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ANEMONE SYLVESTRIS.-SNOWDROP ANEMONE.
Class XIII. POLYANDRIA.—Order III. POLYGYNIA. Natural ORDER, RANUNCULACEÆ.--THE CROW-FOOT TRIBE
The Anemones are natives of the East, from whence their roots were originally brought; but they have been so much improved by culture, as to take a high rank among the ornaments of our gardens in the spring. As they do not blow the first year, it will be more convenient to purchase the plants from a nursery than to rear them at home; on another account also it will be better, for they vary so much that it is impossible to secure the handsomest kinds by the seed ; and when in flower they may be selected according to the taste of the purchaser. They should be sheltered from frost and heavy rains, light showers will refresh them, and in dry weather they should be watered every evening, but very gently. When the roots are once obtained, they may be increased by parting.
Parkinson very accurately notices the striking characters of Anemone Sylvestris, which are its creeping roots, its large white flowers standing on the tops of the flower-stalks, which sometimes grow two together, but most commonly singly; the leaves on the stalk, he observes, are more finely divided than those of the root, and its seeds are woolly.
Miller describes it as having little beauty, and therefore but seldom planted in gardens; it is true, it does not recommend itself by the gaudiness of its colours, but there is in the flowers, especially before they expand, a simple elegance somewhat like that of the Snowdrop, and which affords a pleasing contrast to the more shewy flowers of the garden.
It flowers in May and ripens its seeds in June. It will grow in almost any soil or situation, is propagated by offsets from the root, which it puts out most plentifully, so as indeed sometimes to be troublesome. Is a native of Germany.
*"The Narrow-leaved Garden Anemone grows wild in the Levant. In the islands of the Archipelago the borders of the fields are covered with it in almost every variety of colour ; but these are single, culture has made them double.
“Of the double varieties of this species there are nearly two hundred. To be a fine one, a double Anemone should have a strong upright stem, about nine inches high; the flower should be from two to three inches in diameter: the outer petals should be firm, horizontal, unless they turn up a little at the end, and the smaller petals within these should lie gracefully one over the other. The plain colours should be brilliant, the variegated clear and distinct.
“The Broad-leaved Garden Anemone is found wild with single flowers in Germany, Italy, and Provence; the single varieties are sometimes called Star-Anemones: they are very numerous, as are also the double varieties, of which the most remarkable are the great double Anemone of Constantinople, or Spanish marygold, the great double Orange-tawney, the double Anemone of Cyprus, and the double Persian Anemone.
“There is a species called the Wood-Anemone, which grows in the woods and hedges in most parts of Europe. In March, April, and May, many of our woods are almost covered with these flowers, which expand in clear weather, and look towards the sun, but in the evening and in wet weather, close and droop their heads. When the Wood-Anemone becomes double, it is cultivated by the gardeners, and were the same pains taken with this as with the foreign Anemones, it would probably become valuable.
“Anemone roots may be planted towards the end of September, and again a month later, some plant a third set about Christmas. The first planted will begin to flower early in April, and continue for three or four weeks, the others will follow in succession. As soon as the leaves decay, which of those first planted will be in June, the roots should be taken up, the decayed parts and the earth cleared away, and, having been dried in the shade, they should be put in some secure place where they may be perfectly dry, and particularly where mice, &c. cannot find access to them. This opportunity may be taken to part the roots for increase, and provided each part has a good eye or bud, it will grow and flower, but they will not flower so strong if parted small. The roots will be weakened if suffered to remain long in the earth after the leaves decay. They will keep out of the earth for two or even three years, and grow when planted. The single, or Poppy Anemone, will in mild seasons, blow throughout the winter.
“Earth proper for the Anemone may be procured from a nursery, the roots may be planted in pots five inches wide, the earth an inch and a half deep over the top of the roots, and the eye of the root upwards. They must be kept moderately moist, shaded from the noon-day sun, and exposed to that of the morning. In the winter they should be placed under shelter, but should have plenty of fresh air when not frosty."
The Abbé la Pluche relates a curious anecdote of M. Bachelier, a Parisian florist, who, having imported some very beautiful species of the Anemone from the East Indies to Paris, kept them to himself in so miserly a manner, that for ten successive years he never would give to any friend or relation whomsoever the least fibre of a double Anemone, or the root of one single one. A counsellor of the parliament, vexed to see one man hoard up for himself a benefit which nature intended to be common to all, paid him a visit at his country house, and in walking round the garden, when he came to a bed of his Anemones, which were at that time in seed, artfully let his robe fall upon them; by which device he swept off a considerable number of the little grains, which stuck fast to it. His servant, whom he had purposely instructed, dexterously wrapped them up in a moment without exciting any attention. The counsellor a short time after communicated to his friends the success of his project, and by their participation of his innocent theft the flower became generally known.
