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poetry; romance is her garment; her Midas-touch transmutes the common clay to gold; goldenmailed knights, golden-tressed heroines, who to their own generation were no such thing, but very ordinary mortals.
We have the habit of looking to the old world for the picturesque, and even though we begin to realize (thanks to the advertising bureau of the railroad), that in grandeur of landscape the Rockies offer more than the Alps; Niagara more than the Rhine Falls, and the Redwoods more than the Black Forest, we have yet to open our eyes appreciation of the picturesque in our cities, which is the work not alone of nature, but of art, of mellowing time and of history.
For it is not merely in the added piquancy of sky line that a ruin gives the finishing touch we call romance to a rugged cliff. It is a link connecting us with a race that struggled, conquered, made history -and passed away.
In what incredibly brief time has San Francisco seen the rise and fall of such makers of history-the red men, the padres, the Mexicans, and then that final onrush of adventurous argonauts who found brush, sand and swamp where our city now stands, conquered the races who were here, divided their possessions, not without violence, overran their country, built themselves mansions with gold wrenched from a virgin land, flourished-and passed away!
From this peak was formerly signaled news of every arriving ship; in those days the hill was the focus of many anxious eyes. In later days a castle that would have adorned the pages of Ivanhoe dominated the summit. It was no stone fortress, though at times, twilight and distance lent it that aspect, but a pleasure resort that failed to attract, for
in its later years it was a deserted, rickety barrack, so frail that the blaze which finally destroyed it, left but a sprinkling of ashes. It left hardly more trace than a scenery castle which is removed at the close of an act. Rocks, a bit of causeway, and a grove of trees alone remain, so ephemeral are our landmarks.
A mighty symphony rises to the traveler who rests and listens on the fringe of the grove. The deep, monotonous whirr and rumble of wheels, the brassy crescendo of the factory siren, the hoarse note of the steamer signals, form the subdued accompaniment to a leading motive. that rises sweet and clear and melodious above all other songs of the great city-the laughter of children at play. Yes, from here it sounds as if the whole city were populated with children, and every one of them bubbling over with joy. Here on the slope of Telegraph Hill it is they who must take the place of flower and streamlet and bird carol all the year round, and with such a perpetual Spring Song does our race greet the future.
It is fascinating to rest at the very summit and watch lights flash through the darkness as it mysteriously from the hollow, for while it is day overhead, already the panorama at your feet is blurred and shadowy, only the bold contour of the hills looming well-defined against the golden sky.
The gold tarnishes and grows dull; then the lights of this pleasure loving city sparkle through the mist and smoke and night as jewels might shimmer through the mantilla of some dusky beauty of old Yerba Buena, or perhaps 'tis the flash of fireflies caught in her hair. At this hour she smiles, and invites her guest to descend from reveries of the past and future to the joys of the Here and Now. Who could withstand?
THE SNOW PLANT
A VEGETABLE TRAMP
BY JAMES M. BARRICKMAN, M. D.
bear, no two plants, apparently, doing the same twice alike.
It is a heath plant, and like all such, thrives best in shade, but, ever at extremes, it simply abhors direct sun rays, actually covering itself in disgust, shame or pain.
Boughs cut away, admitting direct sunlight to fall upon the ground beneath which lies a snow plant, causes its circumference of roots to enlarge, bulging up the soil, and, as the bud appears, soil and leaves are thus tumbled or pushed over it, and when increased growth makes this impossible, it as usual does the next best sensible thing to do-dies and sloughs to a little beneath the surface, and repeats this, I know not for how long a time or how often.
Its height is 8 to 12 inches, but in rich soil and south slopes it reaches that of 3 or 4 feet, and 3 or 4 inches in diameter. If, after having well established itself, all shade is removed, it sometimes reduces its stock to the thickness of one's little finger, and of almost the density of
A botanists, after much discus- wood, and in other ways changes
sion, have long since decided that the "snow plant" (Sarcodes sanguinary), is parasitic on the roots of the pine tree, or conifer, family. The object of this article. is to show that it is not parasitic in any particular. These acute observers were deceived.
It is more than plant, yet not animal; since it moves beneath the surface, vegetable mole may suggest an idea of its habit, or that it may evolute to an animal later-who knows? It is as erratic as a grizzly
its appearance, until scarcely recognizable as a snow plant.
"Snow plant" is a misnomer; I never saw one growing within a mile of continuous snow-often near snow drifts.
