Page:Journal of botany, British and foreign, Volume 9 (1871).djvu/223

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island. In a pasture field above the beautiful bay called Moulin lluet I met with a singular variety of Rdnnncalm balhoHUH. This is uuforLunately in too youno- a state, a single flower only being expanded on each phmt, to allow of a full description, but the characters present are, — Bulb?niall (about the size of a Haricot Bean), circular on perpendicular section; root-leaves on very long petioles, trifoliolate, the centre leaflet very long stalked; leaflets 3-sect, the segments cut into broadly linear segments; flowering-stem 15 in. high, very upright, and with the leaves and calyces thickly covered with long, spreading white hairs, giving the plant a grey- ish colour; peduncles not furrowed; flowers considerably larger than in ordinary R. hnlboms. The plant looked very unfamiliar when growing, the leaves much resembling those of R. chvrupliyllas, L., of S. Europe, but part of its strange appearance was found to be due to the under sur- face of many of the leaves being infested by a filamentous substance (|)arasitic fungus?) of a yellowish-grey colour. The plant does not agree with any of the forms described as species by Jordan in his ' Diagnoses.'


Twenty years ago I described, under the above name, a very handsome large-flowered Purshuie, found on Prata Island, in the China Sea. A comparison of my own extended diagnosis of this (Walp. Ann. Bot. Svst. ii. 660), carefully drawn up from living specimens, which, dug up with their native sand, and copiously supplied with seawater, flourished luxu- riantly with me, with Mr. Bentham's brief character of P. atoitralit, Endl. (Fl. Austr. i. 169), leaves no doubt that the two are identical. The plant had hitherto oidy been met with by Robert Brown in the Gulf of Carpentaria, on the N. coast of Australia, and Mr. Bentham, having seen no authentic specimens, was obliged to frame his character from Endlicher's description and the figure of F. Bauer, to which, occurring in a very rare book, I have not here access. As in the wild state the flowers are '} inch in diameter, it may be commended to the lovers of succulent plants as likely, under cultivation, to become almost as showy as P. Thellusoni.

The small and isolated island on which this plant is found, washed by a frequently tempestuous sea, lying in the direct track of vessels home- ward bound from China, and the reefs surrounding which have proved the grave of many a noble vessel, whence they have derived their name (prata = silver in Portuguese), from the value of the wrecks and the amount of treasure sul)nu;rged, is from a phytogeographical point of view very interesting. Its N.E. end is situated in lat. 20° 4-2' 3" N., long. 116° 43' 22" E.; it is about a mile and a half long and half a mile wide, nowhere more than 30 or 35 feet above the sea-level, composed exclusively of disintegrated coral and sand, and surrounded on nearly two-thirds of its circumference by a steep coral barrier about forty miles round. With the exception of iniuunerable gannets and a few Chinese wreckers and fishermen who constantly visit it, it is destitute of inhabitants. It is dis- tant about a hundred and fifty British miles from the nearest point of the Chinese continent, about two hundred and eighty from the N.E. extre- mity of the island of Luzon, an<l three hundred and seventy-five from

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