Royal agricultural and commercial society of Briti.

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

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to us in this colony was simply a matter of life and
death ; and the results of scientific research must cer-
tainly prove of great value to us in these hard times,
in helping us to meet the great depression of our staple
produfts. There was one matter to which he wished to
attra6t the attention of engineers, — and that was,

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Report of Society's Meetings. 137'

he would like to see more experiments made with refer-
ence to the crushing of canes, by slow and fast mills,
and the result of the experiments communicated to the
Society,* with statistics as to the out-puts of the two or
three years which had elapsed since hydraulic bearings
were introduced into the colony.

A vote of thanks to Mr. Alexander was carried unani-

The President said, with regard to the question to
which Mr. Jones had referred, that the most minute care
was being taken to measure the quantity of hogsheads of
sugar passed through fast and slow mills, and he hoped
at next meeting to be in a position to have a paper laid
before the Society, which would also give the results of
hydraulic pressure as compared with the old system.

The meeting then ended.

Meeting held nth March. — H. Kirke Esq., Vice-
President in the chair.

There were 9 members present.

Eleftion* — Associate : William Scott.

Prize Essays on Fibres. — The Chairman said in refer-
ence to the Prize Essays on Fibres, that the judges
would be Mr. G. S. Jenman and Mr. R. Allan. Essays
should be accompanied by at least 10 lbs prepared fibre,
besides specimens of leaves, stalks, flowers and seeds of
the various plants.

The closing date for receipt of competing essays would
be two weeks hence.

The Secretaryship. — The Chairman said he had great
pleasure in informing the meeting that Mr. Luke M. Hill


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1-38 TlMEHRI.

had consented to fill the office of the Honorary Secretary
of the Society.

On the motion of Mr. Pitman, seconded by Mr. Davson,
a vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Sherlock, who had
efficiently discharged the duties of Secretary during the
indisposition of Mr. Daly.

School of Art.— The Chairman asked permission to
postpone to another meeting his motion with regard to the
establishment of a school of art and design in Georgetown.

State Publications. — The Government Secretary for-
warded copy of a letter from the Lords Commissioners of
Her Majesty's Treasury, stating that their lordships were
unable to accede to the request of the Society to be
supplied, at cost price, with Calendars of State Papers
and certain reports and papers issued by Her Majesty's

Sale of Surplus Books. — Mr. Sherlock reported that
the surplus books had been distributed as follows : —

Police Library ... ... 150 vols*

Queen's College ... 1O0 „

Y.M.C.A. ., 100 „

Sailors' Home ... 100 „

Essequebo Hospital 50 »

Georgetown » 50 „

Seamen's „ ,.* 50 „

Berbice „ 50 „

Lunatic Asylum 50 „

Leper Asylum... 50 „

Alms House 50 „

800 vols.

Meeting held 8th April. — The Hon. W. Russell in
the chair.

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Report of Society's Meetings. 139

There were 1 1 rtiembers present.

Elettions. — Members: The Hon. C. Bruce, Govern-
ment Secretary ; Dr. A. D. Williams.

Prize Essays on Fibres. — The only essay received in
reply to the offer of a prize for the best essay on the
Fibres of the colony was from Mr. Rodway, who referred
to the very short time given by the Society for the pre-
paration of competing essays. He was awarded first

Treasurer's Accounts. — The Treasurer laid over
balance sheet showing balance of $1,907*83 at the 31st
March last.

Notice of Motion* — Mr. Julius* Conrad gave notice of
two motions, proposing an appeal to the Legislature
to amend the laws relating to married women's pro-
perty and to foreclosure of mortgages, but he was in-
formed that the Society could not entertain either of
them owing to their political nature.

The Curatorskip. — The appointment of Mr. Quelch,
late assistant at the British Museum, to the curatorship
of the Museum, was notified. He is a native of St. Kitts,
a grandson of Commander Quelch, and was selefted in
England for recommendation to the Society by Mr im

Meeting held ijth May. — H. Kirke, Esq., Vice Presi-
dent in the chair.

There were 13 members present.
Imperial Federation. — A letter from the London
Chamber of Commerce was read, announcing a prize of
£50 sterling for the best essay on Imperial Federation
to be sent in not later than 31st August, 1886.

