« AnteriorContinuar »
THE GRAPE HYACINTHS OF SWITZER
the distinction is well-marked, as an examination of
the two plants together quickly testifies. LAND.
Muscari comosum, the feather hyacinth, is a strangeW e have previously remarked* that the English looking plant. Visitors to the south of France must
“blue-bell” (H. non-scriptus) does not grow in Switzerland, but this does not apply to the several species of Muscari, which are only too plentiful in the Swiss vineyards. Towards the end of March, as we pass by the vine-clothed slopes, an oppressive odour is perceptible in the air (which is said to resemble plums); it is carried from the thousands of grape hyacinths, which literally cover the broken ground between the vines, and resist every effort made to exterminate them, If once this species, Muscari racemosum, becomes rooted in the soil, it spreads in the most prolific manner, as shown in the figured specimen. The plant is bulbiferous, each tiny bulb detaching itself from the parent root to start an independent existence. This single specimen had no less than twenty-four vigorous little bulbs attached, a clear proof of the rapidity of reproduction. It was the first plant that came handy for examination, not being in any way remarkable for size. The species may at once be identified by the scent and by the peculiar form of the leaves, which are channeled, curling up in such a manner that they might be mistaken for those of an Allium. The flowers, of a dull purplish-blue, are crowded in a raceme, the upper ones being abortive; the stem stands erect, one or more from each bulb. Another species, Muscari botryoides, is not nearly so commonly distributed, occurring more in shady woods than in the vineyards. From the drawing, it will be noted that the bulb is of different shape, not budding young rootlets in the wholesale manner as M. racemosum. The raceme of blue flowers is more graceful-looking in M. botryoides, the abortive terminal buds having a decided pink tinge. The leaves, though slightly chan
Fig. 164.-Muscari racemosum. neled, are linear-lanceolate, and do not coil up, as in the other species. We have found , have been struck with its appearance, growing from these two species very generally confused, whereas every wall in such profusion. The flowers are shortly
pedicelled, of a livid brown colour as regards the * SCIENCE-Gossip, No. 244, p. 83.
fertile ones, which form the lower part of the loose
raceme, while the larger-stalked, blue, sterile flowers | imperceptibly divided into six points ; cylindrical, crown the terminal part of the raceme, waving in the contracted at the rim ; six stamens inserted on the air like feathers. The leaves of this plant are large tube of the perianth ; capsule triangular. and broad. It is found in the vineyards and in rocky 1. M. racemosum, Mill. (starch hyacinth). Bulb situations. The M. neglectum of Dr. Bouvier's ovoid ; proliferous. Stem shorter than leaves ; leaves
Fig. 166.—Muscari comosum. “Flore Suisse” we have not been able to meet with. | linear, curled up. Flowers in dense raceme ; upper The yellow-flowered M. moschatum (Desf.) is, we ones abortive ; purplish-blue, strongly scented. believe, a species known in France, but not included 2. M. neglectum, Gussone. Larger growth than the in the Swiss flora.
preceding species. Leaves larger, not curled up,
raceme loose ; each flower pedicellated (given by GENUS MUSCARI, Tournefort.
Bouvier as a distinct species, but perhaps a variety). A genus of the Liliaceous order, tribe hyacinthée. 3. M. botryoides, Mill. (grape hyacinth). Bulb Bulbous plant ; segments of corolla united, or almost ovoid, conical ; stem equal to leaves in length.
Leaves channeled, but linear-lanceolate, not curled ; Our Insect Enemics, by Theodore Wood (London: flowers in dense raceme, blue; upper and above Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge). In this flowers pink-tinged; teeth of corolla white and well- little book the author has attempted, he says, to trace marked.
the life histories of injurious insects, pointing out how 4. M. comosum, Mill. (feather hyacinth). Bulb they are injurious, and as far as possible the range ovoid ; leaves large and spreading; racemes prolonged and extent of their ravages, treating them for the most and loose. Lower and fertile flowers livid brown; part in the order of their present system of classificaupper ones, long-stalked, crowning raceme like | tion rather than in accordance with the particular feathers, abortive, and of blue colour.
crops they frequent. The book is uniform in general It is now but the commencement of April, but appearance with the Natural History Rambles series, other plants of the Lily order are in leaf, and and like some of this series unfortunately has no will shortly be in flower in the neighbourhood of index, a defect only partially remedied by the detailed Montreux. We have noted species of Tulipa, Scilla, table of contents. The Aphis or “Green-Blight” has Allium, Ornithogalum, Gagea, Erythronium, and four chapters to itself, in which its structure and lifeLilium already far advanced in growth. If there are history are taken up, and various individual species botanists among the readers of SCIENCE-Gossip noted. Cockchafers, wire-worms, weevils, turnip sawwho wish to visit the upper end of the lake of Geneva fly, and many other injurious insects, including butter. at the best season for the flowers of the lower Alpine fies and moths, follow on. The clothes-moth is slopes, we strongly recommend the month of May as omitted on account of the limited character of its the time of year most suitable. The Hôtel les ravages and its beneficial influence out of doors. The Avants, 3200 feet above the sea, and about 2000 feet book, which is illustrated with woodcuts, contains above Montreux, is a very Paradise for botanists, and much that should be commended to the notice of all in May the slopes of surrounding mountains are a who have to do with raising crops, for it is almost very blaze of colour from the brilliant succession entirely with out-door life that it is concerned. of Alpine flowers.
