(Sisyrinchium angustifolium) Iris family Flowers - From blue to purple, with a yellow center; a Western variety, white; usually several buds at the end of stem, between 2 erect unequal bracts; about 1/2 in. across; perianth of 6 spreading divisions, each pointed with

a bristle from a notch; stamens 3, the filaments united to above the middle; pistil 1, its tip 3-cleft. Stem: 3 to 14 in. tall, pale hoary green, flat, rigid, 2-edged. Leaves: Grass-like, pale, rigid, mostly from base. Fruit: 3-celled capsule, nearly globose. Preferred Habitat - Moist fields and meadows. Flowering Season - May-August. Distribution - Newfoundland to British Columbia, from eastern slope of Rocky Mountains to Atlantic, south to Virginia and Kansas. Only for a day, and that must be a bright one, will this "little sister of the stately blue flag" open its eyes, to close them in indignation on being picked; nor will any coaxing but the sunshine's induce it to open them again in water, immediately after. The dainty flower, growing in dense tufts, makes up in numbers what it lacks in size and lasting power, flecking our meadows with purplish ultramarine blue in a sunny June morning. Later in the day, apparently there are no blossoms there, for all are tightly closed, never to bloom again. New buds will unfold to tinge the field on the morrow. Usually three buds nod from between a pair of bracts, the lower one of which may be twice the length of the upper one but only one flower opens at a time. Slight variations in this plant have been considered sufficient to differentiate several species formerly included by Gray and other American botanists under the name of S. Bermudiana. LARGE or EARLY, PURPLE-FRINGED ORCHIS (Habenaria grandiflora; H. fimbriata of Gray) Orchid family Flowers - Pink-purple and pale lilac, sometimes nearly white; fragrant, alternate, clustered in thick, dense spikes from 3 to 15 in. long. Upper sepal and toothed petals erect; the lip of deepest shade, 1/2 in. long, fan-shaped, 3-parted, fringed half its length, and prolonged at base into slender, long spur; stamen united with style into short column; 2 anther sacs slightly divergent, the hollow between them glutinous, stigmatic. Stem. 1 to 5 ft. high, angled, twisted. Leaves: Oval, large, sheathing the stem below; smaller, lance-shaped ones higher up; bracts above. Root: Thick, fibrous. Preferred Habitat - Rich, moist meadows, muddy places, woods. Flowering Season - June-August. Distribution - New Brunswick to Ontario; southward to North Carolina, westward to Michigan. Because of the singular and exquisitely unerring adaptations of orchids as a family to their insect visitors, no group of plants has greater interest for the botanist since Darwin interpreted their marvelous mechanism, and Gray, his instant disciple, revealed the hidden purposes of our native American species, no less wonderfully constructed than the most costly exotic in a millionaire's hothouse. A glance at the spur of this orchid, one of the handsomest and most striking of its clan, and the heavy perfume of the flower, would seem to indicate that only a moth with a long proboscis could reach the nectar secreted at the base of the thread-like passage. Butterflies, attracted by the conspicuous color, sometimes hover about the showy spikes of bloom, but it is probable that, to secure a sip, all but possibly the very largest of them must go to the smaller purple-fringed orchis, whose shorter spur holds out a certain prospect of reward; for, in these two cases, as in so many others, the flower's welcome for an insect is in exact proportion to the length of its visitor's tongue. Doubtless it is one of the smaller sphinx moths, such as we see at dusk working about the evening primrose and other flowers deep of chalice, and heavily perfumed to guide visitors to their feast, that is the great purple-fringed orchid's benefactor, since the length of its tongue is perfectly adapted to its needs. Attracted by the showy, broad lower petal, his wings ever in rapid motion, the moth proceeds to unroll his proboscis and drain the cup, that is frequently an inch and a half deep. Thrusting in his head, either one or both of his large, projecting eyes are pressed against the sticky button-shaped disks to which the pollen masses are attached by a stalk, and as he raises his head to depart, feeling that he is caught, he gives a little jerk that detaches them, and away he flies with these still fastened to his eyes. Even while he is flying to another flower, that is to say, in half a minute, the stalks of the pollen masses bend downward from the perpendicular and slightly toward the center, or just far enough to require the moth, in thrusting his proboscis into the nectary, to strike the glutinous, sticky stigma. Now, withdrawing his head, either or both of the golden clubs he brought in with him will be left on the precise spot where they will fertilize the flower. Sometimes, but rarely, we catch a butterfly