Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/46

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
20
TORS

In 1843, when the luminosity of plants was recorded in the Proceedings of the British Association, Mr. Babington mentioned having seen in the south of England a peculiar bright appearance produced by the presence of the Schistostega pennata, a little moss which inhabited caverns and dark places: but this was objected to on the ground that the plant reflected light, and did not give it off in phosphorescence.[1]

When lighted on, it has the appearance of a handful of emeralds or aqua marine thrown into a dark hole, and is frequently associated with the bright green liverwort. Parfitt, in his Moss Flora of Devon, gives it as osmundacea, not as pennata. It was first discovered in Britain by a Mr. Newberry, on the road from Zeal to South Tawton; it is, however, to be found in a good many places, as Hound Tor, Widdecombe, Leather Tor, and in the Swincombe valley, also in a cave under Lynx Tor. If found, please to leave alone. Gathered it is invisible; the hand or knife brings away only mud.

But what all are welcome to go after is that which is abundant on every moorside—but nowhere finer than on such as have not been subjected to periodical "swaling" or burning. I refer to the whortleberry. This delicious fruit, eaten with Devonshire cream, is indeed a delicacy. A gentleman from London was visiting me one day. As he was fond of good things, I gave him whortleberry and cream. He ate it in dead silence, then leaned back in his chair,

  1. HARDWICKE'S Science Gossip, 1871, p. 123.