Scientific Romances, No. 11.—The Persian King,
C. PARKINSON. or The Law of the Valley, by C. H. Hinton, B.A. Montreux.
(London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co.), Is. The clever author of “What is the Fourth Dimension ?” has here produced another scientific romance, his
ostensible topic this time being Energy and its NOTES ON NEW BOOKS.
dissipation. His book requires to be read with D ICTIONARY of the Names of British Plants, attention and care, and the fact that he has supplied
by Henry Purefoy Fitzgerald (London : an explanatory second part may be taken as evidence Baillière, Tindall, & Cox). This little book is that he does not consider the allegory in the first part calculated to be of great use to botanists, especially as likely to sufficiently explain itself. The inhabitants to self-taught students of the science. It gives | of the valley in which the Persian king finds himself the generic and specific names of British plants have a tendency to apathy, the pleasure of doing arranged alphabetically, with the derivation where anything being exactly equalled by the accompanying known, and the pronunciation. In the case of specific pain. The king, however, can make them act, by names, the name of some plant is also given to which means of a power with which he is endowed, of taking the specific name applies. It is from no desire to upon himself some of the pain attending any action find faults that the fact is pointed out, that there are which he wishes performed, leaving thus an excess of no accent marks given in the pronunciation-words. | pleasure which causes the performance of the action. Doubtless in most cases the length of the vowels is Now the king corresponds more or less to a certain practically sufficient, but the word Helosciadum at | supposed ultimate medium, which, according to the least might be accented in several ways. Silaifolia view here propounded, is the cause of all motion. might be inserted in the next edition.
The second part of the book should be read by everyBritish Butterflies, Moths and Beetles (“ The one interested in questions of physics; and if the Young Collector"), by W. F. Kirby (London :
reader afterwards turns to the first part he may find Sonnenschein & Co.), Is. This book begins with there, whether he understand them or not, passages a brief outline of the class Insecta, with examples which imply that the writer includes in his subject and figures under each order. The rest of the book | higher things than physics. is divided into two parts, in which are treated at A Tour in Sutherlandshire, with Extracts from the greater length British beetles and British butterflies Field-Books of a Sportsman and Naturalist, by Charles and moths. Brief descriptions are given as well as | St. John, with Appendix on the Fauna of Sutherland, numerous woodcuts, while in the case both of general | by J. A. Harvie-Brown, F.Z.S., and T. E. Buckley, entomology, and of butterflies and moths, a short list | F.Z.S., 2 vols. (Edinburgh : David Douglas). This is of books likely to be useful to beginners is given. the second edition of a work issued between thirty There is neither a table of contents nor an index. and forty years ago, the author being an ardent student of animal life in days when the evolution. This is a book of star maps and text, the maps on the theory had not made its way into the conceptions of | right-hand page and the text on the left. The book animal history as it has now. He was a sportsman is light to hold, and the stars are marked in black, pure and simple, seldom killing for killing's sake, and, large enough to be seen on the white paper in a dull though one may not always take his view, it is im light. The book is specially intended for beginners, possible for a lover of nature not to be interested as but it is only fair to warn the beginner that he will the author carries him along with pleasant discourse probably find it necessary to give his careful consideraof eagles and ospreys, wild swans and their ways, tion to the method on which the book is constructed. seals, otters and foxes, not disdaining frogs, and cats, There are twelve maps, the places where January and and sparrows. Mr. St. John was rather too anxious | July would be expected being occupied by circumto shoot ospreys, and was, indeed, somewhat incon- polar maps (north pole). Should a second edition be sistent with his own remarks in doing so; and to the called for, it is to be hoped that various matters of hooded crow he was a determined enemy. His style more or less consequence will be attended to, and so is very readable, and on the whole these volumes are the usefulness of the book be increased. A preface is as pleasant a sportsman's record of animal life as one supplied by Mr. J. A. Westwood Oliver, editor of is likely to find anywhere. The little pen-and-ink the “Illustrated Science Monthly." tail pieces are many of them delightful. The tour is contained in about half the first volume, and is followed by field notes for the different months and extracts from note books. The Appendix by Messrs. THE ECONOMICAL PRODUCTS OF PLANTS. Harvie-Brown and Buckley concludes the second
By John T. Riches. volume. A word or two of praise should be devoted to the printing, paper, and general get up, which CAMPHOR.—This valuable commodity is the makes the contents of the sombre covers pretty nearly - produce of Cinnamomum Camphora, Nees et all that can be desired from this point of view. Eb. (Camphora officinarum, Nees), a native of China,
