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28 PREVENTION OR MITIGATION OF DROUGHTS IN AUSTRALIA.
aided us in understanding the subject by issuing one or more volumes, and there are few eminent botanists who have not given us the benefit of their experience in this branch of study. The success which the Ferns achieved was the greatest triumph of flowerless plants over flowers ever recorded. It was the commencement of a rage for fine foliage plants, as gardeners call them, of that phyllomania now spreading through the length and breadth of Europe. All plants with variegated leaves became much sought after. A species which would not be looked at if preserving the natural green of its foliage, became at once an object of interest if labouring under a kind of albinism so as to make it appear mottled. But white and green was not enough to cause variety; the eye wanted more; and during the last few years the whole of the globe, inhabited and uninhabited, has been searched for plants with leaves having more than two colours,-if possible, all those of the rainbow. The search has been productive beyond expectation, and we have now in our Caladiums, Arums, Begonias, Marantas, Cannas, and others, an endless series of these favourites. The latest development of phyllomania seems to be decidedly towards large and hard-leaved plants; all that are soft and weedy are to be cast aside. Here horticulture has lit upon inexhaustible stores, and amongst them the most majestic of all known plants, the great Palm tribe.
THE PREVENTION OR MITIGATION OF DROUGHTS IN
AUSTRALIA. When reading the appalling accounts of the long droughts in the desert districts of Australia, we are ever led to reflect by what measures they might be alleviated or obviated. On more than one occasion I have pointed out that the wide dissemination of trees in the arid parts of the interior would exercise a beneficial effect on the increase of rain, on the retention of humidity, and on the mitigation of burning winds. For the purpose of raising timber on shadeless barren wastes, perhaps no country possesses greater facilities than Australia, inasmuch as some of our trees would seem to surpass those of any other country in celerity of growth, and in power to resist the dry heat of our summer season. I am sure that if in the extensive sheep-runs now visited by the drought the Cape Wattle (the West Australian Acacia Lophantha), the ordinary Wattle-tree of Victoria
(Acacia mollissima), and Eucalypti of quick growth, were raised, merely by scattering during the earlier part of the cool season quantities of the seed, we should in due time have no longer to lament the destruction of vast flocks for want of fodder, and perhaps water, because the general climate of such districts would gradually become more humid. Under the shelter of timber vegetation herbage would continue to cover the soil now generally naked, even during summer, and from a heated bare surface there would no longer rise that heat which now disperses every rain-cloud often for many a month, and sweeps in currents of burning winds over the continent. Moreover, the absorbing power of vegetation would prevent, to a large extent, the rain-water from flowing away into temporary channels, and perhaps even the sudden and transient floods after thunder-storms. Why the pastoral tenants in districts subject to drought do not cause the seeds of trees, especially such as mentioned, to be gathered and sown, with a view of establishing belts of timber, appears strange. The seeds of Acacia Lophantha and Acacia mollissima might be gathered by tons at trifling expense, and sufficient seeds for 100,000 Eucalypti might be obtained for the value of a few head of cattle. If merely the flocks were kept away for a season from the spots on which the Acacia seedlings spring up, it would become an impossibility to annihilate the copses, even by subsequent inroads of cattle, sheep, etc., which indeed might to some extent browse on the young trees, and find in dry years additional food. Around Jerusalem, in Natal, in some of the South Sea Islands, in the high lands of India, and in Algeria, we have, by transmission of seeds, endeavoured to clothe the naked soil and ameliorate the climate. In Australia, however, almost no exertions are made in this direction. Not the least of the advantages of the measure which I urge anew consists in the augmentation of the fertility of the land, by bringing, through the ever-active power of vegetation, the latent and dormant alkalies, and earths and acids needed for the nutrition of plants, to the surface from strata into which the roots of trees will penetrate for food, to convey it to their foliage, and to leave these fertilizers with the decay of the leaves on the surface soil, to be stored up for subsequent vegetation. But the remarks here offered apply not to Australia alone. Who can look at a North African landscape without reflecting what changes an extensive Australian Acacia and Eucalyptus vegetation would effect on mountains
an landscaphy not to Australiment vegetation.
and plains, now without trees and water? What amount of timber might not be grown on the desert ridges ? A few years would completely change the aspect of those countries, so near to the seats of ancient industry and learning; and afford vast means for human settlement, and activity, and support.
FERDINAND MUELLER. Melbourne Botanic Gardens, Oct. 24.
A Treatise on the Nature and Cultivation of Coffee; with some remarks on the Management and Purchase of Coffee Estates. By Arthur R. W. Lascelles. London : Sampson Low, Son, and Marston. 1865.
This pamphlet contains some practical hints about the cultivation of Coffee, by the Managing Director of the Moyar Coffee Company, who, “ during his planting experience of nearly a quarter of a century,"—in the East Indies, we presume,—has frequently had occasion to regret the absence of such information as is here sought to be afforded.” The total quantity of Coffee consumed in Great Britain in 1864, was about 35,000,000 lb., of which nearly 30,000,000 lb. was the produce of India and Ceylon. The total exports into Europe amount now to about 290,000,000 lb. France alone consumes one-sixth of the total production of the world. The Eastern hemisphere appears quite to have taken the place of the Western. In 1809 the exports from Jamaica alone exceeded 83,000,000 lb., whilst at present they do not reach 6,000,000 lb. In British Guiana the exports have fallen in a like manner from 9,472,000 lb. to nothing, scarcely sufficient being now grown for the consumption of the colony. In Portorico the production has slightly increased, but Brazil, which in 1859 exported 2,026,819 bags, now only exports less than a million and a half.
