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- JBS-L - Josselyn Botanical Society discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 22 Aug 2002 07:05:23 -0400
- JBS-L - Josselyn Botanical Society discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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Gawler Conservation Services
Sue Gawler <[log in to unmask]>
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Hi folks--
thought I'd pass this along for your enjoyment!

Susan C. Gawler
Gawler Conservation Services
Box 867B, Guptill Rd.
Belgrade, ME  04917
207-495-3513 (phone)
207-495-3444 (fax)
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From:   Rob Evans [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
Sent:   Wednesday, August 21, 2002 4:32 PM
To:     Alan Weakley; Lesley Sneddon; Don Faber-Langendoen; Sue Gawler; Rickie White; mary russo; Judy Teague; Carl Nordman; Milo_Pyne
Cc:     Carmen_Josse; Pat Comer; Marion Reid; shannon menard
Subject:        zostera poem - historical interest

I stumbled across this during research for the systems project.

An abstract from:

                                                 The Botanic Garden.

                                                  A poem, in two parts.

                                                       Part II.

                                                  The loves of the plants

                                                  By Erasmus Darwin


                              Stretch'd on her mossy couch, in trackless

                              Queen of the coral groves, Zostera sleeps;

                              The silvery sea-weed matted round her bed,

                              And distant surges murmuring o'er her head.---

                              High in the flood her azure dome ascends,

                              The crystal arch on crystal columns bends;

                              Roof'd with translucent shell the turrets

                              And far in ocean dart their colour'd rays;

                              O'er the white floor successive shadows move,

                              As rise and break the ruffled waves above.---

                              Around the nymph her mermaid-trains repair,

                              And wave with orient pearl her radiant hair;

                              With rapid fins she cleaves the watery way,

                              Shoots like a silver meteor up to day;

                              Sounds a loud conch, convokes a scaly band,

                              Her sea-born lovers, and ascends the strand.

Explains Darwin:

Zostera. 1. 264. Grass-wrack. Class, Feminine Males, Order, many Males. It
grows at the bottom of the sea, and, rising to the surface when in flower,
covers many leagues; and is driven, at length, to the shore. During its time
of floating, numberless animals live on or under the surface of it; and
specifically lighter than sea-water, or being repelled by it, have legs
placed, as it were, on their backs, for the purpose of walking under it, as
the Scylloea.
See Barbut's Genera Vermium. It seems necessary that the marriage of plants
should be celebrated in the open air, either because of the anther, or the
mucilage on the stigma, or the reservoir of honey, might receive injury from
the water. Mr. Needham observed, that in the ripe dust of every flower,
examined under the microscope, some vesicles are perceived, from which a
fluid had escaped; and that those that still retain it, explode if they are
like an eolopile suddenly exposed to strong heat. The observations have been
verified by Spallanzani and others. Hence rainy seasons make a scarcity of
grain, or hinder its fecundity, by bursting the pollen before it arrives at
the moist stigma of the flowers. Spallanzani's Dissertations, v. xi. p. 321.
Thus the
flower of the male Valisneria are produced under water, and, when ripe,
detatch themselves from the plant, and, rising to the surface, are wafted by
the air to
the female flowers.

Erasmus Darwin was the grandfather of Charles Darwin.  He was a well
respected naturalist in his own right.

Rob Evans, Regional Vegetation Ecologist
NatureServe, Ecology South
Southern Resource Office, 6114 Fayetteville Rd
Suite 109, Durham, NC 27713
(919)484-7857 x-131 [log in to unmask]