The text on this page is taken from the book 'Flowers shown to the Children\ by C E Smith and illustrated by Janet Harvey Kelman,
The pages are courtesy of the Gutenburg Project. The Book is not in copyright under the Gutenberg license visit www.gutenberg.org
The coloured images/photographs are my personal choice. [see reuse of images below}
This page is aimed at educating children the future custodians of our countryside.
The Wild Mignonette does not grow close to the ground like the sweet-scented Mignonette we have in our gardens. It is a tall, spiked plant, which you find in summer-time on waste ground and among stone heaps, and it is not at all noticeable.
The flowers grow on short, thin stalks. Those flowers at the bottom open first, and the little buds are always at the top of the tall spike.
These flowers are little yellow balls, which seem to be entirely made up of stamens. But if you gently pick one of these yellow balls to pieces, you will find that there are six greenish-yellow petals.
The four largest petals are so deeply cut round the edge that they appear to be fringed. But there are two long thin ones which are each in one piece. These petals are all joined together at the bottom, with the bunch of fluffy stamens and the seed-vessel inside.
Behind this little ball there are six thin green sepals. These are very narrow and pointed, and they stand round the flower like the legs of a spider.
The leaves are dark green, and they are very much lighter underneath than above. They are very narrow, with crinkled edges, and the upper half of the leaf branches into three or four parts, like a stag's horn.
The Dandelion is as well known as the Buttercup and Daisy. It grows in all kinds of places, and it is in flower from early spring to late autumn. The large yellow flower-heads are made up of a great many separate little flower-tubes, which widen out at the mouth into a long yellow strap. These yellow tubes are placed on a round disc with the straps standing out in a circle, like a rosette. Each flower-head grows singly at the end of a long green stalk. The stalks are hollow, and when you break them a white milky juice oozes out. At the top of the stalk you find a cup made up of narrow pointed green leaves. Some of these leaves curve back over the top of the stalk.
When the yellow flowers are withered, the round disc is covered with the tiny seed-vessels. Each seed-vessel ends in a slender green spike which has a beautiful tuft of starry down at its tip. This ball of starry down is one of the most beautiful things in the flower world.
The leaves of the Dandelion are a smooth glossy green. They are shaped like a blunt arrow-head, and they have a white line running up the centre. The edges are cut up into huge teeth which are said to resemble the teeth of a lion. From this the plant gets its name.
The Tansy is to be found in hedge-banks, and by the roadside, or on the borders of the fields in many places all over the country, though in the North it is not very common. It flowers in autumn, and is a tall, bushy plant, with large green, ferny leaves.
The Tansy has a short, green stem rising stiff and straight from the ground, and this stem branches at the top into three or four forks. Each of these forks divides again into two or three smaller forks, and there is a flower which looks like a yellow button at the end of each fork.
If you pick one of these yellow buttons to pieces you find that it is made up of a great many yellow tubes, with a swollen green part at the bottom. These yellow tubes are of two kinds. In some the mouth of the tube is cut evenly all round into small scollops, and in others there is a yellow strap at one side of the tube. These tubes stand on a round disc, and at the back of this disc there is a thick double row of small green pointed leaves, which form a green cup behind the yellow buttons.
The leaves of the Tansy are like coarse ferns. They are feather-shaped, with deeply cut divisions, and each division is toothed at the edges. The Tansy has a strong scent, especially when you crush its leaves or stalks.
Is there any child who does not know the Primrose? In spring and early summer you will find its yellow blossom starring the woods and hedge-banks, and you will see it too by the seashore.
The flowers grow singly on fine stalks rising from the middle of the root. A long yellow tube is hidden in the deep calyx-cup, and the mouth of this tube opens out into five pale lemon-yellow petals. Each petal has a notch in the outer edge, and there are two orange-coloured streaks running from the base. In the centre of the petals, you can see the mouth of the tube with the heads of the stamens in its throat. The slender thread with its pinhead top, which rises from the seed-vessel, can just be seen. Yet you will also find Primroses where the heads of the stamens are hidden from sight, but where this seed-vessel thread reaches beyond the mouth of the tube.
The calyx-cup is pale-green and hairy, and has fine, sharp teeth round the edge.