or moth from the smaller or larger purple orchids with a pollen mass attached to his tongue, instead of to his eyes; this is when he does not make his entrance from the exact center - as in these flowers he is not obliged to do - and in order to reach the nectary his tongue necessarily brushes against one of the sticky anther sacs. The performance may be successfully imitated by thrusting some blunt point about the size of a moth's head, a dull pencil or a knitting-needle, into the flower as an insect would enter. Withdraw the pencil, and one or both of the pollen masses will be found sticking to it, and already automatically changing their attitude. In the case of the large, round-leaved orchis, whose greenish-white flowers are fertilized in a similar manner by the sphinx moth, the anther sacs converge, like little horns; and their change of attitude while they are being carried to fertilize another flower is quite as exquisitely exact. Usually in wetter ground than we find its more beautiful big sister growing in, most frequently in swamps and bogs, the SMALLER PURPLE-FRINGED ORCHIS (H. psycodes) lifts its perfumed lilac spires. Thither go the butterflies and long-lipped bees to feast in July and August. Inasmuch as without their aid the orchid must perish from its inability to set fertile seed, no wonder it woos its benefactors with a showy mass of color, charming fringes, sweet perfume, and copious draughts of nectar, and makes their visits of the utmost value to itself by the ingenious mechanism described above. Here is no waste of pollen; that is snugly packed in little bundles, ready to be carried off, but placed where they cannot come in contact with the adjoining stigma, since every orchid, almost without exception, refuses to be deteriorated through self-fertilization. >From New Jersey and Illinois southward, particularly in mountainous regions, if not among the mountains themselves, the FRINGELESS PURPLE ORCHIS (H. perarnoena) may be found blooming in moist meadows through July and August. Moisture, from which to manufacture the nectar that orchids rely upon so largely to entice insects to work for them, is naturally a prime necessity; yet Sprengel attempted to prove that many orchids are gaudy shams and produce no nectar, but exist by an organized system of deception. "Scheinsaftblumen" he called them. From the number of butterflies seen hovering about this fringeless orchis and its more attractive kin, it is small wonder their nectaries are soon exhausted and they are accused of being gay deceivers. Sprengel's much-quoted theory would credit moths, butterflies, and even the highly intelligent bees with scant sense; but Darwin, who thoroughly tested it, forever exonerated these insects from imputed stupidity and the flowers from gross dishonesty. He found that many European orchids secrete their nectar between the outer and inner walls of the tube, which a bumblebee can easily pierce, but where Sprengel never thought to look for it. The large lip of this orchis is not fringed, but has a fine picotee edge. The showy violet-purple, long-spurred flowers are alternately set on a stem that is doing its best if it reach a height of two and a half feet. WATER-SHIELD or WATER TARGET (Brasenia purpurea; B. peltata of Gray) Water-lily family Flowers - Small, dull purplish, about 1/2 in. across, on stout footstalks from axils of upper leaves; 3 narrow sepals and petals; stamens 12 to 18; pistils 4 to 18, forming 1 to 3-seeded pods. Stem: From submerged rootstock; slender, branching, several feet long, covered with clear jelly, as are footstalks and lower leaf surfaces. Leaves: On long petioles attached to center of underside of leaf, floating or rising, oval to roundish, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 1/2 to 2 in. wide. Preferred Habitat - Still, rather deep water of ponds and slow streams. Flowering Season - All summer. Distribution - Parts of Asia, Africa, and Australia, Nova Scotia to Cuba, and westward from California to Puget Sound. Of this pretty water plant Dr. Abbott says, in "Wasteland Wanderings": "I gathered a number of floating, delicate leaves, and endeavored to secure the entire stem also; but this was too difficult a task for an August afternoon. The under side of the stem and leaf are purplish brown and were covered with translucent jelly, embedded in which were millions of what I took to be insects' eggs. They certainly had that appearance. I was far more interested to find that, usually, beneath each leaf there was hiding a little pike. The largest was not two inches in length. When disturbed, they swam a few inches, and seemed wholly 'at sea' if there was not another leaf near by to afford them shelter." EUROPEAN or COMMON GARDEN COLUMBINE (Aquilegia vulgaris) Crowfoot family Flowers - Showy, blue, purple, or white, 1 1/2 to 2 in. broad, or about as broad as long; spurs stout and strongly incurved. General characteristics of plant resembling wild