Transactions of the Linnean Society of London/Volume 12/Observations on the Linnean Genus Juncus, with the Characters of those Species which have been found growing wild in Great Britain

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XVII. Observations on the Linnean Genus Juncus, with the Characters of those Species, which have been found growing wild in Great Britain.By James Ebenezer Bicheno, Esq., F.L.S.

Read June 18, Nov. 5, and Dec. 3, 1816.

Of all the objects to which the pages of the Linnean Transactions have been devoted, none has contributed more to the progress of science than the monographs which have appeared of the different genera of animals and plants. With a view, therefore, of contributing a small share to the labours of the Society, I have ventured to communicate a few remarks for the purpose of elucidating the obscure and uninviting genus Juncus: for though an inaugural dissertation has been dedicated to the subject by Rostkov, intitled "Monographia Generis Junci, cum Tabulis binis æneis," Berolini, 1801, it is a work not to be found in any of our botanical libraries; and, though containing much useful information, does not supersede the necessity of a further illustration of the genus. Its arrangement of the species is indeed altogether unnatural and objectionable, as he has brought together into close connexion some of those which have the most distant relation in the whole genus. The French botanists have commemorated the author by naming after him a new genus, naturally related to the objects of his essay.

The old herbalists seem to have had no other character for the Junci than their grassy appearance, and their internal spongy structure. This comprehended an heterogeneous assemblage of plants of various genera, e.g. Scirpi, Schœni, Cyperi, Triglochines, Butomus, Eriophora, and others. Nevertheless, with all this confusion, they divided the real Junci, which are included in the first subdivision of the genus in the Species Plantarum, into two families, the hard and the soft; the former being all called acutus, and the latter lævis[1]. The Gramina hirsuta, which are those Junci described as plane-leaved by Linnæus, were kept entirely distinct, and were arranged among the Grasses.

Our systematic countryman Ray gives this description, "de Junco et Gramine Junceo[2]:" — "Juncus caulibus teretibus, fungosis, panicula vel in summo caule existente, vel ex ejus latere inferius exeunte, et multis seminibus majusculis compositâ à reliquis graminifoliis distinguitur. Gramina juncea à juncis distinguuntur caulibus foliosis articulatis. Folia etiam in his non semper teretia sunt, sed in nonnullis speciebus compressa, in omnibus tamen fungosa." The latter part of this description alludes to such as have jointed leaves: but Ray confesses that he has admitted under his definition, in conformity to the opinion of other botanists, plants which he did not know how to dispose of otherwise. He has placed the Gramina hirsuta in a distinct division. In the second edition of his Synopsis, the Gramina juncea are said to differ merely in their having a leafy stem. Ray's definition, it must be confessed, very much lessened the number of plants which were at first admitted, though it still embraced the Eriophora, Triglochines, and some of the Schœni and Scirpi. No improvement of the character appears, as might be expected, in the Methodus Graminum, published afterwards; but on the contrary, it is more loosely defined. Dillenius, in his edition of the Synopsis, introduced considerable correction both in the character of the genus and the synonyms, and the true Juncus is thus described: "Calycc hexaphyllo, staminibus totidem, quot sunt calycis folia, et semine multo in vasculo seminali recondito a Scirpo differt[3]." The species are also divided into those which are leafy and those which are leafless.

Scheuchzer and Haller have included the Gramina juncea and the Gramina hirsuta in their Juncoides, rejecting at the same time from the former family the Eriophora and some other genera which Ray had retained. The real Junci, such as acutus, glaucus, effusus, &c. rank under a separate division, with this definition: "Flosculi hexapetali, rosacei, sex scilicet petalis in orbem positis constantes." — "Vascula seminalia triquetra aut ex triquetro rotundata, trivalvia, septoque per medium cujusque valvæ longitudinem procedente, in tria loculamenta divisa, seminibusque plurimis plerumque, ac minutissimis repleta, a Juncoide autem specialiter differt, scirpis teretibus, prorsus enodibus[4]," &c. Tournefort, whose attention was chiefly arrested by the corol, has included in his character all three of these strongly-marked families, because he found their petals, otherwise called the leaflets of the calyx, to correspond. The penetrating Micheli, however, led more by the internal structure of plants, adopted two distinct genera; the first, Juncus, which he describes as having a trilocular, many-seeded capsule; the other, Juncoides, with a unilocular, three-seeded capsule. The great Linnæus, guided by Tournefort, re-joined them; and at the same time adopted in his generic character the peculiarity of the Gramina hirsuta, as being unilocular;— by which inconsistency the real Junci are all excluded! Jussieu does not describe the cells in his generic definition; but at the head of the natural family he calls them trilocular.

The Gramina hirsuta seem to have been first taken up by J. Bauhin under the name of Luzula. Cesalpinus calls the Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/336 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/337 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/338 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/339 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/340 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/341 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/342 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/343 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/344 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/345 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/346 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/347 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/348 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/349 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/350 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/351 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/352 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/353 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/354 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/355 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/356 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/357 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/358 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/359 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/360 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/361 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/362 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/363 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/364 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/365 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/366 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/367 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/368 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/369 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/370 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/371 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/372 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/373 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/375 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/376 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/377 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/378 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/379 Page:Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Volume 12.djvu/380 Juncus spicatus, foliis planis subpilosis, spica glomerato-raccmosa basi divisa nutante, petalis longitudine capsulæ.Rost. Monograph. 46.

J. spicatus, foliis planis, spicâ racemosâ nutante basi compositâ, capsulis acutis.Flor. Brit. 386.Eng. Bot. xvii. 1176.

J. spicatus, foliis planis, spica raceniosa nutante.Sp. Pl. 469.Fl. Lap. t. 10. f. 4.Flor. Dan. 270.Huds. 650.With. 350.

Angl.Spiked Woodrush.Spiked Rush.Alpine nodding Rush.

Habitat in alpibus Borealibus.

Peren. July.

Root fibrous, tufted.Stem simple, six or eight inches high, slender, leafy.Leaves linear, channelled, hairy at the base; stem-leaves convolute or subulate.Spike terminal, nodding, cylindrical, oblong, obtuse; spikelets sessile, many-flowered, bracteated.Bractes pale, lanceolate, laciniated.Calyx-leaflets lanceolate, acuminate.Capsule pointed, one-celled, three-sided.

This plant approaches nearer to the Junci than any of the rest of the Luzulæ here described. Its leaves are not so flat or hairy as most of the rest of the genus, and the capsule shows the rudiments of dissepiments. It is not likely to be confounded with any other plant, with the exception, perhaps, of L. pediformis, which is much larger, and has a pointed capsule. It is very rare with us, occurring chiefly in Scotland on the summits of the highest mountains. I found a single specimen in the herbarium of my friend Joseph Woods, Esq. F.L.S., gathered by him on Fairfield, near Ambleside; and this is the only instance that has come to my knowledge of its being found in England.

  1. Bauh, Pin., p. 11.
  2. Historia Plantarum, p. 1302.
  3. Raii Syn. 3d ed. 431.
  4. Scheuchzer's Agrostographia, p. 337.