The Baldwin Library
DOWN THE LANE
IN SEARCH OF WILD FLOWERS
T n cle
T. NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburgh, and New York
DEAR CHILDREN, this book is for you. I have writ-
ten it for you, to help you to learn a little more about
wild flowers than you know, and yet not to trouble
you with any more hard words than I can help.
You love flowers, and so do I; and the more you
know of them the better you will love them. I have
pointed out the way to Cissy how she was to find
out their little secrets, and what I have said to her I
say also to you. If you will follow her to do as she
did, you may learn, as she learned, that the most
common weed has a story to tell, which may be told
to a child; that nothing, to Him who made it, is
common or unclean; and that wayside weeds have
their place to fill, and their duty to do in the world,
To comfort man-to whisper hope
Whene'er his faith is dim;
For Who so careth for the flowers
Will much more care for him."
M. C. COOKE.
BUTTERCUPS .... .... .... .... .... 11
VIOLETS, .... ...... .... .... 29
DANDELIONS, .... ... .... .. .... 42
LORDS AND LADIES, .... .... ... .... 59
RED CAMPION, .... .... .... ... 66
ST. JOHN'S WORT, .... .... .... .... 78
MALLOW, .... .... .... ...... 87
GREAT BINDWEED, .... .... .. .... 100
"DOWN THE LANE AND BACK."
"Buttercups and daisies,
Oh, the pretty flowers,
Coming in the spring-time
To tell of sunny hours."
T HUS sang Cissy, as her uncle waited for
her to take the usual morning stroll down
"Buttercups are running in your head with
the sunshine," said he, and we must try to find
"I love buttercups," she added, "and I love
butter, and the sunshine is so nice."
"And the spring-time, when 'children are let
loose in the fields and gardens. They hold butter-
cups under each other's chins to see if they love
Children hold beneath their chins,
So to learn who 'tis that sins
When the butter wastes by night;
And whose chin looks yellow bright,
That's the rogue.'"
Is that the reason they are called 'butter-
cups' ?" inquired Cissy.
It may be so, and partly because it was a
belief amongst country people that when these
flowers are plentiful in pastures the cows eat
them, and it gives the yellow colour to the butter."
"Do they ? "
"No, Cissy; the cows leave the buttercups
alone, and do not eat them, because they are not
"And are all buttercups alike ?"
"There are about a dozen different flowers
which are called 'buttercups,' and all very much
alike to look at, only that some are smaller than
.m I_' ,\ -
FIG. 1.-MEADOW CROWF'OOT.
1, 2, Plant reduced; 3, Section of Flower; 4, Petal; 5, Anther; 6, Cluster of
Fruits; 7, Single Carpel; 8, Section.
"And what is the 'crowfoot'?"
"Only another name for 'buttercup.' Chil-
dren call them all buttercups, because they think
them all alike."
I suppose there is a meadow buttercup and
a field buttercup; is there, uncle ? "
"Well, there are two 'meadow buttercups'-
one of them with a swollen root, like a bulb, but
it is not a bulb, like that of the wild hyacinth;
and the other one has no swelling at the root.
Some of the others, too, are now and then found
"And in the fields ?"
"The 'corn crowfoot,' and another one with
"That does not make up the dozen," added
"I suppose not, because, besides the water
crowfoot, there are two sorts of 'spearwort'
that love ditches, and the 'goldylocks' which
grows in woods."
And the others ? "
"Not of much consequence to you or me,
except the one we are going to find, which is
the 'creeping buttercup,' that grows in lanes
as well as in the meadows, for it loves damp
"Is that the only one we should find in the
Not the only one, for another of the meadow
kinds, without the bulbous root, is mostly found
in dry places; and there is the pretty 'celan-
dine,' which I should hardly call a 'buttercup,'
and that is dreadfully common in lanes, on banks,
and under trees."
What a lot! "
Too many for our poor brains, Cissy, and so
we will leave most of them to take care of them-
And only talk about those we can find.
See, there are some; I know by their yellow
colour, it is so bright."
"Just as I expected, that is the celandine;
but we shall soon find another in yonder damp
corner by the ditch."
"Oh yes. And what a lot of big leaves !"
The roots are a bunch of rooting threads,
not thickened as in the celandine. But you must
try to find out why it is called the creeping
"It is like the strawberry plant, with 'run-
ners' growing out from amongst the leaves, and
they poke themselves into the ground, and make
roots," said Cissy.
"That's a funny way of putting it; but I
know your meaning-that runners shoot out from
the old tufts, and these runners soon thrust their
ends into the ground, and make roots, while a
tuft of leaves grows upwards into a young plant."
"And so these broad patches of plants keep
growing bigger and bigger, and creep further
and further over the ground, until they may be
a yard or two across, and include hundreds of
"With such dull, dark-green, hairy leaves,
pale on the under side, and woolly as well as
The leaves are large, and so deeply divided
that it is not easy to call them by any shape
that is known, or to explain clearly what their
"I should call them 'trinity leaves,'" said
FIG. 2.-LEAF OF CREEPING BUTTEROUP.
because they are like three leaves in
Or triple leaves, or three-leaved leaves, or
three-bladed leaves, whichever you please, for they
are like three leaves joined into one. The middle
leaflet is stalked, and each side leaflet is without
a stalk. Then each leaflet is cut down deeply
with a broad notch into three lobes, and each
lobe is notched again at the edge. It is so hard
to describe in words a leaf so much divided."
"Well, uncle, I could only call it a trinity
leaf, and each one of the three is three-parted
again, and then I stop."
Perhaps you would like to taste a leaf, Cissy,
because you may if you like. Nearly all the
buttercup leaves would bite your tongue, and I
would not tell you to taste them, but this one
is not unpleasant."
Not even the celandine "
"Not even that. The stalks to the leaves
you have gathered are quite long-four or five
inches-and downy; but they do not all rise from
the root, as the flower-stem is also long and
branched, bearing smaller leaves, which have
And the flowers are not like the rising sun."
But more like a 'buttercup' as it should be.
Let us pull one of the flowers in pieces, that we
may compare them with those of the celandine.
You will notice at once that the petals are
broader and round at the ends, not pointed as
in the celandine; and there are not so many-
only five. Then the outer circle, or calyx, has
five sepals, and these are hairy, like the stem
and leaves. So you see that there is a great
difference in the flowers of the two plants, al-
though both of them are yellow and have a large
number of stamens, said to be indefinite, or more
"I think, Cissy, that it is quite time for us
to turn back and take a last fond look at the
'In the lane-there's not a place,
Howsoever mean it be,
But 'tis good enough for thee.' "
"What a lot of it, and how different it looks
from the 'buttercup'!" said Cissy, as she began
to root up some of the plants.
"The creeping roots are very useful to the
plant, because, although so common, it seldom
bears ripe seeds, but spreads itself by means of
Then these are both of them 'creeping
buttercups' in the lane ? inquired Cissy.
"Yes, dear; but, as I told you before, this is
not a proper buttercup, and we will call it either
the celandinee' or the pilewortt,' whichever you
And is pilewortt' one of its names ?"
