an incoming fly, bearing pollen on his under side, usually alights
in the centre, and leaves some of the vitalizing dust just where it is
most needed. But a " fly starting from a petal," says Muller,
"usually applies its tongue to the nectar-drops one by one, and
after each it strokes an anther with its labellse ; in so doing it may
bring various parts of its body in contact with the anthers. As a
rule, however, the parts which come in contact with the anthers
are not those which come in contact with the stigmas in the same
flower." Any plant that lives in shallow water, which may dry
up as summer advances, is under special necessity to produce an
extra quantity of cross-fertilized seed to guard against extinction
during drought. For the same reason it bears several kinds of
leaves adapted to its environment : broad ones that spread their
surfaces to the sunshine, and long grass-like ones to glide through
currents of water that would tear those of any other shape (see p.
155). What diversity of leaf-form and structure we meet daily,
and yet how very little does the wisest man of science understand
of the reasons underlying such marvellous adaptability !
White and Greenish
(Sagittaria latifolia) Water-plantain family
(5. -variabilis of Gray)
Flowers White, I to i % in. wide, in jj-bracted whorls of 3, borne
near the summit of a leafless scape 4 in. to 4 ft. tall. Calyx
of 3 sepals ; corolla of 3 rounded, spreading petals. Stamens
and pistils numerous, the former yellow in upper flowers ;
usually absent or imperfect in lower pistillate flowers. Leaves:
Exceedingly variable ; those under water usually long and
grasslike ; upper ones sharply arrow-shaped or blunt and
broad, spongy or leathery, on long petioles.
Preferred Habitat Shallow water and mud.
Flowering Season July September.
Distribution From Mexico northward throughout our area to the
Wading into shallow water or standing on some muddy shore,
like a heron, this striking plant, so often found in that bird's haunts,
is quite as decorative in a picture, and, happily, far more approach-
able in life. Indeed, one of the comforts of botany as compared
with bird study is that we may get close enough to the flowers to
observe their last detail, whereas the bird we have followed labori-
ously over hill and dale, through briers and swamps, darts away
beyond the range of field-glasses with tantalizing swiftness.
While no single plant is yet thoroughly known to scientists,
in spite of the years of study devoted by specialists to separate
groups, no plant remains wholly meaningless. When Keppler
discovered the majestic order of movement of the heavenly bodies,
he exclaimed, " Oh God, I think Thy thoughts after Thee ! " the
expression of a discipleship every reverent soul must be conscious
of in penetrating, be it ever so little a way, into the inner meaning
of the humblest wayside weed.
Fragile, delicate, pure white, golden-centred flowers of the
arrow-head, usually clustered about the top of the scape, naturally
are the first to attract the attention whether of man or insect. Be-
low these, dull green, unattractive collections of pistils, which by
courtesy only may be called flowers, also form little groups of
three. Like the Quakers at meeting, the male and female arrow-
head flowers are separated, often on distinct plants. Of course
the insect visitors bees and flies chiefly alight on the showy
staminate blossoms first, and transfer pollen from them to the dull
pistillate ones later, as it was intended they should, to prevent self-
fertilization. How endless are the devices of the flowers to guard
against this evil and to compel insects to cross-pollinate them !
The most minute detail of the mechanism involved, which the
microscope reveals, only increases our interest and wonder.
White and Greenish
Any plant which elects to grow in shallow water must be am-
phibious ; it must be able to breathe beneath the surface as the fish
"do, and also be adapted to thrive without those parts that corre-
spond to gills ; for ponds and streams have an unpleasant way of
drying up in summer, leaving it stranded on the shore. This ac-
counts in part for the variable leaves on the arrow-head, those
underneath the water being long and ribbon-like, to bring the
greatest possible area into contact with the air with which the
water is charged. Broad leaves would be torn to shreds by the
current through which grass-like blades glide harmlessly ; but
when this plant grows on shore, having no longer use for its lower
ribbons, it loses them, and expands only broad arrow-shaped sur-
faces to the sunny air, leaves to be supplied with carbonic acid to
assimilate, and sunshine to turn off, the oxygen and store up the
carbon into their system.
Water Arum; Marsh Calla
(Calla palustris) Arum family
Flowers Minute, greenish yellow, clustered on a cylinder-like,
fleshy spadix about i in. long, partly enfolded by a large,
white, oval, pointed, erect spathe, the whole resembling a
small calla lily open in front. The solitary "flower" on a
scape as long as the petioles of leaves, and, like them, sheathed
at base. Leaves : Thick, somewhat heart-shaped, their spread-
ing or erect petioles 4 to 8 in. long. Fruit: Red berries clus-
tered in a head.
