Title Page
 Ramble in autumn

Group Title: ramble in autumn
Title: A ramble in autumn
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00002896/00001
 Material Information
Title: A ramble in autumn
Physical Description: 89 p., 1 leaf of plates : ill. ; 14 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Johns, C. A ( Charles Alexander ), 1811-1874
Clay, Richard, 1789-1877 ( Printer )
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
Publisher: Society for Promoting Christian Knowlege
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: R. Clay
Publication Date: 1852
Subject: Botany -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Plants -- Identification -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Autumn -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1852   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1852
Genre: Embossed cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: by the Rev. C.A. Johns.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00002896
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002232241
oclc - 11819385
notis - ALH2633
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PALMM Version

Table of Contents
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    Ramble in autumn
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Full Text










THM leaves of Spring have duly heralded in
Summer, and Summer, too, has. filled its
promise. Flowers are no longer scattered
around us in profusion, but have given place
to a more sombre hue. We might suppose
the glory of the year to be past. LIt u, how-
ever, once more sally forth into the fields, and
take a closer view of Nature, and we shall find
that, a the leaf was the nurse of the perishable
flower, ie the latter has been the protector of
.the seed--that perfect organ which, s long as


by the wind or dried uhby the sun, and crum-
bles to dust; the flower has long since faded
and disappeared; the leaves exchange their
bright green colour for a russet hue, wither,
and fall to the ground. In biennials, the
leaves and roots, which during their first year's
growth have been preparing a store of nourish-
ment against the development of the flower,
are retarded in their growth, but do not perish
until their second autumn. Perennial herba-
ceous plants die down to thq ground every
autumn, retaining vitality in their roots alone.
Trees and shrubs throw off all outward signs
of life; but, as we have seen in our Winter
Ramble," have already made provision in their
buds for the leaf, flower, and fruit of the suc-
ceeding year.
SIt seems wonderful why, when the earth is
everywhere covered with verdure-wherever,


that is to say, there is soil in which plants
can vegetate--t is matter for inquiry, I say,
for what pfpose this yearly profuse harvest
of seeds is intended. The whole surface of
the ground, wherever we look, is thickly
clothed with plants; and yet not a year passes
but a crop of seeds is produced sufficient to
stock it anew, were it a hundred times as large
as it is. What end is served by this amazing
profusion ? And, supposing that even one in
a hundred seeds found a convenient resting-
place and grew, (a very large average, I may
observe,) what is the fate of the rest P A few,
no doubt, are lost, blown by the wind or swept
by torrents to some place ill adapted for their
growth, where they perish; but by far the
greater number serve as food for animals. We
must recollect that many animals, whether
quadrupeds, birds, or insects, live exclusively


on vegetables. During a great portion of the
year, they find en abundant supply of green
food; but when the herbaceous' plants have
died down to the ground, and trees have shed
their foliage, they would find but a scanty
supply were there not placed within their reach
food of a more permanent character than
herbage and foliage. The larger animals would
find a sparing subsistence, if directed by their
instinct to feed on the buds and young twigs
of shrubs and such trees as grew within their
reach; and if they existed in large numbers,
their ravages would be greater in the course of
the winter than the succeeding year could make
good. Birds, one would suppose, with their
sharp and strong bills, would find little diffi-
culty in tearing the buds of trees to pieces,
,and would consider the embryo leaves a dainty
repast; but, in this case, where were the


foliage of the ensuing spring? Some insects,
indeed, hollow out their mansions in the core
of unopened buda; but the number of these is
small, and is kept so by the agency of birds,
who, although they will not feed on healthy
buds, eagerly tear open those inhabited by
grubs, and devour the contents. The bud is
thus destroyed, it is true; but better that it
should be destroyed by an animal that all the
summer lives on insects, than by an insect
which, if left alone, would proceed from bud
to bud, and then extend its ravages to the
expanded leaves.
We need only to watch the motions of a
bird which in winter derives its food from
trees, to be satisfied that his keen peering look
is directed, not to anything so abundant as
buds, but to the scattered insects which have
taken up their winter quarters in the crevices



of the bark. Some few birds, however, are
convicted burglars, who do not scruple to
break open and appropriate the contents of
buds; yet even the most palpably guilty of
these, the bulfinch, rarely touches leaf-buds,
confining his attacks to those which contain
embryo flowers; and thus the tree does not
suffer in health from being deprived of its
leaves, but merely undergoes a partial loss of
its next year's produce o( fruit.
Where the ground is well covered with
vegetation, so that the fallen seeds lodge, they
readily become the prey of the winged tribe;
but no loss results from this. A few weeks'
exposure to damp and light would rot them;
and even were they to reach the ground and
germinate, they would be choked by the sur-
rounding herbage. But, on the other hand, if
they have been deposited on clear ground, and


in a soil adapted for thgir growth, they are
soon washed by rain, or drawn by earth-worms
below the surface, where they are safe from
such depredation. Still they are not secure
from mice and burrowing insects; but, even
yet, more are left than are sufficient; and the
number is further reduced by other living
creatures of various kinds, which destroy the
seed-leaves as they rise above the ground; and,
in them, the future plant; for, as I have told
you before, the seed-leaves, or cotyledons, are
essential to the growth of a plant, which in its
earliest stage is solely dependent on them for
To man has been given power partially to
destroy this admirable balance of animal and
vegetable life. That he may eat bread he
must toil; and the main difficulty which he
has to encounter is the constant tendency of


the earth to produce thorns and thistles,-
weeds, as he terms them. He must promote
the rapid growth of his crops by artificially
applied stimulants, in order that they may be
the first to gain possession of the soil, and so
exclude, as far as possible, all other vegetation;
and he must eradicate, with the sweat of his
brow, all such weeds as are stimulated to a
more vigorous growth than his own crops.
Productive as all plants are of seed in their
native state, none are sufficiently so to meet his
requirements, at least in temperate climates.
The native country even of the cereal or
farinaceous grasses is wrapped in obscurity.
Speaking on this subject, Humboldt says: It
is certainly a very striking phenomenon, to
find, on one side of our planet, nations to
whom flour or meal from small-eared grasses,
and the use of milk, were completely unknown;


while the liations of almost all parts of the
other hemisphere cultivate the cereal grasses
and rear milk-yielding animals. The cultivation
of different kinds of grasses may be said to
afford a characteristic distinction between the
two parts of the world. In the new continent,
from 520 north to 460 south latitude, we see
only one species cultivated, viz. maize; in the
old continent, on the other hand, we find every-
where the fruits of Ceres, wheat, barley, spelt,
or red wheat, and oats. That wheat grew
wild in the Leontine fields, as well as in other
places in Sicily, was a belief entertained by
ancient nations, and is mentioned by Diodorus
Siculus. Ceres was found in the Alpine mea-
dow of Enna; and Diodorus fables 'that the
inhabitants of the Atlantis were unacquainted
with the fruits of Ceres, because they had sepa-
rated from the rest of mankind before those



