« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
But gems of every form and hue
Man to his brother shuts his heart,
Oh, art is but a scanty rill
Crocus officinalis sativus. Common, or
autumnal Saffron. Triandria Monogynia.
Blossom with six equal divisions. Summits coiled.
Sheath one valve, rising from the root. Tube of the blos
som very long. Summit in three deep strap-shaped segments hanging out of the blossom.-Withering.
The crocus, though a wild flower, is allowed a place in our most highly-cultivated gardens. It has some peculiarities of formation, which render it particularly worth the attention of such of our young readers as have never yet explored the secret treasure-chambers of this little plant, where so much is laid up in store for future use. An acute and ingenious writer has named the crocus as an instance of what he terms the compensatory system of nature: in other words, of that abundant supply for the wants of every created thing, which the great Author of nature has provided, even in cases which at first sight appear the most unfavourable. “I have pitied this poor plant a thousand times,” says Paley: “its blossom rises out of the ground in the most forlorn con
dition possible; without a sheath, a fence, a calyx, or even a leaf to protect it; and that not in the spring, not to be visited by summer suns, but under all the disadvantages of the declining year. When we come, however, to look more closely into the structure of this plant, we find that, instead of its being neglected, nature has gone out of her course to provide for its security, and to make up for all its defects. The seed-vessel, which in other plants is situated within the cup of the flower, or just beneath it, in this plant lies buried ten or twelve inches under ground, within the bulbous root. The tube of the flower, which is seldom more than a few tenths of an inch long, in this plant extends down to the root. The stiles in all cases reach the seed-vessel; but it is in this by an elongation unknown to any other plant. All these singularities contribute to one end. As this plant blossoms late in the year, and probably would not have time to ripen its seeds before the access of winter, which would destroy them, Providence has contrived its structure such, that this important office may be performed at a depth in the earth out of reach of the usual effects of frost. But then a new difficulty presents itself. Seeds, though perfected, are known not to vegetate at this depth in the earth. Our seeds, therefore, though so safely lodged, would, after all, be lost to the purpose for which all seeds are intended. Lest this should be the case, a second admirable provision is made, to raise them above the surface when they are perfected, and to sow them at a proper distance: viz. the germ grows up in the spring upon a fruit-stalk, accompanied with leaves. The seeds now, in common with those of other plants, have the benefit of the summer, and are sown upon the surface. The order of vegetation externally is this. The plant produces its flowers in September; its leaves and fruit in the spring following."
Another intelligent writer, Gilbert White, author of the “ Natural History of Selborne," after remarking on the singularity of the vernal and the autumnal crocus opening their blossoms at such different seasons of the year, notwithstanding the great similarity in the general character and appearance of the flowers, thus concludes his observations:
“ Say what impels, amid surrounding snow
Congeal'd, the Crocus' flamy buds to glow?