Preferred Habitat Cool Northern bogs ; in or beside sluggish
Flowering Season May June.
Distribution Nova Scotia southward to Virginia, westward to
Minnesota and Iowa.
At a glance one knows this beautiful denizen of Northern bogs
and ditches to be a poor relation of the stately Ethiopian calla lily
of our greenhouses. Where the arum grows in rich, cool retreats,
it is apt to be abundant, its slender rootstocks running hither and
thither through the yielding soil with thrifty rapidity until the place
is carpeted with its handsome dark leaves, from which the pure
white "flowers" arise ; and yet many flower lovers well up in
field practice know it not. Thoreau, for example, was no longer
young when he first saw, or, rather, noticed it. " Having found
this in one place," he wrote, " I now find it in another. Many an
object is not seen, though it falls within the range of our visual
ray, because it does not come within the range of our intellectual
ray. So, in the largest sense, we find only the world we look for."
White and Greenish
Now, the true flowers of the arum and all its spadix-bearing
kin are so minute that one scarcely notices them where they are
clustered on the club-shaped column in the centre of the apparent
"flower." The beautiful white banner of the marsh calla, or the
green and maroon striped pulpit from which Jack preaches, is no
more the flower proper than the papery sheath below the daffodil
is the daffodil. In the arum the white advertisement flaunted before
flying insects is not even essential to the florets' existence, except
as it helps them attract their pollen-carrying friends. Almost all
waterside plants, it will be noticed, depend chiefly upon flies and
midges, and these lack aesthetic taste. " Such plants have usually
acquired small and inconspicuous separate flowers," says Grant
Allen ; " and then, to make up for their loss in attractiveness, like
cheap sweetmeats, they have very largely increased their num-
bers. Or, to put the matter more simply and physically, in
waterside situations those plants succeed best which have a rela-
tively large number of individually small and unnoticeable flowers
massed together into large and closely serried bundles. Hence,
in such situations, there is a tendency for petals to be suppressed,
and for blossoms to grow minute ; because the large and bright
flowers seldom succeed in attracting big land insects like bees or
butterflies, while the small and thick-set ones usually do succeed
in attracting a great many little flitting midges." Flies, which are
guided far more by their sense of smell than by sight, resort to
the petalless, insignificant florets of the ill-scented marsh calla in
numbers ; and as the uppermost clusters are staminate only, while
the lower florets contain stamens and pistil, it follows they must
often effect cross-pollination as they crawl over the spadix. But
here is no trap to catch the tiny benefactors such as is set by wicked
Jack-in-the-pulpit, or the skunk-cabbage, or another cousin, a still
more terrible executioner, the cuckoo-pint (Arum maculatum) of
Few coroner's inquests are held over the dead bodies of our
feathered friends ; and it is not known whether the innocent-look-
ing marsh calla really poisons the birds on which it depends to
carry its bright seeds afar or not. The cuckoo-pint, as is well
known, destroys the winged messenger bearing its offspring to
plant fresh colonies in a distant bog, because the decayed body of
the bird acts as the best possible fertilizer into which the seedling
may strike its roots. Most of our noxious weeds, like our vermin,
have come to us from Europe ; but Heaven deliver us from this
cannibalistic pest !
The very common Green Arrow-arum (Peltandra Virginica),
found in shallow water, ditches, swamps, and the muddy shores of
ponds throughout the eastern half of the United States, attracts us
more by its stately growth and the beauty of its bright, lustrous
green arrow-shaped leaves (which have been found thirty inches
White and Greenish
long), than by the insignificant florets clustered on the spadix
within a long pointed green sheath that closely enfolds it. Pistil-
late florets cover it for only about one-fourth its length. To them
flies carry pollen from the staminate florets covering the rest of the
spadix. After the club is set with green berries green, for this
plant has no need to attract birds with bright red ones the flower
stalk curves, bends downward, and the pointed leathery sheath
acting as an auger, it bores a hole into the soft mud in which the
seeds germinate with the help of their surrounding jelly as a fer-
American White Hellebore; Indian Poke;
(yeratrum inride) Bunch-flower family
Flowers Dingy, pale yellowish or whitish green, growing greener
with age, i in. or less across, very numerous, in stiff-branch-
ing, spike-like, dense-flowered panicles. Perianth of 6 oblong
segments ; 6 short curved stamens ; 3 styles. Stem : Stout,
leafy, 2 to 8 ft. tall. Leaves : Plaited, lower ones broadly
oval, pointed, 6 to 12 in. long; parallel ribbed, sheathing the
stem where they clasp it; upper leaves gradually narrowing;
those among flowers small.
