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It is not alone in the form of the flowers that the orchidaceous plants differ from other members of the floral world: the whole structure of the plant is peculiar. The roots are of four kinds: First, Annual fibres, simple or branched, of a succulent nature, incapable of extension, and burrowing under ground, as in the genus Orchis. Secondly, Annual fleshy tubercles, round or oblong, simple or divided, as in the various species of the same genus: they are always combined with the first, and appear to be intended as receptacles for matter fit for the nourishment of the plant . Thirdly, Fleshy, simple, or branched perennial bodies, much entangled, tortuous, or irregular in form, as in Corallorhiza, &c.; or nearly simple, and resembling tubers. Fourthly, Perennial round shoots, simple, or a little branched, capable of extension, protruded from the stem into the air, adapted to adhering to other bodies, and formed of a woody or vascular axis, covered with cellular tissue, of which the subcutaneous layer is often green, and composed of large reticulated cells: the stem is often (as in some terrestrial species) merely a growing point surrounded by scales, and constituting a leaf-bud when at rest, but eventually growing into a secondary stem 01 branch, on which the leaves and flowers are developed. In other cases the growing point becomes perennial, thickens, is scarred with the remains of leaves which once grew upon it, and assumes the state of a short round or ovate perennial stem or pseudo-bulb.
Or, again, the rhizoma, instead of having pseudo-bulbs, forms short stems, which are terminated by one or more leaves. The leaves are very uncertain in their appearance: usually they are sheathing at the base, and membranous; but in some species they are hard-stalked, articulated with the stem, and have no trace of a sheath. Frequently they are leathery and veinless; as frequently they are membranous and strongly ribbed; and both these conditions may occur in the same genus, as in Cyprepedium.
The peculiarities of the floral leaves and organs will more properly be noticed in treating of the classification of orchids. Suffice it to say, that the flowers are constructed irregularly upon the ternary type, and consist of three exterior and three interior pieces, of which the exterior are usually nearly equal, and less brightly colored than the interior.
On account of the peculiarities of growth and structure, so unlike other plants, it was many years before any of these plants were successfully cultivated in England. A few were barely kept alive, but never flowered satisfactorily; and their successful culture was considered impossible. Within the last forty years, however, their true nature has been understood, until at the present day they are cultivated with success, and bloom with a luxuriance equal to that of their native haunts.
The following brief descriptions of some of the more recent kinds of culinary vegetables may be of interest, and perhaps will prove of service, to the readers of the Journal. A few of these descriptions have been prepared from the experience of a single season; but, in most instances, they have been drawn from a careful trial of their merits during two or more years.
Of the Squash, three varieties were tested as follows :—
Bolton. — Distinct and well-defined. The fruit is of an ash-green color, nearly cylindrical, twelve or fourteen inches long, and four or five inches in diameter. The flesh is very thick, the cavity small, and the weight remarkable. The seeds are white. It keeps through the winter, and is of good quality, but inferior to the Hubbard or autumnal marrow. The name is evidently local, and its origin unknown.
Moore's Vegetable Cream. — An English variety, resembling the vegetable marrow, which is also of foreign origin. The fruit is small, oblong, creamyellow, and the stem furrowed and woody. Flesh moderately thick, paleyellow, and similar in quality to the vegetable marrow and custard; to which class it evidently belongs, and with which it would probably readily intermix or hybridize.
In England and the Provinces, these varieties are highly esteemed, and are often catalogued and described simply as "vegetable marrow," or "vegetable cream ;" the general term "squash " being omitted. In some forms of cookery, they may be desirable; but, as a whole, they are greatly inferior to the autumnal marrow, Hubbard, or true Canada crookneck. Hardiness, adaptedness to cool, humid climates, productiveness, and good keeping properties, are their principal recommendations. The terms "custard," "vegetable marrow," and " vegetable cream," by which these varieties are known, are calculated to convey wrong impressions of their real character; and I regret the disappointment of those, who, having been accustomed to the genuine luxury of the Hubbard, autumnal marrow, or Canada crookneck, have been induced to cultivate "vegetable cream "as a substitute.
