fj are so well known that they need no
description," wrote old Dr.Culpeper,
from " My House in Spitalfields next
door to the Red Lion," in Cromwellian
days, but it is quite certain that this lofty
superiority was very wide of the truth both
then and now. He and many successive
generations knew nothing of the subtleties
of their pretty, well-known blossoms, while
as for the violet's " secret flowers," imagina-
tion's wildest flight never compassed them !
His further condescending remark that they
are " of a mild nature," shows how greatly
he underestimated the true inwardness of
the violet's character, for if ever a plant
might be called thoroughly ingenious in its
efforts to secure a worthy posterity, that
plant is the violet. The mechanism of the
purple blooms alone is a revelation in
intricacy of design to effect a given end
the interchange of pollen between flowers
on the same plant, or better, between flowers
on adjacent plants while the production
of the aforementioned " secret flowers " as a
second string to its bow is a stroke of genius.
Consider first the points of the scheme
ordained for the purple flowers of the sweet
violet, noting that the blossom hangs its
head as part of that scheme and not from
excess of modesty, as the poets insist. The
five purple petals are arranged two above,
two at the sides, and one larger as a
platform below, this larger one being pro-
duced backwards into a long and deep pouch.
Directing lines on this platform lead to the
centre of the petal ring. Within the petals
are five big-headed stalkless stamens, boxes
WILD FLOWERS AND THEIR WAYS
of floury pollen dust, two of which have long
thin spurs running off their backs into the
petal pouch. This ring of stamens forms
a circular wall surrounding a chamber,
and inasmuch as the pollen boxes open in-
wards it follows that, eventually, the pollen
must all fall into this chamber. The thin
spurs are each tipped with a honey sac oozing
with sweetness which is thus tucked away
at the extreme end of the pouch. In the
centre of all is the case of seeds-to-be from
which projects a little ,
green column with a kink
in it and a knob at the
top. As the flow r er is
hanging downwards this
knob forms the floor of
the central chamber.
Now an interchange of
pollen between flowers
messengers, and the mes-
sengers here in view are
butterflies and bees, for
choice the bee anthophora
with its long, slender pro-
boscis, four times longer
than that of the hive bee.
The violet's intention is
that a potential messenger,
attracted by the colour
and the fragrance, should
alight on the petal plat-
form. Directed by the
lines on that resting-place,
it pushes its proboscis into the centre
of the flower, perforce knocking its head
on the green knob. With the pressure
on the knob the kink in the column
supporting it acts like a spring, and the knob
the floor of the chamber gives way and
out drops a shower of the golden fertilizing
pollen on to the insect's head while it is
sipping the nectar deep in the pouch.
Satisfied, anthophora departs, his head
all dusty, to press and incidentally smear the
green knob in an adjacent blossom ; to
gather the nectar there, and to receive
another pollen baptism, and so on in un-
ending sequence. The pollen grains, rest-
ing on the knobs, grow out into long tubes,
piercing the tissues of the " kinked "
columns and pass on their contents to the
waiting ovules which are thus fertilized to
carry on a violet posterity.
It is a marvellously ingenious scheme,
if it always came off, but for the most part
it does not. As Shakespeare says, there is
such a thing as " Vaulting ambition which
o'erleaps itself, and falls on the other
[side]," and the violet has really rather
over-reached itself. The scheme is too
elaborate, and one little point has not been
sufficiently adjusted, namely, the violet will
persist in flowering before the bees and
butterflies are really quite ready to face
Photo : G. Clarke Niittall.
The "secret" OP "blind" flowers of the Violet never flaunt
in the sunshine, but look merely like unopened green buds :
a represents the little insignificant bead-like flower passing by
stages b, c, d, e to /, the well-formed and familiar seed capsule.
the spring's uncertain moods. An odd one
or two may flit about, an occasional blossom
develop to maturity, but in the majority of
cases these deep-laid plans, like the best-laid
schemes of mice and men, " gang aft
But is the violet downhearted ? No !
A plant with the violet's capacity for re-
source is not so easily done. It has its
" secret " or " blind " flowers in reserve,
flowers never recognized as blossoms,
flowers that never flaunt in the sunshine or
exhale delicious fragrance or yield sweet
honey. They, indeed, are the modest
flowers of the plant, for they lurk close to
the ground or cluster deep under the leaves,
and they are completely deceptive, for they
look like merely unopened green buds.
