National Geographic : 1922 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE TURTLEHEAD Chelone lyoni Pursh. [Plate XIII, left] Growing in ditches, beside streams, and amid swamps, this interesting member of the fig wort family has many aliases in the vernacular. In some localities it is called "snake-head," in others "codhead." Some people call it "shell flower," while others have christened it "bal mony." Its flowering season is from July to Septem ber and it is found in swamps and wet thickets in the mountains from Virginia southward. It attains a height of from one to three feet. The leaves are reputed to have tonic proper ties in the treatment of liver complaints. Even bumblebees have difficulty in reaching the overflowing nectar cups of the turtlehead before it reaches maturity; but as soon as the heart-shaped anthers have their dust-bags of pollen powder ready, the flower opens wider and the visitors have their full of sweets while taking their dusting of pollen. TEASEL Dipsacus sylvestris Huds. [Plate XIII, right] The chief distinction of this species is the fact that it is the parent of the cultivated teasel so widely used in raising the nap on various woolen cloths. The wild species have straight prickles on the heads and are therefore value less in cloth finishing; the cultivated teasel has the hooked prickles. The heads of the cultivated variety are fixed around a long cylinder, or roll, which is made to revolve against the surface of the cloth. The hooks of the prickles take hold as they turn and raise the nap. No mechanism has yet been devised that can take the place of the teasel bracts, with their combined rigidity and elasticity. They are strong enough to nap the cloth, but too weak to tear it. The leaves grow out from the teasel stem in such a way that they form little cups at their base. These collect dew and rain, the water serving to keep ants and other creeping creatures from reaching the flowers, in the same way that tin disks on hawsers keep rats from going between ships and docks. Each tiny floret on the teasel's head consists of a long tubular corolla made up of four petals grown together. The exposed parts of these petals are of pale lilac; the lower, almost hidden, parts are white. On the first day of the floret's life their four anthers show and shed pollen. On the second day these wither and the pistil comes to maturity. The spiky nature of the teasel's head pre vents insects from walking over it. Therefore they must dive head foremost into the tubes if they want the honey these have to offer. Thus they always carry pollen from the flowers with mature stamens to those with mature pistils. The teasel blossoms from July to September over a range that reaches from Maine and On tario to Virginia and the Mississippi River. It prefers roadsides and waste places. VENUS LOOKING-GLASS Specularia perfoliata (L.) A. DC. [Plate XIV, left] This member of the bluebell family has a wand-like stem that is sometimes too weak to stand alone, and is often found leaning on surrounding vegetation for support. It blos soms from May to August and grows almost everywhere, from upper Canada to middle Mexico, preferring waste places and dry woods. The late John Burroughs thus describes this flower: "A pretty and curious little weed, sometimes found growing in the edge of the garden, is the clasping Specularia, a relative of the harebell and of the European Venus looking-glass. Its leaves are shell-shaped, and clasp the stalk so as to form little, shallow cups. In the bottom of each cup three buds appear that never expand into flowers, but when the top of the stalk is reached, one, and sometimes two, buds open wide into a large, delicate, purple-blue corolla. All the first-born of this plant are still-born, as it were; only the latest, which spring from its summit, attain to perfect bloom." FERNLEAF FALSE-FOXGLOVE Aureolaria pedicularia (L.) Raf. [Plate XIV, middle] This bright member of the figwort family, growing from one to three feet tall and having lemon-colored, bell-shaped flowers an inch or more in diameter, would be worthy of cultiva tion if it were not a dangerous companion for the honest folk of the flower garden. In the biographies of the mistletoe (see THE GEo GRAPHIC for June, 1917) and the dodder (see page 59) we see how honest plants have de generated into vampires-blood-suckers that live not by their own toil, but by invading the vitals of other plants for sustenance. The false-foxgloves have only recently started on this downward path, but they have gone far enough to wrap their roots around those of other plants and steal their juices. Knowing their traits, no gardener will invite them into his garden, and they must therefore be content to live on the borders of dry woodlands and thickets in their natural range, which is from Maine west and south to Minnesota and Mis souri. BLUEBELL Campanula rotundifolia L. [Plate XIV, right] No flower in all Nature's garden has more of romance and interest clustering about it than the bluebell. What heart has not thrilled at the lore and legends of the bluebells of Scotland! And yet Scotland has no monopoly of them. They are at home throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, gladdening im partially the Asiatic regions of Europe, Asia, and America. In America they wander as far south as the Mason and Dixon Line in the East, to Arizona in the Rockies, and to Cali fornia in the Sierras.