Page:Journal of botany, British and foreign, Volume 9 (1871).djvu/352

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

leaf it naturally endeavours to escape, but is prevented by the viscid juice which is secreted by the long hairs on its upper surface. In a short time these hairs begin to be bent inwards, and gradually clasp the insect, which about this time is found dead, not so much in all probability from the pressure of the hairs, which cannot be great, but rather from the nature of the fluid which they exude. After the hairs have thus enclosed the animal the leaf itself begins to contract, and by very slow degrees at last covers its prey. Although I by no means pretend to deny the fact alleged by Dr. Withering, which was related from the actual experiment, yet I am rather inclined to give more credit to the German author's experiments. In a few trials which I made myself no contraction followed after a very considerable time, nor did I at all observe it. But it must be owned that as these were made with a pin instead of an insect, I cannot pretend to contradict the fact, but rather to blame the mode in which the trials were made. For it is well known to every one who has seen this plant in the growing state that many of its leaves are generally folded, and if these are opened there is always found some substance enclosed. If, therefore, the Drosera is endowed with such a power (and there is the strongest reason to believe it is), we will have some difficulty in accounting for it on principles merely mechanical. I now proceed with my enumeration.

Juncus articulatus, viviparus, I observed growing plentifully in wet ground near Forfar. In one case I saw the viviparous germen taking root, and in several instances these viviparous plants flowered when one half inch in height.

Arbutus Uva-ursi and Epilobium alpinum. Both grow on many of the Grampian Mountains.

Dianthus deltoides I likewise observed in several parts of Angus, and in one found a variety of it with a stem not divided as is generally the case, but simple, and supporting only one flower. Is it not probable that this or some other variety of the same species is the plant mentioned by Sibbald as growing on a hill near Perth, and inserted in the 'Flora Scotica' under the name of Dianthus arenarius? To satisfy myself concerning this I examined a hill in the vicinity of Perth (whether the same as that meant by Sibbald I am uncertain), and actually found the Dianthus deltoides and a variety with a white flower. I apprehend, therefore, that the Dianthus arenarius should be excluded from the ' Flora Scotica.'

Silene amœna, as it has commonly been called by the botanical writers of this island, grows plentifully along the coast. It is, however, very different from the plant so named by Linnæus, as evidently appears from comparing it with the specific character and short description which that author has given of his plant. It seems upon the whole very surprising that this name should have been applied to a plant so totally different in respect of characteristic distinctions, and almost impossible to assign any reason for such a conduct which has been almost universally adopted in this country. It should, however, appear by the 'Hortus Kewensis' that this plant is nothing else than the variety of the Cucubalus Belieu, which grows on the seacoast, mentioned by the older botanical authors. But that it is more than a variety seems to me perfectly evident, as I have seen the plant cultivated without any alteration being produced. It even belongs to a different genus. But this will serve to show in a manner how artificial and with what impropriety the Silene and Cucubalus