Obrazy na stronie

open the innermost recesses of plants; are young. If they have once found a travellers have brought home new, gene home, they settle quietly down, grow, blosralizing views, and an insight has at last som, and bear fruit. Therefore it is, that been gained into the life of the vegetable plants travel only in the seed. For this world. Great, startling discoveries have purpose, seeds possess often special orthere been made, new truths and new gans for a long journey through the air. beauties have been revealed to us, and Sometimes they are put, like small bombnatural science has unfolded the most shells, into little mortars, and fired off delicate resources and most curious rela with great precision. Thus arise the welltions in the vegetable kingdom.

known emerald rings on our greenswards, Thus we have learned, that it is a fal and on the vast prairies of the West, lacy-to be sure as old as botany itself which some ascribe to electricity, whilst that plants have no motion. Old Aristo the poet loves to see in them traces of the tle, it is true, had a curious idea, that they moonlight revels of fairies. The truth is were buried in deep slumber, out of which scarcely less poetical. A small circular nothing could awake them, and that thus fungus squats down on a nice bit of turf. by a kind of enchantment, they were spell It prospers and fills with ripening seed. bound, until the great word should be When it matures, it discharges the tiny spoken, that was to restore to them life balls, already mentioned, in a circle all and motion. Modern science also teaches around, and then sinks quietly in the that the characteristic of organic bodies ground and dies. Another season, and is independent motion, that of inorganic, its place is marked by an abundance of rest. But plants have both life and mo luxuriant grass, feeding upon its remains, tion; we dare not as yet say whether it whilst around it a whole ring of young be the effect of a mere dream, of a mechan fungi have begun to flourish. They die ical pressure from without, or of instinc in their-turn, and so the circle goes on tive life within. For what do we as yet enlarging and enlarging, shifting rapidly, know of the simplest functions of the because fungi exhaust the soil soon of all inner life of plants? Who has not, how matter necessary for their growth, and ever, observed how the pale sap courses closely followed by the rich grass, that through the colossal stems of gigantic trees fills up their place, and prevents them and the delicate veins of a frail leaf, as from ever retracing their steps. rapidly and marvellously as through the A similar irritability enables other body of man? Take a microscope and plants also to scatter their seeds far and you will see the plant full of life and near, by means of springs bent back, until motion. All its minute cells are filled a breath of wind, a falling leaf, or the wing with countless little currents, now rotary of an insect, causes them to rebound, and and now up and down, often even appa thus to send the pollen with which they rently lawless, but always distinctly are loaded often to a great distance. The marked by tiny grains which are seen to so-called Touch-me-not balsam scatters turn in them or to rise without ceasing. its ripe seeds, by such a contrivance, in all In this world nothing is motionless, says directions, and the squirting cucumber is a modern philosopher. Let the air be so furnished, for the same purpose, with a still, that not a breath shall be felt to complete fire-engine. Some of the gecreep through it, and yet the forest leaves raniums, also, of our greenhouses have will seem stirred as is in silent prayer. their fruit-vessels so curiously constructThe earth moves small things and great, ed, that the mere contact with another all obey the same law, and the little blade object, and frequently the heat of the sun of grass goes around the sun as swiftly alone, suffices to detach the carpels, one as the tallest pine. The very shadow by one, with a snapping sound, and so dances, as if in idle mockery, around the suddenly as to cause a considerable jerk, immovable flower, and marks the passing

which sends the seeds far away. hours of sunshine.

Other fruit-vessels again, have, as is But plants move not only where they well known, contrivances the most curistand-they travel also. They migrate ous and ingenious, by which they press from land to land, sometimes slowly, inch every living thing that comes near them by inch, then again on the wings of the into their service, and make it convey storm. Botanists tell us of actual migra them whithersoever they please. Every tions of plants, and a successive extension body is familiar with the bearded variof the domain of particular floras, just as eties of wheat and other grain ; they are we speak of the migration of idioms and provided with little hooks which they

Individual plants, however, travel cunningly insert into the wool or hair of only as man ought to travel, when they grazing cattle, and thus they are carried


our own race.

