Norman Allison Calkins.

Manual of object-teaching : with illustrative lessons in methods and the science of education online

. (page 21 of 35)
Online LibraryNorman Allison CalkinsManual of object-teaching : with illustrative lessons in methods and the science of education → online text (page 21 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of them are absolutely poisonous. In some of these plants their
poisonous properties may be dissipated by a boiling heat, or by dry-
ing in the sun.

Their leaves are usually palmately or ternately lobed, and without
stipules. Many plants cultivated for ornament belong to this fain-


ily, as Anemone, Larkspur, Buttercup, Christmas - rose, Columbine,
Monk's-hood, Clematis, etc. Owing to the poisonous character of
some, and the suspicious properties of others, it would be well to be
cautious in relation to all the plants of this family.

CROWFOOT. [Ranunculus sceleratus.] This plant grows in wet
places, from Georgia to Canada. It grows about fifteen inches high,
and blossoms in June and July. It bears a small, bright yellow
flower, with five petals growing singly on a slender stem. The seed-
vessels form an erect, rounded cone. Leaves are three-parted. The
juice, when fresh, is very acrid, and will raise blisters upon the skin.
It is a poison when taken internally. Cattle avoid this plant when it
is fresh.

MONK'S-HOOD. [Aconitum NapellusJ] This plant is common in old
gardens and waste places. It grows from three to four feet high,
bearing a cluster of blue, helmet-shaped flowers. The name Monk's-
hood was given from the shape of the upper portion of the flower.
The leaves are deeply-cut, and several times divided, after the man-
ner of those of the common larkspur. The seed-vessel consists of
three lobes. The root is very poisonous, tuberous, or shaped some-
what like that of the horse-radish, for which it is sometimes mis-
taken in the early spring, before the leaves appear. It should not.
even be touched by the tongue. This plant is also called Wolf's-
lane, because in Europe it is used for poisoning wolves.

BANEBERRY. [Actea spicata.] This plant is found in rich woods ;
grows about two feet high ; leaflets ovate and sharply cleft ; blos-
soms in May and June ; berries red or purplish, and about the size
of currants ; seeds smooth and flattened. Berries poisonous.

BLACK HELLEBORE (CHRISTMAS-ROSE). [Helleborus niger.~\ This
plant received the name of Christmas-rose because in the warmer
parts of England it blossoms in the winter and early spring. It has
large single white flowers, which turn pinkish, then green. In form
the blossom somewhat resembles that of the strawberry. The leaves
are pedate, and of a shining green. It is cultivated in gardens,
though not very common in this country. Its injurious properties
should be known, that its serious effects may be avoided.

Parsley Family. POISON - HEMLOCK. [ Conium maculatum.]
Found in the Northern and Middle States by roadsides, in waste
ground, and swampy places. Grows from three to six feet high ;
lias very smooth stems, with purplish spots ; leaves are lance-shaped
and coarsely-toothed, sometimes pointed ; flowers white and small,



growing in close clusters at the ends of the stems, like the water-
hemlock; blossoms in July and August; fruit somewhat egg-shaped
and ribbed. Root a deadly poison.

The entire plant emits a very offensive odor when bruised. Sup-
posed to be the plant which the ancient Greeks used to destroy the
statesmen of whom they were tired. This plant was introduced
into this country from Europe.

WATER-HEMLOCK. [Cicuta maculata.~] This plant is a native of
our country, and is found in swamps and wet places ; even within
the limits of villages and cities it is far too common for safety. It
is a tall, rank herb, growing from four to six feet high. Its stems
are hollow, branching, smooth, and streaked with purple and brown ;
the flowers are white, growing in clusters, which spread out like
an umbrella. The veins of the compound leaves terminate in the
notches ; it blossoms in July and August. Fruit or seeds nearly
round, with ribs, the channels between which are of a reddish-brown
color, and filled with oily matter.

' Children often mistake it for sweet-cicely, which belongs to the
same family. Its herbage is dangerous to cattle. The fleshy root is
fatally poisonous. It is said that a drachm of the fresh root has
killed a boy in less than two hours after eating it.

FOOL'S-PARSLEY. [^Ethusa Cynapium.'] This plant was originally
introduced from Europe. It is sometimes found about cultivated
grounds, but usually in waste places. Grows from one to two feet
high, having a hollow stem, and dark-green, lance-shaped leaves.
The flowers are white, growing much like those of the hemlock and
wild parsnip ; blossoms in July and August. Fruit or seed nearly
as broad as long, with prominent, straight ribs. This plant is not
only poisonous, but has a fetid odor. Leaves, seeds, and roots poisonous.

