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564. The nature of the plants growing out of earth so taken up, doth follow the nature of the mold itself; as if the mold be soft and fine, it putteth forth soft herbs; as grass, plantain, and the like ; if the earth be harder and coarser, it putteth forth herbs more rough, as thistles, firs, etc.
565. It is common experience, that where alleys are close gravelled, the earth putteth forth the first year knot grass, and after spire grass. The cause is, for that the hard gravel or pebble at the first laying will not suffer the grass to come forth upright, but turneth it to find his way where it can; but after that the earth is somewhat loosened at the top, the ordinary grass cometh up.
566. It is reported, that earth being taken out of shady and watery woods some depth, and potted, will put forth herbs of a fat and juicy substance; as penny-wort, purslane, housleek, penny-royal, etc.
567. The water also doth send forth plants that have no roots fixed in the bottom; but they are less perfect plants, being almost but leaves, and those small ones; such is that we call duck-weed, which hath a leaf no bigger than a thyme leaf, but of a fresher green, and putteth forth a little string into the water far from the bottom. As for the water lily, it hath a root in the ground; and so have a number of other herbs that grow in ponds.
568. It is reported by some of the ancients, and some modern testimony likewise, that there be some plants that grow upon the top of the sea, being supposed to grow of some concretion of slime from the water, where the sun beateth hot, and where the sea stirreth little.
As for alga marina, sea weed, and eryngium, sea thistle, both have roots; but the sea weed under the water, the sea thistle but upon the shore.
569. The ancients have noted, that there are some herbs that grow out of snow laid up close together and putrified, and that they are all bitter; and they name one specially, flomus, which we call moth-mullein. It is certain, that worms are found in snow
commonly, like earth-worms; and therefore it is not unlike, that it may likewise put forth plants.
570. The ancients have affirmed, that there are some herbs that grow out of stone; which may be, for that it is certain that toads have been found in the middle of a free-stone. We see also that flints, lying above ground, gather moss; and wall-flowers, and some other flowers, grow upon walls; but whether upon the main brick or stone, or whether out of the lime or chinks, is not well observed: for elders and ashes have been seen to grow out of steeples; but they manifestly grow out of clefts; insomuch as when they grow big, they will disjoin the stone. And besides, it is doubtful whether the mortar itself putteth it forth, or whether some seeds be not let fall by birds. There be likewise rock-herbs; but I suppose those are where there is some mold or earth. It hath likewise been found, that great trees growing upon quarries have put down their root into the stone.
571. In some mines in Germany, as is reported, there grow in the bottom vegetables ; and the workfolks use to say they have magical virtue, and will not suffer men to gather them.
572. The sea sands seldom bear plants. Whereof the cause is yielded by some of the ancients, for that the sun exhaleth the moisture before it can incorporate with the earth, and yield a nourishment for the plant. And it is affirmed also that sand hath always its root in clay; and that there be no veins of sand any great depth within the earth.
573. It is certain, that some plants put forth for a time of their own store, without any nourishment from earth, water, stone, etc. of which vide the experiment 29.
Experiments in consort touching foreign plants.
574. It is reported, that earth that was brought out of the Indies and other remote countries for ballast of ships, cast upon some grounds in Italy, did put forth foreign herbs, to us in Europe not known; and, that which is more, that of their roots, barks,
and seeds, contused together, and mingled with other earth, and well watered with warm water, there came forth herbs much like the other.
575. PLANTS brought out of hot countries will endeavour to put forth at the same time that they usually do in their own climate; and therefore to preserve them, there is no more required, than to keep them from the injury of putting back by cold. It is reported also, that grain out of the hotter countries translated into the colder, will be more forward than the ordinary grain of the cold country. It is likely that this will prove better in grains than in trees, for that grains are but annual, and so the virtue of the seed is not worn out; whereas in a tree it is embased by the ground to which it is removed.