about until they find a pleasant place for bonds of love connecting even those parts their future home. Some who do not like of creation, that seem to be without sense to obtain services thus by hook and crook, or voluntary motion, humble subjects of succeed by pretended friendship, sticking the dominion of the elements, and which yet closely to their self-chosen companions. respond to the action of those mysterious They cover their little seeds with a most powers, that rule, under God, in nature. adhesive glue, and when the busy bee The flower opens its gorgeous chalice, comes to gather honey from their sweet filled with rich honey, to the tiny insect; blossoms, which they jauntily hang out the insect, in return, carries the fructifyto catch the unwary insect, the seeds ad ing pollen to the flower's distant mate, here to its body, and travel thus on four and thus propagates it anew. The herbs fine wings through the wide, wide world. of the field send forth their luxuriant Bee fanciers know very well the common tufts of leaves for the browsing cattle, disease of their sweet friends, when so and sheep and oxen carry the seed in their much pollen adheres to their head that hides from meadow to meadow. The they cannot fly; and must miserably. trees themselves, planted by stones that perish, one by one, under the heavy bur birds have dropped, grow and flourish den which these innocent-looking plants until “they are strong, and the height have compelled them to carry. We have thereof reaches unto heaven, and the but little knowledge as yet of the activity beasts of the field have shadow under of life in the vegetable world, and of its it, and the fowls of heaven dwell in the momentous influence on the welfare of boughs thereof."

Few only know that the When neither quadruped nor insect gall-fly of Asia Minor decides on the ex can be coaxed or forced to transport the istence of ten thousands of human beings. young seeds that wish to see the world, As our clippers and steamers carry the they sometimes launch forth on their own produce of the land from continent to account, and trust to a gentle breeze or a continent, so these tiny sailors of the air light current of air, rising from the heated perform, under the direction of Divine surface of the earth. It is true, nature Providence, the important duty of carry has given them wings to fly with, such as ing pollen, or fertilizing dust, from fig man never yet was skilful enough to de tree to fig-tree. Without pollen, there vise for his own use. The maple-our come no figs, and, consequently, on their maple, I mean-has genuine little wings, activity and number depends the produc with which it flies merrily about in its tiveness of these trees; they, therefore, early days; others, like the dandelion and regulate in fact the extensive and profit the anemone, have light downy appenable fig trade of Smyrna. A little, ugly dages, or little feathery tufts and crowns, beetle of Kamschatka has, in like man by which they are floated along on the ner, more than once saved the entire lightest breath of air, and enjoy, to their population of the most barren part of heart's content, long autumnal wanderGreenland from apparently unavoidable ings. These airy appendages are marvelstarvation. He is a great thief in his way, lously well adapted for the special purand a most fastidious gourmand, more pose of each plant: some but just large over. Nothing will satisfy him on a long enough to waft the tiny grain up the winter evening and we must charitably height of a molehill, others strong enough bear in mind that these evenings some to carry the seed of the cedar from the times last five months without interrup low valley to the summit of Mount Lebtion—but a constant supply of lily bulbs. anon. The proudest princes of the vegeThe lilies are well content with this ar table kingdom often depend for their conrangement, for the being eaten is as natu tinuance on these little feathery tufts, ral to them as to a Feejee-islander; and which but few observers are apt to notice. they are, as compensation, saved from be A recent writer tells us that, a few years ing crowded to death in a narrow space, ago, the only palm-tree the city of Paris whilst those that escape the little glutton, could then boast of, suddenly blossomed. shoot up merrily, next summer, in rich Botanists were at a loss how to explain pastures. Still better content are the the apparent miracle, and skeptics began Greenlanders; for, when their last mouth to sneer, and declared that the laws of ful of neat, and their last drop of train nature had failed. An advertisement apoil are gone, they dig and rob the little, peared in the papers, inquiring for the provident beetle of his carefully hoarded unknown mate of the solitary tree. And treasure, and, by its aid, manage to live behold, in an obscure court-yard away off, until another season. It is thus that we there had lived, unknown and unnoticed, see every where the beautiful and close another small palm ; it also had blossom

ed apparently alone, and in vain—but a their monopoly, and high prices into the gentle breeze had come, and carried its bargain, by the limited amount of the anflower-dust to its distant companion, and nual produce, which is entirely in their the first palm-flowers ever seen in France own hands. With this view, they cut were the result of this silent mediation. down every tree of the kind in the Moluc

