Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/360

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348
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

women will be women. The practical conviction that this is after all what they most wish to be must have an important bearing upon their particular aspirations, and it is this conviction which, to say the least, suggests misgivings and compels reserve in the minds of a very large number of average American women whose voices are not heard in the land.

 
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WILD FLOWERS OF THE CALIFORNIA ALPS.
By Miss B. F. HERRICK.

THE Sierra Nevada mountain range — with its lofty, snowcapped peaks and majestic glaciers, its serrated crags and romantic cañons, its foaming rivers, sparkling waterfalls, and dense pine forests — is the California Switzerland. The climate of this region more nearly resembles that of the mountains of the Atlantic coast than any other section of the far West; and the vegetation is in most respects quite similar, though there are many varieties of trees and plants that are peculiar to the State. Spring is late in these high altitudes, and the summers are of all too short duration.

Among the first flowers to greet the new year is the curious snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea), world-renowned not only from the fact that it is exclusively Californian, but on account of its rare beauty and individuality. It was first discovered by one of General Fremont's exploring expeditions on the slopes inclosing the valley of the Sacramento; and is common at the Yosemite and on Mount Shasta, at an altitude of from four to nine thousand feet above the sea level. Though generally supposed to be parasitic on the roots of the pine tree, eminent botanists, after careful investigation, now claim it to be a "saprophyte," or a plant growing from a rotten substance near the surface of the soil, like certain species of fungi, an aid to this conclusion having been found in the fact that the plants are sometimes known to flourish in open places considerably removed from any growth of timber. Their usual habitat is moist, sheltered forests, where the winter snows fall deeply; and they make their appearance when the spring sun warms the frozen ground and melts the fleecy snowdrifts. True leaves they have none; and the fleshy bracts, bell-shaped blossoms, and thick, brittle stems are all of a brilliant scarlet, icy to the touch, and of the consistence of crystallized sugar. The average height is about one foot, what corresponds to the underground roots or bulbs being of about an equal depth and of a much lighter tint.

These plants are members of a suborder of the heath family;