Page:British Flowering Plants.djvu/15

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Botany is the Science of Plants; and the series of plants inhabiting any particular country is often called the Flora of that country, after Flora, the Roman Goddess of Flowers.

A considerable number of plants are found growing wild in the British Islands, and many others have been introduced into gardens, and have then run wild, and become naturalised; while foreign trees have been planted in woods or shrubberies. Many plants, again, especially weeds, are liable to be introduced by accident, as when their seeds are mixed with seed corn. So that it does not follow that every plant found growing apparently wild is truly indigenous.

On the other hand, building, drainage, enclosure, cultivation, clearing, weeding, etc., greatly tend to reduce the number of species of our wild plants. Nor is this the case in Britain only. I was once walking along a country road in Germany with an artist friend, and we saw a man cutting down the wild flowers that bordered the path. We asked what he was doing this for, and he answered, "to beautify the road." The much greater interest now taken in natural objects likewise contributes towards the extermination of our more conspicuous wild flowers. It is, therefore, by no means superfluous to advise that in gathering wild flowers (especially if only for a temporary purpose, such as decorations or a nosegay), very few of the same kind should be taken unless they are plentiful; and this applies still more to roots than to flowers. Reasonable care should accompany interest, or we are liable only to destroy what we admire. This is equally true abroad. Even in Switzerland, where wild flowers are far more plentiful and varied than with us, complaints are made that the rarer species are