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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/420

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

region. Especially on Saturdays he made excursions among the sand-hills and savannas near the village (it was then), close up to whose borders the pine-forests reached, "abounding with a flora rich and novel to the enthusiastic young botanist." In a little more than two seasons he made collections of 1,031 species, equivalent to about one fourth of the phenogamous flora of the United States as then known; most of the plants having been found within about two miles' radius of Wilmington, with a number of maritime species discovered at Smithville and several from Rocky Point. The results of these studies were given to the public as an "Enumeration of Plants growing spontaneously around Wilmington, North Carolina, with Remarks on some New Obscure Species," which appeared in the "Boston Journal of Natural History," September, 3, 1834. Most of the first edition of the publication was burned; but it was reprinted, with additions and emendations. Dr. Gray mentions this work as one of the first in America in which the names are accented; and Dr. Darlington commended Mr. Curtis, even at this beginning of his scientific career, as a careful observer and sagacious botanist. At this time the literature of American botany consisted chiefly of florulas or local floras, of which the best known were those of New York, by Dr. Samuel L. Mitchel and Major John le Conte; Boston, by Dr. Jacob Bigelow; Washington, by Dr. J. A. Brereton; and Lexington, Ky., by Prof. C. W. Short. In North Carolina, Prof. Elisha Mitchell and the Rev. Dr. L. De Schweinitz had been studying the plants; Mr. H. B. Croom and Dr. H. Loomis printed a catalogue of plants found growing in the neighborhood of Newbern, at nearly the same time that Mr. Curtis's work saw the light; Dr. James F. McCree, Sr., was cultivating botany at Wilmington, and, the two having learned to co-operate with each other, added several species to the catalogue, thirty-four in notes and a number in the catalogue proper; Dr. Cyrus L. Hunter had prepared a list of plants found in Lincoln County; while the Rev. Dr. Bachman, Mr. H. W. Ravenel, and Mr. Leitner were looking after the plants near their homes in South Carolina and Georgia.

"If there is such a thing as a scientific instinct," says Dr. Wood, "Mr. Curtis possessed it. He was habitually accurate in his studies, and the results were early relied upon by his correspondents. Coming into a new field of botanical study, it was quite natural that he should have directed his attention to the very local Dionæa muscipula. Saturday after Saturday he would visit the savannas, and, lying at length upon the ground, would watch its peculiarities. The popular description which he gave of it in the 'Enumeration of Plants around Wilmington' has been repeated for the last fifty years, and shows how greatly he possessed the gift of accurate and entertaining description." Dr.