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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/817

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LEAVES.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LEAVES.
By F. SCHUYLER MATHEWS.

WHILE we admire and enjoy the greenness and the general effect of foliage, and regard the forms of single trees if they are particularly graceful or otherwise peculiar in shape, we seldom give special attention to individual leaves, but are rather inclined to neglect them as common and trivial. Yet, as Mr. F. Schuyler Mathews[1] well says, while they may be common, "they are far from commonplace. If we doubt this, let us try to draw or paint a single leaf. Only a great artist can depict all of some one of its manifold truths; one may draw ever so carefully and

PSM V49 D817 White pine leaf.jpg
Fig. 1.—White Pine, Leaf at A.

well, yet he can not tell with the pencil or the brush all the truth and beauty of one leaf. Its color is too waxen and pure to be imitated by earthy pigments; its outline is too subtile, its teeth are too finely and vigorously formed, and its veins are too infinitely complex for one to copy with absolute, lifelike accuracy. No, it is not possible to portray all the beauty of a leaf with the pencil. Yet this work of Nature's wonderful art is common: the


  1. Familiar Trees and their Leaves. By F. Schuyler Mathews. With an Introduction by Prof. L. H. Bailey. Published by D. Appleton & Co.