Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Lecture I. On plants in genera...
 Lecture II. On seeds
 Lecture III. The root
 Lecture IV. The stem
 Lecture V. The leaf
 Lecture VI. The flower
 Lecture VII. The fruit
 Lecture VIII. On palms
 Lecture IX. On corn, sugar, and...
 Lecture X. On tea, coffee, and...
 Lecture XI. On flax, hemp, and...
 Lecture XII. General lecture on...
 Back Cover

Group Title: plant world
Title: The plant world
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00028183/00001
 Material Information
Title: The plant world
Physical Description: xii, 369 p., 5 leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Twining, Elizabeth, 1805-1889
Publisher: T. Nelson and Sons
Place of Publication: London
New York
Manufacturer: T. Richards, printer
Publication Date: 1875
Copyright Date: 1875
Subject: Plants -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1875   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1875
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
United States -- New York -- New York
Statement of Responsibility: by Elizabeth Twining.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00028183
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: notis - ALH9536
oclc - 60654499
alephbibnum - 002239012

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page i
        Page i-a
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Title Page
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Lecture I. On plants in general
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Lecture II. On seeds
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Lecture III. The root
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
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        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    Lecture IV. The stem
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
    Lecture V. The leaf
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
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        Page 113
        Page 114
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        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
    Lecture VI. The flower
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
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        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
    Lecture VII. The fruit
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
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        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
    Lecture VIII. On palms
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 204a
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 216a
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
    Lecture IX. On corn, sugar, and vines
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
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        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
    Lecture X. On tea, coffee, and cocoa
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 264a
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
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        Page 293
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        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
    Lecture XI. On flax, hemp, and cotton
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 304a
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
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        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
    Lecture XII. General lecture on plants
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
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    Back Cover
        Page 371
        Page 372
        Page 373
Full Text

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A uthor of Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Planfts,"































THE study of Natural History is now become gene-
rally a part of education; there is no branch of it
so suitable and interesting to the young as that
which treats of Plants. They are of such continual
use to us in various ways, that it is impossible not
to know something about them, and also not to
desire to know more. They afford subjects of observa-
tion and thought well calculated to strengthen the
faculties of a young mind; and the search for growing
plants during a walk in the country gives great
interest and delight. Thus even a slight study of
plants tends to promote a healthy development of
mind and body. Many subjects can only be learnt
from books, and this is sometimes a tedious pro-
cess to young children, as well as to older persons


who from their position in life are unaccustomed
to quiet study. But plants offer visible and attrac-
tive objects, and are always within reach, under
some form other, to all scholars, whether in town
or country.
These Lectures were, in substance, first given to
the young women who attend the Classes for
Women, at the Working Men's College, 45, Great
Ormond-street, London"; and who, for the most part,
had no previous knowledge of the subject. They
are, therefore, very simple, and can serve merely
as a guide or hint to other teachers of greater
ability. It was, however, very satisfactory to ob-
serve the attention of the class, and to be assured
that the history of plants was capable of affording
pleasing instruction to scholars who have hitherto
had neither time nor opportunity for such a study.
The science of Botany was, until lately, so pecu-
liarly enveloped in technical scientific language that
young persons were almost entirely deterred from
learning it. I have, therefore, endeavoured in a
humble manner to clear a path for young students,
and to show that plants may be admitted amongst
the subjects of the highest and yet simplest inte-
rest to all classes of learners. Moreover, the study


of these most beautiful as well as useful objects of
creation does in a remarkable manner help to ex-
pand the ideas, and lead to a more perfect com-
prehension of important subjects of consideration.
In teaching the young, it is advisable not to
detain their attention too long on one topic, with-
out varying the manner. The Lectures, therefore,
seldom extend beyond half an hour, the rest of
the time being occupied with a verbal explanation
of specimens or drawings of the objects mentioned
in the Lecture. Also, by drawing with white chalk
on a black board. All these three portions of the
hour's lesson are useful, indeed essential to the under-
standing of the things spoken of; for the success
of all teaching depends on the clearness of the ex-
planation at first. Unless the pupils comprehend
distinctly the simple facts at the beginning, they
will not be encouraged to advance further in any
In order to excite attention, and add interesting
occupation to the scholars, it is very desirable to
induce them to collect examples; which, either in
a town or country school, is generally practicable.
To each Lecture is added a list of objects for the
illustration of it; to the discretion of the Lecturer


or Teacher, it must be left to arrange all the lesser
details of such simple Lectures as these are. The
result will be successful in degree according to the
age or class of the pupils; but there is, probably,
no subject better adapted than plants to awaken
attention and vary in a pleasant manner the regular
course of school lessons.

E. T.

13, Bedford Place, London,
24th June, 1858.





PALM. (Drawing or print.) SPICE.

It is advisable to illustrate these Lectures by any objects
or means readily attainable. If maps should be hanging on
the walls of the room, it will give much interest to point out
the countries of the plants spoken of, the position of the
Coral Isles in the Pacific Ocean, or any other subject that
may assist to explain the different parts of the Lecture.



" IN the beginning God created the heavens and
the earth", as we read in the first verse of the
first book of the Holy Scriptures. After relating
the works of the two first days of creation,
during which God the Almighty Creator made
the light and the darkness, and divided the
waters from the firmament, we are told that the
work of the third day was to separate the' waters
from the land. The dry land thus became ready
and fit to produce plants; and then God said,
let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding
seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit,
whose seed is in itself after his kind; and God
saw that it was good." "The covering of the
earth, that vegetation which God created on the
third day of this world's existence in its present
state and form, is a subject of the highest interest
to man, the chief work of creation. The wise
king Solomon despised not the knowledge of


plants, but studied them, and knew them all, from
the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop on the wall.
The history of plants is the history of the
most useful objects to man; they have afforded
to the whole human race, from that time to the
present, food, clothing, and countless objects
necessary to the health and comfort, even to the
very life of man.
Before entering on the vast subject of the
variety of vegetation and its innumerable uses,
let us observe what a striking illustration it offers
of the might and wisdom of the Creator, ever
ruling and ordering all things; and also possess-
ing that wondrous, and, to our weak understand-
ing, incomprehensible power of enduing his
works with a continued life. From the day on
which it was said, "let the earth bring forth
grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree
yielding fruit", it has not failed in its appointed
law. Each plant has continued to bring forth
fruit and seed after its kind, so that none have
become lost or altered, but remain year after
year witnesses of the everlasting power of their
Creator. After man had been formed by the
Divine Will, and all things given to him to have
dominion over them, every herb and every fruit
tree was given to him for food, but not without
care on his part. The first work appointed to
Adam was the cultivation of plants: And the


Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden;
and there He put the man whom He had formed.
And the Lord God took the man and put him
into the garden to dress it and to keep it."
The due apportioning of plants in various parts
of the world is one of the first necessary arts of
man. On arriving at a new land in a wild un-
cultivated country, as in the far west of North
America, the first work usually is to cut away
and clear forests, and then dig up and prepare
the ground for crops of eatable or otherwise
useful plants. In other countries, where marsh
land prevails, the first work is to drain the soil,
eradicate mosses and other small plants, and so
prepare the ground for cultivation. The effect
of vegetation on the air is most important; in
the West Indies the forests, that in some islands
originally covered the hills, kept the air cool,
and averted many dangerous vapours. In other
dry and cool regions, the planting of trees has
tended to the improvement of the climate, and
consequent advantage to health. Not only do
plants in themselves benefit the air, and cause a
healthy state of atmosphere, but we are also in-
debted to them for the first formation of soil
whereon other plants may afterwards grow.
When the coral insects have raised their sub-
marine structure above the surface of the ocean,
their work ceases, and the vegetable race begins;


small lichens and mosses grow on it, they flourish
and decay, and so gradually but surely form a
layer of soil, on which seeds, as they are floated
past on the winds, are deposited and take root.
In process of time the once barren islet becomes
clothed with a covering of various small plants;
and at last it is adorned with a grove of palm
trees, and stands as a landmark to the ships of
the ocean, waving its graceful crest of palms in
the breeze.
To learn the different properties of plants,
and the ways in which they can be best applied
to our use, is very necessary to many, and in
some degree useful and pleasant to all men.
As the different countries of the world vary in
their climate and soil and nature, so also do the
plants which grow in them. Everything is
adapted to its right place; and more particularly
is this observable in plants. Those which re-
quire a hot moist air, cannot grow in a cold dry
country. Those which thrive in low marshes,
are not able to live on exposed mountains.
Those which live in the shade of forests, would
be scorched and withered on the open plains.
Corn grows best in the fields of temperate Eu-
rope; if it is cultivated in hot countries, it must
be on mountains raised above the heated air of
the plains. For instance, in South America
wheat corn is unknown in the fields of the


valleys or plains; in such low situations only
Indian corn or maize grows: but wheat is cul-
tivated on the lofty mountains of the Andes, at
4,000 feet elevation above the sea. There, as
on all mountains, the air becomes cooler, conse-
quently is fitted for the growth of more hardy
plants than that of the plains. Corn requires a
certain degree of coldness, to enable it to acquire
firmness of stalk and hardness of grain. Yet
too great cold injures it; for it cannot grow or
ripen in the more northern countries of the
world. Rye is of a hardier nature than wheat,
and can be cultivated in Iceland and the north-
ernmost isles of Scotland, where it would be too
cold and bleak for wheat. The poor Laplanders
and Greenlanders have but a very small supply
even of rye-corn to make into flour, and are
often obliged to mix with it the pounded bark
of the birch trees which abound in the northern
parts of Europe. With these two kinds of meal
together, they make their biscuits, more like oat-
cakes than anything we call bread.
Some plants require moisture, others a dry
soil; some require a considerable degree of heat,
others come to perfection in a cooler or drier
atmosphere. Rice is one of those plants which
must have both warmth and a good supply of
water to enable it to produce a due quantity of
the useful seed. It is therefore cultivated in


fields that are intersected by small streamlets
of water; in China and the East Indies very
abundantly, and in less hot countries it can
grow if only sufficient moisture to the roots can
be obtained. In the flat plains of Lombardy, in
the north of Italy, rice thrives tolerably well.
In England it is never to be seen in open fields;
but it is occasionally grown, as a rare specimen
of a foreign plant, in the water tanks of conser-
vatories, where the air and water are both kept
at a warmer temperature than the outward air.
In the Botanic Garden of the Regent's Park,
London, it may be seen in summer, with its
graceful drooping stalk bearing many seeds.
The best rice is grown in Carolina, two of the
south-eastern provinces of the United States of
North America.
A large proportion of the plants which con-
tribute most to the nourishment of mankind,
"grow in the hotter regions of the world. Tea,
coffee, chocolate, sugar, and all the spices, thrive
in the hot countries or islands of the tropics.
Potatoes, corn, the various kinds of cabbages,
turnips, and such large succulent-rooted vege-
tables, grow best in Europe, and the temperate
countries throughout the world. As we per-
ceive that plants are by the wisdom of the
Creator especially adapted to their respective
countries, so we must be assured that, as the


