Page:Journal of botany, British and foreign, Volume 9 (1871).djvu/281

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257

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��SILER TRILOBUM AS A BRITISH PLANT.

By Henky Trimen, M.B., F.L.S.

(Plate CXVIII.)

At p. 211 of the present volume, Mr. J. C. Melvill has placed on re- cnnl his discovery of tliis U-iiibellifer in Cambrido-eshire, first in May-June, 18(J7, and ao-ain found in May, 1871. It is at his request that' I have written the following notes.

^ On July 10th last I had the pleasure of being guided by Professor C. C. Babington, of Cambridge, to the spot, and seeing the plant in sltn. 1 he locality is well described by Mr. Melvill, and the Siler grows amid the indigenous vegetation of the district ; and though adjoining a very well-known spot, the " chalkpit close," at Cherry-Hinton, frequently men- tioned by Kay, Martyn, and Relhan, it is a retired place, and one some- wiiat difficult of access. This may account for the species having been overlooked, for whether originally introduced or not, it must surelv, to judge from the appearance of the plants, have existed in this spot 'for many years. It has been suggested that though noticed here, it had been confounded with Smyrnimn Olmatnun, which grows within a few yards of it in the busliy hedge of the chalkpit close ; such a confusion seems only likely when the plants are quite young. The number of individuals does not now prol)ably exceed a dozen", but Mr. Melvill tells me that when he first noticed the plant, four years ago, the nundjer was considerablv larger, from fifty to sixty plants, cidtivation having since invaded its thrii

limits. Unless the presence of Snnjrniinn OUmtnim is so considered

and this grew here so far back as 16(10 (Ray, Cat. Cant. p. 76)— there is nothing in the surrounding conditions of' SUer to indicate an artificial origin, and I should have had little hesitation in admitting it into the native flora, were it not that Professor Babington informs me that Mr. Biggs, curator some thirty-five years back of the University botanic garden, is known to have been in the habit of sowing seeds in the neigh- bourhood. There is no evidence, so far as I know, tending to show that Sder, or any other plant now found about Cambridge, is the result of Mr. Biggs's seed-sowings, still the statement is one which it is necessarv to take into consideration in attempting to determine the question as regards Siler; further data will be afforded by the exotic distribution oT the species.

By the early botanists Siler was a name applied to several umbelliferous plants. The Siler moiitauutn of Tragus, Lobel, Clusius, and others, is the species now called Lfiserpitinin Siler, L. With reference to the plant of which I am writing, though it seems to have been known by report to C. Bauhin, it was not clearly distinguished till 10/2, when Morison (Uin- bellif. p. 8) well described it under the appropriate name of Siler Jquilegifs fuliis, his figure, however (Hist. Oxon. iii. sect. 9. t. 3. f. 3), is but poor. As is somewhat frequently the case with plants which he had not seen, we find rather the reverse of progress in the knowledge of this species made by Limutus, who either quite missed the plant, or confused it thoroughly VOL. IX. [SEPTEMBER !_, 1871.] S

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