fruits had been shown to mortals.' Sprengel
has collected several interesting passages
which led him to think it probable that the
greater part of our European kinds of grain
were originally wild in the northern parts of
Persia and India; namely, summer wheat in the
country of the Musicanes, a province in north-
erfi India; barley on the Araxes or Kur, in
Georgia; and spelt, or red wheat, near Ha-
madan. But these passages still leave much
uncertainty. I also early regarded the exist-
ence of originally wild kinds of grain in Asia
as extremely doubtful, and viewed such as
might be there as having become wild. Rein-
hold Forster, a century ago, reported that
the two-stalked barley grew wild near the
junction of the Samara and the Volga. At
the end of the month of September, 1829,
Ehrenberg and myself also herborized on the


banks of the Samara. We were, indeed, struck
with the quantity of wheat and rye plants
growing in what might be called a wild state,
in the uncultivated ground; but the plants did
not appear to us to differ from the ordinary
cultivated ones. A negro slave of the. great
Cortes was the first who cultivated wheat in
New Spain. He had found three grains ait
amongst the rice which had been brought from
Spain for provision for the army."
Whatever be the native country of the farina
naceous.grasses, there is no part of the world
to which, with the ox and the horse, they have
not accompanied man, from India to Siberia,
from the Ganges to the River Plate, sheltered
from the noontide sun in one country by the
quivering shadow of the northern birch, and in
another by the date palm. In most instances,
the range of climate in which any particular



species of plant will flourish is limited. Ex-
posed to a few degrees more or less of heat
than that proper to its native country, almost
any kind of plant that may be named will
dwindle awaytill it perishes, and no amount of
care and attention will enable it to flourish in
a climate either a little warmer, or a little
colder, than that from whence it was brought.
Some plants, it is true, extend over a wider
zone than others; but, with very few excep-
tions, there is a well defined limit, beyond
which no plant can maintain a healthy exist-
ence. Is it not then a wonderful circum-
stance, and one which ought to impress us
with deep thoughtfulness on the gracious pro-
vidence of God, that those plants which man,
wherever he may be located, prefers to all
others to supply the staff of life, have wider
limits assigned to them than any others?


And even the animals which are of the most
service to him in the laborious cultivation of
these grains, the ox, namely, and the horse,
are endowed with like power of endurance
with himself and his favourite food. Wherever
civilized communities of men are to be found,
there, too, are waving fields of corn, and teams
of oxen and horses. And this is true not only
of the present day, but has been the same
from the earliest records of history.
But let us now cast our eyes around us, and
examine some of the more striking features of
the season. And first, we will observe how
much less the ground is parched where it
is covered with vegetation-that is, where
moisture is needed, than where it is bare of
plants. In this country, the extent of soil not
adapted for the growth of plants is limited;
but, in many parts of the world, there are



boundless districts so scorched and arid as to
be uninhabitable. Neither dew nor rain bathes
these desolate plains, or developed on their
glowing surface the germs of vegetable life;
for heated columns of air, .everywhere as-
cending, dissolve the vapours, and disperse
every filmy cloud. But were it once possible
for these dreary regions to be clothed with
vegetation, not only would the soil become less
arid, during a portion of the year at least, but
the very climate would be, to a certain extent,
changed. The ground, shaded from the direct,
rays of the sun, would retain its moisture for
a longer period, and, in the course of years,
decaying vegetable matter would alter its very
constitution, converting it into a compact loam,
and the vegetable forms themselves would
arrest the particles of moisture which now
float unprofitably by, and condensing them


into dew, supply themselves with sourish-
ment. Thus we see hat climate is by no
means independent of vegetation, Wdt that, on
the contrary, every meadow and .ery wooded
hillside coope stes, in the beautiful hanmony
of nature, to produce the climate adapted to
its own wants. Sow few gains of wheat in
the centre of field, and suffer no other vRege
station to spring up round them, sad if the
season be a dry one, the produce will be.smaU;
let the same seeds form part of a full crop,
completely occupying the ground, and, the
soil being sheltered bytheir joint intervention,
they will bear abundantly. It would be bettf
for them even to be surrounded with weeds
than to be growing alone. The various kids
of corn, therefore, can only be productive wen
growing close together, in order that they may
jointly shelter the ground, and keep. it moist



during the season when the grain is swelling.
For this mode of growth they are all admirably
adapted by their slender erect stems-so
slender, in fact, that were not the substance of
their stalks arranged in the form of a hollow
tube, and that tube strengthened by an ad-
mixture of flint (which enters largely into the
composition of their cuticle or outer skin), they
would snap before the breath of even a summer
Our way leads us between two fields of
wheat now ready for the sickle. In both, the
seeds have been sown in drills, and appear to
have come up regularly enough; the character
of the soil is the same in both, and both
are equally clear of weeds. But, although
thus growing side by side, and having both
the same aspect, there is a wide difference
between them in appearance. The crop on


our right is Strong in the reed; several
stalks proceed from the same root; the ear
is large and full, and the grains plump, and
of a bright colour. The crop on our left
presents an appearance the very opposite of
this, the straw being short and wiry, the' ear
small, and little more than half filled with
shrivelled grains. Whence proceeds this difi
ference? "Oh I" you will say,"I dare say
they belong to different farmers, one of whom
well manured his land, the other did not; orthe
deficient crop was planted too late; or, perhaps,
the seed was bad." No single one of your
conjectures is right: both fields belong to the
same farmer; they were dressed with equal
proportions of the same manure, and were
sown in one week with the. same sample of
wheat. The secret is this: the field on the
eight has been drained with tiles, while the



other has been left to itself. The consequence
has been one which you would hardly expect,
viz. the wheat in the latter, the undrained
field, has been scorched for want of moisture
about its roots, during our long dry summer;
while in the drained soil the plants have had
an abundant supply. As it must seem to you
a contradiction, that corn, growing in a soil
from which all superfluous moisture has been
drained off, has been more abundantly supplied
with water than that which grew in land satu.
rated with water, I ill endeavour to olear up
the mystery.
Mr. A. is proprietor of a large estate,
the whole of which he intends to drain.
The process, however, being an expensive one
at the outset, he completes a portion only at a
time. The field on our rght was operated on
'last year, and, if we may judge from the ap-


pearance of the crop, with such good remits,
that he will strain every ierve to. continue his
operations on a larger scale. The two fields
lie on a slight declivity, which slopes towards
the south, and, therefore, have abundance of
light and heat, two of the principal requisites
to ensure healthy vegetation. Air, of course,
they both have in profusion. The soil, a rather
stiff clay, is not adverse to the growth of
wheat. Of water, there is not only enough,
but more than enough. If you were, in winter
or spring, to dig a pit to the depth of five feet,
it would immediately stand several inches in
water. I am speaking, now, of the land on
the left, for, on the other side, a different con-
dition has been produced by artificial means.
Now, although moisture is essential to the
growth of plants, stagnant water is most pre-
judicial to them. A potted plant, if made to.



