Poe writes about the Aristolochia Plants
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"Pooh!" said the king.
"'Continuing our progress, we perceived a district with vegetables that grew not upon any soil but in the air.* There were others that sprang from the substance of other vegetables;*(2) others that derived their substance from the bodies of living animals;*(3) and then again, there were others that glowed all over with intense fire;*(4) others that moved from place to place at pleasure,*(5) and what was still more wonderful, we discovered flowers that lived and breathed and moved their limbs at will and had, moreover, the detestable passion of mankind for enslaving other creatures, and confining them in horrid and solitary prisons until the fulfillment of appointed tasks.'"*(6)
"Pshaw!" said the king.
* The Epidendron, Flos Aeris, of the family of the Orchideae, grows with merely the surface of its roots attached to a tree or other object, from which it derives no nutriment–subsisting altogether upon air.
*(2) The Parasites, such as the wonderful Rafflesia Arnaldii.
*(3) Schouw advocates a class of plants that grow upon living animals–the Plantae Epizoae. Of this class are the Fuci and Algae.Mr. J. B. Williams, of Salem, Mass., presented the "National Institute," with an insect from New Zealand, with the following description:–"'The Hotte,' a decided caterpillar, or worm, is found growing at the foot of the Rata tree, with a plant growing out of its head. This most peculiar and most extraordinary insect travels up both the Rata and Perriri trees, and entering into the top, eats its way, perforating the trunk of the tree until it reaches the root, it then comes out of the root, and dies, or remains dormant, and the plant propagates out of its head; the body remains perfect and entire, of a harder substance than when alive. From this insect the natives make a coloring for tattooing."
*(4) In mines and natural caves we find a species of cryptogamous fungus that emits an intense phosphorescence.
*(5) The orchis, scabius and valisneria.
*(6) The corolla of this flower Aristolochia Clematitis, which is tubular, but terminating upwards in a ligulate limb, is inflated into a globular figure at the base. The tubular part is internally beset with stiff hairs, pointing downwards. The globular part contains the pistil, which consists merely of a germen and stigma, together with the surrounding stamens. But the stamens, being shorter than the germen, cannot discharge the pollen so as to throw it upon the stigma, as the flower stands always upright till after impregnation. And hence, without some additional and peculiar aid, the pollen must necessarily fan down to the bottom of the flower. Now, the aid that nature has furnished in this case, is that of the Tiputa Pennicornis, a small insect, which entering the tube of the corrolla in quest of honey, descends to the bottom, and rummages about till it becomes quite covered with pollen; but not being able to force its way out again, owing to the downward position of the hairs, which converge to a point like the wires of a mouse-trap, and being somewhat impatient of its confinement it brushes backwards and forwards, trying every corner, till, after repeatedly traversing the stigma, it covers it with pollen sufficient for its impregnation, in consequence of which the flower soon begins to droop, and the hairs to shrink to the sides of the tube, effecting an easy passage for the escape of the insect."
Rev. P. Keith-System of Physiological Botany."
excerpt from-THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE OF SCHEHERAZADE
by Edgar Allan Poe
Click here to read the entire story.