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MONSONIA LOBATA.-BROAD-LEAVED MONSONIA.
Class XVIII. POLYADELPHIA.—Order XI. DODECANDRIA.
The genus of which this charming plant is the most distinguished species, has been named in honour of Lady Anne Monson. The whole family are natives of the Cape, and in their habit and fructification bear great affinity to the geranium.
Mr. Colvill was so obliging as to inform us, that he had succeeded best in propagating it by planting cuttings of the root in pots of mould and plunging them in a tan-pit, watering them as occasion may require; in due time buds appear on the tops of the cuttings left out of the ground.
It is a native of the Cape, and was introduced by Mr. Masson, in 1774. Flowers in April and May.
Have you ever reflected (says a celebrated author) on the desolate appearance which the earth must have presented, at that eventful period, when the Almighty caused a wind to pass over it, and the waters were dried up; or that the crust of the earth having been broken, lifted up and overturned in a thousand different ways, large masses of bare projecting rocks must have remained entirely destitute of vegetation; though undoubtedly a sufficient quantity of herbage was rapidly produced for the pasturage of cattle, in those situations where a deposition of mould enabled such seeds to germinate as had been left on the receding of the waters.
But how was it possible for the necessary quantity of earth to accumulate on the barren flanks of those precipitous rocks, which are now mantled with a luxuriant drapery of herbs and flowers, or clothed with large forest trees? By means of that gradual deposition of vegetable mould, which is occasioned by the decay of crustaceous lichens, those insignificant productions which encrust the walls of ancient buildings, and vary the faces of the rocks with their multifarious tintings. They grow in the most inaccessible and arid situations, are nourished by such supplies of moisture as the air and the rain afford; and their decay produces a small quantity of fine earth, on which the tiled lichens fix themselves. These, in their turn, become a thin and meagre soil, on which the seeds of mosses are deposited by the wind, that random sower, where they grow and produce a pleasant green turf, fit for the reception of smaller plants. Grasses and flowers then begin to spring, and are succeeded by shrubs and trees, till at length, after the lapse of many ages, extensive woodlands sometimes clothe the boldest and most precipitous descents. This curious result is particularly observable in one of the passes of the Alps, near Inspruck. The mountains on each side are nearly perpendicular; and the vast forests which grow from their sides, cast a dismal shade over the road; but when loaded in winter with a weight of snow, they appear ready to fall, and crush the traveller as he passes beneath.
The beautiful vale of Tempe, on the contrary, offers a pleasing instance of the fine effect produced by progressive vegetation. Towards the lower part of this enchanting spot, the cliffs are peaked in a very singular manner, and form projecting angles on the vast perpendicular faces of rock which they present towards the chasm. Wherever the surface renders such an effort possible, nature, according to the depth of mould produced by the decay of lichens and of vegetables, has covered the summits and the ledges of the rocks with small oaks, arbutus's, and flowering shrubs. Whilst every interval between the water and the cliffs, is deeply shaded by the rich and widely spreading foliage of the plane, oak, and other forest-trees, many of which have attained to a remarkable size, and extend their shadows far over the margin of the stream.