Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/860

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thine, generally arises from the conversion of the chlorophyl. It occurs most frequently in the form of minute grains; sometimes also dissolved in the juice. Two anthoxanthines, therefore, must be distinguished in flowers—xanthine, which is not soluble in water, and xantheine, which is. The former dissolves with a gold-yellow color in alcohol and ether, is not affected by alkalies or dilute acids, but is colored green or deep indigo-blue by concentrated sulphuric acid. The soluble xantheine is by alkalies changed into brown. In the blue, violet, and red flowers (cornflower, hyacinth, violet, larkspur, sword-lily, rose, in the leaves of the red poppy, etc.), the pigment is found dissolved in the flower juice almost without an exception. The red pigment of the rose, dahlia, peony, and other flowers, as well as that of violet flowers, is, according to recent observations, only a blue colored into red (anthocyanogen), by vegetable acids or acid salts. This is plainly proved by the acid reaction of the juice of red flowers, and the occasionally feeble alkaline reaction of blue petals, as I have universally found, with only a few exceptions.

When contemplating the boundless diversity of the hues of flowers, the very natural question involuntarily arises within us: For whom does the flower blossom in the solitude? For whom does it bloom in all its lavish beauty? No human eye beholds it, and yet it is arrayed in a pomp of hues unsurpassable in the dreary solitude, regardless of human applause. Nevertheless, we must not accept the unnoticed wealth of these manifold hues as due to accident; there is nothing accidental or superfluous in creating Nature, although we fail to perceive its purposes; Nature never wastes its energies in aimless, purposeless productions. As the song of the bird ceases when its plumage is adorned with lustrous, pronounced colors, so also are the colors of the odorous flower found to be more modest when compared with the scentless one, dazzling in the gorgeous brightness of its hues. This well-known, generally correct fact must not be treated as unworthy of consideration or due to accident. The firm belief of a definite, well-arranged connection of all earthly occurrences is deeply implanted within our breast. A well-defined law governs the varied hues of flowers, as offered us by the munificence of Nature, and it will, ere long, be revealed unto the eye of the student.

The truth of the celebrated saying of Justus von Liebig, "The knowledge of Nature is the path that leads us to the admiration of the Creator," is also verified here in the soundless laboratory of the colors of flowers.—Westernmann's Monatshefte.