A. R. (Arthur Reginald) Horwood.

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Weed, Town-weed. Dog's Mercury is so called to distinguish it not



from the so-called English Mercury, or Goosefoot, but from the French
Mercury (M. annua), formerly used in medicine. It is called Kentish
Balsam, "from the similarity of the leaf to that of the Garden Balsam",
and Town -weed from the growth of the plant in towns and town
gardens, though this name may refer to M. anmia.

The plant is poisonous, and not eaten by animals. When dry it

Photo. Flatt

DOG'S MERCURY (Mercurialis perennis, L.)

turns blue, and steeped in water yields a deep blue dye, which is not
permanent. It is acrid. The plant has been eaten as a spinach. It
is laxative in effect.

The male and female plants are not usually found in the same
district, and therefore Dog's Mercury does not always produce perfect
seed, being largely increased by the root-stock.


276. Merciirialis perennis, L. -Dioecious, stem erect, simple, leaf-
less below, leaves petioled, lanceolate, hispid, male flowers in axillary
spikes, female in clusters hidden by leaves.

Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra, Huds. (montana, Stokes))

This is an ancient tree, remains being found in the Preglacial beds
at Happisburgh, Suffolk, and in Interglacial beds at Grays, Essex.
It now occurs in Europe and in Siberia, and is generally distributed
in the N. Temperate Zone.


In Great Britain it does not grow in S. Hants, E. Kent, Hunts,
Glamorgan, Pembroke, Flint, N. Lines, Isle of Man, Kirkcudbright,
Roxburgh, Orkneys and Shetlands, but elsewhere as far north as
Sutherland, and is indigenous and naturalized in many places. It is
native in Ireland and the Channel Islands. It is found in Yorks at
1300 ft.

The Wych Elm grows commonly in hedgerows and by the sides
of highways, where it is doubtless planted, but it is also found in
woods where it may well be native. It is frequently utilized in parks
and other places to form avenues or rows of timber trees.

The general habit of the Wych Elm is drooping, with a twisted
bole or base of the trunk. It is a large tree. The bole may be 50 ft.
in girth. The bark is corky or not, with thick ribs and deep furrows,
horizontal or somewhat spiral. The branches are spreading. The
twigs are downy. Suckers are sent up by the roots, especially when
cut. The leaves are large, rough above, downy below, egg-shaped to
oblong, bluntly pointed, with double or treble teeth, the base unequal
or heart-shaped. The stipules soon fall.

The flowers are .apetalous, 5-7 in a cyme, with a bell-shaped
perianth fringed with hairs, with blunt lobes, 4-5-cleft, and persistent.
There are 4-6 or 5 stamens, with purple anthers inserted on the
perianth tube, opposite the lobes. There are 2 styles. The fruit, a
samara oblong or rounded, has the seed in the centre, and is notched

The Wych Elm is 80-120 ft. in height, and flowers before the
leaves expand. It is a deciduous tree, propagating itself from seed,
and from suckers sent up by the roots.

The flowers are bisexual, the male and femalejopgans being on
the same flower as a rule, with 5 anther-stajks, and purple anthers
opening outwards, the styles (2) awl-shape^t, stigmatic on the inner
face. At the base are leaves in the lowest 10-12 axils, flowers above, in
dichasial cymes, bearing 2 branches successively reduced to one flower.

As with other trees, the flowers of the Wych Elm, which appear
before the leaves, are wind -pollinated. The stigmas mature first,
before the anthers. The flowers are not in catkins, but in groups.
The perianth has 4-6 lobes, and the stamens are the same number.
Before the anthers open the anther-stalks lengthen and stand high
above the feathery stigma, so that the pollen can be readily blown
away. The stigmas are long-lived. As a rule the pollen is blown
upward, some settling eventually on stigmas in flowers higher on
the tree.



The fruit is a samara, and winged, and the wind carries the seed
some distance from the parent tree.

The Wych Elm grows on a sand soil or clay soil, or in sandy
loam, and is widespread.

