Magenta to Pink
whose graceful alternate branching stem attains a height of two
feet only under most favorable conditions, from July to September
opens a succession of pink flowers that often fade to white. The
yellow eye is bordered with carmine. They measure about one
inch across, and are usually solitary at the ends of branches, or
else sway on slender peduncles from the axils. The upper leaves
are narrow and bract-like ; those lower down gradually widen as
they approach the root.
Similar to the Rose of Plymouth is the even more graceful
Slender Marsh Pink (S. Campanulata) the S. gracilis of Gray
whose upper leaves are almost thread-like in their narrowness.
Its five calyx lobes, too, are exceedingly slender, and often as long
as the corolla lobes. One of our soldiers in Cuba, during the
Spanish War, sent home to his sister in Massachusetts some of
these same little flowers in a letter. "You would just love to
see the marshes here," he wrote. "They are filled with beauti-
ful little pink flowers. I wish I knew their names." That soldier
had passed by New England marshes aglow with the blossoms
all his life, but he had never noticed them until all his perceptions
became quickened by the stimulus of travel and the excitement
of war. How blind and deaf we all are in some directions ; hav-
ing eyes we see not, and ears we hear not, in the natural as in
the spiritual realm.
No danger of confusing the Large Marsh Pink (5. dodecandra)
S. chloroides of Gray with its smaller, more branching rela-
tives. It displays few flowers to a plant, but each measures two
and a half inches or less across, and has from nine to twelve pink
(or rarely white) petals. This sabbatia often chooses the sandy
borders of ponds for its habitat.
Spreading Dogbane; Fly-trap Dogbane;
Honey-bloom ; Bitter-root
(Apocynum androsaemifolium) Dogbane family
Flowers Delicate pink, veined with a deeper shade, fragrant, bell-
shaped, about Yz in. across, borne in loose terminal cymes.
Calyx 5-parted ; corolla of 5 spreading, recurved lobes united
into a tube ; within the tube 5 tiny, triangular appendages
alternate with stamens ; the arrow-shaped anthers united
around the stigma and slightly adhering to it. Stem : i to 4
ft. high, with forking, spreading, leafy branches. Leaves:
Opposite, entire-edged, broadly oval, narrow at base, paler,
and more or less hairy below. Fruit : Two pods about 4 in.
Magenta to Pink
Preferred Habitat Fields, thickets, beside roads, lanes, and walls.
Flowering Season June July.
Distribution Northern part of British Possessions south to Georgia,
westward to Nebraska.
Everywhere at the North we come across this interesting,
rather shrubby plant, with its pretty but inconspicuous little
rose-veined bells suggesting pink lilies-of-the-valley. Now that
we have learned to read the faces of flowers, as it were, we in-
stantly suspect by the color, fragrance, pathfinders, and structure
that these are artful wilers, intent on gaining ends of their own
through their insect admirers. What are they up to ?
Let us watch. Bees, flies, moths, and butterflies, especially
the latter, hover near. Alighting, the butterfly visitor unrolls his
long tongue and inserts it where the five pink veins tell him to,
for five nectar-bearing glands stand in a ring around the base of
the pistil. Now, as he withdraws his slender tongue through one
of the V-shaped cavities that make a circle of traps, he may count
himself lucky to escape with no heavier toll imposed than pollen
cemented to it. This granular dust he is required to rub off
against the stigma of the next flower entered. Some bees, too,
have been taken with the dogbane's pollen cemented to their
tongues. But suppose a fly call upon this innocent-looking blos-
som ? His short tongue, as well as the butterfly's, is guided into
one of the V-shaped cavities after he has sipped ; but, getting
wedged between the trap's horny teeth, the poor little victim is
held a prisoner there until he slowly dies of starvation in sight of
plenty. This is the penalty he must pay for trespassing on the
butterfly's preserves ! The dogbane, which is perfectly adapted
to the butterfly, and dependent upon it for help in producing fer-
tile seed, ruthlessly destroys all poachers that are not big or strong
enough to jerk away from its vise-like grasp. One often sees
small flies and even moths dead and dangling by the tongue from
the wicked little charmers. If the flower assimilated their dead
bodies as the pitcher plant, for example, does those of its victims,
the fly's fate would seem less cruel. To be killed by slow torture
and dangled like a scarecrow simply for pilfering a drop of nectar
is surely an execution of justice mediaeval in its severity.