It is strange that Coffee should be called “ Kahwah " in the Abyssinian province of Cafe (see Harris's ' Highlands of Ethiopia,') and that the same name (Kahwah=Kawa or Kava) should be applied by the Polynesians to their favourite beverage and the plant from which it is derived (Macropiper methysticum).
Outlines of Elementary Botany. For the Use of Students. By Alex
ander Silver, M.A., C.M., M.D. London: Henry Renshaw. 1866. This book is what it professes to be, an introduction to the larger
and standard works on elementary botany, and we have pleasure in recommending it as a clear exposition of the matter which every beginner must make up his mind to master before he can have anything like a satisfactory notion of the aim and object of botanical science. Our only regret is that the author is so far behind the age in the systematic portions of his little book. How much he could have simplified it, if he had been aware of how many of the Natural Orders he upholds leading systematists have done away with by combining them with others ! We counted no less than twenty Orders which are now generally suppressed. The woodcuts materially aid the author's explanations.
We have already announced that the Executive Committee of the International Horticultural Exhibition has unanimously elected M. Alphonse de Candolle, Chairman of the Botanical Congress. We have now to add that that distinguished botanist has formally accepted the office, and that, judging from the tone of our press, and what one hears on all sides, the election seems to have given great satisfaction. “In the scientific world,” says the ‘Reader,' “ De Candolle's name is a tower of strength, and there is now every reason to hope that the Congress will be a decided success. A good many leading botanists have already given in their adhesion to the scheme, and promised suitable papers.” “No better selection could have been made," says the
Gardeners' Chronicle,' “ for M. de Candolle possesses a European reputation ; and we therefore congratulate the Committee on having appointed so efficient and influential a person to so important an office. It now remains for botanists and botanico-horticulturists, both of Europe and the British Isles, to be prepared to rally round the chair.” “It would have been difficult," writes the
Athenæum,' “to select a scientific man better fitted for the office than the gentleman elected; for the name of De Candolle,' to borrow the words of a leading American botanist, 'is, perhaps, the most prominent one with the cultivators of science the world over,' and is associated with a larger amount of botany than any other name, except that of Linnæus.'"
Dr. Richard Schomburgk has been appointed Director of the Botanic Garden of Adelaide, South Australia. Our readers are aware that this gentleman is a brother of the late Sir Robert Schomburgk (whose posthumous papers on Siam are about to be published by Messrs. Trübner and Co.), and that he also travelled in British Guiana.
Dr. H. Barth, the famous African traveller, died on the 25th of November, at Berlin, where he was actively engaged in philological and geographical studies. He was the last surviving member of the Central African expedition.
A paragraph, which has gone the round of most of the Continental news
papers, to the effect that Dr. Seemann is about to start on an expedition to North-eastern Asia, is entirely without foundation.
Professor Schleiden, who has retired on his pension to Dresden, is said to be engaged on ' A Life of Linnæus.'
The Rev. W. A. Leighton, F.L.S., is preparing for publication a Synopsis of British Lichens.
We have received an account of the 25th anniversary of the Natural History Society, “ Pollichia," which was celebrated in September last, at Deidesheim, under the presidency of Dr. Pauli. The Town Hall had been placed at the disposal of the meeting, and assumed a festive appearance, being decorated with garlands, and the names of Koch, Bruch, Bischoff, and other botanists of the district who attained a European celebrity. The scientific papers were numerous ; we mention Professor Bach's on the fertilization of plants by insects, especially that of Aristolochia Clematitis ; Professor Fenzl's on hybridization, with special reference to Centaurea; Dr. Schultz's on hybridization in its bearing on the Darwinian theory ; Dr. Hofmeister's defence of Darwinianism, and Professor Kirschleger's on certain morphological changes in the flowers of Anagallis phonicea. The inhabitants of this famous vine-growing district seem to have outdone themselves in hospitality, and a new sort of sparkling hock was submitted to the assembled savants, which, on receiving their approval, received the name " Pollichia wine.”
Under the title Du Spitzberg au Sahara, Professor Charles Martins, of Montpellier, bas published Natural History observations on various countries within those limits. Those on the flora of Spitzbergen form a useful supplement to Dr. Torrel's valuable paper, printed in the second volume of our Journal.
On noticing Dr. F. Mueller's 'Vegetation of the Chatham Islands' we ex. pressed regret that the author had not deferred his publication until Dr. Hooker's 'Handbook of the New Zealand Flora' should have reached him, We might have written with equal justice that the author of the New Zealand Handbook ought to have waited until the Chatham Florule had come to hand. To atone for whatever indiscretion we may be deemed guilty of, insertion is here given to a passage of Dr. Mueller's official Report to the Victorian Parliament, which we are informed has a special bearing upon our notice:-“At the time when the plants of the Chatham Islands were received [in Melbourne] and rendered known, a volume on the plants of New Zealand, written by Dr. J. D. Hooker, passed, in London, through the press, for which Mr. Travers's collections became not timely accessible. But while the new researches on the New Zealand plants were still unknown to me, I purposely gave simultaneous publicity to my own observations, in order that the independent views of two observers might be compared." Dr. Mueller then goes on to say that, whilst Dr. Hooker admits no less than seventeen New Zealand Epilobiums and nineteen Veronicas, he recognizes but one species of each genus ; " that through want of extensive field studies untenable limits are assigned to a vast number of supposed specific forms,” and “that the vain attempt to draw lines of specific demarcation between mere varieties or races ... has largely tended to suggest the theory of transmutation.” Dr. Mueller then repez"- once more that he is decidedly opposed to the Darwinian theory.