S 2

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140 TlMEHRI.

The Chairman suggested that the press might be asked
to give publicity to the matter.

Donation to the Library. — A letter from Government
Secretary was read forwarding at the request of the
Governor, for the information of the Society, a volume
of the Patents and Patentees of the colony of Vi&oria,
1880. The thanks of the Society were accorded His

Prize Essays on Fibres. — Mr. Russell in a letter for-
warding cheque for #25 the prize for the Fibre Essay, ex-
pressed at the request of the donor his great regret that
more interest was not taken in this branch of the minor in-
dustries, but hoped tKat the matter might now occupy
more attention, after having been prominently brought
before the public. Printed copies of the essay were
placed on the table for distribution.

The Colonial Exhibition. — Extrafls from Mr. Walker's
letters of 24th March and 7th April were read. He had
had some interviews with Mr. Hawtayne on Exhibition
matters. Our Commissioner, at the request of Sir Philip
C. Owen, had been compelled to give up some of the
space originally allotted to British Guiana at the Indian
and Colonial Exhibition, but this Mr. Hawtayne thought
might be no great disadvantage.

Cattle Farming in Berbice. — Mr. Russell's paper on
" Water Supply and Cattle Farming on the grand savan-
nah, Berbice/' was read by the Hon. Secretary. The
paper was chiefly confined to a description of the country
recently ridden over by Mr. Russell in company with
Mr. Hutchens, Colonial Civil Engineer and Mr. M. B.
Jamieson, Distrift Engineer, during two days last month,
and to the immense herds of fine cattle found grazing on,

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Report of Society's Meetings. 141

the savannah, the numbers of which were estimated at
10,000 head. Thesfc cattle do very great damage to the
various water supply canals ; and Mr. Russell suggested
that the cattle owners should pay a small tax towards
the maintenance of these canals and dams.

Mr. Hutchens made a few remarks corroborating Mr.
Russell's estimate as to the number of cattle ; and the
Chairman said as President of Lamaha Canal he could
support Mr. Russell's views in regard to damage done
by cattle, and the propriety of their owners' contribution
towards the repair of such damage.

He suggested that the paper be brought up for fur-
ther discussion or remarks at the next meeting.

The Treasurship. — Mr. Imlach, the Honorary Treasurer,
announced his intended departure from the colony on
leave of absence next month, and asked that some one
be nominated to take over the duties of his office. The
matter was left in the hands of the Direflors.

Meeting held 10th June. — The Hon. W. Russell in
the chair.

There were 28 members present.
Ele&ions. — Honorary Members : Mr. J. McKillop of
Tobago ; Dr. Nicholls of Dominica ; and Mr. C. J.
Herring of Surinam were elefted honorary members
of the Society, in recognition of their valuable services
in connexion with the last Local Exhibition.

Members : Dr. J. Rowland ; iEneas D.

Associates : G. Lyon ; R. Sayler ; J. H. G.
Motion.+-Mx. Conrad proposed the motion of which

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149 TfMEtttU.

be bad given notice, for the appointment of a committee
to prepare a petition to the Legislature for aa amend-
ment of the law relating to the foreclosure of mortgages,
but the President ruled it out of order on the ground that
it did not come within the scope of the obje&s for which
the Society was constituted.

Cattle Firming im B€r6ice.-~*The President referred
to bis paper on cattle farming submitted to the last meet-
tog pf the Society, and said he thought it ought to. have
been given to the press as the paper was meant to form
the basis of public discussion. It was decided that the
paper should be given to the press and discussion invited
upon it at the next meeting.

Timehru — The Chairman said it was very desirable
that gentleman should write papers on subjefts of general
interest for Timehri h and support the journal in every
possible way ; for, he regretted to observe that the sub-
scribers, instead ot increasing in number, were becoming
fewer and if that process were not arrested, the publica-
tion of the journal, which had heretofore appeared likely
to be very successful, would have to be discontinued.

The Treasurership. — The President announced that
during the absence from the colony of Mr. Imlach,
Mr. Bugle had kindly consented to aft as Treasurer
of the Society. A vote of thanks to Mr. Imlach for
his very valuable services to the Society was accorded
by acclamation.