Their ways, too, are w r ays of secrecy ; they
never open or attempt to allure messengers
THE PAGEKttT OF NATURE
Photo : G. Clarke Nuttall.
The Violet has yet another way of
propagating itself. It sends out long
runners or stolons, which at certain
points put forth roots and start new
little plants. Here A is the parent
plant, and B one of the daughters
which it establishes at a little distance
from itself in all convenient diree-
Eventually the connecting "runner" dies away and the
plants are quite separate.
or desire outside help. They are self-
sufficient, and, fashioned on direct simple
lines, they arrive at their destined end the
provision of seed.
For within these green buds are simple
stamens full of pollen and a simple seed-
case containing potential seeds, and in the
cool darkness of the bud the pollen falls
straight from the stamens on to the receptive
surf ace of the stigma and thence to the ovules.
There is no finesse, no colour, scent or
honey, no chance messengers to hang fate
upon. There is no opportunity for mis-
carriage of plan. Botanists call these flowers
" cleistogamous," from two Greek words
meaning " closed " and " marriage."
The days pass, fat capsules full of little
black seeds replace the " secret " flowers.
The violet plant is in
fruit, and passers-by
give all the credit for
it to those charming,
flowers that delighted
them earlier in the
year, and quote
designs of Nature as
exemplified in them.
But they are com-
pletely wrong. In
only one of the
British species of
viola, Viola tricolor,
the little heartsease.
can the pretty coloured
flowers be relied on to
set seed. In almost every
case, if we trace the
origin of the fat capsules,
B we find that the parent
was one of these curious
little hidden or cleisto-
One further touch of
violet ingenuity can be
seen even in the last
stage of the capsules' life.
As they dry and brown
they split and open back
into three rays, revealing
a double row of shining
black seeds in each ray.
The wall tissues continue
to shrink with increasing
pressure upon the seeds until the limit
is reached, and, suddenly, the little black
objects are shot out one after another,
and thus dispersed to carry on the race of
violets to unnumbered generations.
But even these secret flowers do not
satisfy the violet's determination to propa-
gate itself ; it has yet another plan in
the background. From the plant will grow
long thin " runners " like green cords,
which, at a little distance away, will send
roots into the ground and each start a
daughter plant that will grow into one
precisely like its parent. But this method
of reproduction has a certain limitation ;
from a seed a new variety, or a " sport,"
may possibly arise, but from a runner this
can never happen.
Photo: G. Clarke NnttaU.
Viola tricolor the Heartsease is the only British species of Viola
whose ordinary flowers can be relied on to set seed. Here the process
after fertilization is shown: the petals fade and fall; the capsule
grows ; finally it splits into three and shoots out its seeds,
Strange Facts of Fish Life
Although officially described as an adult Brown Trout, he had a brilliant gold and
yellow body with spots which resembled jewels buried in the skin.
3.-THE LIFE STORY OF THE BROWN
By DR. FRANCIS WARD, F.Z.S.
With photographs by the Author
HE was known as " Thomas."
Thomas was a fine brown trout
that had spent the summer in a
Hampshire chalk stream, close to a hatch-
Though brown trout was his official
description, in appearance he was a brilliant
gold and yellow, and the spots on his body
resembled jewels buried in the skin.
The water in which he dwelt was rented
by six London anglers. All experts ; they
had rods from the best British and
American makers. Flies tied by the leading
tackle firms, flies tied by themselves, flies
that were perfect copies of the natural fly,
and flies like nothing on earth. Yet Thomas
had been too much for them, and had got
through the season without being brought
to the net. True, he had been hooked on
three separate occasions, but his tactics had
always been the same. One wild rush up
the hatchway, sharp to the right behind a
THE PKGERttT OF NATURE
post, a violent shake of the head, and he was
free to rub the fly from his lip at his leisure.
