-brown, not white as in the
common elder. Birds with increased families to feed in June are
naturally attracted by the bright red fruit; and while they may
not distribute the stones over so vast an area as autumn migrants
do those of the fall berries, they nevertheless have enabled the
shrub to travel across our continent.

  (Viburnum alnifolium; V. lantanoides of Gray)  Honeysuckle

Flowers - In loose, compound, flat, terminal clusters, 3 to 5 in.
across; the outer, showy, white flowers each about 1 in. across,
neutral; inner ones very much smaller, perfect. Calyx 5-parted;
corolla 5-lobed; 5 stamens; 3 stigmas. Stem: A widely and
irregularly branching shrub, sometimes 10 ft. high; the young
twigs rusty scurfy. Leaves: Opposite, rounded or broadly ovate,
pointed at the tip, finely saw-edged, unevenly divided by midrib,
scurfy on veins beneath. Fruit: Not edible, berry-like, at first
coral-red, afterward darker.
Preferred Habitat - Cool, low, moist woods.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - North Carolina and Michigan, far northward.

Widespread, irregular clusters of white bloom, that suggest heads
of hydrangea whose plan has somehow miscarried, form a very
decorative feature of the woods in May, when the shrubbery in
Nature's garden, as in men's, is in its glory. For what reason
are there two sizes and kinds of flowers in each cluster? Around
the outer margin are large showy shams: they lack the essential
organs, the stamens and pistil; therefore what use are they?
Undoubtedly they are mere advertisements to catch the eye of
passing insects - no small service, however. It is the
inconspicuous little flowers grouped within their circle that
attend to the serious business of life. The shrub found it good
economy to increase the size of the outer row of flowers, even at
the expense of their reproductive organs, simply to add to the
conspicuousness of the clusters, when so many blossoms enter into
fierce competition with them for insect trade. Many beetles,
attracted by the white color, come to feed on pollen, and often
destroy the anthers in their greed. But the lesser bees (Andrena
chiefly), and more flies, whose short tongues easily obtain the
accessible nectar, render constant service. These welcome guests
we have to thank for the clusters of coral-red berries that make
the shrub even more beautiful in September than in May.

Because it sometimes sends its straggling branches downward in
loops that touch the ground and trip up the unwary pedestrian,
who presumably hobbles off in pain, the bush received a name with
which the stumbler will be the last to find fault. From the bark
of the Wayfaring Tree of the Old World (V. lantana), the tips of
whose procumbent branches often take root as they lie on the
ground, is obtained bird-lime. No warm, sticky scales enclose the
buds of our hardy hobble-bush; the only protection for its tender
baby foliage is in the scurfy coat on its twigs; yet with this
thin covering, or without it, the young leaves safely withstand
the intense cold of northern winters.

The chief beauty of the HIGH BUSH-CRANBERRY, CRANBERRY TREE, or
WILD GUELDER-ROSE (V. Opulus) lies in its clusters of bright red,
oval, very acid "berries" (drupes), that are commonly used by
country people as a substitute for the fruit they so closely
resemble. This is a symmetrical, erect, tall, smooth shrub, found
in moist, low ground. Among the Berkshires it grows in
perfection. From New Jersey, Michigan, and Oregon far northward
is its range; also in Europe and Asia. The broadly ovate,
saw-edged, three-lobed leaves are more or less hairy along the
veins on the underside. Like the hobble-bush, this one produces
an outer circle of showy, neutral flowers, as advertisements, on
its peduncled, flat cluster; and small, perfect ones, to
reproduce the species, in June or July. As the flies and small
pollen-collecting bees move rapidly over a corymb to feast on the
layer of nectar freely exposed for their benefit, they usually
cross-fertilize the flowers; for, as Muller pointed out, the
anthers and stigmas of each come in contact with different parts
of the insect's feet or tongue. Beetles, which visit the clusters
in great numbers, often prove destructive visitors. Kerner claims
that nectar is secreted in the leaves of this species, whether in
the two glands that appear at the top of the petioles or not, he
does not say. Of what possible advantage to the plant could such
an arrangement be? Plants, as well as humans, are not in business
for philanthropy.

No garden is complete - was garden ever complete? - without the
beautiful SNOWBALL BUSH, a sterile variety of this shrub, with
whose abundant balls of white flowers everyone is familiar. When
various members of the viburnum and the hydrangea tribes are
cultivated, the corollas of both the small interior flowers and
those in the showy exterior circle become largely developed,
while the reproductive organs of the former gradually become
abortive. The snowball bush rather overdoes its advertising
business; for however attractive its round white masses of
sterile bloom, the effect is of no advantage to itself.

In light, dry, rocky woods, from North Carolina and Minnesota,
far northward, grows the common MAPLE-LEAVED ARROW-WOOD or
DOCKMACKIE (V. acerifolium), which one might easily mistake for a
maple sapling when it is not in flower or fruit. All the blossoms
in its slender peduncled, flat-topped, white clusters are
perfect; none are sterile for advertising purposes merely, as in
the cases of so many of its relatives. The five stamens protrude
from each five-lobed little flower for plain reasons. The
opposite leaves are broadly ovate, three-ribbed, three-lobed,
coarsely toothed, acute at the tip, and, except for their soft
hairiness underneath, are too like maple leaves to be mistaken.
In autumn, when they take on rich tints, and the clusters of
"berries" become first crimson, then nearly black, the shrub is a
delight to see.

To become familiar with one of the Viburnum bushes is to
recognize any member of the tribe when in blossom or fruit, for
all spread more or less flattened, compound cymes of white
flowers in late spring or early summer, followed by red or very
dark "berries" (drupes); but it is on the leaves that we depend
to name a species. The opposite, slender petioled, pale leaves of
the ARROW-WOOD or MEALY-TREE (V. dentalum), have no lobes; but
are ovate, coarsely toothed, pointed at the tip, prominently
pinnately veined. All the flowers in a cyme are perfect; and the
drupes, which are at first blue, become nearly black when fully
ripe. In moist, or even wet, ground, from the Georgia mountains,
western New York, and Minnesota far northward, this smooth,
slender, gray shrub is found. Its wood once furnished the Indians
with arrows.

A much lower growing, but similar, bush, the DOWNY-LEAVED
ARROW-WOOD (V. pubescens), formerly counted a mere variety of the
preceding, may be known by the velvety down on the under side of
its leaves. It grows in rocky, wooded places, often on some high
bank above a stream. Beetles and the less specialized bees visit
the flat-topped flower clusters abundantly in May. Short-tongued
visitors quickly lick up the abundant nectar secreted at the base
of each little style, cross-fertilizing their entertainers as
they journey across the cyme. So widely do the anthers diverge,
that pollen must often drop on the stigma of a neighboring
floret, and quite as often a flower is likely to be
self-fertilized through the curvature of the filaments.

The WITHE-ROD OR APPALACHIAN TEA (V. cassinoides; V. nudum of
Gray) is found in swamps and wet ground from North Carolina and
Minnesota northward, flowering in May or June. Its dense clusters
of perfect, small white flowers, on a rather short peduncle, are
followed by oval "berries" that, although pink at first, soon
turn a dark blue, with a bloom like the huckleberry's. The
opposite, oval to oblong, rather thick, smooth leaves and the
somewhat scurfy twigs help the novice to name this common shrub,
whose tough, pliable branches make excellent binders for farmer's
bundles, but whose leaves cannot be recommended as a substitute
for tea.

Beautiful enough for any gentleman's lawn is the SWEET VIBURNUM,
NANNY-BERRY, SHEEP-BERRY, or NANNY-BUSH, as it is variously
called (V. Lentago). Indeed, its name appears in many
nurserymen's catalogues. From Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri far
northward it grows in rich, moist soil, sometimes attaining the
height of a tree, more frequently that of a good-sized shrub. A
profusion of dense white, broad flower clusters, seated among the
rich green terminal leaves in May, indicate a feast for migrating
birds and hungry beasts, including the omnivorous small boy in
October, when the bluish-black, bloom-covered, sweet, edible
"berries" ripen. A peculiarity of the ovate, long-tapering, and
finely saw-edged leaves is that their long petioles often broaden
out and become wavy margined.

Another Viburnum, with smooth, bluish-black, sweet, and edible
fruit, that ripens a month earlier than the nanny-berry's, is the
similar BLACK HAW, STAG-BUSH or SLOE (V. prunifolium). As its
Latin name indicates, the leaves suggest those of a plum tree. It
is a very early bloomer; the flat-topped white clusters appearing
in April, and lasting through June, in various parts of its range
from the Gulf States to southern New England and Michigan. Unlike
the hobble-bush and the withe-rod, both the nanny-berry and the
black haw have conspicuous winter buds, the latter bush often
clothing its tender undeveloped foliage with warm-looking reddish
down, although few of its naked kin have so southerly a range.


  (Sicyos angulatus)  Gourd family

Flowers - Small, greenish-white, 5-parted, of 2 kinds: staminate
ones in a loose raceme on a very long peduncle; fertile ones
clustered in a little head on a short peduncle. Stem: A climbing
vine with branched tendrils; more or less sticky-hairy. Leaves:
Broad, 5-angled or 5-lobed, heart-shaped at base, rough,
sometimes enormous, on stout petioles. Fruit: From 3 to 10
bur-like, yellowish, prickly seed-vessels in a star-shaped
cluster, each containing one seed.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, shady waste ground; banks of streams.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Quebec to the Gulf States, and westward beyond the

In a damp, shady, waste corner, perhaps the first weed to take
possession is the star cucumber, a poor relation of the musk and
water melons, the squash, cucumber, pumpkin, and gourd of the
garden. Its sole use yet discovered is to screen ugly fences and
rubbish heaps by climbing and trailing luxuriantly over
everything within reach. That it thinks more highly of its own
importance in the world than men do of it, is shown by the
precaution it takes to insure a continuance of its species. By
separating the sexes of its flowers, like Quakers at meeting, it
prevents self-fertilization, and compels its small-winged
visitors to carry the smooth-banded, rough pollen from the
staminate to the tiny pistillate group. By roughening its angled
stem and leaves, it discourages pilfering ants and other crawlers
from reaching the sweets reserved for legitimate benefactors. So
extremely sensitive are the tips of the tendrils that by rubbing
them with the finger they will coil up perceptibly; then
straighten out again if they find they have been deceived, and
that there is no stick for them to twine around. Give them a
stick, however, and the coils remain fixed.

  (Nabalus albus)  Chickory family

Flower-heads - Composite, numerous, greenish or cream white, or
tinged with lilac, fragrant, nodding; borne in loose, open,
narrow terminal, and axillary clusters. Each bell-like flowerhead
only about 1/4 in. across, composed of 8 to 15 ray flowers,
drooping from a cup-like involucre consisting of 8 principal,
colored bracts. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. high, smooth, green or dark
purplish red, leafy, from a tuberous, bitter root. Leaves:
Alternate, variable, sometimes very large, broad, hastate, ovate,
or heart-shaped, wavy-toothed, lobed, or palmately cleft; upper
leaves smaller, lance-shaped, entire.
Preferred Habitat - Woods; rich, moist borders; roadsides.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - Southern Canada to Georgia and Kentucky.

Nodding in graceful, open clusters from the top of a shining
colored stalk, the inconspicuous little bell-like flowers of this
common plant spread their rays to release the branching styles
for contact with pollen-laden visitors. These styles presently
become a bunch of cinnamon-colored hairs, a seed-tassel
resembling a sable paint brush - the principal feature that
distinguishes this species from the smaller-flowered TALL WHITE
LETTUCE (N. altissimus), whose pappus is a light straw color.
Both these plants are most easily recognized when their fluffy,
plumed seeds are waiting for a stiff breeze to waft them to fresh
colonizing ground.


  (Eupatorium perfoliatum)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Composite, the numerous, small, dull, white heads
of tubular florets only, crowded in a scaly involucre and borne
in spreading, flat-topped terminal cymes. Stem: Stout, tall,
branching above, hairy, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, often united at
their bases, or clasping, lance-shaped, saw-edged, wrinkled.
Preferred Habitat - Wet ground, low meadows, roadsides.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - From the Gulf States north to Nebraska, Manitoba,
and New Brunswick.

Frequently, in just such situations as its sister the Joe-Pye
weed selects (q.v.), and with similar intent, the boneset spreads
its soft, leaden-white bloom; but it will be noticed that the
butterflies, which love color, especially deep pinks and magenta,
let this plant alone, whereas beetles, that do not find the
butterfly's favorite, fragrant Joe-Pye weed at all to their
liking, prefer these dull, odorous flowers. Many flies, wasps,
and bees also, get generous entertainment in these tiny florets,
where they feast with the minimum loss of time, each head in a
cluster containing, as it does, from ten to sixteen restaurants.
An ant crawling up the stem is usually discouraged by its hairs
long before reaching the sweets. Sometimes the stem appears to
run through the center of one large leaf that is kinky in the
middle and taper-pointed at both ends, rather than between a pair
of leaves.

An old-fashioned illness known as break-bone fever - doubtless
paralleled to-day by the grippe - once had its terrors for a
patient increased a hundredfold by the certainty he felt of
taking nauseous doses of boneset tea, administered by zealous old
women outside the "regular practice." Children who had to have
their noses held before they would - or, indeed, could - swallow
the decoction, cheerfully munched boneset taffy instead.

The bright white, wide-spread inflorescence of the WHITE
ageratoides) is displayed from July to November in the hope of
getting relief from the fiercest competition for the visits of
butterflies, honey and other small bees, wasps, and flies. From
July to September the vast army of composites appear in such
hopeless predominance that prolonged bloom on the part of any of
their number is surely an advantage. In the rich, moist woods, or
by shady roadsides, where it prefers to dwell, the white sanicle
makes a fine show. Above its fringy bloom how often one sees the
exquisite little lavender-blue butterflies (Lycaena
pseudargiolus) pausing an instant to drain the tiny cups of
nectar, and usually transferring pollen from the protruding
styles (q.v.) as they flit to another cluster.

The opposite, petioled leaves, broadly oval at the base,
taper-pointed, coarsely toothed, three-nerved, and veiny, are
thin and easily skeletonized by the insects that enjoy the leaves
of all this clan of plants. From one to four feet high, the White
Snakeroot grows in the United States and Canada as far west as

Closely allied to the eupatoriums, and with similar
inflorescence, is the CLIMBING BONESET or HEMPWEED (Willughbaeaa
scandens; Mikania scandens of Gray.) Straggling over bushes in
swamps, by the brookside thicket, or in moist, shady roadsides,
the vine reveals its kinship to the boneset instantly it comes
into bloom in midsummer, although its flower clusters are
occasionally pinkish. The opposite, petioled leaves are quite
different from the boneset's, however, being heart-shaped at the
base, and taper-pointed, somewhat triangular, two to four inches
long, and one or two inches wide. From Massachusetts and the
Middle States even to South America and the West Indies is its

  (Aster = a star)  Thistle family

In dry, open woodlands, thickets, and roadsides, from August to
October, we find the dainty WHITE WOOD ASTER (A. divaricatus; A.
corymbosus of Gray) its brittle zig-zag stem two feet high or
less, branching at the top, and repeatedly forked where loose
clusters of flower-heads spread in a broad, rather flat corymb.
Only a few white rays - usually from six to nine - surround the
yellow disk, whose forets soon turn brown. Range from Canada
southward to Tennessee.

First to bloom among the white species, beginning in July, is the
UPLAND WHITE ASTER (A. ptarmicoides), which elects to grow in the
rocky or dry soil of high ground in the northern United States
westward to Colorado. The leaves, which resemble grayish-green
shining grass-blades, arranged alternately up the rigid stem, and
diminishing in size near the top until they become mere bracts
among the flowers, enable us to name the plant. The heads, in a
branching cluster, are not numerous; each measures barely an inch
across its ten to twenty snow-white rays; the center is of a pale
yellow-green, turning a light brown in maturity.

The TALL WHITE or PANICLED ASTER (A. paniculatus), in bloom from
August to October in different parts of its wide range, attracts
great numbers of beetles, which do it more harm than good; but
many more butterflies (some of whose caterpillars feed on aster
foliage as a staple), quantities of flies, some moths, swarms of
bees, wasps, and miscellaneous winged visitors. Professor
Robertson found several thousand callers, representing
ninety-eight distinct species, on this one aster during four
October days. Such popularity as the asters have attained finds
its just reward in the triumphant progress of the lovely tribe
(q.v.). For the amateur to name each member of such a horde is
quite hopeless. In branching, raceme-like clusters, from August
to October, this aster displays its numerous flower-heads, less
than an inch across, each with a green cup formed of four or five
series of overlapping bracts, and many white rays, occasionally
violet tipped. The smooth stem, which rises from two to eight
feet above moist soil, is plentifully set with alternate,
pointed-tipped, lance-shaped leaves, tapering to a sessile or
partly clasping base, and sparingly saw-edged. Its range is from
Montana east to Virginia, south to Louisiana, north to Ontario
and New England.

The bushy little WHITE HEATH ASTER (A. ericoides) every one must
ROSEMARY, or FROSTWEED; for none is commoner in dry soil,
throughout the eastern United States at least. Its smooth, much
branched stem rarely reaches three feet in height, usually it is
not over a foot tall, and its very numerous flower-heads, white
or pink tinged, barely half an inch across, appear in such
profusion from September even to December as to transform it into
a feathery mass of bloom.

Growing like branching wands of golden rod, the DENSE-FLOWERED,
WHITE-WREATHED, or STARRY ASTER (A. multiflorus) bears its minute
flower-heads crowded close along the branches, where many small,
stiff leaves, like miniature pine needles, follow them. Each
flower measures only about a quarter of an inch across. From
Maine to Georgia and Texas westward to Arizona and British
Columbia the common bushy plant lifts its rather erect, curving,
feathery branches perhaps only a foot, sometimes above a man's
head, from August till November, in such dry, open, sterile
ground as the white heath aster also chooses.

No one not a latter-day, structural botanist could see why the
TALL, FLAT-TOP WHITE ASTER (Doellingeria umbella) is now an
outcast from the aster tribe into a separate genus. This common
species of moist soil and swamps has its numerous small heads
(containing ten to fifteen rays each) arranged in large,
terminal, compound clusters (corymbs). The stem, which rises from
two to eight feet, has its long-tapering, alternate leaves, hairy
on the veins beneath and rough margined.

Late in the fall you may hear the rich tone of a Bombilius, one
of the commonest flies seen about flowers, as he darts rapidly
among the white asters. Unless you have been initiated, you may
mistake this fly for a bee. He sings a very similar song and
wears a similar dress; but he is not a very good imitation, after
all, and a little familiarity with him will give you courage to
catch him in your hand if you are quick enough, for he is
incapable of stinging or biting: he can merely make a noise out
of all proportion to his size. He is simply living from hour to
hour, and lays up no store for the winter, enjoying more or less
security from his resemblance to the industrious and dangerous
insect which he imitates.

  (Erigeron annus)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Numerous, daisy-like, about 1/2 in. across; from
40 to 70 long, fine, white rays (or purple- or pink-tinged),
arranged around yellow disk florets in a rough, hemispheric cup
whose bracts overlap. Stem: Erect, to 4 ft. high, branching
above, with spreading, rough hairs. Leaves: Thin, lower ones
ovate, coarsely toothed, petioled; upper ones sessile, becoming
smaller, lance-shaped.
Preferred Habitat: Fields, wasteland, roadsides.
Flowering Season: May-November.
Distribution: Nova Scotia to Virginia, westward to Missouri.

At a glance one knows this flower to be akin to Robin's plantain
(q.v.) the the asters and daisy. A smaller, more delicate
species, with mostly entire leaves and appressed hairs (E.
ramosus; E. strigosum of Gray) has a similar range and season of
bloom. Both soon grow hoary-headed after they have been
fertilized by countless insects crawling over them (Erigeron =
early old). That either of these plants, or the pinkish,
small-flowered, strong-scented SALT-MARSH FLEABANE (Pluchea
camphorata), drive away fleas, is believed only by those who have
not used them dried, reduced to powder, and sprinkled in kennels,
from which, however, they have been known to drive away dogs.

  (Baccharis halimifolia)  Thistle family

Flower-heads: White or yellowish tubular florets, 1 to 5 in
peduncled clusters. Staminate and pistillate clusters on
different shrubs; the former almost round at first, the latter
conspicuous only when seeding; then their pappus is white, and
about 1/3 in. long. Stem: A smooth, branching shrub, 3 to 10 ft.
high. Leaves: Thick, lower ones ovate to wedge-shaped, coarsely
angular-toothed; upper ones smaller, few-toothed or entire.
Preferred Habitat: Salt marshes, tidewater streams, often far
from the coast.
Flowering Season: September-November
Distribution: The Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Texas.

When the little bright white, silky cockades, clustered at the
ends of the branches, appear on a female groundsel-bush in
autumn, our eyes are attracted to the shrub for the first time.
But had not small pollen carriers discovered it weeks before, the
scaly, glutinous cups would hold no charming, plumed seeds ready
to ride on autumn gales. Self-fertilization has been guarded
against by precarious means, but the safest of all devices -
separation of the sexes on distinct plants. These are absolutely
dependent, of course, on insect messengers - not visitors merely.
Bees, which always show less inclination to dally from one
species of flower to another than any other guests, and more
intelligent directness of purpose when out for business are the
groundsel-bush's truest benefactors. This is the only shrub among
the multitudinous composite clan that most of us are ever likely
to see.


  (Anaphalis margaritacea; Antennaria margaritacea of Gray)
Thistle family

Flower-heads - Numerous pearly-white scales of the involucre
holding tubular florets only; borne in broad, rather flat,
compound corymbs at the summit. Stem: Cottony, to 3 ft. high,
leafy to the top. Leaves: Upper ones small, narrow, linear; lower
ones broader, lance-shaped, rolled backward, more or less woolly
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, hillsides, open woods, uplands.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - North Carolina, Kansas, and California, far north.

When the small, white, overlapping scales of an everlasting's
oblong involucre expand stiff and straight, each pert little
flower-head resembles nothing so much as a miniature pond lily,
only what would be a lily's yellow stamens are in this case the
true flowers, which become brown in drying. It will be noticed
that these tiny florets, so well protected in the center, are of
two different kinds, separated on distinct heads: the female
florets with a tubular, five-cleft corolla, a two-cleft style,
and a copious pappus of hairy bristles; the staminate, or male,
florets more slender, the anthers tailed at the base.
Self-fertilization being, of course, impossible under such an
arrangement, the florets are absolutely dependent upon little
winged pollen carriers, whose sweet reward is well protected for
them from pilfering ants by the cottony substance on the wiry
stem, a device successfully employed by thistles also (q.v.).

An imaginary blossom that never fades has been the dream of poets
from Milton's day; but seeing one, who loves it? Our amaranth has
the aspect of an artificial flower - stiff, dry, soulless, quite
in keeping with the decorations on the average farmhouse
mantelpiece. Here it forms the most uncheering of winter
bouquets, or a wreath about flowers made from the lifeless hair
of some dear departed.

In open, rocky places, moist or dry, the CLAMMY EVERLASTING,
SWEET BALSAM, OR WINGED CUDWEED (Gnaphalium decurrens) prefers to
dwell. A wholesome fragrance, usually mingled with that of sweet
fern, pervades its neighborhood. Its yellowish-white little
flower-heads clustered at the top of an erect stem, and its pale
sage-green leaves, densely woolly beneath, the lower ones seeming
to run along the stem, need no further description: every one
knows the common everlasting. Its right to the Greek generic
name, meaning a lock of wool, no one will dispute. From
Pennsylvania and Arizona, north to Nova Scotia and British
Columbia, its amaranthine flowers are displayed from July to
September, the staminate and the pistillate heads on distinct
plants. Many insect visitors approach the flowers; some, like the
bees, are working for them in transferring pollen; others, like
the ants, which are trying to steal nectar, usually getting
killed on the sticky, cottony stem; and, hovering near, ever
conspicuous among the larger visitors, is the beautiful hunter's
butterfly (Pyrameis huntera), to be distinguished from its sister
the painted lady, always seen about thistles, by the two large
eye-like spots on the under side of the hind wings. What are
these butterflies doing about their chosen plants? Certainly the
minute florets of the everlasting offer no great inducements to a
creature that lives only on nectar. But that cocoon, compactly
woven with silk and petals, which hangs from the stem, tells the
story of the hunter's butterfly's presence. A brownish-drab
chrysalis, or a slate-colored and black-banded little caterpillar
with tufts of hairs on its back, and pretty red and white dots on
the dark stripes, shows our butterfly in the earlier stages of
its existence, when the everlastings form its staple diet.

When the hepatica, arbutus, saxifrage, and adder's tongue are
running for first place among the earliest spring flowers,
another modest little competitor joins the race - the DWARF
EVERLASTING (Antennaria plantaginifolia), also known as
different parts of its wide range, rocky fields, hillsides, and
dry, open woods are whitened with broad patches of it, formed by
runners; the fertile plants from six to eighteen inches high; the
male plants, in distinct patches, smaller throughout. At the base
the tufted leaves, which are green on the upper side, but silvery
beneath, often woolly when young, are broadly oval or spatulate,
the upper leaves oblong to lance-shaped, seated on the woolly
stem. Charming little rosettes remain all winter, ready to send
up the first flowers displayed by the vast host of composites.
Several little heads of fertile florets, resembling tufts of
silvery-white silk, are set in pale-greenish cups in a broad
cluster at the top of the stem; the staminate florets in whiter
cups with more rounded scales. Small bees, chiefly those of the
Andrena and Halictus tribe, and many flies, attend to
transferring pollen. Our friend, the hunter's butterfly, also
hovers near. Range from Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico, westward
to Nebraska.

  (Achillea Millefolium)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Grayish-white, rarely pinkish, in a hard, close,
flat-topped, compound cluster. Ray florets 4 to 6, pistillate,
fertile; disk florets yellow, afterward brown, perfect, fertile.
Stem: Erect, from horizontal rootstalk, 1 to 2 ft. high, leafy,
sometimes hairy. Leaves: Very finely dissected (Millefolium =
thousand leaf), narrowly oblong in outline.
Preferred Habitat - Waste land, dry fields, banks, roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-November.
Distribution - Naturalized from Europe and Asia throughout North

Everywhere this commonest of common weeds confronts us; the
compact, dusty-looking clusters appearing not by waysides only,
around the world, but in the mythology, folklore, medicine, and
literature of many peoples. Chiron, the centaur, who taught its
virtues to Achilles that he might make an ointment to heal his
Myrmidons wounded in the siege of Troy, named the plant for this
favorite pupil, giving his own to the beautiful blue corn-flower
(Centaurea Cyanus). As a love-charm; as an herb-tea brewed by
crones to cure divers ailments, from loss of hair to the ague; as
an inducement to nosebleed for the relief of congestive headache;
as an ingredient of an especially intoxicating beer made by the
Swedes, it is mentioned in old books. Nowadays we are satisfied
merely to admire the feathery masses of lace-like foliage formed
by young plants, to whiff the wholesome, nutty, autumnal odor of
its flowers, or to wonder at the marvelous scheme it employs to
overrun the earth.

Like the daisy, each small flower in a cluster, as symmetrically
arranged as brain coral, is made up of a large number of minute
but perfect florets, suited to attract insects by making a better
show than each could do alone, and by offering them accessible
feeding places close together, where they may feast with minimum
loss of time. Simultaneous cross-fertilization of many florets
must be effected by every visitor crawling over a cluster. The
florets in each disk open in regular array toward the centers. At
the expense of stamens, which are absent in the grayish-white ray
florets, they have attained their development, another instance
of "progress by loss" from the evolutionary standpoint. By
prolonging its season of bloom to get relief from the fierce
competition for insect visitors in midsummer; by increase through
seeds, and runners too; by contenting itself with neglected
corners of the earth, the yarrow gives us many valuable lessons
on how to succeed.


  (Anthemis Cotula; Maruta Cotula of Gray)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Like smaller daisies, about 1 in. broad; 10 to 18
white, notched, neutral ray florets around a convex or conical
yellow disk, whose florets are fertile, containing both stamens
and pistil, their tubular corollas 5-cleft. Stem: Smooth, much
branched, 1 to 2 ft. high, leafy, with unpleasant odor and acrid
taste. Leaves: Very finely dissected into slender segments.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, dry wasteland, sandy fields.
Flowering Season - June-November.
Distribution - Throughout North America, except in circumpolar

"Naturalized from Europe, and widely distributed as a weed in
Asia, Africa, and Australasia" (Britton and Brown's "Flora").
Little wonder the camomile encompasses the earth, for it imitates
the triumphant daisy, putting into practice those business
methods of the modern department store, by which the composite
horde have become the most successful strugglers for survival.

The unpleasant odor given forth by this bushy little plant repels
bees and other highly organized insects; not so flies, which, far
from objecting to a fetid smell, are rather attracted by it. They
visit the camomile in such numbers as to be the chief
fertilizers. As the development of bloom proceeds toward the
center, the disk becomes conical, to present the newly opened
florets, where a fly alighting on it must receive pollen, to be
transferred as he crawls and flies to another head. After
fertilization the white rays droop. Dog, used as a prefix by
several of the plant's folk names, implies contempt for its
worthlessness. It is quite another species, the GARDEN CAMOMILE
(A. nobilis) which furnishes the apothecary with those flowers
which, when steeped into a bitter aromatic tea, have been
supposed for generations to make a superior tonic and blood

Not so common a plant here, but almost as widespread as the
preceding species, is the similar, but not fetid, CORN or FIELD
CAMOMILE (A. arvensis), a pest to European farmers. Both are
closely related to the garden FEVERFEW, FEATHERFEW, OR PELLITORY
(Chrysanthemum Parthenium), which escapes from cultivation
whenever it can into waste fields and roadsides.


  (Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Disk florets yellow, tubular, 4 or 5 toothed,
containing stamens and pistil; surrounded by white ray florets,
which are pistillate, fertile. Stem: Smooth, rarely branched, to
3 ft. high. Leaves: Mostly oblong in outline, coarsely toothed
and divided.
Preferred Habitat - Meadows, pastures, roadsides, wasteland.
Flowering Season - May-November.
Distribution - Throughout the United States and Canada; not so
common in the South and West.

Myriads and myriads of daisies, whitening our fields as if a
belated blizzard had covered them with a snowy mantle in June,
fill the farmer with dismay, the flower-lover with rapture. When
vacation days have come; when chains and white-capped old women
are to be made of daisies by happy children turned out of
schoolrooms into meadows; when pretty maids, like Goethe's
Marguerite, tell their fortunes by the daisy "petals;" when music
bubbles up in a cascade of ecstasy from the throats of bobolinks
nesting among the daisies, timothy, and clover; when the blue sky
arches over the fairest scenes the year can show, and all the
world is full of sunshine and happy promises of fruition, must we
Americans always go to English literature for a song to fit our
joyous mood?

     "When daisies pied, and violets blue,
        And lady-smocks all silver white,
      And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
        Do paint the meadows with delight-"

sang Shakespeare. His lovely suggestion of an English spring
recalls no familiar picture to American minds. No more does

     "Wee, modest crimson-tippit flower."

Shakespeare, Burns, Chaucer, Wordsworth, and all the British
poets who have written familiar lines about the daisy, extolled a
quite different flower from ours - Bellis perennis, the little
pink and white blossom that hugs English turf as if it loved it -
the true day's-eye, for it closes at nightfall and opens with the

Now, what is the secret of the large, white daisy's triumphal
conquest of our territory? A naturalized immigrant from Europe
and Asia, how could it so quickly take possession? In the
over-cultivated Old World no weed can have half the chance for
unrestricted colonizing that it has in our vast unoccupied area.
Most of our weeds are naturalized foreigners, not natives. Once
released from the harder conditions of struggle at home (the
seeds being safely smuggled in among the ballast of freight
ships, or hay used in packing), they find life here easy,
pleasant; as if to make up for lost time, they increase a
thousandfold. If we look closely at a daisy - and a lens is
necessary for any but the most superficial acquaintance - we
shall see that, far from being a single flower, it is literally a
host in itself. Each of the so-called white "petals" is a female
floret, whose open corolla has grown large, white, and showy, to
aid its sisters in advertising for insect visitors - a prominence
gained only by the loss of its stamens. The yellow center is
composed of hundreds of minute tubular florets huddled together
in a green cup as closely as they can be packed. Inside each of
these tiny yellow tubes stand the stamens, literally putting
their heads together. As the pistil within the ring of stamens
develops and rises through their midst, two little hair brushes
on its tip sweep the pollen from their anthers as a rounded brush
would remove the soot from a lamp chimney. Now the pollen is
elevated to a point where any insect crawling over the floret
must remove it. The pollen gone, the pistil now spreads its two
arms, that were kept tightly closed together while any danger of
self-fertilization lasted. Their surfaces become sticky, that
pollen brought from another flower may adhere to them. Notice
that the pistils in the white ray florets have no hairbrushes on
their tips, because, no stamens being there, there is no pollen
to be swept out. Because daisies are among the most conspicuous
of flowers, and have facilitated dining for their visitors by
offering them countless cups of refreshment that may be drained
with a minimum loss of time, almost every insect on wings alights
on them sooner or later. In short, they run their business on the
principle of a cooperative department store. Immense quantities
of the most vigorous, because cross-fertilized, seed being set in
every patch, small wonder that our fields are white with daisies
- a long and a merry life to them!

Since all flowers must once have passed through a white stage
before attaining gay colors, so evolution teaches, it is not
surprising that occasional reversions to the white type should be
found even among the brightest-hued species. Again, some white
flowers which are in a transition state show aspirations after
color, often so marked in individuals as to mislead one into
believing them products of a far advanced colored type. Also,
pale colors blanch under a summer sun. These facts must be borne
in mind, and the blue, pink, and yellow blossoms should be
investigated before the reader despairs of identifying a flower
not found in the white group.


"All variations which render the blossoms more attractive, either
by scent, color, size of corolla, or quantity of nectar, make the
insect visit more sure, and therefore the production of seed more
likely. Thus, the conspicuous blossoms secure descendants which
inherit the special variations of their parents, and so,
generation after generation, we have selections in favor of
conspicuous flowers, where insects are at work. Their
appreciation of color, because it has brought the blossom
possessing it more immediately into their view, and more surely
under their attention, has enabled them, through the ages, to be
preparing the specimens upon which man now operates, he taking up
the work where they have left it, selecting, inoculating, and
hybridizing, according to his own rules of taste, and developing
a beauty which insects alone could never have evolved. His are
the finishing touches, his the apparent effects, yet no less is
it true, that the results of his floriculture would never have
been attainable without insect helpers. It is equally certain,
that the beautiful perfume, and the nectar also, are, in their
present development, the outcome of repeated insect selection,
and here, it seems to me, we get an inkling of a deep mystery:
Why is life, in all its forms, so dependent upon the fusion of
two individual elements? Is it not, that thus the door of
progress has been opened? If each alone had reproduced, itself
all-in-all, advance would have been impossible, the insect and
human florists and pomologists, like the improvers of animal
races, would have had no platform for their operation, and not
only the forms of life, but life itself would have been
stereotyped unalterably, ever mechanically giving repetition to
identical phenomena." - Frank R. Cheshire in "Bees and


  (Orontium aquaticum)  Arum family

Flowers - Bright yellow, minute, perfect, crowded on a spadix
(club) 1 to 2 in. long; the scape, 6 in. to 2 ft. tall, flattened
just below it; the club much thickened in fruit. Leaves: All from
root, petioled, oblong-elliptic, dull green above, pale
underneath, 5 to 12 in. long, floating or erect.
Preferred Habitat - Shallow ponds, standing water, swamps.
Flowering Season - April-May.
Distribution - New England to the Gulf States, mostly near the

A first cousin of cruel Jack-in-the-pulpit, the skunk cabbage,
and the water-arum (q.v.), a poor relation also of the calla
lily, the golden club seems to be denied part of its tribal
inheritance - the spathe, corresponding to the pulpit in which
Jack preaches, or to the lily's showy white skirt. In the
tropics, where the lily grows, where insect life teems in myriads
and myriads, and competition among the flowers for their visits
is infinitely more keen than here, she has greater need to flaunt
showy clothes to attract benefactors than her northern relatives.
But the golden club, which looks something like a calla stripped
of her lovely white robe, has not lacked protection for its
little buds from the cold spring winds while any was needed. By
the time we notice the plant in bloom, however, its bract-like
spathe has usually fallen away, as if conscious that the pretty
mosaic club of golden florets, so attractive in itself, was quite
able to draw all the visitors needed without further help. Merely
by crawling over the clubs, flies and midges cross-fertilize

  (Uvularia perfoliala)  Bunch-flower family

Flowers - Fragrant, pale yellow, about 1 in. long, drooping
singly (rarely 2) from tips of branches; perianth narrow,
bell-shaped, of 6 petal-like segments, rough within, spreading at
the tip; 6 stamens; 3 styles united to the middle. Stem: 6 to 20
in. high, smooth, shining, forking about half way. Leaves:
Apparently strung on the slender stem, oval, tapering at tip.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, rich woods; thickets.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, west to Mississippi.

Hanging like a palate (uvula) from the roof of a mouth, according
to imaginative Linnaeus, the little bellwort droops, and so
modestly hides behind the leaf its footstalk pierces that the eye
often fails to find it when so many more showy blossoms arrest
attention in the May woods. Slight fragrance helps to guide the
keen bumblebee to the pale yellow bell. The tips spreading apart
very little and the flower being pendent, how is she to reach the
nectar secreted at the base of each of its six divisions? Is it
not more than probable that the inner surface is rough, as if
dusted with yellow meal, to provide a foothold for her as she
clings? Now securely hanging from within the inhospitable flower,
her long tongue can easily drain the sweets, and in doing so she
will receive pollen, to be deposited, in all probability, on the
stigmatic style branches of the next bellwort entered.

