Stem. - From a small tuber, often somewhat reclining. Leaves. - Two; opposite, long and narrow. Flowers. - White, with pink veins, or pink with deeper-colored veins, growing in a loose cluster. Calyx. - Of two sepals. Corolla. - Of five petals. Stamens. - Five. Pistil. - One, with style three-cleft at apex.
So bashful when I spied her, So breathless when I passed her,
So pretty, so ashamed ! So helpless when I turned
So hidden in her leaflets And bore her struggling, blushing,
Lest anybody find : Her simple haunts beyond !
For whom I robbed the dingle, For whom betrayed the dell, Many will doubtless ask me, But I shall never tell!
Yet we are all free to guess - and what flower - at least in the early year, before it has gained that touch of confidence which it acquires later - is so bashful, so pretty, so flushed with rosy shame, so eager to defend its modesty by closing its blushing petals when carried off by the despoiler - as the spring beauty ? To be sure, she is not "hidden in her leaflets," although often seeking concealment beneath the leaves of other plants - but why not assume that Miss Dickinson has availed herself of something of the license so freely granted to poets - especially, it seems to me - to poets of nature ? Perhaps of this class few are more accurate than she, and although we wonder at the sudden blindness which leads her to claim that when it seems as though it needed but little knowledge of flowers to recognize that yellow, probably, occurs more frequently among them than any other color, and also at the representation of this same nature as Spending scarlet like a woman when in reality she is so chary of this splendid hue; still we cannot but appreciate that this poet was in close and peculiar sympathy with flowers, and was wont to paint them with more than customary fidelity.
- Nature rarer uses yellow Than another hue
Plate V. Spring Beauty. Virginica
We look for the spring beauty in April and May, and often find it in the same moist places - on a brook's edge or skirting the wet woods - as the yellow adder's tongue. It is sometimes mistaken for an anemone, but its rose-veined corolla and linear leaves easily identify it. Parts of the carriage-drive in the Central Park are bordered with great patches of the dainty blossoms. One is always glad to discover these children of the country within our city limits, where they can be known and loved by those other children who are so unfortunate as to be denied the knowledge of them in their usual haunts. If the day chances to be cloudy these flowers close and are only induced to open again by an abundance of sunlight. This habit of closing in the shade is common to many flowers, and should be remembered by those who bring home their treasures from the woods and fields, only to discard the majority as hopelessly wilted. If any such exhausted blossoms are placed in the sunlight, with their stems in fresh water, they will probably regain their vigor. Should this treatment fail, an application of very hot - almost boiling - water should be tried. This heroic measure often meets with success.