(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 little. 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! COMMON RED, PURPLE, MEADOW, or HONEYSUCKLE CLOVER (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 CRIMSON, CARNATION or ITALIAN CLOVER or NAPOLEONS (T. 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. GOAT'S RUE; CAT-GUT; HOARY PEA or WILD SWEET PEA (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.
Next: TRAILING BUSH CLOVER
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