Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism.

I have said that the redwoods have no near relatives in the country of their abode, and none of their genus anywhere else.  Perhaps something may be learned of their genealogy by inquiring of such relatives as they have.  There are only two of any particular nearness of kin; and they are far away.  One is the bald cypress, our Southern cypress, Taxodium, inhabiting the swamps of the Atlantic coast from Maryland to Texas, thence extending—­with, probably, a specific difference—­into Mexico.  It is well known as one of the largest trees of our Atlantic forest-district, and, although it never—­except perhaps in Mexico, and in rare instances—­attains the portliness of its Western relatives, yet it may equal them in longevity.  The other relative is Glyptostrobus, a sort of modified Taxodium, being about as much like our bald cypress as one species of redwood is like the other.

Now, species of the same type, especially when few, and the type peculiar, are, in a general way, associated geographically, i.e., inhabit the same country, or (in a large sense) the same region.  Where it is not so, where near relatives are separated, there is usually something to be explained.  Here is an instance. stance.  These four trees, sole representatives of their tribe, dwell almost in three separate quarters of the world:  the two redwoods in California, the bald cypress in Atlantic North America, its near relative, Glyptostrobus, in China.

It was not always so.  In the Tertiary period, the geological botanists assure us, our own very Taxodium or bald cypress, and a Glyptostrobus, exceedingly like the present Chinese tree, and more than one Sequoia, coexisted in a fourth quarter of the globe, viz., in Europe!  This brings up the question, Is it possible to bridge over these four wide intervals of space and the much vaster interval of time, so as to bring these extraordinarily separated relatives into connection?  The evidence which may be brought to bear upon this question is various and widely scattered.  I bespeak your patience while I endeavor to bring together, in an abstract, the most important points of it.

Some interesting facts may come out by comparing generally the botany of the three remote regions, each of which is the sole home of one of these genera, i.e., Sequoia in California, Taxodium in the Atlantic United States,[V-1] and Glyptostrobus in China, which compose the whole of the peculiar tribe under consideration.

Note then, first, that there is another set of three or four peculiar trees, in this case of the yew family, which has just the same peculiar distribution, and which therefore may have the same explanation, whatever that explanation be.  The genus Torreya, which commemorates our botanical Nestor and a former president of this Association, Dr. Torrey, was founded upon a tree rather lately discovered (that is, about thirty-five years ago) in Northern Florida.  It is a noble,

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