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Page:Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Volume 73 (1847).djvu/18

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of Bolivia; perhaps the very spot where it was first found by Haenke, and afterwards by D'Orbigny. Seeing, indeed, that V. regia has been detected in Bolivia (Rio Mamoré), in the Amazons; in Berbice and in Corrientes (Paranà) rivers; the first


    rowed amongst magnificent leaves and flowers, crushing unavoidably some, and selecting only such as pleased me. The leaves being so enormous I could find room in the canoe for but two, one before me and the other behind; owing to their being very fragile, even in the green state, care was necessary to transport them; and thus we had to make several trips in the canoe before I obtained the number required. Having loaded myself with leaves, flowers, and ripe seed-vessels, I next mused how they were to be conveyed in safety; and determined at length upon suspending them on long poles with small cord, tied to the stalks of the leaves and flowers. Two Indians, each taking on his shoulder an end of the pole, carried them into the town; the poor creatures wondering all the while what could induce me to be at so much trouble to get at flowers, and for what purpose I destined them now they were in my possession.
    "This splendid plant has, undoubtedly, a very extensive geographical range; the town of Santa Anna is situated between the 13th and 14th parallels of south latitude, which I consider about its most southern limit, because I sought in vain for it farther south, in the department of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. May we not justly suppose that it is also found as far north of the Equator? thus occupying about 28° of northern and southern latitude. Dr. Weddel, the botanist of the French expedition across the American Continent, informed me that he had found it about the same latitude in Brazil. It occupies, without doubt, many of those immense lakes lying between the rivers Mamoré, Beni and the Amazons; that central part of the Continent, yet but little known. The Indians are well acquainted with the plant; the Moimas or natives of Santa Anna call it in their language "Morinqua"; and the neighbouring nation, the Cayababas, natives of the town of Exaltacion, know it under the name of "Dachocho." The leaves are round, varying considerably in size, the largest about four feet in diameter. They float on the surface of the water; the colour is a very light green, in age inclining to yellow, some of them even when young possess a yellow hue. The margins of the leaf are turned upwards, giving the leaf a singular appearance, somewhat like a floating dish; this margin and the under surface of the leaf are of a dark brown colour, while the part under water often assumes a purple tinge. The costæ are of the same colour. The spines incline to the interior of the leaf, and in some leaves are nearly white.
    "The Victoria grows in 4-6 feet of water, producing leaves and flowers, which rapidly decay and give place to others. From each plant there are seldom more than four or five leaves on the surface, but even these in parts of the lake where the plants were numerous, almost covered the surface of the water, one leaf touching the other. I observed a beautiful aquatic bird, (Parra sp.?) walk with much ease from leaf to leaf, and many of the Muscicapidæ find food and a resting-place on them. The plant occupies almost exclusively the water, with the exception of a few floating aquatics of small dimensions, amongst which I saw a beautiful Utricularia.
    "The blossoms rise six and eight inches above the surface, expanding first in the evening, when they are pure white; changing finally (and by exposure to the sun) to a most beautiful pink or rose colour, flowers may be seen, at the same time, partaking of every tinge between the two hues, the recently expanded being pure white and the adult rosy, almost sinking under water to ripen its seed and produce a new race of plants when required. The largest flowers I saw measured from ten inches to one foot in diameter.