bountiful supply of a plant is limited naturally
to its native country, it is intended that man, by
his power of travelling about to various coun-
tries, and of transporting their produce, should
distribute it to his fellow-creatures. Thus, by
exchanging the vegetable produce of different
countries, the mutual advantage is great. The
negroes in the West Indies cultivate immense
plantations of sugar; they are contented them-
selves with a few pieces of the sweet cane filled
with its pleasant nourishing juice. The chief
supply is made into sugar, and brought in ships
to all those cool countries where it is impossible
for the sugar-cane to grow in the open air. In
the West Indies, also, is found most abundantly
the cotton plant, bearing its bright yellow
flowers. After a few days these wither and fall
off, leaving the seed-vessel to enlarge and ripen
till the pods burst, and the dark brown seeds
are seen in the midst of a mass of white, soft,
downy cotton. Of what use could this plentiful
gift of God's goodness be to the poor natives ?
They have no means of making anything useful
of it. They can neither spin it into thread,
weave it into cloth, nor dye it of various pleas-
ing colours. But European ships go to their
seaports, and receive the great bales of cotton
which the negroes have gathered and made up.
It is brought to Liverpool, and thence conveyed


to Manchester and other of our large manufac-
turing towns; the cotton is carefully cleaned,
and prepared, spun, woven, bleached, dyed of
various patterns, pressed, and finished. Some
are made neat and suitable to English taste;
but the manufacturer knows the desire of the
poor black women for gay-coloured garments,
and he has always a portion printed in bright
gaudy patterns. These are sent out to the West
Indies; and, as soon as the goods are exposed in
the market, the women come to buy a new piece
for a dress, or a gay red and yellow handkerchief
to wear over their heads. The neatly dressed
Englishwoman could not have her pretty cotton
gown, nor the lady her elegant muslin for sum-
mer, without the help of the negro women work-
ing in the hot cotton plantations of the West
Indies. Nor could the freed slave, desirous of
dressing herself after the fashion of her Euro-
pean mistress, have the cotton pods she had
helped to gather transformed into the gay dress
she is so pleased to wear, without the aid of the
English manufacturer.
Thus we see that plants, even the humble and
lowly, assist in the one great and divine law that
must ever be fulfilled in this world, that man is
born to labour for his own benefit and happi-
ness, and for that of his fellow-creatures. Each
must work in the lot appointed him by the


Heavenly Master; and each does in thus work-
ing bring profit to himself and to his brethren.
From the time when it was commanded to Adam
to go forth and labour-" In the sweat of thy
face shalt thou eat bread"-it has continued
one of the unchanging laws of God. And espe-
cially in the labour of the field it is evident that,
although the earth does bring forth abundantly,
and there are few spots that can be called barren,
yet man's skill and care are needed to make all
ready for his use. A very large portion of the
plants which spring up naturally, are what we
call weeds; that is, either not the right kind of
plant we desire in that place, or such as from
their nature are useless, or possibly injurious, to
man. Those plants which afford nourishment to
man or cattle, for the most part require careful at-
tention, to prepare the good ground for the seed,
to keep it clear from weeds as it is growing, and
lastly, to gather in the crop when it is ripe.
God does truly give abundance; but all his
blessings man must seek for, and bestow care on
the means which produce them. When man
soweth, then, and then only, shall the earth
bring forth her increase, and God, even our own
God, shall give us his blessing."
On this vast subject of plants, it is difficult to
decide how and where to begin the study. So
various are they, so profuse in the abundance


with which they cover the surface of the earth,
that we may easily suppose at first that it is one
of those studies which the life of man cannot
suffice for. But, like many other things, the
difficulty is greater in idea than in reality; and
as we proceed in the examination, and gain
acquaintance with some of the principal plants
valued for use, we gradually find the confused
mass become clearer, and we perceive order and
harmony to pervade this as well as all other
parts of creation. Moreover, there is no branch
of natural history that so readily aad pleasantly
repays us the trouble of learning: in countless
ways it adds great interest to our daily life, and
is able to give delight to all classes, in whatever
station their lot may be. There is no pleasure
more natural to us than the taste for flowers,
nor need we wonder at it: it exists in all coun-
tries of the world, more or less, and has done so
from the beginning of time. Neither can we
doubt that it is one of the most pure and inno-
cent of enjoyments afforded by the various ob-
jects of creation. We have the sanction of the
highest Wisdom for this study, and perceive that
not only is it a source of delight of a passing
kind, but that, if we consider the lilies of the
field" with an earnest mind, we shall derive
thoughts of confidence and trust towards our
great Creator, and thoughts of meekness and


humility to our hearts. Of how much value
has the careful observation of plants been to
persons in different circumstances, and in end-
less ways; we might occupy the whole lecture
with such anecdotes. We are perhaps too apt
in this age of utility to value things according
to their actual use to us; if we can make any-
thing of use for building, for clothing, or for
food, it is sure to be sought for and esteemed.
But there is another kind of value besides this,
which should not be overlooked or despised;
there is a cheering pleasant influence on the
mind and spirits to be derived from plants and
the care of them. How many solitary persons
have found the greatest solace in watching a
few plants in their room, even when confined
to that, and having no garden at all. We read
of a prisoner in a strong castle in the north
of Italy, a good and clever man, but strictly
confined on account of supposed political of-
fences against the government of his country.
No amusement of any kind was permitted him;
but he found it in a small plant that sprung up
amidst the stones of the court where he was
allowed to walk for a short time daily. Observ-
ing its growth cheered his mind, and raised his
thoughts from his miserable condition.
When one of the first travellers in the interior
of Africa was endeavouring to trace out the


course of the river Niger, he was one day so
weary and exhausted on his journey, that he lay
down desponding on the ground. A small moss
growing beside him attracted his notice; he took
it up and examined it, admired its slender yet
perfect form, the little stalk with its delicate
fine-pointed leaves, the tiny seed-vessel like a
cup, with a lid on it to protect the seeds till ripe:
all so wisely and beautifully made, and exactly
without doubt after the very same pattern as had
been given to it on the third day of creation,
when the herb yielding seed" was first brought
forth by the earth, and God the Maker of heaven
and earth saw that it was good." Such con-
siderations led to the assurance that, if God had
so cared for a humble moss, He would surely
care for him, a lonely wanderer in the desert.
He felt comfort and encouragement in his mind;
and, after a short rest, resumed his way and soon
reached a village, where some kind-hearted na-
tives gave him refreshing food. Thus it is ever;
"all things work together for good to them that
love God"; yes, if we only love Him for his hum-
blest work's sake, that spark of love will kindle
a higher and a holier love in our hearts, that will
ascend from this lowly earth to the lofty heaven,
and make us feel that we are one with Him,
and He with us; that we are not alone-not
even the solitary wanderer in the wilderness,


Some things we cannot learn if we would;
they are too difficult for us,-far above, out of
our reach; some objects are scarce and rare, not
to be had by humble learners, but there is no
difficulty about plants. A child can understand-
something of them, and they are to be found
easily, they grow indeed almost everywhere;
there is hardly a spot on the earth's surface with-
out some kind of plant belonging to it. Not
only on almost every space of ground in its na-
tural state, but even on rocks and stones do
plants grow; the small lichens often cover the
surface of a rock, lying so flat and close upon it
that it is impossible to break them away, and the
colour is sometimes so like that of the rock, that
at a short distance it is scarcely visible. In
other instances the whole aspect of rocks is
changed by small lichens. The granite rocks
which form the "Land's End", or boundary of
our island along the south-west coast of Corn-
wall, appear of a pale kind of buff hue, quite
unlike the usual grey colour of granite; this is
caused by the quantity of lichen which grows in
tufts, nearly covering the rocks exposed to the
mild moist air of the Atlantic Ocean. The mi-
nutest kinds of plants are often discovered in
unexpected places. When some English ships
first went to explore the unknown shores of the
Arctic Ocean, a few officers and sailors landed


on a plain covered with snow; they soon per-
ceived one portion that looked as if red snow had
fallen. This was considered a very remarkable
circumstance, and at the time no one could ex-
plain what these extremely small red grains
could be. Since then, it has been ascertained
that they were little plants, of the very lowest
rank certainly, but of a vegetable nature. The
blue mould which appears on old cheese is, in
truth, a plant. The substance which comes on
beer whilst it is fermenting and is called yeast, is
also a plant. Thus we find that not only are we
indebted to plants for the chief supply of food,
clothing, materials for dwellings, but many cu-
rious substances are contained in the vegetable
kingdom worthy of notice. And these minute
plants, some of them almost invisible to the
naked eye, afford to us as wonderful proofs of
the skill of their Maker, as can be seen in the
trees of the forest. How vast is the difference
which exists between the lowly moss rising
scarcely an inch above the ground, with its
simple stalk and tiny leaves, and the giant tree
of an ancient forest, with its strong stem and
tough branches; yet each tells us the same tale,
and leads our minds to the same Source of life
and growth.
Still more wonderful is the variety of size in
the vegetable world, than in the animal races.


There is the rock-lichen clinging on fast, yet a
mere thin crust on the surface, with minute
powdery seeds. From this humble specimen we
can trace innumerable examples of every de-
gree of size and development of growth and
structure, till we come to the lofty Palm rising
to the height of an hundred feet or higher.
Those who have wandered in the thick jungles
of the East Indies have seen the most wide-
spreading tree of the world, the great Banian.
From one stem spring forth many branches,
from these droop downwards rootlets which, at
last, penetrate the earth, and in their turn grow
and send up fresh stems and branches, till one
tree becomes a thousand, and a whole army
might find shelter under its shadow. The Hin-
doos consider it a sacred tree, a kind of em-
blem of the beneficent protection of the Deity.
They place idols under its shade, and love to
wander and meditate beneath the thick branches
which form a very welcome refuge in the scorch-
ing climate of India. The Hindoos have a pe-
culiar feeling for plants, and not only make their
chief food of them, but use flowers for adorning
their temples. Some are especially devoted to
this purpose: the red-flowered Ixora, which is
now often to be seen in our conservatories, is a
native of Malabar, and was named after one of the
idols of that country, at whose shrine it is offered.