stand in a saucer of water, will soon become
diseased, and perish; but if the pot be drained
by a layer of broken sherds, and placed on a
dry surface, it will thrive, even if sparingly
supplied with water. If
raised from seed in the
open undrained soil, it
will choose rather to
send out lateral roots
/than to extend them
downwards, thus in-
stinctively, as it were,
shunning the noxious
fluid. A superabun-
dance of water in the
soil checks the growth
of plants, also, by pro-
ducing cold, for water will rise, by capillary
attraction, to a greater or less distance from



the surface, according as the soil is more
or less porous, and the level of. stagnant
water shallow or deep. This moisture, when
heated by the rays of the sun, will be con-
verted into vapour, and thus the warmth,
which should tend to promote the growth of
the plant, is expended in carrying off super-
fluous moisture. This process, too, is a con-
tinued one, for water conducts heat but slowly
downwards, consequently the place of the
moisture evaporated is supplied by cold water
from below. The plant, therefore, grows but
slowly, and pushes its roots prinipally in a
lateral direction, avoiding not merely the stag-
nant water, but the water of evaporation. A
long-continued drought has the effect of re-
ducing the level of the water contained in the
soil until it is beyond the reach of the roots of
the plant. Meanwhile, the surface becomes


parched, and vegetation is supported only by
the dew deposited on the leaves. The cut at
page 22 represents a plant of wheat growing
in undrained soil, where the double lines repre-
sent stagnant water, the single, the water of
And now, let us see the effects of draining.
The heat of the sun penetrates most soils, so as
to produce evaporation, about four feet below the
surface. The object to be accomplished then is,
to give to all the water contained in the soil,
within, at least, that depth, some ready means
of escape, in order that it may not be converted
into vapour,and so rob the growing plants of the
heat which would stimulate them to rapid
growth. This is done by digging trenches
41 feet deep, in the line of the slope, and
placing in them earthenware pipes, into which
the water may drain so as to be carried off to



lower ground. The effect is, that the young
plants, sufficiently watered in spring by rain-
water warmed by its passage through the air,
and by falling on the surface, which is itself
heated by the rays of the sun, push their roots
downwards instead of laterally, unchecked by
the presence of stagnant water, and unchilled
by water of capillary attraction; for, though
evaporation goes on whether the ground is
drained or not, in the latter case the place of
the water converted into vapour is supplied
by cold water ascending from below; in the
former, it is rain-water only which evapo-
rates, and when that is exhausted, the ground
remains dry. The roots, therefore, continue to
descend as far as the influence of the drainage
extends, being covered above by soil which,
instead of being saturated with cold water, is
porous, and filled with warm air from the sur;


face rushing in to supply. the place of the
water removed by
the drains; while
the warm sum-
mer rains, bearing
down with them
the temperature
which they have
acquired from the.
upper soil, carry
a genial heat to
the lowest roots.
In time of drought
the upper soil is
parched, it is true,
but the roots not
being superficial,
are not affected:
in the hottest and driest weather they do not



suffer, for the extremities of their roots reach to
a point where the evaporating power of the
upper heat has ceased to act. And here I must
observe, that drainage, however perfect, pro-
duces only comparative dryness of soil; all
superfluous moisture is carried off, but still
enough remains to promote vegetation. Any.
thing more than this would be undesirable, for
the deeply-rooted plant would then be starved,
as well as that furnished only with superficial
roots. The only difference is, that the latter
would be the first to suffer. The cut at page
26, represents a vigorous plant of wheat grow-
ing in soil drained to the depth of four feet
and a half.
It is related that Sir Isaac Newton was led
to the discovery of the law of gravitation by
questioning himself: "Why an apple shaken
from the tree fell to the ground, and not



towards the sky, or in any other direction ? "
His solution of this question explained, also,
one of the great laws of natural science, ac-
counting satisfactorily for a host of other phe-
nomena, from the fall of an apple to the course
of the planets in their several orbits. Another
question might occur to the naturalist from the
observation of the same common occurrence,
namely, this: "Why does the apple fall to the
ground whn it ia ripe, but not before?" To
answer this question, we must recollect what
I have already mentioned, that every other
vegetable organ has some definite object to
perform, tending to the welfare of the plant of
which it forms a part, besides its own indi-
vidual perfection. The root absorbs moisture
from the earth to nourish the stem and leaves;
the stem raises the leaves and flowers above
,the soil, and exposes them to the action of air



and light; the leaves present a large surfaee
to the atmosphere, and elaborate the juices
proper for the nourishment of the whole plant;
the flower protects and nourishes the seed, in
the perfection of which the whole energy of the
plant appears to be centred. The subsidiary
organs either remain to repeat the same opera-
tions year after year, or they perish as soon as
the object of each is accomplished. But the
fruit appears to have no purpose to fufil beyond
its own maturity; it is supported by the nutri.
ment accumulated by other organs, and when
this supply is exhausted, or it can contain no
more, it falls to the ground. The apple, and
many other fruits, are united firmly to a stem,
which is itself jointed on to a twig or branch.
When the fruit is ripe, its own proper stem
ceases to transmit fluid, but the portion of the
twig to which it is attached still continues to



grow, and a separation is effected, without,
however, causing any open wound. A scar
simply is visible, which quickly heals, so that
the branch suffers no injury .from exposure to
the weather. This cessation of growth in one
part of the plant, while that below continues its
action unimpaired, causes a rupture between
the two, and the fruit, with its precious con-
tents, is sent forth to found a new colony.
The stalks of some other fruits are not jointed
to the tree, but keep an uninterrupted com-
munication even after the fruit itself is ripe.
Their vessels, however, cease, as in the former
instance, to transmit fluids, and becoming tor-
pid, are no longer able to protect themselves
against cold and damp; in consequence of
which they either become distended with an
undue proportion of fluid, and decay, or shrivel
up, and are no longer able to sustain their