Reckless wanderers, also, there are ca Islands, where it was originally indiamong the plants, who waste their sub

genous, and punish, to this day, with stance, and wildly rove about in the world. the severest penalties the mere possession The rose of Jericho, which we have already of a nut. But it so happens that a little noticed, and a club moss of Peru, are bird of the same Moluccas also is fond of such erratic idlers that wander from land these nuts; and as the air cannot very to land. When they have blossomed and well be guarded and watched, even by borne fruit, and when the dry season Dutch ingenuity, he insists upon eating comes, they wither, fold their leaves to them, and carries the seed to distant gether, and draw up their roots, so as to islands of the ocean, causing the stupid form a light, little ball. In this form they Hollanders infinite trouble and annoyance. are driven hither and thither on the wings Seeds that have not learned to fly with of the wind, rolling along the plains in their own or other people's wings, it seems spiritlike dance, now whirling in great are taught to swim. Trees and bushes circles about, now caught by an eddy and which bear nuts, love low grounds and rising suddenly high into the air. It is river banks. Why? Because their fruit not until they reach a moist place that is shaped like a small boat, and the rivuthey care to rest a while, but then they let playing with its tiny riples over silsettle down at once, send down their roots, very sands, as well as the broad wave of unfold their leaves, assume a bright green, the Pacific, carry their seed alike, safely and become quiet, useful citizens in their and swiftly, to new homes. Rivers float own great kingdom of plants.

down the fruits of mountain regions, into There are, however, thousands of plants deep valleys and to far off coasts, and the that have neither servants nor wings to Gulf Stream of our own Atlantic carries gratify their wishes, and who seem con annually the rich products of the torrid demned to see their offspring die at their zone of America to the distant shores of feet. But here again we see how the re Iceland and Norway. Seeds of plants sources of nature are always far superior growing in Jamaica and Cuba have been to the apparent difficulty.

gathered in the quiet coves of the Heseeds which seemed so hopelessly lost, brides. The fruit of the red bay has the often travel fastest of all; they travel on form of a pirogue; at first it sinks to the the wings of birds. The latter steal our bottom, but nature has given it a small fruit, our cherries and grapes ; they carry hole in the upper part; a little air-bubble them off to some convenient place, eat the forms there, and causes it to rise again. pulpy part, and drop the stone with the The gigantic cocoa-nut itself, weighing seed in it, where it is most likely to find a not rarely more than five pounds, but genial soil and a sheltered home. Even air-tight in its close shell, and buoytheir evil propensities must thus serve ant by its light, fibrous coat, is thus the purposes of nature. Jays and pies, drifted from island to island, and rides it is well known, are fond of hiding grains safely on the surges of the ocean from and acorns among grass or moss and in the Seychelles to the distant coast of the ground, and then, poor things, forget Malabar. There it lodges, and germithe hiding place, and lose all their trea nates in the light moist sand, so that the sure. Squirrels, also marmots and mice, Indians of old fancied that they grew unbury nuts under ground, and often so deep der water, and called them sea cocoas. A that neither light nor warmth can reach still more striking provision of nature is the hidden grain. But then comes man,

this, that there are some seeds of this and cuts down the pinewood, and lo! to kind so exquisitely adjusted to their futhe astonishment of all, a young coppice ture destination, as to sink in salt water, of oaks shoots up, and the wonder is, while they swim with safety in sweet where all the acorns have so suddenly water. come from. It is not without its ludicrous Large vegetable masses even travel on side, to see even the ingenuity of men the great waters of the ocean. Compact baffled by these unconscious but faithful fields of marine plants are occasionally servants of nature. We are told that the met with in the Southern seas, and on Dutch, with a sublime kind of political the coast of Florida, large enough to imwisdom, destroy the plants which produce pede the progress of vessels, and filled our nutmeg, for the purpose of keeping up with millions of crustaceæ. They are not

