Saturday 13 December 2008

Happy birthday, Erasmus

How remiss of me, I forgot to wish Erasmus Darwin a happy birthday yesterday. Thank goodness that Palaeoblog remembered! Here's a seasonal excerpt from my copy of Darwin's The Loves of the Plants, which, because I'm short on time, I'm going to have to generalise as a botanical poem concerning itself with the sex life of flowers. Yes, really...
Ambitious Visca [mistletoe], from thy eagle-flight! - Scorning the sordid soil, aloft she springs, Shakes her white plume, and claps her golden wings; High o'er the fields of boundless ether roves, and seeks amid the clouds her soaring loves!
Footnote: Viscum. Mistletoe. This plant never grows upon the ground; the foliage is yellow, and the berries milk-white; the berries are so viscous, as to serve for bird-lime; and when they fall, adhere to the branches of the tree, on which the plant grows, and strike root into its bark; or are carried to distant trees by birds.

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