With a more westerly range than the perfoliate species, the
similar LARGE-FLOWERED BELLWORT (U. grandiflora) grows in like
situations. Its greenish lemon-yellow flowers, an inch to an inch
and a half long, appear from April to May, or when the female
bumblebees, that fly before their lords, are the only insects
large and strong enough to force an entrance. Mr. Trelease, who
noted them on the flowers near Madison, Wisconsin, saw that one
laden with pollen from another blossom came in contact with the
three sticky branches of the style, protruding between the
anthers, when she crawled between the anthers and sepals, as she
must, to reach the nectar secreted at the base. But the linear
anthers shedding their pollen longitudinally, there is a chance
that the flower may fertilize itself should no bee arrive before
a certain point is reached.

The SESSILE-LEAVED BELLWORT, or WILD OAT (U. sessifolia), as its
name implies, has its thin, pale green leaves tapering at either
end, seated on the stem, not surrounding it, or apparently strung
on it. The smaller flower is cream colored. A sharply
three-angled capsule about an inch long follows. Range from
Minnesota and Arkansas to the Atlantic.

 (Lilium Canadense)  Lily family

Flowers - Yellow to orange-red, of a deeper shade within, and
speckled with dark reddish-brown dots. One or several (rarely
many) nodding on long peduncles from the summit. Perianth
bell-shaped, of 6 spreading segments 2 to 3 in. long, their tips
curved backward to the middle; 6 stamens, with reddish-brown
linear anthers; 1 pistil, club-shaped; the stigma 3-lobed. Stem:
2 to 5 ft. tall, leafy, from a bulbous rootstock composed of
numerous fleshy white scales. Leaves: Lance-shaped, to oblong;
usually in whorls of fours to tens, or some alternate. Fruit: An
erect, oblong, 3-celled capsule, the flat, horizontal seeds
packed in 2 rows in each cavity.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, low meadows; moist fields. Flowering
Season - June-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Georgia, westward beyond the

Not our gorgeous lilies that brighten the low-lying meadows in
early summer with pendent, swaying bells; possibly not a true
lily at all was chosen to illustrate the truth which those who
listened to the Sermon on the Mount, and we, equally anxious,
foolishly overburdened folk of to-day, so little comprehend.

     "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
        they toil not, neither do they spin
      And yet I say unto you,
      That even Solomon in all his glory
        was not arrayed like one of these."

Opinions differ as to the lily of Scripture. Eastern peoples use
the same word interchangeably for the tulip, anemone, ranunculus,
iris, the water-lilies, and those of the field. The superb
Scarlet Martagon Lily (L. chalcedonicum), grown in gardens here,
is not uncommon wild in Palestine; but whoever has seen the large
anemones there "carpeting every plain and luxuriantly pervading
the land" is inclined to believe that Jesus, who always chose the
most familiar objects in the daily life of His simple listeners
to illustrate His teachings, rested His eyes on the slopes about
Him glowing with anemones in all their matchless loveliness. What
flower served Him then matters not at all. It is enough that
scientists - now more plainly than ever before - see the
universal application of the illustration the more deeply they
study nature, and can include their "little brothers of the air"
and the humblest flower at their feet when they say with Paul,
"In God we live and move and have our being."

Tallest and most prolific of bloom among our native lilies, as it
is the most variable in color, size, and form, the TURK'S CAP, or
TURBAN LILY (L. superburn), sometimes nearly merges its identity
into its Canadian sister's. Travelers by rail between New York
and Boston know how gorgeous are the low meadows and marshes in
July or August, when its clusters of deep yellow, orange, or
flame-colored lilies tower above the surrounding vegetation. Like
the color of most flowers, theirs intensifies in salt air.
Commonly from three to seven lilies appear in a terminal group;
but under skilful cultivation even forty will crown the stalk
that reaches a height of nine feet where its home suits it
perfectly; or maybe only a poor array of dingy yellowish caps top
a shriveled stem when unfavorable conditions prevail. There
certainly are times when its specific name seems extravagant.

Its range is from Maine to the Carolinas, westward to Minnesota
and Tennessee. A well-conducted Turk's cap is not bell-shaped at
maturity, like the Canada lily: it should open much farther,
until the six points of its perianth curve so far backward beyond
the middle as to expose the stamens for nearly their entire
length. One of the purple-dotted divisions of the flower when
spread out flat may measure anywhere from two and a half to four
inches in length. Smooth, lance-shaped leaves, tapering at both
ends, occur in whorls of threes to eights up the stem, or the
upper ones may be alternate. Abundant food, hidden in a round,
white-shingled storehouse under ground, nourishes the plant, and
similarly its bulb-bearing kin, when emergency may require - a
thrifty arrangement that serves them in good stead during
prolonged drought and severe winters.

Why, one may ask, are some lilies radiantly colored and speckled;
others, like the Easter lily, deep chaliced, white, spotless?
Now, in all our lily kin nectar is secreted in a groove at the
base of each of the six divisions of the flower, and upon its
removal by that insect best adapted to come in contact with
anthers and stigma as it flies from lily to lily depends all hope
of perpetuating the lovely race. For countless ages it has been
the flower's business to find what best pleased the visitors on
whom so much depended. Some lilies decided to woo one class of
insects; some, another. Those which literally set their caps for
color-loving bees and butterflies whose long tongues could easily
drain nectar deeply hidden from the mob for their special
benefit, assumed gay hues, speckling the inner side of their
spreading divisions, even providing lines as pathfinders to their
nectaries in some cases, lest a visitor try to thrust in his
tongue between the petal-like parts while standing on the
outside, and so defeat their well-laid plan. It is almost
pathetic to see how bright and spotted they are inside, that the
visitor may not go astray. Thus we find the chief pollenizers of
the Canada and the Turk's cap lilies to be specialized bees, the
interesting upholsterers, or 1eaf-cutters, conspicuous among the
throng. Nectar they want, of course; but the dark, rich pollen is
needed also to mix with it for the food supply of a generation
still unborn. Anyone who has smelled a lily knows how his nose
looks afterward. The bees have no difficulty whatever in removing
lily pollen and transferring it. So much for the colored lilies.

The long, white, trumpet-shape type of lily chooses for her lover
the sphinx moth. For him she wears a spotless white robe -
speckles would be superfluous - that he may see it shine in the
dusk, when colored flowers melt into the prevailing blackness;
for him she breathes forth a fragrance almost overwhelming at
evening, to guide him to her neighborhood from afar; in
consideration of his very long, slender tongue she hides her
sweets so deep that none may rob him of it, taking the additional
precaution to weld her six once separate parts together into a
solid tube lest any pilferer thrust in his tongue from the side.

The common orange-tan DAY LILY (Hemerocallis fulva) and the
commoner speckled, orange-red TIGER LILY (L. tigrinum) are not
slow in seizing opportunities to escape from gardens into
roadsides and fence corners.

  (Erythronium Americanum)  Lily family

Flower - Solitary, pale russet yellow, rarely tinged with purple,
slightly fragrant, 1 to 2 in. long, nodding from the summit of a
footstalk 6 to 12 in. high, or about as tall as the leaves.
Perianth bell-shaped, of 6 petal-like, distinct segments,
spreading at tips, dark spotted within; 6 stamens; the
club-shaped style with 3 short, stigmatic ridges. Leaves: 2,
unequal, grayish green, mottled and streaked with brown or all
green, oblong, 3 to 8 in. long, narrowing into clasping petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Moist open woods and thickets, brooksides.
Flowering Season - March-May
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, westward to the

Colonies of these dainty little lilies, that so often grow beside
leaping brooks where and when the trout hide, justify at least
one of their names; but they have nothing in common with the
violet or a dog's tooth. Their faint fragrance rather suggests a
tulip; and as for the bulb, which in some of the lily-kin has
tooth-like scales, it is in this case a smooth, egg-shaped corm,
producing little round offsets from its base. Much fault is also
found with another name on the plea that the curiously mottled
and delicately pencilled leaves bring to mind, not a snake's
tongue, but its skin, as they surely do. Whoever sees the sharp
purplish point of a young plant darting above ground in earliest
spring, however, at once sees the fitting application of adder's
tongue. But how few recognize their plant friends at all seasons
of the year!

Every one must have noticed the abundance of low-growing spring
flowers in deciduous woodlands, where, later in the year, after
the leaves overhead cast a heavy shade, so few blossoms are to be
found, because their light is seriously diminished. The thrifty
adder's tongue, by laying up nourishment in its storeroom
underground through the winter, is ready to send its leaves and
flower upward to take advantage of the sunlight the still naked
trees do not intercept, just as soon as the ground thaws. But the
spring beauty, the rue-anemone, bloodroot, toothwort, and the
first blue violet (palmata) among other early spring flowers,
have not been slow to take advantage of the light either. Fierce
competition, therefore, rages among them to secure visits from
the comparatively few insects then flying - a competition so
severe that the adder's tongue often has to wait until afternoon
for the spring beauty to close before receiving a single caller.
Hive-bees, and others only about half their size, of the Andrena
and Halictus clans, the first to fly, the Bombylius frauds, and
common yellow butterflies, come in numbers then. Guided by the
speckles to the nectaries at the base of the flower, they must
either cling to the stamens and style while they suck, or fall
out. Thus cross-fertilization is commonly effected; but in the
absence of insects the lily can fertilize itself. Crawling
pilferers rarely think it worthwhile to slip and slide up the
smooth footstalk and risk a tumble where it curves to allow the
flower to nod - the reason why this habit of growth is so
popular. The adder's tongue, which is extremely sensitive to the
sunlight, will turn on its stalk to follow it, and expand in its
warmth. At night it nearly closes.

A similar adder's tongue, bearing a white flower, purplish tinged
on the outside, yellow at the base within to guide insects to the
nectaries, is the WHITE ADDER'S TONGUE (E. albidum), rare in the
Eastern States, but quite common westward as far as Texas and

  (Clintonia borealis)  Lily-of-the-valley family

Flowers - Straw color or greenish yellow, less than 1 in. long, 3
to 6 nodding on slender pedicels from the summit of a leafless
scape 6 to 15 in. tall. Perianth of 6 spreading divisions, the 6
stamens attached; style, 3-lobed. Leaves: Dark, glossy, large,
oval to oblong, 2 to 5 (usually 3), sheathing at the base. Fruit.
Oval blue berries on upright pedicels.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, rich, cool woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - From the Carolinas and Wisconsin far northward.

To name canals, bridges, city thoroughfares, booming factory
towns after DeWitt Clinton seems to many appropriate enough; but
why a shy little woodland flower? As fitly might a wee white
violet carry down the name of Theodore Roosevelt to posterity!
"Gray should not have named the flower from the Governor of New
York," complains Thoreau. "What is he to the lovers of flowers in
Massachusetts? If named after a man, it must be a man of
flowers." So completely has Clinton, the practical man of
affairs, obliterated Clinton, the naturalist, from the popular
mind, that, were it not for this plant keeping his memory green,
we should be in danger of forgetting the weary, overworked
governor, fleeing from care to the woods and fields; pursuing in
the open air the study which above all others delighted and
refreshed him; revealing in every leisure moment a too-often
forgotten side of his many-sided greatness.

 (Medeola Virginiana)  Lily-of-the-valley family

Flowers - Greenish yellow, on fine, curving footstalks, in a
loose cluster above a circle of leaves. Perianth of 6 wide-spread
divisions about 1/4 in. long; 6 reddish-brown stamens; 3 long
reddish-brown styles, stigmatic on inner side. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2
ft. high, unbranched, cottony when young. Leaves: Of flowering
plants, in 2 whorls; lower whorl of 5 to 9 large, thin, oblong,
taper-pointed leaves above the middle of stem; upper whorl of 3
to 5 small, oval, pointed leaves 1 to 2 in. long, immediately
under flowers. Flowerless plants with a whorl at summit. Fruit:
Round, dark-purple berries.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia and Minnesota, southward nearly to the
Gulf of Mexico.

Again we see the leaves of a plant coming to the aid of otherwise
inconspicuous flowers to render them more attractive. By placing
themselves in a circle just below these little spidery blossoms
of weak and uncertain coloring, some of the Indian cucumber's
leaves certainly make them at least noticeable, if not showy. It
would be short-sighted philanthropy on the leaves' part to help
the flowers win insect wooers at the expense of the plant's
general health; therefore those in the upper whorl are fewer and
much smaller than the leaves in the lower circle, and a
sufficient length of stem separates them to allow the sunlight
and rain to conjure with the chlorophyll in the group below.
While there is a chance of nectar being pilfered from the flowers
by ants, the stem is cottony and ensnares their feet. In
September, when small clusters of dark-purple berries replace the
flowers, and rich tints dye the leaves, the plant is truly
beautiful - of course to invite migrating birds to disperse its
seeds. It is said the Indians used to eat the horizontal, white,
fleshy rootstock, which has a flavor like a cucumber's.

  (Smilax herbacea)  Smilax family

Flowers - Carrion-scented, yellowish-green, 15 to 80 small,
6-parted ones clustered in an umbel on a long peduncle. Stem:
Smooth, unarmed, climbing with the help of tendril-like
appendages from the base of leafstalks. Leaves: Egg-shaped,
heart-shaped, or rounded, pointed tipped, parallel-nerved,
petioled. Fruit: Bluish-black berries.
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil, thickets, woods, roadside fences.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Northern Canada to the Gulf States, westward to

"It would be safe to say," says John Burroughs, "that there is a
species of smilax with an unsavory name, that the bee does not
visit, herbacea. The production of this plant is a curious freak
of nature.... It would be a cruel joke to offer it to any person
not acquainted with it, to smell. It is like the vent of a
charnel-house." (Thoreau compared its odor to that of a dead rat
in a wall!) "It is first cousin to the trilliums, among the
prettiest of our native wild flowers," continues Burroughs, "and
the same bad blood crops out in the purple trillium or

Strange that so close an observer as Burroughs or Thoreau should
not have credited the carrion-flower with being something more
intelligent than a mere repellent freak! Like the purple trillium
(q.v.), it has deliberately adapted itself to please its
benefactors, the little green flesh flies so commonly seen about
untidy butcher shops in summer. These, sharing with many beetles
the unthankful task of removing putrid flesh and fowl from the
earth, acting the part of scavengers for nature, are naturally
attracted to carrion-scented flowers. Of these they have an
ungrudged monopoly. But the purple trillium has an additional
advantage in both smelling and looking like the same thing - a
piece of raw meat past its prime. Bees and butterflies, with
their highly developed aesthetic sense, ever delighting in
beautiful colors, perfume, and nectar, naturally let such flowers
as these alone - another object aimed at by them, for then the
flies get all the pollen they can eat. Some they transfer, of
course, from the larger staminate flowers to the smaller
pistillate ones as they crawl over one umbel of the
carrion-flower, then alight on another.

Presently fruit begins to set, and we can approach the luxuriant
vine without offence to our noses. The beautiful glossy green
foliage takes on resplendent tints in early autumn - again with
interested motives, for are there not seeds within the little
bluish-black berries, waiting for the birds to distribute them
during their migration?

rotundifolia), similar to the preceding, except that its
four-angled stem is well armed with green prickles, its beautiful
glossy, decorative leaves are more rounded, and its greenish
flower umbels lack foul odor, scarcely needs description. Who has
not encountered it in the roadside and woodland thickets, where
it defiantly bars the way?

In the most inaccessible part of such a briery tangle, that
rollicking polyglot, the yellow-breasted chat, loves to hide its
nest. Indeed, many birds can say with Br'er Rabbit that they were
"bred en bawn in a brier-patch." Throughout the eastern half of
the United $tates and Upper Canada the catbrier displays its
insignificant little blossoms from April to June for a
miscellaneous lot of flies - insects which are content with the
slightest floral attractions offered. The florist's staple vine
popularly known as "SMILAX" (Myrslphyllum asparagoides), a native
of the Cape of Good Hope, is not even remotely connected with
true Smilaceae.

  (Hypoxis hirsuta; H. erecta of Gray)  Amaryllis family

Flowers - Bright yellow within, greenish and hairy outside, about
1/2 in. across, 6-parted; the perianth divisions spreading,
narrowly oblong; a few flowers at the summit of a rough, hairy
scape 2 to 6 in. high. Leaves: All from an egg-shaped corm;
mostly longer than scapes, slender, grass-like, more or less
Preferred Habitat - Dry, open woods, prairies, grassy waste
places, fields.
Flowering Season - May-October.
Distribution - From Maine far westward, and south to the Gulf of

Usually only one of these little blossoms in a cluster on each
plant opens at a time; but that one peers upward so brightly from
among the grass it cannot well be overlooked. Sitting in a meadow
sprinkled over with these yellow stars, we see coming to them
many small bees - chiefly Halictus - to gather pollen for their
unhatched babies' bread. Of course they do not carry all the
pollen to their tunneled nurseries; some must often be rubbed off
on the sticky pistil tip in the center of other stars. The
stamens radiate, that self-fertilization need not take place
except as a last extremity. Visitors failing, the little flower
closes, bringing its pollen-laden anthers in contact with its own

  (Gemmingia Ciminensis; Pardanthus Chinensis of Gray)  Iris

Flowers - Deep orange color, speckled irregularly with crimson
and purple within (Pardos = leopard; anthos = flower); borne in
terminal, forked clusters. Perianth of 6 oblong, petal-like,
spreading divisions; 6 stamens with linear anthers; style
thickest above, with 3 branches. Stem: 1 1/2 to 4 ft. tall,
leafy. Leaves: Like the iris; erect, folded blades, 8 to 10 in.
long. Fruit: Resembling a blackberry; an erect mass of round,
black, fleshy seeds, at first concealed in a fig-shaped capsule,
whose 3 valves curve backward, and finally drop off.
Preferred habitat - Roadsides and hills.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Connecticut to Georgia, westward to Indiana and

How many beautiful foreign flowers, commonly grown in our gardens
here, might soon become naturalized Americans were we only
generous enough to lift a few plants, scatter a few seeds over
our fences into the fields and roadsides - to raise the bars of
their prison, as it were, and let them free! Many have run away,
to be sure. Once across the wide Atlantic, or wider Pacific,
their passage paid (not sneaking in among the ballast like the
more fortunate weeds), some are doomed to stay in prim, rigidly
cultivated flower beds forever; others, only until a chance to
bolt for freedom presents itself, and away they go. Lucky are
they if every flower they produce is not picked before a single
seed can be set.

This blackberry lily of gorgeous hue originally came from China.
Escaping from gardens here and there, it was first reported as a
wild flower at East Rock, Connecticut; other groups of vagabonds
were met marching along the roadsides on Long Island; near
Suffern, New York; then farther southward and westward, until it
has already attained a very respectable range. Every plant has
some good device for sending its offspring away from home to
found new colonies, if man would but let it alone. Better still,
give the eager travelers a lift!

  (Cypripedium hirsutum; C. pubescens of Gray)  Orchid family

Flower - Solitary, large, showy, borne at the top of a leafy stem
to 2 ft. high. Sepals 3, 2 of them united, greenish or yellowish,
striped with purple or dull red, very long, narrow; 2 petals,
brown, narrower, twisting; the third an inflated sac, open at the
top, 1 to 2 in. long, pale yellow, purple lined white hairs
within; sterile stamen triangular; stigma thick. Leaves: Oval or
elliptic, pointed, 3 to 5 in, long, parallel-nerved, sheathing.
Preferred Habitat - Moist or boggy woods and thickets; hilly
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Alabama, westward to Minnesota and

Swinging outward from a leaf-clasped stem, this orchid attracts
us by its flaunted beauty and decorative form from tip to root,
not less than the aesthetic little bees for which its adornment
and mechanism are so marvelously adapted. Doubtless the heavy,
oily odor is an additional attraction to them. Parallel purplish
lines, converging toward the circular opening of the pale yellow,
inflated pouch, guide the visitor into a spacious banquet-hall
(labellum) such as the pink lady's slipper (q.v.) also entertains
her guests in. Fine hairs within secrete tiny drops of fluid at
their tips - a secretion which hardens into a brittle crust, like
a syrup's, when it dries. Darwin became especially interested in
this flower through a delightful correspondence with Professor
Asa Gray, who was the first to understand it, and he finally
secured a specimen to experiment on.

"I first introduced some flies into the labellum through the
large upper opening," Darwin wrote, "but they were either too
large or too stupid, and did not crawl out properly. I then
caught and placed within the labellum a very small bee which
seemed of about the right size, namely Andrena parvula.... The
bee vainly endeavored to crawl out again the same way it entered,
but always fell backwards, owing to the margins being inflected.
The labellum thus acts like one of those conical traps with the
edges turned inwards, which are sold to catch beetles and
cockroaches in London kitchens. It could not creep out through
the slit between the folded edges of the basal part of the
labellum, as the elongated, triangular, rudimentary stamen here
closes the passage. Ultimately it forced its way out through one
of the small orifices close to one of the anthers, and was found
when caught to be smeared with the glutinous pollen. I then put
the same bee into another labellum; and again it crawled out
through one of the small orifices, always covered with pollen. I
repeated the operation five times, always with the same result. I
afterwards cut away the labellum, so as to examine the stigma,
and found its whole surface covered with pollen. It should be
noticed that an insect in making its escape, must first brush
past the stigma and afterwards one of the anthers, so that it
cannot leave pollen on the stigma, until being already smeared
with pollen from one flower it enters another; and thus there
will be a good chance of cross-fertilization between two distinct
plants.... Thus the use of all parts of the flower, - namely, the
inflected edges, or the polished inner sides of the labellum; the
two orifices and their position close to the anthers and stigma,
- the large size of the medial rudimentary stamen, - are rendered
intelligible. An insect which enters the labellum is thus
compelled to crawl out by one of the two narrow passages, on the
sides of which the pollen-masses and stigma are placed."

These common orchids, which are not at all difficult to
naturalize in a well-drained, shady spot in the garden, should be
lifted with a good ball of earth and plenty of leaf-mould
immediately after flowering. Here we can note little American
Andrena bees unwittingly becoming the flower's slaves. Several
species of exotic cypripediums are so common in the city
florist's shops every one has an opportunity to study their
marvelous structure.

The similar SMALL YELLOW LADY'S SLIPPER (C. parviflorum), a
delicately fragrant orchid about half the size of its big sister,
has a brighter yellow pouch, and occasionally its sepals and
petals are purplish. As they usually grow in the same localities,
and have the same blooming season, opportunities for comparison
are not lacking. This fairer, sweeter, little orchid roams
westward as far as the State of Washington.

  (Habenaria ciliaris)  Orchid family

Flowers - Bright yellow or orange, borne in a showy, closely set,
oblong spike, 3 to 6 in. long. The lip of each flower copiously
fringed; the slender spur 1 to 1 1/2 in. long; similar to white
fringed orchis (q.v.); and between the two, intermediate pale
yellow hybrids may be found. Stem: Slender, leafy, 1 to 2 1/2
feet high. Leaves: Lance-shaped, clasping.
Preferred Habitat - Moist meadows and sandy bogs.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - Vermont to Florida; Ontario to Texas.

Where this brilliant, beautiful orchid and its lovely white
sister grow together in the bog - which cannot be through a very
wide range, since one is common northward, where the other is
rare, and vice versa - the yellow fringed orchis will be found
blooming a few days later. In general structure the plants
closely resemble each other. Their similar method of enforcing
payment for a sip of nectar concealed in a tube so narrow and
deep none but a sphinx moth or butterfly may drain it all (though
large bumblebees occasionally get some too, from brimming
nectaries) has been described (q.v.), to which the interested
reader is referred. Both these orchids have their sticky discs
projecting unusually far, as if raised on a pedicel - an
arrangement which indicates that they "are to be stuck to the
face or head of some nectar-sucking insect of appropriate size
that visits the flowers," wrote Dr. Asa Gray over forty years
ago. Various species of hawk moths, common in different parts of
our area, of course have tongues of various lengths, and
naturally every visitor does not receive his load of pollen on
the same identical spot. At dusk, when sphinx moths begin their
rounds, it will be noticed that the white and yellow flowers
remain conspicuous long after blossoms of other colors have
melted into the general darkness. Such flowers as cater to these
moths, if they have fragrance, emit it then most strongly, as an
additional attraction. Again, it will be noticed that few such
flowers provide a strong projecting petal-platform for visitors
to alight on; that would be superfluous, since sphinx moths suck
while hovering over a tube, with their wings in exceedingly rapid
motion, just like a hummingbird, for which the larger species are
so often mistaken at twilight. This deep-hued orchid apparently
attracts as many butterflies as sphinx moths, which show a
predilection for the white species.

>From Ontario and the Mississippi eastward, and southward to the
Gulf, the TUBERCLED or SMALL PALE GREEN ORCHIS (H. flava) lifts a
spire of inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers, more attractive
to the eye of the structural botanist than to the aesthete. It
blooms in moist places, as most orchids do, since water with
which to manufacture nectar enough to fill their deep spurs is a
prime necessity. Orchids have arrived at that pinnacle of
achievement that it is impossible for them to fertilize
themselves. More than that, some are absolutely sterile to their
own pollen when it is applied to their stigmas artificially with
insect aid, however, a single plant has produced over 1,000,700
seeds. No wonder, then, that, as a family, they have adopted the
most marvelous blandishments and mechanism in the whole floral
kingdom to secure the visits of that special insect to which each
is adapted, and, having secured him, to compel him unwittingly to
do their bidding. In the steaming tropical jungles, where
vegetation is luxuriant to the point of suffocation, and where
insect life swarms in mvriads undreamed of here, we can see the
best of reasons for orchids mounting into trees and living on air
to escape strangulation on the ground, and for donning larger and
more gorgeous apparel to attract attention in the fierce
competition for insect trade waged about them. Here, where the
struggle for survival is incomparably easier, we have terrestrial
orchids, small, and quietly clad, for the most part.

Having the gorgeous, exotic air plants of the hothouse in mind,
this little tubercled orchis seems a very poor relation indeed.
In June and July, about a week before the ragged orchis comes
out, we may look for this small, fringeless sister. Its clasping
leaves, which decrease in size as they ascend the stem (not to
shut off the light and rain from the lower ones), are
parallel-veined, elliptic, or, the higher ones, lance-shaped. A
prominent tubercle, or palate, growing upward from the lip,
almost conceals the entrance to the nectary. and makes a side
approach necessary. Why? Usually an insect has free, straight
access down the center of a flower's throat, but here he cannot
have it. A slender tongue must be directed obliquely from above
into the spur, and it will enter the discal groove as a thread
enters the eye of a needle. By this arrangement the tongue must
certainly come in contact with one of the sticky discs to which
an elongated pollen gland is attached. The cement on the disc
hardening even while the visitor sucks, the pollen gland is
therefore drawn out, because firmly attached to his tongue. At
first the pollen mass stands erect on the proboscis; but in the
fraction of a moment which it takes a butterfly to flit to
another blossom, it has bent forward automatically into the exact
position required for it to come in contact with the sticky
stigma of the next tubercled orchis entered, where it will be
broken off. Now we understand the use of the palate. Butterfly
collectors often take specimens with remnants of these pollen
stumps stuck to their tongues. In his classical work "On the
Fertilization of Orchids by Insects," Darwin tells of finding a
mottled rustic butterfly whose proboscis was decorated with
eleven pairs of pollen masses, taken from as many blossoms of the
pyramidal orchis. Have these flowers no mercy on their
long-suffering friends? A bee with some orchid pollen-stumps
attached to its head was once sent to Mr. Frank Cheshire, the
English expert who had just discovered some strange bee diseases.
He was requested to name the malady that had caused so abnormal
an outgrowth on the bee's forehead!

Often found growing in the same bog with the tubercled species is
the RAGGED or FRINGED GREEN ORCHIS (H. lacera), so inconspicuous
we often overlook it unawares. Examine one of the dingy,
greenish-yellow flowers that are set along the stern in a spike
to make all the show in the world possible, each with its
three-parted, spreading lip finely and irregularly cut into
thread-like fringe to hail the passing butterfly, and we shall
see that it, too, has made ingenious provision against the
draining of its spur by a visitor without proper pay for his
entertainment. Even without the gay color that butterflies ever
delight in, these flowers contain so much nectar in their spurs,
neither butterflies nor large bumblebees are long in hunting them
out. In swamps and wet woodland from Nova Scotia to Georgia, and
westward to the Mississippi, the ragged orchis blooms in June or

  (Nymphaea advena; Nupisar advena of Gray)  Water-lily family

Flowers - Yellow or greenish outside, rarely purple tinged,
round, depressed, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 in. across. Sepals 6, unequal,
concave, thick, fleshy; petals stamen-like, oblong, fleshy,
short; stamens very numerous, in 5 to 7 rows; pistil compounded
of many carpels, its stigmatic disc pale red or yellow, with 12
to 24 rays. Leaves: Floating, or some immersed, large, thick,
sometimes a foot long, egg-shaped or oval, with a deep cleft at
base, the lobes rounded.
Preferred Habitat - Standing water, ponds, slow streams.
Flowering Season - April-September.
Distribution - Rocky Mountains eastward, south to the Gulf of
Mexico, north to Nova Scotia.

Comparisons were ever odious. Because the yellow water lily has
the misfortune to claim relationship with the sweet-scented white
species (q.v.), must it never receive its just meed of praise?
Hiawatha's canoe, let it be remembered,

     "Floated on the river
      Like a yellow leaf in autumn,
      Like a yellow water-lily."

But even those who admire Longfellow's lines see no beauty in the
golden flower-bowls floating among the large, lustrous, leathery

By assuming the functions of petals, the colored sepals advertise
for insects. Beetles, which answer the first summons to a free
lunch, crowd in as the sepals begin to spread. In the center the
star-like disc, already sticky, is revealed, and on it any pollen
they have carried with them from older flowers necessarily rubs
off. At first, or while the stigma is freshly receptive to
pollen, an insect cannot make his entrance except by crawling
over this large, sticky plate. At this time, the anthers being
closed, self-fertilization is impossible. A day or two later,
after the pollen begins to ripen on countless anthers, the flower
is so widely open that visitors have no cause to alight in the
center; anyway, no harm could result if they did,
cross-fertilization having been presumably accomplished. While
beetles (especially Donacia) are ever abundant visitors, it is
likely they do much more harm than good. So eagerly do they gnaw
both petals and stamens, which look like loops of narrow yellow
ribbon within the bowl of an older flower, that, although they
must carry some pollen to younger flowers as they travel on, it
is probable they destroy ten times more than their share. Flies
transport pollen too. The smaller bees (Halictus and Andrena
chiefly) find some nectar secreted on the outer faces of the
stamen-like petals, which they mix with pollen to make their
babies' bread.

The very beautiful native AMERICAN LOTUS (Nelumbo lutea), also
known as WATER CHINKAPIN or WANKAPIN, found locally in Ontario,
the Connecticut River, some lakes, slow streams, and ponds in New
Jersey, southward to Florida, and westward to Michigan and
Illinois, Indian Territory and Louisiana, displays its pale
yellow flowers in July and August. They measure from four to ten
inches across, and suggest a yellow form of the sweet-scented
white water lily; but there are fewer petals, gradually passing
into an indefinite number of stamens. The great round, ribbed
leaves, smooth above, hairy beneath, may be raised high above the
water, immersed or floating. Both leaf and flower stalks contain
several large air canals. The flowers which are female when they
expand far enough for a pollen-laden guest to crawl into the
center, are afterward male, securing cross-fertilization by this
means, just as the yellow pond lily does; only the small bees
must content themselves here with pollen only - a diet that
pleases the destructive beetles and the flies (Syrphidae)

Japanese artists especially have taught us how much of the beauty
of a Nelumbo we should lose if it ripened its decorative
seed-vessel below the surface as the sweet-scented white water
lily does. This flat-topped receptacle, held erect, has its
little round nuts imbedded in pits in its surface, ready to be
picked out by aquatic birds, and distributed by them in their
wanderings. Both seeds and tubers are farinaceous and edible. In
some places it is known the Indians introduced the plant for
food. Professor Charles Goodyear has written an elaborate,
plausible argument, illustrated, with many reproductions of
sculpture, pottery, and mural painting in the civilized world of
the ancients to prove that all decorative ornamental design has
been evolved from the sacred Egyptian lotus (Nelumbo Nelumubo),
still revered throughout the East (q.v.).

 (Caltha palustris)  Crowfoot family'

Flowers - Bright, shining yellow, 1 to 1 1/2 in. across, a few in
terminal and axillary groups. No petals; usually 5 (often more)
oval, petal-like sepals; stamens numerous; many pistils (carpels)
without styles. Stem: Stout, smooth, hollow, branching, 1 to 2
ft. high. Leaves: Mostly from root, rounded, broad, and
heart-shaped at base, or kidney-shaped, upper ones almost
sessile, lower ones on fleshy petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Springy ground, low meadows, swamps, river
banks, ditches.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Carolina to Iowa, the Rocky Mountains, and very
far north.

Not a true marigold, and even less a cowslip, it is by these
names that this flower, which looks most like a buttercup, will
continue to be called, in spite of the protests of scientific
classifiers. Doubtless the first of these folk-names refers to
its use in church festivals during the Middle Ages as one of the
blossoms devoted to the Virgin Mary.

     "And winking Mary-buds begin
      To ope their golden eyes,"

sing the musicians in "Cymbeline." Whoever has seen the watery
Avon meadows in April, yellow and twinkling with marsh marigolds
when "the lark at heaven's gate sings," appreciates why the
commentators incline to identify Shakespeare's Mary-buds with the
Caltha of these and our own marshes.

Not for poet's rhapsodies, but for the more welcome hum of small
bees and flies intent on breakfasting do these flowers open in
the morning sunshine. Nectar secreted on the sides of each of the
many carpels invites a conscientious bee all around the center,
on which she should alight to truly benefit her entertainer.
Honey bees may be seen sucking only enough nectar to aid them in
storing pollen; bumblebees feasting for their own benefit, not
their descendants'; little mining bees and quantities of flies
also, although not many species are represented among the
visitors, owing to the flower's early blooming season. Always
conspicuous among the throng are the brilliant Syrphidae flies -
gorgeous little creatures which show a fondness for blossoms as
gaily colored as their own lustrous bodies. Indeed, these are the
principal pollinators.

Some country people who boil the young plants declare these
"greens" are as good as spinach. What sacrilege to reduce crisp,
glossy, beautiful leaves like these to a slimy mess in a pot! The
tender buds, often used in white sauce as a substitute for
capers, probably do not give it the same piquancy where piquancy
is surely most needed - on boiled mutton, said to be Queen
Victoria's favorite dish. Hawked about the streets in tight
bunches, the marsh-marigold blossoms - with half their yellow
sepals already dropped - and the fragrant, pearly-pink arbutus
are the most familiar spring wild flowers seen in Eastern cities.


  (Ranunculus acris)  Crowfoot family

Flowers - Bright, shining yellow, about 1 in. across, numerous,
terminating long slender footstalks. Calyx of 5 spreading sepals;
corolla of 5 petals; yellow stamens and carpels. Stem: Erect,
branched above, hairy (sometimes nearly smooth), 2 to 3 feet
tall, from fibrous roots. Leaves: In a tuft from the base, long
petioled, of 3 to 7 divisions cleft into numerous lobes; stem
leaves nearly sessile, distant, 3-parted.
Preferred Habitat - Meadows, fields, roadsides, grassy places.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Naturalized from Europe in Canada and the United
States; most common North.

What youngster has not held these shining golden flowers under
his chin to test his fondness for butter? Dandelions and
marsh-marigolds may reflect their color in his clear skin too,
but the buttercup is every child's favorite. When

     "Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
      Do paint the meadows with delight,"

daisies, pink clover, and waving timothy bear them company here;
not the "daisies pied," violets, and lady-smocks of Shakespeare's
England. How incomparably beautiful are our own meadows in June!
But the glitter of the buttercup, which is as nothing to the
glitter of a gold dollar in the eyes of a practical farmer, fills
him with wrath when this immigrant takes possession of his
pastures. Cattle will not eat the acrid, caustic plant - a
sufficient reason for most members of the Ranunculaceae to stoop
to the low trick of secreting poisonous or bitter juices.
Self-preservation leads a cousin, the garden monk's hood, even to
murderous practices. Since children will put everything within
reach into their mouths, they should be warned against biting the
buttercup's stem and leaves, that are capable of raising
blisters. "Beggars use the juice to produce sores upon their
skin," says Mrs. Creevy. A designer might employ these
exquisitely formed leaves far more profitably.

This and the bulbous buttercup, having so much else in common,
have also the same visitors. "It is a remarkable fact," says Sir
John Lubbock, "as Aristotle long ago mentioned, that in most
cases bees confine themselves in each journey to a single species
of plant; though in the case of some very nearly allied forms
this is not so; for instance, it is stated on good authority
(Muller) that Ranunculus acris, R. repens, and R. bulbosus are
not distinguished by the bees, or at least are visited
indifferently by them, as is also the case with two of the
species of clover." From what we already know of the brilliant
Syrphidae flies' fondness for equally brilliant colors, it is not
surprising to find great numbers of them about the buttercups,
with bees, wasps, and beetles - upwards of sixty species. Modern
scientists believe that the habit of feeding on flowers has
called out the color-sense of insects and the taste for bright
colors, and that sexual selection has been guided by this taste.
The most unscientific among us soon finds evidence on every hand
that flowers and insects have developed together through mutual

By having its nourishment thriftily stored up underground all
winter, the BULBOUS BUTTERCUP (R. bulbosus) is able to steal a
march on its fibrous-rooted sister that must accumulate hers all
spring; consequently it is first to flower, coming in early May,
and lasting through June. It is a low and generally more hairy
plant, but closely resembling the tall buttercup in most
respects, and, like it, a naturalized European immigrant now
thoroughly at home in fields and roadsides in most sections of
the United States and Canada.

