Page:Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Volume 73 (1847).djvu/16

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


lost to science. Father La Cueva and Haenke were together in a Pirogue upon the Rio Mamoré, one of the great tributaries of the Amazon river, when they discovered in the marshes by the side of the stream, a plant which was so surpassingly beautiful and extraordinary, that Haenke, in a transport of admiration, fell on his knees and expressed aloud his sense of the power and magnificence of the Creator in His works. They halted, and even encamped purposely near the spot, and quitted it with much reluctance.

"It was some months after this interview with Father La Cueva that I was investigating the province of Moxos, the only means of travelling from one part of which to another is by water, and while I was going up the Rio de Madeiras towards the source of the Mamoré, and often thinking over in my mind the anecdote which the good old man had related to me, I beheld in an immense lake of stagnant water, which had a communication with the river, a plant of such extraordinary aspect, that I instantly concluded it must be the same as Haenke had seen. I also perceived that it was allied to the Water-Maize, already mentioned as found at Corrientes. Great was my delight to observe that this gigantic vegetable, though of the same genus, still differed specifically from that which I had seen before. The underside of the foliage and the crimson sepals were quite peculiar. Like Haenke, I made a perfect harvest of leaves and flowers; but subsequent illness, caused by alternate exposure to the blazing sun and drenching rains of these flooded plains, brought on such langour and exhaustion that I lost my specimens of this second species, and was thus deprived of the satisfaction of carrying the plant to Europe.

"The honour of naming the original and first-found plant has been forestalled by Dr. Lindley, who calls it Victoria regia; but to the one subsequently detected at Corrientes, I propose giving the name of Victoria Cruziana, in testimony of my obligations to General Cruz, whose kindness mainly contributed to the successful issue of my journey to Bolivia."

At the conclusion of M. D'Orbigny's interesting narrative, he goes on to define this so-called second species of Victoria; but as the sole difference pointed out by him lies in the colour of the underside of the leaves and of the flowers (V. regia, "foliis subtus purpureis, petalis exterioribus virgineis, interioribus roseis," contrasted with "foliis utrinque concoloribus, petalis cunctis concoloribus roseis v. albis," of V. Cruziana) we may, I think, without doing violence to nature, or showing any disrespect to M. D'Orbigny, consider V. Cruziana as a mere variety, if it even