Page:British Flowering Plants.djvu/47

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Columbine, a pretty drooping blue flower, not uncommon in woods; the Larkspur, an upright plant with a flower much resembling Monkshood, but of a brighter blue; and the Pseony, which is naturalised on an island in the Severn, but which is really a South European plant.

Order II. Berberidaceæ (2 genera)

This is a small family, comprising shrubs the flowers of which have petals and sepals opposite to each other, variable in number, and one 1-celled ovary. There are only two British species, neither of which is perhaps truly indigenous. Of these the best known is the Barberry ('Berberis vulgaris), which is an ornamental shrub with oval dentated leaves, drooping clusters of yellow flowers (with 6 sepals, petals, and stamens), which emit an unpleasant odour, and smooth, glossy oval or curved fruit, of a bright scarlet, a quarter of an inch in length, and about three times as long as broad. The berries are intensely acid, but when tied in small clusters and boiled in syrup make a very nice preserve. The tree is set with strong trifid spines. The flowers are remarkable for their peculiar irritability. If one of the stamens is moved or touched with a needle at the base, it suddenly bends over on the pistil, resuming its erect position after a short time, thus ensuring the fertilisation of the seeds. A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and bark of the Barberry. The Corn Mildew (Puccinia graminis), which attacks corn and grain, passes through an alternate stage on the leaves of the Barberry, from whence the spores are again transferred to grass or corn. The Barberry is common in hedges in many parts of the British Islands, and is a very favourite plant in shrubberies.

Barren wort—Epimedium alpinum

(Plate VI)

This plant is a native of the Eastern Alps, but is occasionally found half-naturalised in Britain. The root is perennial, creeping, and the stalk is clothed with brown scales towards the base. The