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continued uninterrupted, has spread the richest humus, that, rather too luxurious for other grains, yields the most abundant harvests of Indian corn, the staple commodity of agriculture.
Remarkable are also those large blocks of granite and other primitive rocks, which are scattered along the banks. Since the nearest beds of primitive rocks first appear in Minnesota, and the northern part of Wisconsin, their presence can only be accounted for by assuming, that at the time the State of Illinois was covered with water, they were floated down from the north, enclosed and supported by masses of ice, which no sooner melted than the rocks sunk to the bottom, maintaining, as old settlers, their present position, whilst the work of excavation of the valleys, ravines, and channels by the water, was going on; whereas the lighter masses of earth, driven down the river, were deposited at the southern corner of the State, near the mouth of the Ohio, or contributed to the formation of the Mississippi Delta; since, in fact, the later alluvial land of the Lower Mississippi Valley reaches up the river to that point.
On the banks of the Illinois River, the pebbles rounded by the water may be found covered with a yellowish crust, as if they were baked together. These are the later fresh water calcareous strata, continually deposited before our eyes by the water.
The vegetation of the State forms the connecting link between the Flora of the northeastern States, and those of the Upper Missisippi, exhibiting, besides the plants common to all States lying between the Mississippi and Atlantic Ocean, such as are, properly speaking, natives of the western prairies; not being found east of the Alleghany Mountains. Immense prairies of grass,
groves, and stretching, principally, along the water-courses, cover two-thirds of the entire area of the State in the north, while her southern part is garnished with tufts of massive thickets, greatly diversifying the otherwise somewhat monotonous landscape.
In order to obtain a view of the variety of the vegetable creation of the State, we invite the reader to accompany us on a summer excursion.
The large, scattered, village-like formation of the smaller and middle towns, and the want of a pavement, render it possible for us to herbalise in the very town, from the moment we have stepped outside our house. Lo! close to the door is the round-leaved mallow, Malva rotundifolia, L.), next to it the swine-grass, (Polygonum aviculare, L.), here the cass-weed, (Capsella bursa pastoris, Moench), there the pseudocamomile, (Anthemis arvensis, L.), covers entire tracts; a neglected garden adjoining the house is entirely overspread with the fleshy leaves of the purslain, (Portulaca), among which rises the white orache (Chenopodium album, L.), to an unusual height. But do they belong to the American, and particularly the Illinoisian Flora? No, they are immigrants; the vegetable immigration from the old world.*
* Whether the various species of a genus are of common origin, and have formed themselves under external influences, having sprung from a single individual, and spread from a single place of nativity, are questions regarding which opinions are divided. Of many cultivated plants in pe, one could not tell whence they came thither, and of many that grow wild, whether they occupied their present domicile from primeval times, or only lately emigrated to it. That the plants do migrate, nay, that they even leave a country altogether, when the conditions indispensable to their growth are no longer found in the country, has been historically proven. Mr. Fraas, in a little work published in Germany, entitled “ The Plant in Time and Climate,” (Die Pflanze in Zeit und Klima”) has quoted from ancient Greek authors many passages mentioning plants of Greece identical with certain ones existing at this present day in Germany, which therefore must at that time have been indigenous in the Grecian groves, but which have now disappeared together with the groves. The wooded country having assumed the character of a mere heath, other plants have taken their place, which may also be found in Syria and Egypt, whence they probably emigrated into Greece, and being rather remarkable, would certainly have been noticed and mentioned by the ancient authors, had they existed in Greece. Although the fact of the immigration, which by the agency of man took place, of plants from the old to the new continent, is within the reach of modern history, so that similar investigations might be instituted with the greatest success here, the American botanists have in regard to many plants not yet been able to agree, whether they are of native or foreign origin. In his “Principles of Geology,” Lyon speaks of an old author by the name of - Jocelyn,” as having drawn up a catalogue of the plants that, since the colonization of New England, came to these shores. The common nettle (Urtica), he says, was the first which the settlers noticed, and the plantain, (Plantago major, L.), received the name of the “Englishman's Foot,” by the Indians; by which the latter understood, that it appeared to have grown up under the very footsteps of the English. The total number of those plants was estimated to be 22; it has, however, enormously increased since. These emigrants have of course not spread equally. Thus, although many species have penetrated to the Mississippi, we have not yet been able to discover in Illinois, that primitive settler, the nettle (Urtica), nor the knot-grass (Triticum repens), which has already become the plague of the eastern farmer. Most of the herbs known to have immigrated are of European origin; but a few belong to other countries, as the prickly amaranth (Amaranthus spinosus, L.), from East India ; the Indian eleusine (Eleusine Indica, Gaertn.), a tropical plant, a native probably of the West Indies; the Mexican poppy (Argemone Mexicana, L.), from the south-western States; as also the so called martynia proboscidea, Glox. Whether the catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), which you may frequently find planted in the streets, is peculiar to the Southern States, or was introduced by the natives, remains uncertain.
In the same manner in which the immigrating races of the human family do in this country prosper and increase, becoming as numerous as the sands on the sea-shore, prosper and grow up also the plants accompanying the immigrant. Thus the rather inodorous thorn-apple (Datura stramonium, L.), occupies in our land so large a space as to make one doubt, whether it is to be considered a native of the old or new world.*
And as the immigrant on his arrival finds many a countryman whom he is by no means overjoyed to meet again, he salutes on the other hand many an old acquaintance among the vegetable world, with the exclamation, “ You here, too ?”
