LIGHTNING PLANT, SIMPLER'S JOY, and so on through a long list of popular names for the most part testifying to the plant's virtue as a love-philter, bridal token, and general cure-all, has now become naturalized from the Old World on the Atlantic and

Pacific Slopes; and is rapidly appropriating waste arid cultivated ground until, in many places, it is truly troublesome. In general habit like the blue vervain, its flowers are more purplish than blue, and are scattered, not crowded, along the spikes. The leaves are deeply, but less acutely, cut. Ages before Christians ascribed healing virtues to the vervain - found growing on Mount Calvary, and therefore possessing every sort of miraculous power, according to the logic of simple peasant folk - the Druids had counted it among their sacred plants. "When the dog-star arose from unsunned spots" the priests gathered it. Did not Shakespeare's witches learn some of their uncanny rites from these reverend men of old? One is impressed with the striking similarity of many customs recorded of both. Two of the most frequently used ingredients in witches' cauldrons were the vervain and the rue. "The former probably derived its notoriety from the fact of its being sacred to Thor, an honor which marked it out, like other lightning plants, as peculiarly adapted for occult uses," says Mr. Thiselton Dyer in his "Folk-lore of Plants." "Although vervain, therefore, as the enchanter's plant, was gathered by witches to do mischief in their incantations, yet, as Aubrey says, it 'hinders witches from their will,' a circumstance to which Drayton further refers when he speaks of the vervain as ''gainst witchcraft much avayling.'" Now we understand why the children of Shakespeare's time hung vervain and dill with a horseshoe over the door. In his eighth Eclogue, Virgil refers to vervain as a charm to recover lost love. Doubtless this was the verbena, the herba sacra employed in ancient Roman sacrifices, according to Pliny. In his day the bridal wreath was of verbena, gathered by the bride herself. NARROW-LEAVED VERVAIN (V. angustifolia), like the blue vervain, has a densely crowded spike of tiny purple or blue flowers that quickly give place to seeds, but usually there is only one spike at the end of a branch. The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, acute, saw-edged, rough. From Massachusetts and Florida westward to Minnesota and Arkansas one finds the plant blooming in dry fields from June to August, after the parsimonious manner of the vervain tribe. It is curious that the vervain, or verbena, employed by brides for centuries as the emblem of chastity, should be one of the notorious botanical examples of a willful hybrid. Generally, the individuals of distinct species do not interbreed; but verbenas are often difficult to name correctly in every case because of their susceptibility to each other's pollen - the reason why the garden verbena may so easily be made to blossom forth into whatever hue the gardener wills. His plants have been obtained, for the most part, from the large-flowered verbena, the beautiful purple, blue, or white species of our Western States (V. Canadensis) crossed with brilliant-hued species imported from South America. MAD-DOG SKULLCAP or HELMET-FLOWER; MAD-WEED; HOODWORT (Scutellaria lateriflora) Mint family Flowers - Blue, varying to whitish; several or many, 1/4 in. long, growing in axils of upper leaves or in 1-sided spike-like racemes. Calyx 2-lipped, the upper lip with a helmet-like protuberance; corolla 2-lipped; the lower, 3-lobed lip spreading; the middle lobe larger than the side ones. Stamens, 4, in pairs, under the upper lip; upper pair the shorter; one pistil, the style unequally cleft in two. Stem: Square, smooth, leafy, branched, 8 in. to 2 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite, oblong to lance-shaped, thin, toothed, on slender pedicles, 1 to 3 in. long, growing gradually smaller toward top of stem. Fruit: 4 nutlets. Preferred Habitat - Wet, shady ground. Flowering Season - July-September. Distribution - Uneven throughout United States and the British Possessions. By the helmet-like appendage on the upper lip of the calyx, which to the imaginative mind of Linnaeus suggested Scutellum (a little dish), which children delight to spring open for a view of the four tiny seeds attached at the base when in fruit, one knows this to be a member of the skullcap tribe, a widely scattered genus of blue and violet two-lipped flowers, some small to the point of insignificance, like the present species, others showy enough for the garden, but all rich in nectar, and eagerly sought by bees. The wide middle lobe of the lower lip forms a convenient platform on which to alight; the stamens in the roof of a newly opened blossom dust the back of the visitor as he explores the nectary; and as the stamens of an older flower wither when they have shed their pollen, and the style then rises to occupy their position, it follows that, in flying from the top of one spike of flowers to the bottom of another, where the older ones are, the visitor, for whom the whole scheme of color, form, and arrangement was planned, deposits on the sticky top of the style some of the pollen he has brought with him and so cross-fertilizes the flower. When the seeds begin to form and the now useless corolla drops off, the helmet-like appendage on the top of the calyx enlarges and meets the lower lip, so enclosing and protecting the tiny nutlets. After their maturity, either the mouth gapes from dryness, or the appendage drops off altogether, from the same cause, to release the seeds. Old herb doctors, who professed to cure hydrophobia with this species, are responsible for its English misnomer. Perhaps the most beautiful member of the genus is the SHOWY SKULLCAP (S. serrata), whose blue corolla, an inch long, has its narrow upper lip shorter than the spreading lower one. The flowers are set opposite each other at the end of the smooth stem, which rises from one to two feet high in the woods throughout a southerly and westerly range. As several other skullcaps have distinctly saw-edged leaves, this plant might have been given a more distinctive adjective, thinks one who did not have the naming of 200,000 species! Above dry, sandy soil from New York and Michigan southward the HAIRY SKULLCAP (S. pilosa) lifts short racemes of blue flowers that are only half an inch long, and whose lower lip and lobes at either side are shorter than the arched upper lip. Most parts of the plant are covered with down, the lower stem being especially hairy; and this fact determines the species when connected with its rather distant pairs of indented, veiny leaves, ranging from oblong to egg-shaped, and furnished with petioles which grow gradually shorter toward the top, where pairs of bracts, seated on the stem, part to let the flowers spring from their axils. The LARGER or HYSSOP SKULLCAP (S. integrifolia) rarely has a dent in its rounded oblong leaves ,which, like the stem, are covered with fine down. Its lovely, bright blue flowers, an inch long, the lips of about equal length, are grouped opposite each other at the top of a stem that never lifts them higher than two feet; and so their beauty is often concealed in the tall grass of roadsides and meadows and the undergrowth of woods and thickets, where they bloom from May to August, from southern New England to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to Texas. This tribe of plants is almost exclusively North American, but the hardy MARSH SKULLCAP or HOODED WILLOW-HERB (S. galericulata), at least, roams over Europe, and Asia also, with the help of runners, as well as seeds that, sinking into the soft earth of swamps and the borders of brooks, find growth easy. The blue flowers which grow singly in the axils of the upper leaves are quite as long as those of the larger and the showy skullcaps; the oblong, lance-shaped leaves, which are mostly seated on the branching stem, opposite each other, have low teeth. Why do leaves vary as they do, especially in closely allied species? "The causes which have led to the different forms of leaves have been, so far as I know," says Sir John Lubbock, "explained in very few cases: those of the shapes and structure of seeds are tolerably obvious in some species, but in the majority they are still entirely unexplained; and, even as regards the blossoms themselves, in spite of the numerous and conscientious labors of so many eminent naturalists, there is as yet no single species thoroughly known to us." GROUND IVY or JOY; GILL-OVER-THE-GROUND; FIELD BALM; CREEPING


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