Kilweil is a glorious stretch on a northern
stream. At the top of this stretch the river
flowed as a long unbroken flat, over a bed of
stone and rock which sloped gradually to
In the final pound of the fight, when both fishes appeared
to be exhausted, the attacked Trout rushed at his enemy,
gripped his lower jaw, and shook him as a terrier does a rat.
deep water under the opposite bank. The
river then narrowed down to race round a
bend to the rapids below. At the bottom
of the race, under the bank, was a deep
pool of slack water with a back eddy, the
result of a fallen tree of which half the roots
were submerged. Between the slack water
and the racing river another " Thomas "
fed. Though this fish was not known
as Thomas, it was not long before the latest
rod to arrive on the water had heard of the
big trout of Kilweil.
This trout had also got through the fishing
season in safety ; the submerged roots had
been his salvation.
It was now well on in October, and Nature
sent the same message to Thomas of the
chalk stream and his brother in Kilweil:
" Find a mate and go up-stream to spawn.'*
So these fish became restless and wandered
up and down the water, and in due course
answered to Nature's call.
Let us follow the experiences
of the Kilweil fish. He left
his pool below the fallen tree
and worked his way up through
the flats, keeping in the deep
water under the bank. Here
he met other trout doing the
same. Some instinct told them
that they would soon be able to
run up, and sure enough in a
few hours' time the river began
to rise. It had been raining
up on the hills, and now the
flats were pitted with heavy
In a few hours the river
was in flood, and all the fish,
including the trout whose
fortunes we are following,
worked their way up, keeping
close to the bank in order to
avoid the force of the current.
But the wind changed and the
rain ceased, and that northern
stream fell as rapidly as it had
risen. So the Kilweil trout
found himself in a long, deep
pool, into which the water
from above tumbled over rocks
It was obvious that further
progress was impossible until
the river rose again, so he
looked about and presently found a mate
that attracted his fancy. After some per-
suasion, including a judicious bite or two,
he induced her to accompany him, and
happy in each other's company they swam
about together in the long pool.
The idyll, however, did not last very
long. Another trout was stranded in that
same pool, and with sinister intent he
cast his eye upon the bride to be. Without
any warning he rushed at the male trout
and bit him on the back. Kilweil was round
in a second and, put on his mettle, set to
and chased his aggressor all over the pool.
Now and then he would get in a bite on the
STRANGE FACTS OF FISH LIFE
tail, but at last the retreating fish turned
and gripped him by the jaw. For a while
they clung on, shaking each other at inter-
vals, and then, as if to say : " That will do
for to-day," parted as suddenly as they had
begun. Our trout went back to his mate,
and his rival nursed his wounds in sulky
isolation. The same sort of thing happened
two or three times on the following day ;
but on the third day the Kilweil fish knocked
his opponent out.
It happened in this wise. After a long-
roaring flood. By gradual stages, as the
water permitted, Kilweil and his mate
reached the head waters and the spawning
grounds where both of them had been
The male fish now became very attentive,
and as his mate rested on the gravel he tried
to entice her to spawn. After a time she
began. First she turned on her side, and
with a rapid flapping action of her tail threw
back the shingle, leaving a hollow, techni-
cally known as a " redd." Some of her
A week after* the fight the Brown Trout and his mate reached the spawning grounds.
As the latter rested on the gravel, the former enticed her to spawn. Turning on her
side, she threw back the shingle by flapping the tail, and made a "redd," or hollow,
into which some of her hard roe or eggs escaped.
continued fight, when both fish appeared to
be exhausted, Kilweil suddenly pulled him-
self together, rushed at his enemy and got a
really good grip on his lower jaw. Over
and over they rolled in the struggle, and
every time they stopped Kilweil shook his
now utterly exhausted opponent as a
terrier shakes a rat. Then he let go and.
exhausted himself, swam slowly away.
The vanquished trout turned on his back
and floated to the surface. After a time he
recovered sufficiently to right himself, and
wobbling from side to side, managed to get
to the shelter of the bank, probably decid-
ing thenceforth to leave other people's
domestic happiness severely alone.