"Yes; and an old one too. But you must
look at the roots well, and see how different they
are from the roots of the 'creeping buttercup,'
for they are thick and club-shaped, like little
"Tubers, uncle! what do you mean by
'tubers' ? "
"What we call a 'potato' is a tuber; not a
bulb, but an underground swelling or knob,
which if planted would bud and grow into a
new plant. But it is not an underground bud,
such as a bulb is, only a thickened root, which
may bud in two or three places. A bulb is a
single bud, and only grows from the crown."
"I shall know better by-and-by; but I can
see how different it is, and I know it is not a
bulb, like the onion and hyacinth."
"Now for the shining, glossy, bright green
leaves, they are very different too. You see
that, as well as being small, they are regular,
FIG. 3.-LEAF OF PILEWORT.
and not divided at the edges with deep notches.
So that they are heart-shaped, and not more
than an inch long, or seldom longer; and the
edge all round is a little toothed with blunt,
"Yes, I can see that; and they are rather
thick and stiff and shining, something like a
violet leaf in shape, but thicker, and so
And they have long stalks, which come up
from the roots, so that there is no stem except
The leaves all grow close to the ground, and
the flower-stalks rise up in the middle."
You are quite sure that you would know the
leaves again if there were no flowers "
"I think so. They are so shining, and such
a lot of them grow together."
The flower-stalks are longer than your finger,
and a little longer than mine, some of them with
one or two little leaves growing out of them,
and a single flower on the top."
I see that, and the star-shaped flowers."
"True : the flowers are more star shaped
than in the buttercups, with eight or nine
flower-leaves, of a bright, shining yellow colour,
standing out all round and forming a golden
"What are the flower-leaves called ?"
"I can't think of that, it is such a funny
"Indeed you will think of it, because I shall
say it over so often that you cannot forget.
Did you ever read the song to the small celan-
dine, where it is supposed to have taught the
painter of sign-boards how to paint the rising
"I do not think so."
Then here it is:-
'I have not a doubt but he,
Whosoe'er the man might be
Who the first with pointed rays
(Workman worthy to be sainted)
Set the sign-board in a blaze,
When the rising sun he painted,
Took the fancy from a glance
At thy glittering countenance.' "
I did not think of the sun," said Cissy; I
only thought of a star."
"But when evening comes, instead of coming
out, as the stars do, the celandine closes up its
petals, and then it can be seen how they are
tinged and striped with green beneath, as if to
"What time do they open in the morning
and close at night ? "
I think that depends so much on the weather;
for the petals close at the coming of rain, what-
ever the hour. The celandine is almost the
earliest flower to blossom with us, even as early
'Ere a leaf is on the bush,
In the time before the thrush
Has a thought about her nest,
Thou wilt come with half a call,
Spreading out thy glossy breast
Like a careless prodigal;
Telling tales about the sun,
When we've little warmth, or none.'
: Perhaps in the average of years we should
say that the celandine flowers in March."
And before any of the real buttercups ?"
"Yes; but when the petals close you will see
three smaller green leaves beneath the flowers,
which enclose them in the bud."
In the middle of the open flower there is a
tuft of threads, but I always forget the name of
0 uncle, why can't we call them something
that we can't forget ? Flowers are so pretty,
but they have so many hard names."
"Well then, Cissy, sit down and count the
stamens, and you may call them what you please."
"I find twenty-four in this flower. Is that
the right number ?"
FIG. 4.-SECTION OF FLOWER OF BUTTEIRUP.
a, Sepal; b, Petal.
"That will do. Then there are the flower-
leaves or petals."
"Not exactly. There are twelve altogether;
but there are three outside ones, which we call
the sepals, and nine inner ones, which are the
petals. In many flowers the sepals are green,
but in some they are coloured, as in the little
Then how shall I know them ?"
Call the outer circle sepals, and the inner
petals, and you will usually be right.
1 2 3 4
r --=-- "^r '?
FIG. 5.-SEED-VESSELS OF BUTTERCUP.
1, Petal; 2, Ovary; 3, 4, Sections; 5, Section cut through a cluster of ovaries.
In all the buttercups, when the flower-leaves
fall, the seed-vessels will be seen remaining on
the stem in a roundish cluster of about twelve.
Some other wild flowers have only one seed-
vessel, it may be a berry, or a pod, or a capsule,
which keeps on growing after the petals fall
away; so you see that it is of importance al-
ways to find out, if we can, what kind of seed-
vessel any wild flower has, and if it is single, or
whether several of them grow in a cluster."
"T HERE, Cissy, in that quiet little nook
you should find the March violets; but
you must use both eyes and nose, and what
you cannot see you must smell."
"Oh, they are lovely; I hope I shall find
And whilst you are looking I will tell you
a short story of them. You have read in your
history of Napoleon the Great, the Emperor of
France ? "
How he fought many battles, and was then
taken to Elba, and escaped, and came back to
Right; but you have not said that his
friends welcomed him in on his return, on the
20th of March, by wearing bunches of violets."
I did not know that."
"Nor that whilst he was away, before his
return, his friends used the violet as a token.
If any one was asked, 'Do you like the violet ?'
and the answer was 'Well!' he was hailed as
a friend, and was told, It will appear again in
"The violet was used as a token, because it
comes in March, to tell all his friends that he
would come back in the spring, as the violets do."
"Yes; but after the battle of Waterloo he
did not come back, and no one was allowed
to wear violets in France: so that when the
Frenchmen could no longer make war upon
men, they made war upon the violets."
"Now, uncle, as I have found two or three, I
shall make war upon them, and capture them
"You have no doubt that you have found the
right flower ?"
I should think not; just smell of it."
And what does it smell like ? "
* Viola odorata.
Why, violets, of course !"
Yes; but that's a girl's answer. I want you
to tell me, as if I had never seen one, what the
scent of the violet is like."
But I can't tell you; it is like violets, and
I suppose you are right, and that there is
no other scent exactly like it.
A lowly flower, in secret bower,
Invisible I dwell;
For blessing made, without parade,
Known only by my smell.'"
Do the sweet-violets appear first ? because
there are some violets without scent."
Yes, the sweet ones come first, for a short
time, and then comes the dog-violet."
And they aro shams !
No, Cissy, not exactly shams, because they
are true to their nature, and make no pretension
to be what they are not."
But they mimic the true violet in colour
and shape, without scent."
"You might as well say that they are
naughty violets, that have done some wrong,
and lost the virtue of sweetness."
I don't care, I don't like them, for they
Although the fault may be your own, for
not knowing them better. We shall see. Now
you must get a plant up by the roots. Never
forget the roots "
Oh, they are just the same as many other
roots-little bunches of threads or fibres."
Just so; and you may as well call it afibrous
root as a bunch of fibres. You are sure it is not
a creeping root ? "
"Look, uncle, here is something like a runner
which joins two plants together "
"I thought you were too hasty, and that
you would find, in a large patch like this, some
of the plants made runners. Do not hurry so
much to say whether the plant has a stem or
There are flower-stalks coming up from the
root, but I cannot find one with a stem."
Then you think we may say that it has no
stem, because the dog-violet has a stem ? "
That is another difference besides the scent."
And now as to the shape of the leaves."
They are nearly heart-shaped, are they not,
with long foot-stalks ? "
And the edges are not quite even? "
FIG. 7. --LEAF OF SWEET-VIOLET.