Melon Sguash. — Of the origin of this variety, I know nothing. The plant is bushy, and the leaves are more deeply lobed or divided than those of any other variety that has as yet come to my knowledge. The fruit is round; of a cream-yellow color; small, measuring in the average only about five inches in diameter; and as deeply and almost as regularly ribbed as a green citron melon; whence, probably, the name. The flesh is pale-yellow, quite thick, cooks dry, and, though not sugary, possesses some delicacy of flavor.
The variety appears to be allied to the egg, orange, and other kindred sorts sometimes grown for ornament; and would unquestionably mix with them if grown in their vicinity. The yield is great, the crop is generally fully perfected, and the fruit keeps through the winter.
Beans. — Of the numerous new kinds, the following appear to be the most important: —
California. — A running bean, ripening the last of August, or beginning of September. The pods are rather short, peculiarly broad and thick, quite tough and fibrous, and consequently of less value for stringing than many other sorts. For shelling green, it is one of the best, and deserves cultivation. It is rich and marrowy, and nearly or quite equals the Lima. The ripe seeds are broad, kidney-shaped, and of an ochre-yellow color.
The name is evidently local. On the western coast of America, the variety is quite generally cultivated; and from this source it unquestionably has been derived.
Dwarf Indian Chief. —This variety promises to be quite an acquisition. The plants grow from fifteen to eighteen inches high, and are of stocky habit. The pods are sickle-shaped, four or five inches long, round, thick, and fleshy, and of the delicate waxen-white color of those of the running Indian chief. It is early, prolific, and, as a string-bean, worthy of cultivation. The seeds are of a deep indigo blue.
Giant Wax-podded. — Samples of seeds of this new bean were received from Mr. Henry A. Dreer, seedsman of Philadelphia, by whom the variety was introduced to public notice. The plants are vigorous growers, attain a height of seven or eight feet, and attach themselves readily to the poles. The pods are eight inches long, quite broad, succulent and tender, and remarkable for the fine waxen-white color assumed as soon as they become of suitable size for stringing. They are quite light colored after being cooked, and exceeding mild and delicate. As a shelled bean, green or ripe, it has no particular merit.
There are, however, few if any varieties of running beans, now in the catalogues of our seedsmen, superior to this for stringing; and there are probably few more productive. As a market-bean, it promises to be one of the best, and will soon come into general cultivation; but it must not be classed as an early variety, and, in the Northern States, should have the advantage of the whole season. The ripe seeds are red, and of medium size.
Tilden Tomato. — Seeds of this variety were received from Mr. Henry Tilden of Davenport, Io., with whom it originated. The plants grew vigorously, and yielded abundantly. The fruit, which varied in form from round to oval, was of good size, smooth, and handsome, and contained but few seeds. The only deficiency appeared to be its lack of solidity; which I attribute either to the influence of the season, or to the cool and somewhat wet soil in which the plants were grown. When compared with other varieties, the marks of distinction in foliage, and habit of growth, were less prominent than I had supposed.
Many varieties of the tomato exist only in name; but, however distinct, constant care is requisite to preserve them in a pure condition. So liable are they to change and intermix, that it would be safe to predict, that of the list now in cultivation, including more than twenty described sorts, not one fourth will appear in the catalogues of our seedsmen ten years to come.
Fruit that is ribbed and irregular, however large, is not only less attractive, but really less economical, than that of an opposite character. The properties of a good tomato are medium size, perfect smoothness, a clear bright color (pink or red preferred), solidity, and the absence of many seeds in the pulp; and these qualities will be found in a greater or less degree in the Tilden, the cook's favorite, the improved apple-shaped, and the round or smooth red. Many of the kinds described as being " early " or "extra early" have all the smoothness and solidity of the foregoing; but they are deficient in size, and generally less productive.
Potatoes. — The history of this vegetable shows, that, up to the present time, there have been catalogued and described nearly seven hundred va