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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/793

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CALIFORNIAN DRY-WINTER FLOWERS.

its winter's wear. This species is covered with a villous pubescence, and this with the accumulation of dust rendered the inflorescence far from a brightly "painted cup." The flowers are, however, not small, as the specific term would suggest. They are well-nigh as large as those of C. coccinia, Spr., of the Middle States. Another member of the same family is the Scrophularia Californica, Cham., or California figwort. This was not abundant, and might be easily mistaken for the Linnæan species S. nodosa, L., of Europe and the Atlantic States. The western species may, however, be distinguished by the coarsely, doubly incised, or sometimes laciniated leaves, and by the sterile stamens being spatulate or pointed near the apex. Like the eastern species, this is a fine illustration of proterogyny in flowers fertilized by means of insects. The pistil first appears upon the lower lip of the flower. After the style has become flabby and reclined upon the corolla, the four stamens take its former place and shed their pollen upon the bodies of nectar seeking insects.

A "four-o'clock," one of the three species within the Golden State, namely, Mirabilis Californica, Gray, was found, with its viscid pubescent, thickish, almost sessile leaves coated with dust, while the small rose-purple flowers were in striking contrast with their surroundings. We found this one of the most difficult of all species to prepare for the herbarium. After weeks of drying, the viscid covering would still remain. At least two species of nettles were found in bloom, but as far as showiness goes they might as well have been in fruit! Around Los Angeles there is a very coarse, tall species (Urtica Breweri, Wat.), which reaches above a person's head, and is loaded with the green panicles of flowers. The leaves are frequently six inches long and finely pubescent. The stems are hispid, and the stinging hairs produce a burning sensation upon the flesh that is akin to numbness, which lasts for several days. One of the ancient natives, observing the writer among these much-dreaded plants, volunteered the information that they were worthless and much to be avoided. He could see no reason why any one would deliberately handle such vile things. The small, slender, stinging nettle of Europe (Urtica urens L.) was also in bloom.

Among the Compositæ we note Centaurea militensis, L., or star-thistle, with its heads armed with a spinose involucre, which includes the pink flowers. This is one of the miserable weeds of waste places that has effected an entrance from the Old World. The Gnaphalium margaritaceum of Linnæus, now placed in the genus Anaphalis, D. C, with its white, woolly, leafy stems, and pearly, scaly involucres, was frequently met with, and sustained its old-time reputation for being one of the beautiful "everlastings." The most showy of all the herbaceous composites was the Solidago Californica, Nutt., which is a strict-stemmed plant, about three feet high, with lanceolate entire leaves, and a pyramidal panicle of racemose beads of yellow flowers. This is the Californian representative of S. nemoralis, Ait. The