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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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---continuation commentary #10g---

The oxygen that is in the water and carbonic acid is more or less exhaled by this process, inasmuch as the chemical particles thereby produced require little or no oxygen for their chemical make-up. And so in those regions where a plant requires these elements, carbon and hydrogen, throughout the entire time of the year -- because plant matter is frequently broken down into carbon there (i.e., on account of frequent soil formation), and because it rains often -- there is no reason for a plant to construct within itself storehouses for those nutrients. But if the plant receives less, as here in the Catingas, it seems to have been constructed by wise nature, the mother of all things, that it has in some secret particles, a source from which it can get for itself those elements if they are not provided to it by the soil and water.

Now the Catingas are poor in water and do not contain a large quantity of soil on the ground, since those materials which plants cast off do not, because of that very lack of moisture, decompose so much as dissipate at the blowing of the winds, after they have been dried out by the weather and turned into fine, pale dust. And so the plants which live in the Catingas are in just about the same condition as those which at the first development of their green organs are bound to do without soil, such as a number of tuberous and bulbous plants, or the embryo within a seed which is nourished by the seed's albumen. But if they are going to put out shoots and small leaves, they have to create the new parts, with the aid of water, out of carbon, an abundance of which is already in them.

Etching 10 Catinga from Martius's Flora Brasiliensis 1840. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections ! Color by C. Miranda Chor

Accordingly, it seems to me that in some of these plants a thick bark is utilized, full of carbon, and in others the very abundance of juices, which differ much from the thin, watery, more liquid juices of other plants with regard to their viscosity, their weight and the quantity of the substance they call Cautschuk and of ethereal resins and oils lacking oxygen. For this reason you will not find in any other form of Brazil's vegetation so many ApocyneaeAsclepiadeaeSapoteaeEuphorbiaceae, Terebinthaceae, all of which it is known are plants in which juices full of thick milk and aromatic resin are found. For these reasons I would contend that juices are present in accordance with the basis from which the plants manufacture the new shoots and new leaves and flowers, when with rainfall they wake from their wintry sleep so that they might undertake the second offices, so to speak, of life, that is, so that they might produce another generation; which we hardly need point out is very closely connected to the activity of the leaves -- the drawing in and expiration of the nourishing process -- since the leaves attend to nourishing, and make ready and, as it were, pave the way for the flowers and fruit.

Etching commentary10g