A week later the river came down as a
hard roe or eggs escaped into this hollow or
trench. She then moved forward a few
inches, and with the same flapping movements
made a fresh trench, the gravel from which
was thrown back over the eggs first de-
posited. Meanwhile the male, who was
near-by, shed his milt or soft roe into the
water, the sperms from which impregnated
the eggs before they were covered. With
intervals for rest, the female trout continued
to spawn for three days. She weighed
about a pound and a half, so some fifteen
hundred eggs were buried beneath two or
three inches of gravel, over an extensive
Her duty done, the exhausted fish dropped
down-stream. Her mate stayed for a time
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
In six weeks two black spots the eyes were
visible under the covering membrane of each
fertile egg. Six weeks later still, as shown in
the photograph, taken an hour before hatching,
the young Trout was ready to emerge.
on the edge of the spawning ground, but
he, too, left before the year was out.
Meanwhile the oxygen-laden water of
the sparkling stream made its way in little
eddies down to the buried eggs. In six
weeks two black spots were visible under the
covering membrane of each fertile egg.
These were the eyes. Another six weeks
and the young were ready to hatch.
For some days the little prisoners had
been finding their quarters too confined.
They struggled and wriggled and went round
and round in. the encasing " shell," when
suddenly the membrane split and out
popped a head or a delicate tail.
In the illustration of a trout hatching,
.where the head has just escaped from the
enclosing membrane, the heart is shown as
a dark spot with a blood-vessel on either side
The head of the Trout hatching has just
escaped from the enclosing membrane, the
heart is shown as a dark spot with a blood-
vessel on either side of it. Note the swish
of the body in its effort to be free.
of it. The swish of the body as the little
fish struggled to escape is also well illus-
The next photograph shows the yolk-sac
nipped ; this caused delay in hatching. It
will be seen that a constant fanning move-
ment of the pectoral fins one on either
side of the head is kept up to ensure a
supply of fresh water around the embar-
rassed young fish.
A curious incident in the hatching of a Trout
when the yolk-sac was nipped. The pectoral
fins, one on either side of the head, keep up a
constant fanning motion to ensure a supply
of fresh water around the embarrassed young
A trout when first hatched is known as
an alevin. Attached to the undersurface of
its body is a huge yolk-sac a natural feeding
bottle, upon the contents of which it exists
for the first five or six weeks of its life.
At first the alevin, exhausted with the
exertions of hatching, lay panting on its side,
but presently it sat up and rested on the
The little fish dislikes light, and when not
sufficiently covered he burrows deeper into
the gravel. Here the continuous fanning
movement of the pectoral fins, already
STRANGE FACTS OF FISH LIFE
referred to, causes
a current round
the alevin, as he
lies buried in the
stones, and the
water vitiated by
his breath : ng is
carried on. Only
a small percentage
of the eggs buried
on the spawning
ground result in
the birth of an
alevin, and these
decimated by their
as soon as they
escape from the
eggs are insufficiently covered and are washed
out of the redds, to be quickly devoured by
the young trout who are always on the prowl.
Late spawners frequently expose eggs already
deposited, while ducks, water-hens, rats,
eels, insects and .various larvae all take
their share of the spoil. Floods may cause
countless ova to be buried feet deep under
gravel and debris ; or should the water shrink,
the eggs may be left high and dry. Finally,
in a sharp winter the water over the redds
may freeze, and when the ice moves it takes
with it gravel, buried eggs and all.
When first hatched a Trout is known as an Alevin.
A huge yolk-sac is attached to the undersurf ace of
the body, and functions as a natural feeding bottle
for the first five or six weeks of the Trout's life.
If all goes well
and the alevin
hatches in the
gravel, he is in
so long as he
At five weeks
old his yolk-sac
has been almost
absorbed, and the
young fish leaves
the gravel. By
day he begins to
swim about and
feed on minute
infusoria ; by night
he takes shelter
stones or other
stickleback and various young fish take
their toll, while murderous-looking larvae
and caddis worms crawling in after them
still further diminish their numbers. As
the alevin grows he adds cyclops, water-fleas,
and other small Crustacea to his dietary.
At seven to eight weeks old all trace of the
yolk-sac has gone, and the alevin is known as
a " fry." Water spiders, beetles, freshwater-
shrimps now become part of his menu, and
occasionally he has an opportunity to nip off
the head of a caddis worm before it has time
to withdraw into his protecting case.
