Page 1

253

GREAT TREES

Other trees of which the largest in Britain occur in Suffolk are : Pinus nigra caramanica

137'

Tsuga canadensis

114'

8'

58'

76'

Betula

verrucosa

Quercus lucombeana

1 2 ' 8"

Ickworth (one at Bury Hill, Surrey, has 1 4 ' girth b u t is only 1 0 2 ' high)

1955

2"

Hardwicke (one 8 7 ' x 1 2 ' 9" at Studley Royal Yorks, 1958)

1954

11'

7"

Worlingham (one 1 0 2 ' x 7 ' 5" at W o b u r n , 1956)

1956

21'

9"

W o r l i n g h a m Hall (one 1 2 6 ' x 1 1 ' 7" in D e v o n , 1957)

1956

I hope to identify the species of the Haughley oak during the summer.

THE

FIBROUS-ROOTED

OXALIS-CORNICULATAE

by JANET C . N .

WILLIS

I have sent the result of my enquiry about the distribution of O. corymbosa in Suffolk to Dr. D. P. Young and find that it rampages all around Ipswich, Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Dunwich. I cannot assume, however, that it does not occur elsewhere simply on the grounds that I have had no reports of it. I now want to air another trouble. With the Corniculatae it is not bulbils but botanists who make trouble ; people may consider these plants tiresome weeds if, in rooting them out, they leave broken bits of stem lying about


254

FIBROUS-ROOTED

OXALIS-CORNICULATAE

which will quickly form roots or if they go through a small patch of the plants with plough or tractor and spread the bits all over a field. But O. corniculata and O. europaea can be rooted up with care or destroyed by some of the powerful herbicides which Dr. Young names as having been tried in vain on the tough but tiny bulbils of O. corymbosa. I thought to destroy these by repeatedly tearing off the leaves until I read that Dr. Young says in his " Oxalis species in British Isles " that bulbils are produced in greater numbers if the plants are disturbed or decapitated. I was rather doubtful of what was meant by some of our records of O. stricta. After reading carefully Dr. Young's account of the three species in Watsonia Vol. IV, pt. 2 (1958), I wrote boldly and asked him for a ruling with permission to quote him. It was not just a case of the new nomenclature versus the older ones (note the plural), for even the recent naming authorities and Floras are not in agreement. Using C.T.W. First Edition I did not know that in their Second Edition they had abandoned O. stricta L. for O. europaea, Jordan (1854) though some other Floras with the authority of Dandy's List of British Vascular Plants (1958) maintain the Linnaean name O. stricta. Dr. Young is in favour of dropping O. stricta L., because it included two species, although Linnaeans may not have realised this or were prepared to regard them as the same. Some authorities would still keep O. stricta for the rare species which Dillenius saw in the Eltham garden ; others from Jacquin on (1794) call it O. dillenii and Dr. Young says most people would be glad to drop stricta completely in favour of something less ambiguous. He summarises the three species as follows : O. dillenii is the rare one that forms hummocks but does not root along the stem ; it does reflex its fruiting pedicels. It is known from only two sites in the British Isles, at Pulborough in West Sussex and in Sark. But later in a letter he says " it seems now to have gone from Pulborough, where the arable fields are now grassed over ". But it is still worth looking out for. I do not know whether recorders of O. stricta meant that they had found this species in Suffolk. If so, they would be welladvised to send me specimens in order to get Dr. Young's confirmation. O. europaea he describes as the upright yellow wood sorrel, which is erect, sends out stolons from the base and does not reflex its pedicels (used to be called stricta). O. corniculata is the procumbent yellow wood-sorrel which roots along the stem and reflexes its fruiting pedicels. (In Suffolk at least its brown variety O. atropurpurea is commoner than the green form.)


FIBROUS-ROOTED

OXALIS-CORNICULATAE

255

In a spirit of mischief not of science J.C.N.W, would ask why John James Dillen from Darmstadt should have this singular honour and Robert Morison from Aberdeen none. Both were professors of botany at Oxford, Morison from 1669 to 1683, Dillen from 1728 to 1749. Tournefort" the great precursor of Linnaeus " in the Classification of plants in his Institutiones Ret Herbariae, 1700, quotes as his authority for Oxys lutea, Americana, erectior (Indica seu Virginiana) M O R I S O N ' S Oxford History of Plants, Part 2. (I have seen this attributed to Dillen but this was written before Dillen was born.) Note erectior ; should not europaea be Morisoni ? If europaea is accepted by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, are the Americans and Canadians prepared to allow this name for one of their native plants together with dillenii for the other ? The latter might with some justice be called plumieri after Pere Plumier who gave Tournefort Oxys lutea, frutescens, Americana. He gave the names of all the new species hitherto unknown to botanists which he had collected on his arduous lonely travels in the West Indies and Virginia—" most generously", says Tournefort, before Plumier published his own " Descriptions des Plantes de l'Amerique" in Paris in 1693. Frutescens sounds very like Dr. Young's description of dillenii as " forming hummocks " . When the learned nomenclaturists have been gnawing for 170 years at this bone of contention, the names of these two species assembled by Linnaeus under the name of stricta—ever since, in fact, Jacquin in 1794 split them again into two as Tournefort had them in 1700, may not a small mouse have a nibble. I say this with great respect for the authority of Dr. Young who throws his weight on the side of common sense. REFERENCES

Dr. D. P. Young. " Oxalis in British Isles " in Watsonia, Vol. IV Part 2, 1958. Tournefort. " Institutiones Rei Herbariae " . Paris. 1700. I- E. D a n d y . " List of British Vascular Plants ". 1958. Clapham, T u t i n and Warburg. " Flora of British Isles " . 1952.

Note 1. Pliny's Oxys (c. A.D. 100) is the only indigenous British and European species, Oxalis acetosella. Note 2. If I want to throw out Dillenius it is only on grounds of justice to others, not because of the way Balfour teils us in a brief Biography of Linnaeus how he treated Linnaeus when he visited England in 1736. " It was not a pleasant visit. Dillenius did not give him a cordial reception. The gardens and collections at Oxford were not in such a S t a t e as to afford the information which Linnaeus expected."

The Fibrous-Rooted Oxalis-Corniculatae  
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