columbine. Preferred Habitat - Escaped from gardens to woods and fields in Eastern and Middle States. Native of Europe. Flowering Season - May-July. A heavier, less graceful flower than either the wild red and yellow columbine or the exquisite, long-spurred, blue and white species (A. coerulea) of the Rocky Mountain region; nevertheless this European immigrant, now making itself at home here, is a charming addition to our flora. How are insects to reach the well of nectar secreted in the tip of its incurved, hooked spur? Certain of the long-lipped bees, large bumblebees, whose tongues have developed as rapidly as the flower, are able to drain it. Hummingbirds, partial to red flowers, fertilize the wild columbine, but let this one alone. Muller watched a female bumblebee making several vain attempts to sip this blue one. Soon the brilliant idea of biting a hole through each spur flashed through her little brain, and the first experiment proving delightfully successful, she proceeded to bite holes through other flowers without first trying to suck them. Apparently she satisfied her feminine conscience with the reflection that the flower which made dining so difficult for its benefactors deserved no better treatment. FIELD or BRANCHED LARKSPUR; KNIGHT'S-SPUR; LARK-HEEL (Delphinium Consoilda) Crowfoot family Flowers - Blue to pinkish and whitish, 1 to 1 1/2 in. long, hung on slender stems and scattered along spreading branches; 5 petal-like sepals, the rear one prolonged into long, slender, curving spur; 2 petals, united. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2 ft. high. Leaves: Divided into very finely cut linear segments. Fruit: Erect, smooth pod tipped with a short beak; open on one side. Preferred Habitat - Roadsides and fields. Flowering Season - June-August. Distribution - Naturalized from Europe; from New Jersey southward, occasionally escaped from gardens farther north. Keats should certainly have extolled the larkspurs in his sonnet on blue. No more beautiful group of plants contributes to the charm of gardens, woods, and roadsides, where some have escaped cultivation and become naturalized, than the delphinium, that take their name from a fancied resemblance to a dolphin (delphin), given them by Linnaeus in one of his wild flights of imagination. Having lost the power to fertilize themselves, according to Muller, they are pollenized by both bees and butterflies, insects whose tongues have kept pace with the development of certain flowers, such as the larkspur, columbine, and violet, that they may reach into the deep recesses of the spurs where the nectar is hidden from all but benefactors. The TALL WILD LARKSPUR (D. urceolatum; D. exaltatum of Gray) waves long, crowded, downy wands of intense purplish blue in the rich woods of Western Pennsylvania, southward to the Carolinas and Alabama, and westward to Nebraska. Its spur is nearly straight, not to increase the difficulty a bee must have in pressing his lips through the upper and lower petals to reach the nectar at the end of it. First, the stamens successively raise themselves in the passage back of the petals to dust his head; then, when each has shed its pollen and bent down again, the pistil takes its turn in occupying the place, so that a pollen-laden bee, coming to visit the blossom from an earlier flower; can scarcely help fertilizing it. It is said there are but two insects in Europe with lips long enough to reach the bottom of the long horn of plenty hung by the BEE LARKSPUR (D. elatum), that we know only in gardens here. Its yellowish bearded lower petals readily deceive one into thinking a bee has just alighted there. >From April to June the DWARF LARKSPUR or STAGGER-WEED (D. tricorne), which, however, may sometimes grow three feet high, lifts a loose raceme of blue, rarely white, flowers an inch or more long, at the end of a stout stem rising from a tuberous root. Its slightly ascending spur, its three widely spreading seed vessels, and the deeply cut leaf of from five to seven divisions are distinguishing characteristics. From Western Pennsylvania and Georgia to Arkansas and Minnesota it is found in rather stiff soil. Butterflies, which prefer erect flowers, have some difficulty to cling while they drain the almost upright spurs, especially the Papilios, which usually suck with their wings in motion. But the bees, to which the delphinium are best adapted, although butterflies visit them quite as frequently, find a convenient landing place prepared for them, and fertilize the flower while they sip with ease. More slender, downy, and dwarf of stem than the preceding is the CAROLINA LARKSPUR (D. Carolinianum), whose blue flowers, varying to white, and its very finely cleft leaves, may be found in the South, on prairies in the North and West, and in the Rocky Mountain region. LIVER-LEAF; HEPATICA; LIVERWORT; ROUND-LOBED or KIDNEY


Add to Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon

Add to Informational Site Network