The tallest tree now known has been lately
discovered in California, it is named Welling-
tonia, and has a stem 300 feet high, that is
nearly as high as St. Paul's cathedral in Lon-
don. The branches grow chiefly towards the
upper part; the trunk is about twenty feet
across, and is surrounded by a very remarkable
bark, of which a specimen is now to be seen in
the Crystal Palace, at Sydenham. This tree is
of the Fir tribe, and bears its seeds in a cone
like our Scotch pine. Thus we find an immense
variety in the scale of size amongst plants, and
our knowledge in this respect is much enlarged
since the days of Solomon, for he knew not the
giant Californian pine, so far surpassing in
height the loftiest cedar of Lebanon.
If we turn our thoughts to the structure and
formation of plants, there also is a subject for
the highest admiration; what a vast range of
variety and design do we perceive, and through-
out the whole the most perfect wisdom ordering
each and every part, and fitting it to its allotted
place in the creation. From the humblest ex-
amples on the lowest step of vegetable life,-the
little grains like red snow on the plains of the
Arctic regions, or the slender mould which
springs out of decaying substances,-let us follow
the course upwards to the perfect flower of a
large tree, such as the Horse-chesnut, fully de-


veloped in all its parts, embellished with delicate
colour, curious in its plan, perfectly adapted to
its intended purpose, and, moreover, beautiful
and refreshing to the sight of man. And not
merely cheering to our bodily eyes are all these
things of the vegetable kingdom; do they not
all help to raise up our hearts and minds to
Him who made them for us, "which doeth
great things and unsearchable; marvellous things
without number."
Amongst plants we remark exceedingly va-
rious examples of duration of existence. There
is the delicate Mushroom, that bursts out of the
ground during the twilight and dew of a sum-
mer night, attains its full growth, ripens its in-
numerable minute seeds, scatters them around,
and, ere the sun has set a second day upon it,
has already withered and decayed, crumbling
into the dust from whence it came forth. Other
plants require several months to fulfil their pre-
scribed course of life. The farmer sows corn-
seed in the autumn, it abides a few weeks in the
dark earth, then sprouts the green blade, await-
ing the due time, and, gradually, through the
showers of spring and the summer sun, it un-
folds the precious grain and it becomes hard and
ripe, fit for the food of man. Then, when a
man plants vines in his vineyard, he must wait
patiently for the hot sun of two seasons before

20, LECTURE 1.

there will be any grapes on the young vines
wherewith to make wine. The acorn that is
sown by a little child in his father's field, will
not be grown into an Oak ready for the ship-
builder, until his children's children in the
second or third generation shall have become in-
heritors of the estate, for an hundred years are
wanting to enable the stem to acquire sufficient
size and hardness of wood for the purposes of
man in carrying him over the wide ocean.
If we listen to a celebrated French traveller
on the west coast of Africa, we shall hear of the
ancient Adansonia or Baobab, which he found
growing there, with its enormous trunk and
huge mass of branches and foliage. From exa-
mination, he supposed it to have existed for the
space of 5000 years, and to be still in full vigour,
without any sign of coming decay.
There are several very ancient trees existing
in Europe, of which the age is known with
tolerable accuracy; for some were planted on
special occasions, and the event recorded as an
historical fact. A Lime tree in Germany, is
supposed to be upwards of 1000 years old.
There is an oak in France, which was planted
in 1070, by one of the first Counts of Cham-
pagne. It is thirty feet high before the branches
begin, and though the stem is hollow, it con-
tinues to flourish and bear acorns. A Lime tree,


in the south of France, has reached the height
of 100 feet, and measures thirty-five feet around
the stem, it is said to be more than 800 years
old. Some Yews, planted in churchyards, have
their dates well certified, and are known to be
above 2000 years in age. Indeed it may be con-
cluded, that we cannot count time in vegetable
life after our usual manner of reckoning; for, in
some instances, it appears as if no wearing came
with passing years, and in others, as if the
space of a few days, or even hours, was destined
to accomplish a complete work and bring it to
a close. It has been supposed by an eminent
French naturalist, that vegetable life in trees is
never extinguished by time, but by accident or
disease that causes decay.
All these manifold works of God teach us a
lesson on the text, Beloved, be not ignorant of
this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as
a thousand years, and a thousand years as one
There is another remarkable manner in which
we perceive the wonderful vitality that exists in
vegetable nature, even when not actually grow-
ing in the earth. Many years ago, the cele-
brated English poet, Pope, received a present of
Figs from Turkey. The basket in which they
were sent was made of the supple branches of
the Weeping Willow of the East, that same kind


under which the captive Jews sat and wept by
the waters of Babylon, when they remembered
Jerusalem and their happy land. The poet was
a man of observation; and, remarking that one
of the branches had small green leaf-buds on it,
he planted it in his garden, on the banks of the
Thames, at Twickenham. It grew and flou-
rished; the slender branches in due time drooped
over the water, exactly as those of the parent
tree had done in the East. From that one small
twig all the Weeping Willows now in England
have descended. An Elector of Saxony was an
excellent turner in wood. He sent to Spain for
some pieces of Orange tree to work with; but he
died before the wood arrived, and it was left ne-
glected in an outhouse for some time. At last a
gardener discovered with surprise that they had
sent forth shoots, small branches, and leaves: he
planted them carefully, and they became mag-
nificent Orange trees, which still exist, and are
amongst the finest in Europe.
In cutting through hills for the formation of
railroads lately, many plants have sprung into
existence, from seeds which must have been
hidden in the depths of the earth for unknown
ages. Is not this yet another convincing proof
of an Eternal Power that giveth life to all
things ?






The Lecturer will add much interest to these lectures by
encouraging the pupils to remember any other examples of
seeds used, also by showing some specimens of seeds grow-
ing, or by drawing examples on the black board.



IN speaking of the natural history of a plant,
that is, in describing a plant in its entire state of
existence, its manner of growth, its structure and
formation, it is difficult to decide which portion
shall be considered first. For plants, we know,
were in the beginning created complete, and
then each at the close of its appointed duration
produced seed, and withered, if a herb, or re-
mained for future years of growth and reproduc-
tion, if a tree. But in the present time, it seems
better to begin with the seed of a plant, that
small portion from which the future plant pro-
ceeds. Although often very minute, and in out-
ward form having no sort of resemblance to a full
grown living plant, yet the seed does, in reality,
contain all that is necessary to the development
of one. This is a simple fact; and probably one
of those common things of daily life, supposed
to be known to all. The most ignorant person


has, no doubt, some idea that a seed produces a
plant, though he may be quite unable to ex-
plain anything about it. Thus it is that many
are content to know in part, and make no effort
to understand the whole. But is this the wise
way indicated by the wisdom of our Heavenly
Teacher? Does the Book which is meant to be
the guide of all our ways give us no advice on
this subject? Surely it does. Solomon was in-
spired with words which were written for our
learning as long as the human race will last.
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the
man that getteth understanding; all the things
thou canst desire are not to be compared unto
her. Happy is every one that retaineth her."
In this subject, of the seed of a plant, there is
much to be learnt and understood, much that
well repays the time spent in gaining that por-
tion of knowledge. We find a seed selected in
the Bible as a fit illustration of one of the
deepest subjects, as an emblem of the highest
good. "A sower went out to sow his seed," and
this seed was the word of God. The whole
meaning shadowed out in this parable is most
beautiful and full of instruction. If we examine
what a seed is, and how its office in the wide
range of vegetable nature is accomplished, we
shall perceive more clearly not only what it is
in itself, but how well adapted it was to inter-


pret the teaching of the Saviour, of Him who
"spake as never man spake." A seed is of va-
rious size and shape; that of some plants is
extremely small, and contained in a soft outer
covering; that of others is large, and enclosed in
a hard solid case. Other kinds are enveloped in
a soft eatable pulp as in many so-called fruits.
One of the smallest of seeds is that of mignon-
ette; they lie along the sides of a small pouch
open at the top. Another small seed is that of
the Poppy,-30,000 in one head. One of the
largest is that of the Cocoa-nut palm tree. This
seed has a hard, solid, woody shell, requiring a
sharp saw to cut it open; and is enclosed, be-
sides this, in a thick covering composed of ex-
ceedingly strong tough fibres.
The various kinds of stone fruit, as they are
called, are merely those seeds which have a hard
shell to the kernel, and a soft, fleshy, juicy co-
vering. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cher-
ries, are of this class. All these are especially
adapted for pleasant food to mankind; the agree-
able sweet pulp being of no advantage to the
seed itself.
It is very interesting to make experiments
with sowing seeds, to watch the early sprouting
of a seed and the first growth of vegetable life.
After having lain the due time in the ground,
where it obtains the three requisites for germi-


nation,-darkness, warmth and moisture,-then
the life of the seed begins. The first action that
takes place is absorption of water by the skin of
the seed, this causes the swelling of the seed; the
two parts of which it is composed burst open,
and the embryo, or future plant in a bud state,
begins to develop itself.
One of the most simple of seeds to examine,
is the common Almond. When deprived of its
outside pulp, and its thin brittle shell, it remains
covered only with its inner brown skin. If
soaked in water this soon easily separates from
the white seed, which then splits in half, and the
tiny bud of the future almond-tree is seen at the
end, safely embedded in its ample provision of
white albumen to furnish moisture to the young
plant in its early growth. This is the portion of
a seed which is wholesome and pleasant to eat;
sometimes of a farinaceous mealy nature, some-
times oily.
When the hard shell of the Cocoa-nut is sawn
asunder, the interior is seen to be lined with a
pure white substance; this is good to eat, but
the use in regard of the seed itself is to supply
it with nourishment during its development,-
for in the midst of it lies the bud. Whilst the
first growth is going on, this white albuminous
portion, as well as the liquid which once filled
the hollow space in the centre, becomes ab-


sorbed in the plant. There is an extraordinary
proportion of nourishment in the seed of all
palms, and the seed may be seen lying on the
ground, still attached to the young plant, for
several months after it is already some feet
high. This process of the seed must take place
in every instance in some degree, though, as in
all things, there are exceptions. The three in-
dispensable requisites are darkness, warmth, and
moisture; but some seeds can dispense with
darkness, as the mustard seed: this is often laid
on flannel in water, and thus will germinate
even if exposed to light. Still the absorption
of water must be effected, and the acquisition of
oxygen, which enables the seed to swell and
burst, and the little leaf-bud to enlarge and
develop itself. All this must be accomplished,
whether the seed be designed to produce a ten-
der herb, rising only a few inches above the
surface of the earth, or to become a strong Oak,
with stem and branches that can withstand cen-
turies of storm or sunshine with all the changes
of season; or whether it be in its allotted place
in the vegetable world, a lofty Palm, with a
straight column or stem, bearing on its summit
a crown of graceful leaves, having in the centre
a cluster of flowers yielding fruit, affording hun-
dredfold more of nutriment to man from the
single seed sown in the earth.


