Of a different character, still Monochlamydeous, is the Wych Elm,+ the common wild Elm of Scotland, Ireland, and the north and west of England, a representative of the Ulmaceous family. Here we have a deciduous large-growing tree, whose branches are, during summer, clothed with broadly-ovate pointed leaves. In early spring however, before the leaves appear, the buds along the twigs burst open, and each developes a dense cluster of reddish flowers surrounded by brownish bracts that soon fall away. The flowers are mostly hermaphrodite, and consist of a bell-shaped perianth with from four to six teeth and as many stamens. The ovary is flat, with two short diverging styles, and is succeeded by a flat thin leaf-like or winged seed.
* Euphorbia amygdaloides - Plate 4 D. + Uhmts montana - Plate 5 A.
The common Sallow,* one of the Amentiferse or Catkin-bearing family, is of a different character, though part of the same great Monochlamydeous division of Dicotyledons. The large family of Sallows and Willows consists of trees and shrubs, with unisexual flowers growing in catkins in early spring on the leafless twigs, the male catkins being produced on distinct plants from those which bear the females. The common Sallow itself is a tall shrub with broadish-ovate or oblong greyish downy leaves. The catkins of the male plants are cylindrically oblong, an inch long or more, formed of overlapping silky-hairy scales, but no perianth; in the axil of each scale are placed two stamens, which are longer than the scale itself, so that the fully developed catkins are rather conspicuous from the crowded prominent yellow anthers. The female catkins are longer and narrower, and have in the axils of the scales, instead of a pair of stamens, a silky ovary, which tapers into a longish beak and is terminated by the forked stigmas. Notwithstanding the bright gleam of vegetable beauty which at this early season the Sallow affords in its favourite haunts by the streamlet's margin, in moist coppice woods, or overhanging a watery ditch, it may have probably escaped the attention of many who may been attracted by these golden ' palms' of Easter-tide, that no fruit is ever borne by these specious catkins. Yet it is so. Near at hand however will be found other bushes with other catkins, without the alluring hue of gold, and these on closer inspection will be seen to consist of the pale-green silky ovaries or young fruits, surmounted by the forked stigmas, intended to catch the dust that flies off from the catkins of the golden hue, which dust is borne to the ovary-bearing or female plant by the agency of insects or on the wings of the wind. Thus even the rude blast, annoying though it sometimes may appear to be, has its appointed office to perform in Nature's laboratory, one of which is to carry the fertilizing powder or pollen from plant to plant, and thus to secure the fulfilment of the appointed law by which each herb and tree bears seed after its kind.
* Salix Caprea, Plate 5 B.
The remaining principal division of the Flowering Plants, is that which is called Monocotyledons, the chief peculiarities of which have been already pointed out in referring to the Snowdrop and Crocus. The two flowers just named belong to the regular-flowered natural families in which the ovary is inferior, or developed beneath the other parts of the flower, which thus appear to grow from the top of the ovary. Our spring flowers however afford us some illustrations of the Orchi-deous family, a peculiar series of Monocotyledons in which the flowers are remarkably irregular, and also of the Liliaceous family, a natural group of regular-flowered Monocotyledons in which the ovary is superior, the other parts of the flower being developed from beneath it, so that it is enclosed by them.
Let us examine more closely the specimens of the Orchidaceous family, first taking the Spotted Palmate Orchis of our meadows.* The flowers in this family are of very singular structure. As in most other Monocotyledons, they are made upon a trimerous plan: that is, the parts are in threes; and, as in the majority of the petaloid division of Monocotyledons, the perianth is six-leaved: that is, twice three organs are brought together in close association, but here they acquire great diversity of character. In the Spotted Palmate Orchis, which has an upright stem, furnished below with spotted simple narrow elongate leaves, and terminated by an erect spike of spotted pink flowers, the three outer parts or sepals are nearly alike, and of a narrowish or lanceolate form, while the inner series of three consists of two convergent petals, which resemble the sepals but are shorter, and a lip which is much larger, three-lobed, entirely different from the rest. In the centre, opposite to the lip, is another part called the column, which is a fleshy body formed by the combination of one stamen with the pistil. Theoretically three stamens should be present, but in the Orchis two of these are constantly abortive, and the central one only is developed. The anthers in the whole family are very peculiar in structure. This plant like many other orchids has a pair of fleshy tubers or tuberous roots, one of which becomes wasted by the development of the current year's growth, while the other is forming for the succeeding season.
The Lady's Slipper,† another of the Orchids, shows some variations of structure from that just noticed. It is larger-growing, with ovate pointed ribbed leaves. The flower-stems are a foot and a half high, supporting one or rarely two large handsome flowers, of which the upper or dorsal sepal, opposite the lip, is broadly lanceolate, and there is a similar one formed by the combination of the two lateral sepals behind or beneath the lip, while the two petals are narrower, spreading right and left: these all being of a deep brownish-purple. The lip is a large inflated pouch-shaped body, and is compared to a a slipper; it is yellow, variegated with purple. The column is broadish, and much shorter than the petals; and in this case the central stamen is abortive, and the two lateral ones are perfect.