Its color is brilliant red, and that it is not more dependent upon snow than other flowering plants is evidenced by the fact that several such in the same locality have reached full bloom or matured seeds before the snow plant has shown itself above the ground.
It makes its appearance in early spring, the exact time dependent upon richness, warmth of soil, etc., as a fiery red cone, apex first, about the size of one's thumb-end.
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead" that he will stop not or turn aside to gaze upon and marvel at this glorious blazing vegetable ruby-this nearly sentient thing? It has a certain sense that enables it to propagate its species under unusual conditions, and after its neighbors have succumbed; and, after all, this sense of the soul is the standard by which even mankind is truly estimated.
It is valuable as a thing of beauty and joy, and as food. Cooked as is asparagus, it is more palatable, and is said to be more nutritious. The older or deeper portions of the stem are bitter to taste-hence the buds and but 2 or 3 inches of the stock should be used as food. From surface downward it shades, by insensible degrees, from a brilliant red to white, and creamy white. Its length of life is at least 7 or 8 years. It may live much longer.
During the first 5 or 6 years (or more) it appears as a single stock, but during the last 3 or 4 years of its life, it increases to a cluster of white, watery roots, fiery sub-soil buds and several stocks above ground.
It grows during the winter months, whilst blanketed with depths of snow, and above ground in early spring, thus resting during summer and fall seasons instead of that of winter as usual with vegetation; that is, the buds that appeared above ground this spring grew to near surface last winter, stopping close beneath, ready to burst forth in all its splendor of red and make. the most of the short sunshine sea
The mother stock, surrounded by 10 or 12 fiery buds, reminds one of a hen and her family of chicks-the cluck-cluck alone absent. But let's
get at the root of the thing. I have found it, terminating in a jet black "crow-foot" root five and one-half feet beneath the surface. The leg of a chicken with the toes distributed equi-distance apart in circumference would well represent in size the terminal root.
The plant's resemblance. to a tramp or mole begins here, in that the second year of its life it sloughs. 6 or 8 inches (a little more or less) of the crow-foot end of the root stock, after it has pushed forward about the same length of stock, and thus each year a section dies; but another a little longer than the last one dropped, and thus it reaches to just beneath the surface with a stock, on account of the slight gains, each season 15 to 20 inches in length -just covered with the same form of leaves as above surface-only this and nothing more.
Evidently, by casting off a section. each season, it would the next season after appearing above ground be cut off from source of nutriment as flowering time approached, the period of life of all plants when the greatest energy is put forth in the effort to mature seeds.
Now a remarkable change takes place. It does, in fact, slough the last section, but not until after sending forth white, twig-like, zig-zaging, watery roots, each of which makes a right or oblique angle every inch or two of its growth, and each season these increase in number, forming, the last season, a cluster 12 to 18 in diameter, if the soil be rich.
It is this last-mentioned peculiarity that has largely "fooled" the naturalistic botanist-here is where he "fell down" upon the plant, if not whilst trying to reach it.
It is natural for one to select the most perfect plant of its kind for observation and study-in this instance to the exclusion of the unpretentious little blazing single bud or stock over yonder by a rock or
tree. There are sufficient reasons why, later in the season, it is usually found by the side of a tree or rock in difficult places.
Thus he finds only the mass of twig-like, watery roots lying immediately beneath the surface, whilst beneath the single bud there may be five and one-half feet of live and dead stock.
No reflection is intended upon the indefatigable, painstaking botanist, for it is lack of opportunity and not ability that accounts for the oversight.
The altitude at which the plant grows makes camping midst snow and wet soil disagreeable and expensive, and the usual cold leaves but a few hours each day for work, perhaps without adequate tools with which to dig a hole 5 or 6 feet in depth amongst rock; hence the "crow-foot," although known to almost every mountain inhabiting lad and lass, has remained unnoted by scientists generally. From the foot root the stock may take every degree of angle excepting the acute, in avoidance of obstructions; it will squeeze itself to the thinness of a table knife-blade in passing between two rocks, or flatten itself in passing around a stone or root and bryon, enlarge beyond the normal, as if compensating for the squeeze.
If not for this ability to pass beyond every and all kinds of obstructions without hesitation, it could not reach the surface, or not until after the season had too far vanced to admit of seeds maturing.
I have imagined that the reason why it sloughed a section each season was because on account of the frequent thinnings, angles, etc., above mentioned, these contracted. points would not admit of sufficient nutriment passing with facility hence it casts them off and sustains itself from the ever-increasing in lengths, of which I am uncertain if there be not always two years' growth present, and if so, then the
crow-foot terminal or section does not die until after the end of three years.
