Royal agricultural and commercial society of Briti.

Timehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana online

. (page 10 of 25)
Online LibraryRoyal agricultural and commercial society of BritiTimehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana → online text (page 10 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

It is said to be very attractive by candle-light. I really think it is quite
an acquisition. May it appear at more places.
So far, I have been reporting the verdifts given in
England. In the colony, too, the plant flowered about
the same time, — at the Botanical Gardens among other
places. In this latter place Mr. Jenman'S first verdift
was "somewhat disappointing, and somewhat surprising
to me. He wrote somewhat disparagingly of the plant
in the " Argosy." On account of the sea-breezes there
prevalent, the Botanical Gardens are not favourable to
orchids. Moreover due weight had to be given to the
fa6l that the orchid was then flowering for the first time
after it had been torn from its native home and roughly
transported on men's backs for some weeks across a
sun-scorched savannah land. Here in the Pomeroon
river, where my own plants flowered about the same
time, and where they were seen by Mr. Jenman after he
wrote his " Argosy " note, the circumstances are much
more favourable; and here, as was therefore to be ex-
pected, the bloom was much more abundant and much

Digitized by


Occasional Notes. 125

finer. But I can assure orchid growers at home and also
Mr. Jenman, that no one except the few of us who have
been lucky enough to see the plant in its native home,
has yet had an opportunity, in any way satisfactory or
sufficient, of judging of the splendid qualities of this

To turn to another orchid, the following note refers
to a variety of a fine old orchid, which is perhaps the
commonest of its family in Georgetown gardens : —
Oncidium Lanceanum var. superbum.

This variety, which differs from the type principally in the richer
colour of the flowers, is figured in a recent number of the Lindenia,
t. xvi. It is a native of Dutch Guiana, and requires a hot temperature,
with full exposure to light, and an ample supply of moisture during the
growing period.

The following two notes refer to an orchid collected
on Roraima by Dr. SCHOMBURGK and by myself, and
collected also at die Kaieteur by Mr. Jenman. The
original Roraima plant was described as Cypripedium
Lindleyanum by SCHOMBURGK. The Kaieteur plant was
at first regarded as a distinct species, and described by
Mr. N. E. Brown of Kew, as Selenipedium Kaieteurum,
N. E. Br., n. sp. : —

Leaves 7—9 inches long, 2 — 2? inches broad, lanceolate-oblong,
acute, glabrous, very coriaceous, bright dark green above, paler beneath.
Scape many-flowered, pubescent, with complicate, acuminate, glabrous
sheaths and brafts, of an olive-green, with brownish-red nerves, and
suffused with the same colour. Ovary 2% inches long. Dorsal sepal
18 — 20 lines long, 9 lines broad, oblong, hooded at the apex, margins
recurving, crisped-undulate ; lower sepal 15 — 16 lines long, 1 inch
broad, elliptic, entire, or slightly bifid at the apex, concave, margins
crisped-undulate ; both sepals are pale green, with reddish-brown nerves
on the outside ; they are pubescent on both surfaces, but more minutely
within. Petals 2\ inches long, 6 — 7 lines broad, falcately linear-oblong,
apex very obtuse and emarginate, margins recurved, undulate and

Digitized by


126 TlMEHRI.


ciliate, the cilia towards the apex becoming longer, and dark purple-
brown ; inside and out of the petals are pale green, prettily marked with
brownish-crimson veins ; on the outside towards the margins and apex,
and on the inside at the base, and along the lower margin, they are
pubescent. Label 1 urn i\ inch long, J inch broad, with the inflexed sides
very obtusely rounded, glabrous, bright light olive-green, with browftisli?
crimson veins, and densely dotted on the inflexed sides, and more
sparsely on the front part of the lip, with the same colour : staminode
somewhat squarely trapezoid, pubescent, greenish-white.

Although the leaves are not variegated, and the flowers are not
brilliantly coloured, yet on the whole the plant is rather a pleasing one,
and many orchid lovers would consider it a great prize. The plant
was sent to Kew by Mr. G. S. Jenman, who discovered it growing
abundantly on the rocks, under the magnificent Kaieteur Fall, on the
Potaro River, British Guiana, where it is not very likely to be disturbed
by collectors for some time to come ; it is No. 879 of Mr. Jenman's dried
specimens. Specifically it is allied to S. Lindleyana, but differs in
having more glabrous sheaths and bra&s, and differently coloured
flowers. — N. E. Brown,

A plant from the Roraima locality, colle6led in 1881
by Mr. BURKE, for Mr. HARRY VEITCH, was, however,
submitted to Professor REICHENBACH f. who wrote then
Cypripedium Lindleyanum, Schotnburgk .—

This flowered in February, 1886, with Messrs. J. Veitch & Sons. It
has greenish brafts, brown ovaries, pallid greenish-sulphur-coloured
sepals and petals, and lip with red veins, and similar veins and spots on
the lip. The staminode is tridentate, the side-teeth divaricate, yellow-
ish-green, with red hairs. The petals of Messrs. J. Veitch & Sons' plants
are unusually narrow and long, and very wavy.