576. MANY plants which grow in the hotter countries, being set in the colder, will nevertheless, even in those cold countries, being sown of seeds late in the spring, come up and abide most part of the summer; as we find it in orange and lemon seeds, etc. the seeds whereof sown in the end of April will bring forth excellent sallads, mingled with other herbs. And I doubt not, but the seeds of clove-trees, and pepper seeds, etc. if they could come hither green enough to be sown, would do the like. Experiments in consort touching the seasons in
which plants come forth. 577. THERE be some flowers, blossoms, grains, and fruits, which come more early, and others which come more late in the year. The flowers that come early with us are primroses, violets, anemonies, water-daffadillies, crocus vernus, and some early tulips. And they are all cold plants; which therefore, as it should seem, have a quicker perception of the heat of the sun increasing than the hot herbs have; as a cold hand will sooner find a little warmth than an hot. And those that come next after, are wall-flowers, cowslips, hyacinths, rosemary flowers, etc. and after them pinks, roses, flower-de-luces, etc. and the latest are gilly-flowers, holyoaks, larksfoot, etc. The earliest blossoms are the blossoms of peaches, almonds, cornelians, mezerions, etc. and they are of such trees as have much moisture, either watery or oily. And therefore crocus vernus also, being an herb that hath an oily juice, putteth forth early ; for those also find the sun sooner than the drier trees. The grains are, first rye and wheat; then oats and barley ; then peas and beans. For though green peas and beans be eaten sooner, yet the dry ones that are used for horsemeat, are ripe last; and it seemeth that the fatter grain cometh first. The earliest fruits are strawberries, cherries, gooseberries, currants; and after them early apples, early pears, apricots, rasps ; and after them, damascenes, and most kind of plums, peaches, etc. and the latest are apples, wardens, grapes, nuts, quinces, almonds, sloes, brier-berries, hips, medlars, services, cornelians, etc.
578. It is to be noted, that, commonly, trees that ripen latest, blossom soonest; as peaches, cornelians, sloes, almonds, etc. and it seemeth to be a work of providence that they blossom so soon; for otherwise they could not have the sun long enough to ripen.
579. THERE be fruits, but rarely, that come twice a year; as some pears, strawberries, etc. And it seemeth they are such as abound with nourishment; whereby after one period, before the sun waxeth too weak, they can endure another. The violet also, amongst flowers, cometh twice a year, especially the double white ; and that also is a plant full of moisture. Roses come twice, but it is not without cutting, as hath been formerly said.
580. In Muscovy, though the corn come not up till late spring, yet their harvest is as early as ours. The cause is, for that the strength of the ground is kept in with the snow; and we see with us, that if it be a long winter, it is commonly a more plentiful year : and after those kind of winters likewise, the flowers and com, which are earlier and later, do come commonly at once, and at the same time, which troubleth the husbandman inany times; for you shall have red roses and damask roses come together; and likewise the harvest of wheat and barley. But this happeneth ever, for that the earlier stayeth for the later; and not that the later cometh sooner.
581. THERE be divers fruit trees in the hot countries, which have blossoms, and young fruit, and ripe fruit, almost all the year, succeeding one another. And it is said the orange hath the like with us, for a great part of summer; and so also hath the fig. And no doubt the natural motion of plants is to have so; but that either they want juice to spend; or they meet with the cold of the winter : and therefore this circle of ripening cannot be but in succulent plants, and hot countries.
582. SOME herbs are but annual, and die, root and all, once a year; as borage, lettuce, cucumbers, muskmelons, basil, tobacco, mustard-seed, and all kinds of corn : some continue many years; as hyssop, germander, lavender, fennel, etc. The cause of the dying is double; the first is, the tenderness and weakness of the seed, which maketh the period in a small time; as it is in borage, lettuce, cucumbers, corn, etc. and therefore none of these are hot. The other cause is, for that some herbs can worse endure cold; as basil, tobacco, mustard-seed. And these have all much heat.
Experiments in consort touching the lasting of herbs
and trees. 583. The lasting of plants is most in those that are largest of body; as oaks, elm, chestnut, the loat-tree, etc. and this holdeth in trees; but in herbs it is often contrary: for borage, colewort, pompions, which are herbs of the largest size, are of small durance; whereas hyssop, winter-savoury, germander, thyme, sage, will last long. The cause is, for that trees last according to the strength and quantity of their sap and juice ; being well munited by their bark against the injuries of the air: but herbs draw a weak juice, and have a soft stalk; and therefore those amongst them which last longest, are herbs of strong smell, and with a sticky stalk.