Gateway to the Classics: Plant Life in Field and Garden by Arabella B. Buckley
Plant Life in Field and Garden by  Arabella B. Buckley

The Rose Family and its Fruits

In June the, dog-roses are in bloom. They look very pretty thrusting their pink and white flowers out of the hedge. Though they have thorns, you can manage to cut a branch and take it to school. We will learn to-day about the rose family.

I shall want you to bring a good many flowers and fruits from the hedges and the garden, besides the rose. You remember that some of our best vegetables  come from the flowers shaped like a cross. Now you will see that some of our best fruits  come from the Rose Family.

So bring from the hedges a branch of wild rose. It must be wild, for you remember our garden roses have turned most of their stamens into flower leaves. Next get if you can a piece of bramble with a blackberry flower on it. Then from the bank below bring a wild strawberry plant. Get one if you can with a ripe strawberry hanging on it, as well as the flower. For there is another plant called the potentilla which is so like the wild strawberry that you might bring it by mistake, unless you saw the little strawberry fruit.


Fruits of the Rose Family

Then bring from your garden a strawberry, a raspberry, a cherry, and a plum, a green apple and a pear. What a number we shall have! And yet you might bring a peach, a medlar, a quince, a nectarine, and an apricot as well, for all these fruits belong to the Rose Family. Only I expect you will not have them in your garden.

First let us look at the flowers. You will see that the Wild Rose has a very deep cup, with five green sepals, which stick out in long points.

If it is a dog-rose its crown will be made of five lovely pink petals. They are all separate, so that you can pull each one off the green cup, without disturbing the others. If you pull them all off, you will find that there are a great many dust-bags growing on the rim of the green cup.

Now look for the seed-boxes. Their sticky tops are peeping out of the cup. But you will have to tear the cup open to find them inside. Then you will see that they are all separate and that each one has a sticky top of its own.

Now look at the Strawberry flower: it too has five green sepals and five white petals, and a great many dust-bags, just like the rose. But it has no deep cup. Its seed-boxes grow on a little mound inside the sepals. By-and-by this mound will swell and grow soft and juicy and sweet, and the tiny seed-boxes will be buried in it, like pins in a pincushion. Look at the little fruit of the wild strawberry and the big fruit of the garden strawberry and you will see this. People often call these dry pips "seeds," but they are not seeds, they are tiny seed-boxes, each with one seed inside.

Now look at the Blackberry flower. It is just like the strawberry, and its seed-boxes grow on a mound. But when the fruit is ripe, you will find that the mound is no bigger. In the blackberry, the seed-boxes themselves grow soft, and become small balls full of sweet juice. You can separate them one from another, and you will find a seed inside each.


1. Blackberry Flower;&thinsp: 2. Cherry Flower;&thinsp: 3. Apple

The Raspberry is like the blackberry, only the little red juicy seed-boxes shrink away from the mound. So you can pull them off like a cap, leaving the white pointed mound behind.

And now how about the other fruits? Next spring when the Plum trees and Cherry trees are in bloom, you will find that they have the same kind of flowers as the rose. But they have only one seed-box to each flower. This seed-box grows juicy outside, and leaves a very hard shell inside, round the seed. So you have to eat the juicy covering and crack the hard shell before you can get at the kernel or seed.

The Apple and the Pear will puzzle you, till you cut an apple across. Then you will see the five little seed-boxes arranged like a star in the middle of the fruit. Each seed-box will have one or two pips or seeds in it, and the boxes are what we call the core of the apple. The green cup has grown thick and fleshy all round them. You can see the dried tips of the green sepals on the top of the apple. In the apple blossom the seed-boxes are separate, till the cup grows round them, and makes one big apple.

Bring a wild rose, a piece of blackberry in flower, a wild strawberry in flower, an apple, pear, plum, cherry, raspberry and garden strawberry.

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