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ART. IV. Caroli Frederici Gärtner, Med. Doct. Soc, Natur.
Curios. Suev. Sodal. Phys. Jenens. Gotting. Membri, &c. Carpologia, seu Descriptiones et Icones Fructuum et Seminum Plantarum : sc. Continuatio operis Josephi Gærtner de Fructibus et Seminibus Plantarum, Vol. III.-Fasc. 1. P. 1. cum Tab. Æn. X. Sumptibus C. F. E. Richter, Bibliopolæ Lipsiensis. Typis Schrammianis. Tubingæ, 1805. 4to.
THE 'He classical work of the late Dr Joseph Gärtner, de fructibus
et seminibus plantarum, is, we apprehend, one of those that are more generally recommended and quoted, than studied and understood : it is chiefly celebrated, we think, as a curious publication, full of beautiful engravings; and in this capacity it graces, with Hill's vegetable system, and Thornton's ' national work, the shelves of many a botanical library. The benefit which succeeding botanists have derived from it, appears, with a few exceptions, to be trifling indeed, if we consider how few of the many botanical writers now living, betray any symptoms of more than a superficial acquaintance with the subject. It is indeed surprising, that, after the appearance of such a guide, so many even of our better describers of plants, should either not venture at all into the dreaded recesses of the fruits and seeds, or, if they do, run into such labyrinths of confusion, and give such unintelligble accounts, that the student finds himself lost and bewildered in following them. Who would expect to meet with expressions like the following — pericarpium cavum ; ' . fructus absque mani. festa septatione trilocularis ; fructus quinquelocularis et mongspermus; pomum loculis extus convexis ; capsula valvulis longitudinaliter deĥiscens; 'bacca receptaculis tribus affixa quæ in longum per parietem excurrunt; ' drupa quadrivalvis, basi discedens, ' &c.! and yet these are not the misnomers of minor writers of the day: even the best of them speak of semina tegumine rugelloso nucleo ampliore; ' of 'semen biloculare, bivalve, dehiscens, inane, obscurum.' Obscure indeed! but clearness itself, if compared with the uncouth descriptions which they give of the interior structure of the seeds; which, however, they rarely venture upon at all. This neglect of organs
so essential must strike us as the more incongruous, if contrasted with the solicitude and care which Nature employe to secure their production, by the admirable apparatus of the flowers that precedes them,-often so complicated, to no other apparent end and purpose, than the formation of the fruit. It is the fruit, and still more the seeds it harbours, that afford the most constant, unerring, and characteristic marks, and cannot thereVOL. VIII. NO. 15.
fore but be considered as of the greatest value to the systematical botanist. *
While we thus reprobate the inattention to carpology, that marks the writings of most of our botanical contemporaries, it is but justice to observe, that the prejudices which once seemed to be entertained against it, by a certain school, begin gradually to disappear. Those botanists, whose deeper insight into vegetable economy has taught them to consider the natural affinities of plants as an object by no means of idle speculation, are already fully aware of the necessity of the study of carpology; nor is it a matter of doubt, but that, ere long, botanists of all other persuasions will discover the propriety of following their example.
If we mention the late Gærtner's great work as one which has formed an æra in the history of botanical writings, it is not that we affect to join the common-place encomiums so indiscriminately bestowed by botanical writers and reviewers upon all the parts of that performance, or to place implicit confidence in every thing that has come from the pen or pencil of that celebrated naturalist. We wish to do justice to a work of great and original merit, without seeking to disguise those imperfections which are almost inseparable from such extensive undertakings. That author, we are convinced, has often trusted too much to analogy in his descriptions and delineations, especially in those of the minuter seeds : his specimens were not constantly the most perfect ones, nor had he always opportunities of repeating his observations. Hence, even with his genius for penetrating at once through the complicated organization which presented itself to his view, it was often impossible to avoid deception. It would be unfair, however, to cavil at inaccuracies proceeding from such innocent causes. We are rather surprized, indeed, at their comparative fewness; and nobody, we trust, will dissent from us, who at all knows to appreciate the merits of such an herculean labour. For this, as well as for other reasons, we think it unnecessary at present to pass any particular censure upon the original work of that illustrious botanist. Our duty, however, forbids us to extend the same indulgence to the performance now immediately under considerationthe continuation, pårtly posthumous, and partly supplied by the son of that celebrated author. Dr Gärtner, in the two volumes which constitute his Carpo
* We cannot, however, go the whole length of that zealous carpo. logist, who maintained that there was divine authority for founding all botanical arrangement upon this favourite branch of the study; and that this was distinctly expressed in the text, . By their fruits fhall ye know them.'.
logy, had made us acquainted with the fruits of one thousand genera of plants, that is, about half the number known at the period of his publication. Though the preface to the second volume states, that with it the work is to be considered as completed, yet there remained some materials which that indefatigable man, notwithstanding the decayed state of his health, could not suffer to be lost for want of exertion. He therefore again resumed the task of delineation and description; and forty more genera, the beginning of an intended supplement, were nearly accomplished, when he was cut off in the midst of his labours. Prompted by the wishes of several naturalists to see the work continued, Dr C. F. Gärtner (as we learn from an advertisement annexed to the number before us) resolved to take up the thread of his father's investigations; and, with this view, undertook and accomplished, in the years 1802 and 1803, a carpological tour in France, England and Holland. He acknowledges that the liberality with which the most celebrated naturalists of those countries assisted him in his pursuits, has far exceeded his most sanguine expectations. At Paris he obtained permission from the Directors of the Museum of the Jardin des Plantes, not only to examine the treasures of their fruit collection, but also to make drawings of every thing that was remarkable ; and, through the communications of several botanists of that capital, he became possessed of most of the genera of Aublet, Commerson, l'Heritier, and others. In London he met with the same encouragement from. Sir Joseph Banks ; and likewise obtained specimens of fruits and seeds from Mr Lambert. At Leyden he made a considerable acquisition in Ceylon and Javanese pericarps and seeds, most of them presented to him by Professor Brugmanns. Thus supplied with valuable materials, Dr Gærtner jun. promises to continue the work of his father without interruption, and we rejoice at it, especially as what appears to belong to him in the number before us, augurs by no means unfavourably for what we are to expect from his talents.