Donations to the Library. — Votes of thanks to the
aftinf Administrator General for three volumes of the
Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society ; to the
Government Secretary for Consular Reports and a copy
of the Blue Book ; and to a scientific association in Minne-

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Report of Society's Meetings. 143

sota, U.S., for copies of its proceedings, forwarded through
the Smithsonian Institute, in return for which they de-
sired to be furnished with the proceedings of the Society,
also were passed.

Local Exhibition Medals. — The Secretary announced
that the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to
exhibitors at the last Local Exhibition were received, and
might be obtained on application at the Rooms.

Rice. — The President laid over a paper on Rice cultiva-
tion. This paper will be found at page 101 of the
present number of Timehru

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Notes on the Plants observed during the Roraima
Expedition of 1884.

By the Editor.

HS was expected, the plants colle&ed on the way
to Roraima, and especially about the mountain
itself, during the recent expedition to, and first
ascent of, its summit, now that they have been examined
and catalogued at Kew, have proved of great interest.
Several specialists have most kindly lent their aid in
examining and determining these plants. While Profes-
sor Oliver undertook the bulk of the collection, Mr.
J. G. Baker, besides determining a few of the petalloid
monocotyledons, has, aided by Mr. G. S. JENMAN of
British Guiana, worked out the ferns ; Mr. H. N.
RlDLEY of the British Museum the Orchidiaceae and Cype-
wcex ; and Mons. E. MarChal the Araliaceae. Again
Dr. ENGLER has described a new Moronobea, Mr.
Brown a new Aroid, and Mr. Mitten has named the
Muscales. Lastly, Dr. MAXWELL MASTERS has supplied
a note on two Passiflorae, perhaps new, but imperfeftly
represented. In all, fifty-three new species and three new
genera have been described by these various workers.

The number of species collected would probably have
been greater but for the extreme difficulty of drying
plants in so excessively damp a climate as that of
Roraima, and but for the faft that the other very serious
labours inseparable from the ordering, and keeping in
order, of such an expedition greatly curtailed the time I
was able to devote to the preparation of botanical speci-


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146 TlMEHRI.

mens. As regards the number of new forms colle&ed,
generic and specific, this, great as it is, would undoubt-
edly have been much greater but for the fa£t, unfortunate
in this respeft but fortunate in others, that my colleftion
was made at exaftly the same period of the year
[November and December] at which such collecting as
had been done before about Roraima, by Sir ROBERT
and Dr. SCHOMBURGK and by Karl Appun, had been

Probably, never has a district of equally small size,

* The list of visitors to Roraima other than Redmen is as follows.
Sir Robert Schomburgk, then at the head of a boundary commission,
was there in 1838 and again, with his brother Dr. Richard Schomburgk,
the present curator of the Adelaide Botanical Gardens, in 1842. Both
made considerable botanical collections, which were distributed, I
believe, mainly between the Herbaria at Kew, the British Museum
and at Berlin. Karl Appun was at Roraima in 1864 ; his collections
are chiefly at Kew. C. B. Brown, then the geological surveyor of
British Guiana, was there in 1869 ; two Englishmen Flint and
Eddington were there in 1877 ; and two others McTurk and Boddam-
Wetham were there in 1878. None of these five last made botanical
collections. David Burke, an English orchid collector, was there in
1 881, and brought home certain interesting living plants, among others
the South American pitcher-plant {Heliamphora nutans), which has,
I believe, since been distributed by Messrs. Veitch & Sons. Henry
White ley, an English collector of birdskins, was there on several
occasions between 1879 an< * 1884, and, I believe, was again there in
1885, but has collected no plants. Seidel, a German orchid collector,
was there in April 1884 and again, with us, in December of the same
year. He brought back only living plants, especially the magnificent
Cattleya Laurenceana, which has since been distributed by Mr. A.
Sander. Of these, Seidel, the only traveller with an eye for plants who
has been at Roraima except in the last months of the year, assures me
that the abundance of flowers was much greater there in April than
in December. But in the latter months the Indians' cassava fields are
in full bearing and provision is therefore much more easily attainable.

