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 Purple Sea-Rocket grows abundantly all summer on most of our seashores. It is a bushy plant with many branches, and you will recognise it by its thick and fleshy green leaves. The flowers are a pale lilac colour, like those of the Cuckoo Flower. Some of them grow on heads at the end of the main stem, and others have short stalks which branch from each side of this stem.
In this plant there are always buds in a cluster at the end of the stem, and those flowers that come out first grow further down the stem.
Behind the lilac flowers there are four small brownish-green sepals. When these fall off, after the flower is withered, the seed-vessel which lies inside grows into a small green pod. The pod is in two pieces and looks as if it were joined in the middle. You will see a great many of these tiny pods growing on each side of the main stalk where there have been flowers.
The stem of the Sea-Rocket is very smooth and juicy. The leaves are long and feather-shaped, and they are cut very irregularly into fingers all the way round.
The Cuckoo Flower is very common and grows all springtime in every meadow.
The flowers are a pale purple or lilac. Sometimes you find them almost white. They have four petals, each of which has a slight nick in the outer edge. There are six stamens with yellow heads, which you can just see in the centre of the flower where the petals meet; and you will notice that two of these stamens are much shorter than the others.
The flowers grow in a cluster near the end of a stout stalk. After the petals and the small green sepals fall off, the seed-vessel, which is in the middle of the stamens, shoots up into a long thin pod. This pod is slightly curved, and is pale brown.
The leaves of the Cuckoo Flower are of two kinds. Those that spring from the root, close to the ground, grow opposite each other in pairs of leaflets, on a stalk which has an odd leaflet at the end.
But the leaves which appear further up the main stem are quite different They, too, grow in opposite pairs, but they are long and narrow like pointed straps, and are not nearly so pretty as those which are closer to the ground.
The Marsh Cinquefoil is not so common as many plants. It likes best to grow where there are high hills, and you find it all summer in wet ground among the peat-bogs.
It has black roots, which creep a long distance among the mud, and from these roots grow beautifully shaped green leaves, and rather strange-looking flowers.
These flowers have five small petals, which are a deep purple colour. So are the stamens, so are the seed-vessels. Even the sepals, which are bigger and longer than the petals, are a rich, dark purple, except at the foot where they join the stalk, and there they are greenish.
The Marsh Cinquefoil has two rings of sepals. Those in the outermost circle are shaped like a narrow tongue. The inner sepals are much broader, and they end in sharp points.
The flowers have each a stalk which branches from the main stem. Sometimes two flower-stalks will spring from the same part of the stem, and in that case there will be a large green leaf clasping the stem where they rise.
These leaves are usually divided into three fingers, each of which is long and rather narrow, with sharp teeth all round. There are a few hairs on the upper side of the leaf, but underneath it is quite smooth.
The Water Avens loves moist places, and in summer you find it abundantly by the sides of ditches and streams.
It is a delightful plant to discover, as both the leaves and the flowers are beautiful.
The flowers grow singly at the end of slender stalks which branch from the main stem near the top. They are cup-shaped, with heads that are always drooping.
The petals are bright orange-brown, tinged with purple, and outside these brilliant petals there is a calyx of deep purple sepals. These sepals are lined with bright green and have pointed tips, and there are many hairs all over them.
In the centre of the flower are bright yellow-headed stamens, and when the flower is withered, and the seeds begin to ripen, a short green stalk rises in the middle, and on this there appears what looks like a small green strawberry. From every seed on the strawberry there grows a long spike with a curl in the middle. This spiky seed-vessel is very curious.
The leaves of the Water Avens are deep green, and sometimes they have red streaks round the edges as well as on the back. They grow in pairs on the leaf-stalk, a large pair and a small pair alternately, and they are slightly hairy, with edges which are nicked all round. Where the leaves join the main stem there is often a tiny scale.
The Dog Violet begins to flower early in summer. You find it growing on banks under the hedges, a tiny plant with flowers so small and stalks so short that the flowers are of no use after you pluck them.
Every child knows what a violet is like, but you should pick one of the flowers to pieces and see how curiously each petal is shaped. There are five petals, and these petals are pale purple at the broad part, but at the narrow end they are almost pure white, and this narrow end is hidden among the green sepals. Four of these petals are nearly the same size, and on two of them there are patches of hair near the foot.
The fifth petal is much larger, and the narrow end of this broad petal is shaped like a round tube. This tube, instead of being hidden among the sepals, stands out beyond them like a spur. Inside the tube are the stamens, and all the yellow heads of the stamens are joined edge to edge in a ring round the seed-vessel.
The Dog Violet has five green sepals with very sharp points, and the lower part of each sepal is slightly swollen. The leaves are heart-shaped, with toothed edges, and they grow very close to the ground and have scarcely any stalks. This Violet has no scent.
The Heartsease is not quite so common as the Dog Violet, though in some parts of Britain it grows abundantly. It is in flower all summer.
The flowers have five petals, but these are not all the same colour. There are two deep purple petals and three which are bright orange-yellow. In the Heartsease the broadest petal has a very small tube at the narrow end, the same as in the Dog Violet. There are five pointed green sepals, which do not fall off after the flower is withered. You will often see the seed-vessel sitting among these sepals, and when this seed-vessel is ripe it splits open into three small boat-shaped cases, each with a row of seeds inside.
