A Popular California Flora, or Manual of Botany for Beginners

A Popular California Flora, or Manual of Botany for Beginners

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Excerpt from A Popular California Flora, or Manual of Botany for Beginners: With Illustrated Introductory Lessons, Especially Adapted to the Pacific Coast

One third of the second edition was new matter, and only about half of the book in its present form is printed from the stereotype plates of the first edition. The newer half of the work, although necessarily partaking somewhat of the nature of patchwork, is as good as I can make it. My drawings upon wood have been faithfully engraved, and, though claiming no artistic merit, will, I trust, prove helpful to the learner. With few exceptions - always noted in the text - the plants, or parts of plants, are represented of the natural size. Besides the more obvious improvements, an entirely new Analytical Koy replaces the old one; and our most common oaks are described.

Assuming that facts in natural history are useless if merely memorized from the book, and that the student must earn his knowledge by observing and experimenting, it is oh viously best to encourage him at first by showing him how to try simple experiments whose results are easily interpreted. Seeds are the best material for such experiments, since the phenomena connected with their germination are not only easily observed, but deeply interesting. For this reason what may seem a disproportionate space in the Intro ductory Lessons is devoted to The Beginnings of Plant Life. There are no lessons of greater educational value than those given to observing eyes by the growth of a plant from the first quickening of the dry embryo to the putting forth of ?owers and the ripen ing of fruit. A sunny window in each school-room should be devoted to these beautiful ob'ject lessons of nature. It must not be forgotten, however, that since most young peo ple are eager to learn the names of plants whose ?owers they admire, it is best to dev'ote most of the spring months to the study of Systematic Botany. The child's What is it? And the finger pointing to the plant in bloom, show plainly with what to begin the study of botany. Baron Frederick von Mueller says in his preface to an elementary work upon the botany of Victoria, Australia: An experience of nearly forty years has convinced the author that the use of a grammar-like publication for initiating into a study of plants is alike wearisome to teacher and children, and that as a rule, subject to rare exceptions, the knowledge acquired from the ordinary first elementary works on botany is as quickly lost as gained. The only method of rendering such studies agreeable and lastingly fruitful consists in arousing an interest of the young scholars in the native plants of their locality, to afiord them all possible facilities to recognize and discriminate all the various plants within reach, to lead them by observations thus started to com prehend the limits of specific forms, of generic and ordinal groups, and to conduct them afterwards to the more difficult study of special anatomy and physiology of plants.

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