April 2, 1922. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 57(24=27): 3-W.
Wild Flowers in Need of Protection to Save Them
Many Varieties in Danger of Extinction by the Thoughtless Taking of Their Blossoms.
By Sandy Griswold.
Although with the advent of the sweet vernal time generally comes a wonderful transformation in our woods and fields, and with our lakes and streams, despite preliminary promise this magical touch seems to be lagging of late. However, Phoebus has reached a too northern point in its annual voyage now to delay much longer, and perchance by the time your eye falls on these lines we will find ourselves in the midst of the longed for metamorphosis, with its avian orchestras, inflorescence of many of its trees and the real awakening of dormant seeds, passive bulbs and inanimate roots.
Spring is the time, as Ruskin has said, "to teach men how to be satisfied, and to do this, it is necessary to fully understand the are of enjoying life by a full appreciation of the loveliness of the natural world." This means, of course, that we must get out into the open, out in the fields and woods, and along quiet but newly purling watersides, where we can resume the study of the summer birds and search for the flowers that call for no care by the hand of man.
Wild flowers! How inordinate has become the general craze over these natural beauties and what a boon it is to enjoy them without let or hindrance, and where you can pluck a nose-gay without cost.
However, this must henceforward be done with care. Already the professional floriculturists are regarding these wild growths with envious eyes and it will not be long now before they will have them everywhere on sale, and in this, there is a warning.
With each recurring spring time comes a new knowledge, and that is, of the ever increasing paucity of these glorious blossoms. This prompts the suggestion made in these columns annually for many years, that a society for the protection of our native wild flowers - the mystic plants of wood and field - should certainly be a good thing to advocate and foster.
In many parts of the land there has been much effort made within the last few years to arouse an interest in the preservation of certain species of wild flowers which are in danger of extinction in many regions of the country. Among such plant as the May flower - never plentiful right here - several of the gentians and most all of the wild orchids.
Some April Flowers.
The peril of the wild plants, as in the case of our wild game, is already being found in the demand of the metropolitan markets and the inevitable destruction that accompanies the fulfillment of this demand. The gathering of country wild flowers for sale in the ever envious cities is the agency which threatens their absolute extirpation. As is well known there are several such protective associations as we suggest in Great Britain and on the continent. There is one in Ireland to protect and preserve the Kilarney fern, and one in Switzerland whose jealous care is the edelweiss.
In some localities the taking of rare plants is prohibited by law. There is a famous scarlet orchid of the Cape of Good Hope - the disa grandiflora, or flower of the gods, which is found only on Tubia mountain, near Cape Town - and so persistent had become the industry of the orchid hunters in collecting it for export to this country and Europe, that the very existence of this unique species is now little more than a fable. Too late, probably the authorities have prohibited, under severe penalties, the plucking of a single flower of this plant, let alone the plant itself.
Public Opinion Awakens.
However, it is extremely pleasing to note, in many parts of the world intelligent public opinion is waking to a realization that the beautiful things of nature's gardens must not be thoughtlessly and ruthlessly rooted out; that these things of exquisite beauty, which are in form and color the wondrous product of the slow evolution of the countless ages, must not be annihilated in a moment of abandon by man.
There is in our own woods the Fringed Gentian, and no one has ever seen a more lovely bloom in any florist's window - that tall, stately, delicate pale violet wild flower that outmatches in its refinement of natural beauty any domesticated flower I have ever seen. It has its habitat, strange as that may seem, along the lonely rural roads of lanesides, in half arid meadows and neglected fields, and although far from common, I used to find numerous specimens round about my boyhood's Ohio home.
But the Fringed Gentian is merely one of a thousand, and if you only knew it, there are as many, if not more, superior beauties in Flora's domain right within reach of your very doorway, almost than there are varieties of the petted and cajoled that any modern florist can show, in wondrous splendor, in intricate formation, in tone and color and fragrance, the wild wonders far outnumber those nurtured and developed by the mind and the hand of man.
Market Demand Peril.
In this very month, tearful April, if not too contrary, in the open woods, the fields and on the warm hillsides, you will find a redundance of nature's treasures that will make your eyes glisten with a holier light, and your heart bound with an intenser joy. The trailing arbutus, with its waxy, deep emerald leaves and little delicately odorous blossoms at the end of each creeper; the spring beauty, with long, deep green leaves and exquisite five petaled blossoms; Solomon's seal, with its clusters of floral ornaments at the base of each leaf; the Trilliums, where you find them, and there are many varieties of this triumbellated plant common in most northern woods, and which are always easily identified with their three large leaves below a three petaled bloom of faintest pink, snowiest white or deepest red. And then there are the commonest of all our wild flowers - the much lover violets - and an extensive family and much persecuted. There is the arrow leafed, the lance leafed, the dog tooth, the marsh, the yellow, the pale, the round leafed and the white; and most of them found in Nebraska, with the common violet the one great profusion.
In April, too, we have the adder tongue, Jack in the pulpit, the tripthyliums, trilliums, yellow grass, bluets, polygonums, wood anemone, wild flower, quinquefolia, liverwort, some times, hepatica, bloodroot, Dutchman's breeches, and scores of others which I shall endeavor to tell you more about another Sunday.