I hardly know what to call them, but the
edge is toothed all round with blunt rounded
And the upper surface is smooth, but the
under side is sometimes a little downy, with
very fine hairs. If you lay one side by side
with a leaf of the little celandine, you will soon
see the difference, though they are nearly the
same in size and shape."
Yes : the violet is thinner, and not shining,
or of so bright a green colour."
I suppose you would say that the flower-
stalk is as long as your finger?"
Yes, and bent over at the top."
Well, Cissy, how would you explain to
Lotty what the flower is like if you had not
one to show her ?"
I should say it was of a deep violet-blue
"Don't you think purple would be better than
to say violet, when you are speaking of a violet?"
Is it not bluish-purple then ?"
"Yes; but you are not to forget that some-
times it is pinkish or white."
Not often, as none of these are white."
But all are paler at the centre, or eye."
And each flower has five separate leaves-
two standing up at the top, one on each side,
and one at the bottom, and all nearly of the
same size and shape."
"Perhaps the bottom one is a very little
broadest; but turn it over and look at the back
of the flower."
There is a curious little horn sticking out at
the bottom, almost like a spur. Are all violet
flowers spurred like that?"
"Yes; and the bottom leaf, or petal, of the
flower is narrowed behind and forms the spur,
which pushes aside two of the little outer green
leaves of the flower, called the calyx or cup."
And I see the little threads inside the eye
of the flower. It looks like an eye, doesn't it ? "
If you will count the outside little green
leaves of the cup, you will find five; the purple
leaves are five, and the threads inside the flower
are also five-all fives."
And where are the seeds?"
When the flowers die and fall off, they leave
behind them a little green swelling; this grows
into a capsule or seed-box, which splits into
three parts, and allows the seeds to fall out."
And that is called the fruit ?"
Yes, that is the regular and proper fruit.
In the violets and some other plants there is
another contrivance for growing seeds that
sometimes puzzles little people, and not very
long ago puzzled older people also."
What is that ? "
I don't think we shall find any to-day; but
there are little secret flowers-I cannot tell you
the long name they are called by-yet these
little flowers have no pretty purple leaves, and
they only look like little green buds, growing
hidden, in out-of-the-way places, about the
"And they don't look pretty or smell nice ?"
"No; they are for use, not beauty."
"And for what use ?"
"They become at last changed into seed-
boxes, or capsules, containing more seeds."
Then if little girls were to gather all the
violet flowers they could find, there would be
no seed from the proper flowers left on the
No; so that by-and-by, as the old plants
died, there would be less and less, and at length
no violet plants at all, unless young plants were
born in other ways."
By the seeds in the secret flowers ?"
"Ay, and by the runners from the old
plants; for you must not forget the use of the
Has the dog-violet secret flowers as well ?"
"Yes, and several other violets, but not
And are pansies a kind of violet? "
Indeed they are, for the wild pansy is the
common field heart's-ease."
I should like to find the secret flowers. Do
they grow on any other plants except violets?"
"There is another pretty little plant that we
must seek some day in the woods. It is called
the wood-sorrel, with trefoil leaves, like clover
leaves, and such pretty flowers. Secret flowers
are to be found on that plant, and also upon
some few others.
I suppose, as you are such a lover of violets,
that you will think they have need of no other
virtue than their odour and their humility."
"What else do they need, uncle ?"
Then you will agree that-
'Long as there are violets
They will have a place in story.' "
Yes; but what other virtues have they ? "
Well, the flowers were at one time given as
medicine to children, and the roots of many
species contain an active substance still used by
Never mind; I won't be set against them."
"Not even because violet is not really an
English name, but imitated from viola, which
was the Latin name of some fragrant flower
which might not have been a violet at all."
I think they deserve to be found all the
And they are nearly so, but not often sweet-
scented; and so there are many countries where
the sweet-violet and the little English daisy are
Cissy and her uncle found no dog-violets" on
that day, and not until two or three weeks later,
when their gossip on violets was taken up again
and made more complete.
Now that we have found the 'dog-violet,'"
said Cissy, I still think the other is best, because
the colour is deeper, to say nothing of the scent."
FIG. 8.-LEAF OF DOG-VIOLET,
"That is not the point," said uncle: you
called the dog-violet' a sham, and you must see
that it is not."
And what must I look at ?"
Firstly, the stem. Now the sweet-violet has
no stem at all, and this has a stem with leaves
So it has, but that is not much."
"Well, then, compare the leaves."
"Oh, they are a little different, but not
And the flowers ?"
"Not so pretty, and with no scent. Why
was it called the dog-violet ?"
Possibly the animal's name, attached to
flowers, was meant to point them out as be-
ing less good than some other flower or plant
which was something like them. We have
dog-rose to set against the rose; dog-violet to
place against the violet; horse-chestnut against
the chestnut ; cow-parsnip against the pars-
nip; and horse-mushroom against the mush-
So we have three kinds of wild violet in this
country; and is that all ? "
By no means; there may be eight British
violets. But the bog-violet and the mountain-
violet are not likely to come in our way; and,
after all, you care most for the sweet-violet, and
very little for any other.
Smell at my violets! I found them where
The liquid south stole o'er them, on a bank
That leaned to running water. There's to me
A daintiness about these early flowers
That touches one like poetry.'"
"Can you tell me no other story of the
Only a short one about lo, who was the
daughter of Atlas. One day she was being pur-
sued by Apollo, who was the sun, you know,
and she fled from him into a wood, where
Diana changed her into a violet. Perhaps this
is only another way of saying that violets grow
in the woods to escape the sun.
'The trembling violet, which eyes
The sun but once, and unrepining dies.'"
"" UNCLE, mamma says we should not
pick the nasty dandelions. But they
are not nasty, are they ? "
"Well, Cissy, some people call them nasty,
but I don't."
Why do they call them nasty ?"
Perhaps, my dear, because they do not smell
very nice, and perhaps because they have a
sticky juice, which makes the hands dirty."
Is that all the reason, uncle ? for Lotty says
that country children will not pick dandelions,
and some of them aren't afraid of making them-
Indeed, Cissy, I have heard the warning
not to smell the dandelions; but I fancy the
young urchins always do it all the same, and no
harm comes of it."
Why are they called 'dandelions,' uncle ? "
"Well, my child, I think we had better walk
down the lane, and find the plant growing, when
I can show you the cause for the name."
No sooner was this plan agreed to than Cissy
and her uncle, hand in hand, were strolling
along a quiet country lane, in quest of the
humble and common plant of which they had
just been talking. Some of the leaves may be
found all the year round, but the flowers only in
summer and autumn. In some places the chil-
dren call all the yellow flowers which have the
star shape by the name of dandelion, but there
is only one kind of plant and flower which has
the right to be so called, and that is the one
which Cissy is looking after and her uncle has
Here is one, Cissy, without any flower; but
we must dig it up by the root."
After digging for some time in silence and
loosening the soil all round, Cissy complained
that the root was so long and so deep that she
could not tear it up.
"I am glad that you have found what a
strong and long root the dandelion has," replied
the uncle, "and how difficult it is to pull it
up. Some people think, when dandelions grow
amongst the grass on a lawn, that it needs
only a weed-' spud' and a push to clear them
all away; but the diggers only break off the
top of the root, and then they find, soon after,
that the rest of the root, still in the ground,
grows again stronger than ever."
Oh, never mind the root, uncle; I am in
such a hurry to know the meaning of the name."
