The specimens, as they increase, should be arranged into families; but this requires some little attention to be paid to botanical science. This, though shrouded in what seem hard names, will be found in practice a not difficult matter, while at the same time it opens up a new world to the observer, even as the contemplation of his dried treasures brings back vividly the bright scenes and pleasant hours in which they were gathered.
The old herbalists thought they recognized the dominion of the planets over the "stars of earth," and proclaimed their virtues accordingly. The more skilful man of science has done more than this: he has classified their outward symbols and formed them into a language, the rudiments of which any one may acquire.
The most simple of modern systems of reading these signs, which tell us of the "wondrous truths" of the plant world is that which bears the name of Linnaeus, the great Swedish naturalist. The truer but more abstruse and difficult system is one formed on the natural order or arrangement of the plants themselves, and is known as the Natural system, in contradistinction to that of Linnaeus. Every plant will be found to belong to some family of various extent; and though it may be in itself uninteresting, it may be nearly connected with some beautiful plant, and form a link in that grand chain of design and foreknowledge which pervade the universe. The chick-weed and the carnation are an instance of this, and with a little practice most British wild plants may be recognized and referred to their appropriate families. A few brief hints will furnish the key to this comparatively unknown world, and the index will supply much useful information connected with each flower.
The LinnAean System will be found simple and ingenious, though somewhat artificial. He divides all plants into twenty-four classes, which are subdivided into orders. Both orders and classes depend on the number and position of the stamens and pistils. Of these orders, one is composed of plants without flowers, such as ferns and mosses; and the remainder are all plants bearing stamens and pistils, if not flowers. The first eleven classes depend solely upon the number of the stamens. The twelfth and thirteenth, partly upon the number of the stamens and partly on their relative position to other parts of the flower. The fourteenth and fifteenth classes are regulated by the relative lengths or number and proportion of the stamens. The sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth, by the connection of their filaments, or the lower part of the stamen; and the nineteenth, by that of their anthers, or the crown of the stamen. The twentieth class is distinguished by the relative position of stamen and pistil. The succeeding three classes depend upon the separation of the stamens and pistils in separate blossoms or on different plants. The twenty-fourth, on the absence of these organs altogether. The subdivision into classes depends entirely on the number of pistils in each flower.
This arrangement will be clearly understood by a glance at the detailed arrangement. Thus they stand:
1. Monandria, or one stamen in each flower.
2. Diandria, two stamens.
3. Triandria, three stamens.
4. Tetrandria, four stamens.
5. Pentandria, five stamens.
6. Hexandria, six stamens.
7. Heptandria, seven stamens.
8. Octandria, eight stamens.
9. Ermeandria, nine stamens.
10. Decandria, ten stamens with the filaments united.
11. Dodecandria, twelve to nineteen stamens inserted in the receptacle or base on which the parts of the flower are placed.
12. Icosandria, twenty or more stamens placed on the calyx. This includes the wholesome and popular rose tribe.
13. Polyandria, twenty or more stamens inserted on the receptacle. Most of the plants in this order are poisonous. Nothing can be more easy than to decide if a plant belongs to any of the foregoing classes. You have only to count the stamens and notice the position in which they are placed.
14. Didynamia, four stamens, two of which are longer, and, as the name implies, more powerful than the other two.
15. Tetradynamia, six stamens, four of which are long, and two short.
16. Monadelphia, the filaments of the stamen united in one stem, or, as the name expresses, one brotherhood.
17. Diadelphia, stamens united by their filaments into two bundles.
18. Polyadelphia, stamens united by their filaments into three or more sets.
19. Syngenesia, stamens united by their anthers. Flowers mostly compound, as the daisy and dandelion.
20. Gynandria, the stamens are united on the pistil.
21. Monoecia, the stamens and pistils on separate flowers in the same plant.
22. Dicecia, the flowers with stamens only on one plant, and the pistils on another.
23. Polygamia. Some of the flowers have stamens only, and some have pistils only, others with both stamens and pistils, either on the same plant or on two or three distinct ones. These four classes are omitted by modern botanists, and the plants belonging to them are included in the other classes according to the number of their stamens.
24. Cryptogamia, plants destitute of the flowering organs, as ferns, mosses, etc. The foregoing are the classes, and each class was divided into separate orders.
In the first thirteen classes the orders were founded entirely on the number of pistils in each flower. Thus, Monogynia, having one pistil; Digynia, 2; Trigynia, 3; Tetragynia, 4; Pentagynia, 5; Hexagynia, 6; Heptagynia, 7; Octogynia, 8; Decagynia, 10; Polygynia, many pistils.
The orders in the fourteenth class were founded on the seed-vessel. They are - 1, Gymnospermia, having seeds (four) apparently naked; and 2, Angiospermia, having the seeds enclosed in a distinct seed-vessel or capsule.
The orders of the fifteenth class are likewise two founded on the seed-vessel. 1, Siliculosa, having seeds in a short pod or pouch broader than it is long; and 2, Siliquosa, where the pod is longer than it is broad.