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Notes on Plants at RoraiIka. 147

alter such brief and cursory exploration, yielded greater
results, perhaps hardly has any such dist rift yielded equally
great botanical results as has Roraftna; and still more
probable is it that few such small distri&s are so dis-
tinctly marked off from the country immediately sur-
rounding them by such great and remarkable peculiarity
in their vegetation. In brief, the distrift of Roraima is,
from a botanical point of view, chiefly interesting as an
oasis clothed with a vegetation which is both in most
marked degree distinft from that of the country which
immediately surrounds it, and is at the same time, also
in very marked degree, peculiar either to this special
distrift or to this in common with a few other almost
equally isolated, but widely separated, districts.

I cannot, therefore, it seems to me, devote these pre-
fatory remarks, in which I have the privilege of intro-
ducing the list and description of my colleftion so
kindly prepared by the authorities above mentioned, to
a better purpose than to as emphatic a statement as I
can make of the isolated character, botanically, of the
Roraima district, of its probable relation, botanically,
to certain other probably similar districts, and of the
general appearance of the very peculiar and distinft
vegetation of these distrifis.*

The whole district known under the name of Guiana
may be" likened to a wedge driven into the north eastern
shoulder of South America. Politically, it is thus
placed between Brazil on the south and Venezuela on

* I use the phrase ' Roraima district' as including not only the moun-
tain of that name but the tohole of the small group of similar sandstone
mountains of whioh Roraima is the best known, and at present the only
•aplored member. .

T 2

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148 TlMEHRl.

the north. For our present purpose it will, however,
be better to describe its position somewhat differently.
The artificially formed political divisions of the conti-
nent corresponding very closely, for obvious reasons,
with the tra£ts naturally differentiated each by its own
river system, and it being along the river systems that
the migration of animals and plants chiefly occurs, there-
fore the customary and convenient names of these poli-
tical divisions really correspond somewhat closely with
the natural and important differences in flora, as also
in fauna, which distinguish the various river basins.
Thus, as Venezuela is essentially the traft drained
by the great river Orinoco, and as Brazil is essen-
tially the traft drained by the great river Amazon,
and as Guiana, intermediate between these two, consists
essentially of the parallel trafts drained by certain com-
paratively, but only comparatively, small rivers, of which
the Essequibo, the Demerara, the Berbiee, the Corentyn,
the Sarapiacca and the Maroni may be mentioned, so the
political names, to mention them in their order from north
to south, of Venezuela, Guiana, and Brazil, represent
also natural trafts which are really more or less diffe-
rentiated, each from the other in its flora and fauna.

Now, as the whole pf the traft under consideration —
that drained by the Orinoco, the Amazon and the inter-
mediate rivers — rises gradually, or more generally by
steplike ascents, from the sea-level on its east, toward
the table-land on its west— -the table-land of the centre
of the continent — it is of course on this table-land that
the rivers take their origin. And, as owing to the ir-
regularity of the surface of this table-land, and still more
that of its slope toward the eastern sea, it happens that

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Notes on Plants at Roraima. 149

each of these rivers colle&s its headwaters from unusual-
ly widely separated localities, and it often happens that
two or more of these rivers draw some portion of their
headwaters from unusually contiguous localities. Thus
it is conceivable, and even probable that any peculiar
vegetable forms, or animal forms, which may originate
at one of these localities which supply water to very
divergent river systems, may distribute themselves over
very wide areas by passing along the courses ot the
various rivers arising there.

It happens that the rock-pillars of the Roraima group,
rising some 5000 feet over the general level of the sea,
pour down from their summit streams which go to swell
the Orinoco, the Essequibo and the Amazon, in other
words the three rivers respectively of Venezuela, Guiana
and Brazil.

Now, as has been already indicated, the flora of
Roraima is of a very remarkably peculiar chara&er. A
most interesting question, still awaiting solution, there-
fore arises, as to the relation of this flora of Roraima to
the floras of Venezuela, Guiana and Brazil.

No answer, I say, has yet been attempted to this
question ; nor can I pretend to suggest that answer. I am,
however, able to give, as data to be considered in the ques-
tion, some very general account ot the flora of Guiana,
and a rather more special account of the flora of
Roraima in its relation to that of Guiana.

