National Geographic : 1917 Jun
ened, or of causing the body to jump at a sud den noise. The pasque flower of South Dakota is a speaking likeness of an English variety, if in deed it is not the direct descendant of that flower. There is a tradition that the plant first arose out of the blood of the Danes who were killed on the field of battle in the stormy days of Britain's early history, and many people call it the "Danesblood." Opinions differ as to how it came by its name of pasque flower. Some say that before the Gregorian revision of the calendar it was the most abundant flower at Eastertide; hence its name. Others declare that a dye for coloring Easter eggs was ob tained from it. Be that as it may, the pasque flower itself brings delight to the prairies even before the last winter winds have roared their farewell. THE OREGON GRAPE (Berberis aquifolium Pursh) The Oregon grape is one of the State flowers which has the prestige of legal status behind its queenship. It belongs to the barberry fam ily, other members of which are the twin-leaf, the blue cohosh, and the May apple. Between its dainty blossoms of early summer and its bright purple berries of late fall, it wins ad miration wherever it grows. It lives close to the ground and is not a climber like the ordi nary American wild grape. But no fruit of field or forest ever made a more delicious jelly than that of this handsome shrub of the West. Though the berries resemble the huckleberry, the foliage looks like that of the holly, and the wood inclines to a yellow-cast red. Its range is wide, extending as far east as Nebraska, as far south as Arizona, and as far north as British Columbia (see page 515). It is one of the strange things about nature that so many of its creatures are unable to perpetuate their species without a periodic change of environment. For instance, the germ of yellow fever dies and disappears where it cannot spend part of its time in the human body and part in the stomach of a stegomia mosquito. Likewise, cedar rust be comes extinct if it cannot live one year on an apple tree and the next on a cedar tree. In the case of one species of wheat rust the bar berry is necessary to its continued hold on life. This rust cannot live without changing hosts periodically. But the Oregon grape is wiser than some of its immediate kinsfolk. It has a preference for situations where the communication of rust spores to it from wheat and from it to wheat is not quite so readily accomplished. It is found most abundant and beautiful on the foothills and mountain slopes deep in Oregon's lumber lands. THE INDIAN PAINTBRUSH (Castilleja linariaefolia Benth.) Some years ago the school children of Wy oming, feeling that their State ought to have a duly chosen queen of the flowers, undertook to elect one. They chose the dainty and uni versally admired fringed gentian. But while no flower is more beautiful, many people in Wyoming thought there were others more rep resentative and typical of their State. This feeling culminated in legislative action in 1917, with the result that beautiful Queen Gentian had to abandon her throne to the narrow leaved Indian paintbrush (see page 515). The paintbrush belongs to the figwort family, which includes a great host of beauties. Some of its cousins are the mullens, the toadflaxes, the snap-dragons, the turtle-heads, the beard tongues, the monkey flowers, the speedwells, the foxgloves, and the eye-brights. Closest of kin are the painted cups, an attractive group of posies. Most of the Castilleja tribe are inclined to be parasitic in their habits. Instead of sending out rootlets themselves in order to absorb the plant food and moisture that Nature provides, some of them send their roots down into those of other plants and feast all summer long. Like the lily, they toil not, neither do they spin; but if Solomon was ever in all his glory arrayed as they are, that fact was overlooked by the historians of his day. Wyoming's flower, while not possessed of the deep hue characteristic of the Castilleja tribe-declared by one of our leading botanists to be "the brightest spot of red the wild palette can show"-makes up in delicacy what it lacks in intensity. The blossom is light red, with touches of soft yellow and hints of salmon pink. No traveler in the Rocky Mountains, the High Sierras, or the sagebrush regions of the Great Basin can forget the paintbrushes. Where they dwell among the blue lupines, the yellow mimulus, and other bright blossoms, they perfect a combination of hues that trans forms the veriest riot of color into an orderly aggregation of polychromatic beauty. RHODODENDRON (Rhododendron maximum Michx.) The superb beauty of the rhododendron has won for it universal admiration and the dis tinction of being the flower of two States. The legislature of West Virginia and the State organization of women's clubs in Washington have elevated it above all other floral rivals in their communities. The chosen variety of West Virginia is Rhododendron maximum, while that of Washington is Rhododendron californicum, also called the California rose bay. The latter is the most splendid of western shrubs. Both kinds are of the heath family, cousins of the mountain laurel, and have deli cate, waxen blossoms tinted like the "rosy fingered dawn," with upper petals flecked with golden and greenish spots (see page 516). A true artist in selecting its background, the rhododendron not only surrounds its exquisite blossoms with smooth, rich green leaves which set them off effectively, but also makes its home commonly on moist, forested mountainsides, where the gloomy greens and browns of dark rocks and lofty trees contrast with its dainty pink and white ruffles.