Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/25

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9
THE FLORA

below this grey pyramid, cleft with ravines, streaked with detritus between salient ribs of rock, of every tint, is not a whit less striking in aspect than the Sicilian volcano."

To the lover of flowers the Pyrenees present greater attractions than even the Alps. They lie farther to the south, enjoy more sun, and exhibit a greater luxuriance of vegetation and more variety in species. We meet in the Pyrenees with all old Alpine friends and make fresh acquaintances—Nowhere does the Saxifraga longifolia or pyramidalis throw up such a jet-d'eau of blossom. I have grown it at home, but it does not equal the beauty and abundance of flower as here wild. Nowhere are the geraniums in greater abundance and variety, springing up among the tufts of sharp-scented box. The crimson Erodium manescavi, the yellow Hypericum mummularium, the imbricated Dianthus monspessu.lanus, and the still more tattered Dianthus superbus, the purple toothwort, the blue stately aconite or monkshood, the lemon-coloured Adonis vernalis, the violet Ramondia pyrenaica, the Primula viscosa and P, auricula, the Lilium bulbiferum, the Lilium pyrenaicum, and a thousand more. Strange is it that the Alpen rose, the Rhododendron ferrugineum, should be as capricious a plant as it is. It luxuriates on the Alps, in the Pyrenees, and in the Dauphiné Alps; but does not appear in the Cevennes, the mountains of Auvergne, or Corsica. The great central plateau of France, though the heights rise to considerable altitudes and the constituent rocks are the same as those of the Pyrenees and the Alps, yet are totally devoid of this beautiful shrub.

The earliest inhabitants of the chain of the Pyrenees have left their traces in the limestone caverns. They were contemporary with the reindeer, the cave-bear, and hyena.