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N a district so diversified with such a
variety of hill and dale, aspects, and soils, it is no wonder that great choice of plants
should be found. Chalks, clays, sands, sheep walks and downs, bogs, heaths, woodlands, and champaign fields, cannot but furnish an ample Flora. The deep rocky lanes abound with filices, and the pastures and moist woods with fungi. If in any branch of botany we may seem to be wanting, it must be in the large aquatic plants, which are not to be expected on a spot far removed from rivers, and lying up amidst the hill country at the spring heads. To enumerate all the plants that have been discovered within our limits would be a needless work; but a short list of the more rare, and the spots where they are to be found, may be neither unacceptable nor unentertaining :
Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus fætidus), Bear's foot, or Setterwort, all over the High-wood and Coney-croft-hanger; this continues a great branching plant the winter through, blossoming about January, and is very ornamental in shady walks and shrubberies. The good women give the leaves powdered to children troubled with worms; but it is a violent remedy, and ought to be administered with caution.
Green Hellebore (Helleborus viridis), in the deep stony lane on the left hand just before the turning to Norton farm, and at the top of Middle Dorton under the hedge; this plant dies down to the ground early in autumn, and springs again about February, flowering almost as soon as it appears above ground.
Creeping Bilberry, or Cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccos), in the bogs of Bin's-pond.
Whortle, or Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus), on the dry hillocks of Wolmer forest.
Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundiflora), and Longleaved Sundew (Drosera longifolia), in the bogs of Bin’spond.
Purple Comarum (Comarum palustre), or Marsh Cinquefoil, in the bogs of Bin's-pond.
Tustan, or St. John's Wort (Hypericum androsæmum), in the stony, hollow lanes.
Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor), in Selborne-hanger and Shrub-wood.
Yellow Monotropa (Monotropa hypopithys), or Bird's nest, in Selborne-hanger under the shady beeches, to whose roots it seems to be parasitical, at the north-west end of the Hanger.
Perfoliated Yellow-wort (Chlora perfoliata, Blackstonia perfoliata, Hudsonii), on the banks in the King's-field.
Herh Paris (Paris quadrifolia), True-love, or One-berry, in the Church-litten-coppice,
Opposite Golden Saxifrage(Chrysosplenium oppositifolium), in the dark and rocky hollow lanes.
Autumnal Gentian (Gentiana amarella), or Fellwort, on the Zig-zag and Hanger.
Tooth-wort (Lathræa squammaria), in the Church-littencoppice under some hazels near the foot-bridge, in Trimming's garden hedge, and on the dry wall opposite Grangeyard.
Small Teasel (Dipsacus pilosus), in the Short and Long Lith.
Narrow-leaved, or Wild Lathyrus (Lathyrus sylvestris), in the bushes at the foot of the Short Lith, near the path.
Ladies Traces (Ophrys spiralis), in the Long Lith, and towards the south corner of the common.
Birds' Nest Ophrys (Ophrys nidus avis), in the Long Lith, under the shady beeches among the dead leaves ; in Great Dorton among the bushes, and on the Hanger plentifully.
Helleborine (Serapias latifolia), in the High-wood under the shady beeches.
Spurge Laurel (Daphne laureola), in Selborne Hanger and the High-wood.
The Mezereon (Daphne mezereum), in Selborne Hanger among the shrubs at the south-east end above the cottages. Truffles(Lycoperdon tuber), in the Hanger and High-wood.
Dwarf Elder, Walwort or Danewort (Sambucus ebulus), among the rubbish and ruined foundations of the Priory.
Of all the propensities of plants none seem more strange than their different periods of blossoming, Some produce their flowers in the winter, or very first dawnings of spring; many when the spring is established; some at midsummer, and some not till autumn, When we see the helleborus fætidus and helleborus niger blowing at Christmas, the helleborus hyemalis in January, and the helleborus viridis as soon as ever it emerges out of the ground, we do not wonder, because they are kindred plants that we expect should keep pace the one with the other. But other congenerous vegetables differ so widely in their time of flowering, that we cannot but admire. I shall only instance at present in the crocus sativus, the vernal, and the autumnal crocus, which have such an affinity, that the best botanists only make them varieties of the same genus, of which there is only one species ;* not being able to discern any difference in the corolla, or in the internal structure. Yet the vernal crocus expands its flowers by the beginning of March at farthest, and often even in very rigorous weather; they cannot be retarded but by some violence offered :—while the autumnal (the Saffron) defies the influence of the spring and summer, and will not blow_till most plants begin to fade and run to seed. This circumstance is one of the wonders of the creation, little noticed, because a common occurrence : yet it ought not to be over
Botanists now find upwards of thirty species of this genus, of which four are indigenous to our island.-Ed.
looked because it is familiar, since it would be as difficult to be explained as the most stupendous phænomenon in nature.
“Say, what impels, amidst surrounding snow
Or to each lingering bloom enjoins delay.”
TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.
“Omnibus animalibus reliquis certus et uniusmodi, et in suo cuique genere incessus est: aves solæ vario meatu feruntur, et in terrâ, et in aëre.”—Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. x. cap. 38.
“All animals have a certain definite and peculiar gait; birds alone more in a varied manner both on the ground and in the air."
GOOD ornithologist should be able to distinguish birds by their air as well as by their colours and shape; on the ground
as well as on the wing, and in the bush as well as in the hand. For, though it must not be said that every species birds has a manner peculiar to itself, yet there is somewhat in most genera at least, that at first sight discriminates them, and enables a judicious observer to pronounce upon them with some certainty.* Put a bird in motion and it is truly betrayed by its gait.”
Et vera incessu patuit Thus kites and buzzards sail round in circles with wings expanded and motionless; and it is from their
* The shepherd can distinguish each individual sheep, and no doubt every individual bird can be distinguished by a very acute observer.-Ed.