(Rosa) Rose family

Just as many members of the lily tribe show a preference for the

rule of three in the arrangements of their floral parts, so the

wild roses cling to the quinary method of some primitive

ancestor, a favorite one also with the buttercup and many of its

kin, the geraniums, mallows, and various others. Most of our

fruit trees and bushes are near relatives of the rose. Five

petals and five sepals, then, we always find on roses in a state

of nature; and although the progressive gardener of today has

nowhere shown his skill more than in the development of a

multitude of petals from stamens in the magnificent roses of

fashionable society, the most highly cultivated darling of the

greenhouses quickly reverts to the original wild type, setting

his work of years at naught, if once it regain its natural

liberties through neglect.

To protect its foliage from being eaten by hungry cattle, the

rose goes armed into the battle of life with curved, sharp

prickles, not true thorns or modified branches, but merely

surface appliances which peel off with the bark. To destroy

crawling pilferers of pollen, several species coat their calices,

at least, with fine hairs or sticky gum; and to insure wide

distribution of offspring, the seeds are packed in the

attractive, bright red calyx tube or hip, a favorite food of many

birds, which drop them miles away. When shall we ever learn that

not even a hair has been added to or taken from a blossom without

a lawful cause, and study it accordingly? Fragrance, abundant

pollen, and bright-colored petals naturally attract many insects;

but roses secrete no nectar. Some species of bees, and a common

beetle (Trichius piger) for example, seem to depend upon certain

wild roses exclusively for pollen to feed themselves and their

larvae. Bumblebees, to which roses are adapted, require a firmer

support than the petals would give, and so alight on the center

of the flower, where the pistil receives pollen carried by them

from other roses. Although the numerous stamens and the pistils

mature simultaneously, the former are usually turned outward,

that the incoming pollen-laden insect may strike the stigma

first. When the large bees cease their visits as they may in

long-continued dull or rainy weather, the rose, turning toward

the sun, stands more or less obliquely, and some of the pollen

must fall on its stigma. Occasional self-fertilization matters


If plants have insect benefactors, they have their foes as well

and hordes of tiny aphids, commonly known as green flies or plant

lice, moored by their sucking tubes to the tender sprays of

roses, wild and cultivated, live by extracting their juices. A

curious relationship exists between these little creatures and

the ants, which "milk" them by stroking and caressing them with

their antennae until they emit a tiny drop of sweet, white fluid.

The yellow ant, that lives an almost subterranean life, actually

domesticates flocks and herds of root-feeding aphids; the brown

ant appropriates those that live among the bark of trees; and the

common black garden ant (Lasius niger), devoting itself to the

aphis of the rose bushes, protects it in extraordinary ways,

delightfully described by the author of "Ants, Bees, and Wasps."

In literature, ancient and modern, sacred and profane, no flower

figures so conspicuously as the rose. To the Romans it was most

significant when placed over the door of a public or private

banquet hall. Each who passed beneath it bound himself thereby

not to disclose anything said or done within; hence the

expression sub rosa, common to this day.

The PRAIRIE, CLIMBING, or MICHIGAN ROSE (R. setigera) lifts

clusters of deep, bright pink flowers, that after a while fade

almost white, above the thickets and rich prairie soil, from

southern Ontario and Wisconsin to the Gulf, as far eastward as

Florida. Its distinguishing characteristics are: Stout, widely

separated prickles along the stem, that grows several feet long;

leaves compounded of three, rarely five, oval leaflets, acute or

obtuse at the apex; stalks and calyx often glandular; odorless

flowers that, opening in June and July, measure about two and a

half inches across, their styles cohering in a smooth column on

which bees are tempted to alight; and a round hip, or seed

vessel, formed by the fruiting calyx, which is more or less

glandular. From this parent stock several valuable

double-flowering roses have been derived, among others the Queen

and the Gem of the Prairies, but it is our only native rose that

has ever passed into cultivation.

The SMOOTH, EARLY, or MEADOW ROSE (R. blanda), found blooming in

June and July in moist, rocky places from Newfoundland to New

Jersey and a thousand miles westward, has a trifle larger and

slightly fragrant flowers, at first pink, later pure white. Their

styles are separate, not cohering in a column nor projecting as

in the climbing rose. This is a leafy, low bush mostly less than

three feet high; it is either entirely unarmed, or else provided

with only a few weak prickles; the stipules are rather broad, and

the leaf is compounded of from five to seven oval, blunt, and

pale green leaflets, often hoary below.

