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Verbascum virgatum in flower. Both the Manual and 'British Flora' give August for the flowering of this plant.
July 18.-Scilla autumnalis in flower. Hooker says "September;" Babington comes nearer, naming "August" as its flowering month. August 12.-Echium vulgare still in flower, and likely to continue so for some time. The Floras restrict it to June and July.
Whilst I concur with one of your correspondents that the flowering-seasons of plants are loosely indicated in our Floras, I must to some extent plead for the authors, believing that the irregularity and variety of the climate of Great Britain beset them with difficulties. At the same time, I cannot but reiterate the conviction that the true average period 'might be more nearly attained than has hitherto been done. Towards this end, let observations be made by collectors in all parts of our islands, and the results made patent. We may then hope to avoid such disappointment and loss of time as were experienced by another of the writers in your last number, who walked "eleven miles and back" in vain, having been deceived by the book which he followed as his guide.
Plymouth, August 17, 1848.
ISAIAH W. N. KEYS.
[I believe the secret, after all, is, as I have already explained, that the subject has not been held by our authors of sufficient importance for personal investigation.-Edward Newman].
Botanical Notes for 1848. By G. S. GIBSON, Esq., F.L.S.
A FEW brief notices of botanical excursions, &c., during the present summer, may not be uninteresting to some of the readers of the 'Phytologist,' and although several of them proved unsuccessful, in respect of the plants specially sought for, they may not have been wholly without their use. I will begin with one to Box Hill, in search of Teucrium Botrys. The locality where it once grew has been kept very secret, and perhaps wisely so, but I had the opportunity of being taken to the spot by a young friend who had gathered it there himself two years ago, and who therefore well knew the situation. It is, as was described, a very stony and steep valley, facing the south, near the farther end of Box Hill, from Burford Bridge. It grew, I am informed, in tolerable plenty, over a limited space of ground, but unfortunately it is now (at least temporarily) destroyed by the land being ploughed up; it may, however, possibly reappear
in a few years, or be discovered in some similar locality; for I can scarcely doubt that it was truly wild, the place being so far from houses, and the plant being an unlikely one to have been introduced in so uncultivated and unfrequented a part. It is worthy the attention of botanists residing in or visiting that neighbourhood. We were too late in the season for most of the Orchidea, which grow there so abundantly, and did not notice any plants of particular interest, except Epipactis purpurata and Cynoglossum sylvaticum, which grew abundantly on one part of the hill, opposite Burford Bridge. Scrophularia aquatica was growing on the driest sides of Box Hill, but did not vary much in character. Dipsacus pilosus, Campanula Trachelium, Nasturtium terrestre, Erigeron acre, Bromus secalinus and Epilobium angustifolium, do not appear uncommon.
My next expeditions were also unsuccessful, in search of Liparis Loeselii, which plant is likely to be very soon exterminated in this country, by the progress of drainage. The first of them was to Bottisham Fen, where the plant was said to have been recently found, but there is so little real fenny ground remaining, that it must be nearly, if not quite extinct; and though our party, consisting of four, dispersed ourselves over the peaty moor, we were unable, after several hours' careful search, to discover any trace of it. Here grow Viola lactea, Apargia hirta, Alisma ranunculoides, Ranunculus Lingua (very rare), Erysimum cheiranthoides, Myriophyllum verticillatum, Schoenus nigricans, Juncus obtusifolius, Bromus erectus, Chara hispida, &c. In returning by Cherry Hinton we gathered Bunium Bulbocastanum, Orobanche elatior on Knautia arvensis, Linum perenne, abundantly, &c.; near Babraham Brachypodium pinnatum, Astragalus glycyphyllos and hypoglottis, Orchis pyramidalis and Filago Jussiæi. Further on, near Hildersham, is a rich little spot, scarcely a hundred yards in extent, on which grow Anemone Pulsatilla, Potentilla argentea, Trifolium scabrum and striatum, Dianthus deltoides, Thesium linophyllum, Hypocharis maculata, Phleum Boehmeri, &c.; and in the corn-fields around, Silene noctiflora, Fumaria Vaillantii, Galium tricorne, Bupleurum rotundifolium, &c., are often met with, also in a neighbouring copse, Aceras anthrophora.
