We have a shrub very common in our bush of a similar appearance to a small-leaved Richea, but the petals are persistent and are separate one from the other nearly to the base, and the anthers generally cohere in a ring round the style. It is a Sprengelia.
These and a few other genera have capsular fruits and many seeds in each chamber. But there is another and larger section of the family with berry-like fruits, each ovary of which contains only one seed.
The commonest genus of this is that commonly known as the Whitebeards, or Leucopogon. The flowers are very small, generally numerous, in axillary or nearly terminal bunches. The corolla is white and the inner surface of the petal lobes are densely covered with white hairs. The fruit is small, and the style is not so sunk in a depression; the outer part is succulent, the inner is a stone with five or fewer chambers, each containing one seed.
Cheeseberry and Pinkberry belong to a genus, Cya-thodes, with similarly-structured flowers and fruit, only the former are placed singly in the axils, and the petals bear few or no hairs, and the fleshy coat of the fruit is better developed. In Cheeseberry also there are generally ten ovarian cavities.
Common Heath. (Epacris Impressa. Lah.) [See p. 16
Our native Cranberry is a little shrub growing flat on the ground with long, dark-crimson, tubular corollas with minute lobes. The fruit is green or white, with a very succulent outer coat. Peachberry looks like a small Epac-ris, but the flowers are bunched, and the fruit places it in this section. The bunched flowers separate it from Cythodes, and the hairless petals from Leucopogon.
It is very desirable that at least our commoner plants should have popular names. People naturally object to the difficult and often weird appellations used by botanists. But unfortunately much confusion has been caused by thoughtless application. We have given names of common English plants to our natives, to which they have no relation. The tree we call Myrtle is in no way related to the true Myrtle, but is a Beech, and should be called such. Our Laurel, too, has nothing in common with a Laurel, either as scientifically or popularly known in the Old Country. And our Native Cherry is no nearer a Cherry than a cabbage. These names cause false ideas, but the worst confusion is the result of giving the same plant many names, or, worse still, the same name to many plants. Dogwood and Native Pear are names indifferently given, even in the same locality. Every State has its own Red-gum, while we have in Tasmania two Eucalypts so named. Blue-gum suffers in the same way. That this is a matter of practical importance is evident. A few years ago a tender was let to supply Blue-gum, meaning, but not stating, that the wood of Eucalyptus globulus should be supplied. Instead of this, another local Blue-gum, one of the Peppermints, was delivered and accepted in all good faith.
An effort is being made to induce a uniform and unexceptional lot of popular names for all Australia, which shall be taught in our schools and generally used, but even then we shall always require the ultimate appeal of the scientific appellation. Thus, in order to mark off our common Heath from closely allied heaths, we call it Epacris impressa, and if we wish to be quite clear that we refer to the plant originally described by that name, we write after it the name of the person who described it, in this instance, Labillardiere. We write it down as Epacris impressa, Lab. The first name is that of the genus to which the plant belongs, and is formed on a Greek model. The second name marks the species, and is of Latin form. These names are better if they denote some feature of the genus and species respectively. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, so they should generally be treated as proper names, marking the plant, but bearing no other significance. In the present case the second name, impressa, is of use. The corolla of this plant has five small impressions in the lower part, which marks it off clearly from all its near relations.
Prickly Richea. (Richea scoparia, J.D.H.) [See p. 16
When we wish to refer to one kind of plant we call it a species; thus Epacris impressa is the name of a species, and is distinct at least in our minds from the common Rocket, Epacris lanuginosa. We commonly speak of a species as if it was one clearly marked or rigid form. In that we are wrong; there is no such circumscribed species. We can seize on one form, make it the type, and compare others to it, and if they do not depart much from it we say they belong to that species; but. after all, the species is only a group of forms which we, for the sake of convenience, treat as one. If we raise fifty young from the seed of a plant, no two are exactly alike; some may be very similar, others not. If we raise more from the dissimilar ones, we may soon produce forms very unlike the original. This change may occur in nature, and may in time become a fixed character; then it is only a matter of opinion whether the new form shall be considered a distinct species. The name species is purely arbitrary; it is convenient and necessary, but has no absolute significance in nature. The natural consequence is that botanists vary in what they call species. Here we are calling several forms one species, under the name Epacris impressa. The most able local botanist we have had, Ronald Gunn, made three species of it. Next generation a botanist may break it up into a dozen. This is disheartening to the beginner, who likes simplicity. He must blame nature, not the botanist.
When we find a group of species, the Wattles for instance, which show such a great likeness in essential features that we conclude they are close or recent offshoots from one type, we form another semi-natural group, which we call a genus. In the same way we group genera into families, and families into Orders. This brings all known flowering plants into about forty-two large more or less natural groups. These again are clearly divisible into two classes, the Monocotyls, containing the Grasses, Rushes, Lilies, Orchids, and such, and the Dicotyls, which contains the rest. These two classes are very distinct, and no proof has yet been brought forward that one is descended from the other.
Hovea Longifolia. R. Br. [See p. 20