Wild Flower study is a pursuit fraught with pleasure and with:
"Health that mocks the doctor's rules."
It does not require a preparatory course nor any special instruction to become acquainted with the more common Wild Flowers and their individual traits. Every dooryard and field, wayside, mountain and valley, from the polar regions to the tropics, and from ocean to ocean, abounds in these free-born gifts of Nature. There can be no reason why every one should not become acquainted with and enjoy them. The descriptions which follow are, therefore, intended to bring those seeking information on this subject into contact with the more common species in the most direct and interesting manner. The book includes many simple accounts of plant and flower connection with history, medicine, and legend, together with bits of folk-lore and poetry. The time of flowering, the range and locality where each flower may be sought, are given, and, above all, the author aims first and last to interest and instruct those who seek ready and reliable information on the subject. Hundreds of notes recorded in the descriptions contained herein were made on the spot where the plants were growing naturally, and many of the descriptions were written beside the actual flowers in various parts of the country, and in all sorts of weather and conditions. They are here told in much the same spirit as they might be related to an acquaintance afield. The flowers have been arranged in five distinct groups, according to colour, as this is, without doubt, the simplest and quickest method of arriving at a definite means of identification.
The flowers are divided first, according to colour, then, according to natural classification. Since flowers are exceedingly variable in colour, and in no case constant, it is difficult to arrive at their true colour value; and, besides, most persons have their own ideas regarding colours. Purple, for instance, ranges from lightest to darkest blue, but is more or less generally understood to be a reddish blue, and it is largely a matter of qualifying its shade. Therefore, the simple primary colours have been selected as a basis, and the flowers have been arbitrarily divided into Red, Pink, Yellow and Orange, Greenish and White, and Blue and Purple groups. The student is thus enabled to turn immediately to the group of any particular flower he may desire, according to its dominating colour, without searching through an indefinite mass of descriptive matter. A small magnifying glass will reveal wonders as remarkable as those of fairyland. Such a glass, together with a few needles and a sharp penknife for dissecting the specimens, makes a satisfactory outfit for general study. A small note-book for records and a tin collecting box are also strongly recommended.
Specimens may be pressed in books or between blotters, and mounted on cards when dry, with thin strips of court-plaster, and neatly labeled with date, and locality. The scientific names and classification in the text follow the method adopted by the International Botanical Congress at Vienna, June, 1905, and now incorporated in the new seventh edition of "Gray's Manual," most extensively used as the class text-book in the public schools, thus appealing strongly to both teacher and student by its uniform system of nomenclature. Two Indexes are provided - one for the Common names and one for the Latin, which have been separated to avoid confusion and to facilitate ready reference. Technical terms have been simplified or disregarded wherever possible, and the few which have been retained are defined in the Glossary at the end of the text. In order to assist in the pronunciation of the Latin names the vowels have been accented. The grave or long (') accent signifies the long vowels; the acute or short ('), short vowels. Naturally, many references have been made to various works on this comprehensive subject. "Gray's Manual," and Britton and Brown's "Illustrated Flora" have been freely consulted. The colours, descriptions, common names and ranges are usually in strict accordance with these authorities, to which I especially desire to extend full acknowledgment. I am also very grateful for the unlimited and professional advice extended by Herman Merkle, Chief Forester of the New York Zoological Park, Wilhelm Miller, Leonard Barron, and the many other personal friends who have assisted me.
To my dear mother, who has always encouraged me in my Nature studies; to my loving wife, for her help, at home and afield, with notes and specimens; and to my bonny boy, whose many inquiries have suggested this undertaking, I owe my everlasting gratitude and affection.
Frederic William Stack.
New Rochelle, N. Y. April, 1909.