Much less common is the CREEPING BUTTERCUP (R. repens), which
spreads by runners until it forms large patches in fields and
roadsides, chiefly in the Eastern States. Its leaves, which are
sometimes blotched, are divided into three parts, the terminal
one, often all three, stalked. May-July.

First to bloom in the vicinity of New York (from March to May) is
the HISPID BUTTERCUP (R. hispidus), densely hairy when young. The
leaves, which are pinnately divided into from three to five
leaflets, cleft or lobed, chiefly arise on long petioles from a
cluster of thickened fibrous roots. The flower may be only half
an inch or an inch and a half across. It is found in dry woods
and thickets throughout the eastern half of the United States;
whereas the much smaller flowered BRISTLY BUTTERCUP (R.
Pennsylvanicus) shows a preference for low-lying meadows and wet,
open ground through a wider, more westerly range. Its stout,
hollow, leafy stem, beset with stiff hairs, discourages the
tongues of grazing animals. June-August.

Commonest of the early buttercups is the TUFTED BUTTERCUP (R.
fascicularis), a little plant seldom a foot high, found in the
woods and on rocky hillsides from Texas and Manitoba, east to the
Atlantic, flowering in April or May. The long-stalked leaves are
divided into from three to five parts; the bright yellow flowers,
with rather narrow, distant petals, measure about an inch across.
They open sparingly, usually only one or two at a time on each
plant, to favor pollination from another one.

Scattered patches of the SWAMP or MARSH BUTTERCUP (P.
septentrionalis) brighten low, rich meadows also with their-large
satiny yellow flowers, whose place in the botany even the
untrained eye knows at sight. The smooth, spreading plant
sometimes takes root at the joints of its branches and sends
forth runners, but the stems mostly ascend. The large lower
mottled leaves are raised well out of the wet, or above the
grass, on long petioles. They have three divisions, each lobed
and cleft. From Georgia and Kentucky far northward this buttercup
blooms from April to July, opening only a few flowers at a time-a
method which may make it less showy, but more certain to secure
cross-pollination between distinct plants.

multifidus of Gray) found blooming in ponds through the summer
months, certainly justifies the family name derived from rana = a
frog. Many other members grow in marshes, it is true, but this
ranunculus lives after the manner of its namesake, sometimes
immersed, sometimes stranded on the muddy shore. Two types of
leaves occur on the same stem. Their waving filaments, which make
the immersed leaves look fringy, take every advantage of what
little carbonic acid gas is dissolved under the surface.
Moreover, they are better adapted to withstand the water's
pressure and possible currents than solid blades would be. The
floating leaves which loll upon the surface to take advantage of
the air and sunlight, expand three, four, or five divisions,
variously lobed. On this plant we see one set of leaves perfectly
adapted to immersion, and another set to aerial existence. The
stem, which may measure several feet in length, roots at the
joints when it can. Range from the Mississippi and Ontario
eastward to the Atlantic Ocean.

The WHITE WATER-CROWFOOT (Batrachium trichophyllum; Ranunculus
aquatilis of Gray) has its fine thread-like leaves entirely
submerged; but the flowers, like a whale, as the old conundrum
put it, come to the surface to blow. The latter are small, white,
or only yellow at the base, where each petal bears a spot or
little pit that serves as a pathfinder to the flies. When the
water rises unusually high, the blossoms never open, but remain
submerged, and fertilize themselves. Seen underwater, the
delicate leaves, which are little more than forked hairs, spread
abroad in dainty patterns; lifted cut of the water these flaccid
filaments utterly collapse. In ponds and shallow, slow streams,
this common plant flowers from June to September almost
throughout the Union, the British Possessions north of us, and in
Europe and Asia.

The WATER PLANTAIN SPEARWORT (K. obtusiusculus; R. a/isrnaefoiius
of Gray) flecks the marshes from June to August with its small
golden flowers, which the merest novice knows must be kin to the
buttercup. The smooth, hollow stem, especially thick at the base,
likes to root from the lower joints. A peculiarity of the
lance-shaped or oblong lance-shaped leaves is that the lower ones
have petioles so broad where they clasp the stem that they appear
to be long blades suddenly contracted just above their base.

  (Berberis vulgaris)  Barberry family

Flowers - Yellow, small, odor disagreeable, 6-parted, borne in
drooping, many-flowered racemes from the leaf axils along arching
twigs. Stem: A much branched, smooth, gray shrub, to 8 ft. tall,
armed with sharp spines. Leaves: From the 3-pronged spines
(thorns); oval or obovate, bristly edged. Fruit: Oblong, scarlet,
acid berries.
Preferred Habitat - Thickets; roadsides; dry or gravelly soil.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Naturalized in New England and Middle States; less
common in Canada and the West. Europe and Asia.

When the twigs of barberry bushes arch with the weight of
clusters of beautiful bright berries in September, everyone must
take notice of a shrub so decorative, which receives scant
attention from us, however, when its insignificant little flowers
are out. Yet these blossoms, small as they are, are up to a
marvelous trick, quite as remarkable as the laurel's (q.v.) or
the calopogon's (q.v.), to compel insects to do their bidding.
Three of the six sepals, by their size and color, attend to the
advertising, playing the part of a corolla; and partly by curving
inward at the tip, partly by the drooping posture of the flower,
help protect the stamens, pistil, and nectar glands within from
rain. Did the flowers hang vertically, not obliquely, such
curvature of the tips of sepals and petals would be unnecessary.
Six stamens surround a pistil, but each of their six anthers,
which are in reality little pollen boxes opening by trap-doors on
either side, is tucked under the curving tip of a petal at whose
base lie two orange-colored nectar glands. A small bee or fly
enters the flower: what happens? To reach the nectar, he must
probe between the bases of two exceedingly irritable stamens. The
merest touch of a visitor's tongue against them releases two
anthers, just as the nibbling mouse all unsuspectingly releases
the wire from the hook of the wooden trap he is caught in. As the
two stamens spring upward on being released, pollen instantly
flies out of the trap-doors of the anther boxes on the bee, which
suffers no greater penalty than being obliged to carry it to the
stigma of another flower. So short are the stamens, it is
improbable that a flower's pollen ever reaches its own stigma
except through the occasional confused fumbling of a visitor.
Usually he is so startled by the sudden shower of pollen that he
flies away instantly.

In the barberry bushes, as in the gorse, when grown in dry,
gravelly situations, we see many leaves and twigs modified into
thorns to diminish the loss of water through evaporation by
exposing too much leaf surface to the sun and air. That such
spines protect the plants which bear them from the ravages of
grazing cattle is, of course, an additional motive for their
presence. Under cultivation, in well-watered garden soil - and
how many charming varieties of barberries are cultivated - the
thorny shrub loses much of its armor, putting forth many more
leaves, in rosettes, along more numerous twigs, instead. Even the
prickly-pear cactus might become mild as a lamb were it to
forswear sandy deserts and live in marshes instead. Country
people sometimes rob the birds of the acid berries to make
preserves. The wood furnishes a yellow dye.

Curiously enough it is the EUROPEAN BARBERRY that is the common
species here. The AMERICAN BARBERRY (B. Canadensis), a lower
shrub, with dark reddish-brown twigs; its leaves more distantly
toothed; its flowers, and consequently its berries, in smaller
clusters, keeps almost exclusively to the woods in the Alleghany
region and in the southwest, in spite of its specific name.

  (Benzoin Benzoin; Lindera Benzoin of Gray)  Laurel family

Flowers - Before the leaves, lemon yellow, fragrant, small, in
clusters close to the slender, brittle twigs. Six petal-like
sepals; sterile flowers with 9 stamens in 3 series; fertile
flowers with a round ovary encircled by abortive stamens. Stem: A
smooth shrub 4 to 20 ft. tall. Leaves: Alternate, entire, oval or
elliptic, 2 to 5 in, long. Fruit: Oblong, red, berry-like drupes.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woodlands, thickets, beside streams.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Central New England, Ontario, and Michigan,
southward to Carolina and Kansas.

Even before the scaly catkins on the alders become yellow, or the
silvery velvet pussy willows expand to welcome the earliest bees
that fly, this leafless bush breathes a faint spicy fragrance in
the bleak gray woods. Its only rivals among the shrubbery, the
service-berry and its twin sister the shad-bush, have scarcely
had the temerity to burst into bloom when the little clusters of
lemon-yellow flowers, cuddled close to the naked branches, give
us our first delightful spring surprise. All the favor they ask
of the few insects then flying is that they shall transfer the
pollen from the sterile to the fertile flowers as a recompense
for the early feast spread. Inasmuch as no single blossom
contains both stamens and pistil, little wonder the flowers
should woo with color and fragrance the guests on whose
ministrations the continuance of the species absolutely depends.
Later, when the leaves appear, we may know as soon as we crush
them in the hand that the aromatic sassafras is next of kin. But
ages before Linnaeus published "Species Plantarum" butterflies
had discovered floral relationships.

Sharp eyes may have noticed how often the leaves on both the
spice-bush and the sassafras tree are curled. Have you ever drawn
apart the leaf edges and been startled by the large, fat green
caterpillar, speckled with blue, whose two great black "eyes"
stare up at you as he reposes in his comfortable nest - a cradle
which also combines the advantages of a restaurant? This is the
caterpillar of the common spice-bush swallow-tail butterfly
(Papilio troilus), an exquisite, dark, velvety creature with pale
greenish-blue markings on its hind wings. (See Dr. Holland's
"Butterfly Book," Plate XLI.) The yellow stage of this
caterpillar (which William Hamilton Gibson calls the "spice-bush
bugaboo") indicates, he says, that "its period of transformation
is close at hand. Selecting a suitable situation, it spins a tiny
tuft of silk, into which it entangles its hindmost pair of feet,
after which it forms a V-shaped loop about the front portion of
its body, and hangs thus suspended, soon changing to a chrysalis
of a pale wood color. These chrysalides commonly survive the
winter, and in the following June the beautiful 'blue
swallow-tail' will emerge, and may be seen suggestively
fluttering and poising about the spice and sassafras bushes."
After the eggs she lays on them hatch, the caterpillars live upon
the leaves. Mrs. Starr Dana says the leaves were used as a
substitute for tea during the Rebellion; and the powdered berries
for allspice by housekeepers in Revolutionary days.

  (Chelidonium majus)  Poppy family

Flowers - Lustreless yellow, about 1/2 in. across, on slender
pedicels, in a small umbel-like cluster. Sepals 2, soon falling;
4 petals, many yellow stamens, pistil prominent. Stem: Weak, to 2
ft. high, branching, slightly hairy, containing bright orange
acrid juice. Leaves: Thin, 4 to 8 in. long, deeply cleft into 5
(usually) irregular oval lobes, the terminal one largest. Fruit:
Smooth, slender, erect pods, 1 to 2 in, long, tipped with the
persistent style.
Preferred Habitat - Dry waste land, fields, roadsides, gardens,
near dwellings.
Flowering Season - April-September.
Distribution - Naturalized from Europe in Eastern United States.

Not this weak invader of our roadsides, whose four yellow petals
suggest one of the cross-bearing mustard tribe, but the pert
Ficaria), one of the Crowfoot family, whose larger solitary
satiny yellow flowers so commonly star European pastures, was
Wordsworth's special delight - a tiny, turf-loving plant, about
which much poetical association clusters. Having stolen passage
across the Atlantic, it is now making itself at home about
College Point, Long Island; on Staten Island; near Philadelphia,
and maybe elsewhere. Doubtless it will one day overrun our
fields, as so many other European immigrants have done.

The generic Greek name of the greater celandine, meaning a
swallow, was given it because it begins to bloom when the first
returning swallows are seen skimming over the water and freshly
ploughed fields in a perfect ecstasy of flight, and continues in
flower among its erect seed capsules until the first cool days of
autumn kill the gnats and small winged insects not driven to
cover. Then the swallows, dependent on such fare, must go to
warmer climes where plenty still fly. Quaint old Gerarde claims
that the swallow-wort was so called because "with this herbe the
dams restore eye-sight to their young ones when their eye be put
out" by swallows. Coles asserts "the swallow cureth her dim eyes
with celandine."

There can be little satisfaction in picking a weed which droops
immediately, poppy fashion, and whose saffron juice stains
whatever it touches. A drop of this acrid fluid on the tip of the
tongue is not soon forgotten. The luminous experiments of Darwin,
Lubbock, Wallace, Muller, and Sprengel, among others, have proved
that color in flowers exists for the purpose of attracting
insects. But how about colored juices in the blood-roots' and
poppies' stems, for example; the bright stalk of the pokeweed,
the orange-yellow root of the carrot, the exquisite tints of
autumn leaves, fungi, and seaweed? Besides the green color
(chlorophyll), the most necessary of all ingredients to a plant
are the lipochromes, which vary from yellow to red. These are
most conspicuous when they displace the chlorophyll in autumn
foliage. Then there are the anthocyans, ranging from magenta to
blue and violet. These vary according to the amount of acid or
alkali in the sap. Try the effect of immersing a blue morning
glory in an acid solution, or a deep pink one in an alkaline
solution. One theory to account for the presence of color is that
it exists to screen the plant's protoplasm from light; that it
has a physiological function with which insects have nothing
whatever to do; and that by its presence the temperature is
raised and the plant is protected from cold. Every one who has
handled the colorless Indian pipe knows how cold and clammy it

The YELLOW or CELANDINE POPPY (Stylophorum diphyllum), with
shining yellow flowers double the size of the greater
celandine's, and similar pinnatifid leaves springing chiefly from
the base, blooms even in March and through the spring in the
Middle States and westward to Wisconsin and Missouri. Usually
only one of the few terminal blossoms opens at a time, but in
low, open woodlands it gleams like a miniature sun. Alas! that
the glorious CALIFORNIA POPPY, so commonly grown in Eastern
gardens (Eschscholtzia Californica), should confine itself to a
limited range on the Pacific Coast. We have no true native
poppies (Papaver) in America; such as are rarely to be seen in a
wild state, have only locally escaped from cultivation.

  (Capnoides aureum; Corydalis aurea of Gray)  Poppy family

Flowers - Bright yellow, about 1/2 in. long, with a spur half the
length of the tubular corolla; irregular, lipped; each upheld by
a little bract, mostly at a horizontal; borne in a terminal,
short raceme. Stem: Smooth, 6 to 14 in. high, branching. Leaves:
Finely dissected, decom pound, petioled. Fruit: Sickle-shaped,
drooping pods, wavy lumped, and tipped with the style.
Preferred Habitat - Woods, rocky banks.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - Minnesota to Nova Scotia and Pennsylvania.

A dainty little plant, next of kin to the pink corydalis (q.v.).

  (Brassica nigra)  Mustard family

Flowers - Bright yellow, fading pale, 1/4 to 1/2 in. across,
4-parted, in elongated racemes; quickly followed by narrow
upright 4-sided pods about 1/2 in. long appressed against the
stem. Stem: Erect, 2 to 7 ft. tall, branching. Leaves: Variously
lobed and divided, finely toothed, the terminal lobe larger than
the 2 to 4 side ones.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, fields, neglected gardens.
Flowering Season - June-November.
Distribution - Common throughout our area; naturalized from
Europe and Asia.

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed,
which a man took and sowed in his field which indeed is less than
all seeds but when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and
becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in
the branches thereof."

Commentators differ as to which is the mustard of the parable -
this common black mustard, or a rarer shrub-like tree (Salvadora
Persica), with an equivalent Arabic name, a pungent odor, and a
very small seed. Inasmuch as the mustard which is systematically
planted for fodder by Old World farmers grows with the greatest
luxuriance in Palestine, and the comparison between the size of
its seed and the plant's great height was already proverbial in
the East when Jesus used it, evidence strongly favors this
wayside weed. Indeed, the late Dr. Royle, who endeavored to prove
that it was the shrub that was referred to, finally found that it
does not grow in Galilee.

Now, there are two species which furnish the most powerfully
pungent condiment known to commerce; but the tiny dark brown
seeds of the black mustard are sharper than the serpent's tooth,
whereas the pale brown seeds of the WHITE MUSTARD, often mixed
with them, are far more mild. The latter (Sinapis alba) is a
similar, but more hairy, plant, with slightly larger yellow
flowers. Its pods are constricted like a necklace between the

The coarse HEDGE MUSTARD (Sisymbrium officinale), with rigid,
spreading branches, and spikes of tiny pale yellow flowers,
quickly followed by awl-shaped pods that are closely appressed to
the stem, abounds in waste places throughout our area. It blooms
from May to November, like the next species.

Another common and most troublesome weed from Europe is the FIELD
or CORN MUSTARD, CHARLOCK or FIELD KALE (Brassica arvensis;
Sinapis arvensis of Gray) found in grain fields, gardens, rich
waste lands, and rubbish heaps. The alternate leaves, which stand
boldly out from the stem, are oval, coarsely saw-toothed, or the
lower ones more irregular, and lobed at their bases, all rough to
the touch, and conspicuously veined. The four-parted yellow
flowers, measuring half an inch or more across, have six stamens
(like the other members of this cross-bearing family), containing
nectar at their bases. Two of them are shorter than the other
four. Honey-bees, ever abundant, the brilliant Syrphidae flies
which love yellow, and other small visitors after pollen and
nectar, to obtain the latter insert their tongues between the
stamens, and usually cross-fertilize the flowers. In stormy
weather, when few insects fly, the anthers finally turn their
pollen-covered tips upward; then, by a curvature of the tip of
the stamens, they are brought in contact with the flower's own
stigma; for it is obviously better that even self-fertilized seed
should be set than none at all. (See Ladies'-smock.) "The birds
of the air" may not lodge in the charlock's few and feeble
branches; nevertheless they come seeking the mild seeds in the
strongly nerved, smooth pods that spread in a loose raceme.
Domestic pigeons eat the seeds greedily.

The highly intelligent honey-bee, which usually confines itself
to one species of plant on its flights, apparently does not know
the difference between the field mustard and the WILD RADISH, or
JOINTED or WHITE CHARLOCK (Raphanus Raphanistrum); or, knowing
it, does not care to make distinctions, for it may be seen
visiting these similar flowers indiscriminately. At first the
blossoms of the radish are yellow, but they quickly fade to
white, and their purplish veins become more conspicuous. Rarely
the flowers are all purplish. The entire plant is rough to the
touch; the leaves, similar to those of the garden radish, are
deeply cleft (lyrate-pinnatifid); the seed pods, which soon
follow the flowers up the spike, are nearly cylindric when fresh,
but become constricted between the seeds, as they dry, until each
little pod looks like a section of a bead necklace.

The GARDEN RADISH of the market (R. sativus), occasionally
escaped from cultivation, although credited to China, is entirely
unknown in its native state. "It has long been held in high
esteem," wrote Peter Henderson, "and before the Christian era a
volume was written on this plant alone. The ancient Greeks, in
offering their oblations to Apollo, presented turnips in lead,
beets in silver, and radishes in vessels of beaten gold." Pliny
describes a radish eaten in Rome as being so transparent one
might see through the root. It was not until the sixteenth
century that the plant was introduced into England. Gerarde
mentions cultivating four varieties for Queen Elizabeth in Lord
Burleigh's garden.

WINTER- or ROCKET-CRESS (Barbarca Barbarea; B. vulgaris of Gray)
sends up spikes of little flowers like a yellow sweet alyssum as
early as April, and continues in bloom through June. Smooth pods
about one inch long quickly follow. The thickish, shining, tufted
leaves, very like the familiar WATER-CRESS (Roripa Nasturtium),
were formerly even more commonly eaten as a salad. In rich but
dry soil the plant flourishes from Virginia far northward,
locally in the interior of the United States and on the Pacific

  (Hamamelis Virginiana)  Witch-hazel family

Flowers - Yellow, fringy, clustered in the axils of branches.
Calyx 4-parted; 4 very narrow curving petals about 34 in. long; 4
short stamens, also 4 that are scale-like; 2 styles. Stem: A
tall, crooked shrub. Leaves: Broadly oval, thick, wavy-toothed,
mostly fallen at flowering time. Fruit: Woody capsules maturing
the next season and remaining with flowers of the succeeding year
(Hama = together with; mela = fruit).
Preferred Habitat - Moist woods or thickets near streams.
Flowering Season - August-December.
Distribution - Nova Scotia and Minnesota, southward to the Gulf

To find a stray. apple blossom among the fruit in autumn, or an
occasional violet deceived by caressing Indian Summer into
thinking another spring has come, surprises no one; but when the
witch-hazel bursts into bloom for the first time in November, as
if it were April, its leafless twigs conspicuous in the gray
woods with their clusters of spidery pale yellow flowers, we
cannot but wonder with Edward Rowland Sill:

     "Has time grown sleepy at his post
        And let the exiled Summer back?
      Or is it her regretful ghost,
        Or witchcraft of the almanac?"

Not to the blue gentian but to the witch-hazel should Bryant have
addressed at least the first stanza of his familiar lines (See
Fringed Gentian). The shrub doubtless gives the small bees and
flies their last feast of the season in consideration of their
services in transferring pollen from the staminate to the fertile
flowers. Very slowly through the succeeding year the seeds within
the woody capsules mature until, by the following autumn, when
fresh flowers appear, they are ready to bombard the neighborhood
after the violets' method, in the hope of landing in moist
yielding soil far from the parent shrub to found a new colony.
Just as a watermelon seed shoots from between the thumb and
forefinger pinching it, so the large, bony, shining black,
white-tipped witch-hazel seeds are discharged through the elastic
rupture of their capsule whose walls pinch them out. To be
suddenly hit in the face by such a missile brings no smile while
the sting lasts. Witch-hazel twigs ripening indoors transform a
peaceful living room into a defenseless target for light
artillery practice.

Nowhere more than in the naming of wild flowers can we trace the
homesickness of the early English colonists in America. Any plant
even remotely resembling one they had known at home was given the
dear familiar name. Now our witch-hazel, named for an English
hazel tree of elm lineage, has similar leaves it is true, but
likeness stops there; nevertheless, all the folklore clustered
about that mystic tree has been imported here with the title. By
the help of the hazel's divining-rod the location of hidden
springs of water, precious ore, treasure, and thieves may be
revealed, according to old superstition. Cornish miners, who live
in a land so plentifully stored with tin and copper lodes they
can have had little difficulty in locating seams of ore with or
without a hazel rod, scarcely ever sink a shaft except by its

The literature of Europe is filled with allusions to it. Swift

     "They tell us something strange and odd
      About a certain magic rod
      That, bending down its top divines
      Where'er the soil has hidden mines
      Where there are none, it stands erect
      Scorning to show the least respect."

A good story is told on Linnaeus in Baring-Gould's "Curious Myths
of the Middle Ages": "When the great botanist was on one of his
voyages, hearing his secretary highly extol the virtues of his
divining-wand, he was willing to convince him of its
insufficiency, and for that purpose concealed a purse of one
hundred ducats under a ranunculus, which grew by itself in a
meadow, and bid the secretary find it if he could. The wand
discovered nothing, and Linnaeus's mark was soon trampled down by
the company present, so that when he went to finish the
experiment by fetching the gold himself, he was utterly at a loss
where to find it. The man with the wand assisted him, and
informed him that it could not lie in the way they were going,
but quite the contrary so they pursued the direction of the wand,
and actually dug out the gold. Linnaeus said that another such
experiment would be sufficient to make a proselyte of him."

Many a well has been dug even in this land of liberty where our
witch-hazel indicated; but here its kindly magic is directed
chiefly through the soothing extract distilled from its juices.

  (Potentilla Canadensis)  Rose family

Flowers - Yellow, 1/4 to 1/2 in. across, growing singly on long
peduncles from the leaf axils. Five petals longer than the 5
acute calyx lobes with 5 linear bracts between them; about 20
stamens; pistils numerous, forming a head. Stem: Spreading over
ground by slender runners or ascending. Leaves: 5-fingered, the
digitate, saw-edged leaflets (rarely 3 or 4) spreading from a
common point, petioled; some in a tuft at base.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, roadsides, hills, banks.
Flowering Season - April-August.
Distribution - Quebec to Georgia, and westward beyond the

Everyone crossing dry fields in the eastern United States and
Canada at least must have trod on a carpet of cinquefoil (cinque
= five, feuilles = leaves), and have noticed the bright little
blossoms among the pretty foliage, possibly mistaking the plant
for its cousin, the trefoliate barren strawberry (q.v.). Both
have flowers like miniature wild yellow roses. During the Middle
Ages, when misdirected zeal credited almost any plant with
healing virtues for every ill that flesh is heir to, the
cinquefoils were considered most potent remedies, hence their
generic name.

The SHRUBBY CINQUEFOIL, or PRAIRIE WEED (P. fructicosa), becomes
fairly troublesome in certain parts of its range, which extends
from Greenland to Alaska, and southward to New Jersey, Arizona,
and California; as well as over northern Europe and Asia. It is a
bushy, much branched, and leafy shrub, six inches to four feet
high), with bright yellow, five-parted flowers an inch across,
more or less, either solitary or in cymes at the tips of the
branches. They appear from June to September. The honeybee,
alighting in the center of a blossom and turning around, passes
its tongue over the entire nectar-bearing ring at the base of the
stamens, then proceeding to another flower to do likewise,
effects cross-fertilization regularly. On a sunny day the bright
blossoms attract many visitors of the lower grade out after
nectar and pollen, the beetles often devouring the anthers in
their greed. The leaves on this cinquefoil are usually compounded
of one terminal and four side leaflets that are narrowly oblong,
an inch or less in length, and silky hairy. Sometimes there may
be seven leaflets pinnately, not digitately, arranged. Although
the shrubby cinquefoil prefers swamps and moist, rocky places to
dwell in, it wisely adapts itself, as globe-trotters should, to
whatever conditions it meets.

SILVERY or HOARY CINQUEFOIL (P. argentea), found in dry soil,
blooming from May to September from Canada to Delaware, Indiana,
Kansas, and Dakota, also in Europe and Asia, has yellow flowers
only about a quarter of an inch across, but foliage of special
beauty. From the tufted, branching, ascending stems, four to
twelve inches long, the finely cleft, five-foliate leaves are
spread on foot stems that diminish in size as they ascend, not to
let the upper leaves shut off the light from the lower ones.
These leaves are smooth and green above, silvery on the under
side, with fine white hairs, adapted for protection from
excessive sunlight and too rapid transpiration of precious
moisture. They entirely conceal the sensitive epidermis from
which they grow.

  (Geum strictum)  Rose family

Flowers - Golden yellow, otherwise much resembling the lower
growing white avens (q.v.).
Preferred Habitat - Low ground, moist meadows, swamps.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Arizona, far

After the marsh marigolds have withdrawn their brightness from
low-lying meadows, blossoms of yellow avens twinkle in their
stead. In autumn the jointed, barbed styles, protruding from the
seed clusters, steal a ride by the same successful method of
travel to new colonizing ground adopted by burdocks, goose-grass,
tick-trefoils (q.v.), agrimony, and a score of other "tramps of
the vegetable world."

  (Agrimonia hirsuta; Eupatoria of Gray)  Rose family

Flowers - Yellow, small, 5-parted, in narrow, spike-like racemes.
Stem: Usua11y 3 to 4 ft. tall, sometimes less or more clothed,
with long, soft hairs. Leaves: Large, thin, bright green,
compounded of (mostly) 7 principal oblong, coarsely saw-edged
leaflets, with pairs of tiny leaflets between.
Preferred Habitat - Woods, thickets, edges of fields.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - North Carolina, westward to California, and far

Quite a different species, not found in this country, is the
common European Agrimony - A. Eupatoria of Linnaeus - which
figures so prominently in the writings of medieval herbalists as
a cure-all. Slender spires of green fruit below and yellow
flowers above curve and bend at the borders of woodlands here
apparently for no better reason than to enjoy life. Very few
insects visit them, owing to the absence of nectar - certainly
not the highly specialized and intelligent "Humble-Bee," to whom
Emerson addressed the lines:

     "Succory to match the sky,
      Columbine with horn of honey,
      Scented fern and agrimony,
      Clover, catch-fly, adder's-tongue,
      And brier-roses, dwelt among."

It is true the bumblebee may dwell among almost any flowers, but
he has decided preferences for such showy ones as have adapted
themselves to please his love of certain colors (not yellow), or
have secreted nectar so deeply hidden from the mob that his long
tongue may find plenty preserved when he calls. Occasional
visitors alighting on the agrimony for pollen may distribute
some, but the little blossoms chiefly fertilize themselves. When
crushed they give forth a faint, pleasant odor. Pretty, nodding
seed urns, encircled with a rim of hooks, grapple the clothing of
man or beast passing their way, in the hope of dropping off in a
suitable place to found another colony.

  (Cassia nictitans)  Senna family

Flowers - Yellow, regular, 5-parted, about 1/4 in. across; 2 or 3
together in the axils. Stem: Weak, 6 to 15 in. tall, branching,
leafy. Leaves: Alternate, sensitive, compounded of 12 to 44
small, narrowly oblong leaflets; a cup-shaped gland below lowest
pair; stipules persistent. Fruit: A pod, an inch long or more,
containing numerous seeds.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, sandy wasteland, roadsides.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - New England westward to Indiana, south to Georgia
and Texas.

How many of us ever pause to test the sensitiveness of this
exquisite foliage that borders the roadsides, and in appearance
is almost identical with the South American sensitive plant's, so
commonly cultivated in hothouses here? Failing to see its fine
little leaflets fold together instantly when brushed with the
hand, as they do in the tropical species (Mimosa pudica), many
pass on, concluding its title a misnomer. By simply touching the
leaves, however roughly, only a tardy and slight movement
follows. A sharp blow produces quicker effect, while if the whole
plant be shaken by forcibly snapping the stem with the finger,
all the leaves will be strongly affected; their sensitiveness
being apparently more aroused by vibration through jarring than
by contact with foreign bodies. The leaves, which ordinarily
spread out flat, partly close in bright sunshine and "go to
sleep" at night, not to expose their sensitive upper surfaces to
fierce heat in the first case, and to cold by radiation in the
second. "Lifeless things may be moved or acted on," says Asa
Gray; "living beings move and act - plants less conspicuously,
but no less really than animals. In sharing the mysterious gift
of life they share some of its simpler powers."

Chamaecrista) likewise goes to sleep; the ten to fifteen pairs of
leaflets which, with a terminal one, make up each pinnate leaf,
slowly turning their outer edges uppermost after sunset, and
overlapping as they flatten themselves against their common stem
until the entire aspect of the plant is changed. By day the
expanded foliage is feathery, fine, acacia-like; at night the
bushy, branching, spreading plant, that measures only a foot or
two high, appears to produce nothing but pods. These leaves
respond slowly to vibration, just as the sensitive pea's do. In
spite of their names, neither produces the butterfly-shaped
(papilionaceous) blossom of true peas. The partridge pea bears
from two to four showy flowers together, each measuring an inch
or more across, on a slender pedicel from the axils. It fully
expands only four of its five bright yellow petals; they are
somewhat unequal in size, the upper ones, with touches of red at
the base, as pathfinders, not, however, as nectar-guides, since
no sweets are secreted here. Curiously enough, both right and
left hand flowers are found upon the same plant; that is to say,
the sickle-shaped pistil turns either to the right or the left.
One lateral petal, instead of being flexible and spread like the
rest, stands so stiffly erect and incurved that it commonly
breaks on being bent back. Why? The pistil, it will be noticed,
points away from the ten long black anthers. Obviously, then, the
flower cannot fertilize itself. Its benefactors are bumblebee
females and workers out after pollen. Cup-shaped nectaries
("extra nuptial") are situated on the upper side and near the
base of the leaf stalks on these cassia plants, where they can
have no direct influence on the fertilization of the blossoms.
Apparently, they are free lunch-counters, kept open out of pure
charity. Landing upon the long black anthers with pores in their
tips to let out the pollen, the bumblebees "seize them between
their mandibles, says Professor Robertson, "and stroke them
downward with a sort of milking motion. The pollen...falls either
directly upon the bee or upon the erect lateral petal which is
pressed close against the bee's side. In this way the side of the
bee which is next to the incurved petal receives the most
pollen.... A bee visiting a left-hand flower receives pollen upon
the right side, and then flying to a right-hand flower, strikes
the same side against the stigma." When we find circular holes in
these petals we may know the leaf-cutter or upholsterer bee
(Megachile brevis) has been at work collecting roofs for her
nurseries (see Hairy Ruellia). The partridge pea, which has a
more westerly range than the sensitive pea's, extends it
southward even to Bolivia. Game birds, migrants and rovers, which
feed upon the seeds, have of course helped in their wider
distribution. The plant blooms from July to September.

  (Cassia Marylandica)  Senna family

Flowers - Yellow, about 3/4 in. broad, numerous, in short
axillary clusters on the upper part of plant. Calyx of 5 oblong
lobes; 5 petals, 3 forming an upper lip, 2 a lower one; 10
stamens of 3 different kinds; 1 pistil. Stem: 3 to 8 ft. high,
little branched. Leaves: Alternate, pinnately compounded of 6 to
10 pairs of oblong leaflets. Fruit: A narrow, flat curving pod, 3
to 4 in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Alluvial or moist, rich soil, swamps,
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - New England, westward to Nebraska, south to the
Gulf States.

Whoever has seen certain Long Island roadsides bordered with wild
senna, the brilliant flower clusters contrasted with the deep
green of the beautiful foliage, knows that no effect produced by
art along the drives of public park or private garden can match
these country lanes in simple charm. Bumblebees, buzzing about
the blossoms, may be observed "milking" the anthers just as they
do those of the partridge pea. No red spots on any of these
petals guide the visitors, as in the previous species, however;
for do not the three small, dark stamens, which are reduced to
mere scales, answer every purpose as pathfinders here? The
stigma, turned sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left,
strikes the bee on the side; the senna being what Delpino, the
Italian botanist, calls a pleurotribe flower.

While leaves of certain African and East Indian species of senna
are most valued for their medicinal properties, those of this
plant are largely collected in the Middle and Southern States as
a substitute. Caterpillars of several sulphur butterflies, which
live exclusively on cassia foliage, appear to feel no evil
effects from overdoses.

  (Baptisia tinctoria)  Pea family

Flowers - Bright yellow, papilionaceous, about 1/2 in. long, on
short pedicels, in numerous but few flowered terminal racemes.
Calyx light green, 4 or 5-toothed; corolla of 5 oblong petals,
the standard erect, the keel enclosing 10 incurved stamens and
pistil. Stem: Smooth, branched, 2 to 4 ft. high. Leaves:
Compounded of 3 ovate leaflets. Fruit: A many-seeded round or
egg-shaped pod tipped with the awl-shaped style.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, sandy soil.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Maine and Minnesota to the Gulf States.

Dark grayish green, clover-like leaves, and small, bright yellow
flowers growing in loose clusters at the ends of the branches of
a bushy little plant, are so commonly met with they need little
description. A relative, the true indigo-bearer, a native of
Asia, once commonly grown in the Southern States when slavery
made competition with Oriental labor possible, has locally
escaped and become naturalized. But the false species, although,
as Dr. Gray says, it yields "a poor sort of indigo," yields a
most valuable medicine employed by the homeopathists in malarial
fevers. The plant turns black in drying. As in the case of other
papilionaceous blossoms, bees are the visitors best adapted to
fertilize the flowers. When we see the little, sleepy,
dusky-winged butterfly (Thanaos brizo) around the plant we may
know she is there only to lay eggs, that the larvae and
caterpillars may find their favorite food at hand on waking into

  (Crotalaria sagittalis)  Pea family

Flowers - Yellow, 1/2 in. long or less, usually only 2 or 3 on a
long peduncle. Calyx 5-toothed, slightly 2-lipped; corolla
papilionaceous. Stem: 3 to 10 in. high, weak, hairy. Leaves:
Alternate, simple, oval to lance-shaped; stipules arrow-shaped
above and running along stem. Fruit: An inflated oblong pod 1 in,
long, blackish, seedy.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, sandy, open situations.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - New England and Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

These insignificant little yellow flowers attract scant notice
from human observers accustomed to associate their generic name
with some particularly beautiful relatives from the West Indies
grown in hothouses here. But did not small bees alight on the
keel and depress it, as in the lupine, next of kin (q.v.) there
might be no seeds to rattle in the dark inflated pods that so
delight children. (Krotalon = a castanet.)

  (Melilotus officinalis)  Pea family

Resembling the white sweet clover, except in color. (q.v.)

  (Trifotium agrarium)  Pea family

Flowers - Yellow, scale-like, overlapping in a densely
many-flowered oblong head about 1/2 in. long, becoming brown with
age. Stem: Ascending, branched, 6 to 18 in. high. Leaves:
3-foliate, very finely toothed.
Preferred Habitat - Waste places, fields, roadsides.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Virginia to Iowa, and far northward.

What did the sulphur butterflies provide as food for their
caterpillar babies before the commonest clovers came over from
the Old World to possess the soil? Wherever a trifolium grows,
there one is sure to see

          "gallow-yellow butterflies,
      Like blooms of lorn primroses blowing loose,
        when autumn winds arise."

with even smaller, bright yellow oblong heads which turn black
when ripe, lies on the ground, its branches spreading where they
leave the root. A native of Europe and Asia, it is now
distributed as a common weed throughout our area, for there is
scarcely a month in the year when it does not bloom and set seed.
It is still another of the many plants known as the shamrock.