Many fungi attack the Elm, such as Taphrina, Mycosphcerella,
Psilocybe, Hypholoma, Flammula, Pholiota, Pleurotus, Collybia, Fomes,
Hydnum, Pleospora,

Several insects cause galls or infest it, such as (amongst many

WYCH ELM (Ulmtis glabra, Huds.)

Photo. H Irving

others) Schizoneura ulmi, Pemphigus pallidus (Leopard Moth), Zeuzera
czsculi, Orchestes ulmi, Scolytus destructor, S, multistriatus, Hylesimis
vittatus (Winter Moth), Cheimatobia brumata, Tetraneura ulmi, Typh-
locyba ulmi, Pseudococcus aceris, Lecanium caprece.

Ulmus, Pliny, is from the Latin for Elm. Wych is from A.S. wife,
with the sense of bending, from the pendulous branches, and the second
Latin name, meaning smooth, is misapplied, the leaves being asperous.

This tree is called Chewbark, Elm, Broad-leaved, Scotch, Witch or
Wych Elm, Halse, W T itch Hazel, Helm, Mountain Elm, Orne Tree,
Witch, Witch Wood, Wych Wood. The name Chewbark is explained
thus: "The inner bark of the Elm for a certain pleasant clamminess is
chewed by children, and hence the tree is called Chewbark".


The name Wych Elm was applied because its wood was used to
make the chests called Wyches, Hueches, or Whycches, French huchc,
A.S. hwaecce. It was also called Witch Hazel, because the leaves are
like the leaves of the Hazel. Gerarde says: "Old men affirme that
when long boughes (bows) were in great use, there were very many
made of the wood of this tree, for which purpose it is mentioned in the
statutes of England by the name of Witch Hasell."

The Edda derives man's descent from the Ash and Elm. It was
a prophetic tree being a tree of dreams.

" Full in the midst a spreading elm displayed
His aged arms and cast a mighty shade;
Each trembling leaf with some light vision teems,
And leaves impregnated with airy dreams."

A man who makes unreasonable requests, and equally expects them
to be gratified, is said to "ask an elm tree for pears ".

The bark is astringent, contains tannin, and being mucilaginous
it acts as a demulcent. The leaves have been used as fodder for
cattle. As timber it was used for ships, but steel has now replaced
the old wooden ships to a great extent. It is also used for coffins
and other purposes.


278. Ulmus glabra, Huds. Tree, branches drooping, leaves large,
ovate, doubly serrate, unequal at the base, seed below middle, flowers

Oak (Quercus Robur, L.)

The Oak is an ancient tree found in Preglacial beds in Norfolk and
Suffolk, and also Interglacial and Neolithic beds. To-day it is found
in the Arctic and N. Temperate Zones from the Atlas, Taurus, and
Syria, up to the Arctic Circle. In Great Britain it is found every-
where except in Selkirk, Hebrides, and Shetlands, from Sutherland to
the south coast, up to 1350 ft. in the Highlands. It is a native of
Ireland and the Channel Islands.

The Oak is one of those trees which characterize a certain type of
woodland, having a special ground association of its own. It is also
largely planted up and down the country in hedgerows by the road-
side as well as in the open fields. But it is native in many places
where remnants of the old forests remain, especially in hilly districts,
the strongholds in days gone by of the Druids, to whom it was sacred,
many ancient trees bearing names connected with this ancient religious

OAK 99

The tree. is perhaps best known by its stout and lofty bole or base
of the trunk. The stem is erect, branched, the branches ascending or
spreading, never drooping.

Reaching a height of 150 ft., and having an enormous girth, up
to 70 ft. in circumference, the Oak is one of the largest British trees.
The Newland Oak, for instance, has a girth of 60 ft., the Cowthorpe
Oak, Yorkshire, being 70 ft. The thick trunk, which is usually short,
gives rise to several thick long arms, the lower often horizontal, the
upper ascending and spreading, forming an elbow or angle, and thus
giving it a twisted appearance. This arrangement makes the crown
a semicircular one, and in this variety in the summer appearance the
foliage is in dense masses, broken by the elbows of the branches, and
at no distance from the ground. In the winter stage the irregular
branching is well seen.

