Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/364

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352
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

soms, marked with purple; while the Listera, or northern tway-blade, may be distinguished by the stout oval leaves, clasping the low stem, and the downy raceme of tiny purplish flowers.

PSM V51 D364 California pitcher plant.png
California Pitcher Plant.

None of the above-mentioned orchids are parasitic; but there are at least two indigenous species which draw their nourishment from other plants. One is the well-known "coral root" (Corallorrhiza), so called on account of the fleshy rootstocks, which resemble branches of white coral. There are several varieties, inhabiting dry spots in mountain forests all over the State. Both flowers and stems are of shaded browns and yellows, and the plants readily escape detection, as they are so nearly the color of the surrounding dry weeds and grasses.

The other parasitic orchid is the Cephalanthera Oregana, a northern species of especial interest, suggesting the "corpse plant" or "Indian pipe" of the Eastern woods. It is wholly destitute of green leaves, and the stems and flowers are of a pure glistening white, somewhat startling in their unique beauty. Like the epipactus, it prefers the neighborhood of forest streams and hides itself in the shrubbery.

All along the banks of the foaming Sacramento there grows, as though planted by a landscape gardener, the giant saxifrage (Saxifraga pellata), locally known as the "umbrella plant," and also as the "Indian's rhubarb," certain portions of the plant being edible. Its generic name signifies "rock-breaker," as it is said to disintegrate the rocks from the clefts of which it springs. The graceful stalks, often a yard in length, are terminated by scalloped, circular leaves a foot or more in diameter, which resemble small parasols or umbrellas inverted by the wind. Though highly attractive in the spring and summer, they are especially ornamental in the autumn, when their clear, green tints are changed to yellows and russets. The clusters of small