  (Oxalis stricta)  Wood-sorrel family

Flowers - Golden, fragrant, in long peduncled, small, terminal
groups. Calyx of 5 sepals; corolla of 5 petals, usually reddish
at base; stamens, 10; 1 pistil with 5 styles; followed by slender
pods. Stem: Pale, erect, 3 to 12 in. high, the sap sour. Leaves:
Palmately compound, of 3 heart-shaped, clover-like leaflets on
long petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Open woodlands, waste or cultivated soil,
Flowering Season - April-October.
Distribution - Nova Scotia and Dakota westward to the Gulf of

An extremely common little weed, whose peculiarly sensitive
leaves children delight to set in motion by rubbing, or to chew
for the sour juice. Concerning the night "sleep" of wood-sorrel
leaves and the two kinds of flowers these plants bear, see the
white and violet wood-sorrels.

  (Linum Virginianum) Flax family

Flowers - Yellow, about 1/3 in. across, each from a leaf axil,
scattered along the slender branches. Sepals, 5; 5 petals, 5
stamens. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high, branching, leafy. Leaves.
Alternate, seated on the stem; small, oblong, or lance-shaped, 1
Preferred Habitat - Dry woodlands and borders; shady places.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - New England to Georgia.

Certainly in the Atlantic States this is the commonest of its
slender, dainty tribe; but in bogs and swamps farther southward
and westward to Texas the RIDGED YELLOW FLAX (L. striatum), with
leaves arranged opposite each other up to the branches and an
angled stem so sticky it "adheres to paper in which it is dried,"
takes its place.

     "Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax,"

wrote Longfellow, as if blue flax were a familiar sight on this
side of the Atlantic. The charming little European plant (L.
usitatissimum), which has furnished the fiber for linen and the
oily seeds for poultices from time immemorial, is only a fugitive
from cultivation here. Unhappily, it is rarely met with along the
roadsides and railways as it struggles to gain a foothold in our
waste places. Possibly Longfellow had in mind the blue toad flax

  (Impatiens biflora; I. fulva of Gray)  Jewel-weed family

Flowers - Orange yellow, spotted with reddish-brown, irregular, 1
in. long or less, horizontal, 2 to 4 pendent by slender
footstalks on a long peduncle from leaf axils. Sepals, 3,
colored; 1 large, sac-shaped, contracted into a slender incurved
spur and 2-toothed at apex; 2 other sepals small. Petals, 3; 2 of
them 2-cleft into dissimilar lobes; 5 short stamens, 1 pistil.
Stem: 2 to 5 ft. high, smooth, branched, colored, succulent.
Leaves: Alternate, thin, pale beneath, ovate, coarsely toothed,
petioled. Fruit: An oblong capsule, its 5 valves opening
elastically to expel the seeds.
Preferred Habitat - Beside streams, ponds, ditches; moist ground.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Oregon, south to Missouri and

These exquisite, bright flowers, hanging at a horizontal, like
jewels from a lady's ear, may be responsible for the plant's folk
name; but whoever is abroad early on a dewy morning, or after a
shower, and finds notched edges of the drooping leaves hung with
scintillating gems, dancing, sparkling in the sunshine, sees
still another reason for naming this the jewel-weed. In a brook,
pond, spring, or wayside trough, which can never be far from its
haunts, dip a spray of the plant to transform the leaves into
glistening silver. They shed water much as the nasturtium's do.

When the tiny ruby-throated hummingbird flashes northward out of
the tropics to spend the summer, where can he hope to find nectar
so deeply secreted that not even the long-tongued bumblebee may
rob him of it all? Beyond the bird's bill his tongue can be run
out and around curves no other creature can reach. Now the early
blooming columbine, its slender cornucopias brimming with sweets,
welcomes the messenger whose needle-like bill will carry pollen
from flower to flower; presently the coral honeysuckle and the
scarlet painted-cup attract him by wearing his favorite color;
next the jewel-weed hangs horns of plenty to lure his eye; and
the trumpet vine and cardinal flower continue to feed him
successively in Nature's garden; albeit cannas, nasturtiums,
salvia, gladioli, and such deep, irregular showy flowers in men's
flower beds sometimes lure him away. These are bird flowers
dependent in the main on the ruby-throat, which is not to say
that insects never enter them, for they do; only they are not the
visitors catered to. Watch the big, velvety bumblebee approach a
roomy jewel-weed blossom and nearly disappear within. The large
bunch of united stamens, suspended directly over the entrance,
bears copious white pollen. So much comes off on his back that
after visiting a flower or two he becomes annoyed; clings to a
leaf with his fore legs while he thoroughly brushes his back and
wings with his middle and hind pairs, and then collects the
sticky grains into a wad on his feet which he presently kicks off
with disgust to the ground. Examine a jewel-weed blossom to see
that the clumsy bumblebee's pollen-laden back is not so likely to
come in contact with the short five-parted stigma concealed
beneath the stamens, as a hummingbird's slender bill that is
thrust obliquely into the spur while he hovers above.

But, as if the plant had not sufficient confidence in its
visitors to rely exclusively on them for help in continuing the
lovely species, it bears also cleistogamous blossoms that never
open - economical products without petals, which ripen abundant
self-fertilized seed (see white wood sorrel). It is calculated
that each jewel-weed blossom produces about two hundred and fifty
pollen grains; yet each is by no means able to produce seed in
spite of its prodigality. Nevertheless, enough cross-fertilized
seed is set to save the species from the degeneracy that follows
close inbreeding among plants as well as animals. In England,
where this jewel-weed is rapidly becoming naturalized, Darwin
recorded there are twenty plants producing cleistogamous flowers
to one having showy blossoms which, even when produced, seldom
set seed. What more likely, since hummingbirds are confined to
the New World? Therefore why should the plant waste its energy on
a product useless in England? It can never attain perfection
there until hummingbirds are imported, as bumblebees had to be
into Australia before the farmers could harvest seed from their
clover fields (see red clover).

Familiar as we may be with the nervous little seedpods of the
touch-me-not, which children ever love to pop and see the seeds
fly, as they do from balsam pods in grandmother's garden, they
still startle with the suddenness of their volley. Touch the
delicate hair-trigger at the end of a capsule, and the lightning
response of the flying seeds makes one jump. They sometimes land
four feet away. At this rate of progress a year, and with the
other odds against which all plants have to contend, how many
generations must it take to fringe even one mill pond with
jewel-weed; yet this is rapid transit indeed compared with many
of Nature's processes. The plant is a conspicuous sufferer from
the dodder (q.v.).

The PALE TOUCH-ME-NOT (I. aurea; I. pallida of Gray) most
abundant northward, a larger, stouter species found in similar
situations, but with paler yellow flowers only sparingly dotted
if at all, has its broader sac-shaped sepal abruptly contracted
into a short, notched, but not incurved spur. It shares its
sister's popular names.

  (Abutilon Abulilon; A. Avicennae of Gray)  Mallow family

Flowers - Deep yellow, 1/2 to 3/4 in. broad, 5-parted, regular,
solitary on stout peduncles from the leaf axils. Stem: 3 to 6 ft.
high, velvety, branched. Leaves: Soft velvety, heart-shaped, the
lobes rounded, long petioled. Fruit: In a head about 1 in.
across, 12 to 15 erect hairy carpels, with spreading sharp beaks.
Preferred Habitat - Escaped from cultivation to waste sandy loam,
fields, roadsides.
Flowering Season - August-October.
Distribution - Common or frequent, except at the extreme North.

There was a time, not many years ago, when this now common and
often troublesome weed was imported from India and tenderly
cultivated in flower gardens. In the Orient it and allied species
are grown for their fiber, which is utilized for cordage and
cloth; but the equally valuable plant now running wild here has
yet to furnish American men with a profitable industry. Although
the blossom is next of kin to the veiny Chinese bell-flower, or
striped abutilon, so common in greenhouses, its appearance is
quite different.

  (Ascyrum hypericoides; A. Crux-Andreae of Gray)  St.
John's-wort family

Flowers - Yellow, 1/2 to 3/4 in. across, terminal and from the
leaf axils. Calyx of 4 sepals in 2 pairs; 4 narrow, oblong
petals; stamens numerous; 2 styles. Stem: Much branched and
spreading from base, 5 to 10 in. high, leafy. Leaves: Opposite,
oblong, small, seated on stem.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, sandy soil; pine barrens.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - Nantucket Island (Mass.), westward to Illinois,
south to Florida and Texas.

Because the four pale yellow petals of this flower approach each
other in pairs, suggesting a cross with equals arms, the plant
was given its name by Linnaeus in 1753. ST. PETER'S-WORT (A.
stans), a similar plant, found in the same localities, in bloom
at the same time, has larger flowers in small clusters at the
tips only of its upright branches.

  (Hypericum perforatum)  St. John's-wort family

Flowers - Bright yellow, 1 in. across or less, several or many in
terminal clusters. Calyx of 5 lance-shaped sepals; 5 petals
dotted with black; numerous stamens in 3 sets 3 styles. Stem: to
2 ft. high, erect, much branched. Leaves: Small, opposite,
oblong, more or less black-dotted.
Preferred Habitat - Fields, waste lands, roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Throughout our area, except the extreme North;
Europe, and Asia.

"Gathered upon a Friday, in the hour of Jupiter when he comes to
his operation, so gathered, or borne, or hung upon the neck, it
mightily helps to drive away all phantastical spirits." These are
the blossoms which have been hung in the windows of European
peasants for ages on St. John's eve, to avert the evil eye and
the spells of the spirits of darkness. "Devil chaser" its Italian
name signifies. To cure demoniacs, to ward off destruction by
lightning, to reveal the presence of witches, and to expose their
nefarious practices, are some of the virtues ascribed to this
plant, which superstitious farmers have spared from the scythe
and encouraged to grow near their houses until it has become,
even in this land of liberty, a troublesome weed at times. "The
flower gets its name," says F. Schuyler Mathews, "from the
superstition that on St. John's day, the 24th of June, the dew
which fell on the plant the evening before was efficacious in
preserving the eyes from disease. So the plant was collected,
dipped in oil, and thus transformed into a balm for every wound."
Here it is a naturalized, not a native, immigrant. A blooming
plant, usually with many sterile shoots about its base, has an
unkempt, untidy look; the seed capsules and the brown petals of
withered flowers remaining among the bright yellow buds through a
long season. No nectar is secreted by the St. John's-worts,
therefore only pollen collectors visit them regularly, and
occasionally cross-fertilize the blossoms, which are best
adapted, however, to pollinate themselves.

The SHRUBBY ST. JOHN'S-WORT (H. prolificum) bears yellow
blossoms, about half an inch across, which are provided with
stamens so numerous, the many flowered terminal clusters have a
soft, feathery effect. In the axils of the oblong, opposite
leaves are tufts of smaller ones, the stout stems being often
concealed under a wealth of foliage. Sandy or rocky places from
New Jersey southward best suit this low, dense, diffusely
branched shrub which blooms prolifically from July to September.

Farther north, and westward to Iowa, the GREAT or GIANT ST.
JOHN'S-WORT (H. Ascyron) brightens the banks of streams at
midsummer with large blossoms, each on a long footstalk in a
few-flowered cluster.

  (Helianthemum Canadense)  Rock-rose family

Flowers - Solitary, or rarely 2; about 1 in. across, 5-parted,
with showy yellow petals; the 5 unequal sepals hairy. Also
abundant small flowers lacking petals, produced from the axils
later. Stem: Erect, 3 in. to 2 ft. high; at first simple, later
with elongated branches. Leaves: Alternate, oblong, almost seated
on stem.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, sandy or rocky soil.
Flowering Season - Petal-bearing flowers, May-July.
Distribution - New England to the Carolinas, westward to
Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Only for a day, and that must be a bright sunny one, does the
solitary frost-flower expand its delicate yellow petals. On the
next, after pollen has been brought to it by insect messengers
and its own carried away, the now useless petal advertisements
fall, and the numerous stamens, inserted upon the receptacle with
them, also drop off, leaving the club-shaped pistil to develop
with the ovary into a rounded, ovoid, three-valved capsule.
Notice how flat the stamens lie upon the petals to keep safely
out of reach of the stigma. Another flower, exactly like the
first, now expands, and the bloom continues for weeks. Why does
only one blossom open at a time? Because the whole aim of the
showy flowers is to set cross-fertilized seed, and when only one
at a time appears, pollination not only between distinct blossoms
but between distinct plants insures the healthiest, most vigorous
offspring - a wise precaution against degeneracy, in view of the
quantities of self-fertilized seed that will be set late in
summer by the tiny apetalous flowers that never open (see white
wood sorrel). Surely two kinds of blossoms should be enough for
any species; but why call this the frost-flower when its bloom is
ended by autumn? Only the witch-hazel may be said to flower for
the first time after frost. When the stubble in the dry fields is
white some cold November morning, comparatively few notice the
ice crystals, like specks of glistening quartz, at the base of
the stems of this plant. The similar HOARY FROST-WEED (H. majus),
whose showy flowers appear in clusters at the hoary stein's
summit, in June and July, also bears them. Often this ice
formation assumes exquisite feathery, whimsical forms, bursting
the bark asunder where an astonishing quantity of sap gushes
forth and freezes. Indeed, so much sap sometimes goes to the
making of this crystal flower, that it would seem as if an extra
reservoir in the soil must pump some up to supply it with its
large fantastic corolla.

  (Hudsonia tomentosa)  Rock-rose family

Flowers - Bright yellow, small, about 1/4 in. across, numerous,
closely ascending the upper part of the heath-like branches.
Sepals 5, unequal; 5 petals; stamens, 9 to 18. Stem: 4 to 8 in.
tall, tufted, densely branched and matted, hoary hairy, pale.
Leaves: Overlapping like scales, very small.
Preferred Habitat - Sands of the seashore, pine barrens, beaches
of rivers and lakes.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Maryland, west to Lake of the

Like the showy flowers of the frost-weed, these minute ones open
in the sunshine only, and then but for a single day.
Nevertheless, the hoary, heath-like little shrub, by growing in
large colonies and keeping up a succession of bright bloom,
tinges the sand dunes back of the beach with charming color that
artists delight to paint in the foreground of their marine

  (Viola)  Violet family

Fine hairs on the erect, leafy, usually single stem of the DOWNY
YELLOW VIOLET (V. pubescens), whose dark veined, bright yellow
petals gleam in dry woods in April and May, easily distinguish it
from the SMOOTH YELLOW VIOLET (V. scabriuscula), formerly
considered a mere variety in spite of its being an earlier
bloomer, a lover of moisture, and well equipped with basal leaves
at flowering time, which the downy species is not. Moreover, it
bears a paler blossom, more coarsely dentate leaves, often
decidedly taper-pointed, and usually several stems together.

Our other common yellow species, the ROUND-LEAVED VIOLET (V.
rotundifolia), lifts smaller, pale, brown-veined, and bearded
blossoms above a tuffet of broad, shining leaves close to the
ground. The veins on the petals serve as pathfinders to the
nectary for the bee, and the beard as footholds, while she probes
the inverted blossoms. Such violets as have their side petals
bearded are most frequently visited by small greenish mason bees
(Osmia), with collecting brushes on their abdomen that receive
the pollen as it falls. Abundant cleistogamous flowers (see blue
violets and white wood sorrel) are borne on the runners late in
the season. Bryant, whose botanical lore did not always keep step
with his Muse, wrote of the yellow violet as the first spring
flower, because he found it "by the snowbank's edges cold," one
April day, when the hepaticas about his home at Roslyn, Long
Island, had doubtless been in bloom a month.

     "Of all her train the hands of Spring
      First plant thee in the watery mould,"

he wrote, regardless of the fact that the round-leaved violet's
preferences are for dry, wooded, or rocky hillsides. Muller
believed that all violets were originally yellow, not white,
after they evoluted from the green stage.

  (Opuntia Opuntia; 0. vulgaris of Gray)  Cactus family

Flowers -Yellow, sometimes reddish at center, 2 to 3 in. across,
solitary, mostly seated at the side of joints. Calyx tube not
prolonged beyond ovary, its numerous lobes spreading. Petals
numerous; stamens very numerous; ovary cylindric; the style
longer than stamens, and with several stigmas. Stem: Prostrate or
ascending, fleshy, juicy, branching, the thick, flattened joints
oblong or rounded, 2 to 5 in. long. Leaves: Tiny, awl-shaped,
dotting the joints, but usually falling early; tufts of yellowish
bristles at their base. Plant unarmed, or with few solitary stout
spines. Fruit: Pear-shaped, pulpy, red, nearly smooth, 1 in. long
or over, edible.
Preferred Habitat - Sandy or dry or rocky places.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Massachusetts to Florida.

Upwards of one hundred and fifty species of Opuntia, which elect
to grow in parching sands, beneath a scorching sun, often
prostrate on baking hot rocks, on glaring plains, beaches, and
deserts, from Massachusetts to Peru - for all are natives of the
New World - show so marvelous an adaptation to environment in
each instance that no group of plants is more interesting to the
botanist, more decorative in form and color from an artistic
standpoint, more distinctively characteristic. Plants choosing
such habitats as they have adopted, usually in tropical or
semi-tropical regions, had to resort to various expedients to
save loss of water through transpiration and evaporation. Now, as
leaves are the natural outlets for moisture thrown off by any
plant, manifestly the first thing to do was either to reduce the
number of branches and leaves, or to modify them into sharp
spines (not surface prickles like the rose's); to cultivate a low
habit of growth, not to expose unnecessary surface to sun and
air; to thicken the skin until little moisture could evaporate
through the leathery coat; and, finally, to utilize the material
thus saved in developing stems so large, fleshy, and juicy that
they should become wells in a desert, with powers of sustenance
great enough to support the plant through its fiery trials. A
common expedient of plants in dry situations, even at the north,
is to modify their leaves into spines, as the gorse and the
barberry, for example, have done. That such an armor also serves
to protect them against the ravages of grazing animals is an
additional advantage, of course; but not their sole motive in
wearing it. Popular to destruction would the cool juices of the
cacti be in thirsty lands, if only they might be obtained without
painful and often poisonous scratches. Given moist soil and
greater humidity of atmosphere to grow in, spiny plants at once
show a tendency to grow taller, to branch and become leafy. A
covering of hairs which reflect the light, thus diminishing the
amount that might reach the juicy interior area, has likewise
been employed by many cacti, among other denizens of dry soil.

In this common prickly pear cactus of the Atlantic seaboard,
where the air is laden with moisture from the ocean, few or no
spines are produced; and dotted over the surface of its
branching, fleshy, flattened joints we find tiny, awl-shaped
leaves, whereas foliage is entirely wanting in the densely
prickly, rounded, solid, unbranched, hairy cacti of the
southwestern deserts, and the arid plains of Mexico.

In sunshine the beautiful yellow blossom of our prickly pear
expands to welcome the bees, folding up its petals again for
several successive nights. William Hamilton Gibson says it
"encloses its buzzing visitor in a golden bower, from which he
must emerge at the roof as dusty as a miller," only to enter
another blossom and leave some pollen on its numerous stigmas.

But the cochineal, not the bee, is forever associated with cacti
in the popular mind. Indeed, several species are extensively
grown on plantations, known as Nopaleries, which furnish food to
countless trillions of these tiny insects. Like its relative the
aphis of rose bushes (see wild roses), the cochineal fastens
itself to a cactus plant by its sucking tube, to live on the
juices. The males are winged, and only the female, which yields
the valuable dye, sticks tight to the plant. Three crops of
insects a year are harvested on a Mexican plantation. After three
months' sucking, the females are brushed off, dried in ovens, and
sold for about two thousand dollars a ton. The annual yield of
Mexico amounting to many thousands of tons, it is no wonder the
cactus plant, which furnishes so valuable an industry, should
appear on the coat-of-arms of the Mexican republic. Some cacti
are planted for hedges, the fruit of others furnishes a
refreshing drink in tropical climates, the juices are used as a
water color, and to dye candies - in short, this genus Opuntia
and allied clans have great commercial value.

The WESTERN PRICKLY PEAR (0. humifusa; O. Rafnesquii of Gray) - a
variable species ranging from Minnesota to Texas, is similar to
the preceding, but bears a larger flower, and longer, more
rounded, deeper green joints, beset with not numerous spines,
scattered chiefly near their margins. A few deflexed spines in a
cluster leave the surface where a tiny awl-shaped leaf and a tuft
of reddish brown hairs are likewise usually found.

  (Onagra biennis; Qenothera biennis of Gray)  Evening-primrose

Flowers - Yellow, fragrant, opening at evening, 1 to 2 in.
across, borne in terminal leafy-bracted spikes. Calyx tube
slender, elongated, gradually enlarged at throat, the 4-pointed
lobes bent backward; corolla of 4 spreading petals; 8 stamens; 1
pistil; the stigma 4-cleft. Stem: Erect, wand-like, or branched,
to 1 to 5 ft. tall, rarely higher, leafy. Leaves: Alternate,
lance-shaped, mostly seated on stem, entire, or obscurely
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, dry fields, thickets,
Flowering Season - June-October.
Distribution - Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico, west to the Rocky

Like a ballroom beauty, the evening primrose has a jaded,
bedraggled appearance by day when we meet it by the dusty
roadside, its erect buds, fading flowers from last night's
revelry, wilted ones of previous dissipations, and hairy oblong
capsules, all crowded together among the willow-like leaves at
the top of the rank growing plant. But at sunset a bud begins to
expand its delicate petals slowly, timidly - not suddenly and
with a pop, as the evening primrose of the garden does.

Now, its fragrance, that has been only faintly perceptible during
the day, becomes increasingly powerful. Why these blandishments
at such an hour? Because at dusk, when sphinx moths, large and
small, begin to fly (see Jamestown weed), the primrose's special
benefactors are abroad. All these moths, whose length of tongue
has kept pace with the development of the tubes of certain white
and yellow flowers dependent on their ministrations, find such
glowing like miniature moons for their special benefit, when
blossoms of other hues have melted into the deepening darkness.
If such have fragrance, they prepare to shed it now. Nectar is
secreted in tubes so deep and slender that none but the moths'
long tongues can drain the last drop. An exquisite, little,
rose-pink twilight flyer, his wings bordered with yellow,
flutters in ecstasy above the evening primrose's freshly opened
flowers, transferring in his rapid flight some of their abundant,
sticky pollen that hangs like a necklace from the outstretched
filaments. By day one may occasionally find a little fellow
asleep in a wilted blossom, which serves him as a tent, under
whose flaps the brightest bird eye rarely detects a dinner. After
a single night's dissipation the corolla wilts, hangs a while,
then drops from the maturing capsule as if severed with a sharp
knife. Few flowers, sometimes only one opens on a spike on a
given evening - a plan to increase the chances of
cross-fertilization between distinct plants; but there is a very
long succession of bloom. If a flower has not been pollenized
during the night it remains open a while in the morning.
Bumblebees now hurry in, and an occasional hummingbird takes a
sip of nectar. Toward the end of summer, when so much seed has
been set that the flower can afford to be generous, it distinctly
changes its habit and keeps open house all day.

During our winter walks we shall see close against the ground the
rosettes of year-old evening primrose plants - exquisitely
symmetrical, complex stars from whose center the flower stalks of
another summer will arise.

Floriform sunshine bursts forth from roadsides, fields, and
prairies when the COMMON SUNDROPS (Kneiffia fructicosa; formerly
Qenothera fructicosa) - is in flower. It is first cousin to the
similar evening primrose of taller, ranker growth. Often only one
blossom on a stalk expands at a time, to increase the chances of
cross-fertilization between distinct plants; but where colonies
grow it is a conspicuous acquaintance, for its large, bright
yellow corollas remain open all day. Bumblebees with their long
tongues, and some butterflies, drain the deeply hidden nectar;
smaller visitors get some only when it wells up high in the tube.
As the stigma surpasses the anthers, self-fertilization is
impossible unless an insect blunders by alighting elsewhere than
on the lower side, where the stigma is purposely turned to be
rubbed against his pollen-laden ventral surface when he settles
on a blossom. Unable to reach the nectar, mining and leaf-cutter
bees, wasps, flower flies, and beetles visit it for the abundant
pollen; and the common little white cabbage butterfly (Pieris
protodice) sucks here constantly. The capsules of the sundrops
are somewhat club-shaped and four-winged, angled above, with four
intervening ribs between. Range from Nova Scotia to Georgia, west
beyond the Mississippi.

A similar, but smaller, diurnal species (K. pumilla), likewise
found blooming in dry soil from June to August, has a more
westerly range North and South.

  (Pastinaca sativa)  Carrot family

Flowers - Dull or greenish yellow, small, without involucre or
involucels; borne in 7 to 15 rayed umbels, 2 to 6 in. across.
Stem: 2 to 5 ft. tall, stout, smooth, branching, grooved, from a
long, conic, fleshy, strong-scented root. Leaves: Compounded
(pinnately), of several pairs of oval, lobed, or cut, sharply
toothed leaflets; the petioled lower leaves often 1 1/2 ft. long.
Preferred Habitat - Waste places, roadsides, fields.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Common throughout nearly all parts of the United
States and Canada. Europe.

Men are not the only creatures who feed upon such of the
umbel-bearing plants as are innocent - parsnips, celery, parsley,
carrots, caraway, and fennel, among others; and even those which
contain properties that are poisonous to highly organized men and
beasts, afford harmless food for insects. Pliny says that
parsnips, which were cultivated beyond the Rhine in the days of
Tiberius, were brought to Rome annually to please the emperor's
exacting palate; yet this same plant, which has overrun two
continents, in its wild state (when its leaves are a paler
yellowish green than under cultivation) often proves poisonous. A
strongly acrid juice in the very tough stem causes intelligent
cattle to let it alone - precisely the object desired. But
caterpillars of certain swallow-tail butterflies, particularly of
the common eastern swallow-tail (Papilio asterias), may be taken
on it - the same greenish, black-banded, and yellow-dotted fat
"worm" found on parsnips, fennel, and parsley in the kitchen
garden. Insects understood plant relationships ages before
Linnaeus defined them. When we see this dark, velvety butterfly,
marked with yellow, hovering above the wild parsnip, we may know
she is there only to lay eggs that her larvae may eat their way
to maturity on this favorite food store. After the flat, oval,
shining seeds with their conspicuous oil tubes are set in the
spreading umbels, the strong, vigorous plant loses nothing of its
decorative charm.

>From April to June the lower-growing EARLY or GOLDEN MEADOW
PARSNIP (Zizia aurea) spreads its clearer yellow umbels above
moist fields, meadows, and swamps from New Brunswick and Dakota
to the Gulf of Mexico. Its leaves are twice or thrice compounded
of oblong, pointed, saw-edged, but not lobed leaflets.

The HAIRY-JOINTED MEADOW PARSNIP (Thaspium barbinode), another
early bloomer, with pale-yellow flowers, most common in the
Mississippi basin, may always be distinguished by the little
tufts of hair at the joints of the stem, the compound leaves, and
often on the rays of the umbels.

A yellow variety of the PURPLE MEADOW PARSNIP, which is popularly
known as GOLDEN ALEXANDERS (T. trifoliatum var. aureum), confines
itself chiefly to woodlands. The leaves are compounded of three
leaflets, longer and more lance-shaped in outline than those of
other yellow species.

  (Lysimachia quadrifolia)  Primrose family

Flowers - Yellow, streaked with dark red, 1/2 in. across or less;
each on a thread-like, spreading footstem from a leaf axil.
Calyx, 5 to 7 parted; corolla of 5 to 7 spreading lobes, and as
many stamens inserted on the throat; 1 pistil. Stem: Slender,
erect, to 3 ft. tall, leafy. Leaves: In whorls of 4 (rarely in
3's to 7's), lance-shaped or oblong, entire, black dotted.
Preferred Habitat - Open woodland, thickets, roadsides, moist,
sandy soil.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Georgia and Illinois, north to New Brunswick.

Medieval herbalists usually recorded anything that "Plinie
saieth" with profoundest respect; not always so, quaint old
Parkinson. Speaking of the common (vulgaris), wild loosestrife of
Europe, a rather stout, downy species with terminal clusters of
good-sized, yellow flowers, that was once cultivated in our
Eastern States, and has sparingly escaped from gardens, he thus
refers to the reputation given it by the Roman naturalist: "It is
believed to take away strife, or debate between ye beasts, not
onely those that are yoked together, but even those that are wild
also, by making them tame and quiet...if it be either put about
their yokes or their necks," significantly adding, "which how
true, I leave to them shall try and find it soe." Our slender,
symmetrical, common loosestrife, with its whorls of leaves and
little star-shaped blossoms on thread-like pedicels at regular
intervals up the stem, is not even distantly related to the
wonderful purple loosestrife (q.v.).

Another common, lower-growing species, the BULB-BEARING
LOOSESTRIFE (L. terrestris; L. stricta of Gray) - blooming from
July to September, lifts a terminal, elongated raceme of even
smaller, slender-pedicelled, yellow flowers streaked or dotted
with reddish; and in the axils of its abundant, opposite,
lance-shaped, black-dotted leaves, long bulblets, that are in
reality suppressed branches, are usually borne after the
flowering season. Occasionally no flowers are produced, only
these strange bulblets. In this state Linnaeus mistook the plant
for a terrestrial mistletoe. This species shows a decided
preference for swamps, moist thickets, and ditches throughout a
range which extends from Manitoba and Arkansas to the Atlantic

MONEYWORT, or CREEPING LOOSESTRIFE (L. Nummularia), a native of
Great Britain, which has long been a favorite vine in American
hanging baskets and urns, when kept in moist soil, suspended from
a veranda, will produce prolific shoots two or three feet in
length, hanging down on all sides. Pairs of yellow, dark-spotted,
five-lobed flowers grow from the axils of the opposite leaves
from June to August. One often finds it running wild in moist
soil beyond the pale of old gardens from Pennsylvania and Indiana
northward into Canada. Slight encouragement in starting runaways
would easily induce the hardy little evergreen to be as common
here as it is in England.

The LANCE-LEAVED LOOSESTRIFE (Steironema lanceolatum), most
common in the West and South, although it is by no means rare in
the northeastern States, produces either single blossoms or
few-flowered, spreading, axillary clusters on slender peduncles,
each unspotted, yellow corolla half an inch across or over; the
petal edges as if gnawed by the finest of teeth; the pointed
calyx segments showing between them. Sterile stamens in addition
to the fertile ones characterize this clan. In moist soil it
blooms from June to August. It is a strange fact that female bees
of the genus Macropis have never been taken on plants outside the
loosestrife connection. Here there appears to be the closest
interdependence between flower and insect. Even in Germany,
Muller found them by far the most abundant visitors, "diligently
sweeping the flowers (L. vulgaris) and piling large masses of
moistened pollen on their hind legs." He inclined to believe that
such blossoms in this group as have spots or streaks on their
petals - pathfinders for insect visitors - are largely dependent
on them, and cannot easily fertilize themselves; whereas the
unmarked blossoms, growing in such situations as are less
favorable to insect visits, are regularly self-fertile.

  (Asclepias tuberosa)  Milkweed family

Flowers - Bright reddish orange, in many-flowered, terminal
clusters, each flower similar in structure to the common milkweed
(q.v.). Stem: Erect, 1 to 2 ft. tall, hairy, leafy, milky juice
scanty. Leaves: Usually all alternate, lance-shaped, seated on
stem. Fruit: A pair of erect, hoary pods, 2 to 5 in. long, at
least containing silky plumed seeds.
Preferred Habitat - Dry or sandy fields, hills, roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Maine and Ontario to Arizona, south to the Gulf of

Intensely brilliant clusters of this the most ornamental of all
native milkweeds set dry fields ablaze with color. Above them
butterflies hover, float, alight, sip, and sail away - the great,
dark, velvety, pipe-vine swallow-tail (Papilio philenor), its
green-shaded hind wings marked with little white half moons; the
yellow and brown, common, Eastern swallow-tail (P. asterias),
that we saw about the wild parsnip and other members of the
carrot family the exquisite, large, spice-bush swallow-tail,
whose bugaboo caterpillar startled us when we unrolled a leaf of
its favorite food supply (see spice-bush); the small, common,
white, cabbage butterfly (Pieris protodice); the even more common
little sulphur butterflies, inseparable from clover fields and
mud puddles; the painted lady that follows thistles around the
globe; the regal fritillary (Argynnis idalia), its black and
fulvous wings marked with silver crescents, a gorgeous creature
developed from the black and orange caterpillar that prowls at
night among violet plants; the great spangled fritillary of
similar habit; the bright fulvous and black pearl crescent
butterfly (Phyciodes tharos), its small wings usually seen
hovering about the asters; the little grayish-brown, coral
hair-streak (Thecla titus), and the bronze copper (Chrysophanus
thoe), whose caterpillar feeds on sorrel (Rumex); the delicate,
tailed blue butterfly (Lycaena comyntas), with a wing expansion
of only an inch from tip to tip; all these visitors duplicated
again and again - these and several others that either escaped
the net before they were named, or could not be run down, were
seen one bright midsummer day along a Long Island roadside
bordered with butterfly weed. Most abundant of all was still
another species, the splendid monarch (Anosia plexippus), the
most familiar representative of the tribe of milkweed butterflies
(see common milkweed). Swarms of this enormously prolific species
are believed to migrate to the Gulf States, and beyond at the
approach of cold weather, as regularly as the birds, traveling in
numbers so vast that the naked trees on which they pause to rest
appear to be still decked with autumnal foliage. This milkweed
butterfly "is a great migrant," says Dr. Holland, "and within
quite recent years, with Yankee instinct, has crossed the
Pacific, probably on merchant vessels, the chrysalids being
possibly concealed in bales of hay, and has found lodgment in
Australia where it has greatly multiplied in the warmer parts of
the Island Continent, and has thence spread northward and
westward, until in its migrations it has reached Java and
Sumatra, and long ago took possession of the Philippines.... It
has established a more or less precarious foothold for itself in
southern England. It is well established at the Cape Verde
Islands, and in a short time we may expect to hear of it as
having taken possession of the Continent of Africa, in which the
family of plants upon which the caterpillars feed is well

Surely here is a butterfly flower if ever there was one, and such
are rare. Very few are adapted to tongues so long and slender
that the bumblebee cannot help himself to their nectar; but one
almost never sees him about the butterfly-weed. While other bees,
a few wasps, and even the ruby-throated hummingbird, which ever
delights in flowers with a suspicion of red about them, sometimes
visit these bright clusters, it is to the ever-present butterfly
that their marvelous structure is manifestly adapted. Only
visitors long of limb can easily remove the pollinia, which are
usually found dangling from the hairs of their legs. We may be
sure that after generously feeding its guests, the flower does
not allow many to depart without rendering an equivalent service.
The method of compelling visitors to withdraw pollen-masses from
one blossom and deposit them in another - an amazing process -
has been already described under the common milkweed. Lacking the
quantity of sticky milky juice which protects that plant from
crawling pilferers, the butterfly-weed suffers outrageous
robberies from black ants. The hairs on its stem, not sufficient
to form a stockade against them, serve only as a screen to
reflect light lest too much may penetrate to the interior juices.
We learned, in studying the prickly pear cactus, how necessary it
is for plants living in dry soil to guard against the escape of
their precious moisture.

Transplanted from Nature's garden into our own, into what Thoreau
termed "that meager assemblage of curiosities, that poor apology
for Nature and Art which I call my front yard," clumps of
butterfly-weed give the place real splendor and interest. It is
said the Indians used the tuberous root of this plant for various
maladies, although they could scarcely have known that because of
the alleged healing properties of the genus Linnaeus dedicated it
to Aesculapius, of whose name Asclepias is a Latinized

  (Collinsonia Canadensis)  Mint family

Flowers - Light yellowish, lemon-scented, about 1/2 in. long,
mostly opposite, in numerous spreading racemes, forming long,
loose terminal clusters. Calyx bell-shaped, 2-lipped, upper lip
3-toothed, lower lip 2-cleft; corolla 5-lobed, 4 lobes nearly
equal, the fifth much larger, fringed; stamens protruding, 2
anther-bearing; 1 long style, the stigma forked.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - New England, Ontario, and Wisconsin, south to
Florida and Kansas.

Now that we have come to read the faces of flowers much as their
insect friends must have done for countless ages, we suspect at a
glance that the strong-scented horse-balm, with its profusion of
lemon-colored, irregular little blossoms, is up to some ingenious
trick. The lower lip, out of all proportion to the rest of the
corolla, flaunting its enticing fringes; the long stamens
protruding from some flowers, and only the long style from others
on the same plant, excite our curiosity. Where many fragrant
clumps grow in cool, shady woods at midsummer, is an excellent
place to rest a while and satisfy it. Presently a bumblebee,
attracted by the odor from afar, alights on the fringed platform
too weak to hold him. Dropping downward, he snatches the
filaments of the two long stamens to save himself; and, as he
does so, pollen jarred out of their anther sacs falls on his
thorax at the juncture of his wings. Hanging beneath the flower a
second, he sips its nectar and is off. Many bees, large and
small, go through a similar performance. Now the young, newly
opened flowers have the forked stigmas of the long style only
protruding at this stage, the miniature stamens being still
curled within the tube. Obviously a pollen-dusted bee coming to
one of these young flowers must rub off some of the vitalizing
dust on the sticky fork that purposely impedes his entrance at
the precise spot necessary. Notice that after a flower's stamens
protrude in the second stage of its development the fork is
turned far to one side to get out of harm's way -
self-fertilization being an abomination. It was the lamented
William Hamilton Gibson who first called attention to the
horse-balm's ingenious scheme to prevent it.