It will bore and break through the hardest clay trail one ever walked over, and so with the delicate, velvety, leafy, blazing bud apex without the slightest evidence of mar. Upon a declivity this delicate bud will move out of its bed, a little, a rock weighing a hundred or even a thousand times its own weight, and one may easily imagine it rolling a boulder down hill. Above
ground it has been observed, from day to day, to push its tender stock bud point through a pine log three feet in in diameter, and continue growth beyond to its usual height above ground-seemingly mistaking the log for soil. Of course the log was rotting more or less.
The season at its choice of altitude is short, which fact the plant seems to recognize, for apparently fearing it may not be able to mature its flowers before the cold rains and frost set in-for it abhors moisture of air as much as it does direct sunlight-it thrusts upward in the soil along the stock its flowers, thus necessarily lengthening their stems to 3 or 4 inches, the flowers appearing above ground at even date with the terminal bud. One-half inch is the normal length of stem.
The later, or lower, flowers are always frost nipped.
A puzzling aspect of "sarcodes sanguinary" is that of how its seeds or life germs obtain a depth of five and one-half or less feet beneath the surface soil, and this in hard clay.
At this depth, wood, charcoal and bits of rotting wood are frequently found by the side of the crow-foot root, the rotting sections of the stock leading unbroken to the live section, or flowering plant, above ground.
In one place, estimation proved that it would have taken not less than one hundred years for natural drift of soil, decomposition, etc., to
have covered a seed to this depth. The questions that arise in one's mind are, was the seed (or germ) deposited upon the surface, and covered by natural processes, does the plant first grow downward, turn around and climb back to daylight?
The last possibility is suggested by the fact that the soil a few inches from the surface, with few exceptions, is very much softer upon one side of the plant than upon the other -for instance, upon one side the dirt may be readily removed by the hand, whilst upon the other side a tool is necessary to remove it. Three observers have informed me that they had frequently noted this condition of the soil about the plant, and which, in my opinion, is because of some peculiarity of growth of this peculiar, erratic plant.
Where there are a "school" of plants of a diameter of 6 or 7 or less feet, or when not further than about eighteen inches apart, each plant is connected by root bands or seams 4 to 6 in. in width and one-quarter to one-eighth inch in thickness, the white, now straight, water roots resembling quartz seams. The writer sent specimens of these to Stanford Uni versity, with samples of soil, etc., and from which information may be obtained.
Or instead of seven or eight years constituting its cycle of life, is the plant of the nature of a century plant, requiring ten, twenty-five, ten, twenty-five, seventy-five or one hundred years from seed deposition to maturity?
Having briefly mentioned a few of its underground habits, now let us glance at its most peculiar traits that are above ground. Each flower stem supports a bolus or capsule one-eighth inch or less in diameter, the circumference of which is divided, perpendicularly, with grooves that form an equal number of knuckles or rounded ridges, and
upon these knuckles are grown, at first stage, the seeds, some of which are scarcely discernible with aided eye and none as large as the smallest mustard seed.
The inside of the capsule is filled with a soft, white substance, and is divided by a thin membrane into four or more quarters.
At the top of the capsule is a hole. Between each seed-covered knuckle there lies closely the anthers, or fertilizing organs. When the air is moist with dew or a rain is threatened, the anthers fall, from all sides, upon the hole in the top of the capsule, effectually preventing water entering, and there they lie until a less humid condition obtains.
At one observation, one finds the seeds, as usual, between the ridges or knuckles, but at the next, a half day hence, or, so far as I know, an hour or two, presto! they are gone -but where?
They have not fallen to earth, for paper placed upon the ground beneath the plant would have caught them, and not one is visible on it.
They may now be found inside of the bolus, but how they got there, or how the cavity of the bolus was cleared, is a mystery to the writer. The above is so extremely singular that I hesitate to mention the fact, fearing I may be mistaken, yet so often have I observed the disappearance outside and appearance of seeds inside, this seems almost impossible. What intelligence, what energy, raises them up and drops them down through the hole, altogether resembling the hasty movements of the young of some animals scurrying to burrow at alarm. The possibility or impossibility of successfully growing the plant from seed is, and has been, periodically discussed, and doubtless always will be, for the conditions and surroundings by which it is possible to grow them is not obtainable. I have grown plants from the buds broken from the watery roots, and trans