These very

unfrequently so firm and so extensive as It is not only that the plaintive nightinto afford a building place for the nests of gale sings in the murmuring poplar, whilst aquatic birds and for quadrupeds, who the gay butterfly loves the sweet-scented thus float at the mercy of wind and waves rose, that the sombre yew hides the owl's to their new, unknown home. Amid the nest, and the dark northern pine harbors Philippine Islands, also, after a typhoon, the fur-clad squirrel. Animals, invisible floating islands are fallen in with, consist to the naked eye, have been found to float ing of matted plants and wood, with tall, in the sap of trees, and even the smallest old trees, growing on them. These moss has its own tiny insect, which it strange, insular rafts, are carried along boards and lodges. Aphides and gall inby swift currents, or wafted onward by sects live, in every sense of the word, on the slightest breath of air which fans the the leaves of plants, flies and butterflies foliage of their dense woods, until, after a on their flowers, and ants and worms passage of weeks or months, they land, crowd upon them, after death, in countless like a new ark, on some distant shore. multitudes. Every plant, moreover, is in

But we need not go to far-off countries habited by some insect, to which it affords to see plants wandering about in the an exclusive home. Many caterpillars are world : our own gardens afford us, though born and die with the leaf on which they on a smaller scale, many an instance of live, whilst, on the other hand, the proud the recklessness of these very plants that monarch-oak alone supports seventy difare so much commiserated because they ferent kinds of insects—a swarm, which cannot move about and choose their own sets all measurement at defiance, and, home. Every casual observer even knows moreover, replaces by numbers and the that many bulbs, like those of crocus, tu enormous voracity with which they are lips or narcissus, rise or sink by forming endowed, what they want in bodily magnew bulbs above or below, until they nitude. have reached the proper depth of soil Already Pliny was surprised to see which best suits their constitution—or small ants run up the tall cypress, and perhaps their fancy. Some orchids have deyour its rich fruit with surprising avidiå regular locomotion: the old root dies, ty; he wondered that so insignificant an the new one forms invariably in one and insect should be allowed to destroy the the same direction, and thus they proceed seed of the largest tree of his country. onwards year after year, though at a very But plants have to support guests of every modest, stage-coach rate. Strawberries, size and shape. The butterfly and its less on the contrary, put on seven-league boots, gaudy relations, drink with their long and often escape from the rich man's gar trunks sweet honey out of gorgeously colden to refresh the weary traveller by the ored flower-cups; four-winged bees carry wayside. Raspberries, again, mine their away the precious dust of anthers in large way stealthily under ground, by a subter spoons, fastened to their thighs; gall inranean, molelike process; blind, but not sects pierce with sharp daggers the tender unguided, for they are sure to turn up in leaf, drink its refreshing juice, and deposit the brightest, sunniest spot they could their eggs in the delicate texture; beetles have chosen, had their eyes been wide gpaw and saw with a hundred curiously open, and their proceedings above ground. shaped instruments through the hardest

As if in return for the manifold servi wood of noble trees; naked, helpless-lookces which plants require and receive from ing worms make the very trunk their their fellow creatures, they show kindness cover and their home, and with sharp of their own to animal life, and shelter and augers often destroy whole forests. The feed the most timid as well as the noblest ingenious ant of South America has its of beings, with the hospitality of their winter residence in the warm ground, and generous life. In early childhood already its cool summer house on tall plants. For we are taught, that even the smallest of there grows on the banks of the Amazon seeds, the mustard seed, grows up to be a River a gigantic reed, nearly thirty feet tree, in whose branches the fowls of the high, which is frequently crowned with a heavens have their habitation,” that“ both large ball of earth, like the golden globe Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man on the utmost end of a lofty church steeple. under his vine and under his fig-tree, all This is the comfortable home of myriads the days of Solomon,” and that Deborah, of ants, which retire to these safe dwellthe prophetess,“ dwelt under a palm-tree." ings, high and dry, at the time of rains Modern science has furnished us numerous and during the period of inundation, rising striking and detailed instances of the great and descending in the hollow of the reed, variety of life, which is thus intimately and living on what they find swimming connected with the vegetable kingdom. on the surface of the water. Another

