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than the mezereon in our woods, and, like the former plant, blooms very early in the year. This plant, the spurge laurel, (Daphne laureole,) is about three feet high, and having circular rows of leaves around its stem, its mode of growth somewhat resembles that of a palmtree. It has pale yellowish drooping flowers, which hang in clusters under its dark glossy leaves. Like the mezereon, it has an acrid property, and its bluish black berries are poisonous. It is also an evergreen, and looks as bright in the winter wood, as when summer's sun shines upon it.
The bright celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) is showing its golden glossy stars by the middle of this month. A large number of flowers spring from one root, and its heart-shaped leaves are spotted with a whitish green colour. Very beautiful it is, but very injurious to most lands. Linnæus thought that agriculturists should endeavour to extirpate this pretty flower, as he considered that it injured all the plants growing near it. Its blossoms shut up before rain, and, even in fine weather, are late in unclosing, for they never look out upon the sun before nine o'clock; and by five in the evening, they are folded up for the night. The roots are highly valued as a medicine, in Cochin China; but they are very bitter and acrid, and must require caution.
On old walls, and on pastures where the soil is of a rocky nature, may now be found the small white blossoms of the common whitlow
grass, (Draba verna.) Its little flowers are cross-shaped, its stem about two inches high, with a small circle of slender leaves around its base. Each individual plant is so very small, that flower and foliage might all be hidden by a shilling piece, but it grows in patches, and is therefore conspicuous above the low green moss, which so often protects its roots. The old writers on herbs commended it as a cure for whitlows, and it was also called nailwort. The Swede is interested in observing this plant, for he waits for its appearance to sow his barley, as he judges that, when its flower opens, the spring is sufficiently advanced to favour the germination of his seeds.
A small flower which blooms throughout the summer, begins to blossom in March. Perhaps few but botanists, would call it a flower; most persons would speak of it as a weed, yet like all the works of Him who made it, its structure is beautiful when seen through a magnifying power. It is familiarly known by the name of shepherd's purse, (Capsella bursa pastoris,) on account of the little heart-shaped seed-vessels, which are closely set upon its stem, and somewhat resemble the old-fashioned purses. It may easily be known by these pouches, and is also commonly called pick-purse. Insignificant as the plant seems, it appears to have attracted some notice in the olden times, for it was called shepherd's scrip, case weed, St. James's wort; and its name of "poor man's parmacetic," would suggest the idea that it was deemed of some
value in the healing art. Fleur de St. Jacques is also its old name in France, and it was, doubtless, dedicated to some patron saint, in the days when men sought the intercession of some departed man, like themselves, of a sinful nature, but renowned for deeds of piety, instead of seeking God, in the only appointed way which he has himself revealed. A small green flower the gloryless, or moschatel, (Adoxa Moschatellina,) may be gathered now in the wood, or on the shady hedge-bank. The stem has four or five flowers at its summit, and the leaves, two or three in number, are on very long stalks. It is not particularly pretty, but is remarkable for its musk-like scent, which, however, is little perceptible during the day, though strong when the plant is wet with the pearls of morn and evening dew.
The woods, so beautiful in the coming month, begin to show here and there a woodland flower, which peeps above the withered leaves and green wintry mosses. The primrose (Primula vulgaris) is to us what the Italians call the daisy, flower of spring. The violet too, (Viola odorata,) that long noted favourite of the poet, half hidden among its broad green leaves, betrays itself, by its sweet odour, to the rambler in the woods. The old naturalist Pliny had so high an opinion of the virtues of this flower, as to state, that a garland of violets, worn about the head, prevented headache, or dizziness. Modern writers hold a far different opinion; for it is a well-known fact, that a great number of violets,
in a small apartment, have, in several instances, caused convulsions. The leaves of the violet are frequently applied to bruises; and the flower was so highly esteemed as a remedy for weak lungs, that a conserve, called violet sugar, or violet plate, was, in the time of Charles 11., sold by apothecaries, and continually recommended by physicians, to their consumptive patients. A decoction of the heartsease, which is a species of violet, is still much used as a medicine on the continent. The violet imparts its colour also to liquids, and vinegar derives not only a brilliant tint, but a sweet odour, from having violets steeped in it. It is, however, from its beauty and scent as a wild flower, that the violet will ever derive its chief attraction. It has been said, that "the wise read nature as the manuscript of Heaven," and we may trace a legible handwriting of the Great Creator, even in the lowliest blossom that the Divine Hand has streaked and pencilled.
"The coy anemone that ne'er uncloses
Her leaves until they're blown on by the wind,"
is now coming into blossom. The wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) is generally common in England, yet unknown in many parts of Essex, and some other counties. The old name of wind-flower is still retained in France, where it is called l'herbe au vent; and its English name is taken from anemos, which the ancients gave it, because its delicate flowers quivered in the fierce breezes of March, and its shining seeds were carried about on the air.
It is still more abundant in the April woods than now; and though frail when gathered, and dying quickly, yet it continues in bloom during a longer period than many other flowers. The blossom of the wood anemone is white and star-shaped, and its stem has about its middle, three dark smooth green leaves, of a very beautiful form, with the veins tinged with crimson. This flower is poisonous to cattle, and, if bruised, will raise a blister on the skin.
The daffodil (Narcissus pseudo narcissus) blooms in March, not only in gardens, but also in a few moist woods, and in meadows watered by streams. This flower, though admired by us chiefly for its early appearance, was a great favourite with the old poets; and it was one of the flowers, called by Spenser, Michael Drayton, and other early writers, by the name of "lily." The poets' narcissus, also, (Narcissus poeticus,) grows wild in some sandy fields of England, especially in Kent and Norfolk, but does not flower till May. Its colour is pure white; in former days it was called "primrose peerless." It is the flower so celebrated by the ancient Greek writers.
The scent of both these, as well as of every other species of narcissus, is strong and deleterious. In Holland, where this flower, as weil as many others, receives a great degree of attention, some of the more delicate species of the narcissus tribe are cultivated in rooms, and the odour from these rooms is a frequent cause of sickness. This scent is probably more powerful