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THIRD DIVISION. CRYPTOGAMOUS PLANTS. [Cryp-tog'-a-mous, or Flowerless Plants, are divided into two classes, Ac'-ro-gens and Thal'-lo-gens; the leading physiological peculiarities of which are,
1st. The stem of an Acrogens grows from the end, but does not increase in diameter. Acrogens have breathing pores, or stomata, in their skin or covering; their leaves and stem are distinctly separated ; they produce no flowers, but multiply by reproductive spheroids or spores, somewhat analogous to seeds, but whose nature is not well known.
2d. Thallo-jens are mere masses of cells; they have no stomata or breathing pores, foliage, or flowers; and they multiply by the spontaneous formation in their interior, or upon their surface, of reproductive spheroids called spores.] LES. XXII.-FERNS, LIVERWORTS, AND MOSSES. (ACROGENS.)
1. Polypodium vulga're, Common polyp'ody, or Wall fern, xxi. 1, brown, 1 f., My.-O. 2. Struthiop'teris Pennsylva'nica, Ostrich fern, xxi. 1, br., 2 f., Au. 3. Pté'ris atropurpu'rea, Rock brake, xxi. 1, br., 10 in., Au.-S. 4. Aspid'ium Thelyp'teris, Lady fern, xxi. 1, 1 f., br., Jl.-Au. 5. Marchan' tia polymor'pha, Variable liverwort, xxi. 6, dark green, 2 in, moist rocks, winter. 6. Autho' ceros puncta'ta, Dotted liverwort, xxi. 6, spring, dark green, 1} in,
damp places. 7. Sphag' num obtusi fo'lium, Peat moss, xxi. 5, y. and g., bogs, 1 in. 8. Gymnos' tomum viridis'simum, Green moss, xxi. 5, bright green, trees and rocks, 1 in. 9. Grim'mia apocar'pa, Alpine moss, xxi. 5, dark olive, 11 in., dense tufts on rocks and trees. 10. Ortho' trichum cris'pum, Crisp moss, xxi. 5, bright green, 1 in., trees. 11. Grim'mia pulvina' ta, Cushion moss, xxi. 5, bright green, 4 in.,
house-tops. 12. Bartra'mia Halleria'na, Mountain moss, xxi. 5, bright green, 6 in., mountains. 13. Hyp'num mura'le, Wall moss, xxi. 5, light green, 14 in., walls and stones.
1. We come now to a very singular division of the vegetable world, embracing a vast multitude of plants which differ from those before described in having no flowers for the production of seed and fruit. They indeed bear no true seeds, but are propagated by innumerable small germs called spores, ready to grow where they find a proper home, which is sometimes a piece of bread, or cheese, or decaying wood. Among these plants the highest in order are the ferns, which are more like flowering plants than any other family of the cryptogamia; yet even in them no true flower is ever seen; and what are sometimes called their seeds, and which are so minute as to present to the eye only an impalpable' powder, are found gathered in brown spots or lines on the under surface of the fronds or leafy portions of the mature plant.
"'Tis there the fern displays its fluted wreath,
Leadeu beneath with drops of richest brown." 2. Ferns thrive best in damp places, though they sometimes grow in pastures and on dry hill-sides. Thus it has been said of one of the beautiful plants of this family:
" Where the copsewood is the greenest,
There the Lady Fern grows strongest." The ferns growing in the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia are more than four feet in height; and in tropical countries the tree fern rises to the height of thirty or forty feet. One of the most interesting peculiarities of ferns is the spiral manner in which the leaflets are coiled up before their first appearance, each one being rolled in toward the rib that supports it—a peculiarity which has been very prettily noticed in the following lines:
“ Have ye ever watched it budding,
With each stem and leaf wrapped small,
Like a round and hairy ball ?
Each closely nestling curl,
Their spreading forms unfurl?
Are these fern leaves to me." 6. It having been ascertained that ferns were propagated by seeds, although the flower, if there were any, was too minute to be detected even by the most powerful microscope, there was a mystery thrown over the plant, which naturally gave rise to many poetic fancies, one of which was the power of rendering invisible the person who was so fortunate as to possess the seed; and to this fancied property we find an allusion in Shakspeare:
"We have the receipt of fern-seed; we walk invisible." 7. Scarcely any flowering plants have been greater favorites
In the forest like a sea,
with all classes of persons than ferns; nor is this to be wondered at when we consider both their intrinsic beauty, and their association with all that is wild and romantic in
scenery, where mountain and valley, rocks and shaded fountains, combine their fascinating influence upon the imagination. Their embellishment of rugged and wild mountain scenery has been embalmed in the poetry of Scott. He sometimes prefers the Caledonian name of brake or bracken to that of fern. In picturing to the eye the sudden rise and disappearance of the soldiers of Roderick Dhu, when he gave the signal“ whistle shrill, and was answered from the hill,” we see heath, broom, and bracken forming the ambuscade.
