Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/439

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
433
A ROUND-THE-WORLD BOTANICAL EXCURSION

knowledge of South African cycads, that I asked him to prepare an article for the Botanical Gazette. Other plants of the vicinity were also of interest, but my time was becoming short.

The final point on the schedule, as far as cycads were concerned, was Port Elizabeth, where Mr. Butters, the director of St. George's Park, gave me definite information and accompanied me on the trips into the field. Prom this place I visited Van Staadens, the type locality of Encephalartos caffer, and Despatch, a good locality for Encephalartos horridus, a frightful species which holds its place in the conservatory as the gargoyle does in architecture, by its forbidding aspect. With its spiny leaves, as threatening as porcupine quills, it deserves its specific name (Fig. 10). It is a pity that nomenclature should be burdened with names like Altensteinii, Lehmannii, Frederici Guilielmi, Vroomi and Purpusi, when suggestive names like spinosus, pungens, sanguineus, ferox and tribulosus are still available; but taxonomists will do it.

The object of the trip was now far more thoroughly accomplished than I had dared to anticipate when I left Chicago, for I had seen all the oriental genera of cycads, and most of the species, growing in the field, and had not only secured notes and material, but had arranged to have plants sent to Chicago and had also arranged to have histological material fixed at short intervals for a year, in order to make sure of a complete study of life histories. Much of this would have been impossible had it not been for the unbounded hospitality which everywhere facilitated the work.

Of the few days at Cape Town, while waiting for the boat, one was spent at Stellenbosch, the Athens of South Africa, one on Table Mountain, one at Glen Cairn, an excellent place for marine algae, and two or three at the South African College. This college is the hope of higher education in South Africa. Its department of botany includes three botanists of international reputation and doubtless other departments are also of high rank, so that the college deserves to rank with first-class institutions of other countries.

The trip back to Chicago was tedious but comfortable, for I was not troubled by seasickness, only one day out of more than ninety days upon the water being marked against my record.

For one who is only an investigator and not at all adventurous, such a trip can hardly be said to have any dangers, except the usual dangers of the sea and, perhaps, some dangers from snakes in South Africa. Long tramps, hard climbing and some hot weather must be expected, but a man of middle age and in fair health should come back stronger than when he started, and the investigator and teacher is sure to come back with abundant material for his research, his lecture-room and his laboratory.