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accordingly may readily be conveyed to a distance by the wind and by other means; and lighting on a situation suitable to their growth, in due course vegetate and spring up. It should almost seem, deed, that the earth and the atmosphere are charged (so to speak) with the minute seeds of ferns, mosses and fungi, which are only waiting for favourable circumstances to call them into active life. In this manner I suppose it is that Asplenium Ruta-muraria and Trichomanes have occasionally appeared, self-invited, in the chinks of my garden-wall and down among the brick-work of the cellar-windows. Moreover, the seeds of ferns, contrary to what I should have expected, are known to retain their vegetative power for a great length of time. I have often raised ferns from seed scraped from old specimens preserved in an herbarium. Ferns therefore, above most other plants, we might expect to meet with every now and then in new localities where they had never occurred before. I will now mention an instance of what I consider the spontaneous appearance of a rare, or at least a local species of fern, which occurred to me in the adjoining parish of Berkswell. About two years ago I was greatly surprised as well as gratified at finding Polypodium Dryopteris in the crevices of a rough stone wall by the road-side, half a mile from that village. This wall, which was constructed of rough sandstone, without any mortar, had been built in the year 1829 (i. e., about seventeen years before I observed the fern), for the purpose of making a facing to secure the perpendicular side of the bank, on the occasion of the road having been widened. As many of the more common species, such as Lastræa Filix-mas and dilatata, Athyrium Filix-fœmina, Polypodium vulgare and Asplenium Adiantum-nigrum, &c., grew originally on the bank before the road was widened, of course they soon established themselves on the newly-constructed wall, to which they proved a great ornament. In this situation I have often admired, and often gathered A. Adiantum-nigrum, which flourished there profusely, but never, till about two years ago (as already said) did I observe P. Dryopteris on the wall, and then but sparingly, and only in one spot. The following year, a friend to whom I had pointed out the fern, found a specimen on another part of the same wall, at the distance, perhaps, of fifteen or twenty yards. I must remark that I have not the slightest suspicion of any botanical fraud (as it is called) having been practised in this instance by any one who might have planted P. Dryopteris on this wall in order to surprise and deceive other botanists; this, I think, in the present case extremely improbable.
However, should any reader of the 'Phytolo
gist' be cognizant of such fraud having been perpetrated within the parish of Berkswell, I shall feel obliged by his communicating the fact through the pages of this useful magazine. But till such evidence be produced, I cannot but believe that the above is an example of what I have called the spontaneous appearance of P. Dryopteris in a situation where it did not grow till of late years, and at a great distance, too, from any known locality for the fern; for so far as I know, P. Dryopteris has never hitherto been recorded even as a Warwickshire species.
I must now return once more to Botrychium Lunaria on Coleshill Heath, which, it might seem, I had almost forgotten. I could not help observing that the surface of the ground on that part of the heath where the Botrychium grew, had been burnt within these few years for the purpose of clearing it of the heaths and gorse which grew there. The burning of the ling, &c., I should guess had taken place at least two, or perhaps three years before; it had not destroyed the heaths, gorse and other plants, for they had sprouted up again vigorously since the conflagration. Is it possible that this operation may have prepared the surface, and been the means of rousing the dormant seeds of the Botrychium to their full development? I ask this question for information. Strange things, as regards the vegetable kingdom, are confidently said sometimes to follow a conflagration. And a slight alteration of the surface of the ground, it is well known, will often occasion an entire change in the vegetation ;* e. g., there is a broad, green lane, a little common I might almost call it, near this place, which I often cross, and which produces a remarkably fine turf of short, close grass; the turf is often plundered for garden purposes, and pared off in thin layers, leaving the soil perfectly bare in patches of some square yards in size. On these patches, I observe, there invariably comes up a dense crop, not of the grasses, &c., which had previously occupied the surface, but of Gnaphalium uliginosum. Again, to take another instance, which, perhaps, is more in point, and at which I have already hinted, I have somewhere read that in parts of America
* Manures, too, are found greatly to affect the nature of the vegetation, and in a way one knows not how to account for. An intelligent friend, who resided some years in Leicestershire, himself an agriculturist, once informed me, that lime from two distinct quarries was frequently employed in the neighbourhood as manure; and that after the application of one of these limes there always came up a plentiful supply of white clover; after the other sort had been used, no white clover appeared, but constantly some other plant, which he named, the species of which I do not now remember.
where forests have been consumed by fire, and the timber totally destroyed, if the ground be afterwards left to itself, there springs up from seed a growth of forest trees of an entirely different kind from those which had preceded it, as, e. g., pine after oak, or vice versá, I quite forget the particulars, and that this fact is so certain, and so well known to the inhabitants, that they can calculate to a nicety what description of timber trees will spring up in this or that forest after the present growth shall have been destroyed by fire. I cannot vouch for the truth of these things, but I have seen them narrated as grave and sober statements of matters of fact.