appointed weight. In either case, the fruit
falls to the ground, also bearing with it the
germs of future plants. Others, again, differ
from both of these; they are neither jointed
on to a twig, snapping off at the joint when
they are ripe, nor carried to the ground by
their own weight when their stalks are no
longer able to bear them. When arrived at
maturity, their outer case loses the power of
drawing more nutriment from the plant, re-
taining the faculty of transmitting moisture to
the air. In other words, they become dry,
either contracting and exposing the seeds
which they contain, or splitting asunder in
various ways, but in accordance with a rule
constant in each species, and suffering the seed
to escape. And here again, as in the former
instances, we may observe the striking pro-
vision that is made for dispersing seeds, which



are neither allowed to fall to the ground before
they are in a fit state to produce new plants, nor
suffered to remain attached to the plant, where
they could not possibly fulfil the object of
their production. Thus, whether we reflect on
the growing seedling, and inquire how it is to
be nursed and protected in its stage of tender-
ness and delicacy; or whether we trace it back
to the period when it lay buried in frost and
snow, but unaffected by either; or whether
we search for the natural causes of its failing
from the parent tree into soil already prepared
to receive it, and that exactly at the time when
it had reached maturity,-in every case we can
discover evidence of wisdom and skill infinitely
surpassing the utmost that man could imagine,
though it is permitted him to discover the
means which are employed, and to admire afar
ff the Intelligence that planned them.



A very complex process goes on in the
edible fruits while they are ripening; so com-
plex, indeed, that it requires considerable
knowledge of chemistry to investigate, or even
to understand it. I may tell you, however,
generally, that much of the acid unites with
alkali, and is neutralized; and several of the
constituent parts are converted into sugar,
carbonic acid being given off. The perfect
ripening of fruit depends much on abundance
of sunshine; and, on the contrary, in a rainy sea-
son, succulent fruits become watery, and lose
their flavour. The frnit of very young trees
is usually inferior to that produced by full-
grown trees, because in the former case there
is not a sufficient accumulation of sap. For
the same reason, the produce of a heavily laden
tree is not so highly flavoured as that which
bears but little. In the b rly part of the



present year, some sharp frosts occurred while
the apple-trees were in blossom; the conse-
quence is, that the produce is very small; but
as the leaves were not injured, they have been
employed all the summer in elaborating sap,
which yet remains stored up in the branches;
and, in all probability, there will be, next year,
an abundant supply of excellent fruit. It does
not always happen that the best fruit contains
the largest number of seeds. The finest grapes,
for instance, frequentlycontain no perfect seeds;
and the samemay be observed of oranges, espe-
cially those brought from the Azores. Dr.
Bullar states that the thinness of the rind of a
St. Michael orange, and its freedom from pips,
depend on' the age of the tree. The young
trees, when in full vigour, bear fruit with a
thick pulpy rind, and abundance of seeds;
but as the vigour of the plant declines, the



peel becomes thinner, and the seeds gradually
diminish in number, till they disappear alto.
The structure of the seed itself we examined
in our Spring Ramble, when we traced the
growth of a pea and kidney-bean. Each of
these seeds we found to be composed of a small
bud-like body, the plumule, ,placed between
two lobes called cotyledons, destined to support
the plumule till. the latter had acquired the
power of providing itself with nourishment.
Jointly, they are termed th6 embryo. A grain
of wheat differs considerably in structure from
a pea or bean; the embryo consists of a plu-
mule and but one cotyledon, and occupies a
very small portion of: the seed, the main bulk
of which is named:alby mes. In allthe qereal
grasses, the albumen is farinaceous; or mealy,
consisting chiefly of cells filled with starch. In


the economy of the plant, it is a store of
matter laid up for the nutriment of the em-
bryo; and to its extreme abundance wheat,
barley, &c. are mainly indebted for their value
as the food of man. The fleshy part of the
coco-nut consists almost entirely of albumen,
the embryo being only a minute point; it
forms also the horny portion of the coffee-bean,
the infusion of which, when roasted, is used as
a beverage; the aromatic portion of the nut.
meg; and the hard, white substance of the
palm-nut, usually known by the name of
vegetable ivory.
Now, let us observe, as we pursue our
ramble, some of the many means employed by
Nature in protecting and dispersing seeds, the
organs on which, though small in proportion
to the rest of the plant, so many others have
center their energies. This humble plant,



with opposite smooth leaves and scarlet flowers,
you know well by its homely name of Poor-


man's-weatherglass." It is exclusively a

1 Anagalli arvensis, or Scarlet Pimpernel.


summer flower, delighting in sunshine, and
refusing to open its scarlet corolla except when
there is a certain prospect of a fair day. In
the lower amile (or angles between the stem
and leaves) you will discover a slender, curved
stem, bearing a small green globe, which is
itself clasped by five small green leaves. Within
this globe are closely packed away a number
of seeds, all attached to a central column.
Examine it closely, and you will observe a
faint line, like the equator on a terrestrial
globe, dividing it into two hemispheres. When
the seeds are ripe, the two halves separate at
this line, the upper falls off, and the seeds
drop to the ground. Another species of Pim-
pernel' has capsules, or seed-vessels, of similar
structure; but it is by no means so impatient
of wet, growing only in boggy ground. The



capsule of the Poppy, another corn-plant, is
still more remarkable. It wears a radiated



crown, the rim of which projects beyond the



sides of the capsule, and beneath it are a
number of pores, or small hoes, through
which the seeds, when ripe, are destined to
edape. They would be injured, probably, by
the admission of wet in the interval between
their ripening and their ewape, so the rim
above shelters them like a pent-house, while
all superfluous moisture may evaporate through
the pores, which, it appears, are left open for
the purpose.
This way-side plant, with large, somewhat
downy leaves and lurid purple flowers, is
Hound's-tongue.' Its seeds tm not enlosed
in a common capsule~ but ea" is *sely in-
vested with a horny wca thikly set with
barbed points. The use of these you will soon
discover, if you brush against the plant: the
seeds) which are easily disengaged from their
1 Cynoglossum offiinale.




stalks, will
show no such
readiness to
sep rate
from your
dress, but,
held fast by
their barbs,
will accom-
pany you un-
til you dis-
lodge them
by force, and
consign them
to some place
where they
may found a
new colony,


far enough away, perhaps, from4~heir original
home. The Mallow' has large flat seeds,

which are arranged in a circe round a
1 Malva sylvestris.


