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1865 | Notes of a Botanic Excursion in Cornwall, in a letter to Mr Ralfs from J Woods Esq



1851-1865 (p 100)

Notes of a Botanic Excursion in Cornwall, in a letter to Mr Ralfs from J Woods Esq


Priory Crescent, Lewes My Dear Ralfs Partly through laziness, and partly through the habit of not examining the plants I collect in a journey till they are all perfectly dry and ready for the Herbarium, I have neglected to write to you till your Letter gave a fillip to my good intentions. To begin at the beginning:-The Physospermum Cornubiense grows in the upper part of the Wood at Calstock Church, just below the road leading to Harewood. At Fowey I noticed Fedia auricula (a plant probably often overlooked as F. dentate), Lotus hispidus, and Erythroea pulchilla. At Falmouth, Fedia carinata probably escaped from some garden, as the Lamb’s Lettuce is this species as often I believe as F. olitoria. In St Agnes, of the Scilly Islands, I gathered as you know Euphorbia peplis and E. portlandica. The Gallium we found at Land’s-end is clearly G. Vaillantii; it is true the knots are often hairy, but this is also the case with the specimens from Saffron Walden. The Linaria which I gathered by Looe, Helstone, having the leaves of L. Elatini and the flowers nearly of L. spurum, with a spur sometimes but not always curved, is the same as that which I have gathered in France, and believed to be L. Prestrandrioe, but I have never seen any authorized specimen, and am not certain of being right. The seeds are pitted but the pits are often confluent and between these confluent pits and the winding interrupted furrows of L. Elatini the difference is very small. If not a species it is however worth notice as a variety. The morning after you left me at St Ives I walked as far as the Ferry towards Hayle, but instead of crossing to the Causeway I landed on the Towans, and that day and the next had a good hunt over them without much success. I hunted also the Black cliff and the cliffs of Gwithian for the Adiantum, but in vane. It seems to grow at a tufo formed by the action of the water and the shelly sand, but I hardly found any such combination of shade and moisture as to promise well, I was however prevented by the tide from coasting the whole length of the rocks at Gwithian. After sleeping at Hayle, I took the Rail to Angarrack and walked to Connor down, where I saw plenty of Erica vagans and of Gnaphalium dioicum, and some plants of Gentiana campestris ; the latter I saw again at Denzell down near St Columb. From Connor down I proceeded to Farnham down, which is covered with Ulex Europoeus, and yielded me nothing; but from Nanterro towards Gwithian, in a hedge on the right hand, I found one or two plants of Agrimonia odorata. ———

-As I found this species again near Start point, I suspect it to be not very uncommon in the west of England, but passed over, as A. Eupatoria. By Tregors moor, near St Columb, I noticed Sparganium natans and Mentha pulegium: Lastroea Foenisecii as very abundant in that neighbourhood. Near Tintagel I only got Statice Dodastii (not occidentalis): Scilla autumnalis is abundant in many places. ————— You know I suppose that Allium Schenoprasum (or Sibirieum) grows there below the church. On leaving Trevena for Bude my driver (the Master of the Inn at Trevena) told me of a woody plant, called by the country people Beck, which grows at the mouth of a little nameless stream between Trevena and Trevalga. He described it as an evergreen, growing about a foot high, with leaves having three points, and resembling, in appearance, a plant which he pointed out in the gardens, which is frequent in Cornwall and is, I believe, the Veronica dicussita. Indeed, he seemed inclined to believe it was the same species, thought not growing so large, and having a differently-shaped leaf. He said it had been brought into the gardens but had died. He had never seen either the wild or the garden plant in flower. The place pointed out is a very wild one, where you can hardly move five yards in any direction without a climb or a scramble. In returning I left the Great Western line and went to Dorchester and the Isle of Purbeck, but my botanizing was not more successful there than in Cornwall. I wanted the fruit of the Oenanthe rivularis, but the flowering-stems had all disappeared, - Phalaris paradoxa, but the field was ploughed up, - Trifolium resupinatum, but I could see nothing of it, and the only plant of any scarcity was the Erica ciliaris , which I traced from Corfe Castle almost to Wareham.

Yours truly