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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 112 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 508, September 26, 1885.

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WHAT IS A PLANT?

Mr. Worsley-Benison has been discussing this question in a very interesting way, and he says in conclusion that “physiologically the most distinctive feature of plant-life is the power to manufacture protein from less complex bodies; that of animal-life, the absence of such power.”  He finds that in form, in the presence of starch, of chlorophyl, in power of locomotion, in the presence of circulatory organs, of the body called nitrogen, in the functions of respiration and sensation, there are no diagnostic characters.  He finds, however, “fairly constant and well-marked distinctions” in the presence of a cellulose coat in the plant-cell, in digestion followed by absorption, and in the power to manufacture protein.

The morphological feature of plants is this cellulose coat; of animals, its absence; the physiological peculiarity of plants, this manufacturing power; of animals, the want of it.  But after all the discussion he says:  “To the question, Is this an animal or a plant? we must often reply, We do not know.”—­The Microscope.

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CAMELLIAS.

Next to the rose, no flower* is more beautiful or more useful than the camellia.  It may readily be so managed that its natural season of blooming shall be from October to March, thus coming in at a time when roses can hardly be had without forcing.  In every quality, with the single exception of scent, the camellia may be pronounced the equal of the rose.  It can be used in all combinations or for all purposes for which roses can be employed.  In form and color it is probably more perfect, and fully as brilliant.  It is equally or more durable, either on the plant or as a cut flower.  It is a little dearer to buy, and perhaps slightly more difficult to cultivate; but like most plants the camellia has crucial periods in its life, when it needs special treatment.  That given, it may be grown with the utmost ease; that withheld, its culture becomes precarious, or a failure.  The camellia is so hardy that it will live in the open air in many parts of Great Britain, and herein lies a danger to many cultivators.  Because it is quite or almost hardy, they keep it almost cool.  This is all very well if the cool treatment be not carried to extremes, and persisted in all the year round.  Camellias in a dormant state will live and thrive in any temperature above the freezing point, and will take little or no hurt if subjected to from 3 deg.-4 deg. below it, or a temperature of 27 deg.  Fahr.

   * Transcriber’s Note:  Original “flour”.

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