Page images

darkness in the subterranean galleries of the mines at Freyburg. Cattle eat the green plant of indigo, though when manufactured it is a formidable poison; it is said cattle are not fond of the loti. L. corniculatus becomes blue in drying. Astragalus glycyphyllus yields not only liquorice but a sweet substance resembling manna. A. verus yields tragacanth. The roots of onybrychis or hedysarum have been found upwards of twenty feet long. Hedysarum gyrans, whose leaves are often curiously agitated without any apparent cause, is not unfrequent in hot-houses. The vetches yield a large quantity of food for cattle. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when their seeds were mixed with the rye and buckwheat bread of the continent, the most fatal consequences ensued. The striped Barbary vetch is a deadly poison. The smooth tare, or 'lentil,' of which Esau's pottage was made, is extensively used in the East, and during Lent, in Catholic countries, dressed as haricots. The sweet pea and everlasting pea of gardens are varieties of lathyrus. Orobus tuberosus has roots resembling liquorice, of which a fermented liquor is made in Ross-shire. In Holland they are eaten roasted like chesnuts. The highlanders eat them by the name of Cormeille, a very small quantity being said to allay and prevent hunger. Phaseolus coccineus, the common scarletrunner, has poisonous roots, which unhappily caused the death of some children not many years ago at Chelsea. Leather bags of kidney beans were found in the corners of window seats at Herculaneum. Probably they were used as counters, but rusticating Romans were not above 'beans and bacon.'

"O quando faba Pythagoræ cognata, simulque
Uncta satis pingui ponentur oluscula lardo ?

O noctes cœnæque deûm!"

The broad bean is called vicia faba.


The seeds of West Indian 'wild liquorice,' abrus precatorius, scarlet tipped with black, are well known in rosaries, necklaces, and other ornaments. The dense thickets which it forms in the isles of the Bornean archipelago are infested with a black and red insect greatly resembling its seeds. The sensitive plant has a root

of intolerably odious smell. In walking near Singapore the ground is so covered with mimosa pudica, that a quivering track is left by the shrinking of a thousand leaflets. The gigantic locust trees of Brazil, that fifteen Indians could scarcely girdle, are also in this order; the tamarind with flowers white one day and yellow the second, and also the robinia pseud-acacia, introduced by Mr. Cobbett, and almost extinct again already. The largest specimen, near Edinburgh, measured some years ago nine feet in circumference. Semi-fossil pods of genista anglica are found in Cornwall and the Hebrides. The greatest number of genistas is found in Spain, of trifoliums in Italy, of vicias in Greece, and of astragali in Asia Minor. The acacias of New Holland bear leaf stalks, instead of leaves, large and flattened, but edgewise to the zenith. Their flowers resemble powdered yellow balls. The pods of the nitta-tree, a species of mimosa, contain a fine meal surrounding a few black seeds. "The meal itself is of a bright yellow colour, resembling the flower of sulphur, and has a sweet mucilaginous taste; when eaten by itself it is clammy, but when mixed with milk or water, it constitutes a very pleasant and nourishing article of diet."-PARK'S TRAVELS.

"Knowledge is not a couch whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; nor a terrace for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down in; nor a tower of state for a proud mind to raise itself upon; nor a commanding fort for strife and contention; nor yet a shop for profit and sale; but a rich store for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate."-BACON.






I. Prunus spinosa. blackthorn or sloe. common.
b. insititia. wild bullace tree. common.

[blocks in formation]

c. domestica. wild plum tree. near Farm town, Coleorton. WHC.

P. cerasus. wild cherry. near Twycross: AB. Canal road to Congerstone, near Market Bosworth. Dr. E. Gumley wood. SK. Groby. MK. * Belvoir plantations.

b. avium. near Measham. AB. plantations at Westcotes. CT.

Spiræa ulmaria. meadow sweet. common.

S. filipendula. common dropwort. battle field "near
Market Bosworth: *Waltham on the Wolds. AB.
1849. Knipton, &c. near Kegworth Railway Station.
FTM. Croft. CT. Thurcaston. CL.