WILD PARSNIP. [Pastinaca Sativa.} Grows wild in fields, by
fences, roadsides, etc. Has a tall, grooved, branching stem ; leaves
pinnate and deeply cut. Flowers, which appear in July, are yellow
and small, growing in fine clusters, at the ends of seven or eight
spreading umbels. Fruit flat, oval, with a broad, single-winged mar-
gin. The root is spindle-shaped, and well known in its cultivated
state as a sweet-flavored esculent ; but in its wild state the root be-
comes smaller in size, hard, acrid, and poisonous.

Lobelia Family. LOBELIA (INDIAN TOBACCO). \L6belia inflata.]
This plant is found in dry. open pastures, and by roadsides. It
grows from ten to fifteen inches high. Leaves elliptical, hairy.
Flowers small, pale blue, and growing in leafy spikes. Blossoms


from July to September. Leaves and flowers grow from the same
axil. Juice milky and acrid. This plant is used as a medicine, but
its poisonous qualities render it very dangerous.

Figwort Family. FOXGLOVE. [Digitalis purpurea.] Cultivated
in gardens for its showy flowers ; also by the Shakers and others for
its leaves, which are dried and used as medicine ; but, owing to its
poisonous properties, this plant should be used only by those having
a clear knowledge of it. The plant grows from three to four feet
high ; flowers from two to two and a half inches long, rather hairy
within, and beautifully spotted with deep purple dots, surrounded
by white rings. The common name "Foxglove" is said to have
been derived from an old Saxon word, Folks-glove. It is a native of
Europe and Asia.

Fine Family. YEW. Ground Hemlock. [Taxus Canadensis.}
American Yew. [Taxus laccata.~\ English Yew. The American
Yew is a small evergreen shrub, from two to four feet in length,
growing as a straggling, prostrate bush, never forming an ascending
trunk. It is found in thin, roc'ky soil on hill-sides, near streams,
and along moist banks, particularly in the shade of evergreen-trees.
Leaves nearly an inch long, arranged in two opposite rows on each
side of the branchlets. The blossoms are like scaly buds, and ap-
pear in May. Fruit is of a coral red, and displays a black seed at
the top.

The leaves of this plant and the Hack seeds of the berries contain
poison. The pulp of the berries is not considered unwholesome,
but it is dangerous to swallow the black seeds.

Mezeremn Family. MEZEREUM. [Daphne mezereum.] This
shrub belongs to the same family as the common " Moosewood,"
or " Leatherwood," and is also noted for its fibrous, tough bark.
It is cultivated for ornament; grows from two to three feet high;
leaves of a delicate green ; flowers of a purplish rose-color, growing
around the stems. These are succeeded by scarlet berries which are
poisonous. The root and bark are acrid and caustic. Blooms early
in spring. A native of Europe.

Sumac Family. POISON-IVY. [Ehus toxicodendron.] (Some-
times known as "Poison-oak," and occasionally as "Poison-vine.")
A plant common in low grounds, climbing on fences, over rocks,
and ascending trees. The variety which ascends trees, from twenty
to forty feet in height, is usually designated as RJius radicans. Its
leaves are generally nearly entire. The stem of this variety some-
times attains the size of one or two inches in thickness. It is cov-


ered with a grayish, scaly bark, and fastens itself to the object upon
which it climbs by numerous bunches of rootlets thrown out along
the stem.

The leaves of the poison - ivy are of a shining green color, and
change in autumn to a bright yellow, or orange, or a mahogany ;
they always grow in groups of three; are ovate, with margins vari-
ously shaped, from nearly entire to undulate, dentate, and cut-lobed,
and are downy underneath. Flowers are small, greenish yellow,
and grow in long, loose clusters. Blooms in May and June.

The juice of this plant is very poisonous to the touch. It causes an
eruption of the skin, accompanied by an intolerable itching and
burning sensation.

The poison-ivy is sometimes mistaken for the Virginia creeper,
a harmless plant which often is cultivated and known as " wood-
bine." Attention to the following distinguishing characteristics of
each vine will prevent these mistakes.

Virginia Creeper leaves grow in groups of five ; are large, oblong,
and pointed, margins sharply dentate ; color, dark green, changing
in autumn to a bright crimson ; berries dark blue, smaller than
pease ; stem fastens, in climbing, by tendrils.

