Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

a plant.* In the same genus with the potatoe, is found the Tomato and the Egg plant. In this natural family is the Da. TURA stramonium, a large, ill looking, nauseous scented weed, with a funnel form, plaited corolla, either white or purple, with broad, dark green leaves ; when the corolla falls off and the germ matures, it then becomes a large ovate, thorny pericarp, often called Thorn-apple ; it continues to blossom during the summer, is found by the sides of roads, around old buildings and waste grounds. Yet even this disagreeable plant has an important use ; it is, on account of its narcotic, and other active properties, highly valuable in medicine.

In the group of plants we are now considering, is the To. bacco (NICOTIANA tabacum). This is a native of America ; it was imported into Europe about the middle of the 16th century. It was presented to Catharine de Medicis, Queen of France, as a plant from the New World possessing extraordinary virtues. The generic name, Nicotiana, is derived from Nicot, the name of the person who carried it to France. King James I. of England, 'had such a dislike to the fumes of this plant, that he wrote a pamphlet, which he called a “ Counter blast to To. bacco." It is highly narcotic, the excessive use of it producing sleep like opium. The oil of tobacco, when applied to a wound, is said to be equally fatal as the poison of a viper.

The Mandrake (ATROPA mandagora) was much used by the ancients as an opiate ; they had many absurd notions respecting this plant ; they fancied in its roots, which are very large and of a peculiar appearance, a resemblance to the human form, and thought that some judgment would follow those who took them out of the ground. This superstition is not unlike that which is sometimes discovered even in the present day by those who are afraid to sow fennel, because they say it is “ sowing sorrow.”

Perhaps those very persons who would thus fear to perform acts so innocent as to take a root from the ground, or to put seeds into it, would have no hesitation in violating a command of God, or neglecting to perform their known duties.

The Atropa mandagora must be distinguished from the American mandrake; the latter bears a fruit which is pleasant to the taste and perfectly inoffensive ; its botanical name is Podophyllum; it is found in the class Polyandria. You can see in this instance the importance of botanical names being given in a language which shall be the same in all countries.

*This is more properly a continuation of the plant than a reproduction ; it is observed that the vegetable thus continued appears in process of time to become degenerated, and it is necessary to renew the race by reproducing it from seed.

Tobacco-Mandrake-American mandrake.

The common name, mandrake, has been given to two plants essentially different ; but by a uniformity in the scientific names, there is no danger of one being taken for the other by those who know any thing of botany.

Along with the Potatoe, the Stramonium, and the Atropa, we find the Mullein (Verbascum), which you must have seen too often to need any description of its general appearance ;* but though its natural characters may have so far attracted your attention that you know a mullein from every other plant, you may not have examined its different parts with a view to scientific arrangement: it has, like all the Lurida, a five-parted calyx, wheel-shaped corolla, with five unequal divisions. The stamens are declined, or turned downwards, bearded, or hairy. The capsule is two-celled and many-seeded. The leaves are oblong, acuminate and decurrent or with their bases extending downwards around the stem; they are downy on both sides. The flowers are arranged along their stem, in such a manner as to constitute what is called a spike. The botanical name of the common mullein is VERBASCUM thapsus ; a species smaller and more delicate than the common mullein, is often found in woods; this is the VERBASCUM blattaria. This genus is less active in its medicinal properties than most others of the lurid family ; it is said to possess anodyne properties, and to be intoxicating to fish.t We cannot at present enumerate all the plants of this extensive natural family (the Lurida); as you proceed in your analysis of plants, you will do well to refer them to their natural orders, and thus you will in time become familiar with the natural, as well as artificial classes.

Having remarked upon the genera found in the natural fami. lies Asperifolia and Luride, we proceed to consider some other genera of the class Pentandria. In the family Lysimachi, are several genera

with wheel-form corollas ; the most important genus in this family is the Lysi. machia or Loose-strife (See Fig. 108, a), this is an herbaceous plant, very common in June and July; several species of it may be found along the banks of little brooks, and low meadow grounds. The racemosa, or cluster-flowered loose-strife is from one to two feet in height ; it bears a profusion of fine yellow blossoms, in a lax or limber raceme. It sometimes bears bulbs in the axils of the leaves, and small branches. These bulbs, like the roots of the crocus and onion, contain the rudi.

* By general appearance, we mean, what the French botanists call the port of the plant.

+ Smith.

Mention the botanical characters of the mullein-Different species-Ly-, imachi.

[ocr errors]

ments of a plant. The St. John's wort, Hypericum, a very common and numerous genus, is in the family Lysimachi.

In this comprehensive order of the class Pentandria, we find the morning glory (Convolvulus), and the genus Ribes, which contains the currant and gooseberry. The coffee (Coffea Ara. bica) is also in this class and order. This plant is a native of Arabia ; it is said to be used to a great extent by the Turks and Arabs, to counteract the narcotic effects of opium, which they use in large quantities. It is remarked by a physician, that the question is often asked, which

is the least detrimental to health, tea or coffee ; he says, the Turks, who drink great quantities of coffee, and the Chinese, who make equally as free use of tea, do not exhibit such peculiar effects as render it easy to decide, whether they are, in reality, deleterious to the hu. man system.