common centre, so
as to resemble a
button. The calyx
of this flower does
not fall off with the
corolla, but remains
and protects the
seeds even after
they are ripe. The
Warden Hollyhock,
which belongs to the
same tribe, has its
seeds similarly ar-
mou.s- c s ~ ranged. The Mouse-
ear Chickweed,' a common way-side weed, has
neither attractive flowers nor leaves. It is,
however, worthy of examination at this season,
for the sake of its capsules. These, as they
1 Cerastium vulgatum.


approach maturity, lengthen and protrade from
the calyx, forming a
curved tube, which
opens at the end
with ten minute teeth.
A companion weed,
bearing small white
flowers, and flat,
heart shaped seed.
vessels, is family r Z
known by the name
of Shepherd's-purse.1 :
The seed-vessels of
this little plant do not [. "
open with teeth; but
when they are ripe, hw1' ,? .
the two sides, which are shaped like little boats,

' OCpseh Buampastoria.


fall off, either carrying the seeds with them, or
leaving them attached to the central partition.
Here, on this grassy bank, is a little plant
which we might suppose to be a trefoil, for its


leaves grow in threes, and its very minute
yellow flowers are shaped just like those of


clover. It may, however, be readily distin-
guished, not so well by its leaves being spotted
with dark brown as by the curious structure
of its seed-vessels, which are spiral twisted
into the form of a ball, and covered with
crooked prickles. It is known by the name
of Bur-medick, or, spotted clover.1 Several
other species of Medick are common in our
pastures; they closely resemble the smaller
clovers, from w)lch they are principally dis-
tinguished by their curved seed-vessel.
Yet more singular is the seed-vessel of a very
pretty little plant, with cream-coloured flowers,
varied with crimson, which is not unfrequent
on dry heaths. About four or five flowers grow
together in a tuft, and when they fall off, each
is succeeded by a long, jointed pod, the whole
being curved so asto present a striking resem-
Medioago maculata.


balance to a bird's
foot. From this
peculiarity, it has
received the ap.
propriate nameof
Bird's-foot Tre-
Herb Robert
you will know as
Sa pretty hedge
plant, admired
for its cheerful
pink flowers and
delicately cut
leaves At this
season it is be-
*. looT. gminfnng to as-
sume a rich red hue, which makes it even more
Orithopus perp.illus.


conspicuous in its
decline than it was
in its days of
strength and vi-
gour. It belongs
to a family of
plants called Ge
bill, from the strik-
ing resemblance
which its seeds
bear to the long
beak of a bird.
Every flower bears
five seeds, each of
which is attached
by a long awn or
tail to the summit
of a central co- 8-m11i.


lumn, and, yhen ripe, separates at the base like
the whalebone of a half-closed umbrella. Still
more remarkable is the seed of the Stork's-
bill, which is similar in form, but the awn is
furnished on the inner side with a row of
elastic bristles. When the seed is ripe, the
awn twists spirally, and, uncoiling in moist
weather, executes a kind of crawling motion,
by which it is enabled to travel some distance
from its birthplace. This is by no means the
only one of our British plants which is en.
dowed with the power of locomotion. The
seed of the common Wood-sorrel is invested
with an elastic coating, which contracts when
ripe, and jerks the seed to a considerable dis-
tance. Unlike the Stork's-bill, however, which
alters its resting-place with every change of
weather until it has taken root and become
permanently lodged, the seeds of the Wood6


sorrel perform but
a single joutmey,
having no means
of shifting to new
quarters, if their
first landing-place
be unsuitable to
their wants. But
the greatest tra-
vellers among
seeds are those
which are furnish.
ed with a pappus, Woo.oBL.
or tuft of down. They are very numerous, in-
cluding the Dandelion and a large proportion
of the yellow compound flowers, which are so
numerous at this season. All' the Thistle
tribe, too, are furnished with the means of
performing aerial voyages; and, beingperni-



cious weeds, thus give much trouble to the
farmer and gardener. Among trees, the
Willows and Poplars bear seeds which are

wafted through the air by
cotton attached to each.
quently, great colonists:

help of a tuft of
They are, conse-
the Black Poplar


especially has been known to take possession
of waste ground, to the exclusion of almost
every other plant.'
Of all seeds, berries are least gifted with the
power of wandering far from the place where
they were produced. They find, however,
valuable allies in birds, which, not content with
devouring them where they grow, fly away
with them to their favourite haunts, and leave
some of the seeds where they have taken their
repast. Hence, we often see hollies, yews,
gooseberries, currants, &c. in places where we
should least expect to find them, if we judged
of their migratory propensities solely from
their own capability of travelling.
Among the larger trees, the oak and beech
are indebted for their dispersal to rooks, wood-
pigeons, and the smaller quadrupeds, who, if
I See an instance, Forest Trees of Britain," voL i. p. 868.


they devour many acorns and beech-nuts,
carry away some at least from beneath the
shade of the parent trees-where, if they grew,
they could not thrive-to the open country,
there to spring up and become founders of
future colonies. The ash and sycamore have
winged seeds, but nevertheless they are heavy;
and if they fell from the tree inaalm weather,
they would merely twirl through the air,
and lodge just beneath the branch where
they grew. But this does not often happen,
the fruit-stalk being so tough that it requires
some force to sever it; and that force is sup-
plied by the gales of the autumnal and vernal
equinoxes, which tear the seeds from the
branches, and at the same time bear them to
a distance. The seeds of the ash, indeed,
generally remain attached to the tree until the
ensuing spring: you may see them all the


winter hanging in brown tufts, seemingly dead
and worthless; but they are perfootly sound,
and if planted in suitable soil, will undoubtedly



grow: neither exposure to air nor moisture
has affected them unfavourably. Not so, how-
ever, with the acorn, which, if kept in dry air
during the winter, will become parched, and

