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1. South-east District, “Sides of the river Avon near Salisbury.” Dr. Maton. Bot. Guide. This plant has not been found for some years. Perhaps only the outcast of a garden, or possibly mistaken for the next species.
2. I. fulva (Nutt) American Balsam. Engl. Bot. Suppl. t. 2794. Mr. James Hussey informs me that this species has become quite naturalized by the river side about a quarter of a mile above Little Durnford, where it was first discovered by Mr. Edward Hinxman. Through the kindness of the former gentleman I have been favored with a specimen.
The elasticity of the capsule in this genus has been beautifully explained by Professor Lindley. “The tissue of the valves” says this excellent botanist “consists of cellules that gradually diminish in size from the outside to the inside, and the fluids of the external cellules are the densest. The latter gradually empty the inner cellules and distend themselves so that the external tissue is disposed to expand and the internal to contract whenever anything occurs to destroy the force that keeps them straight. This at last happens by the disarticulation of the valves, the peduncle, and the axis, and then each valve rapidly rolls inwards with a sudden spontaneous movement.”
M. Dutrochet proved that it was possible to invert this phenomenon by producing Exosmose, for that purpose he threw fresh valves of Impatiens into sugar and water which gradually emptied the external tissue, and after rendering the valves straight at length curved them backwards.
ORDER. OXALIDACEAE. (DE CAND.)
Name. An old Latin and Greek appellation derived from (ocus) sharp or sour. *
1. O. Acetosella (Linn.) Sour-Wood Sorrel, Sour Trefoil, Stubwort, the name (“Acetosella”) is a dimin. of Acetosa an old name of “Rumer Acetosa" the Sorrel Dock. Engl. Bot. t. 762. Reich. Icones, v. 199. Locality. In damp woods and shady places. P. F. May. Area, 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Found in all the Districts. Almost all our woods and thickets abound with this beautiful little plant, whose drooping white flowers, delicately veined with lilac, are finely contrasted with the neat bright green foliage which early in the spring spreads in verdant patches over the wrecks of the preceding autumn. The leaves are powerfully and gratefully acid, containing more or less of the Ovalie either in a pure state or in that of binoxalate of potash. This plant, says Gerarde, is called by herbalists Alleluja and Cuckoo's meat, because it springs forth and flowers with the singing of the Cuckoo, at which time Alleluja also was meant to be sung in churches. It is sometimes named Stubwort in Wiltshire, probably from its covering the ground among the stubs in coppices when they are cut down. Mr. Bicheno is of opinion that this plant was the ancient Shamrock of Ireland, of (typical it must be confessed of the delicacy and susceptibility temperament of its inhabitants,) and a few years since he read a very interesting paper before the Linnean Society, “On the plant intended by the Shamrock of Ireland,” in which he attempted to prove by botanical, historical, and etymological evidence, that the original plant was not the white clover which is now employed as the national emblem ; he stated that it would seem a condition at least suitable if not necessary to a national emblem that it should be something familiar to the people, and familiar too at that season when the national feast is celebrated. Thus the Welsh have given the Leek to St. David, being a favourite oleraceous herb and the only green thing they could find on the first of March, the Scotch on the other hand, whose feast is in autumn, have adopted the Thistle. The white clover is not fully expanded on St. Patrick’s day, and wild specimens of it could hardly be obtained at this season. Besides, it was probably, nay, almost certainly, a plant of uncommon occurrence in Ireland during its early history, having been introduced into that country in the middle of the seventeenth century, and made common by cultivation. Mr. Bicheno then referred to several old authors to prove that the Shamrock was eaten by the Irish, and to one that went over to Ireland in the sixteenth century, who says it was eaten, and was a sour plant. The name also of Shamrock is common to several Trefoils both in the Irish and Gaelic languages. Now clover could not have been eaten and it is not sour. Taking therefore all the conditions requisite they are only found in the Wood-Sorrel, “Ovalis acetosella.” It is an early spring plant, it was, and is abundant in Ireland, it is a trefoil, it is called Shamrog by the old herbalists, and it is sour, while its beauty might well entitle it to the distinction of being the national emblem. The substitution of one for the other has been occasioned by cultivation which made the Wood-Sorrel less plentiful, and the Dutch Clover abundant. *2. O. corniculata, (Linn.) yellow Wood-Sorrel. Engl. Bot. t. 1726. Reich. Icones, v. 199. Occasionally observed on waste ground about Boyton. An escape from the late Mr. Lambert's garden. *3. O. stricta, (Linn.) upright yellow Wood-Sorrel. Reich. Icones, v. 199. “In an alder-copse at Bromham,” Miss Meredith. Probably the outcast from some garden.
