Page images
PDF
EPUB

- here the dawn of a better appreciation of species than we have known in the past.

Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis. Editore A. De

Candolle. Pars XV., Sectio Posterior, Fasc. II., sistens Euphorbiæas. Auctore J. Müller, Argoviensi. Paris. 1866.

On receiving this work we ventured to characterize it as remarkable for the number of old synonyms which have been cleared up by the examination of authentic specimens, for the profound treatment of the subject, and the remarkable intelligence of the natural method shown by its author (ante, p. 304). Our continued examination confirms us in this judgment. Dr. Müller handles in a masterly manner this very large, obscure, and very difficult Order. Not only have the genera and species been in a state of great confusion, but even the position that the Order itself should occupy in the vegetable kingdom has been a subject of conflicting opinions. The apetalous character of the European representatives of the Order has too much influenced botanists in placing it among the Monochlamydeæ. This is the position it occupies in most Floras, and in all our British Manuals. In the Prodromus it is also placed among the apetalous Orders, apparently indicating that M. De Candolle takes this view of its position, although in his description of the Order we find these characters, “ Corolla polypetala, vel rarissime gamopetala, vel nulla.” In forming a true estimate of the relations of the Order, the polypetalous genera, which are the bulk of it, must be taken into account. If the apetalous structure of some genera, in other Orders, as Ranunculaceæ, is not sufficient to set aside the polypetalous character of the Order, we see no reason why it should have so much weight in Euphorbiacea, But this character of the presence or absence of a corolla is properly considered of no value in aberrant genera or even in aberrant suborders, else would we be obliged to break up many Natural Orders, and it would be difficult to say where we could stop, for, as Dr. Dickson has shown (Journ. of Bot. Vol. III. p. 209), from the development of the organs, those parts of the flower in some Rosacea, which every one invariably calls petals, are not petals at all, but stamens with petaloid apices. We would prefer placing the Euphorbiacea beside Rhamnacea or Malvacea, from which it differs chiefly in its unisexuality, rather than with Urticacea, with which it has much less in common.

But our purpose was to examine the part of the Prodromus just published, and not the position of the Order. Boissier had already monographed the Euphorbieæ in the first part of the volume; the remainder of the Order is here described by Dr. Müller, who assumes the distinctive designation Argoviensi, to distinguish him from the numerous Müllers who have devoted or are devoting themselves to botanical inquiries. Dr. Müller is a "lumper” of species; he has reduced many forms that were considered good species. He derives his specific diagnosis chiefly from the characters of the flowers, considering those of the leaves, etc., to be of less importance and of value only for distinguishing varieties. The volume consequently does not greatly increase the numbers of the Euphorbiucea, although it contains many new forms.

Dr. Müller introduces an innovation, which is to us very objectionable, and which we hope will not be perpetuated, as it will inevitably introduce endless confusion, impossible to be cleared up, into our already confused botanical nomenclature. Without altering the name, but because he includes forms that had before been excluded, he displaces the name of the author of the species, and attaches his own to it. Thus, Mercurialis perennis is not of L. but of Müll. Arg. Were this to be adopted, every “lumper” in reviewing a genus or family would be entitled to place his name after all the species, and, his “splitting " successor in the same work, giving a different value to his species, would also give us a complete change in the authors' names. We trust M. De Candolle will hesitate before he permits such a source of confusion a permanent admission to the Prodromus.

BOTANICAL NEWS.

George Heinrich Mettenius was born on the 24th of November, 1823, at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, where his father was a merchant. He attended the model school, and afterwards the school of Director Stellway, both at Frankfort, and subsequently became a pupil of the gymnasium of the same city, which he attended until 1841. In the spring of 1841 he went to the University of Heidelberg, devoting himself to the study of medicine. At Heidelberg he took, in July, 1845, the degree of Doctor of Medicine, his inaugural disser. tation being De Salvinia (Francofurti ad M., 1845, 4to). In the spring of

the year 1846 he became a physician, but he never practised. In the autumn of 1846 he went to Heligoland, where he studied marine Algæ; the winter of 1846-47 was spent at Berlin; the summer of 1849 at Vienna, where he attended some of the medical lectures and the clinical classes of the hospitals ; but specially devoted himself to botanical studies. In the autumn of 1847 he went to Dalmatia, and studied particularly the marine Algæ at Fiume. In the spring of 1848 he settled as “ Privatdocent” of botany at the University of Heidelberg, where his public lectures were well attended. In the spring of 1851 he was called as Professor Extraordinary, in the place of Professor Alex. Braun, who had gone to Giessen, to the University of Freiburg, in Baden. There he remained only a year and a half. In the autumn of 1852 he was appointed Professor in Ordinary and Director of the Botanic Garden of Leipzig, where the chair of Botany had become vacant by the death of Professor Kunze. He married on June 14, 1859, Cecilia, the second daughter of Professor Alexander Braun [Professor Caspary having married the elder daughter of the same accomplished botanist on the same day).