"00 Ir


will perish; if placed in a damp situation, it
will germinate, and make an effort to become
a tree; an effort, however, which must of
necessity fail, supposing that, like the seed of
the ash, it remained suspended at a distance
from the ground. Thus you have a good
reason why ash-keys, as they are called, hang
aloft among the branches till the foliage is
about to be renewed, and why acorns fall to
the ground before the leaves which nourished
By-and-by the leaves themselves will fall,
and will be converted, some by insects, and
some by minute fungi, into nutriment fit
for the tree on which they grew; the wintry
blast will howl through the branches, but
do no injury; for, stripped as they will
then be, they will offer little resistance


to its force; whereas if the trees were sub-
jected to the same ordeal while clothed
with foliage, each single leaf would lend its
share of resistance, little enough if taken
singly, but in the aggregate, enormous; the
branches would be torn asunder and shat-
tered, or the mighty trunk itself be borne
down and crushed beneath the overpowering
But, you ask, why do the leaves themselves
fall? This is a question which, in all its
bearings, it is difficult to answer. It is, as we
have seen, decidedly advantageous to the tree,
in one point of view, that the leaves should
not encounter the storms of winter, for in
that case they would either be torn to pieces
or bring ruin on the tree which bore them.
Another answer is, that as the sap of trees,
for the most part, stagnates during the season



of cold, there is no need of leaves to prepare
nourishment for them; in other words, they
are so constituted as to require food only in
warm weather. During the whole of summer
they have, by the agency of leaves, been
increasing in bulk and laying up a store
of nourishment for future use; but with
autumn their season of growth terminates,
and a period of rest commences, during
which they neither digest food nor respire,
consequently they have no further use of the
organs. through the agency of which these
functions are performed.
This answer, however, does not touch the
question whether, on one hand, the leaf that
has performed its office withers and falls off
of itself, or, on the other, whether it is thrown
off by the tree. Some botanists' are of
SDa Petit Thouars and Lindley.



opinion that the separation is to be attributed
to the wearing out, as it were, of the spiral



vessels, which are very abundant in the leaf



and its stalk. These vessels are susceptible
of elongation by unrolling, but only to a
limited degree; for the moment will come
when the spiral vessels are entirely unrolled,
and incapable of any further elongation; they
will, therefore, by the force of vegetation, be
stretched until they snap, when the necessary
communication between the branch and the
leaf is destroyed, and the latter falls off."
This theory is very plausible, but unfortu-
nately, it is not supported by facts; for if
you gently snap asunder a recently fallen
leaf, you will find plenty of spiral vessels,
both in the stalk and in the leaf itself, as
susceptible of elongation by being unrolled
as they ever were. The phenomenon, there-
fore, must be accounted for in some other
way. I am inclined to assign as a cause, the
inequality of expansion and contraction in the



parts separated, that is to say, of the leaf-stalk,
and the twig on which it grows. I must en-
deavour to make myself clearly understood at
the risk of being somewhat lengthy.
You have, no doubt, often observed during
the winter months, the branch of an oak or
other tree hanging among the bare boughs,
from which it was partially severed by acci-
dent, while in full leaf. Such a branch, you
saw, retained its leaves, shrivelled and brown
it is true, but so firmly attached to the twigs
on which they grew as to set wind, rain and
frost at defiance. Its history is briefly told;
it was torn from the main branch by violence,
and being cut off from its proper supply of
nourishment, all its juices were dried up by
evaporation, twig and leaf together. No
separation, however, took place between the
several parts, because being all exposed to the



same drying process they contracted equally;
if the leaf shrivelled so did its stalk, and so did
the twig on which it was inserted. Very diffe-
rent is the case with leaves, which have been
allowed to grow on a healthy stein during the
whole of summer. For months they have
performed their several functions without
intermission, nevertheless, like all organized
bodies, whether animal or vegetable, they are
subject to disease and decay; their energies
are exhausted in time, when their vessels,
having their power of action impaired, become
charged with fluids, which, in their healthy
state, they were able either to convert into
wholesome nourishment for the tree on which
they grew, or to discharge into the atmo-
sphere. Consequently they lose their healthy
green colour, and assume the various shades of
yellow, red, and brown, which are proper to



each' species. While they are in this sickly
state, a parching east wind sets in and dries
up their juices, more rapidly than they are
able to recruit themselves from the branch
whidh supports them; they shrivel, first at the
edges, and, finally, through the whole extent
of the stalk. The twig meanwhile is unaf-
fected, it parts with no moisture or with very
little, and, therefore, does not contract in the
same ratio with the leafstalk. The conse-
quence i, that the points of junction of each
no longer correspond in size, the weakened
vessels of the leaf-stalk snap asunder, and the
leaf is thrown off. If, instead of a drying
wind, a frost sets in, the weakened vessels of
the' leaf-stalk and leaf are frozen, and so
distended beyond their natural size; the twig,
however, proted by the winter's coat of
bark, which it has been for months past



sedulously weaving, does not expand in the
same ratio with the leaf-stalk, and the leaf is
thrown off for the same reason as in the
previous case. That this solution is probably
the correct one, may further appear from the
following consideration. Gardeners are in the
habit of propagating plants by cuttings. To
do this they generally choose the extremity
of a shoot bearing a few leaves, the lower end
of which they bury, about an inch deep, in
sand or fine earth. They cannot make sure
that all their cuttings will grow; it often
happens, from some unknown cause, that of
half-a-dozen such, three or four will strike,"
(as it is termed,) and the rest will die. In
most cases, however, one can in a few days
discover which are likely to grow and which
not, for if they throw off their leaves they
promise well, but, on the other hand, if they


retain their leaves, the probability is that they
are dying. This inference is, perhaps, just
the reverse of that which you would have
drawn: you would have sid; These cuttings
are doing well because they keep their leaves,
the othen are dying or dead," But now
recollect the dead branch hanging from the
oak. Leaf and twig died together, because
they were cut off from their supply ot nourish-
ment, but remember, too, that they withered
together, and as there was no inequality of
contraction the leaves were not thrown off.
Apply this case to the cuttings, and you will
infer from the fact of their retaining their
leaves, that the latter are withering and con-
tracting in the same ratio with the stem, and
that both are dying. But the process which
has taken place with the other cuttings occurs



annually with every deciduous' tree, and is a
symptom of healthy growth. It may be
explained thus :--The twig when severed from
the branch of which it formed a part, re-
ceived a violent check from having its supply
of nourishment from the roots suddenly cut
off. The leaves gave speedy evidence of this
by their withering, and although they fresh-
ened up when the cutting was planted in
moist sand, they never altogether recovered
their healthy condition, so that, when the
shot began to grow, they refused to be
stimulated to proportionate vigour and con-
sequent expansion of the leaf-stalk, and were
thrown off as soon as the points of junction
ceased to correspond in size.
Deciduous trees are those which shed their leaves annu-


