Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/585

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By Professor FRANCIS RAMALEY, Ph.D.,


PROBABLY the term 'botanical garden' brings to the minds of most people something in the style of a cemetery with a few trees and a great many oblong beds of herbaceous plants, each bed with a white label suggesting a small gravestone. In a properly appointed botanical garden most people expect to see also some hot houses for orchids and a tank with warmed water for tropical water lilies and lotus.

Should an ordinary mortal, or even a botanist, be dropped from a balloon into the middle of the garden at Buitenzorg, he would, for a time, hardly appreciate that he was in a botanical garden. The usual 'ear marks' of such an institution are certainly not apparent at first glance. The plants are mostly trees, no warm tanks are necessary, and there are cool houses instead of hot houses. The botanist, in looking at the names of trees would only now and then recognize one he had run across somewhere in a text-book. Were it not for a very few names, he might believe he had landed on some other planet. Certain it is he would see few plants he had known before in the temperate zone.

After a time spent at Buitenzorg the term 'plant' no longer suggests a small green creature with pretty flowers—something which dies down in autumn and comes up at Easter time. The plants at Buitenzorg are trees, and there are hundreds, nay, thousands, of these; while only a trifling space is allotted to puny little herbs—the things that we of the temperate regions know as 'plants.'

Of course the well informed naturalist knows the tropical world as the 'mother of life' and he expects to see a wealth of green, a super-