Preferred Habitat Swamps, wet woods, low meadows.
Flowering Season May July.
Distribution British Possessions from ocean to ocean; southward
in the United States to Georgia, Tennessee, and Minnesota.
Borage and hellebore fill two scenes
s to purge the veins
and cheer the heart
which make it smart."
Such are the antidotes for madness prescribed by Burton in his
" Anatomic of Melancholy." But like most medicines, so the ho-
moeopaths have taught us, the plant that heals may also poison ; and
the coarse, thick rootstock of this hellebore sometimes does deadly
work. The shining plaited leaves, put forth so early in the spring
they are especially tempting to grazing cattle on that account,
are too well known by most animals, however, to be touched by
them precisely the end desired, of course, by the hellebore, night-
shade, aconite, cyclamen, Jamestown weed, and a host of others
that resort, for protection, to the low trick of mixing poisonous
chemicals with their cellular juices. Pliny told how the horses,
oxen, and swine of his day were killed by eating the foliage of
the black hellebore. Flies, which visit the dirty, yellowish-green
flowers in abundance, must cross-fertilize them, as the anthers
mature before the stigmas are ready to receive pollen. Apparently
White and Greenish
the visitors suffer no ill effects from the nectar. We have just
seen how the green arrow-arum bores a hole in the mud and plants
its own seeds in autumn. The hellebore uses its auger in the
spring, when we find the stout, shining, solid tool above ground
with the early skunk-cabbage.
Star of Bethlehem ; Ten O'Clock
(Ornithogalum umbellatuin) Lily family
Flowers Opening in the sunshine, white within, greenish on the
outside, veined, borne on slender pedicels in an erect, loose
cluster. Perianth of 6 narrowly oblong divisions, YZ in. long
or over, or about twice as long as the flattened stamens; style
short, 3-sided. Scape: Slender, 4 to 12 in. high, with narrow,
blade-like bracts above. Leaves. : Narrow, grass-like, with
white midvein, fleshy, all from coated, egg-shaped bulb.
Preferred Habitat Moist, grassy meadows, old lawns.
Flowering Season May June.
Distribution Escaped from gardens from Massachusetts to Vir-
The finding of these exquisite little flowers, growing wild
among the lush grass of a meadow not far from some old home-
stead where their ancestors, with crocuses and grape hyacinths,
once brightened the lawn in early spring, makes one long to start
a Parkinson Society instantly. Some school children not far from
New York, receiving their inspiration from Mrs. Ewing's little
book, "Mary's Meadow," have spread the gospel of beauty, like
the true missionaries they are, by systematically planting in lanes
and fields sweet violets, golden coreopsis, hardy poppies, blue
corn-flowers, Japanese roses, orange day-lilies, larkspurs, and
many other charming garden flowers that need only the slightest
encouragement to run wild. Immense quantities of seed, that go to
loss in every garden, might so easily be sprinkled at large on our
walks. Nearly all the beautiful hardy perennials cultivated here
grow in Nature's garden in Europe or Asia, and will do so in Amer-
ica if they are but given the chance. The Star of Bethlehem is a
case in point. Several members of the large group of charming
spring flowers to which it belongs grow in such abundance in the
Old World that for centuries the bulbs have furnished food to the
omnivorous Italian and Asiatic peasants. If we cannot spare offsets
from the garden, and will wait a few years for seeds to bear, the
rich, light loam of our grassy meadows, too, will be streaked with
a Milky Way of floral stars, as they are in Italy.
The Greek generic name of the Star of Bethlehem, meaning
" bird's milk " (a popular folk expression in Europe for some mar-
vellous thing) was applied by Linnseus because of the flower's
White and Greenish
likeness to the wonderful star in the East which guided the Wise
Men to the manger where Jesus lay.
Star-grass ; Colic-root
(Aletris farinosa) Lily family
Flowers Small, oblong-tubular, pure white or yellowish, about
}i in. long, set obliquely in along, wand-like, spiked raceme,
at the end of a slender scape 2 to 3 ft. tall. Perianth some-
what bell-shaped, 6-pointed, rough or mealy outside ; 6 sta-
mens, i inserted below each point ; style 3-cleft at tip, (A
Southern form or distinct species (?) has yellower, fragrant
flowers.) Leaves: From the base, lance-shaped, 2 to 6 in.
long, thin, pale yellowish green, in a spreading cluster.