It is very pleasing thus to trace the opera-
tion of the great laws of science through the
familiar phenomena of Nature: to obseive-Otow
the same law produces rects, in one case too
stupendous for the mind to grasp, and in
another,; how it is made sunbervient o' an end
so commonn as the fall of a leaf; to reflect, for
instance, that; gnaritation regulates the planets
in their orbits, and attracts the tipe grain of
wheat to the soil in which it is to irow' that
capillary attractionn, which furnishes it with
moisture and enables it to become aliving plant,
is also. i active operation at the sources of the
Mighty Amaon and Mi~siesippi; that. the ex-
pansive properties of heat account for athfury
of the tornado and the swelling ef a6ud'rthat
the same propertyrTesidi in n intense ..old,
raises in the Ardtio regions monntins ;of ice,
and in temperate climate occasions the fll of



a leaf; that the law of evaporation charges the
atmosphere with clouds, and ripens a filbert;
that the condensation of vapour brought in
contact with a cold surface heightens the gla-
ciers of the Alps, and decorates a blade of
grass with crystal globes. These are all in-
controvertible facts, and should confirm us in
our belief in the wisdom and omnipotence of
Him who alone can, with the same instruments
of His will, produce effects seemingly so dif-
ferent, yet all equally beyond our skill to imi-
tate; it being alike out of our power to stay
the moon in her orbit and to suspend the law
which draws a leaf to the ground-to create
a foaming torrent, or to give life to a grain of
unorganised matter.
It is a fact worthy of note, that fallen leaves
and the dead branches of trees, if kept dry,
*illremain sound, and preserve their shape for


an indefinite period, but that, if exposed to the
natural changes of weather, they will soon decay.
Plants, for instance, which have been dried by
the botanist, and stored away in his herbarium,
require only to be protected from damp and
insects, in which case they will remain un-
altered for a great number of years. In like
manner, the beams and rafters of houses retain
their hardness and solidity for a very long
time-hundreds of years, perhaps. The ceiling
of Westminster Hall is as perfect as when first
built, though it dates back far more than three
hundred years. It is even yet more remarkable
that the durability of timber is also promoted
by complete and continued immersion in water
or damp earth. For example, the foundation on
which the stone piers of old London Bridge were
laid, consisted of huge piers of timber, which,
when taken up, were found to be perfectly sound,



though they must have been driven upwards
of six hundred years. I clearing the channel
at Brundisium, in Ily, the workmen have
drawn up many of the oak piles that were
driven in. by Julius Cesar.' They are small
oaks stripped of their bark, and still as fresh
as if they had been cut only a month, though
buried above eight en centuries seven feet
under the sand. These piles were driven in
by Caesar to block upPompey's feet. In many
parts of Ireland, trunks of fir-trees are found
imbedded in peat. many feet under ground,
where; they, must have lain for many hundreds
of years. So little are they injurd, that they
are not only used a ftowood, burning brightly
and with a resinous odou, :but are employed as
a building material, and for may purposes are

' Forest Tmees of Britain," vol. i. p. 54.




preferred to any other wood.' Had the same
0 timber been converted into garden palings, and
left unprotected by paint from atmospheric
influences, it would in a sort time have been
in a state of decay.
We may conclude, then, thatW vegetable
matter generally, if kept perfectly. dry or con-
tinuously wet, will remaop sound for a long
period, and thus eminently subserys the pur-
poses of human. industry. But what would
be the consequence if this samedurability ex-
tended to the boughs, twigs, and leaves of trees,
torn off by the wind or other natural agency,
with which the surface of the ground. i annually
strewed? There would be a constant acct-
mulation of useless vegetable matter, the soil
would be exhausted of its nutritive properties,
the trees themselves would dwindle away and
1 "Forest Trees of Britain," vol. ii. p. 858.

" _TP-- '7P% r~w%-4VPW, v'"R G -


perish, and the desolation would be perpetual,
because the soil would have no means of re-
newal. But, inasmuch as it is the law of
Nature that dead vegetable matter, when ex-
posed to alternations of wet and drought, shall
speedily decay, if the trunk of a tree be pro-
strated by the blast, or felled by the hand of
man, and suffered to remain on the ground,
rain and sunshine will cooperate to convert it
into nourishment for the trees by which it is
surrounded; if a mere twig be broken off, the
process of decay is promoted by the ordinary
changes of the weather; is it a leaf that has
fallen, it is not suffered long to number the
ground, but is converted by the same agency
into a particle of useful mould.
These effects are produced by various in-
struments : by frost, which causes the moisture
contained in the substance of the wood or leaf



to expand, until the vessels burst; by insects,
which either devour them bodily, or perforate
them with holes, thus admitting additional
moisture; and by fIngi, growing vegetables,
which prefer to feed on decaying vegetable
matter rather than that which has actually
undergone decomposition.
As the fungi peculiarly belong to Autumn,
the season when their food is provided in the
greatest abundance, we will occupy the re-
mainder of our Ramble with a short consider-
ation of their structure and properties. We
will select, as being one of the most familiar
examples of the tribe, the common Mushroom,
and adopt the description of it given by a
modem French naturalist.' Endeavour to
obtain a specimen quite entire: you first find
a lace-work of white threads, or filaments,
1 M. Emmanuel Le Maout.

~`5:' '~"~T~" 1~7~-CIP71---~-.~~IT-~---~~T11- _r_~_~mlllL~


spreading horizontally in the earth; on these
are a number of small tubercles, which grow
and succeed one another very rapidly; their
stalk, or stipe, is swollen at the base, the sub-

stance white, firm, and composed of threads.
If you cut it vertically, you will see that
it is not solid, but furnished throughout


nearly its whole length with a narrow cavity ;
towards the summit, it dilates and forms a
fleshy convex cap, or pilek 'which bears
beneath a number of vertical plates, or gills,
radiating from the centre to the circumference,
of a delicate rose colour while young, and
becoming brown with age. These gills, if the
Mushroom be young, are hid by a white mem.
brane (or veil), whicl unites the edge of the
pileus with the stalk, and is composed of white
threads, which, being nearly always parallel
and not interlaced, are easily ruptured, As
the Mushroom increases in size, it loses its
globular shape, and becomes convex above,
plain below. The veil which hid the gills
is torn, and there remains near the summit
of the stalk a portion only which surrounds
it like a ruff; the rest adheres to the rim of
the cap, with the skin of which it is continuous.