The second journey was to Burwell Fen, where Liparis formerly grew plentifully. This fen, too, has been drained within a few years, and to such purpose, that we were informed the land which was formerly worth only five pounds per acre, would now sell for thirty. There is a fen beyond still undrained, where the plant may possibly grow, but it was too full of Arundo Phragmites and Cladium MarisVOL. III. 2 s
cus, to admit of much examination. Among the plants we observed were Lathyrus palustris, Sium latifolium, Enanthe Lachenalii, Peucedanum palustre, Nymphæa alba, Ranunculus Lingua, Rumex palustris, Sparganium simplex and natans, Potamogeton pectinatum and rufescens, and a Nitella, which appears to be N. hyalina or tenuissimus. In returning to Newmarket along the Devil's Ditch for several miles, we were unable to find Barkhausia fœtida, which has been said to grow there, and the only uncommon plants seen, Thesium linophyllum, Cineraria campestris and Brachypodium pinnatum. There does not seem any trace now of Asperugo procumbens in Newmarket churchyard, where it once grew, or of Veronica spicata on the heath. Filago Jussiæi we noticed on the borders of some corn-fields. While speaking of this plant, I may observe that it has been found at intervals over a district of twenty miles in extent, on the borders of Essex and Cambridgeshire, and was also found near Hertford, by James Backhouse. Since sending my former notice of it, I had the pleasure of seeing F. apiculata, of G. E. Smith, in a new station, near Thetford, and am quite satisfied that the two plants are quite distinct, as are both of them from F. germanica; the broad, short leaves, the bright purple points of the calyx, the very woolly heads, and the different growth of the branches, though not the only distinctive marks, are such as attract attention at first sight, and are, I believe, permanent. Though the characters of distinct species should be such as to admit of description on paper, yet it is not always easy to do so, even when a merely casual observer might be able to distinguish them by their appearance alone; however, in this case, there are more points of difference than in very many species now admitted. Thetford is a first-rate locality for the botanist, the sandy soil producing so many plants rarely found in other districts, such as Artemisia campestris, Silene Otites and conica, Galium anglicum, Veronica verna and triphyllos, Apera Spica-venti and interrupta, Medicago falcata and minima, Schleranthus perennis, Hypochoris glabra, &c.
I should feel much gratified if these few and very imperfect observations serve as a stimulus to any fellow-botanists in ascertaining localities of rare or little known species. I believe much remains to be done even in the most frequented parts of England, and that many new species, not merely hair-split, but true species, would yet be added to our Flora. G. S. GIBSON.
Saffron Walden, August 18, 1848.
Remarks on the Period of Duration of Reseda Luteola, &c.
IN February of the present year, while walking along the railway embankment at Ninewells, near Dundee, my attention was attracted by numerous plants of the Reseda Luteola that had flowered during the previous year, and which were sending out strong and healthy shoots, which gave promise of flowering again during the present season. One of these plants, with the previous year's flower-stem still attached, I removed to my garden, in order the better to watch its progress; and it is now, at the present time, in full flower, and a most luxuriant plant it is, with the last year's flower-stem still standing withered and bare, to show the perennial duration of the plant.
From the above facts I am not desirous of arguing that this Reseda should be considered as in any way having claims to be classed as a constant perennial. Even on the very same embankment where I observed the perennial plants, there were the withered remains of many that had evidently, by their single upright flower-stem, produced flowers and seeds only once, and then died. The perennial plants observed I look upon as exceptions (although indeed numerous) to the general rule,-plants whose strength had not been quite exhausted, as is generally the case, by the production of flowers and seeds during the preceding year, and had thus been enabled to preserve vitality until the return of spring. That, as a general rule, the Reseda Luteola grows up from the seed, produces flowers, thereafter seeds, and then dies, will I dare say be generally admitted; but another question relating to its period of duration arises, about which there may exist more difference of opinion, and more difference in the result of observation likewise. Is the plant an annnal or a biennial; does it spring from the seed and perfect flowers and seeds, then die, all in one season, or does it require two seasons to complete this course? This question I feel a very considerable difficulty in answering, as my observations on “annual" and "biennial" plants have led me to the conclusion that these terms only form a distinction without a difference. Indeed, in books the distinction and the difference are both very clear; but when we go to the fields we find that annuals and biennials are so accommodating to circumstances, and that the "period of duration" of both is so changeable (the annual so very frequently assuming the character of the biennial, and the biennial in turn that of the annual), that we get into a maze of confusion and cannot tell which is which. Need I refer to the works of authors on the subject,
to show the difference of opinion that exists as to whether some plants should be classed as biennials or annuals? The fact is familiar to everybody.
While thus endeavouring to draw attention to this interesting subject, I do not shut my eyes to the many and high authorities we have for continuing the distinction of annuals and biennials; but at the same time I must be allowed to express my own candid conviction that the sooner the distinction is abolished the better.
Dundee, August 18, 1848.
Monstrosity in Plantago lanceolata, L. By W. ANDERSON, Esq.
A FEW days ago, while on a short botanical excursion near Brechin, I picked up a specimen of Plantago lanceolata, L., presenting the following curious monstrosities. Four scapes spring from one root, one crowned with leaves, nine in number. Another with leaves and spikes. Another with one leaf and seven spikes, four of them raised on peduncles from one to two inches high. And the fourth is in the normal state.
I have frequently seen a single scape crowned with two or more spikes, but I never saw so many on one plant.
I have forwarded these facts for insertion in the Phytologist,' thinking that they may be interesting to some of its readers.
Brechin, August 21, 1848.
BOTANICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON.
Friday, September 1, 1848.-J. E. Gray, Esq., F.R.S., President,
Numbers 1, 2, and 3 of vol. 8 of the 'Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society,' presented by that Society. Number 21 of the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England,' presented by that Society. 'Catalogue of Plants found at the Cape of Good Hope,' by Dr. Ferdinand Krauss, presented by the author. 'Outlines of Botany,' part 1, by William Mateer, M.D., presented by the author. British Plants from Mr. Barham, Dr. Mateer, Mr. Henderson, and Mr. Roby.