Guiana, as has been said, rises gradually from the
east toward the high table-land of the interior of the
continent. But now, instead of thus placing ourselves
in imagination on its seacoast and looking westward
up its gradual slope, let us imagine ourselves on the

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table-land, on Roraima, and that we are looking east-
ward! down toward the sea. We should find, were
such a bird's-eye view really possible, that the table4and,
or savannah as it is there called, is an open, generally
treeless country, its elevated surface hardly anywhere
level, but swelling up in many hills and even in some
mountain ranges. We find that only along the courses
of the rivers, or in the lower parts where water has
accumulated in some form, are there more or less exten-
sive belts of trees ; and that, on the savannah itself, even
these trees are, considering that we are in the tropics, of
no great size. Further eastward, on the lower part of
the slope, toward the sea, where the rivers have already
grown wider and approached each other more nearly,
the trees are more in number and of larger size. Still
further eastward, yet lower down the slope, the belts Of
trees, pertaining each to its own river, have widened
with the rivers, till they have approached, and then
joined, each other. And here the trees are of yet
larger size. At last, at the bottom of the slope
between its foot and the still far-distant sea waves, the
wide tratt of alluvial soil which has been deposited
between the slope and the sea, having either been
brought down by the rivers or cast up from the sea, is
virtually entirely occupied by the omnipresent forest of
trees, which have there attained their true gigantic trop-
ical size. If we except certain small patches of very
swampy open land, locally called wet savannahs, within
this forest of the alluvial tra6l, all is forest except the
very narrow strip of land actually washed by the waves,
which has been cleared by men for habitation and
cultivation and not even that toward the north.

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Notes on Plaws at Roraima. 151

Very different and distinfl flora chara£lorhe the parts
of Guiana thus variously conditioned ; though, naturally,
a certain number of species ate common to all three.

Where the narrow sea-washed strip has been artifi-
cially disforested, a generally dwarf and weed-like flora,
very largely consisting of non-indigenous plants, pre-

Within the forest, perhaps the most noteworthy fea-
tures of the vegetation after the generally great height
of the trees and, often, Ihe abundance of palms, are, in
the first place, the great scarcity of mosses, herbage and
low-growing plants, especially of any such with con-
spicuous flowers, and the consequent bareness of die
soil, which is relieved by only a few scattered ferns,
ginger-worts, caladiums and other aroids, dicffenbachias,
cyperacese and other such shade-loving plants, and, in
the next place, though this is hardly discernible from
below, the abundance of the flowering creepers and
epithytes spread over the matted tops of the densely
placed, lofty trees. The representatives of the low-
growing bright flowering plants of the thinner, lighter,
woods of temperate climates have here, in this dense
shade of the tropical forest, to send their immensely long
flowerless creeping stems up some one or even two hun-
dred feet, to reach above the highest tree-branches, before
they can break into bloom. Only as semi-aquatics along
the riverside are there a few showy flowered dwarf plants.

Quite different again is it on the savannah, where,
among the grasses which, of course, form the chief vege-
tation, are scattered a considerable number of bright
flowered dwarf plants, — though even here the abundance
of Woom very rarely reaches the extraordinary develop-

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152 TlMEHRl,

ment which it often does in the meadows of temperate
climates. Rather striking, too, is it that, on these
savannahs, of the bright-flowered plants many, unlike
those of temperate meadows, are here also true climbing
plants, legumes chiefly and various species of Echites,
though their stems, instead of climbing far and high over
giant trees, here only ramble weakly and briefly over
the short grasses.

In each of these thus distinCt floras, of the coast, the
forest, and of the savannah, the number of species is, of
course, great ; but in each separate district the species
characteristic of it are as a rule remarkably widely and
evenly scattered throughout its extent. For example,
within the forest district, probably by far the larger
number of species have an unbroken distribution
throughout the district from north to south, though they
may be limited from east to west, according, that is to
the greater or less distance from the sea or to the higher
or lower position on the general upward slope of the
country. On the savannah, the general level of which
probably corresponds more or less closely with the gene-
ral level of the main table-land of that part of the conti-
nent, the distribution of the main species is still more
even and monotonous. On almost every part of the
savannah certain grasses, certain dwarf shrubs and certain
herb-like plants, form the main vegetation. Yet a few
remaining parts are marked by the occurrence of certain
distinCt and, as for the convenience of the name we may

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Online LibraryRoyal agricultural and commercial society of BritiTimehri: the journal of the Royal agricultural and commercial society of British Guiana → online text (page 11 of 25)