Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/818

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
794
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

world is filled with untold billions of leaves, no two of which are exactly alike. "It is undoubtedly the fact that we do not fully appreciate either the beauty or the usefulness of trees; but after

PSM V49 D818 Catalpa leaf.jpg
Fig. 2.—Catalpa Leaf.

we have become really familiar with them, and have learned readily to distinguish the different species, we find ourselves in a new world of absorbing interest, in which beauty and use have expanded to proportions far beyond our previous conceptions."

Many pleasant and profitable lessons can be learned from Mr. Mathews's two hundred and odd sketches of leaves taken from Nature, with their accompanying brief descriptions. The single lesson to which we would here call attention is the variety in the forms of leaves. The purpose and condition of the life of the tree are revealed in no small measure by its leaves.

The needle of the pine enables the tree to withstand a hurricane on a mountain top, yet its slender figure is perfectly adapted to the task of gathering light and air for the tree's life.

Not less plainly does the diversity of character in a leaf reveal the diversity of tree life itself. No two leaves are exactly alike;