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PACHYPODIUM TUBEROSUM-TUBEROUS PACHYPODIUM.
Class V. PENTANDRIA.—Order II. DIGYNIA.
From *<*xir, thick, and iroSir, a foot; in allusion to its succulent stem and swollen root.
Professor Lindley observes that, "When Mr. Brown remodelled the order of Apocyneae in 1809, he pointed out the Echites succulenta and bispinosa, two remarkable Cape plants, which he had had no opportunity of examining, as likely to constitute a distinct genus. In this opinion, the plant now figured, shews that he was right. It evidently differs from Echites, in the segments of the corolla being equal sided, and in the want of hypogynous scales; and is more nearly allied to Holarrhena, which differs in having its stamens arising from the bottom of the corolla instead of the middle, regularly opposite leaves, and whole habit.
"This plant offers an exception to the usual position of the leaves in Apocyneae, they are not opposite, as in the order generally, but scattered irregularly over the surface of the stem; a circumstance which appears to be owing to the unusually succulent and distended state of the stem.
"A native of barren, sandy plains, at the Cape of Good Hope. If it is the Echites succulenta, it was found by Mr. Burchell in the Kloof and its mountains; but upon this point there is some doubt, It agrees with neither the figure nor description of Thunbergin minor details, but it has so much general resemblance, that it is very probable they are the same,—allowances being made for Thunberg's loose mode of description.
"Stem spherical at the base, tuberous, smooth; branches taper, succulent, divided, spiny. Spines proceeding from below the leaves, 2 or 3-lobed, subulate, flat. Leaves scattered, sessile, oblong, obtuse, fleshy, downy beneath. Calyx inferior, 5-leaved; leaflets ovate, acute, hairy, imbricated. Corolla hypocrateriform, hairy on the outside; the tube inflated in the middle, hairy inside below the stamens; limb contorted; segments equal-sided, oblong, obtuse, slightly unguiculate; throat naked. Stamens inserted in the middle of the tube; anthers sessile, sagittate, opening lengthwise. Ovarium double, many-seeded. Styles 2. Hypogynous scales none."
I was lately walking in a solitary corn-field, and could not help reflecting how many heartfelt pleasures are within our reach, if we rest satisfied with those which reason and religion equally approve; instead of sighing after vain and fugitive delights, especially such as it would be our highest wisdom, if offered, to reject.
The morning was a fine one. The first beams of the rising sun shone bright on the glittering windows of distant cottages, and tinged with a warm gleam the tall forest-trees, as they waved gently in the wind. The heavens were bright and clear. The fog was lying in the valley, serene as the unruffled waters of a lake, while the high hills rose like little islands covered with corn-fields and orchards, the trees of which were loaded with fruit. It was delightful to look over the smiling landscape, and to listen to the bleating of the sheep, the cheerful whistle of early labourers, and the shrill cry of wakeful birds, chasing each other through the air, or darting into the valley, where they were lost in a sea of mist. As the sun advanced in the heavens, his beams enlivened the spot on which I stood, and shed a golden tint on the glossy heads of the ripening corn, which gently rustled in the breeze, and glittered like a thousand little mirrors.
Homer, whose descriptions of nature are equally correet and beautiful, frequently characterizes different countries by the various productions peculiar to them. One he has celebrated for the grape, another for the olive, a third for the laurel, a fourth for the palm; but to the earth he has given the general epithet of cornbearing. No appellation could be more appropriate. Corn is the produce of almost every soil and climate, Even amid the rugged rocks of Finland, as high as the sixty-first degree of north latitude, crops of barley are frequently to be met with, luxuriant as those whinh clothed the fertile plains of Sicily. Trees are generally adapted for the sites they occupy; the willow delights in marshy places, and-will scarcely flourish in any other: the cypress of Louisiana stands with its roots in the water; whilst the fir grows best in elevated stations. Flowers are also suited in their various constructions to different soils and seasons; but the cornplant may be termed a citizen of the vegetable world. The roots are long and ramified; consequently, they are seldom liable to be uprooted by the wind, while at the same time they draw considerable moisture from the earth in arid situations.