The young Trout Alevin at five weeks old, having almost absorbed his yolk-sac, leaves
the gravel, and begins to sv/im about by day in search of minute infusoria as food.
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
The following year is a perilous one for
the fry, but should he escape his numerous
enemies, by next spring he becomes a
" yearling," and is now three to seven inches
in length, according to the amount of food
he has been able to get. The following year
he is five to twelve inches long, and is now
a " two-year-old " : in the autumn of that
third year he goes up to spawn.
In consequence of his numerous enemies
a trout seldom reaches old age. Even such
a sagacious fish as our friend of Kilweil
seldom dies in his bed in other words,
at the bottom of a pool. Kilweil's death
lies in the strange markings on the trout-
As will be seen, the trout shows a broad
dark band along the side of the body,
with three or four irregular dark patches
radiating from this dark band on to the
back. These are " fear " marks.
When a fish is alarmed it pales, due to a
contraction of the dark colour cells in the
skin. Apparently with the trout, though the
rest of the body pales, the cells in the areas
described remain relaxed, hence the dark
markings. This scheme gives the trout a
blotchy appearance which, presumably, is
intended to assist in his concealment.
The broad dark band along the side of the Trout's body, with three or four irregular
dark patches radiating from this band to the back, indicate "fear" marks.
was tragic. The autumn after we left him,
he was travelling up to spawn on a moon-
light night. As he was working his way
through some rapids the water splashed on
his broad back, which was partly uncovered.
A heron fishing near the bank noticed the
splashing. Stealthily she stalked up behind
him. Kilweil felt a stinging blow ; he had
been stabbed by the bird's closed bill
as effectually as if it had been a bayonet.
But the great fish was of no use to the heron ;
she had struck him wantonly and then she
Sick and faint, the quivering trout
dropped into the pool below. During the
night he died ; and in the morning two land
rats that had come down for a drink found
his body under the bank.
The interest of the photograph on this page
The last two illustrations tend to confirm
At one time a brown trout constantly lay
in front of the window of one of my observa-
tion chambers . I was in position under water,
and being invisible to the fish he remained
as usual without any sign of blotchiness.
Presently my man came to the edge of the
pond, and I watched that trout gradually
change to the appearance as shown in the
upper photograph on page 407. The man
at my instructions frightened the fish
away. In three to four minutes the trout
returned, he had forgotten the cause of
his alarm, and all the dark marking had
This blotchy appearance of a trout can
often be seen from a river bank, as a fish
dashes off the stones when the water is
Another example of the "fear" marks produced in a Trout.
Three minutes later the cause of the Trout's alarm had been forgotten, the blotchy
marks had disappeared, and the fish had assumed its normal uniform colour.
Curiosities of Insect Life
ll.-THE WONDERLAND OF THE EARWIG
By JOHN J. WARD, F.E.S.
Illustrated with original photographs by the Author
THE " nasty, horrid earwig " is an insect
that nobody loves. Perhaps that
accounts for the fact that its life story
has never before been told in detail, and
recorded by means of
the camera. In any
case, although one of
the most abundant of
British insects, and
perhaps the most
familiar in o'u r
gardens, yet entomo-
logical and natural
history works give
nothing more than
scrappy details of its
Nevertheless, it pos-
sesses a most remark-
able life story, full of
and introducing some
entirely new aspects
of insect life, as I will
here endeavour to
Earwig revels begin just after nightfall.
Throughout the day these wary insects keep
under cover, but as soon as darkness falls
(when there is no fear of robins, tits, and
other foes) they may be seen backing out
from the folds of leaves, the petals of roses,
carnations, dahlias, etc., where during day-
light they have been peacefully reposing.
They love company, and quickly gather
forces, which actively proceed to business.
The gardener the following morning will
give you a full account of their doings ; he
will show you his violas, his pinks, his ox-eye
daisies, and what not, all with petals sadly
damaged, and, with anger in his eye, he
will set up-turned tree-pots on canes
amongst his dahlias and chrysanthemums
The mother Earwig tenderly arranging
her first batch of eggs and placing them
beneath the soil. April 23rd.
earwigs that I
to entrap them by offering them cover as
daylight approaches ; no good word will ever
come from him when the earwig is in
question ; yet, after all, it would be well if