The resting buds have numerous pairs of scales or stipules of un-
developed leaves. The lateral buds are in clusters at the tip of the
twigs. The lower buds are inactive for long periods. This causes
the zigzag arrangement of branches. The leaves are lobed, spirally
arranged, 4 in the tufts at the ends of branches. The leaves are
stalked and have temporary stipules. The stalk is short, the blade
is hairless, not tapered at the base. The leaves fall in November.

The Oak is a moncecious plant, and both male and female catkins are
borne on the same shoot. The male on the dwarf shoots are pendent,
and both male and female occur on terminal parts of the previous year's
twigs. There is one stalkless female flower in the axils of the bract
scales. The male catkin has many catkin scales. The male flowers
have 5-7 united sepals, 5-12 stamens. The female inflorescence has
fewer flowers (1-5), and has a distinct stalk with lateral flowers. The
fruit, an acorn, is developed from a i -seeded ovary, 5 of the ovules not
developing. The cupule or cup has close overlapping scales. The
acorns are distant. The three carpels are united with a three-chambered
ovary and 2 ovules in each chamber. Five of the 6 ovules do not

The tree may be 60 ft. high. It flowers in April and May. It
is a deciduous tree, propagated by seed. Like other Cupuliferse the
flower is pollinated by the wind. Each spike contains one female
flower, which forms the acorn cup at the base, or a cluster of flowers.
The male flowers hang in drooping catkins, with 10 projecting stamens.

The fruit or acorn when ripe drops, owing to its great weight, to
the ground, and is later released from the cupule, or it may be carried
by birds or animals to a distance as food, whilst being semi-detached



at the end of a thin branch it is also blown to a distance by the

The Oak is more or less confined to the hillier stony tracts of
the country where it is native, and is partly a rock plant, partly a sand-
loving plant, always growing, however, in a soil rich in humus, and
most often on clay or loam.

The Dryad Fungus, Polyporus dryadeus, forms large brackets,

OAK (Quercus Robur, L.)

sometimes a foot or more across, on the bark, and Fistulina hcpatica,
the "beefsteak fungus", is also common on it.

Neuroterus Icnticularis forms the "spangle gall", Teras terminalis
the " oak apple ", and some 50 other galls are formed upon it. The
fungi attacking bark or leaves are numerous, belonging to the genera
Diaporthc, SpJuzrulina, Roscllinia, Dich&na, Sclerotinia, Bulgaria,
Uredo, Lenzites, Hypholoma, P ho Hot a, Collybia, Dcrdalea, Fames,
Polyporus, Fistulina, Hydnum, Corticium, Stereum, Tremclla, &c.

Many insects find a livelihood upon the Oak, such as Lucanus
cervus, Pseudococcus acris, Prionus corarius, Attelabus curculionides,
Polydrusus micavs, Orchestes querciis, Scolytus destructor, Dryocactes
villosus, Trypodendron domestic urn, Xyleborus, Neuroterus, Spathc-
gaster, Aphilothrix, Andricus, Dryophanta, Biorhiza, Teras, Cynips,

OAK 101

Aspidiotus, Asterolecanium, Cossus, Orgyia, Pygcera, Tortrix, Cal-
lipterus, Lachnus, Phylloxera, Diplosis, Lecanium.

Quercus, Pliny, is Latin for oak. Robur, Pliny, was a name for a
certain kind of oak. Oak is from the A.S. ac.

The Oak is called Aac, Acharne, Acorn, Ackern, Ackeron, Acorn-
tree, Aik, Aik-tree, Akcorn, Ake, Akers, Ake-horn, Akernel, Akeron,
Akker, Akkern, Akran, Akyr, Archarde, Atchern, Atchorn, Cups-and-
Ladles, Cups-and-Saucers, Eike-tree, Frying Pans, Hatch-horn, Jove's
Nuts, Knappers, Mace, Mast, Oak Atchern, Oak, Black, Durmast
Oak, Ovest Pipes, Rump Trail Oke, Wuk, Yachraws, Yak, Yakker,
Yeaker, Yek, Yik.