The stem of the Heartsease is round, with distinct lines running up the sides.
The leaves are oval, on short stalks, and they have wavy edges. Where they and the flower-stalk join the main stem you find a fringe of other green leaves, quite differently shaped. These leaves have a long name which you will learn later, but meantime you should notice how they are cut up into little green straps which stand out all round the stem.
The Common Mallow is a handsome flower which grows by roadsides and in waste places. It is plentiful all summer and autumn. The five petals are a beautiful pale mauve streaked with purple. They are long and rather narrow, and each petal has a deep notch in the outer edge. These petals do not meet close together at the bottom; you can see part of the green calyx appearing between each petal.
In the middle of the flower stands a small purple pillar. In this pillar all the slender stems of the stamens are joined together, and their heads cluster near the top like tiny beads, with the wavy points of the seed-vessel rising among them.
This Mallow has two kinds of green sepals. Five of these are broad, with sharply-pointed tips and hairy edges. And besides these there are three long narrow sepals.
The green leaves of the Mallow are very pretty. They are shaped like a hand with five blunt points, and the edges all round are cut into delicate teeth.
Those leaves which grow close to the root have often a deep purple blotch near the centre.
This Thistle is very well known, particularly in Scotland, where it is the national flower. It blooms in late summer and autumn.
The stem of the Scotch Thistle is very stiff and straight, with 'wings' at each side. These wings are pale green flaps edged with very sharp points, and they run from top to bottom of the stem. The stem itself is white and woolly.
The Thistle flowers are a dull purple colour, and grow in a dense head, forty or fifty of them closely packed together. If you pick to pieces one of these heads, you will find that it is made up of many purple tubes which are edged with five purple teeth. The foot of each tube is enclosed in a covering of dingy yellow down.
When you have a great many of these flowers growing close together in a head, the under part looks like a bundle of woolly down.
Below this down bundle you find a prickly green covering, in which there are dozens of narrow green leaves. Each leaf ends in a sharp point, and it is this prickly green covering which makes the Thistle such a difficult flower to gather.
The leaves have very sharp points at the edges. They are dark green, and are thinly covered with beautiful grey down. The young leaves are entirely white and woolly until they open.
The Plume Thistle is very common all over Britain. It grows during summer in bogs and in wet places by the roadside.
This tall, thin plant is not nearly so attractive as the Scotch Thistle.
The flowers grow in heads which contain a great many dull purple flowers crowded together in one bundle. These heads do not grow singly as in the Scotch Thistle. You will find three or four close together at the end of the main stem, and there is usually one head of flowers much further out than the others.
The green covering which protects the lower part of the flowers and binds them together is not hard and prickly as in the Scotch Thistle. When you pick this covering to pieces you find that it is filled with woolly down.
The stem of the Marsh Plume Thistle is stiff and straight, and it has green wings with very sharp prickles up each side.
The leaves are long and narrow, and they are edged with sharp points. Each leaf is dark green above, but underneath it is covered with white down.
This pretty plant is common over most of Britain. You find it on dry banks and by the edge of fields, and it blooms all summer and autumn.
The flowers are very interesting. They grow in a bouquet which contains many flowers crowded together at the end of a stout stalk.
The centre flowers are a reddish pink colour, and have many tall yellow-headed stamens standing up beyond them. The petals of these flowers are joined together into a tube which is unevenly divided round the mouth. If you open the tube gently, you will find that the stamens are clinging to the inside.
Outside these pinky flowers there is a border of purply-blue tube-flowers, and these are much larger than the group in the centre. At the mouth of each tube there is a purple strap, and these straps stand out like a frill round the bouquet.
Behind these flowers there is a double row of small pointed green leaves.
The stem leaves are shaped like a feather, and they have long narrow fingers growing up each side of a centre stalk. There is always a solitary finger at the end of the stalk, and each finger is covered with soft hairs.
The Heather is so well known that it scarcely requires any description. It grows on moors and commons and mountain-sides in England, Scotland and Ireland, and in autumn you will find it covering the ground like a carpet, sometimes growing in bushes as high as your knee.
The flowers of the Heather are very tiny, and they vary in colour from a pale pink to a deep purple. These flowers grow in spikes near the end of thin woody stems, and each flower has a very short stalk which droops slightly. The small flowers are bell-shaped, with the mouth of the bell deeply divided into four parts. Outside this purple bell there is a calyx made up of four purple pink sepals. These sepals are much longer than the petals, and they are very crisp and dry, like tissue paper. There is a double row of tiny green pointed leaves, clasping the bottom of the purple flowers. At first you might mistake these for sepals, but they have a different name, which you will learn some day.
The Heather leaves are very tiny. They have no stalks, and they grow tightly pressed against the tough woody stems. When you look at them closely you see that the edges are rolled back so as almost to touch each other behind. When these leaves are withering they are often a beautiful brown-red colour.
This hard-headed plant is common everywhere, in pastures and fields and by the roadside, and it blooms in autumn.
