Queen of the marsh, imperial Drosera treads
Rush-fringed banks, and moss-embroider’d beds;230
Redundant folds of glossy silk surround
Her slender waist, and trail upon the ground;
Five sister-nymphs collect with graceful ease,
Or spread the floating purple to the breeze;
And five fair youths with duteous love comply235
With each soft mandate of her moving eye.
As with sweet grace her snowy neck she bows,
A zone of diamonds trembles round her brows,
Bright shines the silver halo, as she turns;
And, as she steps, the living lustre burns.240
Drosera. l. 231. Sun-dew. Five males, five females. The leaves of this marsh-plant are purple, and have a fringe very unlike other vegetable productions. And, which is curious, at the point of every thread of this erect fringe stands a pellucid drop of mucilage, resembling a ducal coronet. This mucus is a secretion from certain glands, and like the viscous material round the flower-stalks of Silene (catchfly) prevents small insects from infesting the leaves. As the ear-wax in animals seems seems to be in part designed to prevent fleas and other insects from getting into their ears. See Silene. Mr. Wheatly ... observed these leaves to bend upwards, when an insect settled on them, like the leaves of the muscipula veneris, and pointing all their globules of mucus to the center, that they completely intangled and destroyed it. M. Broussonet, in the Mem. de l'Acad. des Sciences for the year 1784. p. 615. after having described the motion of the Dionæa, adds, that a similar appearance has been observed in the leaves of two species of Drosera.
—from P. J. Redouté’s Jardin de la Malmaison
Well have the votaries of the Muses been called an irritable race. They have the qualities of the Sensitive Plant, or rather those of the Dionaea Muscipula, and woe be to the critical fly which dares to fix upon one of their leaves.*
*The leaves of the Dionaea Muscipula, or Venus’s fly trap, are armed with sharp spines. The unlucky insect who ventures on this irritable plant is immediately enclosed and pierced on every side. See a particular account of it in Darwin’s Loves of the Plants.
—from the Advertisement of a work in critique of Richard Payne Knight’s poem, The Landscape, (p. i)
—from John Ellis’ss “A Botanical Description of the Dionaea Muscipula”
Sentiment, George, I’ll talk, when I’ve got any,
Oh! And Linnæus has made such a prig o’ me,
Cases I’ll find of such polygamy,
Under every bush,
As would make the “shy curcuma8” blush;
Vice under every name and shape,
From adulterous gardens to fields of rape!
I’ll send you some Dionaea Muscipula,
And, into Bartram’s book if you dip, you’ll a
Pretty and florid description find of
This “ludicrous, lobed, carnivorous, kind of—9”
The Lord deliver us,
Think of a vegetable being “carnivorous!”
And, George, be sure
I’ll treat you too, like Liancourt10,
(Nor thou be risible)
With the views, so striking and romantic,
Which one might have of the Atlantic,
If it were visible.
8 “Curcuma, cold and shy.” Darwin.
9 “Observed likewise in these savannas abundance of the ludicrous Dionaea Muscipula.” Bartram’s Travels in North America. For his description of this “carnivorous vegetable,” see Introduction, 13.
10 This philosophical Duke, describing the view from Mr. Jefferson’s house, says “The Atlantic might be seen, were it not for the greatness of the distance, which renders that prospect impossible.” See his Travels.
—from John Ellis’ss “Directions for Bringing over Seeds and Plants”
—from S. T. Edwards’ Curtis’s Botanical Magazine
|Class:||5. Pentandria (Five Males)|
|Order:||5. Pentagynia (Five Females)|
|Class:||Equisetopsida C. Agardh|
|Subclass:||Magnoliidae Novák ex Takht.|
ex Bercht. & J. Presl
|Species:||Drosera rotundifolia L.|
But, when with Spring’s return the green blades rise
Amid the russet heath, the household live
Joint tenants of the waste throughout the day,
And often, from her nest, among the swamps,
Where the gemm’d sun-dew grows, or fring’d buck-bean,
They scare the plover, that with plaintive cries
Flutters, as sorely wounded, down the wind.
Rude, and but just remov’d from the savage life
Is the rough dweller among the scenes like these,
(Scenes all unlike the poet’s fabling dreams
Describing Arcady)—But he is free....
“Where the gemm’d sun-dew grows, or fring’d buck-bean,
They scare the plover—”
—from R. J. Thornton’s Temple of Flora
But whether the insects caught in their leaves, and which dissolve and mix with the fluid, serve for aliment or support to these kinds of plants, is doubtful. All the Sarracenias are insect catchers, and so is the Drossea [sic] rotundifolia.
But admirable are the properties of the extraordinary Dionaea muscipula! A great extent on each side of that serpentine rivulet is occupied by those sportive vegetables—let us advance to the spot in which nature has seated them. Astonishing production! see the incarnate lobes expanding, how gay and sportive they appear! ready on the spring to entrap incautious deluded insects! what artifice! there behold one of the leaves just closed upon a struggling fly; another has gotten a worm; its hold is sure, its prey can never escape—carnivorous vegetable! Can we after viewing this object, hesitate a moment to confess, that vegetable beings are endued with some sensible faculties or attributes, similar to those that dignify animal nature; they are organical, living, and self-moving bodies, for we see here, in this plant, motion and volition.