Here let us pause and consider by what means
and by what force did the young tender plant
of the cocoa-nut make its way out of the hard
strong shell, and through the outer strong
fibrous case. If we wish to obtain access to the
white portion of the cocoa-nut to eat it, or the
liquid in the interior to drink it, we find it
necessary to use a saw to cut through the shell.
How then did the weak germ of the young
plant break through and rise up through the
earth? By certain changes, which are called
chemical, because they are effected by the che-
mical elements of nature, oxygen and carbon.
The seed has attained that state when vitality is
given to it; it has lost some of the carbon,
which kept it in a hard dry condition; it has
been enabled to absorb oxygen; it has softened
its nature; it is endowed with the vigour of life,
and thus it is enabled to burst the bonds of its
shell. Here, again, we may remark the pecu-
liar aptness of the similitude of the seed to the
Word of God". It is sown in the earth, it is
hidden from sight, no one knows what process
is going on, or how to assist it; but all know
that seed must be sown,-sown in faith and
trust and hope. Man cannot help it to burst its
shell, but the dew of heaven can and does. The
slender shoot pierces the earth and comes forth
into the air. In the appointed time of harvest


there is a full crop; for since the third day of
creation the herb yields seed after its kind, and
the tree yields fruit after its kind,-seed time
and harvest fail not. Thus it is with the Word
of God; it is sown in the heart of a child, early
in life, there it lies hidden from sight, possibly
dormant for a longer period than is expected,
not yet warmed and expanded into vitality, no
young bud of hope come forth, no stem of faith
strong against the storms of life, no flowers of
love, no fruit of good works; all seems cold and
hard and dry; in some cases there is a doubt
whether "the good seed" has been duly sown by
the teacher or parent. But there it is, and
sound in itself, only awaiting the dew of God's
grace, the warmth of heavenly beams to expand
it, and enable it to burst its dark abode and
come forth and shine before men, in the bright-
ness of truth and love. Possibly, also, the dark-
ness of affliction may for a period be favourable
to it: like the seed, if always exposed to sun-
light, it grows hard, does not acquire any power
of development, and shows no sign of life. The
duration of the vital power in seeds is often very
great; a considerable space of time may elapse,
affording no favourable opportunity for growth,
yet, when the propitious time arrives, the seed
shows that the vitality still exists, though it may
have been in a dormant state for years. Some


wheat found in a mummy case, supposed to have
been there upwards of 2000 years, was sown in
earth after it was brought to England; it grew
and bore an abundant crop of that branching
kind of wheat, to this day most commonly culti-
vated in Egypt. Another remarkable quality of
some seeds, is that of being able to grow after
having been exposed to boiling heat. Some
Raspberry seeds taken out of jam, which of
course has been boiled in the preserving, grew
when sown in earth. All seeds have not this
power; those which contain albumen would be
destroyed by boiling, and could not sprout after-
wards. I have said that when a seed begins to
swell it splits into two parts before the shoot
comes forth. This is the case with all that large
class of plants, to which all our trees and many
of our herbs belong. But grasses, corn, rushes,
and the great Palm tribe, grow in a different
manner, which we will consider more fully here-
after. Only you must observe now, that a seed
of any of these last mentioned plants does not
open into two parts, but the young shoot comes
forth at the side or end, without breaking the
shell in half. If you put the seed of an African
Date into earth and cover it with a glass, you
may watch its growth very conveniently. A
grain of corn will also afford an example of the
manner of growth of the whole grass tribe. All

SN S 'A1 11 )

these have one seed-leaf; that is, a thick fleshy
leaf to nourish the youngl plant at first. Oaks and
all our native trees have had these seed-leaves.
That the seed is the most important part of a
plant, in regard to the continuance of the species,
is very evident; for though some increase by
offshoots, yet the seeds are the principal cause.
Another valuable property is that of affording
food to man. Seeds do in a large amount contri-
bute to our nourishment. A great portion of the
human race live chiefly on bread made of wheat
or rye, the seeds of corn; the inhabitants of the
northern countries of Europe are content with
oat-cake, a thin kind of biscuit made of oatmeal,
the bruised seeds of oats. The native races of
India make their simple meal almost exclusively
of the seed of the Riice plant-of the grass tribe.
Of this we will speak more presently. In North
America, where wheat does not thrive in all
districts, the seeds of Maize or Indian Corn fur-
nish the daily meals, prepared in various ways.
Tihe seeds of Buckwheat, here only used for
feeding ipheasants, are employed in America as
food for man, very nice cakes of different kinds
beinr made of them. Peas, Beans of several
kinds, and Lentils, often mentioned in the
ScriSptures of the Old Testament, afford a large
sup1)ply of wholc-A ome nourishment in many coun-
tries both mn and cattle; soimetnnes being


used whilst tender and green, and sometimes
when they are become ripe and hard. Millet is
the seed of a grass, very commonly eaten in soup
in Germany and other countries of Europe.
All these seeds are valued for their simple
mealy nature, very nourishing, but having no
particular flavour or exciting qualities. Other
seeds are esteemed for their aromatic propertiesn
Of these, one of the most commonly known is
Mustard, so pungent in its taste that it i. of use
not only as a pleasant addition to manly kinds,, of
food, but is valuable alQo for medicinal purposes,
in illness caused by inflammation. The Mustard
plant is a herb growing naturally in England,
having small yellow flowers, succeeded by lonc
pods full of round seeds. The seeds of Carra-
way. Anise, Dill, and Coriander, are all aromatic
and of much value to man. They all belong to
the same tribe of plants, of which we will speak
more hereafter.
Another very useful article in daily cooking
of food is derived from the seeds of a plant.
The pepper of colnmmon use is the seed of the
Pepper plant of the East Indies and Souti
America. The round seed is covNered witIh
skin of a dark colour when ripe ; if the seed be
ground with the skin on, it is lack, pepper; if
the skin be taken off before grinding, it is called
white pepper. But the seeds most esteemed for


"their refreshing as well as nourishing properties
are those of the Coffee shrub. Those plants which
possess powerful qualities, either aromatic or
otherwise, are usually natives of the hot coun-
tries of the world. Accordingly we find the Coffee
shrub growing in the tropics very abundantly,
especially in parts of the East Indies and the
West Indies. It also thrives remarkably well
in Arabia. The fruit contains two seeds, covered
with a kind of tough shell-like parchment. The
seed itself is of a horny substance and pale
colour: the peculiar aromatic and refreshing
properties are not developed until the seeds have
been roasted over a fire. But of this very valu-
able use of seeds for food we must speak more
in another lecture on the Coffee plant; for it is
one of great importance to man.
The seeds which may be considered next in
value are those of the Chocolate tree. These
form the chief nourishment of the natives of
several countries of North and South America;
and an immense quantity are sent to Spain, as
well as to other countries of Europe. The fruit
is large, and contains sometimes as many as thirty
seeds. These are ground and made into different
kinds of beverages, known as cocoa, chocolate, and
broma, all very nourishing and wholesome. A
further description of these very valuable seeds
of the Tropics shall be given in a future lecture.


The well known spice called Nutmeg is the
seed of a tree which belongs to the hot regions
of the world, more especially to the islands of
the Indian Ocean. The fruit is about the size of
a small peach; it is fleshy outside, and contains
one seed. After the flower has withered and
fallen off, the fruit requires nine or ten months
to grow to its full size and to ripen. The two
valuable portions of the fruit are the netted
covering of the seed called mace, and the kernel
within the shell. When the fruit is ripe it splits
open; the mace is then carefully taken out, the
nuts are left to dry and harden in the sun; when
the inner kernel is somewhat shrunk by the
heat, the outer shell is easily cracked and sepa-
rated from it. Although this is one only of the
many uses of the seeds of plants, and may be
thought of no great importance to man, yet it is
not to be lightly overlooked. For many reasons
Nutmegs are valuable; as a spice for food they
are in frequent use, and serve also to render some
medicines more pleasant to the taste. But the
chief interest of this one seed, which we call
Nutmeg, is that the trees grow abundantly in
the tropical countries of the East, and have been
found in considerable plenty in the north-west
of Borneo, that vast country lately added to
British possessions. The soil and climate appear
to be remarkably favourable for the cultivation


of these trees; and, when the natives are encou-
raged and directed in the care and increase of
the Nutmeg plantations, there is no doubt that
the whole progress of civilization will be more
readily carried forward. Regular work, and
traffic with European ships, is one of the best
chances of improvement to the wild people of
the uncivilized regions of the world. The.trees
produce large crops of fruit, as many as 1300
being gathered from one tree in a season: when
the quantity obtained by careful cultivation be-
comes greater, the benefits of this seed will be
more widely diffused; and the price being
cheaper, it will be more used by all classes.
When the Dutch first took possession of some of
the Spice Islands in the Indian Ocean, towards
the end of the last century, they endeavoured to
limit the growth of Nutmeg trees to their own
islands of Banda and Moluccas; but such ex-
clusive systems are no longer practised, and the
growth and use of this agreeable spice increases-
continually. Upwards of 60,000 lbs. of nutmegs
are now consumed in this country annually.
This example of the value of a seed teaches
us a wise lesson; as, indeed, do all the works of
creation when duly considered. When we ob-
serve how such an apparently small object is full
of value to us, and how, in the wisdom of the
everlasting Word, it continues from the begin-


ning of time on earth until now to bring forth
fruit for the service of man, surely it adds its
humble testimony to the truth of the Scripture.
And, moreover, the history of the Nutmeg tells
us how the good things of this world may be
abused; although God intends them to be means
of comfort and help to us, how the evil, covetous
heart of man has sometimes turned them into
causes of misery. If we could look back half a
century, we should see the Nutmegs of the
islands of the Indian Ocean cultivated by African
slaves, the poor natives pining in want, and at
last disappearing entirely from their once happy
homes. Europeans were misusing this bounteous
gift of the Creator, not using it wisely as a means
of occupation and civilization of the dark Indian
people, and at the same time obtaining a plea-
sant and a cheering luxury for the white nations
of the West. Let us hope our new country of
Labuan, on the vast continent of Borneo, will
afford evidence to the Christian world that, in
this middle of the nineteenth century, English
settlers have discovered how to use the good
things of this world without abusing them, and
how all, even the lowly things of creation can
be made to work together for good to them that
love God, and wish to teach their unenlightened
fellow-creatures to love Him also.
We have already noticed that, in studying


plants, we find many testimonies to the truth of
the Holy Scriptures; and this gives an interest
of the highest kind to the study. We can, more-
over, perceive more clearly the full meaning of
many circumstances mentioned in the Bible,
when we have learnt something of the nature
and uses of plants. It is written, in describing
the life and habits of St. John the Baptist, when
he was preparing the way for One mightier than
himself, that he dwelt in the wilderness, and
"did eat locusts and wild honey". .What is
called locusts is now considered to be the seeds
of a plant that grows in Judea, and in warm
countries of Europe. The plant is a herb bear-
ing long pods full of seeds, much like beans. In
Spain, it is commonly known as "St. John's
bread". The seeds are mealy and wholesome,
like almost all of the same tribe; but in the
present days they are not thought good enough
for the food of men, though they are generally
used as a nourishing fodder for horses and cattle.
Now this perfectly coincides with the idea we
have, and were clearly intended to form, of the
manner of life which St. John led in the wilder-
ness. His mission was to call men to repent-
ance, to confess and forsake their sins, to be
baptized with water. And what is one chief
duty enjoined at baptism? To renounce vain
useless luxuries, used in excess. Thus did the


Holy Baptist practise what he taught. He ate
of the simple productions of the wilderness, the
seeds of this humble plant growing there wild,
where it had sprung up naturally for centuries,
year after year, withering away in autumn, and
then fresh plants springing up from ripe seeds
that had fallen out of the opened pod. Here is an
instance of God's providing food for his chosen,
even in the wilderness, as He did of old for the
wandering Israelites.
Having now spoken of the principal seeds
which afford nourishing food to mankind, as
well as of some which contribute pleasant flavour
to the palate, we will mention a few of those
seeds which are valuable on account of the oil
they yield.
The general idea of seeds is, probably, that
they are small, hard, dry objects, usually smooth
and flat, and showing no trace of oil on the
surface. However, several do contain a con-
siderable portion of oil, which is obtained by
pressure or by boiling. The seeds of Flax are
of a mealy nature, full of oil, which is expressed
and used for various purposes in the arts and in
medicine. The remaining farinaceous substance
forms a very nourishing food for cattle. The
softening properties of Linseed, as it is com-
monly called, render it very useful as an infusion
for coughs, and as a poultice for inflammation.