: Besides this partial veil which hides the
gills, there is another, the volva, which has its
origin at the base of the stalk, and encloses
the whole of the Mushroom, while yet in its
infant state, as completely as the shell of an
egg encloses the constituent parts of the egg;
but the texture of the volva is so delicate that
it soon disappears without leaving a vestige.
The cap and stalk, white in their youth, be.
come brown as they grow old.
Now, take one of the red or brown plates
of which the lower surface of the cap is com.
posed. One does not require a
very strong magnifier to disco-
ver that its two surfaces have
a velvety appearance; but it
is only under a microscope
that you can see the structure of the
plates. Cut a very thin slice, and place it


on the stage of the microscope: you will
discover three distinct "layers-one central,
composed of small cells continuous with those
of the cap, and two lateral, formed of cells
placed immediately above those of the central
layer; the shorter of these cells bear nothing
at their outer extremity; but there are a great
number of other longer ones, terminating in
four points, which bear each a small spherical
body. These longer cells are termed 6asidia,
and the spherical bodies which they support,
sporidia, or seed-vessels, because they have
been proved by numerous experiments to have
the power of reproducing plants. This power
also resides in the white threads myceliumm)
which are attached to the subterraneous part of
the stalk, and are commonly known by the
name of mushroom-spawn.
This description of the common mushroom



includes also about a thousand other species,
which constitute the genus or family Agaricus.
To this genus belong the Champignon, or
Fairy-ring Mushroom, and. several other eat-
able, but rarely used kinds, and a number of
poisonous species confounded under the com.
mon name of Toad-stools. It is probable that
many of these might be used as food, and it is
even said that the injurious properties of the
least wholesome may be destroyed by immer-
sion and cooking in vinegar; but I cannot
recommend you to try the experiment, or even
to trust to your own skill in distinguishing
those known to be wholesome. The process
of drying is also said to destroy their noxious
properties. The Rev. M. J. Berkeley, who has
made the fungi his especial study, relates a
story of a gentleman, who informed him "that
in some town. in Poland where he was detained


a prisoner, he amused himself with collecting
and drying the various fungi which grew
within its If were many com-
mo to his
vcwerd by the ips ?di' t Wever,
that th6 poisonous principle is not always
developed in equal ity; and it happens
occasionally that spieh which are ordinarily
wholesome become noxi~us when subjected to
certain peculiar conditions of locality and
The genus Boletus differs from the fore-
going family in having the under part of the
cap (or pileus) colpoteed of a number of cylin-
drical tubes, which; ou# united, are easily
separable, and contain the basidia in their
interior. The esculent Boletus,' a common
1 Bol6tus eddlis.


species growing in woods and pastures under
oaks, is, as its name denotes, eatable; and,


though neglected in this country, appears to
be a most valuable article of food. It resem-


bles very much in taste the common mushroom,
and is quite as delicate; and might be used
with much advantage, as it abounds in seasons
when a mushroom is scarcely to be found.
Like that, it can be cultivated, but by a much
more simple process, as it is merely necessary
to moisten the ground under oak-trees with o
water in which a quantity has been allowed to
ferment. The only precaution requisite is, to
fence in the portion of ground destined for its
production, as deer and pigs are very fond
of it.
The genus Polyporus is distinguished from
Bol6tus, by having the under part of the pileus
perforated with innumerable holes or pores,
instead of being made up of separable tubes.
One species, the scaly Polyporus,1 is very com-
mon at this season on the decayed stumps of
) Polporus squamosus.


trees. A group of these plants may be com-

pared to a collection of oyster shells inserted
into the bark by their hinges. In substance,
they are tough and elastic when moist, but
hard and woody when dry; they are of rapid
growth, and. sometimes attain an enormous
size. A specimen is recorded in Hooker's
Flora Sootica, which measured seven feet five
inches in circumference, and weighed thirty-



four pounds, and it was only three wee~ in
attaining these vast dimensions. The substaice
imported into this country under the name t
Amadou or German tinder, is obtained from
another species of Polfporus' which is feond

growing at the base of the trunks of trees. It
is in its natural state a thick, brownish yellow
excrescence, bulging out in an irregular man-
ner, and of no well-defined shape, of a some-
what corky consistence, but when dried, of a
Polporus fomentarius.



close spongy texture. As prepared for use, it
resembles the rough side of Russia leather; it
is ignited by a spark, and smoulders away
with an unpleasant smell. At the Great Exhi-
bition, large sheets of this curious substance
were displayed and recommended as a substi-
tute for flannel, in the cure of rheumatism.
It is not very abundant in this country, but is
to be found in greater or less quantities in
most parts of the world.
Very distinct from the fungi already men-
tioned, are the puff-balls, of which the com-
monest' is shaped like an orange, of a dull
white colour, and covered with small warts.
When ripe, it opens at the summit, and dis-
charges a quantity of greenish powder. Ano-
ther species, the giant puff-ball,' is somewhat
similar in shape, but of a purer white, smooth,
1 Lycoperdon gemmatum. Lycoperdon giganteum.


and of a larger size, measuring, sometimes,
several feet in circumference. Within, it is,

when young, of an uniform white spongy sub-
stance; but when ripe, the upper part of the



interior is converted into a loathsome pulpy
mass, the lower part becoming of a fibrous,
spongy texture, in which state it is invaluable
to bee-keepers, who ignite it, and with the
smoke produce a temporary suffocation of their
bees while taking the honey from the hives.
The Geiistgrand Pesia, we met with during
our Winter Ramble.
These ae the only families anw s the larger
fungi to yhich I need direct yom attention.
Truffles .d Morels are of subterranean
growth, so that ;pu will hav great difficulty in
discovering their haunts.
Into the organization of the minuter families
it is impossible for me now to enter. Not
much, indeed, is known about them; there is,
however, little doubt, that every tribe of plants
belonging to the higher orders of vegetation,
has at least some one kind of fungus appro-



priated to it, the sporidia of which, invisible to
every eye except that of Him who created them,
floating at large through the atmosphere, deo
scend on thedecaying plant as on a soil prepare
for their development, there to perfect their
own being, and to complete the dissolution of
the body which receives them. And besides
the one species which is peculiar to every plant
or tribe of plants, countless others unite in the
same important work, attacking here the leaf,
there the bark, and there again the solid timber;
assuming here the form of a dark spot, there
of a swelling pustule, and there again, that of
a creeping thread, swelling in an incredibly
short time to the proportions of a mushroom
or bol6tus, or sinking to the no less destructive
insignificance of mild. For even the patch
of blue mould which is a sign of decomposition
in decaying fruit, leaves, &c., is a miniature



forest of fungi, all beautifully organized, all
perfect in their kind, and destined all na-
turally, that is to say, by the Providence of
pod, to co-operate in sustaining the harmony

of creation. An encou* ement this to the
humblest among us, to do our duties severally
in that station of life in which the same Provi-



ence has placed us. We may be little and of
n6 importance in the eye of the world; yet we
nty rest assured, that He who gave to esh
his life and his station, assigned also a sei
vice to be rendered; and who shall venture
to say that a service allotted by God, is too
insignificant to claim His notice? Who shall
say so-when the blade of grass is spangled
with dew, and contributes to the refreshment
of the soil-when the fading leaf is fringed
with mould and crumbles to dust, that it may
help to clothe the earth with verdure ?


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