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The function of the stamens and pistils is purely reproductive. At first the anthers are unruptured, moist, and closed; but, as they approach maturity, they become dry, open their cells, and discharge their pollen on the stigmatic surface of the pistil, which, about this time, becomes bedewed with a clammy fluid, which serves to retain the pollen. The grains of pollen absorb the moisture of the stigma and emit delicate tubes, which penetrate the loose cellular tissue of the style, and act as a conduit of the fecundating matter of the pollen grains to the ovules, which these tubes finally enter by means of their micropyle (Greek uzpos, little, and ʊŋ, gate). The ovules, having received the impregnating matter, the embryos, or miniature plants, begin to form in them, and are gradually transformed into seed.

The sap is now drawn to the forming fruit, away from the petals and stamens, which fade and fall off, having fulfilled their important but ephemeral functions. The stigmas and styles of the pistils being now useless to the plant, disappear equally with the other parts. The ovaries alone remain to aid in the ripening of the seed contained within their cavities.

The sap elaborated in the ordinary green leaves of the stem, passes through the peduncle, or what was formerly the flower-stalk, into the fleshy tube of the calyx, by which it is retained, and which now gradually enlarges and continues to increase in size as long as the sap continues to enter it. The gorged and swollen cellular tissue or substance of the apple is formed from this sap about the cartilaginous walls of the ovaries. The surface of the apple, whilst green, acts like an ordinary green stem-leaf on the atmosphere, absorbing carbonic acid gas, and giving out oxygen. As it slowly loses its green color, and assumes a ripe and ruddy appearance, it ceases to do this, absorbing the oxygen instead of giving it out. At maturity the stalk ceases to afford any further passage for the fluids, and becomes finally unequal to the task of supporting the fruit, so that it falls to the ground. Here it lies, unless eaten by cattle, till it decays. On the approach of Spring, the seeds

contained within the ovaries, stimulated into life by the heat, put forth roots in the mass of nourishing, decaying matter which surrounds them, and which was provided by Nature for this very purpose, and develope into new plants; which, should circumstances favor their growth, pass again through the same life-changes as the parent tree on which they originated.

Such are the progressive phenomena in the growth not only of the Apple tree, but of all the trees which are natives of northern climates, modified, of course, by peculiarities of structure and constitution; but all grow in a similar manner,-their forms gradually unfolding from the seed, according to the same laws.

The tree exhibits a picture of the whole of Nature, and of the way in which Nature works. In its building up, it shows that the grand is always preceded by the apparently insignificant, and complexity of structure by extreme organic simplicity. Cell and fibre, leaf-scale and leaf, shoot, branchlet, and branch, all preceded each other, and their united labors produced the blossom and fruit, the highest, the culminating point of organic perfection and metamorphosis. So that no part of the tree is insignificant, and all its organs are mutually dependent on each other; for is there not a centralization of their forces, a unity of their organic action, in the labors necessary to form the blossom and the fruit?

In the early part of this chapter, I spoke somewhat enthusiastically of a little, apparently insignificant, Spring flower, popularly called Whitlow Grass (Draba verna), whose blossoms cover the ground, in the utmost profusion, in the months of March and April. Now, vulgarly speaking, this plant is nothing but a "common weed." Will you believe, reader, that I have watched this plant, through all the phases of its brief life-history, for several years, with an interest ever on the increase! Let me tell you a few of the thoughts which it has suggested. I have marked the care with which Nature preserves its germs, and the constancy with which it appears on the earth's surface at the

appointed time. Surely this flower, so humble, unattractive, and short-lived, like the leaf-scales of a tree, has its place assigned in the organism of the universe, which would probably be no unimportant one, if the wondrous mechanism of life were only better understood. And it is the same with the every individual of all that troop of bright and smiling ones with which the earth is annually garlanded, especially when, like my welcome little friend, Draba verna, they decorate the earth in countless numbers. Regarded as a part of the organism of living Nature, such plants lose their insignificance; and there is no genus, however brief its life-span and unattractive its appearance, which is beneath the consideration of Naturalists.

Nor is the above lesson without its moral. What shall be said of those who despise the honest and industrious man, because he occupies an inferior position in society? Such conduct is certainly not sanctioned by Nature, or her teachings, when we see what is lowly and apparently insignificant at the foundation of her grandest operations.

CHAPTER X

CONTAINS A DESCRIPTION OF TREES REMARKABLE FOR THEIR GIGANTIC GROWTH AND GREAT AGE, FOUND IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD.

EVERY Country possesses these vegetable giants, and this, too, from the most different groups of trees. India has its Banyan; Africa, its Baobab; Germany, its Linden; England, its ancient Oaks and Yews; and California, its magnificent mammoth trees, which belong to the natural order Coniferæ, and which are upwards of three hundred feet in height.

A Chestnut tree is now growing on the side of Mount Etna, in Sicily, the stem of which is hollow, and one hundred and eighty feet in circumference. It consists, in reality, of several stems, which have grown together at their base, and whose crowns are concealed within one another. It is called by the natives, "Castagna di cento cavalla;" because a hundred horsemen can find shelter in its interior. The age of this tree is unknown, but its immense size proves its great antiquity. It is indeed a noble tree, which has outlived and sheltered successive generations.

By Neustadt, in the kingdom of Wurtemberg, in Germany, stands a Linden tree, which must have been very old in 1229; for an old tradition says that the city, which formerly was called Helmbundt, was destroyed in 1226, and was again rebuilt in 1229, "near the Great Linden." This Linden was so remarkable and well known, that for centuries the Germans were accustomed to speak of Neu

stadt as the city "near the Great Linden." In a poem written in 1408, it is described as growing near the gate of the city, its branches being supported by sixty-seven pillars. In the year 1664, there were eighty-two, and in 1832, one hundred and six of them. They were built of stone, and erected just as they were required, in accordance with the increase in the horizontal growth of the branches. The oldest inscriptions on these pillars bear the respective dates of 1558, 1562, and 1583, with the name and escutcheons of those who erected them. In the year 1832, the stem of this tree was, at a height of six feet above the ground, thirty-seven feet six inches in circumference. It must, therefore, have been from seven hundred and fifty to eight hundred years old, at the lowest estimate. Since 1832, it has suffered so much by tempests, that it is now almost, comparatively speaking, a complete ruin.

Walnut trees, also, occasionally reach a great age. There is one in the Baidar Valley, near Balaklava, in the Crimea, which is at least a thousand years old. It yields annually from eighty thousand to one hundred thousand nuts, and belongs to five Tartar families, who share its produce peacefully amongst themselves.

Cedars are yet found on Mount Lebanon, in Syria, supposed to be the remains of the forest which furnished Solomon with timber for the Jewish Temple, three thousand years ago. They were examined by Belonius in 1550, who found them twenty-eight in number. In 1696, Maundrell counted only sixteen; and in 1818, according to Dr. Richardson, there were still seven of them left. There can be no doubt as to the great age of these trees. Maundrell mentions the size of one of them, which was thirty feet six inches in circumference, and one hundred and seventeen feet in the spread of its boughs.

There are Oaks now growing in England, which were planted before the time of the Norman conquest, in 1066, and which are therefore more than eight hundred years old.

The Yew trees (Taxus baccata) are still older. One of these trees, located at Fountain's Abbey, near Ripon, in

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