Wayside and Woodland Blossoms A Pocket Guide to British Wild-flowers for the Country Rambler
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Title: Wayside and Woodland Blossoms
A Pocket Guide to British Wild-flowers for the Country Rambler
Author: Edward Step
Release Date: March 8, 2019 [eBook #59035]
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WAYSIDE AND WOODLAND BLOSSOMS.iiiii
Wayside and Woodland
A POCKET GUIDE TO BRITISH WILD-FLOWERS
FOR THE COUNTRY RAMBLER
AUTHOR OF “BY VOCAL WOODS AND WATERS,” “BY SEASHORE, WOOD AND
WITH COLOURED FIGURES OF 156 SPECIES
BLACK AND WHITE PLATES OF 22 SPECIES
AND CLEAR DESCRIPTIONS OF 400 SPECIES
FREDERICK WARNE & CO.
AND NEW YORK
The purpose of this volume is to assist a very large andincreasing class of persons who possess a strong love offlowers, but to whom the ordinary “Floras”—indispensable asthey are to the scientific botanist—are as books written in anunknown tongue. With the enormous increase of our townpopulations, and the greater facilities for home travel, therehas grown up a truer appreciation of the country and of allthat is beautiful in nature; and it is hoped that this work maybe of service to those who thus steal back to the arms of theirMother, but have not time or inclination to spell out and painfullytranslate the carefully-made terms of the exact descriptionswhich learned men have written for the use of thescientific student. Such terms are absolutely necessary, forthe things they describe were unknown to our Celtic andSaxon forefathers, who would otherwise have left us names forthem which would now be familiar words to all. In a worklike the present such words could not be entirely avoided, butthey have been used sparingly, and in a manner that will notinvolve continual reference to a dictionary of scientific terms.vi
The Author’s aim has been to write a book that, whilst itsatisfied the rambler who merely wishes to identify the flowersby his path, might also serve as a stepping-stone to the florasof Hooker, Bentham, and Boswell-Syme; so that should theinterest of any reader be sufficiently awakened he may take upthe more serious study of either of these authors withouthaving to unlearn what this modest pocket-book may havetaught him. At the same time he will here find information onmany points of great interest, such as are rarely, if ever,noticed in the “Floras.”
When it is stated that the “London Catalogue of BritishPlants”—meaning only the flowering plants and ferns—includesnearly 1,700 species, it will be understood that an inexpensivework for the pocket of the rambler can only givefigures of a few of these; but the Author has tried to so usethe 180 plants delineated that they may serve as a key to amuch greater number of species. He regrets that technicaldifficulties connected with colour-printing and binding havemade it impossible to carry out his original plan of groupingthe plants according to their natural affinities; instead, hehas had to arrange them more in seasons, a course which,after all, may be preferred by the rambler, who will thus findin contiguous pages the flowers he is likely to meet in thecourse of one ramble. The more scientifically inclined mayfind the species enumerated in the Natural Orders at the endof the work (page 153).
Several of the black and white figures are of trees which arenot natives, but from the frequency with which they are nowplanted in woods and parks the question of their identity isviiconstantly troubling the rambler, and it seems well to give himthe power to decide what they are.
In conclusion, the Author would but express the hope thatthe present volume may receive a similarly encouragingreception to that which has been accorded to his previousefforts to popularize one of the most delightful branches ofhuman knowledge.
WAYSIDE AND WOODLAND BLOSSOMS.
The Daisy (Bellis perennis).
So widely distributed and well known is this plant that surprisemay be felt at its inclusion here; but its perfect familiaritymarks it as a capital type of the important natural order towhich it belongs. What is commonly known as the flower isreally a corymb or level-topped cluster of many densely-packedflorets of two kinds. Those of the central yellow disc consisteach of a tubular corolla, formed by the union of five petals,within which the five anthers unite to form a sheath round thecentral pistil. The outer or ray-florets have the corolladeveloped into an irregular white flag, which at once rendersthe composite flower conspicuous and pretty. These outerflorets produce pistils only, as though the extra materialnecessary for the production of the white flag had madeeconomy in other directions a necessity, and had prevented thedevelopment of anthers and pollen.
This is the only British species of its genus, which derives itsname from the Latin Bellus, pretty. Its second, or specific,name signifies that the plant lives for several years. It flowersnearly all the year round, and occurs generally in grassy placesthroughout the British Islands.
The Natural Order Compositæ, to which Bellis belongs, includes2no less than forty-two British genera, which are divided into twoseries. Several of these genera will be illustrated and describedin succeeding pages, but in all the flower-heads will be found tobe constructed in the main after the manner of the Daisy.Some will be found to have no ray-florets, others to be composedentirely of ray-florets; and all these modifications of thetype give the distinctive characters to the various genera.
The Cowslip or Paigle (Primula veris).
