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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/794

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

golden-rods on the Pacific coast are few in number, less than one tenth of the United States species being represented in California. The most striking composite is the Senecio scandena, L., or German ivy, which in many places has escaped from cultivation and grows rampant in the low grounds, where it climbs to the tops of medium-sized trees, and embowers them in a perfect profusion of bright-yellow blossoms. A few specimens of a helianthus, probably H. Californicus, D. C, were found, but a dry winter is not favorable for the sunflowers, especially the annual sorts.

Only one species of the Cucurbitacæe was in bloom—namely, Megarrhiza Californica, Torr. This was running over the dry soil like an aristocratic cucumber-vine, with its white male flowers in slender racemes, while here and there a forming fruit exhibited its green covering of sharp, stout spines. We were anxious to secure some of the large seeds to illustrate the remarkable manner in which the cotyledons find their way to the surface of the soil in germination, but were unsuccessful. This "big root," as its generic term indicates, is probably able to obtain more moisture than most other plants growing in similar situations, and which do not strike their roots so deeply into the soil or utilize them as storehouses for accumulated nourishment. This megarrhiza is exceedingly provident, and is, therefore, able to grow where shallow plants succumb to the drought. In the same soil flourished the Lupinus rivularis, Doug., and the Californian peony (Pæonia Breweri, Doug.). The lupine is a short-stemmed plant, bearing large, palmately compound leaves of seven to ten leaflets, and terminating in a raceme often two feet long, bearing a large number of beautiful purple flowers. The peony is a ternately compound-leaved perennial, with but a few large blossoms, which assert at sight the close alliance of this species with the peonies of the garden. These last three species were objects of rejoicing as the eye wandered over the otherwise almost flowerless tracts in the broad, bowlder-scattered canon. Not far from the above locality it was a surprise to run upon Nicotiana tabacum, L., our common tobacco, growing wild and in full bloom. These plants had escaped from some Mexican garden, or perhaps the old garden had escaped from the slack and profitless culture of the Mexican.

The species that seemed the most at home of all the dust-bloomers was the old vervain (Verbena officinalis, L.) of Europe. This species grows in nearly all parts of the globe, and is very likely naturalized in many countries, including California. From out of the heavy covering of dust which is held by the minute pubescence, the purple corollas are spread along the lengthy spikes. Nearly all of the specimens have the older spikes much swollen and otherwise distorted by infesting insects.

Phacelia is a large genus in California, numbering thirty-five species. A few of these members of the order Hydrophyllaceæ were in bloom, among which the P. ramosissima, Doug., was the most common. It would seem as if earth could not get too dry for this