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Convallaria bifolia. June 11, 1821. Mountain. (Smilacina
bifolia, Ker, var. Canadensis, Gray, J. B.) polygonatum. May 30, 1821. Mountain. (Strep
topus roseus. Michaux, Gray, J. B.) racemosa. June 17, 1821. Mountain. (Smilacina
racemosa, Desf., Gray, J. B.) stellata. June 4, 1821. Savanne. (Smilacina
stellata, Desf., Gray, J. B.) borealis. 'June 4, 1821. Savanne, et aliis. (Clin
tonia borealis, Rat., Gray, J. B.)
above Nuns' Island.
Canadense (Canadian lily). 1820. Laprairie.
tain. (E. Americanum, Smith, J. B.) Melanthacea. Uvularia grandiflora (large bell-wort). May 15, '21. Papineau Road.
" sessilifolia. May 15, 1821. Papineau Road. Veratrum viride (white hellebore). July 5, 1821. Three River's
Tofieldia glutinosa. Cleghorn's, Quebec. June 28, 1827. Pontederiacea.
Pontederia cordata (pickerel-weed). July 27, 1821. Mouth of
River Saint Pierre. Graminee.
Zizania clavulosa (Indian rice). July 27, 1821. River St. Pierre.
(Z. aquatica.) Equisetacea.
Equisetum arvense (mare's-tail).
1 limosum. Filices.
Polypodium vulgare. August 7, 1821. Mountain.
(S. Germanica, J.B.) (Ostrich-fern).
originally from St. Helen's. (Camptosorus rhiz
ophyllus, J. B.)
Filix-fæmina, J. B.)
pidium Thelypteris, J. B.)
July 16. (Cystopteris fragilis, Bernh.) Aspidium dilatatum. Oct. 3, 1820. Papineau Wood. (A. spin
ulosum, var. dilatatum, Gray, J. B.)
cristatum.' June 16, 1821. Papineau Woods.
marginale. June 16, 1821. Papineau Woods.
-- June 16, 1821. Papineau Woods.
Woodsia hyperborea. August 7, 1821. Mountain.
Claytoniana.) u cinnamomea. June 11, 1821. Mountain-swamp. Botrychium gracile. June 25, 1821. Mountain (B. Virginicum.) Lycopodiacea. Lycopodium dendroideum. June 16, 1821. Papineau Wood.
clavatum (club-moss). July. Papineau Wood. lucidulum. Oct. 3, 1821. Papineau Wood. complanatum. Woods north of Papineau Road.
ARTICLE VII.—Geographical distribution of the Genus ALLIUM
in British North America. By GEORGE Barnston, Esq.
(Presented to the Natural History Society of Montreal.) In the October number of this journal enquiry was made as to whether the onion may not be a native of the north or north-western parts of Ainerica, and report was made of onions (of course the garden onion) having been brought from a place y'clept " Le Jardin du Diable," situated on the borders of Lake Temiscamingue. The querist surmises, on such grounds, that the onion may be indigenous in the North-west territory; and strengthens his views by a quotation from Sir Alex. McKenzie's voyages, that on the banks of McKenzie's River “there was plenty of wild onions."
Premising, in the first place, that the voyageur understands not exactly the onion of the gardens to be meant, when the term “wild onions” or “oignons sauvages” is used, but any species of the onion that may be met with in the different portions of the country travelled through—in which general sense I have no doubt it was employed by Sir Alex. McKenzie-I shall proceed to shew, as far as can be determined from the labors of botanists up to the present date, what are the various species of the genus Allium that have been found on this continent, from the temperate latitudes up to the frozen zone. I shall endeavour to group them also, according to the different districts of country which the species themselves seem to prefer, in hopes that thus a more distinct idea may be formed of their geographical distribution.
The two southern species of the Allium, well described by Gray, are A. striatum and A. tricoccum. The former possesses long linear leaves, striate on the back, with an obscurely triangled
scape; the latter has the leaves flat, and lance oblong. Neither, therefore, can possibly be confounded with the Allium cepa, the true garden onion,
Allium cernuum and A. Canadense, somewhat more northern species, are also sufficiently distinct. The former has the leaves linear, sharply keeled, a loose or drooping umbel of rose-colored flowers, borne on an angular scape; the A. Canadense, well known in this province, has also the leaves linear, and the flowers of a pale rose color.
Allium Schenoprasum (the Chive) is met with from the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior as far as Great Bear Lake in a northerly direction, and along the banks of the streams to the Rocky Mountains, westwards. Douglas and Dr. Tolmie also obtained it on some of the tributaries of the Columbia. It is the only Allium which we discern in this latitude as crossing the whole breadth of the continent, or we should rather say acquainted with the waters of the Columbia as well as of the St. Lawrence. Latterly it has been looked upon as the same plant as the A. Sibiricum ; in which case we may allow it a still greater extension than Europe and North America, and almost admit that it encircles the globe in the northern tempe ate zone. Its mode of growth, its deeply colored sepals, and other specific characters, separate it from Allium cepa as well as from others of its genus. We cannot but admire the acute discrimination of the botanist, whether Linnæus or another, who first gave the specific name. Whoever has plaited rushes on the springy brae, whether in the form of garters or fools-caps, or baskets for gowans, will admit that he was no goose that gave to Chive its specific name; and whoever has been a year at college will own that there is no language so well adapted as the Greek for giving a combination of ideas in one epithet or term. To resume our subject, we come to our fourth section.