Poison-ivy leaves grow in groups of three ; are ovate, with margins
variously shaped ; color, shining green, changing in autumn to a
bright yellow or orange ; berries vary from a dull white to a pale,
shining brown ; are about the size of small pease ; stem clings by
bunches of small rootlets. Poison -ivy is found from Georgia to

POISON SUMAC. [Wins venenata.} (Sometimes called " Poison
Dogwood.") A shrub or small tree, common in swamps, growing
from six to eighteen feet high ; bark gray, and generally smooth.
Each leaf-stem has seven, nine, eleven, or thirteen green leaflets, ar-
ranged in pairs on opposite sides of the red stem, with a single one
at the end. The leaflets are smooth, oblong, abruptly pointed, mar-
gins entire, from two to three inches long and about half as wide.

The color of the leaves changes in autumn from green through a
bright yellow to crimson and scarlet ; but the leaf-stem, or mid-vein,
remains an intense red during all these changes. The flowers are
small and greenish, growing in alternate clusters on a long stem.
The fruit is of a greenish yellow, dry, smooth, and shining, and
about the size of small pease. Blossoms appear in June ; berries
ripen in September.

The entire plant is very poisonous to the touch or taste, and even
taints the air around it, so that some persons become poisoned by


simply passing near it -when in a state of perspiration. The poison
produces painful swelling, inflammation, and intense itching.

The Mountain Sumac, a small shrub, growing in dry, rocky places ;
bearing a dark-green leaf, shining on the upper surface ; greenish
red flowers, in dense clusters, on a long stem ; fruit seed-like, red
and hairy ; is not poisonous.

Nettle Family. STINGING NETTLE. [Urtica dioica.'] Common
in waste places and by roadsides; grows from two to three feet
high ; stem four-sided ; leaves from two to three inches long and
about one-half as wide, and downy underneath ; have short stems
attached to opposite sides of the stalk ; margins deeply serrate.
Blossoms from June to August. The entire plant is covered with
stiff, tubular hairs, which transmit a venomous fluid when pressed,
causing a stinging and itching sensation.

Nightshade Family. THORN-APPLE, or STRAMONIUM. James-
town weed. {Datura stramonium.} A common plant, having a rank
odor, growing in waste places, among rubbish, etc. The stem is
about three feet high, smooth, hollow, and branching. The general
form of the leaves is ovate, but the margins are cut in sharp angles,
with gashes rounded at their bases. The blossom is of a cream-
white color, funnel-shaped, with a long tube, somewhat plaited, and
a border fine-toothed. The general form of the flower resembles
that of the morning-glory. The seed-vessel, or pod, is about the
size of a small apple, somewhat egg-shaped, and covered with
spikes. It contains numerous flat seeds. Every part of the plant
is poisonous.

An ugly, weed-like plant, growing about rubbish, in shaded places,
with angular branches and smooth stems, which commonly rest on
the ground. Leaves usually appear as if partly eaten by insects.
Flowers white, with a yellow conical centre, five-parted, grown in
small, open clusters, on long stems. Blossoms during July and Au-
gust. Berries are bluish black, round, and vary in size from large
cherries to small pease. These are poisonous. The plant has a dis-
agreeable odor.

DEADLY NIGHTSHADE. [Atropa belladonna.] A plant which
grows about five feet high, branching near the ground ; the stem
and large leaves have a purplish tinge ; leaves narrow, oval, and
pointed, growing in pairs from opposite sides of the stem, with a
second pair of small leaves growing at the base of the lower large
leaves. Blossoms are somewhat bell-shaped, of a pale purple, grow-


ing singly, also in pairs, from the stem at the foot of the leaves, and
nodding. Berries are about the size of cherries, and change from a
green color to a glossy black ; are filled with a purple juice. These
are exceedingly poisonous. The entire plant is dangerous. It is
sometimes cultivated in gardens, and may occasionally be found
growing in other places. It is a native of Europe ; is used as a

HENBANE. [Hyoscyamus niger.] A tall weed growing about rub-
bish of old houses, roadsides, and sometimes in old gardens. Stem
round, branching, and about two feet high. Leaves large, oblong,
pointed, and cut into sharp lobes, or deeply toothed. Blossoms of
a dull yellow color, strongly veined with purple ; they grow in one-
sided spikes at the ends of the stems, from the foot of the leaves.
The flower-cup is urn-shaped. The plant is hairy, sticky, of a sea-
green hue, and emits an offensive odor. Tlie entire plant is poisonous.