In April and May in clayey meadows and pastures throughoutEngland and Ireland the Cowslip is abundant; in Scotlandrare. The flowers are of a rich yellow hue, and funnel-shaped,the five petals being joined to form a long tube. They areborne on short pedicels, a number of which spring from a long,stout, velvety stalk, three to six inches high. At the bottom ofthe tube is the globose ovary, surmounted by the pin-like stylewith the spreading stigma at the top. The five stamens areattached to the walls of the tube—in some flowers half-waydown, in others at the top. In the first form the style is verylong, so that the stigma comes to the top of the tube; in thesecond the style is short, and the stigma reaches half-way uponly. The flowers are consequently termed dimorphic, and thetwo forms are borne on separate plants.
Though these two forms had long been known to countrychildren as “pin-eyed” and “thrum-eyed” respectively, it remainedfor Charles Darwin to point out the significance of thisvariation, which is to ensure cross-fertilization by the visits ofinsects. A bee pushing its tongue to the bottom of a long-styledflower in search for honey would have its tongue dustedwith pollen half-way down, and on visiting a short-styled flowersome of this pollen would be sure to become detached by thesticky stigma at the same height; and vice versâ. The readermay prove this experimentally by selecting flowers of the two3forms, and gently thrusting a grass stem into one after theother.
The other native species of the genus Primula are:—
The Primrose (P. vulgaris) with inflated calyx and large pale-yellow corollas onlong pedicels. The thick stalk of the cowslip is not developed here, but hiddenamid the leaf-stalks. Copses and hedge banks, April and May.
The Oxlip (P. elatior). Calyx less inflated, corolla pale, like primrose; pedicelsshorter; thick stalk developed and long like cowslip. Confined to counties of Bedford,Cambridge, Suffolk and Essex. Copses and meadows, April and May.
The Bird’s-eye Primrose (P. farinosa). The three former species have wrinkledleaves; this and the next have not, but theirs are very mealy underneath. Flowerspale purple-lilac with a yellow eye. Bogs and meadows from York northwards.Very rare in Scotland. June and July. Dimorphic like the foregoing.
The Scottish Primrose (P. scotica). Similar to Bird’s-eye, but not half the size,though stouter in proportion. Flowers purple-blue with yellow eye. Not dimorphic.Pastures in Orkney, Caithness and Sutherland, June to September.
Name from Latin Primulus, first.
The Wood Anemone or Windflower (Anemonenemorosa).
One of the earliest of spring-flowers to greet us in the copse,by the woodside and in upland meadows is this bright-facedflower. Its firm, fleshy, almost woody rootstock creeps justbelow the surface of the mossy soil, and rapidly sends up itsstems with folded leaves and drooping buds, after one or twogenial days.
The Anemones constitute the genus Anemone of the naturalordera Ranunculaceæ, and are characterized by having no corolla(petals). Instead, the six sepals (calyx) are coloured—in thiscase a very delicate pink-washed white inside, lightly tinged withpurple outside. As a rule the stem bears three leaves, each splitup into three leaflets, which are deeply toothed. Flowers fromlate March till early June. The name is derived from the Greekanemos—the wind—and was given because it was believed toopen its buds only when the winds were blowing. RichardJefferies, curiously ignoring the meaning of the word, entitleda chapter in one of his earlier works—“Wind Anemones.”
There is one other native species:—
The Pasque-flower (A. pulsatilla). Blossoms before the leaves mature. Flowersdull purple; exterior covered with silky hairs; leaves also silky. Fruit, little nutlets(achenes) provided with long feathered awns, with which they float on the windwhen ripe. Flowers, May and June, on chalk downs and limestone pastures inEssex and Gloucestershire, and from York to Norfolk.
The Sweet Violet (Viola odorata).
One of the most valued flowers of spring in cities is thecultivated violet, and the rambler from town considers himselffortunate if he comes upon a sheltered bank whereon the wildSweet Violets grow. We need not dwell at any length uponthe special characters of this species, for its possession of sweetperfume is sufficient alone to separate it from the related speciescomprised in the genus Viola.
It will be seen to have a short rootstock, and to give offrunners. The leaves are broadly heart-shaped, and have a wayof enlarging after the plant has flowered—a characteristicshared by the Marsh Violet and the Hairy Violet. The flowersvary in colour; they may be blue, reddish-purple, or white.The petals are unequal in size and shape, there being two pairsand an odd one. This is larger than the others, and is producedbackwards as a short hollow spur. It is really theuppermost of the five petals, but, owing to the flower-stalk(peduncle) invariably bending over near the summit, it appearsto us always as the lowest.
A careful examination of the form and mechanism of theessential organs of this genus will be well repaid by the lightthrown upon Nature’s methods to secure the continuity ofspecies. The style on arising from the ovary is thin and bent,but gradually expands until the stigmatic surface is very broadin comparison. The stamens surround the style, the anthers soclosely touching each other laterally that they enclose a spacein which the ovary and style occupy the centre,