The seeds of the West Indian Castor-oil plant
yield a valuable oil for medicinal purposes;
although belonging to the tropics, yet it grows
and bears seeds in our gardens, but not in suffi-
cient abundance for use. The kernel or seed of
the Walnut has half its weight composed of oil
of a sweet pleasant nature. The variety of pro-
perties contained in seeds is very great; some are
simply wholesome and nourishing, as those of
a tall grass which grows by the side of rivers in
our country as well as in Holland and Germany;
these are now collected and sold as an ingre-
dient for puddings by the name of Manna Kroup.
The seeds of Doura, an African tree, are roasted
like coffee, and when bruised and steeped in
water and allowed to ferment, afford a pleasant
drink to the natives of the interior of Africa.
From the powdered seeds they also prepare
cakes, which were a welcome food to Mungo
Park during his dangerous journey. Other seeds
are strongly aromatic and used medicinally;
Cardamoms are of this class, and belong to a
plant of the East Indies. One of the most
powerful medicines and poisons is derived from
the seeds of Strychnine; and many others exist
in this part of plants, which would require too
much time to speak of here.
The seeds of some plants are of such regular
size, that they have been in early ages adopted


as weights for the most precious things. The
word carat, used for the weighing of gold and
jewels, is derived from the seeds of an African
tree. And at the present time, the goldworkers
of Hindostan use the seeds of a lofty timber-tree
to weigh their gold, one seed being equal to four
grains. Other seeds are of use from their soapy
nature, and are used by the natives of the
countries where the trees grow, in washing their
garments. You may now perceive how much
we are indebted to seeds, and can find out many
more proofs of this for yourselves.
We must now bring this lecture to an end.
The subject may appear small, but, remember,
the seed is the precious portion of the plant, that
which all the rest is intended to work for. And
why is it thus precious ? Because it is that which
is destined to spring forth into life,-become a
new plant, and bear abundant fruit full of good
seed. All who cultivate the ground know the
value of seed. If you had a garden, you would
not neglect to sow a proper quantity of seed in
the right time, being sure that, if you did not do
so, there would be no new plants in summer,-
no flowers,-no fruit. The farmer does not fail
to sow the seed in his fields in due season, know-
ing he could not otherwise reap a plentiful har-
vest. So it is with us all, if we do not sow the
seeds of wisdom in youth, we cannot expect to


have the help of her fruits in the vigour of life,
nor to reap any stores for old age. And if we
do not put in the seed whilst the heart and mind
are tender, and the memory clear, there will be
very little fruit afterwards. The wise farmer
sows when the earth is soft and moist, neither
scorched and burnt up by the heat of summer,
nor hardened by the frost of winter. Remember
also, that if you hope for a productive garden,
you must not only sow good seed, but watch its
future growth. You must diligently clear away
all weeds that would choke the tender plants.
They should be set free from all encumbrance,
for the sun to shine on them, and the rain and
dew to refresh them. All this is daily work to
be attended to, and cannot safely be neglected,
if you desire to have a productive or a beautiful
garden. Follow the same course with the culti-
vation of your understanding.
The time for these lectures is short, we meet
together only now and then for an hour. I can
only scatter a little seed in your minds, the care
of its future development and growth belongs to
you. Do not forget the seed sown; think of it;
take care lest it become choked by the cares and
occupations of daily life. Keep your minds clear
and free from weeds,-all those trifling, vain
thoughts and things which too often occupy the
attention of young persons. Do not imagine I


desire you to neglect any duty of domestic lie;
I would not wish any one to do so, and, cer-
tainly, no young person; but I am persuaded
that the words of Solomon are as true in this
day as they were when he wrote them, that
" wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get
I would remind you, also, that One wiser than
Solomon has warned us, that seed may fall on a
stony heart and produce no fruit, or it may be
choked by an overgrowth of weeds, and so also
bring no fruit to perfection. But that if it fall
on an honest and good heart, it may and v'ri
bring forth even an hundredfold.






If the lecturer could trace on the black board the differ-
ence between the root of a wild carrot and one cultivated, or
any similar examples, it explains the subject well.



HAVING in the preceding Lecture described the
Seed and its history, it is now time to consider the
Root, the first necessary part of a plant. It is the
root which must be prepared to supply nourish-
ment to the tender shoot; therefore, here, as in
all the works of the Creator, we perceive a per-
fect forethought and due ordering of all things.
At the earliest beginning of growth in a seed,
the part intended to form the root begins to en-
large and lengthen, piercing the covering of the
seed and penetrating the earth downwards. The
shoot which is to form the future stem begins to
grow upwards, seeking the light and air, whilst
the root descends into the dark moist earth, to
find there a supply of food for the young plant.
But let us examine in what manner the root is
enabled to collect nourishment for the young
plant. The point of the root is extremely deli-
cate in substance, formed of small cells of a soft


spongy nature. As it grows chiefly at the point,
these cells are always tender, and able to absorb
moisture. The whole length of a root is com-
posed, in the interior, of a woody substance
united with the stem, and covered entirely with
a softer substance like that of the extreme point,
but less sponge-like. Although the end of a root
is very tender, yet it has an extraordinary power
of penetrating the solid earth, and insinuating
itself between crevices of bricks, stones, or any-
thing that may be in the way. As soon as the
root has gained an entrance in the earth, it be-
gins to branch out into fibres, each furnished
with a sponge-like point ready to fulfil its allotted
part towards the supply of food to the plant
above ground. Roots are of various kinds in
shape and size; those of some plants are much
smaller than the plant above ground, whilst
those of others are considerably larger. In some
cases the roots and the branches remain in nearly
equal proportion. There are two reasons why
this difference exists, partly because there are
two different duties the root has to perform. We
have, hitherto, only spoken of one office, that of
seeking moisture to supply the young plant. The
other office of the root is to enable the plant,
whether it be a small herb, or a large tree, to
hold firm in the ground,-to resist the effects of
wind or other injurious influence upon it. Thus


we find the roots of Elms and other large trees
extend to a very great distance underground,
spreading on all sides like the branches of the
stem above. In the Cucumber and other succu-
lent plants, the roots are exceedingly small in
proportion to the size of the upper part of the
plant. And this for two reasons: these kinds of
plants do not lose their moisture so quickly by
the pores of their leaves as many others do; and,
being of that lowly kind which trail along the
ground, they do not require the aid of a wide-
spread root to support them firmly. The small
Lucerne herb has a root composed of many
branching fibres, much larger than the whole
upper part, containing stem, leaves, and flowers.
The shape of a root is extremely various; but in
every instance it is furnished with its necessary
parts to enable it to fulfil its intended functions
towards the support of the plant. The root is a
most important part of a plant, of whatever kind
it may be; in some instances, it appears to be
able to furnish an almost sufficient supply of
moisture, without the addition of rain or dew
from above. Those who attend to a garden, or
who keep small plants in a room, can observe
how some are able to maintain freshness and
vigour for a much longer time than others.
Some, which have thin slender leaves, will re-
quire water daily; others, with thick fleshy


leaves, will only want a small supply after many
days, the root being able to draw sufficient
moisture from the earth when the leaves lose it
slowly. Where the roots have space of ground
to stretch out far, they penetrate to a distance
in search of water; but however they may in-
crease in length, still it is only by the point that
they can draw up a fluid, and so transmit it
along the cells of the whole root.
Here we have an instance of a general fact
being commonly known, yet no clear reason for
it understood. Many persons have an idea that
it is best to water a plant at a short distance, not
to pour the water immediately at the base of the
stem, though they may not know the exact rea-
son why it is better to do so. When the fact is
known, it explains to us also how large trees,
which we must suppose require a considerable
supply of water, continue to flourish when the
ground directly around the stem is mere dry
dust, being sheltered by the thick leaves and
branches from the rain. The roots spread be-
yond the immediate shelter, and draw nourish-
ment from the earth where it receives the dew
and rain from the clouds. Thus, as the roots
are continually spreading further, they reach to
new soil, and acquire fresh nutriment when the
old earth is exhausted. What an important use
is the root, therefore, to a tree in this work of


collecting nourishment for it. The other work,
of which we have already spoken, is of similar
importance; that of supporting it firmly in the
ground. When an Oak, an Ash, or an Elm, or
any other large tree, has attained a full growth
and great weight of branches, unless the roots
beneath the surface had wide and firm hold far
and deep, the tree could have no secure founda-
tion, and would be exposed to certain injury
from every wind that blew. Like a ship with-
out an anchor in a storm, it would be liable to
destruction. We can perhaps hardly imagine
what this risk is, in our calm, temperate climate;
but in the tropical regions of the world, the force
of the wind in a hurricane is immense, bearing
down the strongest trees before it. Even here
there is sometimes an example, which shows us
the wonderful power of wind against large trees
which stand in its course. I saw once in Somer-
setshire a very remarkable instance of this. A
violent storm of wind swept along a vale of grass
meadows, in which were several very noble trees
in the full foliage of summer, bearing a heavy
weight of leaves full of sap. The hurricane
passed with such extreme force, that it over-
threw many of these fine trees, snapping them
off within a short distance beneath the surface
of the earth, leaving the long roots untouched;
just in the same manner as the strong cables of


anchors are snapped asunder. It was a curious
sight, and a melancholy one too, to see so many
magnificent timber trees, that seemed destined
to exist many years in vigorous beauty before
yielding their valuable supply of timber to the
shipbuilder or the carpenter, thus laid low on
the ground before the time. But it was a strik-
ing proof of the power of wind, and of the use
of roots, which, except on such a rare occasion
as this was, are sufficient to keep the tree in an
upright position against wind and storm.
Thus we perceive that for two reasons the
roots are a most essential part of a plant; there-
fore, if it be necessary to remove a plant, of
whatever size it may be, great care must be
taken not to injure their points-the soft spongy
portions by which they absorb moisture. Roots
have a strong power of growth, both in length
and size; they are almost exclusively formed in
darkness and moderate moisture, and they are
closely connected with the growth of the first
leaves of a plant. Of their capacity for growing,
a clear proof may be seen in many common plants
kept in small pots. After a year or more with-
out change, the roots will often be found to have
filled up the whole pot in an entangled mass;
and, being thus imprisoned and prevented from
further growth in search of increased supply of
nourishment, the whole plant begins to languish


and decline in vigour. In another sense, also,
the roots may be considered as the most import-
ant part of a plant; for, if any injury happen to
the stem and branches, the roots can still remain
unhurt, and enable the plant to revive; whilst,
if they are injured to any great extent, the whole
must wither. A remarkable proof of this was
observed in the year 1838: the winter was very
severe, and in the month of February the Lau-
rels, Laurustinus, and other evergreen shrubs, in
the gardens around London for several miles,
were apparently all destroyed. Many were rooted
up and cleared away altogether; but others,
which seemed equally withered and decayed,
were only cut down near the ground, leaving
the lower part of the stem and the roots. During
the ensuing spring and summer, these shrubs
sent forth fresh branches and leaves, and re-
sumed their former luxuriant growth and ap-
pearance. The frost had not touched the roots,
and they had retained the power of life and
growth in themselves. A frost may be so severe
as to injure the roots; but we see that they can
be kept secure from it in the earth, even though
all the parts of a plant above ground are de-
stroyed by it. The roots also continue to attract
food from the earth at all seasons: even when
there is no sign of growth going on above, they
perpetually supply nourishment to the stem and