In July the most splendid of our native beetles, the green
dandy (Eumolpus auratus) fastens itself to the dogbane's foliage
in numbers until often the leaves appear to be studded with these
brilliant little jewels. "It is not easy," says William Hamilton
Gibson, "to describe its burnished hue, which is either shimmer-
ing green, or peacock blue, or purplish-green, or refulgent ruby,
according to the position in which it rests." But it is not golden,
as its specific name would imply. It confines itself exclusively to
the dogbane. To prevent capture, it has a trick of drawing up
its legs and rolling off into the grass its body so cleverly matches.
Magenta to Pink
From the silky coma on which the small seeds float away
from long pods to found new colonies, from the opposite leaves,
milky juice, and certain structural resemblances in the flowers,
one might guess this plant belonged to the milkweed tribe. For-
merly it was so classed ; and although the botanists have now
removed its family one step away, the milkweed butterflies, es-
pecially the Monarch (Anosia plexippits], ignoring the arbitrary
dividing line of man, still includes the dogbane on its visiting list.
We know that this plant derived its name from the fact that it was
considered poisonous to dogs ; and we also know that all the
tribe of milkweed butterflies are provided with protective secre-
tions which are distasteful to birds and predaceous insects, enjoy-
ing their immunity from attack, it is thought, from the acrid,
poisonous character of the foliage on which the caterpillars feed.
Common Milkweed or Silkweed
(Asclepias Syriaca) Milkweed family
(A. cornuti of Gray)
Flowers Dull, pale greenish purple pink, or brownish pink, borne
on pedicels, in many flowered, broad umbels. Calyx inferior,
5-parted ; corolla deeply 5-cleft, the segments turned back-
ward. Above them an erect, 5-parted crown, each part
called a hood, containing a nectary, and with a tooth on
either side, and an incurved horn projecting from within.
Behind the crown the short, stout stamens, united by their
filaments in a tube, are inserted on the corolla. Broad
anthers united around a thick column of pistils terminating
in a large, sticky, 5-angled disk. The anther sacs tipped
with a winged membrane ; a waxy, pear-shaped pollen-
mass in each sac connected with the stigma in pairs or fours
by a dark gland, and suspended by a stalk like a pair of sad-
dle-bags. Stem : Stout, leafy, usually unbranched, 3 to 5 ft.
high, juice milky. Leaves: Opposite, oblong, entire-edged,
smooth above, hairy below, 4 to 9 in. long. Fruit: 2 thick,
warty pods, usually only one filled with compressed seeds
attached to tufts of silky, white, fluffy hairs.
Preferred Habitat Fields and waste places, roadsides.
Flowering Season June September.
Distribution }\v*t Brunswick, far westward and southward to
North Carolina and Kansas.
After the orchids, no flowers show greater executive ability,
none have adopted more ingenious methods of compelling insects
to work for them than the milkweeds. Wonderfully have they
Magenta to Pink
perfected their mechanism in every part until no meuiber of the,
family even attempts to fertilize itself; hence their triumphal,
vigorous march around the earth, the tribe numbering over nine-
teen hundred species located chiefly in those tropical and warm,
temperate regions that teem with insect life.
Commonest of all with us is this rank weed, which possesses
the dignity of a rubber plant. Much more attractive to human
eyes, at least, than the dull, pale, brownish-pink umbels of
flowers are its exquisite silky seed-tufts. But not so with insects.
Knowing that the slightly fragrant blossoms are rich in nectar,
bees, wasps, flies, beetles, and butterflies come to feast. Now,
the visitor finding his alighting place slippery, his feet claw about
in all directions to secure a hold, just as it was planned they
should ; for in his struggles some of his feet must get caught in
the fine little clefts at the base of the flower. His efforts to extri-
cate his foot only draw it into a slot at the end of which lies a
little dark-brown body. In a newly opened flower five of these
little bodies may be seen between the horns of the crown, at
equal distances around it. This tiny brown excrescence is hard
and horny, with a notch in its face. It is continuous with and
forms the end of the slot in which the visitor's foot is caught.
Into this he must draw his foot or claw, and finding it rather
tightly held, must give a vigorous jerk to get it free. Attached
to either side of the little horny piece is a flattened yellow pollen-
mass, and so away he flies with a pair of these pollinia, that look
like tiny saddle-bags, dangling from his feet. One might think
that such rough handling as many insects must submit to from
flowers would discourage them from making any more visits ;
but the desire for food is a mighty passion. While the insect is
flying off to another blossom, the stalk to which the saddle-bags
are attached twists until it brings them together, that, when his
feet get caught in other slots, they may be in the position to get
broken off in his struggles for freedom precisely where they will
fertilize the stigmatic chambers. Now the visitor flies away
with the stalks alone sticking to his claws. Bumblebees and
hive-bees have been caught with a dozen pollen-masses dangling
from a single foot. Outrageous imposition !
