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forks or on the branches of trees; they abound on fallen trunks; they spread over rocks, or hang down the face of precipices; while some, like our northern species, grow on the ground among grass and herbage. Some trees whose bark is especially well adapted for their support are crowded with them, and these form natural orchid-gardens. Some orchids are particularly fond of the decaying leaf-stalks of palms or of tree-ferns. Some grow best over water, others must be elevated on lofty trees and well exposed to sun and air. The wonderful variety in the form, structure, and colour of the flowers of orchids is well known; but even our finest collections give an inadequate idea of the numbers of these plants that exist in the tropics, because a large proportion of them have quite inconspicuous flowers and are not worth cultivation. More than thirty years ago the number of known orchids was estimated by Dr. Lindley at 3,000 species, and it is not improbable that they may be now nearly doubled. But whatever may be the numbers of the collected and described orchids, those that still remain to be discovered must be enormous. Unlike ferns, the species have a very limited range, and it would require the systematic work of a good botanical collector during several years to exhaust any productive district—say such an island as Java-of its orchids. It is not therefore at all improbable that this remarkable group may ultimately prove to be the most numerous in species of all the families of flowering plants.
Although there is a peculiarity of habit that enables one soon to detect an orchidaceous plant even when not in flower, yet they vary greatly in size and aspect. Some of the small creeping species are hardly larger
than mosses, while the large Grammatophyllums of Borneo, which grow in the forks of trees, form a mass of leafy stems ten feet long, and some of the terrestrial species—as the American Sobralias-grow erect to an equal height. The fleshy aerial roots of most species give them a very peculiar aspect, as they often grow to a great length in the open air, spread over the surface of rocks, or attach themselves loosely to the bark of trees, extracting nourishment from the rain and from the aqueous vapour of the atmosphere. Yet notwithstanding the abundance and variety of orchids in the equatorial forests they seldom produce much effect by their flowers. This is due partly to the very large proportion of the species having quite inconspicuous flowers ; and partly to the fact that the flowering season for each kind lasts but a few weeks, while different species flower almost every month in the year. It is also due to the manner of growth of orchids, generally in single plants or clumps which are seldom large or conspicuous as compared with the great mass of vegetation around them. It is only at long intervals that the traveller meets with anything which recalls the splendour of our orchid-houses and flower-shows. The slender-stalked golden Oncidiums of the flooded forests of the Upper Amazon ; the grand Cattleyas of the drier forests; the Cælogynes of the swamps, and the remarkable Vanda lowic of the hill forests of Borneo, are the chief examples of orchidbeauty that have impressed themselves on the memory of the present writer during twelve years' wandering in tropical forests. The last-named plant is unique among orchids, its comparatively small cluster of leaves sending out numerous flower-stems, which hang down
like cords to a length of eight feet, and are covered with numbers of large star-like crimson-spotted flowers.
Bamboos.—The gigantic grasses called bamboos can hardly be classed as typical plants of the tropical zone, because they appear to be absent from the entire African continent and are comparatively scarce in South America. They also extend beyond the geographical tropics in China and Japan as well as in Northern India. It is however within the tropics and towards the equator that they attain their full size and beauty, and it is here that the species are most numerous and offer that variety of form, size, and quality, which renders them so admirable a boon to man. A fine clump of large bamboos is perhaps the most graceful of all vegetable forms, resembling the light and airy plumes of the birdof-paradise copied on a gigantic scale in living foliage. Such clumps are often eighty or a hundred feet high, the glossy stems, perhaps six inches thick at the base, springing up at first straight as an arrow, tapering gradually to a slender point, and bending over in elegant curves with the weight of the slender branches and grassy leaves. The various species differ greatly in size and proportions ; in the comparative length of the joints; in the thickness and strength of the stem-walls ; in their straightness, smoothness, hardness, and durability. Some are spiny, others are unarmed; some have simple stems, others are thickly set with branches ; while some species even grow in such an irregular, zig-zag, branched manner as to form veritable climbing bamboos. They generally prefer dry and upland stations, though some grow near the banks of rivers, and a few in the thick forests and, in South America, in flooded tracts. They often form dense
thickets where the forests have been cleared away; and, owing to their great utility, they are cultivated or preserved near native houses and villages, and in such situations often give a finishing charm to the landscape.
Uses of the Bamboo.—Perhaps more than any other single type of vegetation, the bamboo seems specially adapted for the use of half-civilized man in a wild tropical country; and the purposes to which it is applied are almost endless. It is a natural column or cylinder, very straight, uniform in thickness, of a compact and solid texture, and with a smooth flinty naturally-polished external skin. It is divided into ringed joints at regular intervals which correspond to septa or partitions within, so that each joint forms a perfectly closed and air-tight vessel. Owing to its hollowness, the hardness of the external skin, and the existence of the joints and partitions, it is wonderfully strong in proportion to its weight. It can be found of many distinct sizes and proportions ; light or heavy, long or short-jointed, and varying from the size of a reed to that of a tall and slender palm-tree. It can be split with great facility and accuracy; and, owing to its being hollow, it can be easily cut across or notched with a sharp knife or hatchet. It is excessively strong and highly elastic, and whether green or dry is almost entirely free from any peculiar taste or smell. The way in which these various qualities of the bamboo render it so valuable, will be best shown by giving a brief account of some of the uses to which it is applied in the Malay Archipelago.
Several effective weapons are easily made from bamboo. By cutting off the end very obliquely just beyond a joint, a very sharp cutting point is produced
suitable for a spear, dagger, or arrow-head, and capable of penetrating an animal's body as readily as iron. Such spears are constantly used by many of the Malay tribes. In the eastern half of the Archipelago, where bows and arrows are used, these weapons are often formed entirely of bamboo. The harder and thicker sorts, split and formed with tapering ends, make a very strong and elastic bow, while a narrow strip of the outer skin of the same is used for the string, and the slender reed-like kinds make excellent arrows. One of the few agricultural tools used by the Papuans—a spud or hoe for planting or weeding—is made of a stout bamboo cut somewhat like the spear.
For various domestic purposes the uses of bamboo are endless. Ladders are rapidly made from two bamboo poles of the required length, by cutting small notches just above each ring, forming holes to receive the rungs or steps formed of a slenderer bamboo. For climbing lofty trees to get beeswax, a temporary ladder reaching to any height is ingeniously formed of bamboo. One of the hardest and thickest sorts is chosen, and from this a number of pegs about a foot long are made. These are sharpened at one end and then driven into the tree in a vertical line about three feet apart. A tall and slender bamboo is then placed upright on the ground and securely tied with rattan or other cords to the heads of these pegs, which thus, with the tree itself, form a ladder. A man mounts these steps and builds up the ladder as he goes, driving in fresh pegs and splicing on fresh bamboos till he reaches the lower branches of the tree, which is sometimes eighty or a hundred feet from the ground. As the weight of the climber is thrown on several of the