"All in good time, Cissy. I only want the
leaves for the present; but they must be whole
leaves, and not bitten by the slugs or gnawed
by the rabbits."
"I can soon find some beautiful leaves, and
we need not have been digging at the roots
My dear Cissy, your labour has not been in
vain; because you will not forget that if this
weed has no stem, it has plenty of root. Now
you must smooth out five or six leaves and lay
them flat on this book, so as to see their
"Yes, uncle. They are long leaves with such
FIG. 10.-DANDELION LEAF.
a funny zigzaggy edge that they look as if the
slugs had been biting pieces out of them all the
Just so: the edges of the leaves are toothed,
and by that I mean that sharp points stick out
all the way along each side, like teeth in a large
saw. Some of these teeth are large and some
are small, but all are sharp pointed, with the
points curved backwards towards the bottom of
"Ah yes; I see all of them are hooked
downwards like a cat's claw."
Not quite the best likeness, Cissy. I should
have said, perhaps, like a lion's tooth; but you
never saw a lion's tooth, did you ? "
No, uncle; lions don't grow in our woods."
Did you ever see pussy's teeth ? When the
cat opens her mouth do you watch her teeth-
sharp pointed, with all the points curved back-
wards, just as the lion's teeth are; only the
lion's are so much the largest."
"I see now-' dandy-lion.' "
"Not exactly, Cissy. It was at one time
'dent-de-leon,' which means 'tooth of lion' or
'lion's teeth,' but has fallen to 'dandelion,'
which means the same thing; because the points
of the leaf are curved backwards, ending in a
sharp point like lion's teeth."
"Yes; but lions do not always show their
True, my dear; but you remember on the
village green at Wickham what we saw as we
rode past one day. Outside the public-house
there was a large board upon which was painted a
red lion, standing on his hind legs, and pawing
with his fore feet in the air, his mouth wide
open, showing his large teeth. He always
shows his teeth. I could show you a book in
which it is written, 'The jagged edges of the
leaf are like the rows of teeth that garnish the
jaws of the red lion which announces the head
inn of some village or town.' "
But, uncle, would lions dance on their hind
legs, like dancing-bears ?"
"Perhaps not, Cissy, unless they are red
lions. Could you count how many leaves there
are on this dandelion plant, all bent back to
the ground and lapping each other, spreading
like rays, making a rosette of green leaves?"
I don't think I know what a rosette is."
"Well, dear, a rosette is an imitation of a
rose, or supposed to be, in which a great num-
ber of leaves have their lower ends all joined
together in the centre and the other ends spread-
ing out all round, as they do in a marigold
flower, or a plant of houseleek, or London pride,
or a dandelion."
"I like a rose better than a rosette."
"But each one is useful in its place."
0 uncle, what can be the use of the dande-
lion rosette ? it is only a common weed."
"Cissy, call nothing common or unclean,
until you know it well, and can find no good
"But I do know the dandelion !"
"Not yet, my child; you have not even tasted
0 uncle "
C "You like lettuce, and celery, and water-cress,
and other green leaves, and call them salad.'"
"Yes, I like salad; but I don't think I shall
like this, because it tastes bitter." /;
"And so does endive, until it is blanched."
Blanched what is that ?"
"Blanched simply means bleached--losing its
green colour. Suppose we place a piece of tile
or slate on this dandelion plant, and leave it
there for a week or two, and then look at it
again. The leaves will be there, just as before;
but instead of being green in colour, they will
be turned sickly white. They will be blanched,
and, if you taste them again, no longer bitter.
By shutting off the light the green colour will
not be formed in the leaves, nor will the bitter
taste, both of which require the light. So that
by blanching them these leaves become more
pleasant to eat. In this state dandelion leaves
are as good in salads as endive, and are con-
stantly eaten in that way by some people,
without being blanched at all."
"Then shutting out the light makes them
better. Why don't they always grow in the
dark ? "
"Yes, Cissy, shutting off the light makes
them better for eating, because more tender and
less bitter; but at the same time they are made
what we should call sickly, unhealthy, and
would be killed at last. Celery, endive, sea-kale,
etc., are all treated in a like manner for the
same purpose. So you see they cannot always
grow in the dark, and, like most little girls, do
not like to be in the dark."
I didn't think that the dandelion was useful
to any one but slugs and rabbits."
"And you were mistaken, because those
troublesome large roots are useful also."
"What to 'people' "
Certainly to 'people,' as you call them.
The roots are dug out of the ground and washed
clean. Then they are cut in pieces and dried
in the sun, in the air, or in heated rooms.
When quite dry and hard they may be grated
or pounded, and the powder made into pills,
which are useful as a medicine."
"Dandelion pills ?"
"Yes, Cissy; and even something more than
that, because when the dried roots are roasted
until they are crisp, they can be ground and
made into coffee."
Not real coffee, uncle ?"
"Not real coffee, of course, but dandelion
coffee, which some people like as well as they
do real coffee; and it is sold in the shops, some-
times pure and sometimes mixed with real coffee,
and either way makes a very pleasant, cheap,
and sober drink."
But I wish you to tell me something about
the flowers, they look so curious."
Let us spread your white handkerchief on
the grass and pull one of the flowers in pieces,
gently and carefully pulling off every one of the
yellow leaves, so that we may count them and
not lose one of them."
See the little tuft of white hairs at the bot-
tom of all of them."
"Yes, but do you know that they are not
simple leaves, such as they are in many common
flowers, but each one of those yellow florets, as
they are called, is a perfect flower; so that there
are a great number of very little flowers, grow-
ing together into a compound or composite
flower. Just you count them and see how
many there are."
"I find a hundred and fifty florets in my
"And in mine there are one hundred and
Pappus and Fruit.
sixty; so that we cannot call it a single flower,
but a cluster of florets, or a flower-head."
And is every one of these a perfect flower ?"
Certainly it is; of which I will convince you
directly. They are all alike, too, in the dande-
lion, but they are not all alike in the daisy,
which has yellow florets in the middle, and
white ones all around them."
"Then the daisy and the dandelion are both
of them what you call compound flowers ?"
Yes; but the daisy has a disc of yellow
flowers, with a ray of strap shaped white
"And are these florets of the dandelion all of
them strap-shaped flowers ? "
"See, the bottom of the floret is a tiny tube
with a long, yellow, strap-shaped flower-leaf on
one side, nearly the same width all the way,
and little notches at the top end."
Oh, what a funny little yellow column stands
up in the middle of each floret, which is split at
the top, and each half of it curls outwards!
what is that ?"
"It is the style, and the five stamens are
around it, but so closely glued to the column
that you cannot see them with the naked eye."
And where will the seeds come ?"
The ovary, or young seed-vessel, is at the
bottom of the floret, just a little swelling, and
then it is narrowed above a little way, and then
swells again, just where the fringe of white
hairs stand up all around it."
What are the hairs for ?"
That is the pappus. When the florets die
off and the seed-vessel grows ripe, the narrow
part above it gets longer and longer, and carries
up with it the tuft of white hairs, which spread
all round, so that when the seeds are ripe the
pappus at the top is like a parachute, which
floats in the air."
And then we blow it off to see what o'clock
"Certainly. What you do is just what is
written in the book:-' The little girls adorn
themselves with chains and curls of dandelions,
pull out the yellow leaves to see if the schoolboy
loves them, and blow the down from the leafless
stalk to find out if their mothers want them at
We call them 'dandelion clocks.'"
