Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/38

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Sketch of the Botany of the Vicinity of Swan River.

must be supposed to exist, and some even in considerable proportion, in the tract examined; in allowing for the unfavourable season when the herbarium was collected; in admitting the statements in Mr. Fraser's report, respecting the abundance and luxuriance of Anthistiria australis—the kangaroo-grass of New South Wales; from the account given in the same report of the extraordinary size of some arborescent species of Banksia, which, in the neighbourhood of King George's Sound, generally form small trees only; and lastly, in adverting to the important fact stated by Captain Stirling in his despatch to Government—namely, that the stock had not only been supported through nearly the whole of the dry season but that most descriptions of it had even fattened on the natural herbage of the country.

From these more general observations I proceed to make a very few remarks, chiefly relating to the geographical distribution of some of the families or more interesting species, either contained in the herbarium, or distinctly noticed in Mr. Fraser's report.

The striking resemblance in general character, and the identity of many of the species with those of King George's Sound, have already been mentioned. But this portion of the shores of New Holland, extending from Swan River on the west coast to Middle Island, in 123° 10' east long., on the south coast, may be said to contain the greatest proportion of those genera which form the chief peculiarities of New Holland vegetation.

In comparing the Flora of the district of Swan River with more distant regions of the same continent, it may be remarked, that probably not more than four or five species are common to this part of the west coast, and to the same parallel of the east coast of New Holland; and that even the existence of some of these species at Swan River is not altogether certain.

In the collections which I have examined there is no specimen of Anthistiria australis, of kangaroo-grass of New South Wales; but as this valuable grass must have been well known to the Botanical Collector, and as it is perhaps the most general plant in New Holland, I have no hesitation in admitting its existence on the authority of Mr. Fraser's report.

Mesembyanthemum æquilaterale is neither contained in the herbarium, nor mentioned by the collector. I find, however, in one of the letters from Swan River, published by Mr. Cross, a plant noticed as a pot-herb, that, from the account of the writer, is probably this plant, which, next to Anthistiria australis, is perhaps the most widely-diffused species in the Flora of New Holland.

The third species is Pteris esculenta, the only fern found by Mr. Fraser, and which is both general and abundant beyond the tropic in New Holland and in Van Diemen's Land.