Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/416

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

squat, and wingless. Thus does the plant make the best of all chances that may happen to open before it; if one lot goes far and fares but ill, the other is pretty sure to score a bull's-eye.

These are only a few selected examples of the infinite dodges employed by enlightened herbs and shrubs to propagate their scions in foreign parts. Many more, equally interesting, must be left undescribed. Only for a single case more can I still find room—that of the subterranean clover, which has been driven by its numerous enemies to take refuge at last in a very remarkable and almost unique mode of protecting its offspring. This particular kind of clover affects smooth and close-cropped hillsides, where the sheep nibble down the grass and other herbage almost as fast as it springs up again. Now, clover seeds resemble their allies of the pea and bean tribe in being exceedingly rich in starch and other valuable foodstuffs. Hence, they are much sought after by the inquiring sheep, which eat them off wherever found, as exceptionally nutritious and dainty morsels. Under these circumstances, the subterranean clover has learned to produce small heads of bloom, pressed close to the ground, in which only the outer flowers are perfect and fertile, while the inner ones are transformed into tiny, wriggling corkscrews. As soon as the fertile flowers have begun to set their seed, by the kind aid of the bees, the whole stem bends downward, automatically, of its own accord; the little cork-screws then worm their way into the turf beneath; and the pods ripen and mature in the actual soil itself, where no prying ewe can poke an inquisitive nose to grub them up and devour them. Cases like this point in certain ways to the absolute high-watermark of vegetable ingenuity: they go nearest of all in the plant-world to the similitude of conscious animal intelligence.—Cornhill Magazine.



GEORGE CATLIN'S work was not directly scientific, but rather artistic. It was inspired, nevertheless, by a scientific motive; and it has resulted in leaving to the world the fullest and most various records that it has, in picture and written description, of the aboriginal tribes of both Americas, as they were before their customs and ideas were modified by civilization, or they were contaminated by white influences—a most precious collection of original material for future anthropologists to study.

George Catlin was born in Wilkesbarre, Pa., July 26, 1796, and died in Jersey City, K J., December 23, 1872. He was descended from a family who "came over with the Conqueror," his ancestor of that period having been recorded in Domesday Book as possessing in 1087 two knights' fees of land in Kent. The Cat-