Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/37

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II.—General View of the Botany of the Vicinity of Swan River. By R. Brown, Esq., F.R.S. Read 22d Nov., 1830.

The vegetation of the banks of Swan River, and of the adjoining country to the southward, is at present known chiefly from the report of Mr. Charles Fraser, the Botanical Collector, who accompanied Captain Stirling in his examination of that district in 1827, and from collections of specimens which were then formed.

I have inspected, and in part examined, two of these collections; one of which I received from Mr. Fraser himself, through my friend Alexander Macleay, Esq. the Secretary of the Colony of New South Wales; for the second I am indebted to Captain Mangles.

The number of species in both collections does not exceed one hundred and forty; and some dicotyledonous herbaceous tribes, as well as grasses Cyperaceæ and Orchideæ, are entirely wanting.

From materials so limited in extent, but few general observations can be hazarded on the vegetation of this portion of the south-west coast of New Holland.

The principal families of plants contained in the collections are Proteaceæ; Myrtaceæ; Leguminosæ, such especially as belong to Decandrous Papilionaceæ, and to the Leafless Acaciæ; Epacrideæ; Goodenoviæ; and Compositæ. And the more conspicuous plants, not belonging to any of these families, and which greatly contribute to give a character to the landscape, are, Kingia Australis, a species of Xanthorrhæa; a Zamia, nearly allied to, and perhaps not distinct from, Z. spiralis of the east coast, although it is frequently to attain the height of thirty feet; a species of Callitris; one or two of Casuarina; an Exocarpus, probably not different from E. cupressiformis; and Nuytsia floribunda[1], a plant hitherto referred to Loranthus, but sufficiently distinct in the texture and form of its fruit, and now named in memory of the discoverer of that part of the coast to which this very singular tree is nearly limited.

If an opinion were to be formed of the nature of the country merely from the inspection of these collections, it certainly would be extremely unfavourable as to the quality of the soil; for not only do the prevailing families already enumerated, but the whole of the genera of those families, and even many of the species, agree with those found on the shores of King George's Sound, which, with the exception of a few patches of very small extent, seem absolutely incapable of cultivation.

The opinion so formed, however, would be necessarily modified in noticing the entire want in the collection in tribes, all of which

  1. Loranthus floribundus.—Labill. Nov. Holl. i. p. 87, t. 113.