"But, Cissy, we are forgetting the flower-
stalk, after plucking off the florets. You must
look at it, and see that the top of the stem forms
a little cushion upon which stand the florets,
packed closely side by side; and by-and-by as
the seeds ripen they stand upon the cushion,
until they are blown away by the wind."
And form a pretty globe of down."
"You remember that in most flowers there
is a cup or a ring of small green leaves just
beneath the flower, called the calyx, which is
another word for cup. In the dandelion and
other compound flowers there is also a circle,
or two or three rings, of small scaly green leaves
just beneath the flower-head."
There are two rings of leaves in the dande-
"And the outer circle bend backwards. But
these green bracts are not a calyx or cup, but
a general involucre. Every floret has a substi-
tute for the calyx in the fringe of white hairs
or pappus. The involucre protects the young
flowers in the bud, and as the seeds ripen the
whole of the leaflets bend backwards, close to
Can we find a 'dandelion clock' with ripe
"I am afraid not; but you will remember
them, and I can remind you of one or two
things. When all the fruits of the composite
flowers of the dandelion are ripe, they have a
long stiff bristle at the top which supports the
parachute or flattened pappus of white hairs.
All the combined parachutes of one receptacle
form a delicate round ball, but the fruits are
attached so slightly to the cushion that a puff
of wind will blow them away. The use of the
downy head is to cause the seeds to be floated
in the air, and thus easily scattered. When a
suitable place is reached, the seed settles and
begins to grow; and this completes our history."
LORDS AND LADIES.*"
" CHARP eyes, Cissy, in the hedge-bank, for
Sthe flower of 'lords and ladies.' I can
see plenty of the glossy green leaves, but not
a flower as yet."
Show me the leaves, uncle; I am not sure
that I know them."
There they are, scores of them, rising out of
the ground without any stem-bright, shining,
arrow-shaped leaves, many of them spotted with
"That's the 'wake-robin,'" exclaimed Cissy;
"I know the horrid leaves."
"Why call them horrid leaves ? for I think
them handsome leaves."
"Yes, uncle, to look at; but I bit one of
LORDS AND LADIES.
them one day, and, oh, it was horrid! it al-
most blistered my lips and tongue."
"You were foolish, Cissy. I do not know
any leaf that would punish you so much for
tasting, and you will never wish to taste it
That I shan't. But why 'lords and ladies' ?"
And why 'wake-robin,' or 'cuckoo-pint,' or
'calves' foot,' or 'starch-wort' ? All are names
for the same plant."
"Perhaps 'cuckoo-pint' because it comes
with the cuckoo."
"Perhaps 'starch-wort' because starch was
made from the roots, to starch the big ruffles
which were worn in the reign of Queen Eliza-
Let's dig up the roots."
They are almost like a bulb, but solid, and
not with one coat over another as in the onion."
"Each root has three, four, or five leaves on
long stalks rising from it."
And in the autumn a new root grows beside
the old root, and as the berries ripen the old
LORDS AND LADIES.
root dies and rots, and the new root rests through
the winter, to send up green leaves and flowers
in the spring."
"And I know it flowers in a hood."
"There is one at last! See, this round,
greenish, spotted stalk comes up from the root
amongst the leaves, and on the top of the stalk
stands a long hollow husk or sheath, very pale
green, puffed out like a bladder, sharp-pointed
at the top, and split down on one side nearly to
"The hood, or sheath, must be six inches
"Yes, Cissy, quite as much as that, and an
inch thick in the middle."
And is that sheath the flower ?"
No, not the flower."
Nor yet the flower-cup? "
"No; it is like nothing that we have seen.
It is a sheath or hood, sometimes called a spathe;
but it is only a wrapper, or sheath, to protect
the flowers that are inside."
Then we may cut it off? "
LORDS AND LADIES.
FIG. 12.-SPATHE AND LEAF.
"Yes, and lay bare the flowers hidden within.
The upper part, for more than half its length,
is a purple club, like a pestle or clapper, rounded
LORDS AND LADIES.
at the top and narrowed downwards, and paler
below. Then again it becomes thicker, and around
it a ring of little knobs with hairs at the top.
Below this is a ring of male flowers,
and lower still a broader band of female
flowers, and then follows the flower-stem,
which runs down to the root."
"Then it is not one flower, but a host
of flowers shut up in a sheath ? "
"Yes: passing upwards from the bot-
tom there is a band of female flowers,
then a band of male flowers, then a ring of :
barren flowers, and above all these the up-
right purple club, and all enclosed in a long
sheath which is split down on one side." FiG. 13.-
The flowers must be very small." oF LoRDs
"And so they are, and as simple as they LADIES.
can be. The male flowers are only pollen-boxes,
and the female flowers are only seed-cells, or
young fruits, containing the minute egg-like or
How many flowers are there in one of the
LORDS AND LADIES.
I know not, but perhaps scores. Only a
few, or not more than a dozen, of the fruits
ripen. Later in the season, clusters of the red
fruits, of the size of red currants, are to be seen
crowded together on a stem amongst the leaves,
quite naked-the club and all above the ring of
female flowers, and every shred of the sheath,
dead and gone."
"They must be easily seen."
Indeed they are. And it is said that phea-
sants eat them, and perhaps other birds also;
but I do not wish you to try them."
"Thank you; I had rather not. I have no
wish to taste again."
"You had enough with tasting the leaves.
I am told that if the fresh leaves are bruised
and laid on the skin they will raise a blis-
Do you think they were called 'cuckoo-pint'
because they come with the cuckoo ? "
I have read that it was called 'pint' because
the sheath was like a drinking-cup, and 'cuckoo-
pint' because it cometh with the cuckoo in the
LORDS AND LADIES.
spring; 'friar's cowl,' because the sheath is like
a friar's hood or cowl."
"Yes; and 'lords and ladies' "
It was fancied that the hood of the flowers
resembled the ruffs in which lords and ladies
buried their heads in olden times."
"Did the plant make wonderful cures, like
some other wild flowers ?"
Well, it has been said that it will do a great
many things; but I should not like to try it, if
it can blister the skin and scorch the tongue.
'"You will love it, and ride away !"
"Yes; I will be content to remember
How sweet it used to be when April first
Unclosed the arum leaves, and into view
Its ear-like, spindling flowers their cases burst,
Betinged with yellowish white or lushy hue."'
Or at other times-
'Oft under trees we nestled in a ring,
Culling our lords and ladies."'"
W' T A HEN I was a boy, Cissy, that red
V v flower was always called 'bachelor's
buttons' in Norfolk, but I have since learned
that in other places some other wild flower is
the bachelor's buttons.'" L-
And what is this one called ?"
"Sometimes 'red campion' and sometimes
red robin;' but I never forget the old name."
It is almost like a pink.'"
Of course it is a wild pink, and so is the
'ragged robin,' which grows in meadows."
"A spring nosegay is dull without the cam-
"So I think. Although it is straggling, it
is a pretty object in the lanes at spring-time.
The long, thin stems are often more than half
a yard high, and velvety."
"The roots are rather tough and stringy."
"And do not die in the winter, but remain
in the ground, and send up a tuft of green
leaves in the spring."
