National Geographic : 1916 Jun
COMMON AMERICAN WILD FLOWERS In this number, pages 591 to 606, the GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, at very great expense, prints another series of colored pictures of Common American Wild Flowers. These exquisite paintings, as well as the subjects of the previous series, were drawn from life by Mary E. Eaton, of the New York Botanical Garden, the able director of which, Dr. N. L. Britton, has cordially cooperated in their preparation. In future numbers the GEOGRAPHIC will present additionalpaintings of native wild flowers. No out-of-door interest brings to old and young richer returns in entertain ment and instruction than is found in making the acquaintance of our wild flowers. Many of these, such as the daisy, mullen, aster, blue-flag, etc., are so plentiful that they may be picked at will; but there are others-for instance, the May-apple, spring beauty, lupines, lady's-slipper, etc. - which may become as rare as the trailing arbutus unless every one unites to preserve them. So it is to be hoped that the city dwellers who on their automobile excursions thoughtlessly cut and bring back great branches of dogwood and baskets laden with our rarer wood flowers will soon realize that, unless their plucking be tempered with judgment, the suburbs of all our cities will in the not-distant future be bereft of many of these flower treasures. FORGET-ME-NOT (Myosotis scorpioides L.) (See page 591) The forget-me-not is a delightful immigrant belonging to that numerous family which in cludes the Virginia cowslip, hound's tongue, and comfrey. The flowering season of this plant is from May to July. It came to us from Europe and Asia, and' is now spreading from Nova Scotia southward along the Atlantic coast. It was led into captivity many centuries ago. As far back as we are able to trace flower history it held an honored place in the flower garden, and when America was settled, it was brought along to cheer the settler's austere life, and to remind him of the old roof-tree across the billowy sea. The forget-me-not likes to play hookey from the flower garden, and to steal down to the brookside and meadow and live within ear shot of the gurgling stream. With all that man has done for it, he has never bred out of it the spirit of independence that has been lost by most of the other flowers of the garden, for whenever opportunity affords, the forget-me not yields to the call of the wild. Have you ever noticed the little golden circle around the center of the flower? That little circle is put there by the flower as a honey guide, to tell the bee just where to insert her tongue to get the richest draught of nectar, and at the same time to touch both anther and stigma and thus fertilize the plant. And if you will watch the bees, you will discover that they are as careful to follow this signboard pointing to the well of nectar as a motoring tourist is to follow the signboard to the best hotel when night overtakes him. There are many legends concerning the for get-me-not. Tennyson once wrote that it grows for happy lovers. Another writer tells us that once upon a time a young lover, trying to gather a bunch of these lovely blossoms for his sweetheart, slipped into the water and, as he was sinking, tossed the flowers to her and asked her to keep them and not to forget him. VIRGINIA CREEPER (Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Planchon) (See page 592) The Virginia creeper is a member of the grape family, cousin alike to the sour frost grape of the woods and the luscious Concord of the vineyard. It has been called the false grape, although it is too fair a plant thus to be slandered by a name. No lover of the wood land will ever be made to believe that the Vir ginia creeper essays a role to which it is not entitled. Some people mistakenly call it the woodbine, but that name more properly belongs to another plant of the honeysuckle family. Many people confuse the Virginia creeper with the rascally poison ivy, a confusion which nothing but carelessness in remembering the characteristics of plants could bring about; for the Virginia creeper is careful always to put forth five leaves where the poison ivy has only three (compare pages 592 and 593). This graceful climber has traveled as far north as Newfoundland, as far south as Cuba, and as far west as the western part of the Mississippi Valley. It lives true to its name, creeping on and on, securing a new foothold here and another there, sending out its tendrils as it grows. When one of these succeeds in arranging its branches so that they can press upon any sur face, its curved tips swell and become bright red. On their undersides they form little disks or cushions, which attach themselves to the surface and afford a new foothold for the vine.