The Black Knapweed is a stiff, soldierly plant, not unlike a small Thistle without prickles.
The flowers grow in thickly crowded heads each at the end of a stout stem. These heads are made up of dozens of tiny purple tubes with the mouth cut into five straps round the edge. You can see the forked end of the seed-vessel coming out of the centre of each tube. The stamens cling to the sides of the purple tubes, hidden from sight inside. This cluster of purple tubes grows on the top of a hard green ball which has a circle of light brown strap-shaped leaves round the top.
This hard ball is covered with row upon row of green leaves pressed tightly one above the other, like the scales of a fir cone.
When the flowers are in bud they are completely hidden inside this hard green ball, and after the flowers are withered you see these balls, which have become dark brown, still clinging to the ends of the stalks.
The Knapweed leaves vary much in shape. Some are narrow and long, with edges that are finely toothed. Some are deeply cut up at the sides. Those that grow clasping the stem are broad, and they are smooth all round the edge.
This sweet-scented little evergreen grows abundantly on all sandy and chalky pastures, and is specially common in mountainous districts. It flowers in summer and early autumn.
The Wild Thyme trails along the ground in a thick tangle of wiry stems and tiny glossy leaves. From this tangled mat some of the stems stand upright, and these bear masses of small purple flowers at the top. Other stems end in a tuft of tiny leaves.
The flowers of the Wild Thyme consist of a narrow purple tube which stands in a deep green funnel-shaped calyx. The mouth of the flower-tube is cut in two, and the upper half has a small notch in the centre. The lower half is divided into three blunt points.
Inside the tube, clinging to its sides, are four stamens. After the flowers are withered you can see the tip of the seed-vessel coming out of the mouth of the calyx.
The calyx is funnel-shaped and has many sharp teeth found its mouth, and there is a fringe of white hairs just inside.
The leaves of the Wild Thyme are very small. Sometimes the edges are rolled back till they almost meet behind. They are dark green and glossy, with smooth edges, on which you can see a line of fine hairs.
At the same time of year, and in the same places as you find the Blue Hyacinth, you will discover the Early Purple Orchis.
It is a curious plant, and belongs to a family whose flowers are always strangely shaped.
The flowers grow in a cone-shaped head at the upper end of a stout, juicy stalk. Each flower consists of three purple petals and three purple sepals, and you will not be able to distinguish which are which. These petals or sepals are very irregular in shape. One is broad, and hangs open like a lip. This one has a long purple spur behind. Two smaller petals rise straight up above this lip and form a hood. And the others are shaped in varying ways.
Inside the broad lip with its hood you see a slender column, in which the one stamen as well as the point of the seed-vessel are combined.
The flower is placed at the end of what looks like a twisted purple stalk. This is really the seed-vessel, and where it joins the flower-stem there is always a narrow strip of purple leaf.
The leaves have no stalks. They are broadly strap-shaped with blunt ends, and they have long narrow lines running from base to tip. Each leaf is stained all over with purple spots.
The root of the Early Purple Orchis consists of two egg-shaped knobs, and above these knobs grow many white, worm-like rootlets.
The Purple Loose-strife is common in all parts of England, but you do not find it so abundantly in Scotland. It is a tall, spiky plant, which likes to grow in wet places, and it blooms in late summer and autumn.
The flowers are a rich purple colour which is sometimes almost pink. They grow in circles close round the main stem, and there is always a pair of broad pointed green leaves separating each circle from the one above.
The flowers have six separate petals, which are long and narrow and rather crumpled looking. These petals are placed at the mouth of a green calyx, which is shaped like a thick tube. This tube is ribbed all over, and has six large green teeth and six smaller green teeth round its mouth. If you gently split open this green tube you find two rows of stamens clinging to its sides. These stamens have purply-pink heads, and there are six long ones which stand up in the centre of the flowers, and six which are shorter and hidden out of sight.
The leaves of the Purple Loose-strife are dark green. Usually they are covered with fine hairs, but sometimes you find leaves which are quite smooth. It is easy to recognise this plant by the rings of flowers growing close round the main stem.
It is always a delight to find the dainty Butterwort. It grows in heaths and bogs and marshes almost everywhere, but is most abundant in the North. The delicate flowers bloom in summer.
You will easily recognise this beautiful highland plant by the leaves. They are thick and juicy, and grow close to the ground in a pale green star-pointed rosette. Each leaf is stalkless and as smooth as satin. On the upper side these leaves are pale yellow-green, but sometimes the edges curl upwards, and then you see that the leaf underneath is so pale that it is almost white.
From the centre of the rosette rise tall, slender stalks with drooping flower-heads. These flowers are dark bluey-purple, and their petals are joined into a short tube which stands in a shallow, toothed calyx-cup.
The mouth of the tube folds back in two parts. The upper half is short, with a deep notch in the middle. The lower half is much longer, and is divided into three deep scollops.
You will find a pink horn-like spur standing up near the base of the short tube, and you can see that the back of the flower is a delicate rose pink colour. Inside the blue tube there are two stamens and a curiously shaped seed-vessel hidden from sight.
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