  (Physalis Virginiana; P. Pennsylvanica of Gray)  Potato family

Flowers - Sulphur or greenish yellow, with 5 dark purplish dots,
1 in. across or less, solitary from the leaf axils. Calyx
5-toothed, much inflated in fruit; corolla open bell-shaped, the
edge 5-cleft; 5 stamens, the anthers yellow, style slender,
2-cleft. Stem: l 1/2 to 3 ft. tall, erect, more or less hairy or
glandular, branched, from a thick rootstock. Leaves: Ovate to
lanceolate, tapering at both ends or wedge-shaped, often
yellowish green, entire or sparingly wavy-toothed. Fruit: An
inflated, 5-angled capsule, sunken at the base, loosely
surrounding the edible reddish berry.
Preferred Habitat - Open ground; rich, dry pastures; hillsides.
Flowering Season - July-September
Distribution - New York to Manitoba, south to the Gulf States.

A common plant, so variable, however, that the earlier botanists
thought it must be several distinct species, lanceolata among
others. A glance within shows that the open flower is not so
generous as its spreading form would seem to indicate, for tufts
of dense hairs at each side of grooves where nectar is secreted,
conceal it from the mob, and, with the thickened filaments,
almost close the throat. Doubtless these hairs also serve as
footholds for the welcome bee clinging to its pendent host. The
dark spots are pathfinders. One anther maturing after another, a
visitor must make several trips to secure all the pollen, and if
she is already dusted from another blossom, nine chances out of
ten she will first leave some of the vitalizing dust on the
stigma poked forward to receive it before collecting more.
Professor Robertson says that all the ground cherries near his
home in Illinois are remarkable for their close mutual relation
with two bees of the genus Colletes. So far as is known, the
insignificant little greenish or purplish bell-shaped flowers of
the Alum-root (Heuchera Americana), with protruding orange
anthers, are the only other ones to furnish these females with
pollen for their babies' bread. Slender racemes of this species
are found blooming in dry or rocky woods from the Mississippi
eastward, from May to July, by which time the ground cherry is
ready to provide for the bee's wants. The similar Philadelphia
species was formerly cultivated for its "strawberry tomato." Many
birds which feast on all this highly attractive fruit disperse
the numerous kidney-shaped seeds.

  (Verbascum Thapsus)  Figwort family

Flowers - Yellow, 1 in. across or less, seated around a thick,
dense, elongated spike. Calyx 5-parted; corolla of 5 rounded
lobes; 5 anther-bearing stamens, the 3 upper ones short, woolly;
1 pistil. Stem: Stout, 2 to 7 ft. tall, densely woolly, with
branched hairs. Leaves: Thick, pale green, velvety-hairy, oblong,
in a rosette on the ground; others alternate, strongly clasping
the stem.
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, banks, stony waste land.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Minnesota and Kansas, eastward to Nova Scotia and
Florida. Europe.

Leaving the fluffy thistle-down he has been kindly scattering to
the four winds, the goldfinch spreads his wings for a brief
undulating flight, singing in waves also as he goes to where
tall, thick-set mullein stalks stand like sentinels above the
stony pasture. Here companies of the exquisite little black and
yellow minstrels delight to congregate with their somber families
and feast on the seeds that rapidly follow the erratic flowers up
the gradually lengthening spikes.

Delpino long ago pointed out that the blossom is best adapted to
pollen-collecting bees, which, alighting on the two long,
protruding stamens, rub off pollen on their undersides while
clinging for support to the wool on the three shorter stamens,
whose anthers supply their needs. As a bee settles on another
flower, the stigma is calculated to touch the pollen on his under
side before he gets dusted with more; thus cross-pollination is
effected. Three stamens furnish a visitor with food, two others
clap pollen on him. Numerous flies assist in removing the pollen,

"I have come three thousand miles to see the mullein cultivated
in a garden, and christened the velvet plant," says John
Burroughs in "An October Abroad." But even in England it grows
wild, and much more abundantly in Southern Europe, while its
specific name is said to have been given it because it was so
common in the neighborhood of Thapsus; but whether the place of
that name in Africa, or the Sicilian town mentioned by Ovid and
Virgil, is not certain. Strange that Europeans should labor under
the erroneous impression that this mullein is native to America,
whereas here it is only an immigrant from their own land. Rapidly
taking its course of empire westward from our seaports into which
the seeds smuggled their passage among the ballast, it is now
more common in the Eastern States, perhaps, than any native.
Forty or more folk-names have been applied to it, mostly in
allusion to its alleged curative powers, its use for candlewick
and funeral torches in the Middle Ages. The generic title, first
used by Pliny, is thought to be a corruption of Barbascum = with
beards, in allusion to the hairy filaments, or, as some think, to
the leaves.

Of what use is this felt-like covering to the plant? The
importance of protecting the delicate, sensitive, active cells
from intense light, draught, or cold, have led various plants to
various practices; none more common, however, than to develop
hairs on the epidermis of their leaves, sometimes only enough to
give it a downy appearance, sometimes to coat it with felt, as in
this case, where the hairs branch and interlace. Fierce sunlight
in the exposed, dry situations where the mullein grows; prolonged
drought, which often occurs at flowering season, when the
perpetuation of the species is at stake; and the intense cold
which the exquisite rosettes formed by year-old plants must
endure through a winter before they can send up a flower-stalk
the second spring - these trials the well-screened, juicy, warm
plant has successfully surmounted through its coat of felt.
Hummingbirds have been detected gathering the hairs to line their
tiny nests. The light, strong stalk makes almost as good a cane
as bamboo, especially when the root end, in running under a
stone, forms a crooked handle. Pale country beauties rub their
cheeks with the velvety leaves to make them rosy.

  (Verbascum Blattaria)  Figwort family

Flowers - Yellow, or frequently white, 5-parted, about 1 in.
broad, marked with brown; borne on spreading pedicles in a long,
loose raceme; all the filaments with violet hairs; 1 protruding
pistil. Stem: Erect, slender, simple, about 2 ft. high, sometimes
less, or much taller. Leaves: Seldom present at flowering time;
oblong to ovate, toothed, mostly sessile, smooth.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, open wasteland; roadsides, fields.
Flowering Season - June-November.
Distribution - Naturalized from Europe and Asia, more or less
common throughout the United States and Canada.

Quite different from its heavy and sluggish looking sister is
this sprightly, slender, fragile-flowered mullein. "Said to repel
the cockroach (Blatta). hence the name Blattaria; frequented by
moths, hence moth mullein." (Britton and Brown's "Flora.") Are
the latter frequent visitors? Surely there is nothing here to a
moth's liking. New England women used to pack this plant among
woolen garments in summer to keep out the tiny clothes moths. The
flower, whose two long stamens and pistil protrude as from the
great mullein's blossom, and whose filaments are tufted with
violet wool footholds - unnecessary provisions for moths, which
rarely alight on any flower, but suck with their wings in motion
- are cross-fertilized by pollen-collecting bees and flies as
described in the account of the great mullein.

"Of beautiful weeds quite a long list might be made without
including any of the so-called wild flowers," says John
Burroughs. "A favorite of mine is the little moth mullein that
blooms along the highway, and about the fields, and maybe upon
the edge of the lawn." Even in winter, when the slender stem, set
with round brown seed-vessels, rises above the snow, the plant is
pleasing to the human eye, as it is to that of hungry birds.

  (Linaria Linaria; L. vulgaris of Gray) Figwort family

Flowers - Light canary yellow and orange, 1 in. long or over,
irregular, borne in terminal, leafy-bracted spikes. Corolla
spurred at the base, 2-lipped, the upper lip erect, 2-lobed; the
lower lip spreading, 3-lobed, its base an orange-colored palate
closing the throat; 4 stamens in pairs within; 1 pistil. Stem: 1
to 3 ft. tall, slender, leafy. Leaves: Pale, grass-like.
Preferred Habitat - Wasteland, roadsides, banks, fields.
Flowering Season - June-October.
Distribution - Nebraska and Manitoba, eastward to Virginia and
Nova Scotia. Europe and Asia.

An immigrant from Europe, this plebeian perennial, meekly content
with waste places, is rapidly inheriting the earth. Its beautiful
spikes of butter-colored cornucopias, apparently holding the yolk
of a diminutive Spanish egg, emit a cheesy odor, suggesting a
close dairy. Perhaps half the charm of the plant consists in the
pale bluish-green grass-like leaves with a bloom on the surface,
which are put forth so abundantly from the sterile shoots. (See
blue toad-flax.)

Guided by the orange palate pathfinder to where the curious,
puzzling flower opens, the big velvety bumblebee alights, his
weight depressing the lower lip until a comfortable entrance
through the gaping mouth is offered him. In he goes, and his long
tongue readily reaches the nectar in the deep spur, while his
back brushes off pollen from the stamens in his way overhead.
Then he backs out, and the gaping mouth springs shut after him -
for the linaria is akin to the snapdragon in the garden. As its
stamens are of two lengths, the flower is able to fertilize
itself in stormy weather, insects failing to transfer its pollen.
To drain ten of these spurs a minute is no difficult task for the
bumblebee. But how slowly, painfully, the little lightweight
hive-bees and leaf-cutters squeeze in between the tight lips. An
occasional butterfly inserts its long, thin tongue, and, without
transferring a grain of pollen for the flower, robs it of sweets
clearly intended for the bumblebee alone. Even when ants - the
worst pilferers extant - succeed in entering, they cannot reach
the nectar, owing to the hairy stockade bordering the groove
where it runs. Beetles, out for pollen, also occasionally steal
an entrance, if nothing more. Grazing cattle let the plant alone
to ripen seed in peace, for it secretes disagreeable juices in
its cells - juices that were once mixed with milk by farmers'
wives to poison flies.

(Dasystoma flava; Gerardia flava of Gray)  Figwort family

Flowers - Pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 in. long; in showy, terminal,
leafy-bracted racemes. Calyx bell-shaped, 5-toothed; corolla
funnel form, the 5 lobes spreading, smooth outside, woolly
within; 4 stamens in pairs, woolly; 1 pistil. Stem: Grayish,
downy, erect, usually simple, 2 to 4 ft. tall. Leaves: Opposite,
lower ones oblong in outline, more or less irregularly lobed and
toothed; upper ones small, entire.
Preferred Habitat - Gravelly or sandy soil, dry thickets, open
Flowering Season - July-August
Distribution - "Eastern Massachusetts to Ontario and Wisconsin,
south to southern New York, Georgia, and Mississippi." (Britton
and Brown.)

In the vegetable kingdom, as in the spiritual, all degrees of
backsliding sinners may be found, each branded with a mark of
infamy according to its deserts. We have seen how the dodder vine
lost both leaf and roots after it consented to live wholly by
theft of its hardworking host's juices through suckers that
penetrate to the vitals; how the Indian pipe's blanched face
tells the story of guilt perpetrated under cover of darkness, in
the soil below; how the broom-rape and beech-drops lost their
honest green color; and, finally, the foxgloves show us plants
with their faces so newly turned toward the path of perdition,
their larceny so petty, that only the expert in criminal botany
cases condemns them. Like its cousins the gerardias (q.v.), the
downy false foxglove is only a partial parasite, attaching its
roots by disks or suckers to the roots of white oak or witch
hazel (q.v.); not only that, but, quite as frequently, groping
blindly in the dark, it fastens suckers on its own roots,
actually thieving from itself! It is this piratical tendency
which makes transplanting of foxgloves into our gardens so very
difficult; even when lifted with plenty of their beloved
vegetable mould. The term false foxglove, it should be explained,
is by no means one of reproach for dishonesty; it was applied
simply to distinguish this group of plants from the true
foxgloves cultivated, not wild, here, which yield digitalis to
the doctors.

But if these foxgloves live at others' expense, there are
creatures which in turn prey upon them. Caterpillars of a peacock
butterfly, known as the buckeye (Junonia coenia), with eye-like
spots on its tawny, reddish-gray wings, divide their unwelcome
attentions between various species of plantain, the snapdragon in
the garden, gerardias, and foxgloves.

The SMOOTH FALSE FOXGLOVE (D. Virginica; G. quercifolia of Gray)
- which delights in rich woods, moist or dry, bears similar, but
slightly larger, blossoms on a smooth, usually branched, and
taller stem, whose lower leaves especially are much cleft
(pinnatifid). This species is commoner South and West, blooming
from July to September. All the foxgloves elevate their sticky
stigmas to the mouth of their tubes, that the pollen-dusted
bumblebee may leave some of the vitalizing dust brought from
another flower on its surface before she turns upside down and
enters in this unusual fashion to receive a fresh supply on her
way to the nectar in the base of the tube. Her pressure against
the pointed anther-tips causes the light, dry pollen to sift out;
on the removal of her pressure the gaping chinks close to save it
from small bees and flies. It falls out, therefore, only when the
bee is in the right position to receive it for export to another
foxglove's stigma. Hairy footholds on anthers and filaments are
provided lest the bee fall while reversed and sifting out the

pedicularia of Gray) - a very leafy species found in dry woods
and thickets from the Mississippi and Ontario eastward to the
Atlantic, north and south, has all its leaves once or twice
pinnatifid, the lobes much cut and toothed. It is a rather
sticky, hairy, slender, and much branched plant, growing from one
to four feet tall; the broad, trumpet-shaped, yellow flower,
which is sticky outside, measures an inch or an inch and a half
long, and is sometimes almost as wide across. "The most abundant
visitor, and the one for which the flower is most perfectly
adapted," says Professor Robertson, "is Bombus Americanorum. This
bee always turns head downwards on entering the flower. When it
enters, or backs out, the basal joints of its legs strike the
tips of the anther-cells, when the pollen falls out. I had often
wondered why this bee turned upside down to enter the flower....
I discovered that the form of the flower requires it. The
modification which requires the bees to reverse is associated
with the peculiar mode of pollen discharge. Smaller bumblebees
and some other bees which never or rarely try to suck hang under
the anthers and work out the pollen by striking the trigger-like
awns. They reverse of their own accord, since they are so small
they are not compelled to do so on account of the form of the
flower. The tube is large...so that most bumblebee workers could
easily reach the nectar if the tube were not curved in the
opposite direction from that of most flowers, and if the anthers
did not obstruct the entrance." Sometimes small bees, despairing
of getting into the tube through the mouth, suck at holes in the
flower's sides, because legitimate feasting was made too
difficult for the poor little things. The ruby-throated
hummingbird, hovering a second above the tube, drains it with
none of the clown-like performances exacted from the bumblebee.
Pilfering ants find death as speedy on the sticky surfaces here
as on any catchfly.

  (Utricularia vulgaris)  Bladderwort family

Flowers - Yellow, about 1/2 in. across, 3 to 20 on short pedicels
in a raceme at the top of a stout, naked scape 3 to 14 in. high.
Calyx deeply 2-lobed; corolla 2-lipped, the upper lip erect, the
lower lip larger, its palate prominent, the lip slightly 3-lobed,
and spurred at the base; 2 stamens; 1 pistil; the stigma
2-lipped. Leaves: Very finely divided into threadlike segments,
bearing little air bladders.
Preferred Habitat - Floating free in ponds and slow streams, or
rooting in mud.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - Throughout nearly the whole of North America,
Cuba, and Mexico. Europe and Asia.

Here is an extraordinary little plant indeed, which, by its
amazing cleverness, now overruns the globe - one of the higher
order of intelligence so closely akin to the animals that the
gulf which separates such from them seems not very wide after
all. In studying the water-crowfoots (q.v.) and other aquatic
plants, we learned why submerged leaves must be so finely cut;
but what mean the little bladders tipped with bristles among the
pop-weed's threadlike foliage? Formerly these were regarded as
mere floats - a thoughtless theory, for branches without bladders
might have been observed floating perfectly. It is now known they
are traps for capturing tiny aquatic creatures: nearly every
bladder you examine under a microscope contains either minute
crustaceans or larvae, worms, or lower organisms, some perhaps
still alive, but most of them more or less advanced toward
putrefaction - a stage hastened, it is thought, by a secretion
within the bladders; for the plant cannot digest fresh food; it
can only absorb, through certain processes within the bladder's
walls, the fluid products of decay. The little insectivorous
sundew (q.v.), on the contrary, not only digests, but afterward
absorbs, animal matter. Tiny aquatic creatures, ever seeking
shelter from larger ones ready to devour them, enter the pop-weed
bladders by bending inward the free edge of the valve, which,
being strongly elastic, snaps shut again behind them instantly.
"Abandon hope, all ye who enter here," might be written above the
entrance. No victim ever escapes from that prison. Scientists are
not agreed that the bristles draw creatures into the bladder.
Whatever touches the sensitive valves is at once drawn in. "To
show how closely the edge fits," says Charles Darwin, "I may
mention that my son found a daphnia which had inserted one of its
antennae into the slit, and it was thus held fast during a whole
day. On three or four occasions I have seen long narrow larvae,
both dead and alive, wedged between the corner of the valve and
collar, with half their bodies within the bladder and half out.
Professor Cohn of Germany tells of immersing a plant of this
bladderwort one evening in clear water swarming with tiny
crustaceans, and by the next morning most of the bladders
contained them, entrapped and swimming around in their prisons.

So much for what is going on below the surface of the water: what
above it? Several flowers on the showy spike attract numerous
insects. One alighting on the lower lip must thrust his tongue
beneath the upper one to reach the nectar in the spur, passing on
its way the irritable stigma, which receives any pollen he has
brought in. Instantly it is touched, the stigma folds up to be
out of the way of the tongue when it is withdrawn from the spur
now laden with fresh pollen. It is thus that self-fertilization
is escaped. Many vigorous seeds follow in each capsule. This
marvelous piece of mechanism is what Thoreau termed "a
dirty-conditioned flower, like a sluttish woman with a gaudy
yellow bonnet"!

Not through its seeds alone, however, has the little plant
succeeded in firmly establishing itself. In early autumn the
stems terminate in large buds which, falling off, lie dormant all
winter at the bottom of the pond. In spring they root and put
forth leaves bearing bladders, which at this stage of existence
are filled with water to help anchor the plant. As flowering
season approaches, the bladders undergo an internal change to fit
them for a change of function; they now fill with air, when the
buoyed plant rises toward the surface to send up its flowering
scape, while the bladders proceed with their nefarious practices
to nourish it more abundantly while its system is heavily taxed.

The HORNED BLADDERWORT (U. cornuta), found in sandy swamps, along
the borders of ponds, marshy lake margins, and in bogs from
Newfoundland to Florida, westward to Minnesota and Texas, bears
from one to six deliciously fragrant yellow flowers on its
leafless scape from June to August. It is "perhaps the most
fragrant flower we have," says John Burroughs. "In a warm moist
atmosphere its odor is almost too strong.... Its perfume is sweet
and spicy in an eminent degree." The low scape, rooting in the
mud, has some root-like stems and branches, sometimes with a few
entire leaves and bladders. Its benefactors, bumblebees and
butterflies, with their highly developed aesthetic taste, are
attracted from afar by this pleasing flower, whose acute, curved
spur filled with nectar may not be drained by small fry, to whom
the hairy throat is an additional discouragement.

  (Lonicera Caprifoliuin; L. grata of Gray)  Honeysuckle family

Flowers - White within, the tube pinkish, soon fading yellow, 1
to 1 1/2 in. long, very fragrant; borne in terminal whorls seated
in the united pair of upper leaves. Calyx small, 5-toothed;
corolla slender, tubular, 2-lipped; upper lip 4-lobed; lower lip
narrow, curved downward; 5 stamens and 1 style far protruding.
Stem: Climbing high, smooth. Leaves: Upper pairs united around
the stem into an oval disk or shallow cup; lower leaves opposite,
but not united oval, entire. Fruit: Red berries, clustered.
Preferred Habitat - Thickets, wayside hedges, rocky woodlands.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - New England and Michigan to the Southern States.

"Escaped from cultivation and naturalized." How does it happen
that this vine, a native of Europe, is now so common in the
Eastern United States as to be called the American woodbine? Had
Columbus been a botanist and wandered about our continent in
search of flowers, he would have found very few that were
familiar to him at home, except such as were common both to
Europe and Asia also. Where the Aleutian Islands jut far out into
the Pacific, and the strongest of ocean currents flows our way,
must once have been a substantial highroad for beasts, birds, and
vegetables, if not for men as well; but in the wide, briny
Atlantic no European seed could live long enough to germinate
after drifting across to our shores, if, indeed, it ever reached
here. Once the American colonies came to be peopled, with
homesick Europeans, who sent home for everything portable they
had loved there, enormous numbers of trees, shrubs, plants, and
seeds were respectably carried across in ships; the seeds of
others stole a passage, as they do this day, among the hay used
in packing. This was the chance for expansion they had been
waiting for for ages. While many cultivated species found it
practically impossible to escape from the vigilance of gardeners
here, others, with a better plan for disseminating seed, quickly
ran wild. Now some of the commonest plants we have are of
European origin. This honeysuckle, by bearing red berries to
attract migrating birds in autumn, soon escaped the confines of
gardens. Its undigested seeds, dropped in the woodland far from
the parent vine, germinated quite as readily as in Europe, and
pursued in peace their natural mode of existence, until here too
we now have banks

     "Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine."

more northerly and westerly range, bears clusters of flowers that
are yellow on the outside, and orange within the tube, the
terminal clusters slightly elevated above a united pair of dull
green leaves that are softly hairy underneath. The slender flower
tube is sticky outside to protect it from pilfering ants, and the
hairs at the base of the stamens serve to hide the nectar from
unbidden guests. Berries, bright orange. Flowering season,

The deliciously fragrant CHINESE or JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE (L.
Japonica), as commonly grown on garden trellises and fences here
as the morning-glory, has freely escaped from cultivation from
New York southward to West Virginia and North Carolina. Everyone
must be familiar with the pairs of slender, tubular, two-lipped,
white or pinkish flowers, quickly turning yellow, which are borne
in the leaf axils along the sprays. The smooth, dark green,
opposite leaves, pale beneath, cling almost the entire year
through. The stem, in winding, follows the course taken by the
hands of a clock. Were the berries red instead of black, they
would, doubtless, have attracted more birds to disperse their
seeds, and the vine would have traveled as fast in its wild state
as the Italian honeysuckle has done. It blooms from June to
August, and sparingly again in autumn.
When daylight begins to fade, these long, slender-tubed buds
expand to welcome their chosen benefactors, the sphinx moths,
wooing them with fragrance so especially strong and sweet at this
time that, long after dark, guests may be guided from afar by it
alone, and entertaining them with copious draughts of deeply
hidden nectar, which their long tongues alone may drain. Poised
above the blossoms, they sip without pause of their whirring
wings, and it is not strange that many people mistake them in the
half light for hummingbirds. Indeed, they are often called
hummingbird moths. Darting away suddenly and swift as thought,
they have also earned the name of hawk moths. Because the
caterpillars have a curious trick of raising the fore part of
their bodies and remaining motionless so long (like an Egyptian
sphinx), the commoner name seems most appropriate. A sphinx moth
at rest curls up its exceedingly long tongue like .a watch-
spring: in action only the hummingbird can penetrate to such
depths; hence that honeysuckle which prefers to woo the tiny
bird, whose decided preference is for red, is the TRUMPET or
CORAL HONEYSUCKLE; whereas the other twiners developed deep,
tubular flowers that are white or yellow, so that the moths may
see them in the dark, when red blossoms are engulfed in the
prevailing blackness. Moreover, the latter bloom at a season when
the crepuscular and nocturnal moths are most abundant. Rough
rounded pollen grains, carried on the hairs and scales on the
under side of the moth's body from his head to his abdomen,
including antennae, tongue, legs, and wings, cannot but be rubbed
off on the protruding sticky stigma of the next honeysuckle tube
entered; hence cross-fertilization is regularly effected by moths
alone. The next day such interlopers as bees, flies, butterflies,
and even the outwitted hummingbird, may take whatever nectar or
pollen remains. If the previous evening has been calm and fine,
they will find little or none; but if the night has been wild and
stormy, keeping the moths under cover, the tubes will brim with
sweets. After fertilization the corolla turns yellow to let
visitors know the mutual benefit association has gone out of

  (Diervilla Diervilla; D. trifida of Gray)  Honeysuckle family

Flowers - Yellow, small, fragrant, 1 to 5 (usually 3) together on
a peduncle from upper leaf-axils. Calyx tube slender, elongated;
corolla narrowly funnel-form, about 3/4 in. long, its 5 lobes
spreading, 3 of them somewhat united; 5 stamens; 1 pistil
projecting. Stem: A smooth, branching shrub 2 to 4 ft. high.
Leaves. Opposite, oval, and taper-pointed, finely saw-edged.
Fruit: Slender, beaked pods crowned with the 5 calyx lobes.
Preferred Habitat - Dry or rocky soil, woodlands, hills.
Flowering Season - May-August.
Distribution - British Possessions southward to Michigan and
North Carolina.

The coral honeysuckle determined to woo the hummingbird by
wearing his favorite color; the twining white and yellow
honeysuckles of our porches chose for their benefactors the
sphinx moths, attracting them by delicious fragrance and deeply
hidden nectar in slender tubes that are visible even in the dark;
whereas the small-flowered bush honeysuckles still cater to the
bees which, in all probability, once sufficed for the entire
family. For them a conspicuous landing place has been provided in
the more highly colored lower lobe of this flower, from which the
visitor cannot fail to find the pocket full of nectar that swells
the base of the tube but when he alights, pollen laden from
another blossom, he must pay toll by leaving some of the
vitalizing dust on the projecting stigma before he feasts and
dusts himself afresh. After they have been plundered, and
consequently fertilized, all the honeysuckles change color, this
one taking on a deeper yellow to let the bees know the larder is
empty, that they may waste no precious time, but confine their
visits where they are needed. "Many flowers adapted to bees show
butterflies, hawk moths and hummingbirds as intruders," says
Professor Robertson; "and this is important, since it enables us
to understand how bee-flowers might become modified to suit them"
- just as certain of the honeysuckles have done. Once the
Oriental pink weigelias, grown in nearly every American garden,
were thought to belong to the Diervilla clan, from which
later-day systematists have banished them.

The EARLY FLY or TWIN HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera ciliata), found in
moist, cool woods from Pennsylvania and Michigan far northward,
sends forth pairs of funnel-form, honey-yellow flowers, about
three-quarters of an inch long, with five, regular lobes, on a
slender footstalk from the leaf axils in May. It is a straggling,
shrubby bush from three to five feet tall. The opposite leaves
are thin, oval, bright green on both sides, the edges hairy. Two
little ovoid, light red berries follow the flowers.

Another species, a shrubby SWAMP FLY-HONEYSUCKLE (L.
oblongifolia), found in wet ground and bogs throughout a similar
range, blooming about two weeks later, coats the under side of
its young leaves with fine hairs to prevent their pores from
clogging with vapors arising from its moist retreats. The little
pale yellow flowers, also growing in pairs on a footstalk from
the leaf axils, have their tubular corollas strongly cleft into
two lips. Reddish markings within serve as pathfinders for the
bumblebee, who finds so much nectar at the base that a tiny
bulging pocket had to be provided to hold it. Sometimes the two
flowers join below like Siamese twins, in which case the pair of
crimson berries become more or less united.

                         "So we grew together,
      Like to a double cherry, seeming parted."

One occasionally finds the pink and white twin-flowered TARTARIAN
BUSH HONEYSUCKLE (L. Tartarica) escaped from cultivation in the
Eastern States through the agency of birds which feast upon its
little round, red, translucent berries.

  (Taraxacum Taraxacum; T. Densleonis of Gray)  Chicory family

Flower-head - Solitary, golden yellow, to 2 in. across,
containing 150 to 200 perfect ray florets on a flat receptacle at
the top of a hollow, milky scape 2 to 18 in. tall. Leaves: From a
very deep, thick, bitter root; oblong to spatulate in outline,
irregularly jagged.
Preferred Habitat - Lawns, fields, grassy waste places.
Flowering Season - Every month in the year.
Distribution - Around the civilized world.

     "Dear common flower that grow'st beside the way,
        Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold.
      . . . .
      Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow
        Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,
      Nor wrinkled the lean brow
        Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease.
      'Tis the spring's largess, which she scatters now
        To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand
        Though most hearts never understand
      To take it at God's value, but pass by
      The offered wealth with unrewarded eye."

Let the triumphant Anglo-Saxon with dreams of expansion that
include the round earth, the student of sociology who wishes an
insight into cooperative methods as opposed to individualism, the
young man anxious to learn how to get on, parents with children
to be equipped for the struggle for existence, business men and
employers of labor, all sit down beside the dandelion and take
its lesson to heart. How has it managed without navies and armies
- for it is no imperialist - to land its peaceful legions on
every part of the civilized world and take possession of the
soil? How can this neglected wayside composite weed triumph over
the most gorgeous hothouse individual on which the horticulturist
expends all the science at his command; to flourish where others
give up the struggle defeated; to send its vigorous offspring
abroad prepared for similar conquest of adverse conditions
wherever met to attract myriads of customers to its department
store, and by consummate executive ability to make every visitor
unwittingly contribute to its success? Any one who doubts the
dandelion's fitness to survive, should humble himself by spending
days and weeks on his knees, trying to eradicate the plant from
even one small lawn with a knife, only to find the turf starred
with golden blossoms, or, worse still from his point of view,
hoary with seed balloons, the following spring.

Deep, very deep, the stocky bitter root penetrates where heat and
drought affect it not, nor nibbling rabbits, moles, grubs of
insects, and other burrowers break through and steal. Cut off the
upper portion only with your knife, and not one, but several,
plants will likely sprout from what remains; and, however late in
the season, will economize stem and leaf to produce flowers and
seeds, cuddled close within the tuft, that set all your pains at
naught. "Never say die" is the dandelion's motto. An exceedingly
bitter medicine is extracted from the root of this dandelion,
formerly known as T. officinale. Likewise are the leaves bitter.
Although they appear so early in the spring, they must be
especially tempting to grazing cattle and predaceous insects, the
rosettes remain untouched, while other succulent, agreeable
plants are devoured wholesale. Only Italians and other thrifty
Old-World immigrants, who go about then with sack and knife
collecting the fresh young tufts, give the plants pause but even
they leave the roots intact. When boiled like spinach or eaten
with French salad dressing, the bitter juices are extracted from
the leaves or disguised - mean tactics by an enemy outside the
dandelion's calculation. All nations know the plant by some
equivalent for the name dent de lion = lion's tooth, which the
jagged edges of the leaves suggest.

Presently a hollow scape arises to display the flower above the
surrounding grass. Bridge builders and constructing engineers
know how yielding and economical, yet how invincibly strong, is
the hollow tube. March winds may buffet and bend the dandelion's
stem without harm. How children delight to split this slippery
tube, and run it in and out of their mouths until curls form! At
the top of the scape is a double involucre of narrow, green,
leaf-like scales similar to what all composites have. Half the
involucre bends downward to protect the flower from crawling
pilferers, half stands erect to play the role for the community
of florets within that the calyx does for individual blossoms.
When it is time to close the dandelion shop, business being ended
for the day, this upper-half of the involucre protects it like
the heavy shutters merchants put up at their windows.

Seated on a fleshy receptacle, not one flower, but often two
hundred minute, perfect florets generously cooperate. "In union
there is strength" is another motto adopted, not only by the
chicory clan, but by the entire horde of composites. Each floret
of itself could hope for no attention from busy insects; united,
how gorgeously attractive these disks of overlapping rays are!
Doubtless each tiny flower was once a five-petaled blossom, for
in the five teeth at the top and the five lines are indications
that once distinct parts have been welded together to form a more
showy and suitable corolla. Each floret insures cross-pollination
from insects crawling over the head, much as the minute yellow
tubes in the center of a daisy do (q.v.). Quantities of small
bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, and beetles - over a hundred
species of insects - come seeking the nectar that wells up in
each little tube, and the abundant pollen, which are greatly
appreciated in early spring, when food is so scarce. In rainy
weather and at night, when its benefactors are not flying, the
canny dandelion closes completely to protect its precious
attractions. Because the plant, which is likely to bloom every
month in the year, may not always certainly reckon on being
pollinated by insects, each neglected floret will curl the two
spreading, sticky branches of its style so far backward that they
come in contact with any pollen that has been carried out of the
tube by the sweeping brushes on their tips. Occasional
self-fertilization is surely better than setting no seed at all
when insects fail. Not a chance does the dandelion lose to "get

After flowering, it again looks like a bud, lowering its head to
mature seed unobserved. Presently rising on a gradually
lengthened scape to elevate it where there is no interruption for
the passing breeze from surrounding rivals, the transformed head,
now globular, white, airy, is even more exquisite, set as it is
with scores of tiny parachutes ready to sail away. A child's
breath puffing out the time of day, a vireo plucking at the
fluffy ball for lining to put in its nest, the summer breeze, the
scythe, rake, and mowing machines, sudden gusts of winds sweeping
the country before thunderstorms - these are among the agents
that set the flying vagabonds free. In the hay used for packing
they travel to foreign lands in ships, and, once landed, readily
adapt themselves to conditions as they find them. After soaking
in the briny ocean for twenty-eight days - long enough for a
current to carry them a thousand miles along the coast - they are
still able to germinate.

Virginicum; formerly Krigia Virginica) - with from two to six
long-peduncled, flat, deep yellow or reddish-orange flower heads,
about an inch and a half across, on the summit of its stem from
May to October, elects to grow in moist meadows, woodlands, and
shady rocky places. How it glorifies them! From a tuffet of
spatulate, wavy-toothed or entire leaves, the smooth, shining,
branching stem arises bearing a single oblong, clasping leaf
below the middle. Particularly beautiful is its silvery
seed-ball, the pappus consisting of about a dozen hairlike
bristles inside a ring of small oblong scales, on which the seed
sails away. Range, from Massachusetts to Manitoba, south to
Georgia and Kansas.

A charming little plant, the CAROLINA DWARF DANDELION or KRIGIA
(A. Carolinianum), once confounded with the above, sends up
several unbranched scapes from the same tuffet. It blooms in dry,
sandy soil from April to August, from Maine and Minnesota to the
Gulf States.

Like a small edition of Lowell's "dear common flower" is the TALL
DANDELION, or AUTUMNAL HAWKBIT (Leontodon autumnale), its
slender, wiry, branching scape six inches to two feet high,
terminated by several flower-heads, each on a separate peduncle,
which is usually a little thickened and scaly just below it. Only
forty to seventy five-toothed ray florets spread in a flat golden
disk from an oblong involucre. They close in rainy weather and at
night. From June to November, in spite of its common name, it
blooms in fields and along roadsides, its brownish seed-plumes
rapidly following; but these are produced at the frightfully
extravagant cost of over two hundred thousand grains of pollen to
each head, it is estimated. The Greek generic name, meaning
lion's tooth, refers to the shape of the lobes of the narrowly
oblong leaves in a tuft at the base. Range, from New Jersey and
Ohio far northward. Naturalized from Europe and Asia.

  (Sonchus arvensis)  Chicory family

Flower-heads - Bright yellow, very showy, to 2 in. across,
several or numerous, on rough peduncles in a spreading cluster.
Involucre nearly 1 in. high; the scales narrow, rough. Stem: 2 to
4 ft. high, leafy below, naked, and paniculately branched above,
from deep roots and creeping rootstocks. Leaves: Long, narrow,
spiny, but not sharp-toothed; deeply cut, mostly clasping at
Preferred Habitat - Meadows, fields, roadsides, saltwater
Flowering Season - July-October.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Minnesota and Utah, south to New

It cannot be long, at their present rate of increase, before this
and its sister immigrant become very common weeds throughout our
entire area, as they are in Europe and Asia.

The ANNUAL SOW-THISTLE or HARE'S LETTUCE (S. oleraceus), its
smaller, pale yellow flower-heads, with smooth involucres more
closely grouped, now occupies our fields and waste places with
the assurance of a native. Honeybees chiefly, but many other
bees, wasps, brilliant little flower-flies (Syrphidae), and
butterflies among other winged visitors which alight on the
flowers, from May to November, are responsible for the copious,
soft, fine, white-plumed seeds that the winds waft away to fresh
colonizing ground. The leaves clasp the stem by deep ear-like or
arrow-shaped lobes, or the large lower ones are on petioles,
lyrate-pinnatifid, the terminal division commonly large and
triangular; the margins all toothed. Frugal European peasants use
them as a potherb or salad. One of the plant's common folk-names
in the Old World is hare's palace. According to the "Grete
Herbale," if "the hare come under it, he is sure no beast can
touch hym!' That was the spot Brer Rabbit was looking for when
Brer Fox lay low! Another early writer declares that "when hares
are overcome with heat they eat of an herb called hare's-lettuce,
hare's-house, hare's-palace; and there is no disease in this
beast the cure whereof she does not seek for in this herb." Who
has detected our cottontails nibbling the succulent leaves?

  (Lactuca Canadensis)  Chicory family

Flower-heads - Numerous small, about 1/4 in. across, involucre
cylindric, rays pale yellow; followed by abundant, soft, bright
white pappus; the heads growing in loose, branching, terminal
clusters. Stem: Smooth, 3 to 10 ft. high, leafy up to the flower
panicle; juice milky. Leaves: Upper ones lance shaped; lower ones
often 1 ft. long, wavy-lobed, often pinnatifid, taper pointed,
narrowed into flat petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, open ground; roadsides.
Flowering Season - June-November.
Distribution - Georgia, westward to Arkansas, north to the
British Possessions.