branches, and it is there stored up until the
young leaf-buds for the coming spring require it.
We have no proof that roots have the power
of selecting favourable juices for absorption;
they seem, with very few exceptions, to draw up
any fluid that may be in their way. Thus we
often see plants apparently poisoned by some
injurious matter in the earth around them, if it
be only sufficiently liquid to enter the pores of
the roots.
Having attained thus much knowledge of the
properties of a root, we are led to observe the
peculiar fitness of it as an emblem of several
good qualities in the Bible. Job, in describing
his prosperity, says, "my root was spread out by
the waters." The root being the part which
obtains moisture, and so conveys nourishment to
the whole plant, is the source of its flourishing;
and the growth of a tree near water is often re-
markably vigorous. It was a favourite image
with the ancient writers in the hot countries of
the East, where water was scarce, and the effects
of drought very apparent. Solomon employed
the root in its other meaning, as an emblem of
stability: The root of the righteous shall not
be moved." When David foretold the future
growth of Christianity, he said, Thou didst
cause the Vine to take deep root." He here uses
the Vine as an emblem of the Gospel, and it is a


remarkably good figure to help our understand-
ing. For, when a vine is planted where the roots
can spread, and particularly by the side of water,
they are known to extend to a very great dis-
tance, and thus the Vine increases and grows,
and is enabled to produce fruit in abundance,
and also to endure for a long period of time.
An instance of this is well known in the cele-
brated Vine in the garden of Hampton Court
Palace, near London. What a wonderful pro-
duction of rich fruit yearly, upwards of 2,000
clusters of grapes; and this profusion must be
chiefly attributed to the vast spread of the roots
in a favourable locality, for there is no peculiar
advantage of climate or situation, otherwise than
in that respect. Truly did David select a proper
emblem: how could words written a thousand
years before the time have more clearly described
the rise and progress, the gradual growth of
Christianity ? Has it not been planted and
taken deep root in the world, spreading far and
wide, hidden in the hearts of men, and rising
above in the sight of all, with abundant fruits of
faith and love. Scarcely a land is now to be
found where the extremity of its branches does
not extend, stretching forth its boughs, and
bearing fruit to cheer and refresh the weary.
Again, in the New Testament the root was a
frequent simile, and chiefly in the sense of a firm


foundation, a stronghold. In the parable of the
sower, the seed that fell on stony ground had no
root, that is, no source of nourishment, there-
fore it withered. Then St. Paul uses it to ex-
plain how the source of nourishment must be
right and sound, if the fruit is to be good and
valuable: If the root be holy, so are the
branches." How expressive are all these say-
ings, when we know the real nature and office
of a root. The love of money is the root of
all evil"; Lest any root of bitterness trouble
you". How full of meaning are all these allu-
sions; but how imperfectly should we under-
stand them, without some knowledge of the
nature and structure of plants.
Now we will speak of those roots which, be-
sides being of great use to the plants of which
they are a part, are of importance as yielding
food to man. The common nature of a root is
to be hard, tough and dry, possessing only a very
small portion of succulent matter itself, although
it serves as a passage for moisture to the whole
plant above the ground. In the temperate and
cool regions of the earth very few roots are eat-
able in a wild or natural state. Amongst all the
plants of our country scarcely any have eatable
roots until they have been cultivated in good
soil. The Carrot grows wild on the chalk cliffs
and fields of the coast of Kent, but its natural


root there is small and uneatable; what it has
become by the care of gardeners we all know.
Instead of a small, tough, tasteless root, it is
large and soft and tender, contains a consider-
able proportion of nutritious matter, and an
eighth part of saccharine juice. The Beetroot
is, perhaps, the most striking instance of this
capacity of enlargement and improvement, ac-
quiring the immense size of 60 Ibs, and so great
a portion of saccharine matter, that sugar can be
prepared from it of nearly equal flavour with
that extracted from the Sugarcane. The chief
quantity of sugar used now in France is derived
from Beetroot grown in the country. So precious
was this root as food for cattle during some years
of famine in the beginning of this century in
Germany, that it was named Mangel wurzel,"'
root of scarcity, which name it has retained ever
since. The root of Beet can also be used as a
substitute for malt in brewing beer. The root
of the Turnip shows in a remarkable degree the
improvement to be effected in roots by the skill
and art of man in cultivation. In its native state
it is uneatable, but artificial soil and long con-
tinued attention in the growth of turnips has
produced an extraordinary change and increase.
It is remarkable that turnips, as well as other
plants of the same tribe, flourish much better in
open fields than in gardens. Although turnips


contain only a very small proportion of really
nourishing matter, not more than 42 parts in
1000, yet they afford much valuable food both
for men and cattle during the winter season.
Several varieties are cultivated and esteemed on
the continent which are not known in this
country. The Parsnip root is another example
of the change effected by cultivation. When
the plant is found growing wild on the borders
of ploughed fields in many parts of England, the
root is very small and dry, of a woody nature,
and giving no sign of affording nourishing food
to man. But after due care in gardens, it was
brought to a large size, and became of a succu-
lent soft nature. These roots are found par-
ticularly serviceable in ships for long voyages,
as they retain their freshness for some time.
Parsnips abound in saccharine juice, but the
attempts to extract the sugar as from the Beet-
root have not been successful. In Guernsey
parsnips are considered extremely nourishing
food for cows and other cattle. In several parts
of Ireland the people use them instead of malt
for beer. Some of the properties of the parsnip
root exist in the roots of other plants; that of
the Silverweed, common on road-sides, with its
silvery leaves and small yellow flowers, is similar
in flavour, though inferior in size and quality.
The inhabitants of the barren islands on the


west and north of Scotland are, however, thank-
ful for this humble contribution towards their
daily food. In general, the temperate and cooler
countries of the world do not afford a rich supply
of roots for the nourishment of man, although
many have been greatly improved and developed
by the skill of the agriculturist. One instance
of an useful English root must not be omitted,
although it is much less used now than it was
formerly. Salep is a beverage prepared from
the roots of several kinds of Orchis. These
plants grow in many of the southern counties
of England, most abundantly in Kent, in pas-
tures and on chalk hills and downs; those which
grow in meadows furnish the best roots for Salep.
The chief quantity is now prepared and used in
the Levant; probably it is there more nutritious
in its nature, for the Turks esteem it highly, and
consider it a valuable restorative of health in
sickness. After the roots have been washed and
dried in an oven, they become almost transparent;
when boiled in water, they dissolve into a thick
mucilaginous jelly. Before coffee was so plen-
tiful and cheap in this country as it is now, Salep
was the favourite morning drink of those work-
ing people who were out early in markets and
other places. In the south of France there grows
wild a species of Artichoke called Cardoon, the
roots of which, when the plant is carefully cul-


tivated, yield a wholesome and agreeable vege-
table. This is occasionally to be met with in
English gardens, but is not so generally used as
in France, where every species of eatable vege-
table is valued. The common Arum of our
hedges has a root which affords, when dried, a
tasteless mealy powder; this is a wholesome ar-
ticle of food, and when mixed with a little corn
flour, might be made into bread. The convict
labourers and other poor inhabitants of the Isle
of Portland, on the coast of Dorsetshire, use this
root as part of their food, and call it Portland
Sago. If we had not an abundant supply of all
kinds of food materials from various tropical
countries, this native Sago would be more
esteemed in London than it is. These roots of
several other Arums, of larger size, serve as food
to the natives of nearly all the Islands of the
Pacific Ocean. In many parts of the Himalaya
mountains, in the East Indies, the roots of an
Arum form the chief food of the hill-people. It
is remarkable that in the raw state all these
roots contain an exceedingly acrid unwholesome
juice, which is, however, entirely dispersed by
cooking with fire. The Yams, which are well
known as a favourite article of food in the
South Sea Islands, are also of the Arum tribe;
during the scarcity of potatoes in England in
1849, some West India Yams were brought here,


and were found to serve as an excellent substi-
tute. Batatas, or Sweet Potatoe, is another im-
portant root of the Tropics, yielding a very large
supply of wholesome food; this plant is of the
Convolvulus tribe, and bears a beautiful flower.
There is one more root of tropical and hot coun-
tries which must not be omitted in this account
of those which yield food to man, and that is the
Cassava. The shrub grows in South America,
is about three feet high, and is of no value
except for the roots. It is very remarkable that
even they are unwholesome in a raw state, for a
poisonous juice exists throughout the whole
plant. But when the roots are prepared by
placing them in a fire made in a hole in the
ground, the juice flows out, and the flour which
remains after pressure is formed into thin cakes
and baked. This Cassava bread is the principal
food of the inhabitants in many parts of South
America. The Tapioca, known and used in this
country for pudding, is the pulpy part of the
fibres of the roots, extracted by washing and
boiling, and being rubbed into a grainy sub-
stance resembling starch, is sent to Europe with
its South American name of Tapioca. It forms
an extensive article of commerce from Brazil to
various countries. Arrow-root is another valu-
able substance which is obtained from a plant
which grows in the West Indies; it contains a


very nourishing kind of starchy mucilage, very
valuable for children or sick persons, when pre-
pared by boiling. The aromatic properties of
plants are most commonly developed in those
portions of plants which are above the ground,
but occasionally they are found to exist in the
roots. The famous Ginseng, or wonder of the
earth", is a root growing in China and Tartary;
it was anciently supposed to contain in its aro-
matic qualities a remedy for all diseases. In the
present times the Chinese consider it a preserva-
tive of health, and mix it in soup. Owing to its
imagined medicinal value, and the difficulty of
procuring it from the mountains where it grows,
it has been said to have cost its weight in gold.
But there is another aromatic root to be men-
tioned, of great interest, and that is the Nard, or
Spikenard. It was known and highly esteemed
in the most ancient times, long before it was
used on that occasion spoken of in the Gospel of
St. John, when Mary took a pound of ointment
of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet
of Jesus, and the house was filled with the
odour of the ointment." The value of this
pound of ointment", we are told, was three
hundred pence", that is a whole year's earning
in that time and country, for a penny a day was
the usual pay to labourers, and there were not
more than three hundred working days in the