Preferred Habitat Dry soil; roadsides; open, grassy, sandy woods.
Flowering Season May July.
Distribution From Ontario and the Mississippi eastward to the
Herb gatherers have searched far and wide for this plant's
bitter, fibrous root, because of its supposed medicinal virtues.
What decoctions have not men swallowed from babyhood to old
age to get relief from griping colic ! In partial shade, colonies of
the tufted yellow-green leaves send up from the centre gradually
lengthening spikes of bloom that may finally attain over a foot in
length. The plant is not unknown in borders of men's gardens.
The Greek word (aletron = meal) from which its generic title is
derived, refers to the rough, granular surface of the little oblong
Wild Spikenard; False Solomon's Seal; Solo-
(Vagnera racemosa) Lily-of-the- Valley family
(Smilacina racemosa of Gray)
Flowers White or greenish, small, slightly fragrant, in a densely
flowered terminal raceme. Perianth of 6 separate, spreading
segments; 6 stamens; i pistil. Stem: Simple, somewhat
angled, i to 3 ft. high, scaly below, leafy, and. sometimes
finely hairy above. Leaves : Alternate and seated along stem,
oblong, lance-shaped, 3 to 6 in. long, finely hairy beneath.
Rootstock : Thick, fleshy. Fruit : A cluster of aromatic,
round, pale red speckled berries.
Preferred Habitat Moist woods, thickets, hillsides.
Flowering Season May July.
White and Greenish
Distribution Nova Scotia to Georgia ; westward to Arizona and
As if to offer opportunities for comparison to the confused
novice, the true Solomon's seal and the so-called false species
quite as honest a plant usually grow near each other. Grace of
line, rather than beauty of blossom, gives them both their chief
charm. But the feathery plume of greenish-white blossoms that
crowns the false Solomon's seal's somewhat zig-zagged stem is
very different from the small, greenish, bell-shaped flowers, usually
nodding in pairs along the stem, under the leaves, from the axils
of the true Solomon's seal. Later in summer, when hungry
birds wander through the woods with increased families, the wild
spikenard offers them branching clusters of pale red speckled
berries, whereas the latter plant feasts them with blue-black fruit,
in the hope that they will drop the seeds miles away.
By clustering its small, slightly fragrant flowers at the end of
its stem, the wild spikenard offers a more taking advertisement to
its insect friends than its cousin can show. A few flies and beetles
visit them; but apparently the less specialized bees, chiefly those
of the Halictus tribe, which predominate in May, are the principal
guests. These alight in the centre of the widely expanded blos-
soms set on the upper side of the branching raceme so as to make
their nectar and pollen easily accessible; and as the newly opened
flower has its stigma already receptive to pollen brought to it
while its own anthers are closed, it follows the plant is dependent
upon the bees' help, as well as the birds', to perpetuate itself.
The Star-flowered Solomon's Seal (K. stellata), found from
the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Newfoundland as far south as
Kansas, has larger, but fewer, flowers than the wild spikenard, at
the end of its erect, low-growing stem. Where the two species
grow together and they often do it will be noticed that the
star-flowered one frequently forms colonies on rich, moist banks,
its leaves partly clasp the stem, and its berries, which may be en-
tirely black, are more frequently green, with six black stripes.
The Two-leaved Solomon's Seal, or False Lily-of-the- Valley
(Unifolium Canadense), very common in moist woods and thick-
ets North and West, is a curious little plant, sometimes with only
a solitary, long-petioled leaf; but where many of these sterile
plants grow together, forming shining beds. Other individuals
lift a white-flowered raceme six inches above the ground; and on
the slender, often zig-zagged flowering stem there may be one to
three, but usually two, ovate leaves, pointed at the apex, heart-
shaped at the base, either seated on it, one above the other, or
standing out from it on distinct but short petioles. This flower
has only four segments and four stamens. Like the wild spike-
nard, the little plant bears clusters of pale red speckled berries in
White and Greenish
Hairy, or True, or Twin-flowered Solomon's
(Polygonatum biflorum) Lily-of-the- Valley family
Flowers Whitish or yellowish green, tubular, bell-shaped, I to 4,
but usually 2, drooping on slender peduncles from leaf axils.