Allium stellatum and A. reticulatum (the latter being probably the A. angulosum of Pursh) are plants common to the plaids of the Saskatchewan, but have been also found, it is said, on the north-west coast. Their non-occurrence on the plateau westward of the Rocky Mountains, between that mighty range and the volcanic ridges of Mounts Rainier, St. Helens, Hood, and Jeffer-son, may be accounted for by the dryness of that region, the sandy wormwood plains of the middle country possessing an atmosphere in many situations as arid as the steppes of Tartary.
As soon as the descent is made towards the Pacific, where the moist ocean breezes have play, and deposit their humidity, the
A. stellatum and A. reticulatum resume their place in the western fora. They have linear leaves, and are certainly specifically distinct from the garden onion.
Two other species yet remain to be noticed, the A. acuminatum and A. Douglasii. The former keeps, as far as we yet know, to the north-west coast; the latter is found there also, but has been likewise discovered on the Shoshonee or Snake Indian lands south of the Blue Mountains, an inland district. They both possess rose-colored flowers, and their umbels are loose or patent.
We thus perceive that the species of the Allium or Garlic genus, hitherto discovered in North America, have no more to do with the garden onion than the garlic or chive themselves. Yet when met with by the voyageur they are called, indiscriminately, “ oignons sauvages,” or, if he speak English, “wild onions." When the boats' crews are grouped together round a camp fire, if any of the party have picked up a few of these savoury little bulbs, with which to regale his mess, a very earnest discussion will sometimes arise as to the comparative merits of the “oignons sauvages.” Should one of the crew have ever had the good fortune to handle a spade or weeding-hoe in the gardens of Canada, he immediately becomes the savan of the circle, and after due inspection may, with a grave countenance, pronounce the onions to be ciboullettes. If they be small and cylindrical, with hollow leaves, he is actually right, and they are luxuriating on the A. schoenoprasum. This is the extent of the voyageur's knowledge of onions; and I believe that the intrepid and persevering Sir Alex, McKenzie merely spoke as a voyager, adopting the phraseology of his canoe-men when talking of these native species. All difference or argument about species is summarily settled amongst voyageurs by the irrefutable conclusion, " Ils sont tous des oignons sauvages.”
The scientific botanists, Richardson, Douglas, Drummond, Tolmie, and Gairdner, who traversed the country to the northward, have never given the slightest hint of the Allium cepa being a native. Had it been to be met with, it could not possibly have escaped their observation. It is not a plant of the morass or inaccessible mountain: it would have been found with its congeners on the banks of rivers, or in plains where the soil was rich, or fertilized to a certain extent by alluvium. Its discovery as an indigenous plant of this country would also have been considered as worthy by these men of signal and particular note. But, as far as I know, we have not a word on the subject.
The onion, we are led to understand, has been from remote ages a famed plant, and a highly prized pot-herb. It was culti vated and held sacred by the Egyptians. The Roman satirist exclaims, " Who knows not the superstitions of the crazy Egyp. tian, that it is with him an impiety to hurt or bite the leek and onion. Oh! holy people, whose gardens give birth to these deities.” An Egyptian would take an oath by garlic or onions as he would by his gods.
The Greeks must have held all of the garlic tribe in very high estimation, but in quite a different way from the Egyptians. A philosophizing genius enabled the Greeks to struggle hard against absurdities, and take vantage-ground for the freedom of intellect. They bad their Skorodophagi or garlic eaters, their Krommuophigi or onion eaters, and their Prasophagi or leek eaters. We may say, then, that the refined Greeks had, as respects vegetables, a combi. nation of Spanish, French, and Welch tastes.
Among the Romans a love for these bulbs also prevailed, and sometimes to an intense degree, if we put full faith in the expressions made use of respecting them. “ Si porrum et cepe trucidas," says the Roman gentleman and poet, whose idea is best explained perhaps by the translation: “If thou art devouring the leek and onion.” And has not the same roguish bon vivant written a whole ode in execration of garlic, because he had partaken too largely of it, as well no doubt as of other good things, at a banquet? The fact appears to be that Horace, finding he had hurt his stomach by a surfeit, humourously clokes his failing, and amuses himself by a philippic against the unlucky garlic, whieb, coming uppermost, reminded him of his excess. In all likelihood it had only been an ingredient of a dish, and had only lent its attraction to some too luscious dainty. They were accustomed to pound or bruize the garlic when preparing it for the table : “ Pistillo fragrantia mollit allia.”
The reputation of this genus, being of such preëminence amongst the nations of antiquity, will, I trust, excuse me for having thus enlarged upon the subject. It may still interest some readers to bring together a few opinions regarding the etymology of the botanical name of the onion. Some give the Celtic word All, meaning hot or burning, as a derivation for Allium ; but