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This species is more common southward, while the pink-veined wood sorrel abounds in the cool woods of the North.
LARGER BLUE FLAG. FLEUR DE LIS.
Iris versicolor. Iris Family.
Stem.—Stout; angled on one side; leafy; one to three feet high. Leaves.—Flat and sword-shaped, with their inner surfaces coherent for about half of their length. Flowers.—Large and showy; violet-blue, variegated with green, yellow, or white; purple-veined. Perianth.—Six-cleft; the three outer divisions recurved, the three inner smaller and erect. Stamens.—Three, covered by the three overarching, petal-like divisions of the style. Pistil.—One, with its style cleft into three petal-like divisions, each of which bears its stigma on its inner surface.
"Born in the purple, born to joy and pleasance,
In both form and color this is one of the most regal of our wild flowers, and it is easy to understand why the fleur-de-lis was chosen as the emblem of a royal house, although the especial flower which Louis VII. of France selected as his badge was probably white.
It will surprise most of us to learn that the common name which we have borrowed from the French does not signify "flower-of-the-lily," as it would if literally translated, but "flower of Louis," lis being a corruption of the name of the king who first adopted it as his badge.
For the botanist the blue flag possesses special interest. It is a conspicuous example of a flower which has guarded itself against self-fertilization, and which is beautifully calculated to secure the opposite result. The position of the stamens is such that their pollen could not easily reach the stigmas of the same flower, for these are borne on the inner surface of the petal-like, overarching styles. There is no prospect here of any seed being set unless the pollen of another flower is secured. Now what are
the chances in favor of this? They are many: In the urst place the blossom is unusually large and showy, from its size and shape alone almost certain to arrest the attention of the passing bee; next, the color is not only conspicuous, but it is also one which has been found to be especially attractive to bees, blue and purple flowers being particularly sought by these insects. When the bee reaches the flower he alights on the only convenient landing-place, one of the recurved sepals; following the deep purple veins which experience has taught him lead to the hidden nectar, he thrusts his head below the anther, brushing off its pollen, which he carries to another flower.
The rootstocks of the Florentine species of iris yield the familiar "orris-root."
The family name is from the Greek for rainbow, on account of the rich and varied hues of its different members.
The plant abounds in wet meadows, the blossoms appearing in June.
Scutellaria. Mint Family.
Stem.—Square; usually one to two feet high. Leaves.—Opposite; oblong; lance-shaped or linear. Flmvers.—-Blue. Calyx.—Two-lipped; the upper lip with a small, helmet-like appendage, which at once identifies this genus. Corolla.—Two-lipped; the upper lip arched, the lateral lobes mostly connected with the upper lip, the lower lip spreading and notched at the apex. Stamens.—Four, in pairs. Pistil.—One, with a two-lobed style.
The prettiest and most striking of this genus is the larger skull-cap, S. integrifolia, whose bright blue flowers are about one inch long, growing in terminal racemes. In June and July they may be found among the long grass of the roadsides and meadows. They are easily identified by the curious little appendage on the upper part of the calyx, which gives to this genus its common name.
Perhaps the best-known member of the group is the mad-dog skull-cap, S. lateriflora, which delights in wet places, bearing small, inconspicuous flowers in one-sided racemes. This plant