"The leaves are long, and broadest in the
middle, narrowed to each end, almost like a
We should call them lance-shaped, because
they are like the head of a lance, only that they
are rather too blunt at the tip."
And a little hairy or velvety, without any
"The stems are quite round, with swollen
joints, rather wide apart, so that there is a long
naked space between one joint and the next.
The stems will break more easily at the joints."
There is always a cluster of root-leaves on
the ground at the bottom of the stem."
"And not many leaves on the stem; but
these always grow at the joints, and in pairs,
one leaf opposite to another."
"And the branches come from the joints
"Yes: the stem divides into two branches
at the joint, and then each branch divides again
into two at the next joint, like a two-pronged
fork; so that it goes on forking up to the top,
each branch becoming shorter and shorter the
further it is from the root."
See, the last branch, with the flower at the
top, is quite short. Is that campion with quite
white flowers the same ?"
"No, Cissy; that is the white campion, or
the evening campion, which is different, but
very much like the red campion, and the flowers
smell sweet in the evening."
"The leaves look almost the same, and the
flowers nearly of the same size and shape, only
that they are quite white."
"True; but the flowers of the white campion
are sometimes pinkish, and those of the red
campion nearly white. You must not be guided
wholly by the colour of the flowers."
Then what must be the guide 1"
The shape of the capsule, as we shall see
by-and-by. But we have still to look at the
flowers, 'each of them standing in a large green-
striped hairy husk, large and round below, next
to the stalk.' You will remember the' flower-
cup' in other flowers, but in these it is more
"Oh yes; the green flower-cup, with its
toothed edge, is very plain to be seen."
In the red campion the teeth of the cup are
very short; in the white campion they are
longer, and with a broader notch."
"I see the difference now; but it is such a
little one, and the teeth are always small."
"We must pull the flower in pieces, as I
have to show you something here which we
have not seen before; but before I do so, we
must see the coloured leaves, the true flower-
There are five of them again."
Five, deeply notched at the outer edge, and
lengthened out into a long claw at the bottom.
Pull out the pink leaves and find the claw."
Here it is : nearly white, and as long as the
blade, sharply bent in the middle."
"Of course you can see the reason. When
the flowers are open the top is quite flat, like
-a button, with the five spreading
pink leaves ; but the long claw
must be bent sharp downwards to
pass into the flower-cup, making a
sort of elbow joint at the bend.
All the family of Pinks have these
G. 14'- clawed petals,' as they are called."
CLAWED PETAL. Yes, I see-the pink part quite
flat, and the white claw bent sharp downwards
into the cup."
"Now I must tell you of the 'something' which
we have not met with before in other flowers.
Some of the plants of the campion have only
male flowers, and others have only female flowers."
"And are both sorts of flowers just the same
to look at ?"
Exactly the same; and you could not tell
the one from the other by just looking at them
outside, only by pulling them in pieces."
0 uncle, show me the difference; I should
like to know the puzzle."
"Yes, dear; but you must have patience,
because you will hardly understand the puzzle
all at once. I have told you that the first set
of parts in a flower is the outside set of green
leaves, which we have agreed to call the flower-
cup; then the next set are the true coloured
flower-leaves, which are pink, with a long spur
or claw in these flowers; but the third set are
the threads in the middle, called stamens, and
the column in the centre, with the young seed-
vessel at the bottom."
"I recollect all that."
We have always found, up to now, both the
stamens-you call them threads-and the centre
piece all in one flower; but we shall see in
these flowers, as in this one, that there are ten
stamens or threads, but no column in the centre.
Here is another just the same-only the ten
stamens, and no column. These, then, are
Is the column of so much use ?"
Certainly it is; for the young seed-capsule
grows at the bottom of the column, and if there
is no centre piece (people call it a pistil) the
plant will have no seeds."
"Then these male flowers have no seeds ?"
"That is just the point; we must hunt in
other flowers for the centre piece or pistil. All
the flowers on this one plant are male flowers,
so we must find the plant which bears female
"Do they grow together ?"
"Yes. Let us try this one. No; it is just
the same, and all male flowers. We will try
them on the other side of the road."
"Here's a nice one, uncle-all a-blowing, all
Ah, that will do; it is a female plant."
It looks just like the others."
"But it is not the same. See here: there
are no stamens, only a column, with a swelling
at the bottom, which is the young seed-vessel,
and holds the very little dots which one day
will grow into seeds."
The column is split into five at the top; and
these female flowers will have seeds, while the
male flowers will have none. So the male
flowers are of no use, only to look at ? "
I did not say that, Cissy; but your ques-
tion makes me tell you something more."
"What! about the male flowers ?"
"Yes; we must go back to them again. You
saw the thick tops of the threads or stamens ?"
"All powdery like."
"These tops split lengthwise, and scatter
very fine yellow powder-the pollen; and this
pollen, if it settles on the top of the centre
column, grows, and thrusts a very fine tube
down the inside of the column into the seed-
vessel, so that the liquor that was in the pollen
grain passes down this tube into the space at
the bottom of the column, and helps the little
dots to grow into perfect seeds."
"Wouldn't they grow into perfect seeds
without the help of the pollen grains ?"
"They would not grow, but shrivel up."
Then how do the pollen grains get from the
male flowers into the female flowers, that may
be growing a long way off?"
"Perhaps in more ways than one; but I will
tell you one way in which they travel. You
have seen bees and flies hovering about flowers
and sucking their juice ? "
Little fly goes to a male flower, and pushes
about and gets into it as far as he can. Doing
this, he knocks off the pollen powder, which
sprinkles all over his head and back. By-and-
by he goes into a female flower, and there he
rubs the powder from his head and back upon
the sticky top of the column, and so the pollen
travels from the male to the female flower."
What happens after "
"The male flowers die, and nothing is left;
the female flowers die, but the swelling at the
bottom of the centre column remains, and grows
bigger and bigger, until it becomes a large seed-
vessel or capsule, open at the top, with ten teeth
round the edge, so that when the seeds are ripe
they shake in the inside and fall out."
Then they are all female plants which have
Only female plants; and in the red campion
the capsules are nearly round, with the teeth
bent back; in the white campion the capsules
are longer and almost pear-shaped, with the
teeth straight. Thus you may know the red
FIG. 15.-CAPSULE OF FIG. 16.-CAPSULE OF
RED CAMPION. WHITE CAMPION.
from the white campion when the flowers are
all dead and gone."
"Suppose the fly carries the powder on his
head into another sort of plant, such as a
stitchwort, and leaves it behind him, what will
"Nothing will happen. The tubes will not
grow, and the powder will wither and dry up."
"Have all the pinks, and such like plants,
male flowers on one plant and female flowers on
Oh no; only a few kinds."
They are very pretty flowers, and some of
the garden pinks smell so sweet; but are they
of any use ?"
"I am afraid that very few of them are of
any use to man, except for his pleasure; but
some of them may be as useful to smaller ani-
mals as 'chickweed' is to the little birds."
I know the chickweed; it has such miser-
able little white flowers."
