« PreviousContinue »
I had far rather be confined to one element, and be admired in that, than be a Goose in all."
THE GRASS TRIBE.
Harry. Pray what is that growing on the other side of the hedge ?
George. Why it is corn-don't you see it is in ear?
H. Yes-but it seems too short for corn; and the corn we just now passed
; is not in ear by a great deal.
G. Then I don't know what it is. Pray, Sir, will you tell us ?
Tutor. I don't wonder you were puzzled about it. It is a sort of
a sown for hay, and is called rye grass.
H. But how happens it that it is so very like corn?
T. There is no great wonder in that, for all corn is really a kind of grass ; and on the other hand, if you were a Lilliputian, every species of grass would appear to you amazing large corn.
G. Then there is no difference between corn and grass, but the size?
T. None at all.
; not good to eat.
T. It is only the seeds of corn that we eat. We leave the stalks and leaves for cows and horses. Now we might eat the seeds of grass, if they were big enough to be worth gathering; and some particular kinds are in fact eaten in certain countries.
H. But are wheat and barley really grass ?
7. Yes—they are a species of that great family of plants, which botanists
call Grasses; and I will take this opportunity of telling you something about them. Go, George, and pull us up a root of that rye-grass. Harry and I will sit down on this stile till you come to us.
H. Here is grass enough all round
T. Well then--pull up a few roots that you
see in ear.
T. Well-spread them all in a handkerchief before us. Now look at the roots of them all. What do you call them?
G. I think they are what you have told us are fibrous roots.
T. Right--they consist of a bundle of strings. Then look at their stalksyou will find them jointed and hollow, like the straw of corn.
H. So they are.
T. The leaves, you see, of all the kinds are very long and narrow, tapering to a point at their ends. Those of corn, you know, are the same.
H. Yes—they are so like grass at first, that I can never tell the difference.
T, Next observe the ears, or heads. Some of these, you see, are thick, and close, exactly like those of wheat or barley ; others are more loose and open, like oats. The first are gene
, rally called spikes ; the second, panicles. If you examine them closely, you will find that they all consist of a number of distinct husky bodies, which are properly the flowers; each of which is succeeded by a single seed. I dare say you have picked ears of wheat.
H. O yes—I am very fond of them.
T. Well then-you found that the grains all lay single, contained in a scaly husk making a part of the ear, or head. Before the seed was formed, there was
a a flower in its place. I do not mean a gay fine-coloured flower, but a few scales with threads coming out among them, each crowned with a white tip. And soon after the ears of corn appear, you will find their flowers open, and
, these white tips coming out of them. This is the structure of the flowers and flowering heads of every one of the grass
tribe. G. But what are the beards of corn ?
T. The beards are bristles or points running out from the ends of the husks. They are properly called awns. Most of the grass tribe have something of these, but they are much longer in some kinds than in others. In barley, you know, they are very long, and give the whole field a sort of downy or silky appearance, especially when waved by the wind.
H. Are there the same kinds of corn and grass in all countries ?