Perianth 6-lobed at entrance, but not spreading; 6 stamens,
the filaments roughened; i pistil. Stem: Simple, slender,
arching, leafy, 8 in. to 3 ft. long. Leaves: Oval, pointed,
or lance-shaped, alternate, 2 to 4 in. long, seated on stem,
pale beneath and softly hairy along veins. Rootstock : Thick,
horizontal, jointed, scarred. (Polygonatum = many joints).
Fruit: A blue-black berry.
Preferred Habitat Woods, thickets, shady banks.
Flowering Season April June.
Distribution New Brunswick to Florida, westward to Michigan.
From a many-jointed, thick rootstock a single graceful curved
stem arises each spring, withers after fruiting, and leaves a round
scar, whose outlines suggested to the fanciful man who named
the genus the seal of Isiael's wise king. Thus one may know the
age of a root by its seals, as one tells that of a tree by the rings in
The dingy little cylindric flowers, hidden beneath the leaves,
may be either self-pollenized or cross-pollenized by the bumble-
bees to which they are adapted. " We may suppose," says Pro-
fessor Robertson, "that the pendulous position of the flowers
owes its origin to the fact that it renders them less convenient to
other insects, but equally convenient to the higher bees which are
the most efficient pollinators ; and that the resulting protection to
pollen and nectar is merely an incidental effect." Certain Lepi-
doptera, and small insects which crawl into the cylinder, visit all
the Solomon's seals.
The Smooth Solomon's Seal (P. commutatum or P. giganteum
of Gray), with much the same range as its smaller relative, grows
in moist woods and along shaded streams. It is a variable, capri-
cious plant, with a stout or slender stem, perhaps only one foot
high, or again towering above the tallest man's head; the oval
leaves also vary greatly in breadth and length; and a solitary
flower may droop from an axil, or perhaps eight dingy greenish
cylinders may hang in a cluster. But the plant is always smooth
throughout. Even the incurved filaments which obstruct the en-
trance to this flower are smooth where those of the preceding
species are rough-hairy. The style is so short that it may never
come in contact with the anthers, although the winged visitors
must often leave pollen of the same flower on the stigma.
White and Greenish
Early or Dwarf Wake-Robin
(Trillium nwale) Lily-of-the- Valley family
Flowers Solitary, pure white, about i in. long, on an erect or
curved peduncle, from a whorl of 3 leaves at summit of stem.
Three spreading, green, narrowly oblong sepals; 3 oval or ob-
long petals ; 6 stamens, the anthers about as long as filaments ;
3 slender styles stigmatic along inner side. Stem : 2 to 6 in.
high, from a short, tuber-like rootstock. Leaves: 3 in a
whorl below the flower, i to 2 in. long, broadly oval, rounded
at end, on short petioles. Fruit: A 3-lobed reddish berry,
about Y-z in. diameter,the sepals adhering.
Preferred Habitat Rich, moist woods and thickets.
Flowering Season March' May.
Distribution Pennsylvania, westward to Minnesota and Iowa,
south to Kentucky.
Only this delicate little flower, as white as the snow it some-
times must push through to reach the sunshine melting the last
drifts in the leafless woods, can be said to wake the robins into
song; a full chorus of feathered love-makers greets the appearance
of the more widely distributed, and therefore better known, species.
By the rule of three all the trilliums, as their name implies,
regulate their affairs. Three sepals, three petals, twice three sta-
mens, three styles, a three-celled ovary, the flower growing out
from a whorl of three leaves, make the naming of wake-robins a
simple matter to the novice. Rarely do the parts divide into fours,
or the petals and sepals revert to primitive green leaves. With
the exception of the painted trillium which sometimes grows in
bogs, all the clan live in rich, moist woods. It is said the roots
are poisonous. In them the next year's leaves lie curled through
the winter, as in the iris and Solomon's seal, among others.
One of the most chastely beautiful of our native wild flowers
so lovely that many shady nooks in English rock-gardens and
ferneries contain imported clumps of the vigorous plant is the
Large-flowered Wake-Robin, or White Wood Lily (T. grandi-
florum). Under favorable conditions the waxy, thin, white, or
occasionally pink, strongly veined petals may exceed two inches;
and in Michigan a monstrous form has been found. The broadly
rhombic leaves, tapering to a point, and lacking petioles, are seated
in the usual whorl of three, at the summit of the stem, which may
attain a foot and a half in height; from the centre the decorative
flower arises on a long peduncle. At first the entrance to the
blossom is closed by the long anthers which much exceed the fila-