Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/867
lindens worthy of notice for their textile value are the aubletia petoumo, of Guiana, and several species of triumphetta. The mallow family, to which the cotton-plant belongs, affords a great many textile plants of the genera abutilon, hibiscus, sida, lavatera, malva, althea, abelmoschus, etc.
Passing by the hemp, the value of which is generally recognized, we come to the nettle family, to some of the members of which an increasing degree of attention has been directed at all the great exhibitions since 1851. The common stinging-nettle has been used in Europe for a long time in making the nettle-cloth; the fibers of other species have recently been made into a handsome hair for dolls' heads, and might be put to more practical uses. Some twenty-four species of Urtica, Böhmeria, Puya, and Wood-nettle are enumerated as more or less valuable, besides the Nerandia melastomæfolia, which is used in the Sandwich Islands. Of the whole number, Urtica nivea stands in the highest estimation as the plant from which the well-known China-grass or grass-cloth is made. It is cultivated extensively in the provinces of China south of the Yang-tse-kiang, the export from which had reached about thirty-five hundred tons in 1872, and is now estimated at about eleven thousand tons. The fiber is used in Japan for the finest threads and cloths, and an active manufacture has been carried on since 1660, hemp and jute having been used before that time. The Puya and the Neilgherry nettle (Urtica heterophylla) are also highly valued for their fibers. Another family, allied to the nettle, the Antidesmeæ, is represented in the Malabar flax [Antidesma alexiterium), which is employed for spinning and in ropes. Among the monocotyledonous families that afford useful fibers are the lilies, irises, amaryllises, bromeliaceæ (or pineapple family), palms, pandanus (or screw-pine), rushes, grasses, reeds, and sedges. Of the plants of these orders most famous for their fibers are several species of agave and fourcroya, which afford the strong pito hemp, several species of anana (bromeliaceæ), and the bananas, one of which, the Musa textilis of the Philippine Islands, produces the Manila hemp, one of the handsomest and most valuable of all the fibers.
PROMINENT among the men who have won large distinction by varied and valuable labors in the field of science in this country, stands the name of the subject of the present notice. His career has been one of such eminent public usefulness in several departments of activity, which he has efficiently promoted both by his scientific attainments and his marked executive ability, that no biographical sketch of him can be given that does not involve some account of the