Having been asked by various correspondents for my opinion about
Selenipedium kaieteurum of Mr. N. E. Brown (Gardener's Chroniclb,
1885, August 29, p. 262), I addressed myself to the authorities at Kew,
and was kindly furnished with a wild grown flower and a fresh leaf.
Originally I was very partial to the thing, the more as Messrs. Vettch's
narrow-petalled plant looked very distinct from the wild grown kaie-
turum. The author said :— •* Specifically it is allied to S. Lindleyanum,
but differs in having more glabrous sheaths and bracks, and differently
coloured flowers." I thought I might find a difference in the shape of

Digitized by


Occasional Notes. 137

the shoe. I preferred, however, to defer the formation of an opinion till
my most recent rich materials should be available for inspection after
having been set aside for poisoning. Finally there are before me,
four inflorescences. I am persuaded Mr. N. E. Brown, after their in-
spection, would combine both together ; at least, I do not see any differ-
ence. The representation made by Sir R, Schomburgk's artist, both
kept at the British Museum in the original, and at Kew in a copy, may
have influenced Mr. N. E. Brown. I do not think it a masterpiece of
accuracy, as indeed could not be expected from a young artist working
during such an uncomfortable journey. H. G. Rchb. f.

The "Mosquito Worm." — The following passage in
a letter received from the well-known Entomologist,
Miss ELEANOR A. ORMEROD, refers to a painful subje6l
on which further information is much required, and may
possibly be given by some of the readers of Titnehri. I
may explain that I can answer personally the question
as to how it feels to have a mosquito-worm in the flesh.
The pain is not continuous, but is as though occasionally,
and at quite uncertain intervals, a bunch of small fish-
hooks embedded in one's flesh were twisted suddenly
and sharply round. I can also, fortunately, tell from
experience that a remedy is very simple. Externally the
part of the flesh in which the mosquito-worm is embed-
ded looks like a small boil or tumour in the head of
which a minute hole, presumably a breathing-hole for
the creature, may be detefted by a careful observer. If
a small piece of ordinary sticking plaster be pressed
firmly over this hole, the creature is choked ; and in the
course of a few hours if the plaster is pulled off the
worm will come with it. This very simple operation is
really beautiful because of its complete efficacy and

Digitized by


128 TlMEHRI.

neatness, the worm coming out as neatly as a hand
may be withdrawn from a glove.

Do you take an interest in the inquiry caused by the larva of the

CEstrus — the Hypoderma bovis more especially P We are taking it well

up in England, and I hope that much will be done to check it. The

observations lately sent in shew that just a dab of what is known as

" Cart Grease" is enough to choKe the spiracles effectually and thus kill

the maggot. But with regard to kinds attacking " ourselves" Humboldt

recorded that in Brazil the natives (unencumbered with the protections

we use !) suffered from larvae in their backs. It would be of some

interest to us here to know how it felt to have a great maggot an inch

long, or a dozen or two, feeding in one's back, that if you should have

any acquaintance with the subject it would be most acceptable if you

were disposed to tell us anything about it.

The Campbell Memorial.— While I was in London,

Mr. G. LAWSON, the sculptor who has undertaken to
execute the bust of the late WILLIAM HUNTER CAMP-
BELL, was good enough to show me the clay model, on
which he is now working. The bust is already far ad-
vanced, and, considering that the sculptor never saw his
subjeCt alive, the likeness is admirable. It is greatly to
be hoped that the marble will soon be finished and placed
in the Rooms of our Society, for which Mr. CAMPBELL
did so very much.

Balata. — In a paper on " Proteid Substances in

Latex," by J. R. GREEN, B.Sc, B.A., published in the

Proceedings of the Royal Society, No. 242, occurs the

following passage : —

A little later in the year Mr. Dyer kindly sent me a bottle of the
latex of Mimusops globosa, Gaertn (Sapotacece).* This differed very

* [The well-known source of the Gum Balata of British Guiana, from
which the specimen was obtained. The specimens were kindly procured
by Mr. G. S. Jenman, Superintendent of the Botanic Garden," British
Guiana.— W.T.T.D.]

