One more illustration of the Thalamiflores, a flower of very irregular structure, must be noted. In moist shady places, chiefly in the north of England and in Wales, may be found in the height of summer, a tall annual plant, with succulent branching stems, swollen at the joints, and bearing stalked ovate pale-green flaccid leaves. This is the Touch-menot, or Yellow Balsam,* which will serve as a representative of the Balsaminaceous family, a group of plants of which the species are chiefly tropical. The flowers grow on slender peduncles from the axils of the leaves; they are large and showy, yellow, spotted with orange-red, and curiously spurred behind; one or two of them are perfected on each peduncle, which besides bears a few others which are minute and imperfect, but producing the essential organs are those which usually mature seed. The perfect flowers are very curious in structure. The sepals and petals are all coloured, and usually consist of six pieces, of which three represent the calyx, and three the corolla. The three outer or sepals consist of two small flat opposite pieces, and a third much larger, which is really the upper sepal, but, from a twist in the stalk, hangs lowest; this sepal is hood-shaped, and prolonged behind into a curved conical spur. The petals are equally without symmetry; the lower one, or that which from the twisting before mentioned actually stands uppermost, is much smaller than the other two, but still broadish and concave, while the other two, which stand innermost of the whole six, are large broad and irregular in shape, oblique, and more or less divided into two unequal lobes. These flowers have five stamens whose anthers cohere round the pistil, and five minute sessile stigmas. The fruit is a long pointed capsule, which when ripe bursts open into five valves with great elasticity, the valves suddenly curling up, and the seeds being hurled to some distance. Hence the plant has received its generic name of Impatiens, and also its specific name, Noli-me-tangere, or Touch-me-not.
* Tamarix angliea - Plate 11 C.
We next come to the Calycifloral division, in one portion of which, now to be noticed, it will be remembered the stamens are generally perigynous, and the petals distinct.
* Impatiens Noli-me-tangere - Plate 10 D.
Of these we find flowering during the early summer, a shrub growing in hedges and thickets, known as the Spindle Tree,* and belonging to the Celastraceous family. It is rather an insignificant plant, except when in fruit, but the curious form and bright colour of this fruit render it later in the summer a rather conspicuous object. It is a smooth shrub, of about five feet high, with ovate-oblong or lanceolate pointed deciduous leaves, and axillary cymes of small green flowers; these have a flat calyx of four or five short lobes, and an equal number of larger petals, an equal number also of stamens alternating with the petals and united with them on a slightly thickened disk which covers the base of the calyx. The ovary is immersed in this disk with a short protruding style, and becomes a four-angled (sometimes three- or five-angled) red capsule, which opens, when ripe, at the angles, and exposes the seeds enveloped in a bright orange-coloured arillus - the arillus being a part of the fruit corresponding with what is known as mace in the fruit of the nutmeg.
Another unattractive Calyciflore blossoming early in the summer is the Common Buckthorn.† found occasionally in hedges and bushy places. This belongs to the Rhamnaceous family, and is a shrub or small tree, with spreading branches, which sometimes become spiny. It has ovate toothed leaves marked by a few prominent veins, mostly originating below the middle. The flowers are small, green, staminate or pistillate, clustered in the axils of the leaves; they have each four or five small calyx-teeth, and within these as many still smaller petals. The staminate flowers have an abortive ovary, broader petals, and four or five stamens alternating with the calyx-teeth, and inserted on a disk which lines the base of the calyx.
* Euonymus europoeus - Plate 11 A. † Rhamnus catharticus - Plate 11 B.
The pistillate flowers have narrow petals, the rudiments of stamens, a deeply four-cleft style, and each a free three- or four-celled ovary, which becomes one of the roundish nearly black berries. Though itself an unattractive plant - not however without its uses - the Buckthorn represents the hand some Ceanothus shrubs grown in oar gardens.
The great family of the Leguminous plants, or Pod-bearers (also called Papilionaceous, from the flowers, by a stretch of imagination, being taken to represent a butterfly), is illustrated by the Meadow Vetchling,* a weak branching perennial herb, found abundantly in moist meadows and pastures. It has smooth, angular, straggling or half-climbing stems, from one to two feet long, furnished with branched tendrils, each bearing a pair of narrow lance-shaped leaflets, and furnished at the base with a pair of large broadly lanceolate sagittate stipules. From the axils of these tendril-bearing leaves grow the elongated flower-stalks, supporting a short raceme of from six to ten yellow flowers; they consist of a small five-toothed calyx and a five-petaled papilionaceous corolla, which is made up of a large upper petal, called the standard, two narrow lateral ones called the wings, and two other narrow ones, more or less united along the lower edge, called the keel. These flowers are succeeded by small smooth pods. The plant represents the Sweet Pea and Everlasting Pea cultivated for ornamental purposes in almost every flower-garden.
Of the Lythraceous family we have an example in the beautiful Purple Loosestrife,† a willow herb, as it might well be called, whose tall upright stems, supporting long spikes of rich purple flowers, may be seen adorning the sides of wet ditches, and the banks of streams. This very showy plant is a perennial with annual stems two to four feet or more in height, and furnished with lance-shaped entire leaves growing in opposite pairs, or sometimes in threes. These leaves become smaller in the upper part of the stem, where, in their axils, the flowers appear, in masses of crowded whorls, the whole forming a whorled spike, more or less leafy below. The individual flowers consist of a small tubular cylindrical calyx, having from eight to twelve teeth, arranged in two series, the inner ones being broader than the outer; a corolla of from four to six large showy petals, inserted in the upper part of the calyx-tube; twelve stamens, inserted near the base of the calyx-tube; a two-celled free or superior ovary, surmounted by a filiform style, and growing into a many-seeded capsule.