At Leipzig Mettenius worked and studied up to the time of his death, which took place on August 18, 1866, from cholera. His last illness began at one o'clock in the morning. Being himself a physician, he soon felt that recovery was impossible, in spite of the exertions of two of the most eminent physicians of Leipzig. His mind, however, was clear enough to allow him to communicate to his wife his most importaut wishes as regarded his affairs. He died at six o'clock in the evening of the same day.

Mettenius was a very tall, athletic man, of great bodily strength. He led the most regular life possible. At five o'clock he began the work of the day, and finished it punctually at ten in the evening. His whole mind was turned towards the study of plants, and especially of Ferns, of which he found a very good living and dried collection in the garden at Leipzig, which had been brought together by Kunze. This he increased so greatly, that the Ferns of Leipzig are scarcely rivalled anywhere. Few directors of botanic gardens ever spent so much time and trouble in arranging the garden as Mettenius, for the inspector of the garden, Mr. Bernhardi, was in infirm health, so that Mettenius himself very generally took the whole management of the garden upon himself, being out by six o'clock in the morning and directing the operations of each of the labourers. He had a most intimate acquaintance with botanical literature, having great powers of reading, and he had formed an excellent library. His manners were retired and modest; he was devoted to his wife, and faithfully attached to his friends. He was one of those few persons upon whose word and deed entire reliance might be placed. He disliked to show off in public. His candid way of thinking, combined with a keen and penetrating judgment, may have caused him to appear, perhaps, sometimes stern and too severe, in the eyes of those of whom he had reason not to hold so favourable an opinion as others may have done. It is much to be regretted that the comprehensive work to which all his labours tended, viz. a 'Species Filicum,' studies for which he had made at nearly all the principal herbaria, as well as at Paris and Kew, has been left unfinished. Doubtless he had the most intimate knowledge of Ferns of any one in our time. It is much to be wished that his excellent collection of dried Ferns may be added to that of Kunze, for public use at the University of Leipzig.

Mettenius left the botanic garden in Leipzig in such an excellent state, that it may serve as a pattern to any other.- Professor. Caspary in Gardners' Chronicle.'

We append a list of the writings of Professor Mettenius, kindly supplied by Professor Caspary through Dr. Masters :

1. De Salviniâ, Diss. Inaug. ; Frankfort-a.-M., 1845, 4to. 2. Beiträge zur Entwickelungsgeschichte der beweglich. Thierinfusion von Chara hispida ; Mohl et Schlechtendal, Botan. Zeitung, 1845, p. 17. 3. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Rhizocarpeen ; Frankfort-a.-M., 1846, 4to. 4. Ueber Azolla (in Linnæa, XX, 1847). 5. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Botanik ; Heidelberg, 1850, 8vo. 6. Filices Horti Botanici Lipsiensis; Leipzig, 1856, fol. 7. Filices Lechlerianæ Chilenses et Peruanæ; Leipzig, Fasc. i., 1857, 8vo. 8. Ueber einige Farngattungen (Abhandl. d. Senkenb. naturf. Ges.; Frankfort-a.-M., 1857–59); -1. Polypodium-11. Plagiogyria-—III. Pteris-Iv. Phegopteris and Aspidium -v. Cheilanthes—VI. Asplenium. 9. Beiträge zur Anatomie der Cycadeen (Abhdlg. d. Königl. Sächs. Gesellschaft d. Wissenchaft. ; Bd. vii., Leipzig, 1860). 10. Ueber Seitenknospen bei Farnen (ibid., 1860). 11. Ueber den Bau von Angiopteris (ibid., ix., 1863). 12. Ueber die Hymenophyllaceæ (ibid., ix., 1864). 13. Filices Nova Caledoniæ (Ann. Sc. Nat., ser. 4, vol. iv., 1861, p. 55. 14. Prodrom. Fl. Novæ Granatensis, par Triana et Planchon ; Filices, auctore Mettenio, Ann. Sc. Nat. ser. 5, vol. ii., p. 193, 1864. 15. Filices præsertim Indicæ et Japonicæ, in Miquel Annales Mus. Bot. Lugd. Bat., Fasc. ii., 1863"; Fasc. vii. et viii., 1864. 16. Azolla Nilotica, Decaisne, in Kotschy Plantæ Finneanæ, 1866, fol.