BITTERSWEET. [Solanum dulcamara.] A shrubby climber ; stem
branching several feet in length ; found on moist banks, near low
ground, and around dwellings. The lower leaves are entire, the
upper ones halberd-shaped. Blossoms bluish purple, drooping, with
five pointed petals surrounding an orange-colored, conical centre.
Each division or segment of the flower has two green spots at its
base. Blossoms from June to September. Berries are oval, bright
red, and poisonous.

Poppy Family. CELANDINE. [Chelidonium majus.] This plant
grows by roadsides, fences, etc., about two feet high ; stem is branch-
ing, and very brittle. Blossoms have four petals, are yellow, some-
what resemble the buttercup. Leaves consist of two to four pairs
of leaflets, with an odd one at the end. Seed-pods an inch long.
When broken, the plant exudes a yellow, strong-smelling juice, which
is poisonous. It is sometimes applied to warts, to destroy them.

ma triphyllum.~] A common plant in rich, low grounds in woods.
The fleshy stem of this plant divides into two parts near the
ground; each branch bearing three oval, pointed leaflets at its end.
Between the branches grow the blossom and the fruit. The fleshy
spike, around which the berries grow, is enclosed in a sheath-like
leaf, green without, but within variegated with stripes of dark pur-
ple alternating with pale green. The form of this sheath is some-
what like that of a Calla lily, but with the point of the sheath bend-
ing over the cup containing the spadix or spike. When ripening,
the berries, growing around the fleshy spike in an oblong cluster,


change from a green color to a bright scarlet. Blooms in May.
Fruit ripens in August and September.

This plant has a bulbous or conn-like stem in the ground some-
what of a turnip shape, from the upper part of which there grow
numerous fibre-like roots. The fleshy portion of the plant, when in
a green state, is exceedingly acrid. Neither the bulbous root nor

the berries should be tasted.

Heath Family. SHEEP LAUREL. [Kalmia angustifolia.~] Sheep-
poison, Lamb-kill, are names sometimes applied to it. This shrubby
plant grows from two to three feet high, in damp grounds; leaves
narrow, oblong, from one to two inches long, margin entire, surface
smooth, color pale green. Flowers purplish crimson ; corolla short,
five-toothed, slightly bell-shaped ; grow in clusters ; blossoms from
May to July. Leaves believed to be poisonous to sheep.

Mushroom Family. FLY MUSHROOM. [Agaricus muscarius.~\
The mushrooms spring up wherever there is sufiicient heat and
dampness, in rich soil or heaps of decayed vegetable rubbish. First
there appears a little knob, within which the stalk is gradually
formed. By-and-by the outer skin bursts, and leaves a fleshy stem
supporting a fleshy cap, which, gradually enlarging, tears the lower
skin which united it to the column, and opens like an umbrella.

The Fly Mushroom, with its crimson cap dotted with white, is
beautiful but dangerous, for it is very poisonous. It is said that
when steeped in milk it will kill flies.

Some varieties of mushroom are used for food; these are usually
distinguished by their piiik gills, and by a peculiar odor. It is,
however, quite unsafe for any person not perfectly familiar with the
appearance and odor of the edible mushroom to venture tasting any
of this tribe.

Need of Illustrations. Those who do not know the ap-
pearance and noxious qualities of poisonous plants are liable to
serious accidents from tasting or handling them. Ignorance in
relation to this matter is especially dangerous to children. These
plants cannot be easily recognized by those who possess no ac-
quaintance with botany, from descriptions alone. It is therefore
exceedingly important that the young should be made sufficiently
familiar with their appearance, by means of carefully-drawn pict-
ures, to be able to distinguish such plants from harmless ones,
and thus prevent liabilities to those accidents which occur from


handling and tasting these noxious members of the vegetable

It is believed that a proper use of illustrations of poisonous
plants, and of these descriptions, will enable any person to attain
the necessary acquaintance to protect himself from the dangerous
effects of such plants.

A series of tw*enty-four illustrations of the poisonous plants*
described here has been carefully prepared, to represent both their
shapes and colors. Each illustration is on a card of the size of
common album photographs, and may be procured by mail.

Illustrations* of all the leaves, flowers, roots, etc., described in
the preceding pages, have also been published on cards of the
same size.

* Published by L. Prang & Co., Boston, Mass.



" Tongues in trees books in the running brooks
Sermons in stones and good in everything."