Few gardeners allow the table lettuce (sativa) to go to seed but
as it is next of kin to this common wayside weed, it bears a
strong likeness to it in the loose, narrow panicles of
cream-colored flowers, followed by more charming, bright white
little pompons. Where the garden varieties originated, or what
they were, nobody knows. Herodotus says lettuce was eaten as a
salad in 550 B.C.; in Pliny's time it was cultivated, and even
blanched, so as to be had at all seasons of the year by the
Romans. Among the privy-purse expenses of Henry VIII is a reward
to a certain gardener for bringing "lettuze" and cherries to
Hampton Court. Quaint old Parkinson, enumerating "the vertues of
the lettice," says, "They all cool a hot and fainting stomache."
When the milky juice has been thickened (lactucarium), it is
sometimes used as a substitute for opium by regular practitioners
- a fluid employed by the plants themselves, it is thought, to
discourage creatures from feasting at their expense (see
milkweed). Certain caterpillars, however, eat the leaves readily;
but offer lettuce or poppy foliage to grazing cattle, and they
will go without food rather than touch it.

     "What's one man's poison, Signor,
      Is another's meat or drink."

Rabbits, for example, have been fed on the deadly nightshade for
a week without injury.

The HAIRY or RED WILD LETTUCE (L. hirsuta), similar to the
preceding, but often with dark reddish stem, peduncles, and tiny
flower-cups, the ray florets varying from yellow to pale reddish
or purplish, has longer leaves, deeply cut or lobed almost to the
wide midrib. After what we learned when studying the barberry and
the prickly pear cactus, for example, about plants that choose to
live in dry soil, it is not surprising to find that this is a
lower, less leafy, and more hairy plant than the moisture-loving
tall lettuce.

An European immigrant, naturalized here but recently, the PRICKLY
LETTUCE (L. Scariola) has nevertheless made itself so very much
at home in a short time that it has already become a troublesome
weed from New England to Pennsylvania, westward to Minnesota and
Missouri. But when we calculate that every plant produces over
eight thousand fluffy white-winged seeds on its narrow panicle,
ready to sail away on the first breeze, no wonder so well endowed
and prolific an invader marches triumphantly across continents.
The long, pale green, spiny-margined, milky leaves, with stiff
prickles on the midrib beneath, are doubly protected against
insect borers and grazing cattle.

 "Look at this delicate plant that lifts its head from the
  See how its leaves all point to the North as true as the

While Longfellow must have had the coarse-growing,
yellow-flowered, daisy-like PRAIRIE ROSIN-WEED (Silphium
laciniatum) in mind when he wrote this stanza of "Evangeline,"
his lines apply with more exactness to the delicate prickly
lettuce, our eastern compass plant. Not until 1895 did Professor
J. C. Arthur discover that when the garden lettuce is allowed to
flower, its stem leaves also exhibit polarity. The great lower
leaves of the rosin-weed, which stand nearly vertical, with their
faces to the east and west, and their edges to the north and
south, have directed many a traveler, not from Acadia only,
across the prairie until it has earned the titles pilot-weed,
compass or polar plant. Various theories have been advanced to
account for the curious phenomenon, some claiming that the leaves
contained sufficient iron to reader them magnetic - a theory
promptly exploded by chemical analysis. Others supposed that the
resinous character of the leaves made them susceptible to
magnetic influence; but as rosin is a non-conductor of
electricity, of course this hypothesis likewise proved untenable.
At last Dr. Asa Gray brought forward the only sensible
explanation: inasmuch as both surfaces of the rosin-weed leaf are
essentially alike, there being very nearly as many stomata on the
upper side as on the under, both surfaces are equally sensitive
to sunlight; therefore the leaf twists on its petiole until both
sides share it as equally as is possible. While the polarity of
the prickly lettuce leaves is by no means so marked, Dr. Gray's
theory about the rosin-weed may be applied to them as well.

  (Hieracium aurantiacum)  Chicory family

Flower-beads - Reddish orange; 1 in. across or less, the
5-toothed rays overlapping in several series; several heads on
short peduncles in a terminal cluster. Stem: Usually leafless, or
with 1 to 2 small sessile leaves; 6 to 20 in. high, slender,
hairy, from a tuft of hairy, spatulate, or oblong leaves at the
Preferred Habitat - Fields, woods, roadsides, dry places.
Flowering Season - June-September.
Distribution - Pennsylvania and Middle States northward into
British Possessions.

Peculiar reddish-orange disks, similar in shade to the butterfly
weed's umbels, attract our eyes no less than those of the bees,
flies, and butterflies for whom such splendor was designed. After
cross-fertilization has been effected, chiefly through the agency
of the smaller bees, a single row of slender, brownish,
persistent bristles attached to the seeds transforms the head
into the "devil's paint-brush." Another popular title in England,
from whence the plant originally came, is Grimm the Collier. All
the plants in this genus take their name from hierax = a hawk,
because people in the old country once thought that birds of prey
swooped earthward to sharpen their eyesight with leaves of the
hawkweed, hawkbit, or speerhawk, as they are variously called.
Transplanted into the garden, the orange hawkweed forms a
spreading mass of unusual, splendid color.

ROBIN'S PLANTAIN (H. venosum), with flower-heads only about half
an inch across, sends up a smooth, slender stem, paniculately
branched above, to display the numerous dandelion-yellow disks as
early as May, although October is not too late to find this
generous bloomer in pine woodlands, dry thickets, and sandy soil.
Purplish-veined oval leaves, more or less hairy, that spread in a
tuft next the ground, are probably as efficacious in curing
snakebites as those of the rattlesnake plantain (q.v.). When a
credulous generation believed that the Creator had indicated with
some sign on each plant the special use for which each was
intended, many leaves were found to have veinings suggesting the
marks on a snake's body; therefore, by simple reasoning, they
must extract venom. How delightful is faith cure!

Unlike the preceding, the CANADA HAWKWEED (H. Canadense), lacks a
basal tuft at flowering time, but its firm stem, that may be any
height from one to five feet, is amply furnished with oblong to
lance-shaped leaves seated on it, their midrib prominent, the
margins sparingly but sharply toothed. In dry, open woods and
thickets, and along shady roadsides, its loosely clustered heads
of clear yellow, about one inch across, are displayed from July
to September; and later the copious brown bristles remain for
sparrows to peck at.

The ROUGH HAWKWEED (H. scabrum), with a stout, stiff stem crowned
with a narrow branching cluster of small yellow flower-heads on
dark bristly peduncles, also lacks a basal tuft at flowering
time. Its hairy oblong leaves are seated on the rigid stem. In
dry, open places, clearings, and woodlands from Nova Scotia to
Georgia, and westward to Nebraska, it blooms from July to

More slender and sprightly is the HAIRY HAWKWEED (H. Gronovii),
common in sterile soil from Massachusetts and Illinois to the
Gulf States. The basal leaves and lower part of the stiff stem,
especially, are hairy, not to allow too free transpiration of
precious moisture.

  (Chrysopsis Mariana)  Thistle family

Plower-heads - Composite, yellow, 1 in. wide or less, a few
corymbed flowers on glandular stalks; each composed of perfect
tubular disk florets surrounded by pistillate ray florets the
involucre campanulate, its narrow bracts overlapping in several
series. Stem: Stout, silky-hairy when young, nearly smooth later,
1 to 2 1/2 ft. tall. Leaves: Alternate, oblong to spatulate,
Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, or sandy, not far inland.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - Long Island and Pennsylvania to the Gulf States.

Whoever comes upon clumps of these handsome flowers by the dusty
roadside cannot but be impressed with the appropriateness of
their generic name (Chrysos = gold; opsis = aspect). Farther
westward, north and south. it is the HAIRY GOLDEN ASTER (C.
villosa), a pale, hoary-haired plant with similar flowers borne
at midsummer, that is the common species.

  (Solidago)  Thistle family

When these flowers transform whole acres into "fields of the
cloth-of-gold," the slender wands swaying by every roadside, and
purple asters add the final touch of imperial splendor to the
autumn landscape, already glorious with gold and crimson, is any
parterre of Nature's garden the world around more gorgeous than
that portion of it we are pleased to call ours? Within its limits
eighty-five species of goldenrod flourish, while a few have
strayed into Mexico and South America, and only two or three
belong to Europe, where many of ours are tenderly cultivated in
gardens, as they should be here, had not Nature been so lavish.
To name all these species, or the asters, the sparrows, and the
warblers at sight is a feat probably no one living can perform;
nevertheless, certain of the commoner goldenrods have
well-defined peculiarities that a little field practice soon
fixes in the novice's mind.

Along shady roadsides, and in moist woods and thickets, from
(S. caesia) sways an unbranched stem with a bluish bloom on it.
It is studded with pale golden clusters of tiny florets in the
axils of lance-shaped, feather-veined leaves for nearly its
entire length. Range from Maine, Ontario, and Minnesota to the
Gulf States. None is prettier, more dainty, than this common

In rich woodlands and thicket borders we find the ZIG-ZAG or
BROAD-LEAVED GOLDENROD (S. flexicaulis; S. latifolia of Gray) its
prolonged, angled stem that grows as if waveringly uncertain of
the proper direction to take, strung with small clusters of
yellow florets, somewhat after the manner of the preceding
species. But its saw-edged leaves are ovate, sharply tapering to
a point, and narrowed at the base into petioles. It blooms from
July to September. Range from New Brunswick to Georgia, and
westward beyond the Mississippi.

During the same blooming period, and through a similar range, our
only albino, with an Irish-bull name, the WHITE GOLDENROD, or
more properly SILVER-ROD (S. bicolor), cannot be mistaken. Its
cream-white florets also grow in little clusters from the upper
axils of a usually simple and hairy gray stem six inches to four
feet high. Most of the heads are crowded in a narrow, terminal
pyramidal cluster. This plant approaches more nearly the idea of
a rod than its relatives. The leaves; which are broadly oblong
toward the base of the stem, and narrowed into long margined
petioles, are frequently quite hairy, for the silver-rod elects
to live in dry soil, and its juices must be protected from heat
and too rapid transpiration.

In swamps and peat bogs the BOG GOLDENROD (S. uliginosa) sends up
two to four feet high a densely flowered, oblong, terminal spire;
its short branches so appressed that this stem also has a
wand-like effect. The leaves, which are lance-shaped or oblong,
gradually increase in size and length of petiole until the lowest
often measure nine inches long. Season, July to September. Range,
from Newfoundland to Pennsylvania and westward beyond the

Now we leave the narrow, unbranched, wand goldenrods strung with
clusters of minute florets, which, however slender and charming,
are certainly far less effective in the landscape than the
following members of their clan which have their multitudes of
florets arranged in large, compound, more or less widely
branching, terminal, pyramidal clusters. On this latter plan the
SHOWY or NOBLE GOLDENROD (S. speciosa) displays its splendid,
dense, ascending branches of bloom from August to October.
European gardeners object to planting goldenrods, complaining
that they so quickly impoverish a rich bed that neighboring
plants starve. This noble species becomes ignoble indeed, unless
grown in rich soil, when it spreads in thrifty circular tufts.
The stout stem, which often assumes reddish tints, rises from
three to seven feet high, and the smooth, firm, broadly oval,
saw-toothed lower leaves are long-petioled. Range, from Nova
Scotia to the Carolinas, westward to Nebraska.

When crushed in the hand, the dotted, bright green, lance-shaped,
entire leaves of the SWEET GOLDENROD or BLUE MOUNTAIN TEA (S.
odora) cannot be mistaken, for they give forth a pleasant anise
scent. The slender, simple, smooth stem is crowned with a
graceful panicle, whose branches have the florets seated all on
one side. Dry soil. New England to the Gulf States, July to

rugosa), a perversely variable species, its hairy stem perhaps
only a foot high, or, maybe, over seven feet, its rough leaves
broadly oval to lance-shaped, sharply saw-edged, few if any
furnished with footstems, lifts a large, compound, and gracefully
curved panicle, whose florets are seated on one side of its
spreading branches. Sometimes the stem branches at the summit.
One usually finds it blooming in dry soil from July to November,
throughout a range extending from Newfoundland and Ontario to the
Gulf States.

Usually the ELM-LEAVED GOLDENROD (S. ulmifolia) sends up several
slender, narrow spires of deep yellow bloom from about the same
point at the summit of the smooth stem, like long, tapering
fingers. Small, oblong, entire leaves are seated on these
elongated sprays, while below the inflorescence the large leaves
taper to a sharp point, and are coarsely and sharply toothed. In
woods and copses from Maine and Minnesota to Georgia and Texas
this common goldenrod blooms from July to September.

The unusually beautiful, spreading, recurved, branching panicle
of bloom borne by the EARLY, PLUME, or SHARP-TOOTHED GOLDENROD or
YELLOW-TOP (S. juncea), so often dried for winter decoration, may
wave four feet high, but usually not over two, at the summit of a
smooth, rigid stem. Toward the top, narrow, elliptical, uncut
leaves are seated on the stalk; below, much larger leaves, their
sharp teeth slanting forward, taper into a broad petiole, whose
edges may be cut like fringe. In dry, rocky soil this is,
perhaps, the first and last goldenrod to bloom, having been found
as early as June, and sometimes lasting into November. Range,
from North Carolina and Missouri very far north.

West of the Mississippi how beautiful are the dry prairies in
autumn with the MISSOURI GOLDENROD (S. Missouriensis), its short,
broad, spreading panicle waving at the summit of a smooth,
slender stem from two to five feet tall. Its firm, rather thick
leaves are lance-shaped, triple-nerved, entire, very
rough-margined, or perhaps the lowest ones with a few scattered

Perhaps the commonest of all the lovely clan east of the
Mississippi, or throughout a range extending from Arizona and
Florida northward to British Columbia and New Brunswick, is the
CANADA GOLDENROD or YELLOW-WEED (S. Canadensis). Surely everyone
must be familiar with the large, spreading, dense-flowered
panicle, with recurved sprays, that crowns a rough, hairy stem
sometimes eight feet tall, or again only two feet. Its
lance-shaped, acutely pointed, triple-nerved leaves are rough,
and the lower ones saw-edged. From August to November one cannot
fail to find it blooming in dry soil.

Most brilliantly colored of its tribe is the low-growing GRAY or
FIELD GOLDENROD or DYER'S WEED (S. nemoralis). The rich, deep
yellow of its little spreading, recurved, and usually one-sided
panicles is admirably set off by the ashy gray, or often cottony,
stem, and the hoary, grayish-green leaves in the open, sterile
places where they arise from July to November. Quebec and the
Northwest Territory to the Gulf States.

No longer classed as a true Solidago, but the type of a distinct
graminifolia; formerly S. lanceolata) lifts its flat-topped,
tansy-like, fragrant clusters of flower-heads from two to four
feet above moist ground. From July to September it transforms
whole riverbanks, low fields, and roadsides into a veritable El
Dorado. Its numerous leaves are very narrow, lance-shaped, triple
or five nerved, uncut, sometimes with a few resinous dots. Range,
from New Brunswick to the Gulf, and westward to Nebraska.

     "Along the roadside, like the flowers of gold
        That tawny Incas for their gardens wrought,
      Heavy with sunshine droops the goldenrod."

Bewildered by the multitude of species, and wondering at the
enormous number of representatives of many of them, we cannot but
inquire into the cause of such triumphal conquest of a continent
by a single genus. Much is explained simply in the statement that
goldenrods belong to the vast order of Compositae, flowers in
reality made up sometimes of hundreds of minute florets united
into a far-advanced socialistic community having for its motto,
"In union there is strength." (See Daisy) In the first place,
such an association of florets makes a far more conspicuous
advertisement than a single flower, one that can be seen by
insects at a great distance; for most of the composite plants
live in large colonies, each plant, as well as each floret,
helping the others in attracting their benefactors' attention.
The facility with which insects are enabled to collect both
pollen and nectar makes the goldenrods exceedingly popular
restaurants. Finally, the visits of.insects are more likely to
prove effectual, because any one that alights must touch several
or many florets, and cross-pollinate them simply by crawling over
a head. The disk florets mostly contain both stamens and pistil,
while the ray florets in one series are all male. Immense numbers
of wasps, hornets, bees, flies, beetles, and "bugs" feast without
effort here indeed, the budding entomologist might form a large
collection of Hymenoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera, and Hemiptera
from among the. visitors to a single field of goldenrod alone.
Usually to be discovered among the throng are the velvety black
Lytta or Cantharis, that impostor wasp-beetle, the black and
yellow wavy-banded, red-legged locust-tree borer, and the painted
Clytus, banded with yellow and sable, squeaking contentedly as he
gnaws the florets that feed him.

Where the slender, brown, plume-tipped wands etch their charming
outline above the snow-covered fields, how the sparrows, finches,
buntings, and juncos love to congregate, of course helping to
scatter the seeds to the wind while satisfying their hunger on
the swaying, down-curved stalks. Now that the leaves are gone,
some of the goldenrod stems are seen to bulge as if a tiny ball
were concealed under the bark. In spring a little winged tenant,
a fly, will emerge from the gall that has been his cradle all

  (Inula Helenium)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Large, yellow, solitary or a few, 2 to 4 in.
across; on long, stout peduncles; the scaly green involucre
nearly 1 in. high, holding disk florets surrounded by a fringe of
long, very narrow, 3-toothed ray florets. Stem: Usually
unbranched, 2 to 6 ft. high, hairy above. Leaves: Alternate,
large, broadly oblong, pointed, saw-edged, rough above, woolly
beneath some with heart-shaped, clasping bases.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, fields, fence rows, damp pastures.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, and westward to
Minnesota and Missouri.

"September may be described as the month of tall weeds;" says
John Burroughs. "Where they have been suffered to stand, along
fences, by roadsides, and in forgotten corners,- redroot,
ragweed, vervain, goldenrod, burdock, elecampane, thistles,
teasels, nettles, asters, etc. - how they lift themselves up as
if not afraid to be seen now! They are all outlaws; every man's
hand is against them yet how surely they hold their own. They
love the roadside, because here they are comparatively safe and
ragged and dusty, like the common tramps that they are, they form
one of the characteristic features of early fall."

Yet the elecampane has not always led a vagabond existence. Once
it had its passage paid across the Atlantic, because special
virtue was attributed to its thick, mucilaginous roots as a
horse-medicine. For over two thousand years it has been employed
by home doctors in Europe and Asia; and at first Old World
immigrants thought they could not live here without the plant on
their farms. Once given a chance to naturalize itself, no
composite is slow in seizing it. The vigorous elecampane, rearing
its fringy, yellow disks above lichen-covered stone walls in New
England, the Virginia rail fence, and the rank weedy growth along
barbed-wire barriers farther west, now bids fair to cross the

  (Silphium perfoliatum)  Thistle family

Plower-heads - Yellow, nearly flat; 2 to 3 in. across; 20 to 30
narrow, pistillate ray florets, about 1 in. long, overlapping in
2 or 3 series around the perfect but sterile disk florets. Stem:
4 to 8 ft. tall, square, smooth, usually branched above.
Leaves: Opposite, ovate, upper ones united by their bases to form
a cup; lower ones large, coarsely toothed, and narrowed into
margined petioles; all filled with resinous juice.
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil, low ground near streams.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Ontario, New York, and Georgia, westward to
Minnesota, Nebraska, and Louisiana.

It behooves a species related to the wonderful compass-plant
(q.v.) to do something unusual with its leaves; hence this one
makes cups to catch rain by uniting its upper pairs. Darwin's
experiments with infinitesimal doses of ammonia in stimulating
leaf activity may throw some light on this singular arrangement.
So many plants provide traps to catch rain, although fourteen
gallons of it contain only one grain of ammonia, that we must
believe there is a wise physiological reason for calling upon the
leaves to assist the roots in absorbing it, A native of Western
prairies, the cup-plant has now become naturalized so far east as
the neighborhood 6f New York City.

  (Heliopsis helianthoides; H. laevis of Gray)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Entirely golden yellow, daisy-like, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2
in. across, the perfect disk florets inserted on a convex, chaffy
receptacle, and surrounded by pistillate, fertile, 3-toothed ray
florets; usually numerous solitary heads borne on long peduncles
from axils of upper leaves. Stem: 3 to 5 ft. tall, branching
above, smooth. Leaves: Opposite, ovate, and tapering to a sharp
point, sharply and evenly toothed.
Preferred Habitat - Open places; rich, low ground; beside
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Southern Canada to Florida, westward to Illinois
and Kentucky.

Along the streams the numerous flower-heads of this gorgeous
sunbearer shine out from afar, brightening a long, meandering
course across the low-lying meadows. Like heralds of good things
to come, they march a little in advance of the brilliant pageant
of wild flowers that sweeps across the country from midsummer
till killing frost. Most people mistake them for true,
yellow-disked sunflowers, whose ray florets are neutral, not
fertile as these long persistent ones are, But no one should
confuse them with the dark cone-centered ox-eye daisy. Small
bees, wasps, hornets, flies, little butterflies, beetles, and
lower insects come to feast on the nectar and pollen within the
minute tubular disk florets. The bright fulvous and black pearl
crescent butterfly, with a trifle over an inch wing expanse; the
common hairstreak; the even commoner little white butterfly; and
the tiny black sooty wing, among others, appear to find generous
entertainment here. The last named little fellow, when in the
caterpillar stage, formed a cradle for himself by folding
together a leaf of the ubiquitous green-flowered pigweed or
lamb's quarters (Cizenopodium album) and stitching the edges
together with a few silken threads. Here it slept by day,
emerging only at night to feed. Usually one has not long to wait
before discovering the white-dotted sooty wing among the
midsummer composites.

 (Rudbeckia hirta)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - From 10 to 20 orange-yellow neutral rays around a
conical, dark purplish-brown disk of florets containing both
stamens and pistil. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. tall, hairy, rough, usually
unbranched, often tufted. Leaves: Oblong to lance-shaped, thick,
sparingly notched, rough.
Preferred Habitat - Open sunny places; dry fields.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Ontario and the Northwest Territory south to
Colorado and the Gulf States.

So very many weeds having come to our Eastern shores from Europe,
and marched farther and farther west year by year, it is but fair
that black-eyed Susan, a native of Western clover fields, should
travel toward the Atlantic in bundles of hay whenever she gets
the chance, to repay Eastern farmers in their own coin. Do these
gorgeous heads know that all our showy rudbeckias - some with
orange red at the base of their ray florets - have become prime
favorites of late years in European gardens, so offering them
still another chance to overrun the Old World, to which so much
American hay is shipped? Thrifty farmers may decry the
importation into their mowing lots, but there is a glory to the
cone-flower beside which the glitter of a gold coin fades into
paltry nothingness. Having been instructed in the decorative
usefulness of all this genus by European landscape gardeners, we
Americans now importune the Department of Agriculture for seeds
through members of Congress, even Representatives of States that
have passed stringent laws against the dissemination of "weeds."
Inasmuch as each black-eyed Susan puts into daily operation the
business methods of the white daisy (q.v.), methods which have
become a sort of creed for the entire composite horde to live by,
it is plain that she may defy both farmers and legislators. Bees,
wasps, flies, butterflies, and beetles could not be kept away
from an entertainer so generous; for while the nectar in the
deep, tubular brown florets may be drained only by long, slender
tongues, pollen is accessible to all. Anyone who has had a jar of
these yellow daisies standing on a polished table indoors, and
tried to keep its surface free from a ring of golden dust around
the flowers, knows how abundant their pollen is. There are those
who vainly imagine that the slaughter of dozens of English
sparrows occasionally is going to save this land of liberty from
being overrun with millions of the hardy little gamins that have
proved themselves so fit in the struggle for survival. As vainly
may farmers try to exterminate a composite that has once taken
possession of their fields.

Blazing hot sunny fields, in which black-eyed Susan feels most
comfortable, suit the TALL or GREEN-HEADED CONE-FLOWER OR
THIMBLEWEED (R. laciniata) not at all. Its preference is for
moist thickets such as border swamps and meadow runnels.
Consequently it has no need of the bristly-hairy coat that
screens the yellow daisy from too tierce, sunlight, and great
need of more branches and leaves. (See prickly pear.) This is a
smooth, much branched plant, towering sometimes twelve feet high,
though commonly not even half that height; its great lower
leaves, on long petioles, have from three to seven divisions
variously lobed and toothed; while the stem leaves are
irregularly three to five parted or divided. The numerous showy
heads, which measure from two and a half to four inches across,
have from six to ten bright yellow rays drooping a trifle around
a dull greenish-yellow conical disk that gradually lengthens to
twice its breadth, if not more, as the seeds mature.
July-September, Quebec to Montana, and southward to the Gulf of

  (Heliainthus giganteus)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Several, on long, rough-hairy peduncles; 1 1/2 to
2 1/4 in. broad; 10 to 20 pale yellow neutral rays around a
yellowish disk whose florets are perfect, fertile. Stem: 3 to 12
ft. tall, bristly-hairy, usually branching above, often reddish
from a perennial, fleshy root. Leaves: Rough, firm, lance-shaped,
saw-toothed, sessile.
Preferred Habitat - Low ground, wet meadows, swamps. Flowering
Season - August-October.
Distribution - Maine to Nebraska and the Northwest Territory,
south to the Gulf of Mexico.

To how many sun-shaped golden disks with outflashing rays might
not the generic name of this clan (helios = the sun, anthos = a
flower) be as fittingly applied: from midsummer till frost the
earth seems given up to floral counterparts of his worshipful
majesty. If, as we are told, one-ninth of all flowering plants in
the world belong to the composite order, of which over sixteen
hundred species are found in North America north of Mexico,
surely over half this number are made up after the daisy pattern
(q.v.), the most successful arrangement known, and the majority
of these are wholly or partly yellow. Most conspicuous of the
horde are the sunflowers, albeit they never reach in the wild
state the gigantic dimensions and weight that cultivated, dark
brown centered varieties produced from the COMMON SUNFLOWER (H.
annus) have attained. For many years the origin of the latter
flower, which suddenly shone forth in European gardens with
unwonted splendor, was in doubt. Only lately. it was learned that
when Champlain and Segur visited the Indians on Lake Huron's
eastern shores about three centuries ago, they saw them
cultivating this plant, which must have been brought by them from
its native prairies beyond the Mississippi - a plant whose stalks
furnished them with a textile fiber, its leaves fodder, its
flowers a yellow dye, and its seeds, most valuable of all, food
and hair oil. Early settlers in Canada were not slow in sending
home to Europe so decorative and useful an acquisition. Swine,
poultry, and parrots were fed on its rich seeds. Its flowers,
even under Indian cultivation had already reached abnormal size.
Of the sixty varied and interesting species of wild sunflowers
known to scientists, all are North American.
Moore's pretty statement,

     "As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
      The same look which she turn'd when he rose,"

lacks only truth to make it fact. The flower does not travel
daily on its stalk from east to west. Often the top of the stem
turns sharply toward the light to give the leaves better
exposure, but the presence or absence of a terminal flower
affects its action not at all.

Formerly the garden species was thought to be a native, not of
our prairies, but of Mexico and Peru, because the Spanish
conquerors found it employed there as a mystic and sacred symbol,
much as the Egyptians employed the lotus in their sculpture. In
the temples the handmaidens wore upon their breasts plates of
gold beaten into the likeness of the sunflower. But none of the
eighteen species of helianthus found south of our borders
produces under cultivation the great plants that stand like a
golden-helmeted phalanx in every old-fashioned garden at the
North. Many birds, especially those of the sparrow and finch
tribe, come to feast on the oily seeds; and where is there a more
charming sight than when a family of goldfinches settle upon the
huge, top-heavy heads, unconsciously forming a study in sepia and

On prairies west of Pennsylvania to South Dakota, Missouri, and
Texas, the SAW-TOOTH SUNFLOWER (H. grosse-serratus) is common.
Deep yellow instead of pale rays around a yellowish disk
otherwise resemble the tall sunflower's heads in appearance as in
season of bloom. The smooth stalk, with a bluish-hoary bloom on
its surface, may have hairs on the branches only. Long,
lance-shaped, pointed leaves, the edges of lower ones especially
sharply saw-toothed, their upper surface rough, and underneath
soft-hairy, are on slender, short petioles, the lower ones
opposite, the upper ones alternate. Honeybees find abundant
refreshment in the tubular disk florets in which many of their
tribe may be caught sucking; brilliant little Syrphidae, the
Bombilius cheat, and other flies come after pollen; butterflies
feast here on nectar, too and greedy beetles, out for pollen,
often gnaw the disks with their pinchers.

Very common in dry woodlands and in roadside thickets from
Ontario to Florida, and westward to Nebraska, is the ROUGH OR
WOODLAND SUNFLOWER (H. divaricatus). Its stem, which is smooth
nearly to the summit, does not often exceed three feet in height,
though it may be less, or twice as high. Usually all its
wide-spread leaves are opposite, sessile, lance-shaped to ovate,
slightly toothed, and rough on their upper surface. Few or
solitary flower-heads, about two inches across, have from eight
to fifteen rays round a yellow disk.

the contrary, chooses to dwell in moist woods and thickets,
beside streams, no farther west than Michigan and Kentucky. Its
smooth, branching stem may be anywhere from one foot to five feet
tall; its thin, membranous, sharply saw-edged leaves, from ovate
to lance-shaped, with a rounded base, roughest above and soft
underneath, are commonly alternate toward the summit, while the
lower ones, on slender petioles, are opposite. There are by no
means always ten yellow rays around the yellow disks produced in
August and September; there may be any number from eight to
fifteen, although this free-flowering species, like the
PALE-LEAVED WOOD SUNFLOWER (H. strumosus), an earlier bloomer,
often arranges its "petals" in tens.

tuberosus), often called WILD SUNFLOWER, too, has an interesting
history similar to the dark-centered, common garden sunflower's.
In a musty old tome printed in 1649, and entitled "A Perfect
Description of Virginia," we read that the English planters had
"rootes of several kindes, Potatoes, Sparagus, Carrets and
Hartichokes" - not the first mention of the artichoke by
Anglo-Americans. Long before their day the Indians, who taught
them its uses, had cultivated it; and wherever we see the bright
yellow flowers gleaming like miniature suns above roadside
thickets and fence rows in the East, we may safely infer the spot
was once an aboriginal or colonial farm. White men planted it
extensively for its edible tubers, which taste not unlike celery
root or salsify. As early as 1617 the artichoke was introduced
into Europe, and only twelve years later Parkinson records that
the roots had become very plentiful and cheap in London. The
Italians also cultivated it under the name Girasole Articocco
(sunflower artichoke), but it did not take long for the girasole
to become corrupted into Jerusalem, hence the name Jerusalem
Artichoke common to this day. When the greater value of the
potato came to be generally recognized, the use of artichoke
roots gradually diminished. Quite different from this sunflower
is the true artichoke (Cynara Scolymus), a native of Southern
Europe, whose large, unopened flower-heads offer a tiny edible
morsel at the base of each petal-like part.

The Jerusalem artichoke sends up from its thickened, fleshy,
tuber-bearing rootstock, hairy, branching stems six to twelve
feet high. Especially are the flower-stalks rough, partly to
discourage pilfering crawlers. The firm, oblong leaves, taper
pointed at the apex and saw-edged, are rough above, the lower
leaves opposite each other on petioles, the upper alternate. The
brilliant flower-heads, which are produced freely in September
and October, defying frost, are about two or three inches across,
and consist of from twelve to twenty lively yellow rays around a
dull yellow disk. The towering prolific plant prefers moist but
not wet soil from Georgia and Arkansas northward to New Brunswick
and the Northwest Territory. Omnivorous small boys are not always
particular about boiling, not to say washing, the roots before
eating them.

  (Coreopsis lanceolata)  Thistle family

Flowers-heads - Showy, bright golden yellow, the 6 to io
wedge-shaped, coarsely toothed ray florets around yellowish disk
florets soon turning brown; each head on a very long, smooth,
slender footstalk. Stems. 1 to 2 ft. high, tufted. Leaves: A few
seated on stem, lance-shaped to narrowly oblong; or lower ones
crowded, spatulate, on slender petioles.
Preferred Habitat - Open, sunny places, moist or dry.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Western Ontario to Missouri and the Gulf States;
escaped from gardens in the East.

Glorious masses of this prolific bloomer persistently outshine
all rivals in the garden beds throughout the summer. Cut as many
slender-stalked flowers and buds as you will for vases indoors,
cut them by armfuls, and two more soon appear for every one
taken. From seeds scattered by the wind over a dry, sandy field
adjoining a Long Island garden one autumn, myriads of these
flowers swarmed like yellow butterflies the next season. Very
slight encouragement induces this coreopsis to run wild in the
East. Grandiflora, with pinnately parted narrow leaves and
similar flowers, a Southwestern species, is frequently a runaway.
Bees and flies, attracted by the showy neutral rays which are
borne solely for advertising purposes, unwittingly
cross-fertilize the heads as they crawl over the tiny, tubular,
perfect florets massed together in the central disk; for some of
these florets having the pollen pushed upward by hair brushes and
exposed for the visitor's benefit, while others have their sticky
style branches spread to receive any vitalizing dust brought to
them, it follows that quantities of vigorous seed must be set.

"There is a natural rotation of crops, as yet little understood,"
says Miss Going. "Where a pine forest has been cleared away, oaks
come up; and a botanist can tell beforehand just what flowers
will appear in the clearings of pine woods. In northern Ohio,
when a piece of forestland is cleared, a particular sort of grass
appears. When that is ploughed under, a growth of the golden
coreopsis comes up, and the pretty yellow blossoms are followed
in their turn by the plebeian rag-weed which takes possession of
the entire field."

The charmingly delicate, wiry GARDEN TICKSEED, known in
seedsmen's catalogues as CALLIOPSIS (Coreopsis tinctoria), which
has also locally escaped to roadsides and waste places eastward,
is at home in moist, rich soil from Louisiana, Arizona, and
Nebraska northward into Minnesota and the British Possessions.
>From May to September its fine, slender, low-growing stems are
crowned with small yellow composite flowers whose rays are
velvety maroon or brown at the base. (Coreopsis = like a bug,
from the shape of the seeds.)

  (Bidens laevis; B. chrysanthemoides of Gray)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Showy golden yellow, 1 to 2 1/2 in. across,
numerous, on short peduncles; 8 to 10 neutral rays around a dingy
yellowish or brown disk of tubular, perfect, fertile florets.
Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite, sessile, lance-shaped,
regularly saw-toothed.
Preferred Habitat - Wet ground, swamps, ditches, meadows.
Flowering Season - August-November.
Distribution - Quebec and Minnesota, southward to the Gulf States
and Lower California.

Next of kin to the golden coreopsis, it behooves some of the
bur-marigolds to redeem their clan's reputation for ugliness and
certainly the brook sunflower is a not unworthy relative. How gay
the ditches and low meadows are with its bright, generous bloom
in late summer, and until even the goldenrod wands turn brown!
Yet all this show is expended merely for advertising purposes.
The golden ray florets, sacrificing their fertility to the
general welfare of the cooperative community, which each
flower-head is in reality, have grown conspicuous to attract bees
and wasps, butterflies, flies, and some beetles to the dingy mass
of tubular florets in the center, in which nectar is concealed,
while pollen is exposed for the visitors to transfer as they
crawl. The rays simply make a show; within the minute,
insignificant looking tubes is transacted the important business
of life.

Later in the season, when the bur-marigolds are transformed into
armories bristling with rusty, two-pronged, and finely-barbed
pitchforks (Bidens = two teeth), our real quarrel with the tribe
begins. The innocent passerby - man, woman, or child, woolly
sheep, cattle with switching tails, hairy dogs or foxes, indeed,
any creature within reach of the vicious grappling-hooks - must
transport them on his clothing; for it is thus that these tramps
have planned to get away from the parent plant in the hope of
being picked off, and the seeds dropped in fresh colonizing
ground; travelling in the disreputable company of their kinsmen
the beggar-ticks and Spanish needles, the burdock burs, cleavers,
agrimony, and tick-trefoils.

PITCHFORKS, or STICK-SEED (B. frondosa) sufficiently explains its
justly defamed character in its popular names. Numerous dull,
dark, tawny orange flower-heads without, rays, or with
insignificant ones scarcely to be detected, and surrounded by
taller leaf-like bracts, add little to the beauty of the moist
fields and roadsides where they rear themselves on long peduncles
from July to October. The smooth, erect, branched, and often
reddish, stem may be anywhere from two to nine feet tall. Usually
the upper leaves are not divided, but the lower ones are
pinnately compounded of three to five divisions, the segments
lance-shaped or broader, and sharply toothed. As in all the
bur-marigolds, we find each floret's calyx converted into a
barbed implement - javelin, pitchfork, or halberd - for grappling
the clothing of the first innocent victim unwittingly acting as a
colonizing agent.

  (Helenium autumnale)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Bright yellow, to 2 in. across, numerous, borne on
long peduncles in corymb-like clusters; the rays 3 to 5 cleft,
and drooping around the yellow or yellowish-brown disk. Stem: 2
to 6 ft. tall, branched above. Leaves: Alternate, firm,
lance-shaped to oblong, toothed, seated on stem or the bases
slightly decurrent; bitter.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, wet ground, banks of streams.
Flowering Season - August-October.
Distribution - Quebec to the Northwest Territory; southward to
Florida and Arizona.

September, which also brings out lively masses of the swamp
sunflower in the low-lying meadows, was appropriately called our
golden month by an English traveler who saw for the first time
the wonderful yellows in our autumn foliage, the surging seas of
goldenrod; the tall, showy sunflowers, ox-eyes, rudbeckias,
marigolds, and all the other glorious composites in Nature's
garden, as in men's, which copy the sun's resplendent disk and
rays to brighten with one final dazzling outburst the somber face
of the dying year.