“Instant, through căpse and heath, arose
en bush sends forth the dart,
A subterranean host had given."
66 Waved his hand,
On bracken green and cold gray stone." 10. There is an interesting family of plants, called Liver. worts, belonging to the same class as the ferns, and in many respects resenibling the mosses. Their leafy expansions are soft and green; they are usually found growing on moist surfaces, often where there is little or no soil, and are very common in the chinks between paving-stones in unfrequented places, and on the surface of the earth contained in gardenpots, as also upon walls which from any cause are kept constantly damp. Besides the seeds which grow on the leaf, as in ferns, some of the liverworts have little stalks growing from them, and bearing on their summit flower-like appendages · which contain minute bodies that seem to have the power of spontaneously detaching themselves from their birthplace. When thrown into the water they move about rapidly like animalculæ.
11. But mosses are perhaps the most interesting of this first division of the Cryptogamia; and to them we proceed in the next Lesson. LM-PĂL'-PA-BLE, that can not be felt; not|4 GLĀIVE, a broadsword.
5 TÄRGE, a tör'-get or shield. 2 SHĒĒN'-EST, brightest (obsolete).
* Jäck, a coat of mail. 3 GLINT'-Ev, glanced; reflected.
LESSON XXIII.-THE MOSSES. (ACROGENS.) (NOTE. — The following lines apply, perhaps, more appropriately to the Lichens than to the Mosses. (See Lesson XXV.) But lichens are in common language called mosses.) 1.
THE lovely moss! on the lowly cot
It lies like an emerald crown,
As it comes rushing down;
When the last rain hath pattered,
Like stars from the pure sky scattered.
When on the ruin gray,
It spreads its mantle guy ;
As it shivereth, thoughts of fear,
Like a friend, forever near. 8.
But oh! I love the bright moss most
When I see it thickly spread
Of its forgotten dead.
The fame that earth hath given,
Glory, save that of Heaven -Miss M. A. BROWNE. 4. Mosses are interesting little evergreens, with distinct " leaves, and frequently a distinct stem. They do not, like ferns, bear their fructification upon the leaves, but in a little case or urn that is borne on a long distinct stalk. The pulpy matter that is contained in this case becomes dry in ripening, and when arrived at maturity it flies off in the form of an extremely subtile powder, which serves for the propagation of the plant.
5. Mosses are fond of moisture, shade, and retirement; enlivening the dark recesses of solitude by the vivid green of their diminutive foliage; and it is with " mossy fountains," especially, that we have been taught to associate ideas of o cool refreshment,” and the quiet of nature in repose.
While we view,
6. Mosses are found in the hottest as well as the coldest climates, growing alike amid torrid sands and arctic snows; and when a coral island springs up above the crested wave, the green moss first crowns its barren summit, and prepares the living rock for the growth of higher forms of vegetation. It was by the contemplation of a delicate moss plant that the heart of Mungo Park, the African traveler, was revived, when the difficulties by which he was surrounded had almost extinguished hope within him. The passage has been often quoted, but, it may be hoped, never without its use, and it does not seem superfluous to introduce it here.
7. This enterprising traveler, during one of his journeys into the interior of Africa, was cruelly stripped and robbed of all that he possessed by banditti. “In this forlorn and almost helpless condition,” he says, “ when the robbers had left
me, I sat for some time looking around me with amazement and terror. Whichever way I turned, nothing appeared but danger and difficulty. I found myself in the
midst of a vast wilderness, in the depth of the rainy season-naked and alone-surrounded by savage animals, and by men still more savage. I was five hundred miles from any European settlement. All these circumstances crowded at once upon my recollection, and I confess that my spirits began to fail
I considered my fate as certain, and that I had no alternative but to lie down and perish.
8. “The influence of religion, however, aided and supported me. I reflected that no human prudence or foresight could possibly have averted my present sufferings. I was indeed a stranger in a strange land, yet I was still under the protecting eye of that Providence who has condescended to call himself the stranger's friend. At this moment, painful as my reflections were, the extraordinary beauty of a small moss irresistibly caught my eye; and though the whole plant was not larger than the top of one of my fingers, I could not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots, leaves, and fruit without admiration. Can that Being (thought I) who planted, watered, and brought to perfection, in this obscure part of the world, a thing which appears of so small importance, look with unconcern upon the situation and suffering of creatures formed after his own image? Surely not. Reflections like these would not allow me to despair. I started up, and, disregarding both hunger and fatigue, traveled forward, assured that relief was at hand; and I was not disappointed.”