Does this wonderful mechanism always work to perfection ?
Alas! no. It is a common thing to find dead hive-bees and flies
hanging from the flowers. While still struggling to escape, the
unhappy victims will be attacked by ants, beetles, and spiders,
or killed by heavy showers. Larger and stronger insects than
honey-bees are required to regularly effect pollination and free
themselves, especially when they are so unfortunate as to catch
several feet in the grooves. Doubtless it is the bumblebee that
can transfer pollen with impunity ; but very many other insects,
not perfectly adapted to the flowers, occasionally benefit them.
Among the large butterflies the Papilios, which suck with their
Magenta to Pink
wings in motion, are the most useful, because in using their legs
to offset the motion of their wings they rapidly repeat those
movements which are necessary to draw the pollinia from the
anther cells and insert them in the stigmatic chambers of other
flowers. "Large butterflies like Danais," says Professor Rob-
ertson, "hold their wings still in sucking, spending more time
on an umbel, but generally carrying pollinia. Small butterflies
are worse than useless. They remain long on the umbels suck-
ing, but resting their feet superficially on the flowers. . . .
Since several moths were found entrapped, pollination must often
be brought about by night-flying Lepidoptera. As a rule, Diptera
(flies) either do not transfer pollinia at all, or become hopelessly
entangled when they do." Occasionally pollen-masses are found
on the tongues of insects, especially on those of bees and wasps,
which move about with their unruly member sticking out.
Probably no one has ever made the exhaustive and absorbingly
interesting study of the milkweeds that Professor Robertson has.
Better than any written description of the milkweed blossom's
mechanism is a simple experiment. If you have neither time nor
patience to sit in the hot sun, magnifying-glass in hand, and
watch for an unwary insect to get caught, take an ordinary house-
fly, and hold it by the wings so that it may claw at one of the
newly opened flowers from which no pollinia have been removed.
It tries frantically to hold on, and with a little direction it may be
led to catch its claws in the slots of the flower. Now pull it
gently away, and you will find a pair of saddle-bags slung over
his foot by a slender curved stalk. If you are rarely skilful, you
may induce your fly to withdraw the pollinia from all five slots
on as many of his feet. And they are not to be thrown or scraped
off, let the fly try as hard as he pleases. You may now invite the
fly to take a walk on another flower in which he will probably
leave one or more pollinia in its stigmatic cavities.
Dr. Kerner thought the milky juice in milkweed plants,
especially abundant in the uppermost leaves and stems, serves to
protect the flowers from useless crawling pilferers. He once
started a number of ants to climb up a milky stalk. When they
neared the summit, he noticed that at each movement the terminal
hooks of their feet cut through the tender epiderm, and from the
little clefts the milky juice began to flow, bedraggling their feet
and the hind part of their bodies. ' ' The ants were much impeded
in their movements," he writes, " and in order to rid themselves
of the annoyance, drew their feet through their mouths. . . .
Their movements, however, which accompanied these efforts,
simply resulted in making fresh fissures and fresh discharges of
milky juice, so that the position of the ants became each moment
worse and worse. Many escaped by getting to the edge of a leaf
and dropping to the ground. Others tried this method of escape
too late, for the air soon hardened the milky juice into a tough
Magenta to Pink
brown substance, and after this, all the stragglings of the ants to
free themselves from the viscid matter were in vain." Nature's
methods of preserving a flower's nectar for the insects that are
especially adapted to fertilize it, and of punishing all useless in-
truders, often shock us ; yet justice is ever stern, ever kind in the
If the asclepias really dp kill some insects with their juice,
others doubtless owe their lives to it. Among the " protected "
insects are the milkweed butterflies and their caterpillars, which
are provided with secretions that are distasteful to birds and pre-
daceous insects. "These acrid secretions are probably due to the
character of the plants upon which the caterpillars feed," says Dr.