The name Pipes is given to the acorn-cup with stalk attached
resembling a pipe, which children carry in their mouths to pretend
they are smoking. The male catkins are called "The Trail" in the
New Forest. Cups and Ladles, &c., is a name for the husks of the
acorn, from their resemblance to these utensils.

On the 29th May children distinguish the reddish -coloured leaves
as Girl's Oak, and the green leaves as Boy's Oak. Girls wear the
former and boys the latter.

In Hants, a writer says: "The woodmen here talk of two kinds of
Oak, which they call the Black and White Oak, but the only intelli-
gible difference I could extract from their accounts is that the twigs
of one float whilst those of the other sink when thrown into water!
Some of the more observant, however, amongst them distinguish more
clearly our two species; the Q. sessiliflora they call White Oak and
Maiden Oak, as I have repeatedly ascertained." Durmast (Dunmast)
Oak is so called from the acorns being sometimes of a red or dun
colour. Oak Atchern is oak-berry. The pretty galls that grow upon
the leaves so abundantly are called oak-berries, and the larger ones on
the buds are, as is commonly the case, called oak-galls.

Death was announced formerly in some parts to the nearest oak, a
tree around which many superstitions have gathered. Holes in oaks
were doors through which spirits of the trees passed, and the path-
ways of elves, children being cured by contact with them, and passed
through them. Dryads had their lives linked to a tree, which it was
fatal to injure. It was considered unlucky to fell an Oak. Hence Oaks
were used for marking boundaries of property.

The early Greek and Latin authors believed in the tree descent of
man, and the Oak and Ash were supposed to have given rise to man.
The whole superstructure of Druidism was based on tree worship, in
which the Oak figured largely. Some even derive church or kirk


from Quercus. Doclona was noted for its oak grove. The Oak was
held to be of lightning origin, and sacred to Thor.

The Jew was said to be only able to settle where two oaks grew in
the form of a cross. In many parts fairyland gathers around the Oak,
and fairy dances were said to take place round its roots. Some were
called Devil's Oaks. If seen in dreams it was a sign of long life, while
to dream of an acorn foretold sickness. A man who abandons a good
enterprise for a bad one was said " to cut down an oak and plant a
thistle ". Several proverbs relate to the Oak, e.g. : " The willow will
buy a horse before the oak will pay for a saddle." "The smallest axe
may fell the largest oak." " Little strokes fell great oaks."

At Roman weddings oak boughs were symbols of fecundity. In
order to commemorate the restoration of Charles II, oak leaves and
gilded oak-apples were worn.

The Oak was said to have formed (like many other trees) the wood
of which the Cross of Calvary wa-s made, and a legend says when the
Jews were in search of wood every tree split itself except the Oak.
Oak trees planted at crossways were supposed to cure ague, and to
cure gout if taken hold of with the repeating of a formula. Oak leaves
formed the civic crown, which was the highest honour, and accorded to
Julius Caesar.

Acorns were formerly dried, roasted, and used for making bread.
The bark is one of the most important of tanning materials. Oak
sawdust was used to dye fustian, and to make colours of drab and
brown. The oak-apples are used in dyeing and for ink. Oak bark
after it has been used for tanning is used for dressing the soil.
Formerly acorns were in great request for feeding swine, oak forests
being described as of so many hogs.


282. Quercits Robnr, L. Tree, with stout horizontal or ascending
branches, leaves obovate, sinuate, lobed, male flowers in loose pendent
catkins, female solitary, below, fruit an acorn.

Beech (Fagus sylvatica, L.)

Though doubts have been expressed as to the antiquity of the
Beech as a British tree there can be no reason for suspicion as to its
being native here, for it is found in Preglacial beds at Happisburgh,
Norfolk, and in Neolithic deposits. It is found in the N. Temperate
Zone over an area covered by a triangle formed by Norway, Asia
Minor, and Spain. In Great Britain it is found in the Peninsula,



Channel, Thames, and Anglia provinces, except in Hunts; in the
Severn province; in S. Wales, not in Brecon, Radnor, Cardigan; in
N. Wales, not in Montgomery or Merioneth ; in the Trent province,

BEECH (Fagus sylvatica, L.)

