THE summer woods are matronly and sombre; the foliage is full and dark "Shade above shade the aerial pines ascend, Nor stop but where creation seems to end," and invite us to avoid the glare of the midsummer sun. The birds sing but little, and there is nought but the humming of the bee to disturb the deep silence of the woods. There are but few wild flowers in its deep recesses. The Bramble and Raspberry are in bloom, and in the cleared heathy recesses we shall find the Bilberry and Cowberry. The tall umbels of the Cow Parsnip and other similar plants rear their heads by the green ridings alone and undisturbed.

Where the sunlight peeps through the boughs wo shall find Aaron's-beard, the flower of midsummer, St. John's Wort {Hypericum calycinum), though it scarcely shows its brilliant yellow blossoms, with their golden stamens arranged in bundles of three or five, until the first week of July. You may know the whole of the dozen species of the family by the above description and their resinous odour. The most common species is the perforated St. John's Wort {Hypericum perforatum). Its two-edged stem is about two feet high. There are small black dots at the tips of the petals and on the calyx, and the leaves on being held to the light appear to be marked with translucent dots, which rural superstition avers to have been made by the "auld Mahoun" with a needle. This species of hypericum was formerly held in great esteem as a vulnerary, and an ointment is even now made from it. Its old name was "Balm for the warrior's wound." The St. John's wort is as frequent in the open spaces near the woods as in the woods themselves.

In July we may find, particularly in the Eastern counties, the yellow Cow Wheat (Melampyrum pra-tense) and its fellow (M. cristatum). The latter is a handsome flower, with a little purple within its yellow lip. It is not so common as the first-mentioned, which has large yellow flowers which grow on a straggling stem about a foot high. It belongs to the Figwort tribe, and turns black in drying.

Close by we shall probably find the Knotted Fig-wort (Scrophularia nodosa), where the land-spring is undrained and the soil is moist. We shall easily distinguish it, as it grows some three feet high, with a square succulent stem, from which at distant intervals branches shoot out, bearing a scattered panicle of small purplish flowers intermixed with green. The plant has a disagreeable odour, similar to the elder bush. The leaves are somewhat heart-shaped, and are doubly serrated. Its root appears full of knots, and formerly had a good reputation for medicinal virtues. These virtues paled, however, before another woodland plant, the far-famed Betony (Betonica officinalis). When a lad, I have gathered arms-full of betony in distant woods for the "yarb"-lovers, whose faith in its virtues, as duly set forth in Culpepper, never failed. The old herbalist only re-echoed what physicians had said before: Green says the Italians tell one another to "buy betony, even if you sell your jacket to get it;" and undoubtedly the plant has the virtue of curing headache, but I have never tried its properties in cases of short wind. Its flowers are labiate, of a purplish-red colour, and grow in whorls round the square stem. The root-leaves are oblong, and grow on long stalks, but the stem-leaves are few. These peculiarities distinguish it from a numerous tribe of plants very similar in general appearance, and amongst which it some times grows in the hedgerows. It must not be confounded with what is called Water-Betony, that is, the "Water-Figwort or the Smooth Speedwell (Veronica scrpyllifolia), which is sometimes called Paul's Betony.

The really beautiful blue Meadow Crane's-bill (Geranium pratense), like the cow wheat, loves the wood-lands more than the meadows. It grows some two feet high, and its rough woolly stem, large deeply-lobed leaves, each lobe subdivided, mark the plant, as well as its large purplish-blue flowers. It blooms throughout the summer months.

In the northern woodlands we may find the drooping and humble Linnaea (Linnaea borealis). Its pink bell-like flowers grow in pairs on fine thread-like stems. Its lowly habit and humble beauty commended it to Linnaeus, and Gronovius changed its name, at the great Swedish botanist's request, from Nummularia to Linncea.

In woods, thickets, and shady places we may find the large, rough, green leaves of the Dog's Mercury (Mcrcurialis perennis). Its greenish flowers grow in a lax panicle. The ovate or egg-shaped leaves aro serrated, and grow on stalks, mostly at the upper part of the simple stem. The plant flowers as early as May in favourable spots, but remains until the autumn on the ground, where, as it withers away, it may be known by its turning of a blackish or bluish-green colour.

The tall, sturdy, umbelliferous plant so common in woods where the ground is marshy, is the Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris). It is difficult to distinguish sometimes from the Cow Parsnip (Heracleum sphon-dylium), which is, however, a coarser plant, and does not partake of the purplish tint of the flower and stem of the Angelica.

As we leave the summer woodlands, we shall probably see the pinkish-purple butterfly blossoms of the Bitter Vetch (Lathyrus macrorhizus). Each blossom is marked by purple veins, and are on long stalked axillary racemes. The plant grows about a foot high, and its two or three pairs of leaflets are of a sea-green hue. In Surrey this plant is frequent, and it is common in the north of Scotland, where the Highlanders eat the tuberous roots under the name of Corneille. They dry them, and chew them with their liquor with a view to keep off hunger. Under the name of heath pea the roots have been frequently used as food. The cream-coloured, blue-streaked flowers of the Wood Vetch (Vicia sylvatica) may occasionally be met with, in July and August, in upland and hilly woodlands. The elegant Pea and Vetch tribe are, however, common by the road-side and in the hedgerowa.

Summer In The Woodlands 36