National Geographic : 1922 Jul
MIDSUMMER WILD FLOWERS allspice. The Calycanthus family, to which it belongs, is a small one, and few of the mem bers have the sweet odor of floridus. POKEWEED Phytolacca americana L. [Plate X, right] The pokeweed's range is from Maine to On tario and southward, where it flowers from July to September, in low grounds and rich soils. It masquerades under many names, such as poke, scoke, garget, and pigeon berry. The pokeweed is a tall, smooth herb, grow ing from 4 to 12 feet high and possessing a strong-smelling juice. Its roots, which are perennial, are highly poisonous, yet its young shoots, or "sprouts," are edible and are often prepared like asparagus. Its shining purple berries form a late-summer feast for robins, flickers, downy woodpeckers, chewinks, and grosbeaks. An ointment is made from the plant for the treatment of ringworm and rheumatism, and also for relieving itching and inflammation of the eyes. This plant is said to have derived its name from an Indian word, "pocan," which is ap plied to any plant yielding a red or yellow dye. The followers of James K. Polk, in the Presi dential campaign of 1844, wore the poke leaf as their emblem. The Halictus bees are its principal insect visitors in flowering time. The poke prefers cross-fertilization, bringing its stamens to ma turity before its pistils and thus giving insects a chance to carry its pollen to other plants. In stormy, rainy weather, when its benefactors cannot be on the wing, it curves its styles so as to bring the stigmas into contact with the anthers of the stamens, and thus brings about self-fertilization. CLAMMY GROUNDCHERRY Physalis heterophylla Nees. [Plate XI, left] The subject of this sketch belongs to that ubiquitous nightshade family, which includes the potato, with its tuber, and the tomato, with its luscious fruit; the deadly nightshade, that does not belie its name; the horsenettle, the buffalo bur, the tobacco, the eggplant, the Jim son weed, henbane, and the matrimony vine. The clammy groundcherry in its prime is an upstanding herb, but late in the season it sprawls. It usually grows from one to three feet high and claims most of North America east of the Rockies as its range. It requires rich soil. CHARLOCK OR FIELD MUSTARD Brassica arvensis (L.) Ktze. [Plate XI, right] Charlock or field mustard is one of the un desirable aliens of the plant world that suc ceeded in passing the Ellis Island of American commerce and securing a foothold in this country for its pestiferous progeny. Exactly when it landed is not known, but it has spread throughout the grain-growing regions east of the Rocky Mountains. This weed goes on its domineering way in spite of innumerable battles the careful farmer lights to repel its invasion. What farmer's son, too young to do the heavier work that farm operations demand, has not been detailed to go into the. fields, armed with a hoe, to give battle to this invader so tenacious of life and of its "squatter sovereignty," and what won der that a broiling sun, a big field, and this numerous foe have often caused a boy to lose interest in farm life and sent him on his way to the crowded city! This plant, growing from one to two feet high, belongs to one of the largest families that botany knows, the mustard family. Its closest relatives in the family are the turnip, the rutabaga, and the black and white mustards. Its more distinct cousins include whitlow grass. sweet alyssum, the cresses, peppergrass, shepherd's purse, and radishes. The charlock blossoms in late summer. The brilliant Syrphidce flies and honeybee, both hav ing a fondness for yellow blossoms, come in great numbers and serve as pollen-bearers. The stamens mature ahead of the pistils. MISTFLOWER Eupatorium coelestinum L. [Plate XII, left] This close relative of the joe-pye-weed, the white thoroughwort, the boneset, and the white snakeroot loves rich soils, in which it grows from New Jersey to Michigan, Kansas, and the Southwest. It is somewhat hairy, and, as a composite that has flowers ranging from violet to purple, it represents one of the most advanced members of the floral kingdom. PINK CORYDALIS Capnoides sempervirens (L.) Borck. [Plate XII, middle] Cousin of the mountain fringe, the Dutch man's breeches, and the squirrelcorn, the pink corydalis belongs to the fumitory family, which is never intrusive, and would rather please the eye of man than get in his way. In New Eng land it almost supplants the Dutchman's breeches. The stem is slender and erect and the stalk grows from eight inches to two feet tall. It prefers rocky soil and its range is from Maine to the Carolinas and westward to Minnesota. NEW YORK ASTER Aster novi-belgii L. [Plate XII, right] With flowers ranging from pale violet to blue violet, the New York aster, sometimes known as the willow-leaved aster, lays claim, through Gray, to being "the commonest late flowered aster of the Atlantic border." It has a head like an ox-eye daisy, except in color, with from fifteen to twenty-four rays. The stalk grows from one to three feet tall. It pre fers the swamp to dry land and clings close to the coast from Maine to Georgia. It has sev eral varieties, including Icvigatus and litoreus, the former smooth and with upper leaves clasping the stem, the latter low and stiff.