To the swamp sunflowers honey-bees hasten for both nectar and
pollen, velvety bumblebees suck the sweets, leaf-cutter and mason
bees, wasps, some butterflies, flies, and beetles visit them
daily, for the round disks mature their perfect fertile florets
in succession. Since the drooping ray flowers, which are
pistillate only, are fertile too, there is no scarcity of seed
set, much to the farmer's dismay. Most cows know enough to
respect the bitter leaves' desire to be let alone; but many a
pail of milk has been spoiled by a mouthful of Helenium among the
herbage. Whoever cares to learn from experience why this was
called the sneezeweed, must take a whiff of snuff made of the
dried and powdered leaves.

The PURPLE-HEAD SNEEZEWEED (H. nudiflorum), its yellow rays
sometimes wanting, occurs in the South and West.

  (Tanacetum vulgare)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Small, round, of tubular florets only, packed
within a depressed involucre, and borne, in flat-topped corymbs.
Stem: 1 1/2 to 3 ft. tall, leafy. Leaves: Deeply and pinnately
cleft into narrow, toothed divisions; strong scented.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides; commonly escaped from gardens.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia, westward to Minnesota, south to
Missouri and North Carolina. Naturalized from Europe.

"In the spring time, are made with the leaves hereof newly sprung
up, and with eggs, cakes or Tansies which be pleasant in taste
and goode for the Stomache," wrote quaint old Gerarde. That these
were popular dainties in the seventeenth century we further know
through Pepys, who made a "pretty dinner" for some guests, to
wit: "A brace of stewed carps, six roasted chickens, and a jowl
of salmon, hot, for the first course; a tansy, and two neat's
tongues, and cheese, the second." Cole's "Art of Simpling,"
published in 1656, assures maidens that tansy leaves laid to soak
in buttermilk for nine days "maketh the complexion very fair."
Tansy tea, in short, cured every ill that flesh is heir to,
according to the simple faith of mediaeval herbalists - a faith
surviving in some old women even to this day. The name is said to
be a corruption of athanasia, derived from two Greek words
meaning immortality. When some monks in reading Lucian came
across the passage where Jove, speaking of Ganymede to Mercury,
says, "Take him hence, and when he has tasted immortality let him
return to us," their literal minds inferred that this plant must
have been what Ganymede tasted, hence they named it athanasia! So
great credence having been given to its medicinal powers in
Europe, it is not strange the colonists felt they could not live
in the New World without tansy. Strong-scented pungent tufts
topped with bright yellow buttons - runaways from old gardens -
are a conspicuous feature along many a roadside leading to
colonial homesteads.

  (Senecio aureus)  Thistle family

Flower-heads - Golden yellow, about 3/4 in. across, borne on
slender peduncles in a loose, leafless cluster; rays 8 to 12
around minute disk florets. Stem: Slender, 1 to 2 1/2 ft. high,
solitary or tufted, from a strong-scented root. Leaves: From the
root, on long petioles, rounded or heart-shaped, scalloped-edged,
often purplish; stem leaves variable, lance-shaped or lyrate,
deeply cut, sessile.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, wet ground, meadows.
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Gulf States northward to Missouri, Ontario, and

While the aster clan is the largest we have in North America,
this genus Senecio is really the most numerous branch of the
great composite tribe, numbering as it does nearly a thousand
species, represented in all quarters of the earth. It is said to
take its name from senex = an old man, in reference to the white
hairs on many species; or, more likely, to the silky pappus that
soon makes the fertile disks hoary headed. "I see the downy heads
of the senecio gone to seed, thistle like but small," wrote
Thoreau in his journal under date of July 2nd, when only the
pussy-toes everlasting could have plumed its seeds for flight
over the dry uplands in a similar fashion. Innumerable as the
yellow, daisy-like composites are, most of them appear in late
summer or autumn, and so the novice should have little difficulty
in naming these loosely clustered, bright, early blooming small


"I want the inner meaning and the understanding of the
wildflowers in the meadow. Why are they? What end? What purpose?
The plant knows, and sees, and feels; where is its mind when the
petal falls? Absorbed in the universal dynamic force, or what?
They make no shadow of pretence, these beautiful flowers, of
being beautiful for my sake; of bearing honey for me; in short,
there does not seem to be any kind of relationship understood
between us, and yet . . . language does not express the dumb
feelings of the mind any more than the flower can speak. I want
to know the soul of the flowers! . . . All these life-laboured
monographs, these classifications, works of Linnaeus, and our own
classic Darwin, microscope, physiology - and the flower has not
given us its message yet.' ' - Richard Jeffries.

  (Arisaema triphyllum)  Arum family

Flowers - Minute, greenish yellow, clustered on the lower part of
a smooth, club-shaped, slender spadix within a green and maroon
or whitish-striped spathe that curves in a broad-pointed flap
above it. Leaves: 3-foliate, usually overtopping the spathe,
their slender petioles 9 to 30 in. high, or as tall as the scape
that rises from an acrid corm. Fruit: Smooth, shining red berries
clustered on the thickened club.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woodland and thickets.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia westward to Minnesota, and southward
to the Gulf States.

A jolly looking preacher is Jack, standing erect in his
particolored pulpit with a sounding-board over his head; but he
is a gay deceiver, a wolf in sheep's clothing,, literally a
"brother to dragons," an arrant upstart, an ingrate, a murderer
of innocent benefactors! "Female botanizing classes pounce upon
it as they would upon a pious young clergyman," complains Mr.
Ellwanger. A poor relation of the stately calla lily one knows
Jack to be at a glance, her lovely white robe corresponding to
his striped pulpit, her bright yellow spadix to his sleek
reverence. In the damp woodlands where his pulpit is erected
beneath leafy cathedral arches, minute flies or gnats, recently
emerged from maggots in mushrooms, toadstools, or decaying logs,
form the main part of his congregation.

Now, to drop the clerical simile, let us peep within the
sheathing spathe, or, better still, strip it off altogether. Dr.
Torrey states that the dark-striped spathes are the fertile
plants, those with green and whitish lines, sterile. Within are
smooth, glossy columns, and near the base of each we shall find
the true flowers, minute affairs, some staminate; others, on
distinct plants, pistillate, the berry bearers; or rarely both
male and female florets seated on the same club, as if Jack's
elaborate plan to prevent self-fertilization were not yet
complete. Plants may be detected in process of evolution toward
their ideals: just as nations and men are. Doubtless, when Jack's
mechanism is perfected, his guilt will disappear. A little way
above the florets the club enlarges abruptly, forming a
projecting ledge that effectually closes the avenue of escape for
many a guileless victim. A fungus gnat, enticed perhaps by the
striped house of refuge from cold spring winds, and with a
prospect of food below, enters and slides down the inside walls
or the slippery colored column: in either case descent is very
easy; it is the return that is made so difficult, if not
impossible, for the tiny visitors. Squeezing past the projecting
ledge, the gnat finds himself in a roomy apartment whose floor -
the bottom of the pulpit - is dusted over with fine pollen; that
is, if he is among staminate flowers already mature. To get some
of that pollen, with which the gnat presently covers himself,
transferred to the minute pistillate florets waiting for it in a
distant chamber is, of course, Jack's whole aim in enticing
visitors within his polished walls; but what means are provided
for their escape? Their efforts to crawl upward over the slippery
surface only land them weak and discouraged where they started.
The projecting ledge overhead prevents them from using their
wings; the passage between the ledge and the spathe is far too
narrow to permit flight. Now, if a gnat be persevering, he will
presently discover a gap in the flap where the spathe folds
together in front, and through this tiny opening he makes his
escape, only to enter another pulpit, like the trusted, but too
trusting, messenger he is, and leave some of the vitalizing
pollen on the fertile florets awaiting his coming.

But suppose the fly, small as he is, is too large to work his way
out through the flap, or too bewildered or stupid to find the
opening, or too exhausted after his futile efforts to get out
through the overhead route to persevere, or too weak with hunger
in case of long detention in a pistillate trap where no pollen
is, what then? Open a dozen of Jack's pulpits, and in several, at
least, dead victims will be found - pathetic little corpses
sacrificed to the imperfection of his executive system. Had the
flies entered mature spathes, whose walls had spread outward and
away from the polished column, flight through the overhead route
might have been possible. However glad we may be to make every
due allowance for this sacrifice of the higher life to the lower,
as only a temporary imperfection of mechanism incidental to the
plant's higher development, Jacks present cruelty shocks us no
less. Or, it may be, he will become insectivorous like the
pitcher plant in time. He comes from a rascally family, anyhow.
(See cuckoo pint.)

In June and July the thick-set club, studded over with bright
berries, becomes conspicuous, to attract hungry woodland rovers
in the hope that the seeds will be dropped far from the parent
plant. The Indians used to boil the berries for food. The
farinaceous root (corm) they likewise boiled or dried to extract
the stinging, blistering juice, leaving an edible little
"turnip," however insipid and starchy.

The GREEN DRAGON, or DRAGON-ROOT (A. Dracontium), to which Jack
is brother, is found in similar situations or beside streams in
wet, shady ground, and sends up a narrow greenish or whitish
tapering spathe, one or two inches long, enwrapping a slender,
pointed spadix, that projects sometimes seven inches beyond its
tip. Within, tiny pistillate florets are seated around the base,
while on the staminate plants the inflorescence extends higher. A
large, solitary, dark green leaf, divided into from five to
seventeen oblong, pointed segments, spreads above. Large ovoid
heads of reddish-orange berries are the plant's most conspicuous

  (Spathyema fetida; Symplocarpus fetidus of Gray)  Arum family

Flowers - Minute, perfect, fetid; many scattered over a thick,
rounded, fleshy spadix, and hidden within a swollen,
shell-shaped, purplish-brown to greenish-yellow, usually mottled,
spathe, close to the ground, that appears before the leaves.
Spadix much enlarged and spongy in fruit, the bulb-like berries
imbedded in its surface. Leaves: In large crowns like cabbages,
broadly ovate, often 1 ft. across, strongly nerved, their
petioles with deep grooves, malodorous.
Preferred Habitat - Swamps, wet ground.
Flowering Season - February-April.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, and westward to Minnesota
and Iowa.

This despised relative of the stately calla lily proclaims spring
in the very teeth of winter, being the first bold adventurer
above ground. When the lovely hepatica, the first flower worthy
the name to appear, is still wrapped in her fuzzy furs, the skunk
cabbage's dark incurved horn shelters within its hollow, tiny,
malodorous florets. Why is the entire plant so fetid that one
flees the neighborhood, pervaded as it is with an odor that
combines a suspicion of skunk, putrid meat, and garlic? After
investigating the carrion-flower (q.v.) and the purple trillium,
among others, we learned that certain flies delight in foul odors
loathsome to higher organisms; that plants dependent on these
pollen carriers woo them from long distances with a stench, and
in addition sometimes try to charm them with color resembling the
sort of meat it is their special mission, with the help of
beetles and other scavengers of Nature, to remove from the face
of the earth. In such marshy ground as the skunk cabbage lives
in, many small flies and gnats live in embryo under the fallen
leaves during the winter. But even before they are warmed into
active life, the hive-bees, natives of Europe, and with habits
not perfectly adapted as yet to our flora (nor our flora's habits
to theirs - see milkweed), are out after pollen. Where would they
find any so early, if not within the skunk cabbage's livid horn
of plenty? Not even an alder catkin or a pussy willow has
expanded yet. In spite of the bee's refined taste in the matter
of perfume and color, she has no choice, now, but to enter so
generous an entertainer. At the top of the thick rounded spadix
within, the skunk cabbage florets there first mature their
stigmas, and pollen must therefore be carried to them on the
bodies of visitors. Later these stigmas wither, and abundant
pollen is shed from the now ripe anthers. Meantime the lower,
younger florets having matured their stigmas, some pollen may
fall directly on them from the older flowers above. A bee
crawling back and forth over the spadix gets thoroughly dusted,
and flying off to another cluster of florets cross-fertilizes
them - that is, if all goes well. But because the honeybee never
entered the skunk cabbage's calculations, useful as the immigrant
proved to be, the horn that was manifestly designed for smaller
flies often proves a fatal trap. Occasionally a bee finds the
entrance she has managed to squeeze through too narrow and
slippery for an exit, and she perishes miserably.

"A couple of weeks after finding the first bee," says Mr. William
Trelease in the "American Naturalist," "the spathes will be found
swarming with the minute black flies that were sought in vain
earlier in the season, and their number is attested not only by
the hundreds of them which can be seen, but also by the many
small but very fat spiders whose webs bar the entrance to
three-fourths of the spathes. During the present spring a few
specimens of a small scavenger beetle have been captured within
the spathes of this plant.... Finally, other and more attractive
flowers opening, the bees appear to cease visiting those of this
species, and countless small flies take their place, compensating
for their small size by their great numbers." These, of course,
are the benefactors the skunk cabbage catered to ages before the
honeybee reached our shores.

After the flowering time come the vivid green crowns of leaves
that at least please the eye. Lizards make their home beneath
them, and many a yellowthroat, taking advantage of the plant's
foul odor, gladly puts up with it herself and builds her nest in
the hollow of the cabbage as a protection for her eggs and young
from four-footed enemies. Cattle let the plant alone because of
the stinging, acrid juices secreted by it, although such tender,
fresh, bright foliage must be especially tempting, like the
hellebore's, after a dry winter diet. Sometimes tiny insects are
found drowned in the wells of rain water that accumulate at the
base of the grooved leafstalks.

  (Lilium Philadelphicum)  Lily family

Flowers - Erect, tawny or red-tinted outside; vermilion, or
sometimes reddish orange, and spotted with madder brown within; 1
to 5, on separate peduncles, borne at the summit. Perianth of 6
distinct, spreading, spatulate segments, each narrowed into a
claw, and with a nectar groove at its base; 6 stamens; 1 style,
the club-shaped stigma 3-lobed. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. tall, from a
bulb composed of narrow, jointed, fleshy scales. Leaves: In
whorls of 3's to 8's, lance-shaped, seated at intervals on the
Preferred Habitat - Dry woods, sandy soil, borders, and thickets.
Flowering Season - June-July.
Distribution - Northern border of United States, westward to
Ontario, south to the Carolinas and West Virginia.

Erect, as if conscious of its striking beauty, this vivid lily
lifts a chalice that suggests a trap for catching sunbeams from
fiery old Sol. Defiant of his scorching rays in its dry habitat,
it neither nods nor droops even during prolonged drought; and vet
many people confuse it with the gracefully pendent, swaying bells
of the yellow Canada lily, which will grow in a swamp rather than
forego moisture. Li, the Celtic for white, from which the family
derived its name, makes this bright-hued flower blush to own it.
Seedmen, who export quantities of our superb native lilies to
Europe, supply bulbs so cheap that no one should wait four years
for flowers from seed, or go without their splendor in our
over-conventional gardens. Why this early lily is radiantly
colored and speckled is told in the description of the Canada
lily (q.v.).

The WESTERN RED LILY (L. umbellatum), that takes the place of the
Philadelphia species from Ohio, Minnesota, and the Northwest
Territory, southward to Missouri, Arkansas, and Colorado, lifts
similar but smaller red, orange, or yellow flowers on a more
slender stem, two feet high or less, set with narrow, linear,
alternate leaves, or perhaps the upper ones in whorls. It blooms
in June or July, in dry soil, preferably in open, sandy

  (Corallorhiza multiflora)  Orchid family

Flowers - Dull brownish purple, about 1/2 in. high; 10 to 30
borne in a raceme 2 to 8 in. long. Petals about the length of
sepals, and somewhat united at the base; spur yellowish, the oval
lip white, spotted and lined with purplish; 3-lobed, wavy edged.
Scape, 8 to 20 in. tall, colored, furnished with several flat
scales. Leaves: None. Root: A branching, coral-like mass.
Preferred Habitat - Dry woods.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia, westward to British Columbia; south
to Florida, Missouri, and California.

To the majority of people the very word orchid suggests a
millionaire's hothouse, or some fashionable florist's show
window, where tropical air plants send forth gorgeous blossoms,
exquisite in color, marvelous in form; so that when this
insignificant little stalk pokes its way through the soil at
midsummer and produces some dull flowers of indefinite shades and
no leaves at all to help make them attractive, one feels that the
coral-root is a very poor relation of theirs indeed. The prettily
marked lower lip, at once a platform and nectar guide to the
insect alighting on it, is all that suggests ambition worthy of
an orchid.

If poverty of men and nations can be traced to certain radical
causes by the social economist, just as surely can the botanist
account for loss of leaves - riches - by closely examining the
poverty-stricken plant. Every phenomenon has its explanation. A
glance at the extraordinary formation under ground reveals the
fact that the coral-roots, although related to the most
aristocratic and highly organized plants in existence, have
stooped to become ghoulish saprophytes. An honest herb abounds in
good green coloring matter (chlorophyll), that serves as a light
screen to the cellular juices of leaf and stem. It also forms
part of its digestive apparatus, aiding a plant in the
manufacture of its own food out of the soil, water, and gases;
whereas a plant that lives by piracy - a parasite - or a
saprophyte, that sucks up the already assimilated products of
another's decay, loses its useless chlorophyll as surely as if it
had been kept in a cellar. In time its equally useless leaves
dwindle to bracts, or disappear. Nature wastes no energy. Fungi,
for example, are both parasites and saprophytes; and so when
plants far higher up in the evolutionary scale than they lose
leaves and green color too, we may know they are degenerates
belonging to that disreputable gang of branded sinners which
includes the Indian-pipe, broom-rape, dodder, pine-sap, and
beech-drops. Others, like the gerardias and foxgloves, may even
now be detected on the brink of a fall from grace.

The EARLY CORAL-ROOT (C. Corallorhiza; C. innata of Gray)
 - a similar but smaller species, whose loose spike of dull
purplish flowers likewise terminates a scaly purplish or
yellowish scape arising from a mass of short, thick, whitish,
fleshy, blunt fibers, may be found in the moist woods blooming in
May or June. It has a more northerly range, however, extending
from the mountains of Georgia, it is true, but chiefly from the
northern boundary of the United States, from New England westward
to the State of Washington, and northward to Nova Scotia and

  (Aplectrum spicatum; A. hyemale of Gray))  Orchid family

Flowers - Dingy yellowish brown and purplish, about 1 in. long,
each on a short pedicel, in a few-flowered, loose, bracted raceme
2 to 4 in. long. No spur; sepals and petals similar, small and
narrow, the lip wavy-edged. Scape: to 2 ft. high, smooth, with
about 3 sheathing scales. Leaf: Solitary, rising from the corm in
autumn, elliptic, broad, plaited-nerved, 4 to 6 in. long. Root: A
corm usually attached to one of the preceding season.
Preferred Habitat - Moist woods or swamps.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Georgia, Missouri, and California northward, into
British Possessions.

More curious than beautiful is this small orchid whose dingy
flowers of indefinite color and without spurs interest us far
less than the two corms barely hidden below ground. These
singular solid bulbs, about an inch thick, are connected by a
slender stalk, suggesting to the imaginative person who named the
plant our first parents standing hand in hand in the Garden of

But usually several old corms - not always two, by any means -
remain attached to the nearest one, a bulb being produced each
year until Cain and Abel often join Adam and Eve to make up quite
a family group. A strong, glutinous matter within the corms has
been used as a cement, hence the plant's other popular name. From
the newest bulb added, a solitary large leaf arises in late
summer or autumn, to remain all winter. The flower stalk comes up
at one side of it the following spring. Meantime the old corms
retain their life, apparently to help nourish the young one still
joined to them, while its system is taxed with flowering.

  (Asarum Canadense)  Birthwort family

Flower - Solitary, dull purplish brown, creamy white within,
about 1 in. broad when expanded, borne on a short peduncle close
to or upon the ground. Calyx cup-shaped, deeply cleft, its 3
acutely pointed lobes spreading, curved; corolla wanting; 12
short, stout stamens inserted on ovary; the thick style 6-lobed,
its stigmas radiating on the lobes. Leaves: A single pair, dark
green, reniform, 4 to 7 in. broad, on downy petioles 6 to 12 in.
high, from a creeping, thick, aromatic, pungent rootstock.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods; hillsides.
Flowering Season - March-May.
Distribution - North Carolina, Missouri, and Kansas, northward,
to New Brunswick and Manitoba.

Like the wicked servant who buried the one talent entrusted to
his care, the wild ginger hides its solitary flower if not
actually under the dry leaves that clothe the ground in the still
leafless woodlands, then not far above them. Why? When most
plants flaunt their showy blossoms aloft, where they may be seen
of all, why should this one bear only one dull, firm cup,
inconspicuous in color as in situation? In early spring - and it
is one of the earliest flowers - gnats and small flies are
warming into active life from the maggots that have lain under
dead leaves and the bark of decaying logs all winter. To such
guests a flower need offer few attractions to secure them in
swarms. Bright, beautiful colors, sweet fragrance, luscious
nectar, with which the highly specialized bees, butterflies, and
moths are wooed, would all be lost on them, lacking as they do
esthetic taste. For flies, a snug shelter from cold spring winds
such as Jack-in-the-pulpit, the marsh calla, the pitcher-plant,
or the skunk cabbage offers; sometimes a fetid odor like the
latter's, or dull purplish red or brownish color resembling stale
meat, which the purple trillium likewise wears as an additional
attraction, are necessary when certain carrion flies must be
catered to; and, above all, an abundance of pollen for food -
with any or all of these seductions a flower dependent on flies
has nothing to fear from neglect. Therefore the wild ginger does
not even attempt to fertilize itself. Within the cozy cup one can
usually find a contented fly seeking shelter or food. Close to
the ground it is warm and less windy. When the cup first opens,
only the stigmas are mature and sticky to receive any pollen the
visitors may bring in on their bodies from other asylums where
they have been hiding. These stigmas presently withering, up rise
the twelve stamens beside them to dust with pollen the flies
coming in search of it. Only one flower from a root compels
cross-fertilizing between flowers of distinct plants - a means to
insure the most vigorous seed, as Darwin proved. Evidently the
ginger is striving to attain some day the ambitious mechanism for
temporarily imprisoning its guests that its cousin the Dutchman's
pipe has perfected. After fertilization the cup nods, inverted,
and the leathery capsule following it bursts irregularly,
discharging many seeds.

No ruminant will touch the leaves, owing to their bitter juices,
nor will a grub or nibbling rodent molest the root, which bites
like ginger; nevertheless credulous mankind once utilized the
plant as a tonic medicine.

  (Aristolochia macrophylla; A. Sipho of Gray))

Flower - An inflated, curved, yellowish-green, veiny tube
(calyx), pipe-shaped, except that it abruptly broadens beyond the
contracted throat into 3 flat, spreading, dark purplish or
reddish-brown lobes; pipe 1 to 1 1/2 in. long, borne on a long,
drooping peduncle, either solitary or 2 or 3 together, from the
bracted leaf-axils; 6 anthers, without filaments, in united pairs
under the 3 lobes of the short, thick stigma. Stem: A very long,
twining vine, the branches smooth and green. Leaves: Thin,
reniform to heart-shaped, slender petioled, downy underneath when
young; 6 to 15 in. broad when mature. Fruit: An oblong, cylindric
capsule, containing quantities of seeds within its six sections.
Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Pennsylvania, westward to Minnesota, south to
Georgia and Kansas. Escaped from cultivation further north.

After learning why the pitcher plant, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and
skunk cabbage are colored and shaped as they are, no one will be
surprised on opening this curious flower to find numbers of
little flies within the pipe. Certain relatives of this vine
produce flowers that are not only colored like livid, putrid meat
around the entrance, but also emit a fetid odor to attract
carrion flies especially. (See purple trillium.)

In May, when the pipe-vine blooms, gauzy-winged small flies and
gnats gladly seek food and shelter from the wind within so
attractive an asylum as the curving tube offers. They enter
easily enough through the narrow throat, around which fine hairs
point downward - an entrance resembling an eel trap's. Any pollen
they may bring in on their bodies now rubs off on the sticky
stigma lobes, already matured at the bottom of a newly opened
flower, in which they buzz, crawl, slide, and slip, seeking an
avenue of escape. None presents itself: they are imprisoned. The
hairs at the entrance, approached from within, form an
impenetrable stockade. Must the poor little creatures perish? Is
the flower heartless enough to murder its benefactors, on which
the continuance of its species depends? By no means is it so
shortsighted! A few tiny drops of nectar exuding from the center
table prevent the visitors from starving. Presently the
fertilized stigmas wither, and when they have safely escaped the
danger of self-fertilization, the pollen hidden under their lobes
ripens and dusts afresh the little flies so impatiently awaiting
the feast. Now, and not till now, it is to the advantage of the
species that the prisoners be released, that they may carry the
vitalizing dust to stigmas waiting for it in younger flowers.
Accordingly, the slippery pipe begins to shrivel, thus offering a
foothold; the once stiff hairs that guarded its exit grow limp,
and the happy gnats, after a generous entertainment and snug
protection, escape uninjured, and by no means unwilling to repeat
the experience. Evidently the wild ginger, belonging to a genus
next of kin, is striving to perfect a similar prison. In the
language of the street, the ginger flower does not yet "work"
its.visitors "for all they are worth."

Later, when we see the exquisite dark, velvety, blue-green,
pipe-vine, swallow-tail butterfly (Papilio philenor) hovering
about verandas or woodland bowers that are shaded with the
pipe-vine's large leaves, we may know she is there only to lay
eggs that her caterpillar descendants may find themselves on
their favorite food store.

The VIRGINIA SNAKEROOT or SERPENTARY (A. serpentaria), found in
dry woods, chiefly in the Middle States and South, although its
range extends northward to Connecticut, New York, and Michigan,
is the species whose aromatic root is used in medicine. It is a
low-growing herb, not a vine; its heart-shaped leaves, which are
narrow and tapering to a point, are green on both sides, and the
curious, greenish, S-shaped flower, which grows alone at the tip
of a scaly footstalk from the root, appears in June or July.
Sometimes the flowers are cleistogamous (see violet wood-sorrel).

  (Silene Virginica)  Pink family

Flowers - Scarlet or crimson, 1 1/2 in. broad or less, a few on
slender pedicels from the upper leaf-axils. Calyx sticky,
tubular, bell-shaped, 5-cleft, enlarged in fruit; corolla of 5
wide-spread, narrow, notched petals, sometimes deeply 2-cleft; 10
stamens; 3 styles. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high; erect, slender, sticky.
Leaves: Thin, spatulate, 3 to 5 in. long; or upper ones oblong to
Preferred Habitat - Dry, open woodland.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Southern New Jersey to Minnesota, south to Georgia
and Missouri.

The rich, glowing scarlet of these pinks that fleck the Southern
woodland as with fire, will light up our Northern rock gardens
too, if we but sow the seed under glass in earliest spring, and
set out the young plants in well-drained, open ground in May.
Division of old perennial roots causes the plants to sulk;
dampness destroys them.

To the brilliant blossoms butterflies chiefly come to sip (see
wild pink), and an occasional hummingbird, fascinated by the
color that seems ever irresistible to him, hovers above them on
whirring wings. Hapless ants, starting to crawl up the stem,
become more and more discouraged by its stickiness, and if they
persevere in their attempts to steal from the butterfly's
legitimate preserves, death overtakes their erring feet as
speedily as if they ventured on sticky fly paper. How humane is
the way to protect flowers from crawling thieves that has been
adopted by the high-bush cranberry and the partridge pea (q.v.),
among other plants! These provide a free lunch of sweets in the
glands of their leaves to satisfy pilferers, which then seek no
farther, leaving the flowers to winged insects that are at once
despoilers and benefactors.

  (Aquilegia Canadensis)  Crowfoot family

Flower - Red outside, yellow within, irregular, 1 to 2 in. long,
solitary, nodding from a curved footstalk from the upper
leaf-axils. Petals 5, funnel-shaped, but quickly narrowing into
long, erect, very slender hollow spurs, rounded at the tip and
united below by the 5 spreading red sepals, between which the
straight spurs ascend; numerous stamens and 5 pistils projecting.
Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high; branching, soft-hairy or smooth. Leaves:
More or less divided, the lobes with rounded teeth; large lower
compound leaves on long petioles. Fruit: An erect pod, each of
the 5 divisions tipped with a long, sharp beak.
Preferred Habitat - Rocky places, rich woodland.
Flowering Season - April-July.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Northwest Territory; southward
to the Gulf States. Rocky Mountains.

Although under cultivation the columbine nearly doubles its size,
it never has the elfin charm in a conventional garden that it
possesses wild in Nature's. Dancing in red and yellow petticoats
to the rhythm of the breeze, along the ledge of overhanging
rocks, it coquettes with some Punchinello as if daring him to
reach her at his peril. Who is he? Let us sit a while on the
rocky ledge and watch for her lovers.

Presently a big muscular bumblebee booms along. Owing to his
great strength, an inverted, pendent blossom, from which he must
cling upside down, has no more terrors for him than a trapeze for
the trained acrobat. His long tongue - if he is one of the
largest of our sixty-two species of Bombus - can suck almost any
flower unless it is especially adapted to night-flying sphinx
moths, but can he drain this? He is the truest benefactor of the
European columbine (q.v.), whose spurs suggested the talons of an
eagle (aquila) to imaginative Linnaeus when he gave this group of
plants its generic name. Smaller bumblebees, unable through the
shortness of their tongues to feast in a legitimate manner, may
be detected nipping holes in the tips of all columbines, where
the nectar is secreted, just as they do in larkspurs, Dutchman's
breeches, squirrel corn, butter and eggs, and other flowers whose
deeply hidden nectaries make dining too difficult for the little
rogues. Fragile butterflies, absolutely dependent on nectar,
hover near our showy wild columbine with its five tempting horns
of plenty, but sail away again, knowing as they do that their
weak legs are not calculated to stand the strain of an inverted
position from a pendent flower, nor are their tongues adapted to
slender tubes unless these may be entered from above. The tongues
of both butterflies and moths bend readily only when directed
beneath their bodies. It will be noticed that our columbine's
funnel-shaped tubes contract just below the point where the
nectar is secreted - doubtless to protect it from small bees.
When we see the honeybee or the little wild bees - Haliclus
chiefly - on the flower, we may know they get pollen only.

Finally a ruby-throated hummingbird whirs into sight. Poising
before a columbine, and moving around it to drain one spur after
another until the five are emptied, he flashes like thought to
another group of inverted red cornucopias, visits in turn every
flower in the colony, then whirs away quite as suddenly as he
came. Probably to him, and no longer to the outgrown bumblebee,
has the flower adapted itself. The European species wears blue,
the bee's favorite color according to Sir John Lubbock; the
nectar hidden in its spurs, which are shorter, stouter, and
curved, is accessible only to the largest humblebees. There are
no hummingbirds in Europe. (See jewel-weed.) Our native
columbine, on the contrary, has longer, contracted, straight,
erect spurs, most easily drained by the ruby-throat which, like
Eugene Field, ever delights in "any color at all so long as it's

To help make the columbine conspicuous, even the sepals become
red; but the flower is yellow within, it is thought to guide
visitors to the nectaries. The stamens protrude like a golden
tassel. After the anthers pass the still immature stigmas, the
pollen of the outer row ripens, ready for removal, while the
inner row of undeveloped stamens still acts as a sheath for the
stigmas. Owing to the pendent position of the flower, no pollen
could fall on the latter in any case. The columbine is too highly
organized to tolerate self-fertilization. When all the stamens
have discharged their pollen, the styles then elongate; and the
feathery stigmas, opening and curving sidewise, bring themselves
at the entrance of each of the five cornucopias, just the
position the anthers previously occupied. Probably even the small
bees, collecting pollen only, help carry some from flower to
flower but perhaps the largest bumblebees, and certainly the
hummingbird, must be regarded as the columbine's legitimate
benefactors. Caterpillars of one of the dusky wings (Papilio
lucilius) feed on the leaves.

Very rarely is the columbine white, and then its name, derived
from words meaning two doves, does not seem wholly misapplied.

     "O Columbine, open your folded wrapper
      Where two twin turtle-doves dwell,"

lisp thousands of children speaking the "Songs of Seven" as a
first "piece" at school. How Emerson loved the columbine! Dr.
Prior says the flower was given its name because "of the
resemblance of the nectaries to the heads of pigeons in a ring
around a dish - a favorite device of ancient artists."

This exquisite plant was forwarded from the Virginia colony to
England for the gardens of Hampton Court by a young kinsman of
Tradescant, gardener and herbalist to Charles I.

  (Sarracenea purpurea)  Pitcher-plant family

Flower - Deep reddish purple, sometimes partly greenish, pink, or
red, 2 in. or more across, globose; solitary, nodding from scape
1 to 2 ft. tall. Calyx of 5 sepals, with 3 or 4 bracts at base; 5
overlapping petals, enclosing a yellowish, umbrella-shaped
dilation of the style, with 5 rays terminating in 5-hooked
stigmas; stamens indefinite. Leaves: Hollow, pitcher-shaped
through the folding together of their margins, leaving a broad
wing; much inflated, hooded, yellowish green with dark maroon or
purple lines and veinings, 4 to 12 in. long, curved, in a tuft
from the root.
Preferred Habitat - Peat bogs; spongy, mossy swamps.
Flowering Season - May-June.
Distribution - Labrador to the Rocky Mountains, south to Florida,
Kentucky, and Minnesota.

        "What's this I hear
      About the new carnivora?
         Can little piants
         Eat bugs and ants
         And gnats and flies? -
      A sort of retrograding:
         Surely the fare
         Of flowers is air
         Or sunshine sweet
         They shouldn't eat
      Or do aught so degrading!"

There must always be something shocking in the sacrifice of the
higher life to the lower, of the sensate to what we are pleased
to call the insensate, although no one who has studied the
marvelously intelligent motives that impel a plant's activities
can any longer consider the vegetable creation as lacking
sensibility. Science is at length giving us a glimmering of the
meaning of the word universe, teaching, as it does, that all
creatures in sharing the One Life share in many of its powers,
and differ from one another only in degree of possession, not in
kind. The transition from one so-called kingdom into another
presumably higher one is a purely arbitrary line marked by man,
and often impossible to define. The animalcule and the
insectivorous plant know no boundaries between the animal and the
vegetable. And who shall say that the sun-dew or the bladderwort
is not a higher organism than the amoeba? Animated plants, and
vegetating. animals parallel each other. Several hundred
carnivorous plants in all parts of the world have now been named
by scientists.

It is well worth a journey to some spongy, sphagnum bog to gather
clumps of pitcher-plants which will furnish an interesting study
to an entire household throughout the summer while they pursue
their nefarious business in a shallow bowl on the veranda. A
modification of the petiole forms a deep hollow pitcher having
for its spout a modification of the blade of the leaf. Usually
the pitchers are half filled with water and tiny drowned victims
when we gather them. Some of this fluid must be rain, but the
open pitcher secretes much juice too. Certain relatives, whose
pitchers have hooded lids that keep out rain, are nevertheless
filled with fluid. On the Pacific Coast the golden jars of
Darlingtonia Californica, with their overarching hoods, are often
so large and watery as to drown small birds and field mice. Note
in passing that these otherwise dark prisons have translucent
spots at the top, whereas our pitcher-plant is lighted through
its open transom.

A sweet secretion within the pitcher's rim, which some say is
intoxicating, others, that it is an anaesthetic, invites insects
to a fatal feast. It is a simple enough matter for them to walk
into the pitcher over the band of stiff hairs, pointing downward
like the withes of a lobster pot, that form an inner covering, or
to slip into the well if they attempt crawling over its polished
upper surface. To fly upward in a perpendicular line once their
wings are wet is additionally hopeless, because of the hairs that
guard the mouth of the trap; and so, after vain attempts to fly
or crawl out of the prison, they usually sink exhausted into a
watery grave.

When certain plants live in soil that is so poor in nitrogen
compounds that protein formation is interfered with, they have
come to depend more or less on a carnivorous diet. The sundew
(q.v.) actually digests its prey with the help of a gastric juice
similar to what is found in the stomach of animals; but the
bladderwort (q.v.) and pitcher-plants can only absorb in the form
of soup the products of their victims' decay. Flies and gnats
drowned in these pitchers quickly yield their poor little bodies;
but owing to the beetle's hard-shell covering, many a rare
specimen may be rescued intact to add to a collection.

A similar ogre plant is the YELLOW-FLOWERED TRUMPET-LEAF (S.
flava) found in bogs in the Southern States.

  (Apios Apios; A. tuberosa of Gray)  Pea family

Flowers - Fragrant, chocolate brown and reddish purple, numerous,
about 1/2 in. long, clustered in racemes from the leaf-axils.
Calyx 2-lipped, corolla papilionaceous, the broad standard petal
turned backward, the keel sickle-shaped; stamens within it 9 and
1. Stem: From tuberous, edible rootstock; climbing, slender,
several feet long, the juice milky. Leaves: Compounded of 5 to 7
ovate leaflets. Fruit: A leathery, slightly curved pod, 2 to 4
in. long.
Preferred Habitat - Twining about undergrowth and thickets in
moist or wet ground.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick to Ontario, south to the Gulf States
and Kansas.

No one knows better than the omnivorous "barefoot boy" that

     "where the ground-nut trails its vine"

there is hidden something really good to eat under the soft,
moist soil where legions of royal fern, usually standing guard
above it, must be crushed before he digs up the coveted tubers.
He would be the last to confuse it with the WILD KIDNEY BEAN or
BEAN VINE (Phaseolus polystachyus; P. perennis of Gray). The
latter has loose racemes of smaller purple flowers and leaflets
in threes; nevertheless it is often confounded with the
ground-nut vine by older naturalists whose knowledge was "learned
of schools."