Holland, in his beautiful and invaluable " Butterfly Book." " En-
joying on this account immunity from attack, they have all, in
the process of time, been mimicked by species in other genera
which have not the same immunity." "One cannot stay long
around a patch of milkweeds without seeing the monarch butterfly
(Anosia plexippus), that splendid, bright, reddish-brown winged
fellow, the borders and veins broadly black, with two rows of
white spots on the outer borders and two rows of pale spots across
the tip of the fore wings. There is a black scent-pouch on the
hind wings. The caterpillar, which is bright yellow or greenish
yellow, banded with shining black, is furnished with black fleshy
'horns ' fore and aft."
Like the dandelion, thistle, and other triumphant strugglers
for survival, the milkweed sends its offspring adrift on the winds
to found fresh colonies afar. Children delight in making pompons
for their hats by removing the silky seed-tufts from pods before
they burst, and winding them, one by one, on slender stems
with fine thread. Hung in the sunshine, how charmingly fluffy
and soft they dry !
Among the comparatively few butterfly flowers although,
of course, other insects not adapted to them are visitors is the
Purple Milkweed (A. ptirpurasceus), whose deep magenta umbels
are so conspicuous through the summer months. Humming-
birds occasionally seek it too. From Eastern Massachusetts to
Virginia, and westward to the Mississippi, or beyond, it is to be
found in dry fields, woods, and thickets.
The Swamp Milkweed (A. incarnata), on the other hand,
rears its intense purplish-red or pinkish hoods in wet places. Its
leaves are lance-shaped or oblong-lanceolate, whereas the purple
milkweed's leaves are oblong or ovate-oblong. This is a smooth
plant ; and a similar species once reckoned as a mere variety
(A. pulchrd) is the Hairy Milkweed. It differs chiefly in having
some hairs on the under side of its leaves, and a great many hairs
Magenta to Pink
on its stem. Both plants bear erect, rather slender, tapering
The Poke, or Tall Milkweed (A. exaltata) A. phytolaecoides
of Gray may attain a height of six feet if the moist soil in which
it grows be exactly to its liking. Drooping or spreading umbels
of flowers whose corolla segments are pale purplish green, and
whose crown is clear ivory white or pink, appear from June to
August from Maine to Georgia and far westward. Sometimes the
tapering oblong leaves maybe nine inches long. The erect seed-
pods are drawn out to an unusually long point.
One may always distinguish the low-growing Four-leaved
Milkweed (A. quadrifolia) from its relatives of ranker growth by
its general air of refinement, as well as by the two pairs of thin,
tapering leaves that grow in an upright whorl near the middle of
the slender stem. Usually there are no leaves on the lower part.
Small terminal umbels of delicate pink and white fragrant flow-
ers, which appear from May till July, give place to very narrow
pointed pods in late summer. From Maine to Ontario southward
to North Carolina and Arkansas is its range, in woods and thickets
Hedge or Great Bindweed ; Wild Morning-
glory; Rutland Beauty; Bell-bind; Lady's
(Convolvulus septum) Morning-glory family
(Calystegia sepium of Gray)
Flowers Light pink, with white stripes or all white, bell-shaped,
about 2 in. long, twisted in the bud, solitary, on long peduncles
from leaf axils. Calyx of 5 sepals, concealed by 2 large bracts
at base. Corolla 5-lobed, the 5 included stamens inserted
on its tube ; style with 2 oblong stigmas. Stem: Smooth
or hairy, 3 to 10 ft. long, twining or trailing over ground.
Leaves: Triangular or arrow-shaped, 2 to 5 in. long, on slen-
Preferred Habitat Wayside hedges, thickets, fields, walls.
Flowering Season June September.
Distribution Nova Scotia to North Carolina, westward to Ne-
braska. Europe and Asia.
No one need be told that the pretty, bell-shaped pink and
white flower on the vigorous vine clambering over stone walls
and winding about the shrubbery of wayside thickets in a suffo-
Magenta to Pink
eating embrace is akin to the morning-glory of the garden trellis
(C. major). An exceedingly rapid climber, the twining stem often
describes a complete circle in two hours, turning against the sun,
or just contrary to the hands of a watch. Late in the season,
when an abundance of seed has been set, the flower can well
afford to keep open longer hours, also in rainy weather ; but early
in the summer, at least, it must attend to business only while the
sun shines and its benefactors are flying. Usually it closes at
sundown. On moonlight nights, however, the hospitable blossom
keeps open for the benefit of certain moths. In Europe the plant's
range is supposed to be limited to that of a crepuscular moth
(Sphinx convol'vuli), and where that benefactor is rare, as in
England, the bindweed sets few seeds ; where it does not occur,
as in Scotland, this convolvulus is seldom found wild ; whereas
in Italy Delpino tells of catching numbers of the moths in hedges
overgrown with the common plant, by standing with thumb and
forefinger over a flower, ready to close it when the insect has
entered. We know that every floral clock is regulated by the
hours of flight of its insect friends. When they have retired, the
flowers close to protect nectar and pollen from useless pilferers.
