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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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---continuation commentary #13c----

If we treat the matter in a way that conforms to the method and plan of science, as generally De Candolle (1) and Treviranus (2) and others have proceeded, then we ascribe the name of parasite only to those plants that acquire their nutriment from the juices of other plants, which they more or less appropriate to themselves and fill with their own life's force. The name of pseudo-parasite, however, we give only to those that, situated on the outer surface of other plants, are nourished along with them, as if these were either dead or substitutes for the ground itself. 

Etching 13 Parasites from Martius's Flora Brasiliensis 1840. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections ! Color by C. Miranda Chor

Both kinds of epiphytes are so connected with the whole nature and character of Brazilian flora that, since an opportune occasion presents itself, I would not want to decline to elaborate upon the natural history of these plants. I shall handle first the pseudo-parasites. Under a colder sky, pseudo-parasites are found especially as members of those orders which have a small structure, such as lichens, mosses, hepatic mosses and ferns; in the tropics, however, and especially in Brazil, a land extraordinary for the richness of its vegetation, they belong also among the higher orders. Of these I mention the AraceaeBromeliaceae, and Orchideae from the Monocotyledons; and, from the Dicotyledons, several Artocarpeae, such as Dorstenia and Fici provided with a climbing trunk, Nopaleae, a number of Begoniae, and the genus Voyria from the order of the Gentianae. When these plants are found as pseudo-parasites on others, they root either in the bark itself, or in the soil that settles here and there on trees, or in wood that has been stripped of its bark and is already decaying. 

One kind of pseudo-parasite consists of those twining plants that, to begin with, grow in the earth, but then climb up on trunks, creep over them, Gesneria Douglassi from Cpat. George Cook's Botanical abinet, London 1817. Thanks to Lehigh U., Special Collections !attach themselves with supplementary roots and, when they find enough humus, establish themselves there equally as well as in the ground. Sometimes, in fact, the original roots even die. Among these I would count several genera of Gesneraceae (Gesnera NematanthusGesnera Alloplectus, Gesnera Besleria, Gesnera Hypocyrta, etc.), nor does it seem improbable that some BignoniaceaePassifloreaeAmpelideae, Apocyneae and Asclepiadeae could root in a similar manner. When you see these plants adhering to trees, without having a root established in the ground, you should think either that their seeds were brought there by small animals, the wind or some other chance, or that their first roots have gradually died away.

Etching commentary 13c