In swamps and low wet ground from Quebec to Florida, and westward

to the Mississippi, the SWAMP ROSE (R. Carolina) blooms late in

May and on to midsummer. The bush may grow taller than a man, or

perhaps only a foot high. It is armed with stout, hooked, rather

distant prickles, and few or no bristles. The leaflets, from five

to nine, but usually seven, to a leaf, are smooth, pale, or

perhaps hairy beneath to protect the pores from filling with

moisture arising from the wet ground. Long, sharp calyx lobes,

which drop off before the cup swells in fruit into a round,

glandular, hairy red hip, are conspicuous among the clustered

pink flowers and buds.

Surely no description of our COMMON, LOW, DWARF, or PASTURE ROSE

(R. humilis; R. lucida of Gray) is needed. One's acquaintance

with flowers must be limited indeed, if it does not include this

most abundant of all the wild roses from Ontario to Georgia, and

westward to Wisconsin. In light, dry, or rocky soil we find the

exquisite, but usually solitary, blossom late in May until July,

and, like most roses, it has the pleasant practice of putting

forth a stray blossom or two in early autumn. The stamens of this

species are turned outward so strongly that self- pollination

must very rarely take place.

Among the following charming wild roses, not natives, but

naturalized immigrants from foreign lands, that have escaped from

gardens, is Shakespeare's CANKER-BLOOM, the lovely DOG ROSE or

WILD BRIER (R. canina), that spreads its long, straggling

branches along the roadsides and banks, covering the waste lands

with its smooth, beautiful foliage, and in June and July with

pink or white roses. Because it lacks the fragrance of

sweetbrier, which it otherwise closely resembles, it has been

branded with the dog prefix as a mark of contempt. Professor Koch

says that long before it was customary to surround gardens with

walls, men had rose hedges. "Each of the four great peoples of

Asia," he continues, "possessed its own variety of rose, and

carried it during all wanderings, until finally all four became

the common property of the four peoples. The great Indo-Germanic

stock chose the 'hundred-leaved' and RED ROSE (R. Gallica);

nevertheless, after the Niebelungen the common dog rose played an

important part among the ancient Germans. The DAMASCUS ROSE (R.

Damascena), which blooms twice a year, as well as the MUSK ROSE

(R. moschata), were cherished by the Semitic or Arabic stock;

while the Turkish-Mongolian people planted by preference the

YELLOW ROSE (R. lutea). Eastern Asia (China and Japan) is the

fatherland of the INDIAN and TEA ROSES."

How fragrant are the pages of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare

with the Eglantine! This delicious plant, known here as

SWEETBRIAR (R. rubIginosa), emits its very aromatic odor from

russet glands on the under, downy side of the small leaflets,

always a certain means of identification. From eastern Canada to

Virginia and Tennessee the plant has happily escaped from man's

gardens back to Nature's.

In spite of its American Indian name, the lovely white CHEROKEE

ROSE (R. Sinica), that runs wild in the South, climbing, rambling

and rioting with a truly Oriental abandon and luxuriance, did

indeed come from China. Would that our northern thickets and

roadsides might be decked with its pure flowers and almost

equally beautiful dark, glossy, evergreen leaves!


(Trifolium pratense) Pea family

Flowers - Magenta, pink, or rarely whitish, sweet-scented, the

tubular corollas set in dense round, oval, or egg-shaped heads

about 1 in. long, and seated in a sparingly hairy calyx. Stem: 6

in. to 2 ft. high, branching, reclining, or erect, more or less

hairy. Leaves: On long petioles, commonly compounded of 3, but

sometimes of 4 to 11 oval or oblong leaflets, marked with white

crescent, often dark-spotted near center; stipules egg-shaped,

sharply pointed, strongly veined, over 1/2 in. long.

Preferred Habitat - Fields, meadows, roadsides.

Flowering Season - April-November.

Distribution - Common throughout Canada and United States.

