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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/508

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

false Solomon's seal, the yellow bellflower, the Dutchman's Beinkleider and many other common American plants are similarly illustrated in this quaint old volume.

The early days are famous for certain quaint and interesting collectors of curios brought in by sea-captains and other early sailors from the four corners of the earth. Among these old-time naturalists were Petiver and Plukenet, who filled huge folios with miscellaneous illustrations of plants and animals from all over the world.

We reproduce here a single plate from the latter which is just now interesting because it figures a fern peculiar to the caves of Bermuda, and named from that circumstance (Polypodium speluncæ L.), but one which jugglers of the past generation of botanists have placed outside its proper species, genus and even tribe, and have attributed to nearly all parts of the tropical world except, alas, the very island from which it originally came! We should mention in this connection the ‘Natural History of Jamaica,’ by Sir Hans Sloane, whose plates are typified by his Jamaica herbarium over two hundred years old, but still in a splendid state of preservation at the British Museum; and also the work of Charles Plumier, who laid the foundations of West Indian botany as early as 1703, and whose works are of vital importance to-day in our study of the flora of our tropical islands. Later on Mark Catesby explored the Bahamas and Carolina and published with elaborate folio plates many of the characteristic plants and animals of those little explored regions.

The conception of a plant genus as a coherent group of species apparently became crystallized by Tournefort, who published his Institutiones in 1700; in this work he gave many illustrations accompanied by descriptive text in this first genera plantarum. Tournefort, like many modern botanists, knew mainly the higher plants, and it was reserved for Micheli (1729) to open the eyes of his fellow students to the genera of fungi, hepatics and lichens, and to Dillen (1744) to give us a foundation for the study of the mosses and the lycopodiums. The plates of Dillen's Historia Muscorum show what he knew about mosses with a hand lens a hundred and sixty-three years ago, and we give a sample plate from Micheli showing the symmetric rows of slime molds of the genera Stemonitis and Arcyria of modern botanical jargon. When the next generation, less hurried and temporizing than the present, comes to take up the question of plant nomenclature in a really rational fashion, these names of Tournefort and Micheli will be restored to their rightful place in a system that makes priority of publication its corner stone!

All this vast array of early botanical literature, ranging from ponderous folios with plates, often colored by hand, down to miniature Elzevir editions, with typography that puts the modern imitations to