Jews' year. They carefully abstained from all
kinds of work on the Sabbath, and on other
holy days also. But what was the reason of the
ointment made of spikenard being so very pre-
cious, that it was reserved only for the most
solemn purposes of anointing, or for extraordi-
nary uses in medicine? A celebrated Greek
physician, who lived immediately after the time
of our Saviour, described the plant in his book,
which we still possess, as growing in almost in-
accessible places on the lofty mountains of Asia,
in steep rocky parts, 9,000 feet high, where it
can be obtained only at great risk by the na-
tives. The long roots are covered with dark
hairs, which enables them to endure the cold of
six months snow, and preserves the plants in a
vigorous condition. They are still diligently
sought for, and are to be seen in the bazaars of
India, where they are sold for the sake of the
agreeable scent, as well as for medicinal pur-
The root of the Ginger plant is very generally
esteemed for its pleasant as well as wholesome
aromatic pungency. When young, it is preserved
with sugar; when the stalks have withered, the
roots are taken up and preserved in the dry
state in which they are commonly used in va-
rious ways in medicine and cookery.
Several exceedingly valuable medicines are


obtained from roots in hot countries; one of the
most useful is Rhubarb. The plant grows in
Turkey and many parts of Asia, and yields an
ample supply of the large roots, which, when
dried, are sent all over the civilized world. All
the portions of a plant growing underground,
are very commonly called roots, though some
are not strictly so, but rather parts of the stem
which remain beneath the surface of the earth,
instead of rising above it.
The Potatoe is generally called a root, yet it
is, properly, a kind of underground stem, as the
fact of its containing buds of future plants
proves. A potato is properly a tuber, or a tu-
berous root. However, we will speak of it now,
for it is one of the most important articles of
food, in nearly all the temperate countries of the
world, where the climate is favourable to its
cultivation. It was first brought from North
America to England in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth; and, although for some years it was
not much liked, yet it became gradually gene-
rally cultivated and esteemed throughout Eu-
rope. There are various other valuable sub-
stances derived from the true roots of plants, as
well as from those portions of the stem which
are below the surface, and are commonly called
roots also.
In the hot countries of the world, particularly,


roots are developed to great size and value as
food. There also we find curious exceptions to
the usual character of a root; in the extensive
and beautiful Orchis tribe which abounds in
South America, the roots, instead of penetrating
beneath the ground, grow out into the air,-
draw moisture from thence by their sponge-like
ends, and twining about branches of trees, sup-
port the plants thus, without their having any
connexion with the earth; they have therefore
been named air-plants.
There are none of these kind of plants native
in England, but they have now been brought in
great numbers and variety from those tropical
regions where they grow, and may be seen and
examined in all conservatories. Instead of being
planted in earth, they are tied by their peculiar
shaped short stems on to small blocks of wood,
with wire; or are placed in the hollow half of
the outer case of a cocoa-nut, or perhaps put in
a wire-frame basket, and suspended from the
roof of the hothouse. A little moss about the
roots to keep them moist seems to be all they
desire for nourishment, and nothing can exceed
the beauty of their wonderful flowers. Many
years ago there was a single specimen of one of
these plants, considered a rare curiosity, and
shown to all travellers who visited the gardens
of the palace at Monza in Lombardy. The gar-


dener, probably, had never heard of them before,
for the whole tribe existed in the thick forests of
the tropics only, and he spoke of the air-plant"
as a great wonder. Now, we have innumerable
examples of these strangely beautiful plants
brought from the East and the West, and fresh
species are continually being added to our col-
We have some curious examples of exception
from the usual laws of roots in this country.
The Mistleto has no root in the earth at any time
of its growth. The seed is dropped, probably,
by a bird, who had taken the soft white berry
for food, on the branch of a tree, and being
covered with a gluey slimy substance it adheres
there, and begins to swell and grow after the
usual manner of seeds in the ground. The roots
when they come forth penetrate their soft points
between the rind and the wood of the branch,
and obtain sufficient moisture there to nourish
the young mistleto plant. When the leaves ap-
pear, this moderate supply of moisture is still
enough, for they have extremely few pores on
their surface, (only 200 instead of 20,000 and
upwards, as some leaves have) so do not lose
much by evaporation.
Another irregular instance of roots is seen in
the little Dodder plant. The seed falls into the
ground, sprouts there, and sends up the slender


leafless red stalk, which soon entwines itself
around the Heath, or other plants growing near.
Into these the dodder pierces small teeth, by
means of which it is assisted in climbing and
clinging on to its neighbour, and is also enabled
to absorb juices; thus, living on another plant,
it no longer requires a root of its own. The
dodder henceforth vegetates, detached from the
ground, without a root, and is what is called a
parasite plant, like the Mistleto.
These last are exceptions, irregular conditions
of roots; but according to their appointed plan,
perfectly adapted to it, and fulfilling the neces-
sary functions to the plants as completely as those
roots which descend into the earth. There is
another very singular instance of a parasite plant
in this country, to be found in clover fields in
gravel soil. In some seasons there will come
amongst the clover countless small plants about
eight or ten inches high, brown stalks and leaves,
the flowers have a tinge of pale purple and are of
the same kind of form as a white nettle. These
Broomrapes, as they are named, do not appear
to have any connexion with the clover; they
rise out of the ground and stand erect each by
itself, though always near to a clover plant. If
we take some tool, and remove carefully the
earth from about the roots of the broomrape and
its next neighbour, the clover, we shall perceive


that the two plants are united by their roots. The
broomrape attaches itself by the root, and so draws
away nourishment from the clover, which dwin-
dles until the crop is worthless. It is remarkable
that there are several species of broomrape, but
each attacks a peculiar plant. That which grows
on clover roots does not attack hemp. The con-
sideration of such instances of order in the midst
of an apparent irregularity, cannot fail to im-
press the mind of a thoughtful student with new
ideas of the wisdom and power of the Creator.
Not only do we find wide-extended laws ruling
the universe with the same undisturbed power as
on the first week of this world's existence, when
the Almighty God saw everything that He had
made, and, behold it was very good"; but, in
examining the humblest work of His hands, and
one which appears to be set apart from the
usual course of laws that govern created things,
even here also we perceive proofs of infinite
skill and unfailing order. One of the lowliest
objects in the world, a little rootless herb, nearly
concealed amidst the larger plants that compose
a tangled mass of vegetation, becomes exalted in
our estimation, for it can lead our thoughts,-
too apt to remain bound to mere earthly things
of sight,-upwards to the Source of all creation,
and help us "to the acknowledgment of the
mystery of God, in whom are hid all the trea-
sures of wisdom and knowledge".






The possibility of collecting the specimens must be left to
the discretion and opportunities of the teacher; but probably
most places could furnish them.



THE Stem of a plant or tree is that part which,
as soon as the young shoot has pierced the
ground, rises upwards, seeking light, air, and
sunshine, whilst the root and its fibres descend
into the dark earth. The stem does not rise far
above the earth before leaves begin to grow
upon it, but with these we have no concern at
present. We will first speak of the stem, and
consider that very essential portion of a plant,
its nature, structure, and office. At first, the
stem of all plants, whether herbs or trees, is soft
and green; but after some months or years, the
various parts of which it is composed are de-
veloped, and each becomes perfect and complete.
There are four different ways in which the
stem appears above the surface of the ground;
that of Oaks, Elms, and of all the trees or shrubs
which are natives in Great Britain, rises only a
few inches when a pair of thick, fleshy, oval-


shaped leaves are seen on it. These are called
seed-leaves, because they actually existed in the
seed itself, as may be easily seen in many seeds
you can examine; in that of the Almond, or the
Walnut, when split open, this folded pair of
little leaves is quite discernible.
The stem of Palms and other trees which
grow in the hot countries of the world, rise from
the seed with only one seed-leaf. We have none
of these trees native in our country, but we have
many kinds of grass and several other small
plants which are called herbs, not trees, all
having only one seed-leaf. All sorts of corn,
likewise, belong to this large class of plants,
which have one leaf on rising out of the seed.
All the trees of the Fir tribe have many seed-
leaves; not round, thick and fleshy, like the two
which belong to the oak tribe, but slender and
narrow like those which form afterwards the
foliage of the tree, set on the branches in clus-
ters of three, or five, or in pairs, and are often
called needle-shaped leaves.
Then there is one very large class of plants,
including Ferns, Mosses, Lichens, Mushrooms,
and Seaweeds, which have no seed-leaves in their
seeds, but spring out of their seeds, at first leaf-
less; each according to its peculiar manner of
growth developed itself afterwards to its perfect
form, some tribes having a stem and leaves, as


the Ferns, but others, as Lichens, having none.
First, let us examine the stem of a young oak,
only a few weeks risen out of the ground; it is
not larger than that of a small plant; it has its
pair of thick seed-leaves with smooth edges,
quite unlike the true leaves of the oak, which
already have begun to grow on the little stem;
they are placed alternately, not opposite each
other, and are deeply notched along the edges.
But we must not stop to consider this early state
of the stem, but look onwards and behold it
grown into a lofty tree, having lived through
many stormy winters with bare branches, and
glowing summers when the strong stem sup-
ported the weight of spreading boughs laden
with green leaves. If the stem of a full-grown
oak, or any other tree of this extensive class with
two seed-leaves and many branches, be cut
through, we find it to consist of several parts all
closely bound together. In the centre of the
stem is a small column of a soft substance called
pith, this serves as a receptacle for the sap
which nourishes the tender parts of a tree during
its early growth. Later, it appears to be of little
use, for it is found to be shrunk and cracked,
often dried up. In the hollow stems of some
shrubs, and the stalks of plants of the Parsley
tribe, it may be seen hanging in little ragged
white pieces to the inside of the stem.


If you wish to see an example of pith in its
best state, you must search for some Rushes, and
carefully peel off the thin green rind. This rush-
pith was formerly of great use to the poor inha-
bitants of Ireland and parts of England, for
when the rind was taken off, except just a nar-
row strip on one side to support the pith, and it
was dipped in melted tallow, it served as a candle
and burnt very readily. These cheap, common
candles, were called rushlights, the wick being
a rush instead of cotton, as in the better kinds
of candles.
The branches of the Elderbush which grows
in our fields and hedges, contain a white light
pith, very useful, when made into little balls, for
some kind of experiments in electricity, and for
several other purposes. By the help of the mi-
croscope it has been discovered that pith is com-
posed of six-sided cells, like those of the comb
which Bees make to contain their honey.
In China there grows a tree which has an ex-
ceedingly large proportion of delicate white pith;
the Chinese cut this up into thin slices around
the column, and prepare it carefully with much
ingenuity. On these they paint very skilfully,
after their curious fashion, flowers, birds, insects,
and other small objects. Thus we perceive that
even this apparently insignificant and concealed
portion of plants is sought out and applied to


some useful purposes. And although rushes
were always supposed to be a sign of barren
waste land, springing up in watery places with-
out any care or cultivation, yet they have sup-
plied their appointed help to man and in times
and places when no other materials for such use
were within reach.
But we must now return to the stem of the
oak, and examine what else is there besides pith.
Next to the column of pith is a kind of sheath
which branches out in rays through the wood
towards the edge of the stem. These rays are
vessels which serve to convey juices from the
pith to the young part of the wood next the
bark. For in all these kind of trees with two
seed-leaves and many branches, the wood in-
creases at the outer edge. These vessels branch
off to every leaf, and passing through its stalk,
form that strong rib which runs along the mid-
dle of the leaf to its point, and also spreads all
over it in fine network. These kinds of branch-
ing veins are peculiar to the great class which
has two seed-leaves, and are never found in any
other division or class of plants.
But again, we must not quit the stem yet;
there are many things to consider about it. The
wood is the most valuable and important part,
not only as the main prop of the tree, but in its
enduring use to man. When the tree has