The trumpet-honeysuckle (honicera), belongs to this part of the artificial system (Fig. 108, 6); it has a very minute, fivecleft calyx, which is superior or above the germ; the corolla is of one petal, and tubular; the tube is oblong ; the limb of the corolla is deeply divided into five revolute segments, one of which seems separated from the others; the filaments are exserted ; the anthers are oblong.

Before closing our remarks upon this order, we will remind you that the wine grape is found here. The general character of the grape (Vitis), is a calyx five toothed ; petals connected at the top; a five seeded, round pericarp. The stamens and pistils are, in some genera, diæcious, or on separate plants; this, according to our principles of classification, would carry the genus into the class Diccia ; but as some species of the genus have perfect flowers, containing five stamens and one pistil, and as it is never permitted to separate the different species of a genus, we take the diæcious species, which are less numerous than the pentandrous, into the fifth class.

The regions which produce the wine grape have a mean annual temperature* of 50 degrees on the northern border, and 59 degrees on the southern. Lines of temperature have been described by Humboldt, by remarking the peculiar vegetables in different countries. He has traced the northern limit of the wine grape, where the mean annual temperature is about 50°

* By mean annual temperature, is meant a medium between the extremes of heat and cold. In a climate where the thermometer in summer would rise to 100 degrees, and in winter sink to zero or 0, the medium would be 50 degrees ; this is probably not far from the mean annual temperature of our climate. The mean annual temperature at the equator is reckoned to be about 84 degrees.

Coffee-Trumpet-honeysuckle— Vitis–Temperature of the regions which produce the wine grape What do you understand by mean annual temperature ?-(See Note.)

near the latitude of Albany, across the United States to the Pa. cific ocean; not however in a straight line, for climate, although chiefly dependent on latitude, is yet much modified by other circumstances; and on the western coast of America we find in latitude 50°, a similar climate to the 43d degree of latitude on the eastern coast. Thus the wine grape may grow in 50° of latitude, near the lakes, the Mississippi, and Pacific ocean; while, in the eastern part of New York and New England, it would not thrive beyond the 43d degree of latitude.

We find, on the other side of the Atlantic, the region of the wine grape, including France, and the southern countries of Europe, extending as high as latitude 50°

The southern limit of the wine grape where the mean annual temperature is about 59°, is traced from Raleigh, in the United States, in latitude 35°, to Europe, where it passes between Rome and Florence, in latitude 44°; this line is the boundary between the grape region and that of the olive and 'fig, which you know, require a higher temperature than the grape.

The banks of the Rhine produce excellent grapes, which are brought down the river in great quantities to the seaports. The festival of the Vintage, or the gathering of the grapes, which, like our Thanksgiving season, is intended as a manifestation of gratitude for the fruits of the earth, was celebrated with much joy by the ancient Romans, and is still observ. ed by the people of Italy ; it occurs with them about the beginning of September; in France and the south of Germany, it later.

The Fallernian wine was the most celebrated among the Romans ; some of the Latin poets spoke of it oftener than we should expect from those, whose intellectual taste might seem to elevate them above any very great attention to the gratification of the external senses. The number of wines in use, in the days of Virgil, was such, that he said he might as well attempt to count the sand on the shore, or the billows of the ocean in a storm, as to make a catalogue of them.

The vines of Italy, are often trained upon trees, particular. ly upon the lofty elm. In France, the vineyards have short poles, about the length of bean poles. The appearance ex. hibited by a luxuriant vineyard is truly rich and beautiful; of those of France and Italy, it may well be said,

" The vine her curling tendrils shoots,
Hangs out her clusters, glowing to the south,
And scarcely wishes for a warmer sky.”

Which is the natural limit of the wine grape ?-How does the climate of the western coast of America correspond to that of the eastern coast ?--Crossing the Atlantic, where do we find the northern and southern limits of the wine ype ?-Vintage--Wines-Vineyards.

It is said, the Persian vine-dressers endeavour to make the vine run up the wall, and curl over on the other side, which they do, by tying stones to the extremity of the tendrils. A writer remarking upon this, thinks it may illustrate a passage in Genesis. “ Joseph is a fruitful bough; even a fruitful bough by a well ; whose branches run over the wall.

“ The vine, particularly in Turkey and Greece, is frequently made to en. twine on trellises around a well, where, in the heat of the day, whole families collect themselves and sit under their shade.”

In this class and order is the violet (viola), a genus which contains many native species. The garden violet is the viola tricolour. It has a variety of common names, as pansy, heartsease, &c. Pansy is a corruption of the French pense'e, a thought; thus Shakspeare, in the character of Ophelia, says,

“ There's rosemary, that's for remembrance ;

And these are pansies ;

That's for thought.Shakspeare also calls the same flower Love in idleness. You will find the blue violet (viola cærulia), among the first flowers of spring; our meadows present a great variety of beautiful and fragrant violets.

Poets are very fond of the Primrose (Primula), so called from primus, first, on account of its early appearance in the . spring. But the primrose of the poets is not a native plant with us. The cinnamon-rose is frequently, though improperly called primrose. The English cowslip is a species of Primula, having the segments of its corolla spotted with a rich yellow colour, which Shakspeare seemed to suppose contained the fragrance of the flower. Thus in the Midsummer Night's Dream; the Fairy says,

“ I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours ;
I must go seek some dew drops here,

And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.” The American cowslip belongs to the genus Caltha, which is in the class Polyandria.

Violet--Primrose Cowslip.

« ПредишнаНапред »