Mersey province, except in Mid Lanes; in the Humber and Tyne
provinces and the Isle of Man, and up to 1200 ft. in Derby; but it is
planted in Scotland and Ireland.

Since this tree is found in Preglacial deposits, as remarked, there
can be no question as to its being native even though Caesar did not
mention it, a clear case of the uselessness of negative evidence alone.


It is a woodland plant, forming a distinct type of formation, which is
characteristic in general of chalk and limestone districts, and elsewhere
it is planted in hedgerows and as avenues. The root is enveloped in
a fungoid mycelium or mycorhiza.

The Beech has a characteristic habit, unlike the Oak or Elm, the
bole being erect with two main branches, and the tree lofty; or else it
branches at a lower level, and the branches are spreading and wavy,
ultimately spreading.

The Beech is a lofty tree, which under exceptional circumstances
may attain a height of nearly 120 ft., and a girth of nearly 30 ft. The
bark is smooth and grey. The branches extend horizontally. The buds
are acute. The stipules soon fall, and are membranous. The leaves
are deciduous or evergreen, shortly stalked, with a long narrow point,
oblong to egg-shaped, smooth or downy when young, the later leaves
fringed at the border with hairs, and in bud they are plaited parallel
to the nerves.

The Beech is monoecious. The male flowers are in long stalked
heads, and drooping; the flower-stalk is 1-2 in. long. There are no
bracts, or but small ones. The calyx is 4~7-lobed. There are 8-40
stamens, with slender projecting anther-stalks and oblong anthers.
The female flowers are on shorter stalks, 2-4, in an involucre of over-
lapping bracts, 4-partite. The limb of the calyx has 4-5 teeth. The
ovary is 3-angled, 3-celled. There are 3 linear styles. The fruit is
3-angled, smooth, 2 growing together, i-3-seeded. The capsule has
bristly segments, and is 4-cleft.

The Beech is 40 60 ft. high as a rule. The flowers bloom in
April and May. It is a deciduous tree, propagated by seed.

It only flowers occasionally, saving up material in the interim.
The flowers of the Beech are admirably adapted to pollination by
the wind. The stamens are long, projecting, and are numerous, so
that the pollen can readily be blown away by the wind. They are
also slender and readily shaken, so that when a puff of wind comes
a cloud of pollen is blown upwards to settle, some of it at least, upon
the linear styles of flowers above. The Beech is an example, unusual
in the group, of a tree in which the flowers appear after the leaves.

The fruit is a dry, edible nut enclosed in a cupule, with a hard
pericarp, dispersed by rodents, squirrels, birds, c.

The Beech is a lime-loving plant, growing on a lime soil, especially
on limestone, oolite, and the chalk, where it is indigenous.

Polyporus squamosus, Fomes fomcntarius, are common fungal pests.
The leaves are galled by Hormomyia fagi and H, piligera. Cow-


wheat is parasitic on its roots. Other fungi infesting beech are Nectria,
Sph&rulina, Rosellinia, Dichcena, Bulgaria, Armillaria, Lenzites, Panus,
Psilocybe, Hypholoma, Pkoliota, Collybia, Fomes, Polyporus, Fistulina,
Hydnum, and it is galled by Monochetus, Hormomyia, Cecidomyia.

The insect pests are, amongst many others: Lucanus cewus,
Sinodendron cylindriciim, Dorcus parallelipipediis, Melolontha vulgaris,
Agrihis viridis, Orckestes fagi, Rhopalomesites lardyi, Cryphalus fagi,
Cryptococcus fagi, Pkyllaphis fagi, &c., Stauropus fagi, Limacodes
testudo, Nola strigula, Aglaia tau, Dicycla 00, &c.

Fagus, Pliny, is the Latin for beech, and is cognate with the word
beech. The second Latin name indicates its woodland habitat.