I hope it will not be thought that I have entered into this long, and, I fear, very tedious discussion, merely in my own defence, as it were, and with a view to screen myself from any obloquy which may seem to attach to one who has overlooked a plant on ground over which he has repeatedly botanized. The truth is not so. In the case of Ranunculus Lingua, a far more conspicuous plant than the little dwarfish fern in question, and one therefore which ought still less to escape detection, I have pleaded guilty, to the fullest extent, and confessed the defectiveness of my own botanical researches. But as regards the Botrychium on Coleshill Heath, I must say it is strange that it never should have been found either by Mr. Thickins or by myself until this season, if it has grown there in equal abundance for many former years. nearly within the same category, though he may not be able to allege a conflagration in aid of his defence. Perhaps, therefore, Botrychium Lunaria might with no great impropriety be added to Epipactis latifolia, Orobanche major and Polypodium Dryopteris as examples of plants
Mr. Bloxam's case, too, may possibly fall
Sponte suâ quæ se tollunt in luminis aures."
Allesley Rectory, August 15, 1848.
W. T. BREE.
Occurrence of Filago apiculata near Great Braxted, Essex.
In a gravel-pit at Great Braxted, in this county, there are to be found specimens of Filago apiculata, which are now coming into full flower. The locality is not confined to the gravel-pit, the middle of
a neighbouring wheat-field, which is not remarkably light land, producing also some fine specimens,
These plants perfectly agree with the description by the Rev. G. E. Smith (Phytol. ii. 575), not excepting the tansy-like odour of the leaves, which is very distinct. It may not be amiss to mention that the normal form of Filago germanica abounds in both the abovenamed localities.
The lateral position of the heads of flowers described by the Rev. G. E. Smith, as a peculiar character of Filago apiculata, is to be met with not uncommonly in specimens of F. germanica, whilst the fullgrown varieties of F. apiculata have forked branches, which bear, in an uncertain manner, one, two, or three lateral heads and a terminal
Whether the general appearance of F. apiculata, its peculiar odour, the colour of the spinous points of the involucral scales, the number of the flowers in the heads, and the really spathulate form of the lowermost leaves, are of sufficient importance to allow it to be raised to any higher rank than that of a variety of F. germanica, further observation may determine, the object of the present communication being merely to record the existence of the plant in this part of England as illustrative of its geographical distribution.
August 16, 1848.
E. G. VARENNE.
Discrepancies between the actual Flowering Seasons of British Plants and the Months indicated by the Floral Authorities. By ISAIAH W. N. KEYS, Esq.
I HAVE been pleased to find that the subject on which you inserted a few notes from my pen in the February number of the 'Phytologist' for this year, namely, the frequently observed discrepancy between the seasons when plants blossom, and the months recorded in our floral books, has received the attention of others interested in the
accuracy of botanical description. Vide articles by E. Lees, Esq. and C. D. Snooke, Esq., in the last number, (Phytol. iii. 190, 203). The following extracts from my journal for this year, being cumulative evidence, may not be altogether uninteresting:
January 9. Noticed the leaves of young plants peeping out. Daisies were not unfrequent in the fields. In Babington's Manual
Query, Did the author
March is given as the first month of this plant's appearance. 'British Flora' says "from early spring." comprehend January in the spring months? the reniform leaves of Cochlearia danica; also the leaves of Geranium molle, columbinum and Robertianum. Cotyledon Umbilicus was exhibiting its thick, peltate leaves on old walls, at the base of the withered, brown raceme of the parent plant.
January 12.— The leaves of various Geraniums presenting a fresh and healthful appearance in Saltram woods. Plucked a piece of Rubia peregrina, with large, black fruit on it. The authorities already mentioned give the flowering-season of this plant as extending from June to August. The example which in this month I found in fruit must, it may be presumed, have flowered much later. In various spots in my walk the dandelion was displaying its golden rays. Babington confines this plant within the 3rd and 10th months, limits which Hooker wisely avoids. He says nothing regarding its flowering-season. Searched in the usual place in the wood for Galanthus nivalis, but found none. At this circumstance I was surprised. All other plants seemed earlier than usual, but the snowdrop, the proverbial "herald of the infant year," eschewed haste. Found Oxalis Acetosella in leaf. It flowers, according to the lists, in May. It must have been precocious this year. Saw several fine tufts of daisies.
March 14.-Gathered Helleborus fœtidus. Sir W. J. Hooker says April. Also, Pulmonaria officinalis. The last-mentioned author, as well as Mr. Babington, insert this plant among the "May flowers." Saw colt's-foot in abundance. No flowers, however, so that they (according to authors, who place them in March and April, before the leaves) must have come and gone out of due course. It may be stated, too, that this plant is not confined to "moist chalky and clay soils" (Bab.), or "moist and clayey soils" (Hook.): it grows freely on our dry limestone, particularly on the rejectamenta of quarries. Ranunculus Ficaria frequent, not plentiful. Vegetation in general not so forward (having regard to its condition in January) as I expected to see it. The last-named plant flowers in April and May, agreeably to the authorities already quoted. It has always brightened my spring walks at an earlier period. Of primroses I saw a few. "April and May" again, say the book-makers. They must be more timely astir. Mercurialis perennis was unfolding its blossoms. Once more "April and May" are assigned as the flowering months.
June 25.-Saw Chenopodium olidum about to expand. Babington sets down the 8th and 9th months for it, and Hooker the 8th only.