reached its full size, and has acquired a mass of
solid wood, it is fit to be cut down, and the stem
is sawn up into planks; in this dry state it is
called timber. The English Oak yields an ex-
tremely hard and durable timber, well fitted for
building ships. And here we may observe an
instance of how beautifully all things are placed
where they can be made serviceable to man, to
whom in the beginning was given every herb
bearing seed which is upon the face of all the
earth, and every tree." The British Isles are not
only separated from the vast continent of Europe,
but are set in a remote position of the globe, far
away from all those hot regions where the prin-
cipal timber trees grow in wonderful luxuriance.
But our native hardy Oak has been a compensa-
tion to us. In the early times of civilization
here, long before the British people had any
communication with foreign lands, our Oaks
were in full vigour, and yielded their timber for
the use of the first shipbuilders. We must not
imagine they were able to build such magnificent
ships as now go out of our ports over the seas to
all parts of the world; for, although they had
good hard Oak timber, they had not skill and
learning sufficient to employ it cleverly: God's
gift was ready, but man was not yet prepared to
use it well. However, such ships as they could
make were valuable to the first voyagers, and in


them they bravely sailed over the wide ocean,
and so gradually discovered new countries and
new timber trees, and by degrees added countless
precious woods to our stores. Still, the Oak is
to be esteemed for many reasons, and is scarcely
surpassed for durability. Well, the wood of the
stem fills up all the space between the pith and
the bark, and forms the largest and most im-
portant part of the stem. It is not a solid mass,
like stone or marble, but is composed of vessels
and cells, invisible to our eyes without the help
of the microscope. Though few persons ever
see these tubes and cells, yet all can believe they
are really there, else how could the water, which
we know the roots draw up by their sponge-like
points, ascend to the top of the tree, and flow also
through all the branches on every side. There
must be a free passage for liquid to every part
of a tree; for it is quite certain that water is
able to flow upwards, that it becomes in its
passage through branches, stalks, and leaves,
changed into sap, and then descends over the
whole tree, to the ends of the widest spreading
branches and their leaves, nourishing all by its
refreshing and invigorating properties; no longer
pure water, but sap, the living juice of plants.
If you wish for any easy proof of this fact, call
to mind what happens very commonly. A Gera-
nium or any other plant, kept in a pot of earth


in a room, may be neglected, left without a fresh
supply of water for several days perhaps; the
leaves have lost their moisture, the little vessels
and cells are empty, and have no power to keep in
their right position, but droop and appear ready
to wither. Water is poured on the earth, soaks
through to the roots, they absorb it, and send it
up to the plant. In a short time it has passed
into every branch and filled all the cells of the
leaves, and the whole plant is revived and re-
stored to its original condition. The passages,
although hardened by time and the growth of
the wood, still remain open as long as the tree
is living, however hard the wood becomes.
Throughout all ages of the world, wood has
been of the greatest use and value to man. To
describe the various trees which yield service-
able timber, or to speak of the countless pur-
poses to which wood is applied, is impossible in
one short lecture. A few only of the principal
woods can be mentioned; and the first foreign
wood must be that of which we have the earliest
notice in the Bible. The first mention of wood
for building is recorded by Moses in the book of
Genesis, in the account of the preparation for
the deluge. God commanded Noah to make
an ark of Gopher wood." This is believed to be
the same as that now called Cypress, an ever-
green tree which grows naturally in many eastern


countries. The stem is straight and erect, bear-
ing many upright branches, with extremely small
stiff leaves, laid close pressed together. From
the most ancient times it was chosen as a sacred
tree, and is to this day always planted in ceme-
teries, as particularly suitable from its durability
and dark green foliage, which never fades. The
wood is very fine-grained and hard, and is not
liable to injury from insects or weather. It was
peculiarly fitted for such a building as the Ark,
an immense kind of ship, which was to float on
the waters with all its extraordinary cargo of
living creatures, and the food necessary for them,
during 150 days. The ancient Egyptians made
their mummy cases of this Gopher wood; and
the Athenians used it for their coffins. In later
times, when it was called Cypress wood, it was
usually selected for church doors. The first gates
of St. Peter's at Rome were made of Cypress, in
the reign of Constantine, and lasted more than
1000 years. The learned naturalist Pliny, who
lived in the first century after Christ, tells us in
his writings that the doors of the famous Temple
of Diana at Ephesus, of which St. Paul speaks,
were made of Cypress, and appeared quite fresh
when he saw them, already 400 years old.
The earliest, and very interesting, record we
have of a traffic in timber, is in the first book of
the history of the Kings of Israel. When Solo-


mon had made all ready for the building of the
"Temple at Jerusalem, he sent to Hiram, King of
Tyre and Sidon, saying, I purpose to build an
house unto the name of the Lord God; now,
therefore, command thou that they hew me
Cedar trees out of Lebanon. There is not among
us any that can hew timber like the Sidonians."
How readily King Hiram agreed to the whole
proposal we find recorded: "I will do all thy
desire concerning timber of Cedar and timber of
Fir." Moreover, we read that the manner of
transporting timber in those days-that is, 2,870
years ago-was the very same as it is now. My
servants shall bring them down from Lebanon
unto the sea; and I will convey them by sea in
floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me."
In all mountainous countries, where trees grow
on the hills, the timber is to this day brought
down to the sea or river, and then made into
floats or rafts, as they are sometimes called. The
trees are bound together, and form a long jointed
mass of timber. It is very curious to see these
long rafts winding their way down the large
rivers of Germany, guided by men with long
poles. Small huts of wood are built on the raft,
and there the families live during the voyage
down the Rhine to Holland, or down the Danube
to the Black Sea. A very great quantity of wood
is thus annually brought from the forests of South


Europe. Then we read, further, how Solomon
" built the walls of the house within with boards
of Cedar, and covered the floor of the house with
planks of Fir; and he made for the door of the
temple posts of Olive tree." The wood of the
Fir is called Deal; large quantities are continu-
ally sent to England from the forests of Norway,
where Fir trees almost cover the lower slopes of
the mountains. The wood of the Olive tree is
of a hard durable nature; the stems grow to a
great size; and travellers to the Holy Land tell
us they have reason to believe that some of the
trees now existing on the Mount of Olives are
the very same as in the time when our Saviour
" went unto the Mount of Olives", to pray and
to meditate on the work which his Father had
given Him to do for the children of men; and
from whence, also, having finished his work, He
was taken up and a cloud hid Him from his
The hardest wood known is the Lignum vitre,
a native of the West Indies; it is almost black
in the centre and yellow towards the outer edge.
In substance it is exceedingly solid and com-
pact, the weight so great that a piece of the
wood sinks in water. It grows plentifully in
the island of Jamaica, from whence we receive
a good supply, and make it into rulers and va-
rious small articles that require hard wood. The


chief use of it is in the ship-building towns,
where a considerable quantity is required for
making the blocks, through which the ropes
of the rigging pass, the extreme hardness of the
wood prevents injury from the friction of the
ropes. The cutting of these blocks was formerly
a very slow process by hand, but they are now
prepared by a machine worked by steam, in an
incredibly short time, and with most perfect ex-
actness of shape.
Another very hard wood is the Ebony of the
East Indies. It is, like the lignum vitae, black
in the centre of the stem, paler and less hard at
the edge. No wood takes a finer polish, and it
is in every respect well adapted for fine cabinets
and inlaid work.
There is one more ornamental wood of the
East Indies, well known in this country by va-
rious articles made by ingenious natives and
sent over here. The Sandal-wood is of a soft
texture on the exterior, pale brown colour, and
has a delightful scent. The powder is used as
incense in the temples of the Hindoos, and also
by the Chinese, who carry on a considerable
traffic with India in this wood. The inner part,
called the heartwood, is most esteemed; so the
natives, not having such good tools to work with
as an English workman would have, are induced
to place billets of the wood in the earth for


about two months, when the ants eat away the
soft outer part, and leaving the harder centre un-
touched, they set to work with their rusty tools.
The largest timber tree of the East Indies is
the Teak; the wood is esteemed equal to that
of the oak, and is generally employed for ship-
building in Malabar, where the trees grow
abundantly on the hills. It is also used for lesser
works, tables and other articles of household
furniture being constantly made of teak wood
in India.
The foreign wood to which we are most ac-
customed now for our best furniture is the Ma-
hogany from the West Indies, and that tract of
country called Honduras in the east part of
Central America. Immense forests of mahogany
trees exist there, and parties of Negroes are con-
tinually employed in the labour of cutting down
the stems and conveying them to the rivers, from
whence they are floated down to the coast of the
sea. The work is one of great difficulty, for the
trees are of large size and very heavy. About
1000 boys are frequently collected together in one
spot, and laborious as the work is, yet the profit
is ample, for one tree has been known to pro-
duce 12,000 feet of surface of wood, and to be
worth 1000. In Jamaica and other West In-
dian islands, mahogany is used as a durable
wood for beams and boards in houses. Here, it


is naturally more costly, and is employed only
for tables, cabinets, and such superior kinds of
furniture, for the houses of the rich. In the
early part of the last century, a log of mahogany
was first brought to England, but being found
excessively hard, it was set aside as unfit for
working. At last, a carpenter observed it in a
corner of the timber yard, and made a box of it
to keep candles in. In process of time it was
ascertained to be an exceedingly valuable wood,
fit for the best purposes, being capable of a high
polish. Indeed, no wood is so suitable for large
tables, and other handsome furniture.
Rose-wood is another fine-grained wood of the
tropics, much used for ornamental purposes. A
very great variety of woods are now brought
to this country from several hot regions of the
world, especially from South America; and, no
doubt, many remain yet to be discovered and
brought forth from the depths of primeval
The wood of some trees in the tropics yields a
valuable dye; the principal one known and used
now is the Logwood, a native of Honduras, in
forests where the soil is moist. It is a very
heavy wood, sinking in water, like the lignum
vitae, and is so hard that it can be well polished.
Being chiefly employed for the sake of its co-
louring juice, or as a medicine, it is brought


over in small billets about three feet long. The
colouring matter may be made of use for green,
purple, and black, when properly combined with
chemical preparations. But we must not omit
to speak of our own trees, which afford much
useful wood for various purposes quite as essen-
tial to our daily comfort, as the beautiful maho-
gany or rosewood of the tropics.
The wood of the Elm, Ash, Maple, and other
trees, is all good for several uses; that of elm
and ash is particularly well suited for casks,
waggons, carriages, palings, and countless other
objects. The maple, which is common in hedges
in the southern chalk counties, has a peculiar
spotted wood, very ornamental for small tables,
boxes, and other things.
The Sycamore, another British tree, has a
white soft wood, useful for bowls, plates, and
many household articles.
The wood of the Holly is very white and fine
grained, and serves to form the outer surface of
cabinets, boxes, or desks, which are to be painted
and varnished.
The Box tree, hardly more than a shrub,
usually about fifteen feet high, affords a valuable
supply of hard fine wood, capable of a beautiful
polish. This is much used by turners and
musical instrument makers. In France it is
considered remarkably good for knife-handles,

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