Meadows bright with clover-heads among the grasses, daisies, and

buttercups in June resound with the murmur of unwearying industry

and rapturous enjoyment. Bumblebees by the tens of thousands

buzzing above acres of the farmer's clover blossoms should be

happy in a knowledge of their benefactions, which doubtless

concern them not at all. They have never heard the story of the

Australians who imported quantities of clover for fodder, and had

glorious fields of it that season, but not a seed to plant next

year's crops, simply because the farmers had failed to import the

bumblebee. After her immigration the clovers multiplied

prodigiously. No; the bee's happiness rests on her knowledge that

only the butterflies' long tongues can honestly share with her

the brimming wells of nectar in each tiny floret. Children who

have sucked them too appreciate her rapture. If we examine a

little flower under the magnifying glass, we shall see why its

structure places it in the pea family. Bumblebees so depress the

keel either when they sip, or feed on pollen, that their heads

and tongues get well dusted with the yellow powder, which they

transfer to the stigmas of other flowers; whereas the butterflies

are of doubtful value, if not injurious, since their long,

slender tongues easily drain the nectar without depressing the

keel. Even if a few grains of pollen should cling to their

tongues, it would probably be wiped off as they withdrew them

through the narrow slit, where the petals nearly meet, at the

mouth of the flower. Bombus terrestris delights in nipping holes

at the base of the tube, which other pilferers also profit by.

Our country is so much richer in butterflies than Europe, it is

scarcely surprising that Professor Robertson found thirteen

Lepidoptera out of twenty insect visitors to this clover in

Illinois, whereas Muller caught only eight butterflies on it out

of a list of thirty-nine visitors in Germany. The fritillaries

and the sulphurs are always seen about the clover fields among

many others, and the "dusky wings" and the caterpillar of several

species feeds almost exclusively on this plant.

"To live in clover," from the insect's point of view at least,

may well mean a life of luxury and affluence. Most peasants in

Europe will tell you that a dream about the flower foretells not

only a happy marriage, but long life and prosperity. For ages the

clover has been counted a mystic plant, and all sorts of good and

bad luck were said to attend the finding of variations of its

leaves which had more than the common number of leaflets. At

evening these leaflets fold downward, the side ones like two

hands clasped in prayer, the end one bowed over them. In this

fashion the leaves of the white and other clovers also go to

sleep, to protect their sensitive surfaces from cold by

radiation, it is thought.

The ZIG-ZAG CLOVER, COW or MARL-GRASS (T. Medium), a native of

Europe and Asia, now naturalized in the eastern half of the

United States and Canada, may scarcely be told from the common

red clover, except by its crooked, angular stems - often

provokingly straight - by its unspotted leaves, and the short

peduncle in which its heads are elevated above the calyx.

Farmers here are beginning to learn the value of the beautiful


incarnatum), and happily there are many fields and waste places

in the East already harboring the brilliant runaways. The narrow

heads may be two and a half inches long. A meadow of this fodder

plant makes one envious of the very cattle that may spend the

summer day wading through acres of its deep bright bloom.


(Cracca Virginiana; Tephrosia Virginiana of Gray) Pea family

Flowers - In terminal cluster, each 1/2 in. long or over,

butterfly-shaped, consisting of greenish, cream-yellow standard,

purplish-rose wings, and curved keel of greenish yellow tinged

with rose; petals clawed; 10 stamens (9 and 1); calyx 5-toothed.

Stem: Hoary, with white, silky hairs, rather woody, 1 to 2 feet

high. Leaves: Compounded of 7 to 25 oblong leaflets. Root: Long,

fibrous, tough. Fruit: A hoary, narrow pod, to 2 in. long.

Preferred Habitat - Dry, sandy soil, edges of pine woods.

Flowering Season - June-July.

Distribution - Southern New England, westward to Minnesota, south

to Florida, Louisiana, and Mexico.

Flowers far less showy and attractive than this denizen of sandy

wastelands, a cousin of the wisteria vine and the locust tree,

have been introduced to American gardens. Striking its long

fibrous root deep into the dry soil, the plant spreads in thrifty

clumps through heat and drought - and so tough are its fibers

they might almost be used for violin strings. As in the case of

the lupine, the partridge pea and certain others akin to it, the

leaves of the hoary pea "go to sleep" at night, but after a

manner of their own, i.e., by lying along the stem and turning on

their own bases.

In similar situations from New York south and southwestward, the

MILK PEA (Galactia regularis; G. glabella of Gray) lies prostrate

along the ground, the matted, usually branched stems sending up

at regular intervals a raceme of rose-purple flowers in July and

August from the axil of the trefoliate leaf.