The Primrose leaves grow in a rosette, rising with short, juicy stalks from the root. They are covered with a fine network of veins, which are much raised on the underside of the leaf. The leaf is crinkled all over.
Before the leaves are full grown, the edges are often rolled back so as nearly to meet on the silvery underside.
The Cowslip is the Queen of our meadow flowers. It is common in England and Ireland, and in many parts of Scotland. The spring, or early summer, is the best time to find it.
The flowers grow, a dozen or more together, in a loose cluster, at the end of a stout, round stalk. Each flower has a yellow tube which is sunk out of sight in a swollen calyx-cup. This cup is a beautiful light green colour, with five sharp teeth at the mouth, and it is covered with soft hairs. Sometimes you find it tinged with brown streaks.
Round the mouth of the yellow flower-tube stand five small lemon-coloured petals, each with a V-shaped nick in the outer edge, and a bright, reddish-orange spot at the base. If you look at the back of a cowslip, you will see that the yellow tube is swollen just below the petals.
There are five stamens, whose heads are just visible in the throat of the tube, with the tip of the seed-vessel amongst them. In some flowers this slender pillar comes a good way beyond the mouth of the tube, and the stamens are hidden out of sight.
The Cowslip leaves are crinkled all over, and have swollen veins which are much raised on the underside. In the young leaves the edges are rolled very far back.
This wiry little plant is fond of marshy places and wet bogs and heaths. It grows all over the country, and is in flower in late summer and autumn.
The Bog Asphodel has a tall, wiry flower-stalk, near the top of which you find a spike of orange-yellow flowers. There are three narrow-pointed orange petals, and three orange sepals; but these are so much alike, you will not be able to distinguish between them. When the flower is in full bloom, these petals and sepals open out, like the rays of a star; then when the seeds are ripening, they close and form an orange cup.
In the centre of the star there are six stamens, with woolly yellow stalks and bright red heads. There is also a small pear-shaped green seed-vessel.
Each flower has its own short stalk. Notice the tiny green leaves which grow at intervals on the wiry flower-stalk, tightly pressed against it.
The leaves of the Bog Asphodel are like coarse grass. They have no stalks, and look as if they had been slightly folded together from end to end. Each leaf has long lines running from base to tip.
The Honeysuckle grows in all parts of the country. You will find its sweet-scented flowers in thickets and woods during summer and autumn. It is a shrub with long, feeble, woody stems. These stems twist themselves round young trees and hedges, which support the plant and raise it up towards the sun.
The Honeysuckle flowers grow in loose heads at the end of the leaf-stem. They are shaped like long trumpets, and these trumpets are very narrow at the one end, and widen out at the mouth into two unequal lips. The lower lip is merely a long strap curled over at the end. But the upper lip is very much broader, and it is fringed at the edge. These beautiful flower-trumpets are yellow-pink, sometimes almost purple on the outside, and inside they are pale yellow. There are often seven to ten of these trumpets close together in one cluster, and you can see the heads of the stamens, and the long green tip of the seed-vessel coming out of the mouth of each trumpet.
After the flowers are withered, the seeds grow into clear dark crimson berries, of which the birds are very fond.
The leaves of the Honeysuckle grow opposite each other in pairs. They are blue-green in colour, are very smooth, and have a network of tiny veins all over them. Each leaf is oval, and its edges are smooth all the way round.
The Yellow Iris with its lily flowers and sword-like leaves is found in summer-time by the side of ditches, and marshes, and ponds.
In the Iris the petals and the sepals are almost the same colour. The flower has a short yellow tube which folds back at the mouth into three broad, handsome yellow sepals, beautifully marked with deep orange streaks.
Between each of these sepals stands a small pale yellow petal.
Rising from the centre of the flower are what look like other three pale yellow petals, with fringed ends which curl upward. These are really three branches of the slender column which rises from the seed-vessel, and they bend backwards over each sepal. Half hidden under each of these fringed petals, you can see the dark purple head of a stamen, closely pressed against the broad yellow sepal.
The yellow flower-tube stands above the seed-vessel. This seed-vessel becomes very large in autumn, and it bursts lengthways into three parts, showing rows of dark brown seeds tightly packed together inside.
Before the flower opens, the Iris is enclosed in a green sheath.
