The constituent elements of grasses may be regarded from several points of view.
The chemist will inform us that Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen are the Chief elements; that Potash, Sosa, Lime, Silica, &c are also found though constituting but a small proportion of the great bulk of the vegetable.
The vegetable anatomist will tell us that grasses like all other plants are made up of a series of minute cells having a number of most wonderful powers, and being compressed and grouped together so as to form certain shapes which we call stem, leaves, flowers, fruit, &c.-
The physiologist will divide each plant into a number of elementary plaullets, or phytons, represented by the bud; each of which is a distinct living organism, but associated together as to form a compound structure each dependent more or less upon the others like the structures reared by the coral insects of the tropical seas.
Roots of grasses are fibrous (annual or biannual) stoloniferous, tuberous, creeping (rhizoma) perennial
The base of Phleum pralense may be considered a solid bulb or corm, and has the same nature.
Lielig has ascerted that as the organic nutrients of plants (air & water) is everywhere the same and in equal abundance at the service of all plants the cause of the great difference of vegetation cannot be sought therein, and consequently it must [depend] lie in the inorganic constituents. It follows that those constituents which we are accustomed to dispise and overlook, are exactly those which have the most essential importance in the vegetable world.
The leaves of grasses originate at the nodes, and extend quite around the culm. This is supposed to be the reason why there is such a concentration of matter at these points.
Grasses are annual, or biennial, & produce seed but once, or perennial & produce flowers & seed indefinately. The distinction between an annual & biennial is of no great importance in regard to the nature of the plant. Strictly both are annual-the only difference being that one completes its course within the same year, while the other occupies a portion of two-the autumn of one & the spring of the next. Hence it is not surprising that the same species may be either annual or biennial.
Vegetable cells are naturally round (or spherical) but by pressure against each other they become polypedial. If [no] compressed equally they become regular 12 sided figures. Though cells are entirely enclosed, they have the power of absorbing water through their walls.
It may seem strange to say that seeds are not the true organs of reproduction. All our ideas of the nature of seed are concentiated upon this as its true office. But the least reflection upon the structure of seed with its young plantlet fully matured, will show that the plant has already been reproduced. All that is necessary after the maturity of the seed is to supply the proper conditions, and allow the young seedling plant to become developed into a full-grown individual.
We may therefore say with safety that the pollen grains contain the true reproductive power. These are entirely analogous to the spores of the lower order of plants, and we have therefore the same law for both the great divisions of plants-the Cryptogamous and the Phaenogamous (*See p 16)
Root-Stem-& Leaves, the fundamental organs of plants, of which all others are merely modifications.
Annual roots are always fibrous, or the fibres spring directly from the base of the culm
*- Seeds may be regarded as having the same relation to the growth and development of the future plant as buds. In both we find minute plants already formed and fully prepared to burst forth upon the recurrence of the favorable conditions. One remains attached to the parent stalk and draws its nourishment from it, while the other becomes separate and receives its support directly from the soil*. Essentially their nature and functions are the same.
Buds resemble seeds in another respect. Thousands of them are annually formed, on the wood of trees, that do not become developed into branches, but remain dormant until by some accident they are needed to restore the tree to its proper form when they burst forth and perform their proper functions: in this respect resembling seeds, that they are a laying away [as it] so to speak a quantity of vegetable life ready for use at any future time when it may be required to fulfil the purposes of an all-[illegible] direction of events.-As seed may remain dormant for years so may buds.
*-And buds to (in case of [currerp?]) may be made to send down roots & draw their support directly from the soil. Like seeds they may be removed from the parent [plant] and planted on another, or even in the ground like seeds.
All grasses have woody fibers (Pl. 1 fig. 4, d, e, f.) in their structure, which serve to facilitate the circulation of the sap, and to give strength to the stem. Some have only a few such fibers and are called herbaceous, while others (like the cane) are almost wholly made up of [woody] such tissue and are called woody grasses.
But the woody stems of grasses do not grow by the annual deposition of an external layer as in ordinary trees of this climate, as may be seen by examining the section of a cane. The usual explanation of the growth of such woody stems as given in books seems quite unsatisfactory. It is difficult to understand how they continue to [grow] enlarge by an inside growth (Endoginous) without causing the exterior to burst open, as is the case with the bark of an oak.
Plants absorb their food only in a liquid or gaseous state. Those portions of a plant that can be consumed by fire are called organic (Ox Hyd. Carb. Nit) -(88 to 99 pr ct) What remains (the ashes) is called inorganic (1 to 12 prct)