This tree is called Beech, Buck, Buck's-mast, Hay Beech, Mast.
Buck-mast was so called because " deere delight to feed thereon".
" In Hants," a writer says, "the fruit of the beech tree is called Mast
or Beech Mast, and when hogs are turned out into the woods in
autumn to feed on it they are said to be turned out to mast." The
tree was superstitiously regarded as proof against lightning.

The wood is used by turners, joiners, millwrights. The thin bark
has been used for basket-work and band-boxes, and for straw for
palliasses. Pigs and deer are fond of the mast, which served as an
article of food in ancient times. The wood is durable under water, but
liable to be affected by extremes of temperature, and to be attacked by
beetles. An oil is contained in the mast, which is expressed as a sort
of olive oil, and also sugar and starch.

Beech wood is used abroad for charcoal, and for sabots and planks,
after soaking in water and smoking.


283. Fagus sylvatica, L. Tree, tall, smooth bark, leaves ovate,
ciliate at the margin, glabrous, serrate, silky in bud, male flowers in
crowded catkins, pendent, females 1-3, fruit triquetrous.

Aspen (Populus tremula, L.)

Traces of the Aspen have been discovered in Calcareous Tufa of
Neolithic age in Flints. It is found in the Arctic and N. Temperate
Zones in Arctic Europe, N. Africa, and N. Asia. In Great Britain it
is not found in S. Hants, E. Kent, Monmouth, Cardigan, Lines, Mid
Lanes, Haddington, Linlithgow, Caithness, but elsewhere as far north
as the Orkneys, and is probably indigenous, but often planted. In
Yorks it is found at 1600 ft. It is a native of Ireland and the Channel


One seldom finds any Poplars in a really native state in any situation
except in woods, for owing' to their quick growth they are much
planted in hedgerows and plantations. But the Aspen, which grows
in damp, moist woods or by water, may well be native in such stations,
and it is seldom found in any other habitat, as are the others which are
also found in woods.

The Aspen is an erect, rather distantly branched tree, with a rather
short stem and slender branches. The bark is grey. The suckers are
downy, as also are the buds, which are not clammy. The leaves are
sub-entire, nearly round, broadly toothed, smooth both sides. The
leaf-stalks are flattened. Those at the top are on long stalks, and are
rounded with wavy margin. The radical shoots have short stalks and
nearly triangular leaves.

The blade of the leaf is inserted on the vertically flattened leaf-
stalk, hence their tremulous character. Rain falls and runs down the
petioles or stalks, where 2 cups catch and hold it, the cells being thin-
walled secrete a resin, swelling when moistened, and the cells absorb
the moisture, being protected in dry weather by the resinous deposit.

The catkins are cylindrical, with hairy male catkin scales with
narrow lobes. The 2 stigmas are divided into two nearly halfway,

The tree is 40-80 ft. high. It is in flower in March till April.
The plant is a deciduous tree, propagated by seeds.

Unlike the Willow, with the floral mechanism of which it agrees in
most respects, the Aspen is pollinated by the wind, and has no honey.
The stamens are more numerous than in Sa/i.v, 4-30, the anther-stalks
free, the stigmas are slender and 2-4-fid.

The seeds are clothed in cottony appendages to aid in their dis-
persal by the wind.

The Aspen is a humus-loving plant, growing in a humus or peaty

Several fungi attack the Aspen, especially Mclampsora trcnnthe,
and the petioles are galled by Diplosis trcmnhr. It is attacked also
by Exoascus, Tympanis, Lentinus, Hypholoma, Pholiota, Plcurotus,
Collybia, Fomes, Polyponis.

It is galled by Saperda populnea arid Eriophycs pustulahiw.
Numerous other insects attack it, such as Saperda carcharias, Mela-
soma populi, Cladiusviminalis (Poplar Hawk Moth), Smerinthus populi*
Dicranura vinula (Puss Moth), Pemphigus bursarius, P. spirothecfc,
Ortho-stylus bilincatus, Phytocoris populi, Pediopsis nassatus, Idiocerus
trcmulte, I. fitlgidus, I. populi, &c.

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