Digitized by


Occasional Notes. 129

much (torn that of the East Indian latex-yielding trees, being a thick,
almost pasty, liquid of white appearance and sour smell. It would not
filter clear through paper and was therefore submitted to the aftion of
the filter-pump used before. The diluted filtrate, and a watery extract
of the dried residue, were taken for examination.

The solution thus obtained proved on investigation to contain two
proteid bodies, which could be separated from each other with tolerable
ease. On heating the solution gradually, having first neutralised,
a little opalescence appeared, but it did not become particulate even at
the boiling point. When the liquid was made either acid or alkaline
however, it behaved differently. In a nitric acid solution an opalescence
was noticeable when the temperature had risen to 85— 90 C. This was
not removed by the addition of more nitric acid. On keeping the
vessel for some time at this temperature, the opalescence became a
precipitate, which was soluble at ordinary temperatures in alkalis,
slightly so in water, but not in nitric acid. The solutions gave the
xanthoproteic reaction. A curious point about this body was the
slowness with which the precipitate formed, it appearing not at all like
the usual conversion into coagulated proteid on a rise of temperature,
but more like a slow precipitation by the reagent at that particular
point. This was confirmed by several experiments, one of which, often
repeated, was the following. A quantity of the extract was made acid
with nitric acid and warmed to 75 C , a point considerably below that
at which the precipitate was first observed to form. It was then allowed
to cool, and as the temperature was gradually falling, the precipitate
slowly separated out. Th * body seemed then to be slowly precipitated
by nitric acid, but not at th 3 ordinary temperature.

In an alkaline solution its behaviour was somewhat different. The
opalescence set in at 79 C, and a bulky precipitate settled out slowly at
85°C. This was soluble to a large extent in nitric acid, and was
reprecipitated when the liquid was made alkaline. A solution in caustic
soda of the precipitate caused by nitric acid at 85° C. behaved similarly.
The precipitation here also seemed to be.caused by the reagent and not
by the temperature, for the alkaline liquit*. deposited the proteid body
on cooling just as the acid one did, and in about the same time as when
the temperature was kept constant at 85° C. Both precipitates were
unaltered in the separation ; each went into solution readily in
its appropriate medium, the solutions ail giving the xanthoproteic


Digitized by


130 TlMEHRI.

This proteid gave no precipitate with acetic acid and potassic ferro-

After removal of this body by repeated boiling and filtration, the
clear fluid gave a good xanthoproteic reaction. On applying some of
the tests used in the case of the East Indian latex, the same peptone-
like body was found to be present. It dialysed readily, and the solution
in water gave a precipitate on saturation with solid MgSo*«

Hence it appears that the latex of Mimusops globosa contains two
proteids, one a member of the albumose group, precipitated under
certain conditions by nitric acid or by potash, but not by boiling, and
the other more nearly related to the peptones.

An unexpected Source of Cane Sugar. — The follow-
ing extraft from " Nature " should be of interest : —

Attention has been publicly drawn of late to "Mahwa Flowers" —
the corollas of Bassia latifolia — as a cheap source of cane-sugar. This
species of Bassia is a tree attaining to a height of 40 to 60 feet, and
common in man} parts of India, especially in Central Hindustan. It
has oblong leaves of firm texture, from 5 to 6 inches long ; these fall in
February, March, or April, and are succeeded in March or April by the
flowers. These last for two or three weeks and then begin to fall. The
falls take place at night, and continue sometimes for a fortnight. The
fruits, which resemble a small apple, ripen in three months ; the seeds,
one to four in number, yield an edible oil by pressure. It should be
added that the trees are self-sown, and that they flourish in very poor
and stony soil.

When the Mahwa tree is in bud, the ground beneath it is cleared of
weeds, sometimes by burning. A single tree may yield as much as six
to eight maunds* of flowers ; even thirty maunds have been asserted
to have been collected from one tree. These flowers have a luscious
but peculiar taste when fresh ; when dry they resemble in flavour in-
ferior figs. They form a very important addition to the food of the
poorer classes in those districts where the tree abounds, particularly in
the neighbourhood of woodlands and jungles. They are specially use-
ful in economising cereals in seasons of famine and drought. They are

♦ A Bengal maund equal 82J lbs. avoirdupois.