The editor has omitted to inform us how much of this first number is posthumous. We have reason however to believe, that the five first plates belong entirely to the father. The figures which they contain are of unequal merit; some of them being greatly inferior to what we were accustomed to admire in the finished and complete representations of the preceding volumes, and made from specimens too imperfect to add much to our better knowledge of the plants to which they respectively belong. More than a third part of the descriptions we find deficient, either with regard to the whole seed, or one or more of its constituent parts. Such deficiencies occurring but seldom in the preceding
volumes, we may conclude that the late author had not intended to offer these carpological gleanings to the public eye in the imperfect state in which we now see them. Some of these chasms, we think, Dr Gärtner jun. might have found opportunities to fill up himself; for, that he did not wish to abstain from making any necessary additions, appears from his endeavours to complete the synonomy, and from some occasional remarks in the body of the text.
We now proceed to offer some desultory remarks on such of the plants contained in this number, as are either most remarkable, or stand in need of additional illustration.
Of the four grasses represented in the first plate, one is a species of Ischæmum, considered as new and distinguished, on account of the transverse wrinkles of the outer glumes of the sessile flowers, by the appellation of rugosum. Dr Gärtner will find, on consulting Salisbury's Icones stirpium rariorum, that his plant is by no means different from the I. rugosum of Konig, who likewise pitched upon this name to denote the wrinkled appearance of the glumes. These ruge, it should however be observed, are not peculiar to that species; I. aristatum is likewise provided with them, though distinguishable from the former, by its glumes being at the same time longitudinally striated.
Rottbollia incurvata and corymbosa are made to form a genus, called Ophiurus. It is characterized by the filiform, not really articulated, spikes, and each apparent joint having only one niched flower. Another character, which distinguishes this genus
from Rottbollia, is here stated to be the hermaphrodite nature of all the flosculi; though we are immediately after told, that in O. incurvata more feinale florets were found than hermaphrodite ones, and none but male ones in 0. corymbosa. This appears to be contradictory. Of neither of these species the author has seen the seeds ; nor had we an opportunity to observe them in the latter : but, in the former, we know them to be of an oval, plano-convex form, and crowned with some upright bristles. Besides these, and Rottbællia dimidiata L., we find two other gramineæ described here, viz. Olyra latifolia, whose male flowers, contrary to what we learn from other authorities, are said to be furnished with a corolla ; and Lygeum Spartum, of which, however, we possess already the excellent description and figure of Richard in the Mémoires de la Societé d'Histoire Nat. de Paris, though not added to the synonymy by the younger Gärtner. Restio dichotomus, described and figured as such in the second volume of this carpological work, is here referred to Thunberg's Willdenowia. As an example of a real Restio, R. scariosus is given, and the distinctive characters that separate the former genus from it are stated to consist, 1. in the
female calyx being solitary, top-shaped, and composed of several scales; 2. in the uniform rosaceous corolla, furnished at its base with a proper spongy receptacle; and, 3. in the solitary nut exceeding the calyx four times in length. Nearly related to both these genera is Elegia, but sufficiently distinct in having a capsular fruit of several cells. The annulated appearance of the seed of Gahnia procera is extremely remarkable ; it resembles the larva of an insect, and is therefore termed campomorphum.
The second plate (tab. 182.) contains the genera Dilatris, Massonia, Renealmia, Arctopus, Escallonia, Coprosma, and Damnacanthus. The last of these names, the composition of which we cannot help admiring, is given to a genus of the natural order of the Rubiacea. To judge from the fruit (sent by Thunberg as Carissa spinarum), it approaches but too near the Canthium of Lamarck, We avail ourselves of this opportunity to observe, that the Webera of Schreber (Rondeletia asiatica L.) is by no means a congener of Canthium, as Willdenow makes it; but how the former botanist came to describe the fruit as containing only one seed, we are unable to tell: to us their number appeared to be from six to eight.
A very good and complete figure is given of the flowers and fruit of Renealmia pendula, a real Tillandsia ; which latter generic name ought to have been retained by Dr Gærtner jun., the former being already given to a genus of the natural order of Scitamineæ, The seeds of this species (which, by the way, is not a nondescript, but the same with Tillandsia nutans of Swartz) are very singularly constructed: they appear wrapt up in a close web of fibres, which, at the top, form a crown, improperly called Pappus by describers, and at the base an appendage of the same nature as the crown, but with the fibres glued together so as to form a cone. Some observations might have been added respecting the species of this genus, which stands in great need of reexamination : the generic character, as here given, is certainly applicable to a few only, especially as far as it relates to the fruit and seeds.
We were particularly desirous to become better acquainted with the pericarp and seeds of Escallonia, in order to be enabled safely to fix its place in the natural series, but all we learn here, in addition to what is known already by Smith's description, is, that the dissepiment of the berry appears cleft in the middle, and both the edges turned inward into one of the cells.
The description and delineation of that singular vegetable Arctopus echinatus, is more satisfactory. The nature of its steril or male plant, is perhaps less involved in obscurity, than it appears to our author. He
says, • Cum mafcula planta constantissime fterilis fit, licet quaternos aut quinos in fingulo involucro habeat flofculos femineos, mirandum, unde E 3