The Botanist's Companion, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 241 pages of information about The Botanist's Companion, Volume II.

The following observations are intended to embrace such kinds only as are likely to be cultivated, with those that are distinguished for some particular good properties; as it would be impossible within the limits of this small memorandum to enumerate all the plants that are eaten by cattle.  The same mode shall be pursued under all the different heads in this department.

PLANTS USEFULL IN AGRICULTURE.

SECT.  I.—­GRASSES.

1.  Anthoxanthum odoratum.  Sweet-scented Vernal-grass.—­This is found frequently in all our best meadows, to which it is of great benefit.  It is an early, though not the most productive grass, and is much relished by all kinds of cattle.  It is highly odoriferous; if bruised it communicates its agreeable scent to the fingers, and when dry perfumes the hay.  It will grow in almost any soil or situation.  About three pounds of seed should be sown with other grasses for an acre of land.

2.  Alopecurus pratensis.  Meadow fox-tail-grass.—­One of our most productive plants of this tribe:  it grows best in a moist soil, is very early, being often fit for the scythe by the middle of May.  About two bushels of seed will sow an acre, with a proportionate quantity of Clover; which see.

3.  Alopecurus geniculatus.  FLOTE fox-tail-grass.—­Is very good in water meadows, being nutritive, and cattle in general are fond of it.  We do not know if the cultivation of this plant has as yet been attempted.

4.  Agrostis capillaris.  Fine bent-grass.—­Dr. Walker, in his History of the Hebrides, speaks very favourably of this grass.  I have therefore noticed it here, but I do not think it so good as many others.  It grows on the sandy hills near Combe Wood in Surrey, and forms the principal part of the pasturage; but it is neither very productive, nor are cattle observed to thrive on it.  The seeds are very small; one peck would sow an acre.

5.  Agrostis pyramidalis.  Fiorin-grass [Footnote:  Fiorin is the Irish name of butter].—­No plant has engaged the attention of the farmer more than this grass, none ever produced more disputes, and none is perhaps so little understood.  It is perfectly distinct from any species of Agrostis indigenous to this country:  it is introduced by Dr. Richardson, and to that gentleman’s extraordinary account of it we are indebted for numerous mistakes that have been made respecting it.  It is an amphibious plant, thriving only in water or wet soils, is very productive, and the stalks after a summer’s growth secrete a large quantity of sugar.  It has the power, when the stalks are ripe, of resisting putrefaction, and will become blanched and more nutritious by being cut and laid in heaps in the winter season, at which time only it is useful.  The cultivator of this plant must not expect to graze his land, but allow all the growth to be husbanded as above; and although it will not be found generally advantageous on this account, it nevertheless may be grown to very great advantage either in wet soils, or where land can be flooded at pleasure.

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