Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/232

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
228
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

as indispensable to the field student of these plants as the trowel or drying press, and the data used by whoever may succeed in adequately monographing the agaves will necessarily include habit pictures and full-size details, photographed on the spot.

Anything which takes one into the pure air and bright sunshine of the mountains brings in the enjoyment of these a full compensation for the inseparable hardships of travel in a sparsely settled country where the comforts of life are not to be looked for outside of the larger cities, and where one frequently goes to bed literally with the chickens or is stabled in the barnyard.

The agaves are preeminently plants of rocky places. Some of them delight in hanging from the sides of cliffs which are all but inaccessible. Others grow in the middle of the great fields of broken ragged lava to which the Mexicans have applied the expressive name 'malpays' or bad lands. Collecting under such conditions is scarcely capable of description without the unimpeachable evidence of the phonograph, which is not yet generally recognized as a necessary part of the botanist's equipment. I regret that while I have been able to show pictures giving some idea of the obstacles to travel in the barrancas and lava beds, of the altogether tantalizing places in which choice plants are seen, and of the difficulties attending the transportation of those that can be reached, I have no phonographic record fit for public demonstration.

PSM V70 D232 Where choice plants are seen.png

Fig. 22. Where Choice Plants are seen.