Digitized by


Occasional Notes. 131

sometimes eaten fresh, but more commonly sun-dried, and are usually
consumed with rice and the lesser millets, or with seeds of various
kinds, and leaves. It is said that a man, his wife, and three children
may be supported for one month on two maunds of Mahwa flowers. *

It is not, however, as a dirett article of food, nor as a material for the
preparation of a rough spirit by fermentation (a very common use of
these flowers) that Mahwa blossoms are now recommended. It has
been affirmed that they may be employed as an abundant and very
cheap source of cane-sugar. In the Morning Post of October 15, 1885,
appeared an article on this subject, in which it was stated that,
" If the Mahwa flowers be available in sufficient quantities for the
sugar .makers of Europe, there can be no question that the days of the
beetroot are over, and sugar-cane will go the way of all discarded pro-
ducts." This prediction depends, however, upon another condition be-
sides that of the abundance of the flowers. If the sugar they contain be
wholly or chiefly cane-sugar, that is "sucrose," then the argument is
not without weight. But the nature of the saccharine matter of the
Mahwa does not appear to have been ascertained. MM. Riche and
Rlmont (Journ. de Pharm. et Chitnie, 1880, p. 215) stated that the air-
dried flowers contain 60 per cent, of fermentable sugar, of which about
one-seventh is crystallisable. The material available for analysis in
Europe consists, of course, ot the dried flowers. These may have
suffered some change beyond the mere loss of water, but the evidence
they afford on chemical examination is not favourable to the view that
they are likely to compete with sugar-beet or sugar-cane as a source of
cane-sugar. Here is the result of an analysis of a sample of Mahwa
flowers (from the Kew Museum) in their air-dried condition : —

In 100 parts.
Cane-sugar ... ... ... ... 3*2

Invert-sugar ... ... ... ... 52*6

Other matters soluble in water ... ... 7*2

Cellulose ... ... ... ... ... 2*4

Albuminoids ... ... ... ... 2.2

Ash ... ... ... ... ... 48

Water lost at ioo° C ... ... ... 1-50

Undetermined ... ... ... ... 1*26

* For an interesting account of the Mahwa tree and its products, see
a paper by E. Lockwood in the Journal of the Linnean Society
(" Botany") vol. xvii. p.p. 87-90.

R 2

' Digitized by


132 TlMEHRI.

The flowers analysed had a slight smell of fermented saccharine
matter and a distinct a;id reaction. But is not at all probable
that they could have contained any large proportion of cane-
sugar even when quta fresh, and that x5/i6ths of that
sugar had been inverted during the process of desiccation* We
cannot argue from analogy in this case. For while the nectar of many
flowers contains no sugar except sucrose, invert-sugar occurs in some
blossoms* as well as in many other parts of plants. Even the unripe
and growing stems of the sugai-cane an.! of many grasses contain
much invert-sugar. It must, however, on the other hand, be remem-
bered that cut sugar-canes imported in o this country contain a
large amount of invert-sugar, and that if they be kept a
week only after the harvest, the inveit-sugar naturally present
in the juice shows a marked increase and the cane-sugar
a corresponding diminution. On the whole, then, so far as
the materials at my disposal enable me to judge, I believe '
that the saccharine matter of fresh Mahwa flowers will be found to
consist mainly of dextrose and levulose, and that consequently they
will not be available as a material for the economic production of

I have to thank Mr. W. T. Thiselton Dyer, C.M.G., Director of the
Royal Gardens, Kew, for drawing my attention to this subject, and
for a supply of the material on which I have worked.— A. H. Church.

E. F. iT.


Digitized by


Report of the Meetings of the Society.

Report of the Meeting held 12th January. — Mr.
Russell in the chair.

There were 10 members present.

Eleftions. — Members : A. P. Bugle ; E. Morgan ; Rev.
H. A. Westropp.

Associates : William A. King ; John Hous-
ton ; Herbert Rolleston ; James Slater.

Ridgeway & Co.— The Secretary read an extract from
a letter dated 16th December, 1885, received from Mr.
Walker, stating his conviftion, from information he had
received from one of Ridgeway & Co.'s trustees, that
there would be a very small dividend for the creditors.

Exchange of Publications. — The Secretary also read
the following letter from the Secretary of the Anthropo-
logic Society of Vienna, dated 13th Nov. :

Dear Sir,— By order of the Directorate of the Anthropologic Society,
I have the honour to inform your Directorate that the Anthropologic
Society will be happy to enter into the correspondence proposed by you
as we are anxious to have in bur library a complete copy of all your
printed issues. I request you be good enough to send us a complete
series of your Timehri against any exchange of ours.