ORDER. CELASTRACEAE. (R. BROWN.) EUoNYMUs, (LINN.) SPINDLE-TREE. Linn. Cl. v. Ord. i. Name. (Euonymus) propitious: from (ei) well, and (onoma) a name, is used by Pliny and others for the Spindle-Tree. 1. E. Europaeus (Linn.) European or Common Spindle-Tree. Engl. Bot. t. 362. Reich. Icones, v. 309. Locality. Hedges, and borders of woods, on a gravelly soil. Sh. Fl. May. Area, 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. In all the Districts. The whole plant is factid and poisonous. The Rev. E. Simms informs me the “Euonymus ” occurs with white capsules about Whiteparish."
* Aubrey says “this tree is common, especially in North Wilts. The butchers doe make skewers of it because it doth not taint the meate, as other wood will doe: from whence it hath the name of prick-timber.” N. H. of W. p. 56.
ORDER. RHAMNACEAE. (JUSS.)
Name. Rhamnus (Gr.) a branch, from its numerous branches.
1. R. catharticus, (Linn.) cathartic Buckthorn. Engl. Bot. t. 1629.
Locality. Woods, hedges and thickets, especially on a chalky soil. Sh. Fl. May, June. Area, 1. * * 4. 5.
South Division. 1. South-east District, “Landford woods,” Mr. W. H. Hatcher. “Amesbury,” Dr. Southby."
4. North-west District, “Chippenham,” Dr. Alexander Prior. Common in hedges about Corsham and Slaughterford. “In a wood behind the Horse and Jockey,” Professor C. C. Babington. “Kingsdown woods,” Dr. Davis. “Hedges on Roundway,” Miss Meredith.
5. North-east District, “Woods at Great Bedwyn,” Mr. William Bartlett.
Rare in the “South Division” according to the above area of distribution. Extended observation will doubtless prove this species to be not uncommon in Districts 1. 2. and 3.
This shrub makes an excellent and handsome hedge-row, but it is seldom employed in this country from the preference given to whitethorn. Linneus is reported to have been very partial to it, and had it planted in front of his country residence at Hammerby, near Upsal. The juice of the berries made into a syrup was formerly much used medicinally. It is now seldom or never prescribed by regular practitioners.
* “Buckthorn very common in South Wiltshire. The apothecaries make great use of the berries, and the glovers use it, to colour their leather yellow.” (Aubrey's Nat. Hist. of Wiltshire, p. 56.)
oHOSE, who are accustomed to travel along the line of the o Great Western Railway, will remember a range of downs, which on the south skirts the vale beyond the Steventon station. Near the Shrivenham station is the White Horse Hill. A series of downs runs from east to west for 30 miles or more, covering a breadth of some 12 or 15 miles. These downs rise to a considerable height, and have a series of undulations and valleys, which diversify the face of the country and give it a varied character. The geologist, the architect, and the antiquary, have here full scope for their respective pursuits. The summit of the White Horse Hill is crowned by a regularly formed fortification, by some called the Camp of Alfred, by others considered a Roman encampment. Ashdown Park, the seat of Lord Craven, and the production of Inigo Jones, lies in the very heart of the downs, about three or four miles from Lambourn. On these wild expanses, unbroken by divisions of fields, undivided by roads, are scattered in some parts a profusion of Boulders, while other spaces close by are quite free from them. These masses of rocks sometimes contain three or four tons of stone each, but others are round and smaller. These are used by the farmers to form walls, and are broken in pieces for that purpose by having a fire lighted under them, so that they become quite hot; cold water is then thrown upon them, and they split and fall to pieces. In the times of the Early Britons, the Druids constructed of such blocks their Dolmens, the Cairns, the Triliths, the Cromlechs and Rocking-stones, which abound in this country, and are found as well in Gaul, Germany, and even Spain. These rude constructions owed their origin to such regions as this range of down, where