Page:Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Volume 73 (1847).djvu/11

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had transmitted, were unfortunately neglected, and nothing remained of his specimens but a single leaf, of immense dimensions and somewhat injured, which had been folded for insertion in the Herbarium.

In 1835, the following notice of what M. D'Orbigny is disposed to consider a species of the genus distinct from our plant, appeared in that author's 'Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale.' "I resumed my descent of the Parana on the 3rd of March, and arriving at the junction of a small river called the San Josè, which spreads into a wide marsh before falling into the Paraná, I found one of the most beautiful flowers that America can produce. The plant seems to belong to the family Nymphæaceæ, and is certainly much allied to the Nuphar, but its dimensions are gigantic. The people of Guiana call it Irupé, deriving this name from the shape of its leaves, which resemble the broad dishes used in the country, or the lids of their large round baskets. A space, more than a mile broad and nearly a mile long, is covered with the large floating leaves, each of which has a raised edge two inches high. The foliage is smooth above and furrowed below with numberless regular compartments, formed by the projecting, thick, hollow nerves, the air in which keeps the leaf upon the surface of the water. Leaf-stalks, flower-stalks, and ribs of the leaves, are alike cellular and covered with long prickles. Amid this expanse of foliage rise the broad flowers, upwards of a foot across, and either white, pink, or purple; always double, and diffusing a delicious odour. The fruit, which succeeds these flowers, is spherical, and half the size, when ripe, of the human head, full of roundish farinaceous seeds, which give to the plant the name of Water-Maize (Maïs del Agua), for the Spaniards collect the seeds, roast and eat them. I was never weary of admiring this Colossus of the Vegetable Kingdom, and reluctantly pursued my way the same evening to Corrientes, after collecting specimens of the flowers, fruits, and seeds."

Thus much for the earlier discoverers and first notices of this magnificent aquatic: we shall have occasion to return to M. D'Orbigny ; but in the meanwhile it is only justice to mention in this place, that Sir Robert Schomburgk detected the plant in British Guiana, when travelling on account of the Royal Geographical Society of London, aided by Her Majesty's Government; his object being to examine the natural productions of that portion of the British Dominions. The following account of this discovery was given in a letter addressed to the Geographical Society.[1]

  1. Another, and similar but more brief, account, contained in a letter addressed