Where once the prairie stretched along the banks of the river, or skirted the forest, and the wigwam of the Indian was standing, there the stately mansions of modern civilisation may now be foundand near them many a foreign plant. Brick walls not being congenial to them, the flowers of the prairie and forest unfold their charms under the airy canopy of heaven; and the few left behind of the various vervains (Verbena), ambrosias (Ambrosias), the prickly lidas (Lida spinosa L.), and the Pennsylvanian polygonies (Polygonum Pennsylvanicum), and others, are peaceable neighbors of the immigrated burdock (Arctium lappa, Gaertn.), the so-called “Leonurus cardiaca,” the common marum (Marubium vulgare, L.), the marsh-mallow of Vincennes (Abutilon avicennæ, Gaertn.), the yellow lion's mouth (Linaria vulgaris, Mill.), the black mustard (Sinapis nigra, L.), and the rue (Sisymbrium officinale, Scop). Unlike their human prototypes, these plants do not deny to others, because immigrated, the right of settling at any place they may have chosen, but stand peaceably side by side, deriving their nourishment from the same parent, imbibing the dew of the hea-, vens, and enjoying the light equally diffused over them, of the glorious sun of Deity.
* It is singular, that, while the stramonium is sure to be encountered wherever the white man has fixed his domicile, again, at places where the wigwam of the red man is still standing, you would search in vain for this poisonous plant; thus, in a manner is it intimated, that nature's pure state is corrupted by civilisation.
Before we finally turn our backs on the last scattered houses of the city, we find both sides of the road lined with ugly worm-fences, which are overtopped by the various species of helianthus (Helianthus), thistles (Cirsium Virginianum, Mich. and C. altissimum, Spr.), biennial gaura (Gaura biennis, L., Greek yarpa = proud, superb), with the vermilion, and the Illinoisian bell-flower (Campanula Illinoisiensis, Fresen.), with cerulean blossoms, and other tall weeds. Here may also be found the coarse-haired Asclepias tuberosa, L., with fiery-red umbels, the strong-scented Monarda fistulosa L. var. mollis, and an umbelliferous plant, the grass-like, spiculated leaves of which recall to mind the southern agaves, the eryogo (Eryngium aquaticum, L.) Among these untutored children of nature rises the civilised plant, the Indian corn, with its stalks nearly twelve feet high, and its green, succulent leaves and swelling knots.
Next to Indiau corn, wheat is most cultivated ; oats next, and, since, in consequence of the extensive German immigration, rye-bread and beer are in great demand, also barley and rye. The broom-corn (Sorghum saccharatum Pers.), is raised for the manufacturing of brooms. Potatoes being a rather expensive luxury, are little cultivated, and that little chiefly in the north-western part of the State, near Galena, on meagre soil. The sweet potato (the tuber of a convolvulacea, of the Batatas edulis, Choisy), the water-melon, sweet melon, various pumpkins and tomatoes (Lycopersicum esculentum, Mill.), are common products of the fields. In the south the castor-oil plant (Ricinus communis, L.), is also cultivated.
Having now arrived at the end of the cultivated lands, we enter upon the dry prairies extending up the bluffs, where we are saluted by the small vermilion sorrel (Rumex acetosella, L.), and mouse-ear (Myosotis stricta, Link.), which, however, do not reside here as foreigners, but as natives,* like many other plants that remind the European of his native country, as for instance the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Wig.), a kind of rose (Rosa lucida), with its sweet-scented blossoms, has a great predilection for this dry soil. With surprise we meet here also many plants with hairy greenish-gray leaves and stalk-covers; as, for instance, the Onosmodium melle, Mich., Hieracium longipilum, Torr., Pycnanthemum pilosum, Nutt., Chrysopsis villosa, Nutt., Amorpha canescens, Nutt., Dalea alopecuroides, Willd., Tephrosia Virginiana, Pers., Lithospermum canescens, Lehm.; between which the immigrated mullein (Verbascum thapsus, L.), may be found. The pebbly fragments of the entire slope, which, during spring-time were sparingly covered with dwarfish herbs, such as the Androsace occidentalis, Pursh., Draba Caroliniana, Walt., Antennaria plantaginifolia, Hook., plantain (Plantago Virginica, L.), Scutellaria parvula, Mich., are now crowded with plants of taller growth and variegated blossoms. Rudbeckia herta, L., with its numerous radiating blossoms of a lively yellow colour, and the closely allied Echinacea purpurea (Moench), whose long purple rays hang down from a ruddy hemispherical disc, are the most remarkable among plants belonging to the genus “compositæ," which blossom early in summer; in the latter part of summer follow innumerable plants of the different species Liatris, Vernonia, Aster, Solidago, Helianthus, &c., Tephrosia Virginiana, Pers., with numerous great pink and yellow-coloured blossoms; the violet Psoralea floribunda, Nutt., and Psor. Onobrychis, Nutt.; Petalostemon violaceum, Mich., and Petalostemon candidum, Mich., belonging all of them to the family of the leguminous plants, blossom here, together with the Linum Virginianum, L., and the Polygala incarnata, L, with rosy, pretty little blossoms on a tall stalk.
* Of such plants as are equally diffused over the entire north-temperate
We approach a sinuous chasm of the bluffs, having better soil and underwood, which, thin at first, increases gradually in density. Low bushes, hardly a foot high, are formed by the American thistle (Ceanothus Americanus, L.), a plant whose leaves were used instead of tea, after the English tea had been thrown in the sea, at Boston, during the revolution; the flower being very beautiful may be used for ornamental purposes. Next follow the hazel-bush (Corylus Americana, Walt.), the fiery-red Castilleja coccinea, Spreng., and the yellow
zone, there are many, especially ranunculæ, cruciferæ, aquatic plants of every kind, and reed-grasses.