In this country various species of bees chiefly fertilize the bind-
weed blossoms. Guided by the white streaks, or pathfinders, they
crawl into the deep tube and sip through one of the five narrow
passages leading to the nectary. A transverse section of the
flower cut to show these five passages standing in a circle around
the central ovary looks like the end of a five-barrelled revolver.
Insects without a suitably long proboscis are, of course, excluded
by this arrangement.
From July until hard frost look for that exquisite little beetle,
Cassida aurichalcea, like a drop of molten gold, clinging beneath
the bindweed's leaves. The small perforations reveal his hiding
places. "But you must be quick if you would capture him,"
says William Hamilton Gibson, "for he is off in a spangling
streak of glitter. Nor is this golden sheen all the resource of the
little insect ; for in the space of a few seconds, as you hold him
in your hand, he has become a milky, iridescent opal, and now
mother-of-pearl, and finally crawls before you in a coat of dull
orange." A dead beetle loses all this wonderful lustre. Even on
the morning-glory in our gardens we may sometimes find these
jewelled mites, or their fork-tailed, black larvae, or the tiny chrysa-
lids suspended by their tails, although it is the wild bindweed that
is ever their favorite abiding place.
The small Field Bindweed (C arvensis), a common immi-
grant from Europe, which has taken up its abode from Nova
Scotia and Ontario southward to New Jersey, and westward to
Kansas, trails over the ground with a deathless persistency which
Magenta to Pink
fills farmers with dismay. It is like a small edition of the hedge
bindweed, only its calyx lacks the leaf-like bracts at its base, its
slender stem rarely exceeds two feet in length, and the little pink
and white flowers often grow in pairs. Their habit of closing
both in the evening and in rainy weather indicates that they are
adapted for diurnal insects only ; but if the bell hang down, or
if the corolla drop off, the pollen must fall on the stigma and
effect self-fertilization. Many more insects visit this flower than
the large bindweed, attracted by the peculiar fragrance, and led
by the white streaks to the orange-colored under surface of the
ovary, where the nectar lies concealed. Stigmas and anthers ma-
ture at the same time ; but as the former are slightly the longer,
they receive pollen brought from another flower before the visitor
gets freshly dusted.
Ground or Moss Pink
(Phlox subulata) Phlox family
Flowers Very numerous, small, deep purplish pink, lavender or
rose, varying to white, with a darker eye, growing in simple
cymes, or solitary in a Western variety. Calyx with 5 slen-
der teeth ; corolla salver-form with 5 spreading lobes ; 5 sta-
mens inserted on corolla tube; style 3-lobed. Stems: Rarely
exceeding 6 in. in height, tufted like mats, much branched,
plentifully set with awl-shaped, evergreen leaves barely ^
in. long, growing in tufts at joints of stem.
Preferred Habitat Rocky ground, hillsides.
f 'lowering Season April June.
Distribution Southern New York to Florida, westward to Michi-
gan and Kentucky.
A charming little plant, growing in dense evergreen mats
with which Nature carpets dry, sandy, and rocky hillsides, is often
completely hidden beneath its wealth of flowers. Far beyond its
natural range, as well as within it, the moss pink glows in gar-
dens, cemeteries, and parks, wherever there are rocks to conceal
or sterile wastes to beautify. Very slight encouragement induces
it to run wild. There are great rocks in Central Park, New York,
worth travelling miles to see in early May, when their stern faces
are flushed and smiling with these blossoms.
Another low ground species is the Crawling Phlox (P. rep-
tans). It rarely exceeds six inches in height ; nevertheless its
larger pink, purple, or white flowers, clustered after the manner of
the tall garden phloxes, are among the most showy to be found
in the spring woods. A number of sterile shoots with obovate
leaves, tapering toward the base, rise from the runners and set
Magenta to Pink
off the brilliant blossoms among their neat foliage. From Penn-
sylvania southward and westward is its range, especially in
mountainous regions ; but this plant, too, was long ago trans-
planted from Nature's gardens into man's.