SPECIAL attention is directed to minerals, and a few
simple facts given here concerning them, for the purpose
of pointing out still another field in which children may
be led to extend their observations with pleasure and
profit, and to increase both their powers of learning and
their knowledge of the world in which they live. The
chief aim now is to show how teachers may lead their
pupils to take such notice of the common objects which
may be found wherever they go, as to make them desire
to know what the different stones have to tell about them-
selves, and about that part of the world where they are

Children may be easily induced to notice differences
between the smooth, rounded pebbles by the brook-side,
or on the shore of the lake or sea, and the rough, irregu-
lar stones that are found near a ledge of rocks. "When
they ask what made the stones so smooth, tell them how
the swift-running water of the stream or the rolling waves
of the sea rub the stones against each other, rolling them
over and over, and thus wear off the corners and make
them smooth. Tell them that their toy-marbles are made
by breaking stones into small blocks, then placing a large
number of them together, and by means of machinery
rolling them against each other, round and round, while
they are kept wet with water, and thus are worn smooth



and to the shape of marbles. Ever after these children
will understand why some stones are smooth, and they
will take more interest in looking at them.

Prepare Pupils to Observe Minerals. Before send-
ing your pupils out to look at stones and rocks, give them
one or two lessons to teach them how to distinguish dif-
ferences in them. Give the pupils good specimens of
quartz^ of mica, of feldspar, and of granite, to examine.

Quartz. Lead them to notice the very hard, clear, glassy
qualities of the quartz ; that it cannot be scratched with
a knife or a file; that it \vill scratch glass; that it breaks
into irregular pieces then let them try to find quartz
in a piece of granite.

Mica. Let the pupils notice the bright, glistening,
tough, elastic, and almost transparent substance mica /
that it may be easily split into leaves thinner than paper ;
that it may be easily scratched with a knife then let
them find this substance in a piece of granite.

Feldspar. Lead the pupils to notice the white or flesh-
colored substance -feldspar which breaks with a bright,
even surface, and in two directions; that it is not quite
so hard as quartz, yet too hard to be scratched with a
knife; that it may be scratched by the quartz then let
them find the feldspar in a piece of granite.

Now the pupils will be prepared to go into the fields
and along the roadside to look for each of these minerals
quartz, mica, feldspar and for the rock called granite,
which is composed of these three. When they have gath-
ered their specimens, the teacher may assist them in cor-
recting any mistakes made in distinguishing either of the

Sandstone. At a subsequent lesson tell the pupils that
quartz, when pulverized or made fine, forms sand. Let


them examine coarse sand, and notice the fine grains of
quartz in it. Show them a specimen of sandstone, and
let them see that it is made up of small grains of sand ;
that by scraping the sandstone with a knife the small
grains can be separated ; that these grains are not all of
the same size, nor all composed of the same glass-like
substance ; that some of them are softer than others, and
seem like a kind of hard cement which fastens all these
grains into a solid stone. Now let the pupils examine
the sand and gravel in a brook, or on the shore of a lake,
or the beach of the ocean, and be told that sand and
gravel are formed by the motion of the water, which
causes stones, pebbles, gravel, and sand to move about,
and thus keep the pieces continually rubbing against each
other, and grinding them smaller and finer.

The pupils may now be told that sandstone is formed
by layers of fine sand deposited in deep water, and then
pressed together by the weight of the sand and water
more and more firmly from year to year; and that after
a very long period of years these layers of sand become
solid rocks.

Calcite. A common form of crystallized calcite is
called dog -tooth -spar. Calcite, in a rock form, is lime-
stone. When burnt, it is carbonate of lime (the material
that is slacked in water and used for making mortar).
Calcite is easily distinguished from feldspar and other
minerals by its effervescence with acid ; by its being
easily scratched with a knife ; by its infusibility in the
hottest fire ; and by its cleavage in three directions, and
with rhombic faces.

Dolomite. When limestone contains magnesia mixed
with the lime, it is called magnesian limestone, or dolomite.
Dolomite and calcite appear much alike ; but dolomite
does not effervesce freely with acid unless the acid be hot.


Chalk is limestone. Marble is limestone ; but some-
times it is of the magnesian kind. Calcareous rocks are
kinds of limestone. Limestone, in its various forms, has
dull colors, from white through gray, yellow, red, and
brown to black. It is very abundant in this country,
except in the form of chalk. Chalk is found in large
quantities in England and France.

Show your pupils specimens of calcite in the forms of
limestone, marble, carbonate of lime, and crystals. Lead
them to experiment with these, and observe the several
characteristics by which this mineral may be distinguished
from feldspar and other minerals. They will then be

Online LibraryNorman Allison CalkinsManual of object-teaching : with illustrative lessons in methods and the science of education → online text (page 21 of 35)