"The flowers are small, but rather pretty if
you see them through a glass. I would advise
you to watch the leaves of this little plant, and
that you can do easily, for it grows in every
garden. At night the upper leaves draw to-
wards each other in pairs, so that they close
over the young shoots, and protect them during
the night. This has been called 'going to
sleep;' but it is rather more than that, for the
leaves rise upwards and cover up the buds, to
shelter them from cold or harm. In some other
RED CAMPION. 77
plants the leaves either rise or fall, but only to
protect themselves, and they look as if they
were going to sleep. It is not generally known
that the young plants may be boiled as a vege-
table, and are something like spinach. You
must not despise the chickweed, for it may
remind you that little things are not mean or
miserable because they are small."
ST. JOHN'S WORT.)"
ANY old customs, Cissy, have to do
with flowers; but some of them have
gone out of use, and others out of thought-
mistletoe at Christmas, hawthorn on Mayday,
willow on Palm Sunday, and St. John's wort on
Midsummer Eve. We must find the St. John's
wort, and learn its story."
Shall we find it in the lane ?"
It grows on hedge-banks and by roadsides,
as well as in woods, and is in flower in July and
What is the story ?"
Not a long one. A Welshman says that
in Wales they have the custom of sticking St.
John's wort over the doors on the eve of St.
* lypericum perforatum.
ST. JOHN'S WORT.
John Baptist; and, without naming this plant, a
bishop wrote of olden times, when men of the
country brought into London on Midsummer
Eve branches of trees from Bishop's Wood, and
flowers from the field, to array the houses and
make them gay."
Do you know why this flower should have
been called St. John's wort, or why it should
have been chosen for that purpose ?"
Perhaps because it is a showy plant, and
flowers at this time of year. It is a large plant,
and we cannot miss it."
And the colour ? "
There are at least ten kinds of St. John's
wort found in this country, and all of them have
yellow flowers. Our St. John's wort, which is
probably the true species, grows more than half
a yard high, and can be seen a long way off."
I hope we shall find it."
There's a plant, with golden yellow flowers,
just in sight. It may be a ragwortt,' but it is
the more likely to be St. John's wort. You
had better run and look at it."
ST. JOHN'S WORT.
How shall I know it ?''
You will know if it is the ragwort, because
the ragwort is something like the dandelion:
the flower-head, which looks to be one flower, is
made up of a host of little flowers packed close
together in the middle, and rows of strap-shaped
flowers round the edge, like the rays in a dande-
lion or daisy."
"Yes, a composite flower; but if it is St.
John's wort ?"
Then it is a simple flower, and in the middle
of it a very great number of golden threads
which we call stamens."
---- -_- -."-----
FIG. 17.-SECTION OF FLOWER OF ST. JOHN'S WORT.
At length Cissy called out, Here it is, and
they are simple flowers."
You see that it is quite half a yard high, and
ST. JOHN'S WORT.
grows so stiff and upright that you should know
it again a long way off."
"And such a number of golden yellow
The stem, you can see, is distinctly two-
edged, and bright reddish brown, so slender that
if it were not tough and woody it would soon be
And such a number of branches."
Mostly in pairs, one on each side of the stem,
and opposite to each other; not spreading much,
but pointing upwards."
And what little leaves."
Yes; the leaves are small for the size of the
plant. Oblong, three times as long as they are
broad, with quite a smooth edge; and I don't
think you will find hairs upon them anywhere."
They are rather tough, aren't they ? "
Yes; but what is more strange is that they
are pricked with little dots, and you must use
your best eyes to see them."
And the leaves grow in pairs, too, on oppo-
site sides of the stem."
ST. JOHN'S WORT.
All the branches grow out from the corner
which the leaf makes with the stem; that is to
say, the branches grow from the stem, or larger
branches, just over and close to the bottom of
the leaf, and are said to grow in the axils of the
The leaves are all smaller at the top of the
plant than they are at the bottom, and smaller
on the branches than they are on the stem."
That is usually the case with herbs."
The flowers look very different from butter-
And yet the flowers of both have five yellow
floral leaves, and a great number of threads, or
stamens, in the middle of the flower."
With five little green cup-leaves close to the
outside of the flower."
"Now then, Cissy, you must pull one flower
in pieces, very carefully, over this sheet of paper,
and be very careful with the stamens."
"One, two, three Such a lot of stamens-
sixty or seventy-but all grown together into
two or three tufts or bundles."
ST. JOHN'S WORT.
Exactly. That is just what I wished you
to be quite sure of, because that is how you may
always know St. John's wort from any other
yellow wild flower. The stamens are always
joined in bundles. You can remember ? "
"Yes; I don't think I can forget it now
// -" ,
FIG. 18.-FLOWER OF ST. JOHN'S WORT.
1, Flower; 2, Bundle of Stamens; 8, Pistil; 4, Section of Ovary; 5, Fruit;
6, Seed; 7, Section.
that I have seen it. And there is a large
knob in the middle where the stamens are
That is the ovary, which grows into a fruit
and contains the seed. You will notice that not
only the stems, and sometimes the large veins
ST. JOHN'S WORT.
of the leaves, but the tips of the flower buds,
before they open, are tinged with red."
And the plant is smooth all over."
You have been pulling the plant about,
breaking and rubbing it, so that I want to know
if you can smell any scent on your fingers."
"Yes; I think I smell something like lemons."
," There is a yellow juice in the plant which
perhaps contains the scent, but sometimes it is
better to be seen than at others. Suppose we
carry some of the plant home, and put it in
water in a glass bottle: then we shall see, after
it has been standing a little while, that the
water becomes yellowish."
See, it stains my fingers, but not yellow."
If you press some of them between blotting
paper, the juice will stain the paper yellow."
Is the yellow colour of any use ? "
I have been told that when mixed with
alum and boiled the dried plant will dye wool
a yellow colour, but I have never tried it."
And yet you say that all things have their
ST. JOHN'S WORT.
Yes; but I did not tell you that I knew the
uses of all things. The St. John's wort was
gathered in the country, when I was a boy, by
many old people, who believed it to be so useful
as a medicine that they dried it and kept some
of it always in the house."
And what was it good for ?"
It was supposed to cure the ague, and to be
good for jaundice, and I think useful for wounds
and for internal bleeding, and perhaps for many
things besides, for it was a plant of many vir-
And not all of them true ? "
You will think so when I tell you that in
France and Germany the common people gather
the plant on St. John's Day, and hang it up in
their windows as a charm to protect them from
harm by storms, thunder, or evil spirits. Even
in North Wales there was at one time a similar
belief. I may tell you that there is a St. John's
wort, with large yellow flowers, as big as half-a-
crown, often grown in gardens and shrubberies;
but it is not one of our wild flowers. One name
86 ST. JOHN'S WORT.
for it is 'Aaron's beard,' on account of the great
number of stamens. As the flowers are so large,
you will be able to see the bundles of stamens
better than you can do in the common St. John's
wort; so that you had better look for it, as it
grows close to the ground in large patches, and
the large flowers stand singly, and not in bunches.
It grows in some places like a wild plant, but it
is a native of Southern Europe, and was intro-
duced into this country, therefore we cannot call
it a true British wild flower."
Y" OU should know the mallow, Cissy, with
the pink flowers close at your feet.
But what do you call it ? "
Oh cheeses.' Yes, I know."
Cheeses ? why do you call it 'cheeses'? "
Because little cheeses grow all over it, and
so we play with them, and call them 'cheeses.'"
"' Pick-cheeses' they are called in some places,
and are the round, flat fruits of the mallow."
