Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/286

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
272
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

congratulated upon the completion of his task, but more fortunate than he is the world that has received the benefit of his labors.

 


Scientific Literature.
SPECIAL BOOKS.

The trees, the author of this book[1] says, may be justly numbered among our best friends. But we need to know them better. "It is not enough to be able to distinguish an ash from a hickory or a fir from a spruce; it is more important by far that we should become acquainted with the form and character of the leaves, the fruit, and the bark, and thus acquire a fuller knowledge of the way the tree lives. To know a tree is to become familiar with the purpose and condition of its life. This is revealed in no small measure by the leaves. The needle of the pine enables the tree to withstand a hurricane on a mountain top, yet its slender figure is perfectly adapted to the task of gathering light and air for the tree's life. The broadleaved buttonwood would fall before the gale which the pine successfully weathers. Not less plainly does the diversity of character in a leaf reveal the diversity of the tree itself. No two leaves are exactly alike; no two trees are exactly alike." Although, as he admits, it is not possible to portray all the beauty of a leaf with a pencil, the author has endeavored in this attractive volume to represent in outline the most characteristic features of the leaves of American trees, supplementing his pictures with such descriptions of them, and the trees to which they belong, with their habitat, as has seemed appropriate. Endeavoring to draw the leaves exactly as he found them, his two hundred and odd sketches were all taken from Nature, and only sixty of these from pressed specimens which were obtained at the Harvard Botanic Garden. "Yet I have found the world of truth and beauty, as far as leaves are concerned, so limitless that types and rules seemed valuable only as guide-boards are on a strange path." The botanical names are given, first from Gray's Field, Forest, and Garden Botany; second, in conformity with a recent system of nomenclature instituted by Prof. C. S. Sargent. An introduction is contributed by Prof. L. H. Bailey. The sketches begin with a chapter on The Leaf as a Builder, in which the leading features of the endless variety in the forms of leaves are briefly described and illustrated, and the functions of the leaf in the tree's life are explained. The leaves as they are singly brought up are classified as simple alternate, simple opposite, and then as with or without teeth and their edges divided or not divided, compound alternate and compound opposite, and evergreen leaves. Of the genera that are portrayed are the magnolias, tulip tree and sassafras, witch-hazel, sorrel tree, elms, birches, alder, willows, poplars, hawthorns, oaks, dogwood, burning bush, maples, ailantus and locusts, sumach, walnuts, hickories, ash-leaved maple and ashes, horse-chestnuts and buckeyes, pines, spruces, hemlock, fir, larch, and arbor vitæ. An intelligible plan for leaf identification occupies one page. A systemat-


  1. Familiar Trees and their Leaves. Described and illustrated by F. Schuyler Mathews. Pp. 320, 12mo. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, $1.75.