Few dream of the numbers of flowers which grow all around them. In a short walk one may come across fifty species, and, sitting upon the ground in the woods in summer, one may touch twenty or thirty without moving.
The study of flowers may be called pre-eminently a vacation pursuit, since the summer, our leisure time, is the flowering season. Walking is in danger of becoming a lost art unless some purpose other than healthful exercise is found. Let our little friends of the fields and woods entice us, and their acquaintance, by the help of the Guide, will prove a fascinating pursuit.
It is not only the names of the wild flowers which we all want to know, but the prominent facts connected with their life history. Such facts as the following may be learned:
The red, fuzzy leaves and stems of the sundew are neat little traps for catching small insects upon which this plant varies its normal diet.
The rich colors and strange shapes of orchids and many other flowers are devices for securing the visits of insects which are useful to the flower as pollen-carriers.
Some flowers, in case they fail to secure insect pollination, produce "hidden blossoms" (cleistogamous), which have no beauty of form or color, but which remain closed until after pollination has taken place.
Certain plants which cannot bear too great radiation from their leaf - surfaces at night, "sleep," that is, fold their leaflets together. Examine a clover leaf after dark, and look up into a locust-tree by night. The latter looks as if it were hung with strings.
White flowers which cannot attract insects by their bright colors, are apt to be strong-scented.
Many such things, more marvelous than fairy stories, are revealed to us in the study of our common flowers.