Usually a bee, simply by alighting on the wings of a blossom
belonging to the pea family, releases the stamens and pistil from
the keel; not so here. The sickle-shaped keel of the ground-nut's
flower rests its tip firmly in a notch of the standard petal, nor
will any jar or pressure from outside release it. A bee, guided
to the nectary by the darker color of the underside of the curved
keel which spans the open cavity of the flower, enters, at least
partially, and so releases by his pressure, applied from
underneath, the tip of the sickle from its notch in the standard.
Now the released keel curves all the more, and splits open to
release the stigmatic tip of the style that touches any pollen
the bee may have brought from another blossom. Continuing to
curve and coil while the bee sucks, it presently dusts him afresh
with pollen from the now released anthers. A mass of pulp between
anthers and stigma prevents any of the flower's own pollen from
self-fertilizing it. These little blossoms, barely half an inch
long, with their ingenious mechanism to compel
cross-fertilization, repay the closest study.

At midnight the leaves of the ground-nut.and wild bean "are
hardly to be recognized in their queer antics," says William
Hamilton Gibson. "The garden beans too play similar pranks. Those
lima bean poles of the garden hold a sleepy crowd."

  (Hypopitis Hypopitis; Monolropa Hypopitis of Gray)  Indian-pipe

Flowers - Tawny, yellow,ecru, brownish pink, reddish, or bright
crimson, fragrant, about 1/2 in. long; oblong bell-shaped; borne
in a one-sided, terminal, slightly drooping raceme, becoming
erect after maturity. Scapes: Clustered from a dense mass of
fleshy, fibrous roots; 4 to 12 in. tall, scaly bracted, the
bractlets resembling the sepals. Leaves: None.
Preferred Habitat - Dry woods, especially under fir, beech, and
oak trees.
Flowering Season - June-October.
Distribution - Florida and Arizona, far northward into British
Possessions. Europe and Asia.

Branded a sinner, through its loss of leaves and honest green
coloring matter (chlorophyll), the pine sap stands among the
disreputable 'gang' of thieves that includes its next of kin the
Indian-pipe, the broom-rape, dodder, coral-root, and beech-drops
(q.v.). Degenerates like these, although members of highly
respectable, industrious, virtuous families, would appear to be
as low in the vegetable kingdom as any fungus, were it not for
the flowers they still bear. Petty larceny, no greater than the
foxglove's at first, then greater and greater thefts, finally
lead to ruin, until the pine-sap parasite either sucks its food
from the roots of the trees under which it takes up its abode, or
absorbs, like a ghoulish saprophyte, the products of vegetable
decay. A plant that does not manufacture its own dinner has no
need of chlorophyll and leaves, for assimilation of crude food
can take place only in those cells which contain the vital green.
This substance, universally found in plants that grub in the soil
and literally sweat for their daily bread, acts also as a
moderator of respiration by its absorptive influence on light,
and hence allows the elimination of carbon dioxide to go on in
the cells which contain it. Fungi and these degenerates which
lack chlorophyll usually grow in dark, shady woods.

Within each little fragrant pine-sap blossom a fringe of hairs,
radiating from the style, forms a stockade against short-tongued
insects that fain would pilfer from the bees. As the plant grows
old, whatever charm it had in youth disappears, when an
unwholesome mold overspreads its features.

  (Anagallis arvensis)  Primrose family

Flower - Variable, scarlet, deep salmon, copper red, flesh
colored, or rarely white; usually darker in the center; about 1/4
in. across; wheel-shaped; 5-parted; solitary, on thread-like
peduncles from the leaf-axils. Stem: Delicate; 4-sided, 4 to 12
in. long, much branched, the sprays weak and long. Leaves: Oval,
opposite, sessile, black dotted beneath.
Preferred Habitat - Waste places, dry fields and roadsides, sandy
Flowering Season - May-August.
Distribution - Newfoundland to Florida, westward to Minnesota and

Tiny pimpernel flowers of a reddish copper or terra cotta color
have only to be seen to be named, for no other blossoms on our
continent are of the same peculiar shade. Thrifty patches of the
delicate little annuals have spread themselves around the
civilized globe; dying down every autumn, and depending on seeds
alone to keep the foothold once gained here, in Mexico and South
America, Europe, Egypt, Abyssinia, Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius,
New Holland, Nepal, Persia, and China. What amazing travelers
plants are! The blue-flowered plants are now believed to be a
distinct species (A. coerulea).

Notwithstanding the fact that many birds delight to feast on the
seeds, or perhaps because of it, for many must be dropped
undigested, the scarlet pimpernel is one of the most widely
distributed species known.

Before a storm, when the sun goes under a cloud, or on a dull
day, each little weather prophet closes. A score of pretty folk
names given it in every land it adopts testifies to its
sensitiveness as a barometer. Under bright skies the flower may
be said to open out flat at about nine in the morning and to
begin to close at three in the afternoon. No nectar is secreted
unless there may be some in the colored hairs which clothe the
filaments. As if it knew perfectly well that however.desirable
insect visitors are - and it has an excellent device for
compelling them to transfer pollen - it is likewise independent
of them, it takes no risk in exposing the precious vitalizing
dust to wind and rain, but closes up tight, thereby bringing its
pollen-laden stamens in contact with its stigma. Manifestly, it
is better for a plant having aspirations to colonize the globe to
set even self-fertilized seed than none at all.

  (Cynoglossum officinale) Borage family

Flowers - Dull purplish red, about 1/3 in. across, borne in a
curved raceme or panicle that straightens as the bloom advances
upward. Calyx 5-parted; corolla salverform, its 5 lobes
spreading; 5 stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: Erect, stout, hairy, leafy,
usually branched, 1 1/2 to 3 ft. high. Leaves: Rather pale, lower
ones large, oblong, slender petioled; upper ones lance-shaped,
sessile, or clasping. (Thought to resemble a dog's tongue.)
Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, waste places.
Flowering Season - May-September.
Distribution - Quebec to Minnesota, south to the Carolinas and.

This is still another weed "naturalized from Europe" which, by
contenting itself with waste land, has been able in an incredibly
short time to overrun half our continent. How easy conquest of
our vast unoccupied area is for weeds that have proved fittest
for survival in the overcultivated Old World! Protected from the
ravages of cattle by a disagreeable odor suggesting a nest of
mice, and foliage that tastes even worse than it smells; by hairs
on its stem that act as a light screen as well as a stockade
against pilfering ants; by humps on the petals that hide the
nectar from winged trespassers on the bees' and butterflies'
preserves, the hound's tongue goes into the battle of life
further armed with barbed seeds that sheep must carry in their
fleece, and other animals, including most unwilling humans,
transport to fresh colonizing ground. For a plant to shower its
seeds beside itself is almost fatal; so many offspring impoverish
the soil and soon choke each other to death, if, indeed, ants and
such crawlers have not devoured the seeds where they lie on the
ground. Some plants like the violet, jewelweed, and witch-hazel
forcibly eject theirs a few inches, feet or yards. The wind blows
millions about with every gust. Streams and currents of water
carry others; ships and railroads give free transportation to
quantities among the hay used in packing; birds and animals lift
many on their feet - Darwin raised 537 plants from a ball of mud
carried between the toes of a snipe! - and such feathered and
furred agents as feed on berries and other fruits sometimes drop
the seeds a thousand miles from the parent. but it will be
noticed that such vagabonds as travel by the hook or by crook
method, getting a lift in the world frpm every passer-by
-.burdocks, beggar-ticks, cleavers, pitchforks, Spanish needles,
and scores of similar tramps that we pick off our clothing after
every walk in autumn - make, perhaps, the most successful
travelers on the globe. The hound's tongue's four nutlets,
grouped in a pyramid, and with barbed spears as grappling-hooks,
imbed themselves in our garments until they pucker the cloth.
Wool growers hurl anathemas at this whole tribe of plants.

A near relative, the common VIRGINIA STICKSEED (Lappula
Virginiana; C. Morisoni of Gray) produces similar little barbed
nutlets, following insignificant, tiny, palest blue or white
flowers up the spike. These bristling seeds, shaped like
sad-irons, reflect in their title the ire of the persecuted man
who named them Beggar's Lice. If as Emerson said, a weed, is a
plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered, the hound's
tongue, the similar but blue-flowered WILD COMFREY (C.
Virginicum), next of kin, and the stickseed are no weeds; for
ages ago the caterpillars of certain tiger moths learned to
depend on their foliage as a food store,

  (Monarda didyma)  Mint family

Flowers - Scarlet, clustered in a solitary, terminal, rounded
head of dark-red calices, with leafy bracts below it. Calyx
narrow, tubular, sharply 5-toothed; corolla tubular, widest at
the mouth, 2-lipped, 1 1/2 to 2 inches long; 2 long,
anther-bearing stamens ascending, protruding; 1 pistil; the style
2-cleft. Stem: 2 to 3 ft. tall. Leaves: Aromatic, opposite, dark
green, oval to oblong lance-shaped, sharply saw-edged, often
hairy beneath, petioled; upper leaves and bracts often red.
Preferred Habitat - Moist soil, especially near streams, in hilly
or mountainous regions.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Canada to Georgia, west to Michigan.

Gorgeous, glowing scarlet heads of bee balm arrest the dullest
eye, bracts and upper leaves often taking on blood-red color,
too, as if it had dripped from the lacerated flowers. Where their
vivid doubles are reflected in a shadowy mountain stream, not
even the cardinal flower is more strikingly beautiful. Thrifty
clumps transplanted from Nature's garden will spread about ours
and add a splendor like the flowers of salvia, next of kin, if
only the roots get a frequent soaking.

With even longer flower tubes than the wild bergamot's (q.v.),
the bee balm belies its name, for, however frequently bees may
come about for nectar when it rises high, only long-tongued
bumblebees could get enough to compensate for their trouble.
Butterflies, which suck with their wings in motion plumb the
depths. The ruby-throated hummingbird - to which the Brazilian
salvia of our gardens has adapted itself - flashes about these
whorls of Indian plumes just as frequently - of course
transferring pollen on his needle-like bill as he darts from
flower to flower. Even the protruding stamens and pistil take on
the prevailing hue. Most of the small, blue or purple flowered
members of the mint family cater to bees by wearing their
favorite color; the bergamot charms butterflies with magenta, and
tubes so deep the short-tongued mob cannot pilfer their sweets;
and from the frequency of the hummingbird's visits, from the
greater depth of the bee balm's tubes and their brilliant,
flaring red - an irresistibly attractive color to the ruby-throat
- it would appear that this is a bird flower. Certainly its
adaptation is quite as perfect as the salvia's. Mischievous bees
and wasps steal nectar they cannot reach legitimately through
bungholes of their own making in the bottom of the slender casks.

"This species," says Mr. Ellwanger, "is said to give a decoction
but little inferior to the true tea, and was largely used as a
substitute" by the Indians and the colonists, who learned from
them how to brew it.

  (Castilleja coccinea)  Figwort family

Flowers - Greenish yellow, enclosed by broad, vermilion, 3-cleft
floral bracts; borne in a terminal spike. Calyx flattened,
tubular, cleft above and below into 2 lobes; usually green,
sometimes scarlet; corolla very irregular, the upper lip long and
arched, the short lower lip 3-lobed; 4 unequal stamens; pistil.
Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high, usually unbranched, hairy. Leaves: Lower
ones tufted, oblong, mostly uncut; stem leaves deeply cleft into
3 to 5 segments, sessile.
Preferred Habitat - Meadows; prairies; moist, sandy soil;
Flowering Season - May-July.
Distribution - Maine to Manitoba, south to Virginia, Kansas, and

Here and there the fresh green meadows show a touch of as vivid a
red as that in which Vibert delighted to dip his brush.

                         "Scarlet tufts
      Are glowing in the green like flakes of fire;
      The wanderers of the prairie know them well,
      And call that brilliant flower the 'painted cup.'"

Thoreau, who objected to this name, thought flame flower a better
one, the name the Indians gave to Oswego tea; but here the floral
bracts, not the flowers themselves, are on fire. Lacking good,
honest, deep green, one suspects from the yellowish tone of
calices, stem, and leaves, that this plant is something of a
thief. That it still possesses foliage, proves only petty larceny
against it, similar to the foxglove's (q.v.). Caterpillars of
certain checker-spot butterflies in turn prey upon Castilleja.
Under cover of darkness, in the soil below, the roots of our
painted cup occasionally break in and steal from the roots of its
neighbors such juices as the plant must work over into vegetable
tissue. Therefore it still needs leaves, indispensable parts of a
digestive apparatus. Were it wholly given up to piracy, like the
dodder, or as parasitic as the Indian pipe, even the green and
the leaf that it hath would be taken away from this slothful

But even without honest leaf green (chlorophyll), we know that
plants as low in the scale as fungi often take on the most
brilliant of yellows and reds. In the painted cup the bracts,
which enfold the insignificant yellowish cloistered flowers like
a cape, render them great service in attracting the ruby-throated
hummingbird by donning his favorite color. No lip landing place
is provided for insects, as in other members of the figwort
family dependent on bees; although bumblebees, which desire one,
and butterflies, which suck with their wings in motion, may be
rarely caught robbing the short tubes. Among the wild flowers,
only the columbine, with an almost parallel blooming season,
rivals the painted cup for the bird's beneficent attentions. The
latter flowers at about the time the ruby-throat flashes
northward out of the tropics to spend the summer. Professor
Robertson of Illinois says, "In 1886 the first hummingbird seen
was on May 5, visiting the Castilleja."

  {Pedicularis Canadensis)  Figwort family

Flowers - Greenish yellow and purplish red, in a short dense
spike. Calyx oblique, tubular, cleft on lower side, and with 2 or
3 scallops on upper; corolla about 3/4 in. long, 2-lipped, the
upper lip arched, concave, the lower 3-lobed; 4 stamens in pairs;
1 pistil. Stems: Clustered, simple, hairy, 6 to 18 in. high.
Leaves: Mostly tufted, oblong lance-shaped in outline, and
pinnately lobed.
Preferred Habitat - Dry, open woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - April-June.
Distribution - Nova Scotia to Florida, westward to Manitoba,
Colorado, and Kansas.

When the Italians wish to extol someone they say, "He has more
virtues than betony," alluding, of course, to the European
species, Betonica officinalis, a plant that was worn about the
neck and cultivated in cemeteries during the Middle Ages as a
charm against evil spirits; and prepared into plasters,
ointments, syrups, and oils, was supposed to cure every ill that
flesh is heir to. Our commonest American species fulfils its
mission in beautifying roadside banks and dry, open woods and
copses with thick, short spikes of bright flowers, that rise
above large rosettes of coarse, hairy, fern-like foliage. At
first, these flowers, beloved of bumblebees, are all greenish
yellow; but as the spike lengthens with increased bloom, the
arched, upper lip of the blossom becomes dark purplish red, the
lower one remains pale yellow, and the throat turns reddish,
while some of the beefsteak color often creeps into stems and
leaves as well.

Farmers once believed that after their sheep fed on the foliage
of this group of plants a skin disease, produced by a certain
tiny louse (pediculus), would attack them - hence our innocent
betony's repellent name.

  (Septamnium Virginianum; Epifegus Virginiana of Gray)
Broom-rape family

Flowers - Small, dull purple and white, tawny, or brownish
striped; scattered along loose, tiny bracted, ascending branches.
Stem: Brownish or reddish tinged, slender, tough, branching
above, 6 in. to 2 ft. tall, from brittle, fibrous roots.
Preferred Habitat - Under beech, oak, and chestnut trees.
Flowering Season - August-October.
Distribution - New Brunswick, westward to Ontario and Missouri,
south to the Gulf States.

Nearly related to the broom-rape is this less attractive pirate,
a taller, brownish-purple plant, with a disagreeable odor, whose
erect, branching stem without leaves is still furnished with
brownish scales, the remains of what were once green leaves in
virtuous ancestors, no doubt. But perhaps even these relics of
honesty may one day disappear. Nature brands every sinner
somehow; and the loss of green from a plant's leaves may be taken
as a certain indication that theft of another's food stamps it
with this outward and visible sign of guilt. The grains of green
to which foliage owes its color are among the most essential of
products to honest vegetables that have to grub in the soil for a
living, since it is only in such cells as contain it that
assimilation of food can take place. As chlorophyll, or
leaf-green, acts only under the influence of light and air, most
plants expose all the leaf surface possible; but a parasite,
which absorbs from others juices already assimilated, certainly
has no use for chlorophyll, nor for leaves either; and in the
broom-rape, beech-drops, and Indian pipe, among other thieves, we
see leaves degenerated into bracts more or less without color,
according to the extent of their crime. Now they cannot
manufacture carbohydrates, even if they would, any more than
fungi can.

On the beech-drop's slender branches two kinds of flowers are
seated: below are the minute fertile ones, which never open, but,
without imported pollen, ripen an abundance of seed with
literally the closest economy. Nevertheless, to save the species
from still deeper degeneracy through perpetual
self-fertilization, small purplish-striped flowers above them
mature stigmas and anthers on different days, and invite insect
visits to help them produce a few cross-fertilized seeds. Even a
few will save it. Every plant which bears cleistogamous or blind
flowers - violets, wood-sorrel, jewelweed, among others - must
also display some showy ones.

  (Tecoma radicans)  Trumpet-creeper family

Flowers - Red and veined within, paler and inclined toward tawny
without, trumpet-shaped, about 2 1/2 in. long, the limb with 5
rounded lobes; 2 to 9 flowers in the terminal clusters;
anther-bearing stamens 4, in pairs, under upper part of tube; 1
pistil. Stem: A woody vine 20 to 40 ft. long, prstrate or
climbing. Leaves: Opposite, pinnately compounded of 7 to 11
ovate, saw-edged leaflets.
Preferred Habitat - Moist, rich woods and thickets.
Flowering Season - August-September.
Distribution - New Jersey and Pennsylvania, westward to Illinois,
and soutb to the Gulf States. Occasionally escaped from gardens
farther north.

>From early May untll the middle of October, the ruby-throated
hummingbird forsakes the tropics to spend the flowery months with
us. Which wild flowers undertake to feed him? Years before showy
flowers were brought from all corners of the earth to adorn our
gardens, about half a dozen natives in that parterre of Nature's
east of the Mississippi catered to him in orderly succeswsion. In
feasting at their board he could not choose but reciprocate the
favor by transferring their pollen as they took pains to arrange
matters. Nectar and tiny insects he is ever seeking. Of course
hundreds of flowers secrete nectar which taxes them little; and
while the vast majority of these are avowedly adapted to insect
benefactors; what is to prevent the bird's needle-like bill from
probing the sweets from most of them? Certain flowers dependent
on him, finding that the mere offering of nectar was not enough
to insure his fidelity, that he was constantly lured away, had to
offer some especially strong attractions to make his regular
visits sure. How did these learn that red is irresistibly
fascinating to him, and orange scarcely less so, perhaps for the
sake of the red that is mixed with the yellow? Today we find such
flowers as need him sorely, wearing his favorite colors. But even
this delicate attention is not enough. He demands that his
refreshments shall be reserved for him in a tube so deep or
inaccessible that, when he calls, he will find all he desires,
notwithstanding the occasional intrusion of such long-tongued
insects as bumblebees, butterflies, and moths. First the
long-spurred red and yellow columbine and the painted cup, then
the coral honeysuckle, jewelweed, trumpet-creeper, Oswego tea,
and cardinal flower have the honor of catering to the exacting
little sprite from spring to autumn. His sojourn in our gardens
is prolonged until his beloved gladioli, cannas, honeysuckles,
nasturtiums, and salvia succumb to frost.

Where a trumpet vine climbs with the help of its aerial roots,
like an ivy's, and sends forth clusters of brilliant tubes at the
tips of long, wiry branches, there one is sure to see sooner or
later, the ruby-throat flashing, whirring, darting from flower to
flower. Eight birds at once were counted about a vine one sunny
morning. The next, a pair of tame pigeons walked over the roof of
the summer-house where the creeper grew luxuriantly, and
punctured, with a pop that was distinctly heard fifty feet away,
the base of every newly opened nectar-filled trumpet on it! That
afternoon all the corollas discolored, and no hummers came near.

  (Lonicera sempervirens)  Honeysuckle family

Flowers - Red outside, orange yellow within; whorled round
terminal spikes. Calyx insignificant; corolla tubular, slender, 1
1/2 in. long or less, slightly spread below the 5-lobed limb; 5
stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: A high, twining vine. Leaves: Evergreen
in the South only; opposite, rounded oval, dark, shining green
above, the upper leaves united around the stem by their bases to
form a cup. Fruit: An interrupted spike of deep orange-red
Preferred Habitat - Rich, light, warm soil; hillsides, thickets.
Flowering Season - April-September.
Distribution - Connecticut, westward to Nebraska, and south to
the Gulf States. Occasionally escaped from cultivation farther

Small-flowered bush honeysuckles elected to serve and be served
by bees; those with longer tubes welcomed bumblebees; the white
and yellow flowered twining honeysuckles, deep of tube and
deliciously fragrant, especially after dark, when they are still
visible, cater to the sphinx moths (see sweet wild honeysuckle);
but surely the longest-tongued bumblebee could not plumb the
depths of this slender-tubed trumpet honeysuckle, nor the
night-flying moth discover a flower that has melted into the
prevailing darkness when he begins his rounds, and takes no pains
to guide him with perfume. What creature, then, does it cater to?
After reading of the aims of the trumpet-flower on the preceding
page, no one will be surprised to hear that the ruby-throated
hummingbird's visits are responsible for most of the berries that
follow these charming, generous, abundant flowers, so eminently
to his liking. Larger migrants than he, in search of fare so
attractive, distribute the seeds far and wide. Is any other
species more wholly dependent on birds?

  (Lobelia cardinalis)  Bellflower family

Flowers - Rich vermilion, very rarely rose or white, 1 to 1 1/2
in, long, numerous, growing in terminal, erect, green-bracted,
more or less 1-sided racemes. Calyx 5-cleft; corolla tubular,
split down one side, 2-lipped; the lower lip with 3 spreading
lobes, the upper lip 2-lobed, erect; 5 stamens united into a tube
around the style; 2 anthers with hairy tufts. Stem: 2 to 4 1/2
ft. high, rarely branched. Leaves: Oblong to lance-shaped,
slightly toothed, mostly sessile.
Preferred Habitat - Wet or low ground, beside streams, ditches,
and meadow runnels.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - New Brunswick to the Gulf States, westward to the
Northwest Territory and Kansas.

By the depth and brilliancy of its incomparable hue, the shade
with which Vibert delighted to illumine his rich canvases, the
color of the famous hat worn by seventy ecclesiastical princes of
the Roman Church, but a richer red than the bird which shares the
name can boast, the cardinal flower proclaims its title to all
beholders. Because its vivid beauty cannot be hid, and few
withstand the temptation to pick it, its extermination goes on as
rapidly as its bird namesake's.

     "Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
      Loved the wood rose and left it on its stalk?"

The easy cultivation from seed of this peerless wildflower -  and
it is offered in many trade catalogues - might save it to those
regions in Nature's wide garden that now know it no more. The
ranks of floral missionaries need recruits.

Curious that the great blue lobelia should be the cardinal
flower's twin sister! Why this difference of color? Sir John
Lubbock proved by tireless experiment that the bees' favorite
color is blue, and the shorter-tubed blue lobelia elected to woo
them as her benefactors. Whoever has made a study of the
ruby-throated hummingbird's habits must have noticed how red
flowers entice him - columbines, painted cups, coral honeysuckle,
Oswego tea, trumpet flower, and cardinal in Nature's garden;
cannas, salvia, gladioli, pelargoniums, fuchsias, phloxes,
verbenas, and nasturtiums among others in ours. How the cardinal
flower's wonderful mechanism works to utilize his visits has
already been told under great lobelia, in the description of the
blue lobelia of similar construction. But with a bird so much
greater than the ruby-throat that the jeweled-feathered atom
could be concealed under one of its talons is the red lobelia
forever associated:

     "The cardinal, and the blood-red spots,
        Its double in the stream
      As if some wounded eagle's breast,
        Slow throbbing o'er the plain,
      Had left its airy path impressed
        In drops of scarlet rain."

     A P P E N D I C E S


Baby's Breath. Large Purple-fringed Orchis. Smaller
Purple-fringed Orchis. Hepatica (occasionally). Purple Marsh
Clematis. English Violet. Wild Phlox. Catnip. Pennyroyal. Wild
Thyme. Peppermint. Spear Mint. Wild Mint. Pasture Thistle. Pink
Moccasin Flower. Showy Orchis. Rose Pogonia. Arethusa. Calopogon.
Night-flowering Catchfly. Bouncing Bet. Purple-flowering
Raspberry. Queen-of-the-Prairie. Wild Rose. Red Clover. Musk
Mallow. Prince's Pine. Bog Wintergreen. Pink Azalea. White
Azalea. Trailing Arbutus. Sabbatia. Fly-trap Dogbane. Four-leaved
Milkweed. Field Bindweed. Wild Bergamot. Twin-flower. Joe-Pye
Weed (slightly). Wild Spikenard (slightly). White-fringed Orchis.
Ladies' Tresses. Lizard's Tail. Bladder Campion. White Water
Lily. Laurel Magnolia. Squirrel Corn. White Sweet Clover. Wild
Grape. Sweet White Violet. Canada Violet. Sweet-Cicely. Sweet
Pepperbush. Pyrola. Shin-leaf. Wintergreen. Button-bush.
Partridge Vine. Elder. Clammy Everlasting. Bellwort. Adders
Tongue. Small Yellow Lady's Slipper. Spice-bush. Yellow Sweet
Clover. Yellow Wood-sorrel. Evening Primrose. Horse-balm. Horned
Bladderwort. Honeysuckles. Fragrant Goldenrod. Ground-nut. Pine
Sap. Oswego Tea.


Purple Trillium. Black Cohosh. Mandrake. Jamestown Weed.
Salt-marsh Fleabane. Camomile. Carrion-flower. Barberry. Skunk
Cabbage. Hound's Tongue. Beech-drops.


RED AND REDDISH: Nightshade. Twisted-stalk. American Cranberry.
Marsh Calla. Wild Spikenard (pale red speckled berries).
Two-leaved Solomon's Seal (pale red speckled). Wake-robins. Red
Baneberry. Red Raspberry. Strawberries. Red Choke-berry.
June-berry. Shad-bush. Hawthorns. Harmless Sumacs. Hollies.
Bittersweet. Winterberry (Black Alder). American Spikenard.
Flowering Dogwood. Dwarf Cornel or Bunebberry. Wintergreen. Red
Bearberry. Partridge Vine. Hobble-bush. Red-berried Elder. High
Bush Cranberry. Barberry. Spice-bush. Ground Cherry. Wild
Honeysuckies. Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

BLUISH AND BLACK: Deadly Nightshade. Star-flowered Solomon's
Seal. True Solomon's Seal. Large-flowered Wake-robin. Black
Raspberry. Bush Blackberry. Dewberry. Black Choke-berry. Wild
Grapes. Virginia Creeper. Cornels. Pokeweed. Huckleberry.
Blueberries. Elder. Arrow-woods. Viburnums. Nanny-berry.
Blackberry Lily.

WHITE: White Baneberry (black eye). Poison Sumac. Poison Ivy.
Panicled Dogwood. Snowberry.

FLUFFY: Thistles. Virginia Clematis. Milkweeds. White lettuce
(cinnamon). Groundsel-bush. Spring Everlasting. Dandelions.
Sow-thistle. Lettuces. Hawkweeds (brown).


  Water-plantain. Arrow-head.

ARUM FAMILY  (Araceae)
  Jack-in-the-pulpit. Green dragon. Arrow-arum. Water-arum. Skunk
cabbage. Golden-club. Calamus-root.

SPIDERWORT FAMILY  (Commelinaceae)
  Day-flowers. Spiderwort. Wandering Jew.

PICKEREL-WEED FAMILY  (Pontederiaceae)

  White hellebore. Bellworts.

LILY FAMILY  (Liliaceae)
  Lilies. Adder's tongue. Hyacinths. Star-of-Bethlehem.

LILY-OF-THE-VALLEY FAMILY  (Convallariaceae)
  Clintonia. Wild spikenard. Solomon's seals. False
lily-of-the-valley. Twisted-stalks. Indian cucumber-root.
Wake-robins. Carrion-flower. Cat-brier.

AMARYLLIS FAMILY  (Amaryilidaceae)
  Yellow star-grass.

IRIS FAMILY  (Iridaceae)
  Irises. Blackberry lily. Blue-eyed grass.

ORCHID FAMILY  (Orchidaceae)
  Ladies' slippers. Orchises. Rose pogonia. Arethusa. Ladies'
tresses. Rattlesnake plantains. Twayblades. Calypso. Coral-roots.
Calopogon. Adam and Eve.


BIRTHWORT FAMILY  (Aristoltochiaceae)
  Wild ginger. Dutchman's pipe. Serpentary.

BUCKWHEAT FAMILY  (Polygonaceae)
  Persicarias. Smartweed. Water pepper. Lady's thumb. Pink
knotweed. Climbing false buckwheat. Tear-thumb. Coast jointweed.

POKEWEED FAMILY  (Phytolaccaceae)

PURSLANE FAMILY  (Portulacaceae)
  Spring beauty. Pussley. Portulaca.

PINK FAMILY (Caryophyllaceae)
  Corn cockle. Campions. Catchflies. Pinks. Bouncing Bet.

WATER-LILY FAMILY  (Nymphaeaceae)
  Water-shield. Pond-lilies. Lotus.

MAGNOLIA FAMILY (Magnoliaceae)
  Laurel magnolia.

CROWFOOT FAMILY (Ranunculaceae)
  Marsh-marigold. Gold-thread. Bane-berries. Black Cohosh.
Columbines. Larkspurs. Anemones. Hepatica. Virgin's bower.
Clematis. Water-crowfoots. Spearworts. Buttercups. Meadow-rues.

BARBERRY FAMILY (Berberidaceae)
  Barberries. Twin-leaf. Wild mandrake.

LAUREL FAMILY  (Lauraceae)

POPPY FAMILY  (Papaveraceae)
  Bloodroot. Celandine poppies. California poppy. Dutchman's
breeches. Squirrel corn. Bleeding-heart. Climbing fumitory. Pink
and Golden corydalis.

MUSTARD FAMILY  (Cruciferae)
  Mustards. Charlock. Cresses. Rocket. Radish. Ladies' smock.
Toothworts. Shepherd's purse. Vernal whitlow grass.

PITCHER-PLANT FAMILY  (Sarraceniaceae)
  Pitcher-plant. Sundew.

ORPINE FAMILY  (Crassulaceae)

SAXIFRAGE FAMILY  (Saxifragaceae)
  Early saxifrage. Foam-flower. Mitrewort. Grass-of-Parnassus.

WITCH-HAZEL FAMILY  (Hamamelidaceae)

ROSE FAMILY  (Rosaceae)
  Ninebark. Meadow-sweet. Steeplebush. Goat's beard. Indian
physic. Ipecac. Raspberries. Blackberries. Dalibarda.
Strawberries. Cinquefoils. Avens. Queen-of-the-prairie. Agrimony.

APPLE FAMILY  (Pomaceae)
  Chokeberries. June-berry. Shadbush. Hawthorns.

SENNA FAMILY  (Caesalpinaceae)
  Sensitive Pea. Partridge pea. Wild senna.

PEA FAMILY  (Papilionaceae)
  Wild indigo. Rattle-box. Wild lupine. Clovers. Sweet clovers.
Goat's rue. Tick-trefoils. Bush-clovers. Blue vetches. Pea vine.
Seaside pea. Butterfly-pea. Hog peanut. Milk-pea. Wild bean.

  Wild geranium. Herb Robert. Cranesbill.


FLAX FAMILY  (Linaceae)
  Flax. Slender yellow and Ridged flax.

MILKWORT FAMILY  (Polygalaceae)
  Milkworts. Fringed polygala.

SPURGE FAMILY  (Euphorbiaceae)
  Flowering spurge.

SUMAC FAMILY  (Anacardiaceae)
  Sumacs. Poison ivy. Smoke bush.

HOLLY FAMILY  (Ilicaceae)
  Hollies. Winter-berry (black alder).

STAFF-TREE FAMILY  (Celastraceae)
  Climbing bitter-sweet.

JEWEL-WEED FAMILY  (Balsaminaceae)
  Jewel-weed. Pale touch-me-not.

  New Jersey tea.

GRAPE FAMILY  (Vitaceae)
  Wild grapes. Virginia creeper. Ampelopsis.

MALLOW FAMILY  (Malvaceae)
  Mallows. Velvet leaf. Althaea.

ST. JOHNS-WORT FAMILY  (Hypericaceae)
  St. Peter's-wort. St. Andrew's cross. St. John's-worts.

  Frost-flowers. Poverty grass.

VIOLET FAMILY  (Violaceae)
  Violets. Pansies.

CACTUS FAMILY  (Cactaceae)
  Prickly pears.

  Purple loosestrife. Blue wax-weed.

  Meadow-beauty. Deer-grass.

  Fire-weed. Willow-herbs. Evening-primrose. Sundrops.
Enchanter's nightshade.

GINSENG FAMILY  (Ariliaceae)
  American spikenard. Wild sarsaparilla. Ginsings.

CARROT FAMILY  (Umbelliferae)
  Wild carrot. Cowbane. Parsnips. Parsley. Sanicle. Fennel.
Pimpernel. Water-hemlock. Sweet-Cicely. Poison hemlock.

  Cornels or Dogwoods.

  Sweet pepperbush.

  Wintergreens. Shin-leaf. Prince's pine.

INDIAN-PIPE FAMILY  (Monotrotaceae)
  Indian-pipe. Pine sap.

HEATH FAMILY  (Ericaceae)
  Labrador tea. Azaleas. Laurels. Rhodora. Rhododendrons.
Leucothoe. Wild rosemary. Fetter-bush, Stagger-bush. Andromeda.
Cassandra. Sourwood. Trailing arbutus. Creeping wintergreen.

  Huckleberries. Blueberries. Squaw huckleberry. Creeping
snowberry. Cranberry.

DIAPENSIA FAMILY  (Diapensiaceae)

PRIMROSE FAMILY  (Primulaceae)
  Loosestrifes. Moneywort. Star-flower. Scarlet pimpernel.
Shooting star.

PLUMBAGO FAMILY  (Plumbaginaceae)
  Marsh rosemary.

GENTIAN FAMILY  (Gentianaceae)
  Sabbatia. Sea-pink. Marsh pink. Gentians.

DOGBANE FAMILY  (Apocynaceae)
  Dogbane. Indian hemp.

MILKWEED FAMILY  (Asclepiadaceae)
  Miikweeds. Butterfly weed.

MORNING-GLORY FAMILY  (Convolvulaceae)
  Wild potato vine. Bindweeds.

DODDER FAMILY  (Cascutaceae)
  Gronovius' dodder.

PHLOX FAMILY  (Polemoniaceae)
  Phloxes. Moss pink.

WATER-LEAF FAMILY  (Hydrophyllaceae)
  Virginia water-leaf.

BORAGE FAMILY  (Boraginaceae)
  Hound's tongue. Comfrey. Stick-seeds. Virginia cowslip.
Lungwort. Forget-me-not. Viper's bugloss. Vervains. Verbena.

MINT FAMILY  (Labiatae)
  Blue curls. Skullcaps. Catnip. Gill-over-the-ground. Self-heal.
Obedient plant. Motherwort. Oswego tea. Wild bergamot.
Pennyroyal. Sweet basil. Hyssop. Mints. Wild thyme. Dittany.
Peppermint. Citronella.

POTATO FAMILY  (Solanaceae)
  Ground cherry. Nightshades. Thorn apples. (Jamestown weed.)

FIGWORT FAMILY  (Scrophulariaceae)
  Mulleins. Butter-and-eggs. Blue toad-flax. Figwort.
Turtle-head. Beard tongues. Blue-eyed Mary. Monkey-flower.
Speedwells. Brooklime. Culver's-root. False foxgloves. Gerardias.
Scarlet painted cup. Wood betony.

BLADDERWORT FAMILY  (Lentibulariaceae)

BROOM-RAPE FAMILY  (Orobanchaceae)
  Broom-rape. Beech-drops.


ACANTHUS FAMILY  (Acanthaceae)
  Hairy ruellia.

MADDER FAMILY  (Rubiaceae)
  Bluets. Button-bush. Partridge-vine. Cleavers. Bedstraw.

HONEYSUCKLE FAMILY  (Caprifoliaceae)
  Elder bushes. Hobble-bush. Bush cranberry. Arrow-woods.
Withe-rod. Sweet viburnum. Black haw. Twin-flower. Snowberry.
Honeysuckles. Fly-honeysuckles. Bush-honeysuckles.

TEASEL FAMILY (Dipsacaceae)
  Card teasel.

GOURD FAMILY (Cucurbitaceae)

BELL-FLOWER FAMILY  (Campanulaceae)
  Harebell. Bellflowers. Venus' looking-glass. Cardinal flower.
Lobelias. Indian tobacco.

CHICORY FAMILY  (Cichoriaceae)
  Chicory. Cynthia. Dwarf goat's beard. Fall dandelion.
Dandelions. Sow-thistles. Wild lettuces. Hawk-weeds.
Rattlesnake-weed. White lettuce.

  Iron-weed. Joe-Pye weed. Boneset or Thoroughwort. White
sanicle. Climbing hempweed. Blazing-star. Button snake-root.
Golden aster. Goldenrods. Asters. Robin's plantain. Flea-banes.
Sweet scabious. Groundsel-bush. Everlastings. Elecampane.
Cup-plant. Compass-plant. Ox-eyes. Cone-flowers. Black-eyed
Susan. Sunflowers. Jerusalem artichoke. Tickseeds. Bur-marigolds.
Beggar-ticks. Sneezeweed. Yarrow. Camomiles. Daisy. Tansy.
Ragwort. Burdock. Thistles.

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