Robert Smith.

The Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) online

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cast upon the shores of Norway, in a stale to
vegetate did the climate permit. Regular
currents transport the large double cocoa-nut
of the Sechelles to the coast of Malabar, at
the distance of fnur hundred leagues from
whence it was produced. Fruits brought by
the sea have sometimes discovered the exist-
ence of unknown lands to the windward. By
such tokens Columbus, in the search for the
American continent, was apprised that he was
not far distant fiom the land of which he had
prognosticated the existence. Linnans has
some interesting observations upon this sub-
ject. " In Lapland we see the most evident
proofs how far rivers contribute to deposit the
seeds of plants. I have seen Alpine plants
growing on the shores frequently thirty-six

miles distant from the Alps The

centaury is a German plant, whose seeds be-
ing carried by the wind into the sea, the waves
landed this foreigner upon the coast of Swe-
den Many have imagined, but erro-
neously, that seed corrupts in water, and loses
its principle of vegetation. Water at Ihe
bottom of the sea is seldom warm enough to
destroy seeds ; we have seen water cover the
surface of a field for a whole winter, while
the seed which it contained remained unhurt,
unless at the beginning of spring the waters
were let down so low by drains that the warmth
of the sun-beams reached to the bottom ; then
the seeds germinated, but presently became
putrescent ; so that for the rest of the year
the earth remains naked and barren. Rain
and showers carry seeds into the cracks of the
earth; streams and rivers, which last, convey-
g them to a distance from their native places,
plant them in a foreign soil."

3. .\nimals co-operate in an extensive de-
cree in the dispersion of the seeds of plants.
The squirrel and cross-bill are both very fond
of the seed of the fir ; to open the scales of the
cones, they strike them against stones, and
hus set free and disperse the seed. Birds
swallow the berries, of which they digest only
pulp, but void the stones entire, and ready
erminate. It is thus that the thrush and
other birds deposit the seed of the misletoe on
the trees where it is found ; and indeed, des-
titute as this is of wings or aigrettes, it could
not be disseminated in any other way, for it
will not grow on the ground. The pocan or
poke of Virginia (Phytolacca decandra) which
was introduced by the Monks of Corbonnieux
into the neighbourhood of Bordeaux, for the
sake of colouring the wine, has been since



242



disseminated by the birds throughout the
southern departments of France, and in the
deepest valleys of the Pyrenees. The Dutch,
with the viesv of monopolising the trade of
nutmegs, extirpated the trees on those islands
which they could not watch so narrowly as
the rest ; but in a short time these very
islands were re-stocked with nutnieg-lrees by
the birds, as if nature refused to admit of
such an encroachment on her rights. Gra-
nivorous quadrupeds disseminate the seeds
they do not digest. The newly manuring a
field will cause innumerable weeds to spring
up, which did not exist there before. The
hoards of fruits or seeds (for fruits are but
the envelopes of seeds) which various animals
make, such as crows, rats, dormice, &c., are
frequently forgotten, or, by the destruction of
the animal, neglected and lying dormant where
they were placed during the winter, germi-
nate in the spring. The fruit of the prickly-
seeded scorpion-grass, of clovers or goose-
grass, of the wood-sanicle, are all provided
with small hooks by which they lay hold of
the fleeces of sheep, cattle, &c., and are
thus carried with them. Linnieus enumer-
ates no less than fifty genera armed in this
way.

There are particular plants, such as the
pellitory of the wall, the nettle, and the sorrel,
that may be said to seek the society of man,
and actually to haunt his footsteps. They
spring up along the wall of the village, and
even in the streets of (he cily ; they follow
the shepherd, and climb the loftiest mountain

with him. " When young," says Mir-

bel, " I accompanied Ramond in his

excursions in the Pyrenees, where that learned
naturalist more than once pointed out to me
these deserters from the plains below ; they
grew on the remains of mined hovels, where
they kept their station in spite of the severity
of the winters, and remained as memorials
to attest the former presence of man and his
flocks."

4. Seeds often assist as it were in their own
dispersion. In the balsam, the catchfly, fraxi-
nella, sand-box-tree,



Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 90 of 154)