curious lodger of a South American plant is a world of leaves through long summer the famous cochineal bug, well known noons, and the katy-did utters its shrill cry from the precious red color, that bears its during sultry nights. They all love their name, and which it draws from a certain home, making it their dwelling by night cactus until its body becomes impregnated and by day, and many are the instances with the brilliant scarlet. It is probably in which birds, that had long lived in certhe most sedentary of all insects, making tain trees, have died from home-sickness, but one short journey in early life, and when they were felled. then settling down for ever upon one and Monkeys also, it is well known, are fruthe same spot. As soon, namely, as the giverous animals, and by their food as well young insect leaves its egg, it manifests as by the peculiar structure of their body, great activity and a restless desire to tra so closely bound to trees that they but selvel. But alas ! it finds itself upon a prick dom leave them. The tree-frog clings to ly, thorny stem, hanging high in the air, the rugged trunk, mingling its faded colors and in contact with no other. But nature with those of the bark, and feasting upon soon comes to its aid, and sends a small the insects hid in each crevice. The unspider to spin a silken thread from branch sightly sloth fastens its enormous claws to branch. Upon this slender, trembling to the branches, and passes thus, head bridge, the young cochineal wanders bold downward, with astounding alacrity, from ly out to a new world, seeks a promising tree to tree; whilst even the black tiger of spot, deliberately sinks its fragile trunk South America, finding the undergrowth into the juicy leaf—and never draws it too dense and impenetrable, lives on trees, back again, drinking, drinking, like a and coursing on his bloody race, leaps from toper as he is, through his whole exis branch to branch, until he has hunted tence.

down his exhausted prey. Eren larger inhabitants are often found Nor has man himself neglected to avail on quite small plants. Thus England himself of trees, as a dwelling or a home. produces a slight but well-supported Already Lucinius Mutianus, an ex-Consul thistle, which is frequently found to have of Lycia, took special pleasure in feasting little elaborate nests hanging down, at an twenty-one guests in a hollow plane-tree; elevation of a few inches from the ground. and modern travellers tell us of a gigantic These contain not insects, but mice, though Boabal in Senegambia, the interior of which of the smallest variety known, and are is used as a public hall for national meetoccasionally large enough to hold as many ings, whilst its portals are ornamented as nine young ones, carefully stowed away with rude, quaint sculptures, cut out of and well secured against all enemies and the still living wood. The sacred fig-tree dangers.

of India, which, as Milton says, Birds seem, of course, the most natural lodgers of plants; they find there abun "Branching so broad along, that in the ground dance of nourishment, all the material for

The bending twigs take root, and daughters grow

About the mother tree, a pillar's shade building their nests, and a well-protected

High overarch'd, with echoing walks between," home. The eagle gathers the knotted branches of oaks or pines, to bring up his is worshipped as sacred, and the lazy, help fierce brood upon the hard, uncushioned less priest, the Bonre, builds himself a couch;

the thorn tears a handful of wool hut, not unlike a bird's cage, in its branfrom the passing sheep, for its tiny inhab ches, where he spends his life, dreaming itants, and the despised mullein covers its in contemplative indolence, under its cool, broad leaves with the softest of downs, to pleasant shade. Nay, whole nations live line the bed of the delicate children of the in the branches of trees. There is a race humming bird. There is probably no bush of natives of South America, west of the and no tree, that has not its own, particu mouth of the Orinoco, the Guaranis, who lar bird; every where do the fowl of the have never yet been completely subdued, air find a foliage, thicker or thinner, to thanks mainly to their curious habitations. shelter them against rain, heat and cold; The great Humboldt tells us, that they a hollow trunk

affords safe and warm lodg twine most skilfully the leafstalks of the ings; soft moss carpets their dwellings, Mauritius palm into cords, and weave and insects and worms swarm around, to them with great care into mats. These offer, at the same time, food in abundance. they suspend high in the air from branch They give, in return, life and sound to to branch, and cover them with clay; here the immovable plant. Song birds of many they dwels

, and in a dark night the amazed kinds perch and sing their beautiful an and bewildered traveller may see the fires thems on every spray; locusts thrill their of their dwellings high in the tops of lofty monotonous and yet pleasing note among trees.

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