Page:Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Volume 73 (1847).djvu/12

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


"It was on the 1st of January, 1837, while contending with the difficulties that nature interposed in different forms, to stem our progress up the River Berbice (lat. 4° 30' N., long. 52° W.), that we arrived at a part where the river expanded and formed a currentless basin. Some object on the southern extremity of this basin attracted my attention, and I was unable to form an idea what it could be; but, animating the crew to increase the rate of their paddling, we soon came opposite the object which had raised my curiosity, and, behold, a vegetable wonder ! All calamities were forgotten; I was a botanist, and felt myself rewarded! There were gigantic leaves, five to six feet across, flat, with a broad rim, lighter green above and vivid crimson below, floating upon the water; while, in character with the wonderful foliage, I saw luxuriant flowers, each consisting of numerous petals, passing, in alternate tints, from pure white to rose and pink. The smooth water was covered with the blossoms, and as I rowed from one to the other, I always found something new to admire. The flower-stalk is an inch thick near the calyx and studded with elastic prickles, about three quarters of an inch long. When expanded, the four-leaved calyx measures a foot in diameter, but is concealed by the expansion of the hundred-petaled corolla. This beautiful flower, when it first unfolds, is white with a pink centre; the colour spreads as the bloom increases in age; and, at a day old, the whole is rose-coloured. As if to add to the charm of this noble Water-Lily, it diffuses a sweet scent. As in the case of others in the same tribe, the petals and stamens pass gradually into each other, and many petaloid leaves may be observed bearing vestiges of an anther. The seeds are numerous and imbedded in a spongy substance.

"Ascending the river, we found this plant frequently, and the higher we advanced, the more gigantic did the specimens become; one leaf we measured was six feet five inches in diameter, the rim five inches and a half high, and the flowers a foot and a quarter across. A beetle (Triclius sp. ?) infests the flowers to their great injury, often completely destroying the inner part of the disc; we counted sometimes from twenty to thirty of these insects in one flower."

This highly interesting Narrative was made the groundwork of a more full history of the plant, accompanied by a splendid figure, in a separate memoir of Atlas-folio size, by Dr. Lindley. Only twenty-five copies were printed for private distribution, in 1837,

to us, was published, with further remarks, in the Annals of Natural History

for 1838,' p. 65.