Congress of Chambers of Commerce. — The Secretary
laid over a communication from the London Chamber of
Commerce inviting this colony to 1 ake part in the Con-
gress of the Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire
to be held in London about July next, in connexion
with the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. The matter was
referred to the next meeting.

Treasurer's Accounts.— The Treasurer's statement to

Digitized by


134 TlMEHRI.

31st December, showing a balance on hand of $782 25 :
and the Museum account showing a balance of $567 61,
were laid on the table.

Sale of Surplus Books. — Mr. Kirke, with regard to the
books which it was decided at last meeting should be
sold, moved that they be at once handed over to the
au6liorieer to sell. Mr. Godfrey seconded this, and the
motion was carried.

The meeting then closed.

Meeting held nth February.— -The Hon. W. Russell,
President, in the chair.

There were 13 members present.

Elettions. — Member : Charles H. Stuart.

Associate : Charles M. Kirkpatrick.

School of Art, — Mr. Kirke gave notice of a motion
with reference to the establishment of a School of Art
in connexion with the Society.

The Library.— -The President said that he had been re-
quested to bring to the notice of members of the Society
the great want in the Library of works of reference on
engineering, agriculture, chemistry, et. cet. He, there-
fore, begged to give notice of motion that the Book
Committee be requested to supply the necessary works.

Treasurer's Accounts. — The a6ling Secretary reported
that the Treasurer's half-yearly statement of the Society's
affairs had been audited, and certified to be correft.

Sale of Surplus Books. — The afting Secretary re-
ported that the books ordered to be sold at auction that
had been withdrawn from the library, had fetched a bid
of only #20 at the sale, and were not sold. The In-

Digitized by


Report of Society's Meetings. 135

spe6tor General of Police had since offered $50 for the
whole lot, for the purpose of adding them to the Police

Mr. Imlach moved that the books be divided into lots*
and presented to the Sailors Mission, the Colonial Hos-
pital, Queen's College, Lunatic Asylum, Alms House,
Berbice Hospital and the Essequebo Hospital.

The motion was carried.

Congress of Chambers of Commerce. — The a£ling
Secretary brought up for consideration two circulars
from the London Chamber of Commerce inviting this
colony to take part in the Congress of the Chambers of
Commerce of the British Empire to be held in London,
in connexion with the Colonial and Indian Exhibition.

After some discussion in which the opinion was ex-
pressed that the subjefts to be discussed at the Congress
were beyond the province of a colony of the size of
British Guiana, it was resolved that Messrs. Hawtayne,
Jones, and Ferris Grant should be the colony's repre-
sentatives. * ^

The Secretaryship. — A letter was received from Mr.
T. Daly, resigning his post of Secretary to the Society,
on the ground of ill-health.

Prize for Essay on Fibres. — The President stated
that a gentleman, taking a warm interest in what is
known as the minor industries, had authorized him to
offer two prizes, viz., $100 for the best essay and $25 for
the second, on Fibrous Plants ; the essays to treat of
the cost of growing, gathering and preparing for
market, in detail, and to be accompanied by dried speci-
mens of leaves, stalks, flowers, and seeds, of the various
plants. As it was desirable to send the essays and spe-

Digitized by


136 TlMEHRI.

cimens to the Colonial Exhibition, the time for sending in
essays, &c, would be restricted to six weeks.

Sugar. — Mr. Alexander, of Tuschen de Vrienden,
laid over a diagram showing the average percentage
of sucrose by volume in the juice from the canes grown
on Pin. Tuschen de Vrienden during eighteen corres-
ponding weeks in the last three years ; and a second
diagram showing the average percentage of glucose by
volume in the same. He said the lines for 1885 showed
very clearly the effe6t of the late droughts on the
quality of the canes.

The President said that the diagrams shewed in a very
conclusive way the variations in the quality of cane-
jiiice derived from the produCt of the colony. The
growth of the last year not only gave poor cane-juice,
but also contained a very high percentage of woody mat-
ter, — he should think that 13 percent, of woody matter
would represent the fibre in our canes for the last twelve
months. These fatts, coupled with the very low price
of our staple products — for not only sugar, but rum and
molasses had been at stagnation prices, — made him as-
tonished that we had been able to pull through as well
as we had done.

Mr. Jones was quite certain that with the assis-
tance of the able chemists we had in the colony
we were going the right road in learning what

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Online LibraryRoyal agricultural and commercial society of BritiTimehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana → online text (page 10 of 25)