Geum urbanum. common avens. common.

G. rivale. brook avens. near Market Bosworth. NPS.
Willesley. SK. Swannington. PCF. Overseal. JM.
Agrimonia eupatoria. agrimony. common.

Potentilla anserina. silver weed. common.

P. argentea. hoary cinquefoil. rocks near Groby pool :
Swithland, &c. common.

P. reptans. creeping cinquefoil. common.
P. tormentilla. common.

P. fragariastrum. strawberry-leaved cinquefoil. common.
P. comarum. purple marsh cinquefoil. rare: Moira
reservoir. WHC. bogs about Buddon and Market
Harborough. Dr. P. Stocking wood, one of Dr. P.'s
localities, is now destroyed.


The divisions adopted in the description of the numerous species of Rubus indigenous to Leicestershire, are those of Mr. Lees, a gentleman who has for many years devoted great attention to the study of this most difficult genus, and drawn up an arrangement of them in Steele's Hand Book of Field Botany. It is not pretended that all the forms in the following list are arranged in their correct places, for the accurate knowledge of many of the supposed different species is still confessedly imperfect; but as Mr. Lees's system appears to be the most simple in its arrangement, though perhaps deficient in some points, it has been followed in the present list. Mr. Babington's Synopsis of the British Rubi, with the two supplements, published in the Annals of Natural History, though under a different arrangement, is most valuable to the student of this extensive genus, and has been much used in drawing up the characters of the different species. A fasciculus of those here described is placed in the Leicester Museum, and another in the Herbarium of the Botanical Society, London, for reference at any future time.

A. FRUTICOSE. BIENNIAL OR SUBPERENNIAL. a. Stem arched, and rooting at the extremity, subperennial. SUB-DIV. I. Rubi Cæsii. Barren stem pruinose with unequal prickles, generally with few setæ, prostrate unless supported.




III. 1. R. cæsius. Linn. dewberry. stem glaucous, prickles slender, leaves mostly 3-nate, though sometimes 5-nate, panicle simple glandular, fruit glaucous, sepals inflexed.




[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Thickets and ditches, not uncommon; several varieties, with more or less prickly stems, are found in different localities. This is one of the earlier flowering species. 2. R. dumetorum. W. and N. (nemorosus, "Hayne") stem angular setose, prickles numerous unequal, leaves 5-nate coriaceous downy beneath, central leaflet cordate cuspidate, panicle branched leafy more or less setose, calyx involute in fruit. Thickets and hedges: one of the most common species in the county: numerous varieties as a. glabratus, B. pilosus, y. bifrons, d. ferox, are found in various localities.

3. R. Colemanni. (Blox. MSS.) stem smooth angular
with very numerous straight unequal slightly-declining
scattered prickles arising from a dilated base, aciculi
and setæ few, leaves 5-nate and 3-nate, green with
scattered hairs above, paler and densely pubescent
beneath, central leaflet orbicular cordate abruptly
cuspidate, lower pair nearly sessile overlapping, panicle
long narrow and leafy branched at the base setose with
very numerous straight declining and strong prickles,
calyx reflexed. It differs from R. dumetorum in the
almost total absence of setæ from the barren stem, the
form of the terminal leaflet and direction of the calyx.
Discovered by the Rev. W. H. Coleman in a hedge at
Packington, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
It appears
somewhat intermediate between R. infestus W. & N.
and R. Grabowskii W.

4. R. corylifolius. E. B. (sublustris, Lees,) stem nearly
round smooth, prickles small distant straight, leaves
5-nate, occasionally though rarely 7-nate, smooth
and green above, hoary with soft pubescence beneath,
central leaflet coryliform, lowest pair sessile over-
lapping, calyx reflexed. One of the earlier flowering
Rubi. Hedges and thickets, common. Mr. Leighton
has, in the Phytologist, described several varieties of
this species, some of which have been observed in this

« PreviousContinue »