* Flora Domestici
Tournefort, who also relates this story, says that this ingenious flower-stealer took with him three or four of his friends to visit M. Bachelier, and that when they drew near to the place where the Anemones were placed, they began to amuse him, and engage his attention by relating different tales and anecdotes, to prevent his observing what was passing around him.
Rapin, in his poem on gardens, ascribes the birth of the Anemone to the jealousy of Flora, who fearing that the incomparable beauty of a Grecian nymph would win from her the love of her husband Zephyr, transformed her into this flower. But to this tale he adds an account better authorised, of the Anemone having sprung from the blood of Adonis and the tears of Venus shed over his body; and it is but common justice to Flora to observe that this is the generally received opinion of the origin of the Anemone. Cowley gives it this parentage in his poem on plants. Ovid describes Venus lamenting over the bleeding body of her lover, whose memory and her own grief she resolves to perpetuate by changing his blood to a flower, but less poetically than some others; he substitutes nectar for the tears of Venus, not even hinting that the said nectar was the tears of the goddess. “ But be thy blood a flower. Had Proserpine
From thence a flower, alike in colour, rose,
Such as those trees produce, whose fruits enclose
Within the limber rind their purple grains ;
And yet the beauty but awhile remains;
For those light-hanging leaves, infirmly placed,
The winds, that blow on all things, quickly blast.”
SANDYS' Ovid, book x.
Resembling well his pale cheeks, and the blood
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood."
SHAKSPEARE's VENUS AND ADONIS.
“ His sunbeam-tinted tresses drooped unbound,
Sweeping the earth with negligence uncouth;
Felt his red blood, and red for ever grew."-Wiffin's Translation, p. 273. The Greek poet, Bion, in his epitaph on Adonis, makes the Anemone the offspring of the goddess's tears.
Mr. Horace Smith, in his poem of Amarynthus, supports the first reason for naming this flower the wind-flower—that it never opens but when the wind blows :
“ And when I gather'd rushes, and began
To weave a garland for you, intertwined
Her lips until they're blown on by the wind."-AMARYNTHUS, p. 46.
“Then thickly strewn in woodland bowers,
Anemones their stars unfold." Sir W. Jones has translated an ode from the Turkish of Mesihi, in which the author celebrates several of the more sweet or splendid flowers :
“See! yon anemones their leaves unfold,
With rubies flaming, and with living gold."
“ The dew-drops, sweeten'd by the musky gale,
Are changed to essence ere they reach the dale." An Anemone with the motto, “ Brevis est usus," _“Her reign is short,” admirably expresses the rapid decline of beauty.
Dr. Taylor observes (Poisons, p. 509) that, “ This is a genus of plants comprising several species, all possessed of irritating properties in the moist state, but which they appear to lose in great part when dried or exposed to heat, owing to the presence of a volatile principle, Anemonine. These plants have a strong acrid burning taste, which is stronger in the roots than in the leaves. The Anemone Pulsatilla (Wind Flower), and Anemone Pratensis, are the two principal varieties. Small doses of the extract of the latter produced, according to Stork, pain in the abdomen and diarrhea. The different parts of these vegetables have a local irritant action. All that is known concerning their operation on the human subject, is comprised in the following cases. Haller and Bockler remarked that they caused vesication of the skin, and that the distilled water produced nausea and vomiting. Orfila relates that an apothecary suffered from irritation of the eyes, colic, and vomiting, after having bruised some anemone pulsatilla. (Toxicologie, ii. 133.) Bulliard reports the case of a man who applied the bruised leaves of the plant to the calf of his leg. There was great pain for ten or twelve hours, and the local irritation was so severe that inflammation and gangrene followed. (Orfila, ib.; also Wibmer Die Wirkung der Arzneimittel, i. 178.) No instance is recorded of the plant having destroyed human life, but experiments on animals show that it will act fatally like other irritants; and that it causes most violent inflammation in all parts of the alimentary canal. In some instances symptoms indicative of an affection of the nervous system appeared.
ANALYSIS.—The nature of this poison can only be determined by the botanical characters of the plant. In the language of Flowers, Anemone is the emblem of Forsaken.