What a sprawling plant! too lazy to grow
As some people are too lazy to walk straight.
It is a strong, tough plant; so you may grasp
it firmly, and pull with all your might to drag
it up by the root."
I can't; it sticks so hard."
Then I will help you. Now, pull all to-
gether, and up it comes."
But the end of the root is broken off."
"Never mind; there is enough for you to see
what a large, tough root it has, thicker than
your finger; and if you rub it where it is broken,
you will find that it has a clammy juice."
"It is almost like liquorice root, but not so
nice, is it ? "
Not so sweet, but nearly as useful."
Good to eat ?"
Not exactly; but all kinds of mallow roots
are whitish and full of a slimy juice, and when
laid in water the juice runs out, and makes the
water thick and clammy. It is said that the
old Romans used mallow roots as a vegetable."
But it is not used now-a-days ?"
Yes, it is, but not in the same way. Mallows
are one of the few common plants still used in
proper medicine, and more abroad, in Europe,
than with us."
How is it used ?"
FIG. 19.-COIMMON MALLOW.
1, Part of Plant, reduced; 2, Root; 3, Section of Flower; 4, 5, Fruits; 6, Carpel:
7, Seed; 8, Stamen.
The water in which it is soaked is sweetened
with sugar and drunk, or it is used outside for
bathing inflamed limbs, or made into a kind of
Only the roots ?"
All parts of the plant more or less, especially
the marsh-mallow, which is made into a syrup
or lozenges. French chemists sell the dried
flowers and roots under the name of' guimauve.' "
The stem is tough like the root, and strag-
"The common mallow is not a neat-growing
plant, but the flowers are pretty; sometimes it
is half-a-yard high, and often less."
It seems to be soft and velvety all over."
Yes; but the marsh-mallow is much softer
and more velvety. Let us try to name the
shape of the leaves."
That is not so easy. They would be rather
rounded if they were not so deeply notched at
"I should call them kidney-shaped, and
notched at the edge so as to have from five to
seven broad and almost three-cornered teeth:
too large for teeth, we might almost call them
lobes. The dwarf mallow is nearly as common,
but the leaves are more kidney-shaped, and
Lobes! what are they ?"
The lower flap of the ear is the lobe of the
ear; and so these are lobes, or flaps, if you like."
Fia. 20.-DWARF MALLOW LEAF.
Never mind what we call them, so long as
we know what it is that we mean."
"You are right, Cissy: names mean little
until we give some meaning to them, and it is
seldom easy to state the forms of leaves in words."
And these plants have lobed leaves."
Yes; which are not opposite to each other
in pairs, but grow singly and scattered. The
lower leaves, in most plants, are the most per-
fect in their form."
And there are tiny leaves at the bottom of
the foot-stalks upon the stems."
You will see that there are a great many
flowers, or flower-buds, which have short stalks,
and spring from the inner corner or axil where
the leaf-stalk is joined to the stem or the
Some are only buds, some are open flowers,
and some almost like buds, only that the flowers
have opened and fallen off."
I wish you to look carefully at these flowers.
I should tell you that in all flowers there are
three things you should always look for. You
should look for the outer green leaves close up
to the flower, and which close over and cover
the young bud : these are the flower-cup or
calyx. Then there are the coloured leaves, which
form the proper flower. And lastly, there are the
thread-like stamens in the middle of the flower."
And should we always find all these three
parts ? "
"Yes,-we should in all perfect flowers; but
sometimes one of the parts becomes very small."
But in the mallow the green leaves of the
flower-cup are very large."
They are in all the Mallow family; and
not only large, but double. The inner cup has
five divisions, and the outer one three. It is
not usual for the green flower-cup, or calyx
(which means cup), to be double, as it is in
I must not forget that."
"Not even when you see hollyhocks grow-
ing in the garden, for they are big mallows.
Now, look at the second set of parts in the
"Yes, the coloured flower-leaves; and there
are five, broadest towards the outer end, and
notched. Very pretty pink with purple lines."
"Do you smell anything ?"
No; I don't think they are scented."
There is a 'musk-mallow,' which is not so
common, and that is supposed to smell faintly
of musk in the evening, but I never could smell
musk during the daytime in the flowers."
Now for the third set of parts in the flower."
"Yes, Cissy; and curious they are too, for
you see they form a big bundle in the middle of
the flower, which stands up boldly."
And such a lot of stamens! That's the
See, all of them joined together at the bot-
tom, in a sort of tube, around the column that
stands up in the middle."
More than five? "
"More than five-more than ten-quite a
bunch of them, with large nodding heads. You
will not forget that in the mallow flowers the
first set and the third set of parts are different
from what they are in most flowers."
I shall not forget. And see how the flowers
are twisted round before they open, almost as
they are in the bindweed. But the cheeses'-
I want to know about them."
Of course you do; and here is a young one
at the bottom of the plant, where the flower has
fallen off and the cup-leaves have closed over
Oh yes; there's a little cheese inside."
That is the fruit, like a thick round button,
with marks all round the edge; and when quite
ripe all these little seed-vessels will break off
FIG. 21.-FRUIT OF MALLOW.
from the core in the centre and part into sepa-
rate pieces, with a seed in each piece."
I eat them sometimes," said Cissy.
"When they are green and juicy, but not
when they are dry. If we are to believe all the
good things which the mallow is said to do, we
would call it the most wonderful of plants."
"I suppose some people have believed ? "
Hardly so much as Pliny did, who wrote
nearly at the time of Christ, that whosoever
shall take a spoonful of any of the mallows,
shall that day be free from all diseases that may
come unto him.'"
That would be a useful medicine."
"Another says that the leaves bruised or
rubbed upon the place stung with bees, wasps,
or the like, presently take away the pains, red-
ness, and swellings that arise therefrom."
Mallows must have been known thousands
of years ago."
"Even in the time of Job, when they were a
famine food. As he says, 'For want and fam-
ine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilder-
ness in former time desolate and waste: who
cut up mcallows by the bushes' (xxx. 3, 4). The
Greeks and Romans ate it boiled, or raw in
And are they ever eaten now ? "
I believe that the poor inhabitants of Syria,
especially the Armenians, subsist for weeks on
herbs, of which the marsh-mallow is one of the
most common. When boiled first and then
fried with onions and butter, they are said to
form a palatable dish."
I should not think we could eat them like
"Well, Cissy, I am not so sure of that, but I
never tried them; yet there are plants in India
very nearly the same as mallows, the leaves of
which are used every day as a common pot-herb."
Any way, if the mallow is a weed it is not
quite a useless one."
"The neatest use I ever saw for the mallow
was a pretty lace collar for a little girl, made
from the stems of the common mallow."
"Do tell me how it was done, uncle."
The bark was stripped off the stems, soaked
so that it could be beaten, and stripped into
very fine threads, and these threads were spun
into something like flax thread. This thread
was worked up and made into lace by some
ladies in Ireland, and sent to a great exhibition-
it might have been in 1851-and no one could
have known that it was not lace made in the
"What was it done for "
"To prove that common things have their
uses, and that the common wayside mallow
could be made into lace that was fit to decorate
the finest lady in the land."
"To deck the living and the dead."
Truly so; for the ancients used them as
funeral flowers, and it was customary to plant
them round the graves and tombs of dead