First Year of Scientific Knowledge, by Paul Bert, chiefly near Chinchew, in the province of Fokien, also translated by Madame Paul Bert (London : Relfe | very plentiful in Formosa, and some parts of Japan, Bros.), 25. 6d. It is announced in the very short the principal supplies of the material coming from the preface to this, its English edition, that there is former part by way of Singapore to this country. It scarcely a school in France, even in the smallest is a large tree (Fig. 167) belonging to the laurel family village, where “M. Paul Bert's famous book” is not (Lauracea) with a straight trunk, freely branched at used. It is to be inferred from this, from the title, the top, all the parts when bruised emitting a and from the book itself, wherein Paul, George, camphoraceous odour. Leaves alternate, on long Harry, and James are duly informed of a vast number petioles, ovate-lanceolate, subcoriaceous, entire, of facts, that it is intended for young children. Here, bright green above, paler beneath, three-nerved. in rather less than 350 pp., one has animals, plants, Flowers in lax axillary and terminal panicles, small, stones and soils, physics, chemistry, animal and bi-sexual. Fruit small, roundish, drupaceous. vegetable physiologies, discussed and laid aside in
Camphor, like most substances the produce of succession. It is, after all, but little more than a countries southwards or eastwards of India, was unpage a day for the young children, and the illustra known to the ancients. It was, however, known to tions are so many and so entertaining, some so really the Arabs, who called it “ kaphoor.” It is diffused good, that if by the end of the year the child is not a throughout all parts of the trec, hence all, with the botanist, a physicist, &c., in little, the failure should
| exception of the leaves, are used in the process of perhaps be laid to the door of the system, which is procuring it : root, stem, and branches are cut up not that which has of late years been advocated as into convenient lengths, and boiled in water in the true method of studying science. It is really large closed vessels, when the volatilised substance is wonderful what is here provided, ready cut and dried | sublimed into inverted cones of straw placed within for the children to swallow, if only they can hold it | earthen capitals. In this form it is collected and all. The book is a phenomenon worth considering. | imported into Europe, and is known as crude Its illustrations, of which there are said to be 550, camphor, mainly from the parts mentioned above, are many of them attractive, though all are small. but some of good quality is obtained from Japan, That of the sheep's jaws happens to be printed upside which is, however, chiefly secured by the Dutch, down, and unfortunately that intended to explain the amounting in some years to several thousand pounds. apparent movement of a penny in a vessel when
It exists in this stage in the form of small greyishwater is poured in, is quite wrong, and that in more coloured sparkling grains, which by aggregation form ways than one; and here the text also is not free crumbling cakes, with all the properties of pure from blame.
camphor, but mixed with impurities. After its Elementary Star Atlas, by Rev. T. H. E. Espin, importation all these are removed by another process, F.R.A.S. (London : Swan Sonnenschein & Co.). after which it assumes the form in which it is usually seen in commerce. The raw material is mixed with hysteria, and in nervous and typhoid fever. If taken lime, and again sublimed into glass vessels of a in small quantities in solution, it is said to strengthen special shape, which are ultimately broken away, the teeth. It is employed in domestic economy as a leaving the camphor in the form of concavo-convex protective agent against the attacks of insects, and cakes from two to three inches thick, with a hole in for a similar purpose by natural history collectors. the middle; when it is solid, colourless, and trans- It is frequently used as a preventive against infeclucent, with a penetrating aromatic odour, and a tious diseases, although its power in that direction is bitter pungent taste, with a crystalline consistency. not great, Its specific gravity is less than that of water, consequently it floats on water, and evaporates, undergoing | BORNEO OR SUMATRA CAMPHOR.—This is another a curious rotary movement while doing so ; but little variety of camphor produced by Dryobalanops arosoluble in water, freely so in alcohol and ether, matica, Gaert., belonging to the distinct family Diptealso in volatile and fixed oils. At ordinary tempera- | rocarpea, and which was for a long time erroneously tures it slowly evaporates and crystallises on vessels I supposed to be the tree which produced the kind
Fig. 167.-Cinnamomum Camphora, Nees et Eb.
in which it is contained, as in glass jars for instance, , met with in European commerce. This tree also It melts at a temperature of 288°, and boils at 400°, yields the oil of camphor, or liquid camphor, as it is is very inflammatory, burning with a blue flame. frequently called, wbich is obtained by incision from
The uses of camphor are very numerous, and its the younger trees, a practice which eventually destroys actions are equally various. When taken internally the trees. It has, however, the same properties as its action is chiefly upon the nervous system, in the solid camphor, and would have ultimately demoderate doses producing exhilaration, quietude and veloped into that substance if the trees had been left placidity of feeling, allaying irritation. In large unmolested. The solid camphor of this tree is found doses the circulation, especially in some persons, in the cracks of the bark in large blocks, varying such as those suffering from heart affections, may be according to the age of the tree ; and to obtain it the effected in a similar way, passing off afterwards trees are cut down, split into blocks, and the through the skin and bronchial membranes, but not camphor extracted. In the Museum No. 1, in the by the urine. In excessive doses it is narcotic and Royal Gardens, Kew, the crystallised cam phor is poisonous. It is chiefly employed in medicinal shown in situ upon the wood, so there is a great practice as an anodyne in nervous affections and difference between the development of camphor in the