The leaves are sword-shaped, with long lines running from base to tip. They are smooth, and in colour they are a dim green.
The Daffodil is one of our loveliest spring flowers. It is found abundantly in woods, and in meadows and pastures in England, but in Scotland it does not grow wild, and it is doubtful whether it really does so in Ireland.
The flowers grow singly on tall stalks. Each Daffodil is enclosed in a light brown sheath, which stands erect. But when the growing flowers have burst this covering, they droop their heads.
Each flower has a short yellow tube, divided about half way down into six deep points.
These points do not fold back, they enclose a long yellow trumpet, which is beautifully scolloped round the mouth.
Inside this trumpet are six stamens with large yellow heads, and the slender stalks of these stamens cling to the sides of the yellow trumpet. There is also a short pillar rising from the fat green seed-vessel, which you can see outside the coloured petals, below the yellow tube.
In the Daffodil, the sepals and petals are the same colour.
The stalk of the Daffodil is slightly twisted, and has fine lines running up it. It rises straight from the centre of the bulb which forms the root.
The leaves are long, narrow straps with blunt points, and they are thick and juicy.
This sturdy flower is the parent of the snow-white Bachelor's Buttons, which grow in our garden: it is a cousin of the Millfoil or Yarrow. It is common all over the country, where you find it in meadows and ditches, and by the roadside. It blooms in autumn.
The flowers resemble small daisies. You find about a dozen growing together on short stalks, near the top of the main stem.
Each daisy consists of a disc which is closely covered with greenish-white tube-flowers. The mouth of these tube-flowers is cut into points which bend outward, and coming out of the centre of each tube, you can see the yellow tip of the seed-vessel, round which the heads of the stamens are placed edge to edge like a deep collar.
Round the outer edge of the disc there is a small circle of tube-flowers, each of which has a broad white strap, and these straps are nicked at the ends.
Underneath these small daisies stands a circle of tiny green pointed leaves; these form a cup which protects the plant when it is in bud.
The stem of the Sneezewort is very sturdy. The leaves are sword-shaped, with long veins running from the base to the tip. They clasp the stem, and all round the edge they are cut into very fine teeth, like a saw.
This woolly little plant is common over most of the north country, on heaths and sandy pastures and in upland districts; but you do not find it in the south of England. It is in flower all summer.
The root of the Mountain Everlasting is like a thin brown worm lying on the surface of the ground, and from this root, long, slender brown threads go down into the ground and keep the flower steady.
The flowers resemble small woolly daisies. They grow in clusters of four or more, at the end of the main stem, and each cluster has a short, stiff stalk of its own.
These woolly daisies are made up of a great many tiny pink flower-tubes, each with a ring of fine white hairs round it. These tubes are surrounded by a double row of woolly, downy leaves which stand out like the strap-shaped rays of the daisy.
Underneath these woolly rays is a green cup, made up of a double row of narrow strap-shaped brown or green leaves, pressed close together.
The main stem rises straight and firm from the creeping root. It is closely covered with white down, and at intervals it is clasped by narrow, pointed green leaves. These leaves are dark green on the upper side, but underneath they are covered with white woolly down.
This tall, harsh-leaved plant is to be found all over the country in moist places, by the sides of streams and ditches, and by the roadside. It blooms in spring and autumn.
The flowers of the Common Comfrey are not always the same colour. Sometimes you find them pale yellow, and in other places they are a rich purple, and the buds are pink. These flowers grow in drooping clusters on short little stalks which curve in a curious serpent manner before the buds open.
The five petals joined together form a bell, which is cut into deep teeth at the edge. Within this bell, there are five stamens clinging to the sides, and from the seed-vessel, a long, slender white thread rises. You can see this white thread best after the yellow bell is withered, and the seed-vessel is left sitting in the centre of the calyx. The green calyx-cup is very shallow, with fine, sharply pointed teeth round the mouth.
The stem of the Comfrey is covered with hard, rough hairs. It has ridges running from top to bottom, and it is hollow in the middle. The leaves on the stem grow in tufts of three or four, without any stalks. They are narrow and pointed, with wavy edges, and are covered with hairs.
Many other coarse leaves rise from the root. These leaves, too, have no stalks, and they are broad and hairy.
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