The Rev. M. J. Berkeley described a new genus of Fungi at the last meeting of the Linnean Society, to which he gave the name of Wynnea. The specimens belonged all to a single species near to Peziza leporina. It is described as having a common stem three inches high and three-quarters of an inch thick, and is repeatedly divided upwards, its subdivisions being elongated into ear-shaped cups of two inches and a half to three inches long, smooth externally, but wrinkled within, having incurved margins variously divided, and being sometimes proliferous.

A LARGE TREE OF NICARAGUA.—Passing Nagarote, I measured a famous Genisaro-tree (Pithecolobium Saman, Benth.), of which the villagers are justly proud, and for which two hundred dollars have been offered, a high price in a country where timber abounds; and yet they had the public spirit, the rarest of virtues in a Spanish American, to refuse the offer,-others say the Government made them refuse. The tree is only 90 feet high ; but some of the lower branches, which are quite horizontal, are 92 feet long and 5 feet in diameter. The stem, 4 feet above the base, is 21 feet in circumference; and the crown of the tree describes a circle of 348 feet. A whole regiment of soldiers may seek repose in its dense shade.-[B. SEEMANN in the 'Athenæum.']

BOTANICAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH.-Thirty-first Session. The Society met on Thursday, 8th November, at 5, St. Andrew Square; Professor Balfour, Hon. Secretary, in the chair. The Chairman made some opening remarks, in which he referred to the death of Dr. Greville, the late President; of Dr. W. H. Harvey, Professor of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin, an Honorary Fellow of the Society, who died on the 15th May, 1866, at the age of fifty-five; of Jean François Camille Montagne, one of the foreign Honorary Fellows of the Society, a distinguished cryptogamic botanist, who died on 9th January, 1866, at the age of eighty-two; and of Diedrich Friedrich Ludoric von Schlechtendal, Professor of Botany and Director of the Botanic Garden at Halle, another foreign Honorary Fellow, who died on 12th October, 1866. It was stated that the following were the number of Members on the roll of the Society :-Royal personages, 2; Honorary Fellows (British), 5; Honorary Fellows (foreign), 23; resident Fellows, 94; non-resident Fellows, 268; foreign and corresponding Members, 96; Associates, 25; ladies, 11,—total, 524. The Chairman congratulated the Members on the continued prosperity of the Society, and alluded to the valuable papers which had been read during the last Session, and which are printed in the Transactions. The following communications were then read :-1. On Plants Collected at Otago, New Zealand. By Dr. W. Lauder Lindsay. 1. Fungi; 2. Mosses and Hepatice; 4. Ferns. In speaking of Tree-ferns, the author remarked that 6.81 per cent. of Otago Ferns were arborescent. These Tree-ferns rank, as regards beauty, and frequently as regards height, girth, and usefulness, with the exogenous forest-trees with which they are generally more or less intermixed. Cyathea Smithii is the most common species in Otago. Dicksonia squarrosa and D. antarctica are also marked Tree-ferns of the district. In the south island of New Zealand, Tree-ferns are associated with glaciers, snow, and other evidences of an alpine and rigorous climate. There are also found bordering on glaciers Fuchsia-trees and Cabbagepalms associated with Araliaceæ, Myrtacea, and other trees usually regarded as denizens of comparatively warm climates. The largest glacier, Mount Cook (13,000 feet, in lat. 431°), which gives rise to the Wairau river, descends as low as 500 feet above the sea-level on the west coast of Canterbury, and within eight miles from the sea. On both sides of this glacier luxuriant forests of Tree-ferns, Cordyline, Myrtaceæ, and other temperate and subtropical types are found. At no great distance from these glaciers are found true Palms (Areca sapida). In the mountainous forests and ravines of Nelson, Tree-ferns ascend to 2000 feet. The acclimatization of New Zealand Ferns in Britain has been lately attracting the attention of horticulturists. Dr. Lindsay, however, doubts whether these plants will be hardy enough to stand the severest British winters without protection. The classification and nomenclature of New Zealand Ferns furnish us with some notable instances of the proneness to error in reference to climate, and the definition of genera, species, and varieties. Dr. Lindsay states that thirty species have been made out of Ophioglossum vulgatum, twenty different names are given to Pteris aquilina (the common Bracken), and about a dozen species have been manufactured out of Lycopodium clavatum. The variability of the species of New Zealand Ferns is remarkable. This was illustrated in species of Asplenium, Lomaria, Aspidium, Hymeno

« PreviousContinue »