National Geographic : 1922 Jul
MIDSUMMER WILD FLOWERS IN THE following pages THE GEO GRAPHIC offers another series of biog raphies and exquisite illustrations in their natural colors of some of the familiar wild flowers of America. The several series published previously have included "American Wild Flowers," with twenty-nine biographies and illustra tions in color, in May, 1915; "Common American Wild Flowers," with seventeen biographies and illustrations in color, in June, 1916; "Our State Flowers: Floral Emblems Chosen by the Commonwealths," with thirty biographies and illustrations in color, in June, 1917; "American Ber ries of Hill, Dale, and Wayside," with twenty-eight biographies and illustrations in color, in February, 1919; and "Familiar Grasses and Their Flowers," with eight biographies and illustrations in color, in June, 1921. Most of the thirty-eight species of flowers illustrated in the accompanying series will be found in bloom throughout the United States during July and August. Their beauty will command the admira tion of passers-by, while the variations in their structure and the provisions which Nature has made for their propagation will accentuate anew for the student Wordsworth's famous aphorism in trib ute to "the meanest flower that blows." NATURE PROTECTS HER OWN In one of the earlier flower series the Editor emphasized the danger of extermi nating some of our wild flowers by in discriminate gathering. Happily, Nature AMERICAN WATERLILY Castalia odorata (Dryand.) W. & W. [Plate I] This beautiful inhabitant of ponds and streams belongs to a family of water-loving plants famous in many parts of the world. It is a cousin of the lotus of Egypt and of the sacred lotus of India. Also it claims relation ship with the gigantic Victoria regia, the queen of floral aquatics, whose leaves are often seven feet in diameter and whose flowers are fre quently fifty inches in circumference. The range of this fragrant species is from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. Its preferred habitat is still water, such as ponds, shallow lakes, and slow streams. It be gins flowering in June and continues to put forth blossoms until touched by frost. has made such ample provision for the reproduction of the flowers discussed in this series that only five of the number require protection-the Bluebell (Plate XIV), the Rosemallow (Plate VIII), the Sheep Laurel (Plate VII), the Fringed Orchid and the Water Avens (Plate VI), and Spiderwort or Widow's Tears (Plate IV). All the others may be gathered whenever and wherever found without danger of robbing future generations of their loveliness. These beautiful illustrations, costing $25,000, are reproductions from paintings made by the gifted artist-naturalist, Miss Mary R. Eaton, of the New York Botan ical Gardens, who has preserved to a re markable degree the color, form, and grace of the specimens here presented. Additional flower series are in prepara tion and will be published in THE GEo GRAPHIC subsequently. It will be noticed that in some cases the names of plants in the text do not exactly agree with those on the plates. This is due to the fact that the text material could be prepared after the adoption of the Official Catalogue of Standardized Plant Names, a monumental work com piled by the American Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature, designed as a sane and workable harmonization of the present confusion in every-day plant names. The plates had to be sent to press before this standardized nomencla ture was adopted. In the cases where changes have been made both the new and old designations are given in the text. Its leaves, dark green above, pinkish on the under side, and somewhat heart-shaped, float on the water. The solitary flower, pure white or pink tinged, deliciously fragrant, and often five inches in diameter, opens shortly after sunrise, spreading a bounteous feast for bees, flower-flies, beetles, and "skippers." This blossom affords a striking picture of one phase of plant evolution. As the ages passed, the waterlily found what most busi ness houses learn sooner or later, that it pays to advertise. What good were its numerous pollen-producing stamens if the insect buyers failed to come and carry away the pollen to fertilize other flowers? Therefore many of the stamens were gradually transformed into petals, through natural processes, with the re sult that now, having intelligence of its wares published to the four winds, no pollen-dispens ing establishment is busier than the American waterlily when the insect hosts are a-wing.