Imagini ale paginilor


larly or spirally arranged. The transverse swellings of the stem show no difference of structure, except that the tubes or cells may a little more tortuous, and a transverse film of coaly matter extends from the outer coaly envelope inwardly. This may perhaps be caused by some accident of preservation. The outer coaly layer shows tubes similar to those of the stem.* The horizontal or oblique flexures of the large tubes seem to be mainly in the vicinity of the radial openings, and it is in entering these that they have been seen to brancb."

The conclusions arrived at by Prof. Penhallow are as follows:

“1. The plant was not truly exogenous, and the appearance of rings is independent of the causes which determine the layers of growth in exogenous plants.

“2. The plant was possessed of no true bark. Whatever cortical layer was present was in all probability a modification of the general structure.t

“3. An intimate relation exists between the large tubular cells and the myceloid filaments, the latter being a system of small branches from the former; the branching being determined chiefly in certain special openings which simulate medullary rays.

“4. The specimens examined exhibit no evidence of special decay, and the structure throughout is of a normal character.

“5. The primary structure consists of large tubular cells without apparent terminations, and devoid of structural markings, with which is associated a secondary structure of myceloid filaments arising from the former.

“6. The structure of Nematophyton as a whole is unique; at least there is no plant of modern type with which it is comparable. Nevertheless, the loose character of the entire structure; the interminable cells; their interlacing; and, finally, their branching into a secondary series of smaller filaments, point with considerable force to the true relationship of the stem as being with Algæ or other Thallophytes rather than with Gymnosperms. A more recent examination

* It is possible that these tubes may be merely part of the stem attached to the bark, which seems to me to indicate the same dense cellular structure seen in the bark of Lepidodendra, etc.

+ On these points I would reserve the considerations : 1. That there must have been some relation between the mode of growth of these great stems and their concentric rings; and, 2. That the evidence of a bark is as strong as in the case of any Palæozoic tree in which the bark is, as usual, carbonised.

of a laminated resinous substance found associated with the plant shows that it is wholly amorphous, and, as indicated by distinct lines of flow, that it must have been in a plastic state at a former period. The only evidence of structure was found in certain well-defined mycelia, which may have been derived from associated vegetable matter upon which they were growing, and over which the plastic matrix flowed.”

I have only to add to this description that when we consider that Nematophyton Logani was a large tree, sometimes attaining a diameter of more than two feet, and a stature of at least twenty before branching; that it had great roots, and gave off large branches; that it was an aërial plant, probably flourishing in the same swampy flats with Psilophyton, Arthrostigma, and Leptophleum ; that the peculiar bodies known as Pachytheca were not unlikely its fruit—we have evidence that there were, in the early Palæozoic period, plants scarcely dreamt of by modern botany. Only when the appendages of these plants are more fully known can we hope to understand them. In the mean time, I may state that there were probably different species of these trees, indicated more particularly by the stems I have described as Nematoxylon and Celluloxylon.* There were, I think, some indications that the plants described by Carruthers as Berwynia, may also be found to have been generically the same. The resinous matter mentioned by Prof. Penhallow is found in great abundance in the beds containing Nematophyton, and must, I think, have been an exudation from its bark.

* “Journal Geol. Society of London,” 1863, 1881.




In the last chapter we were occupied with the comparatively few and obscure remains of plants entombed in the oldest geological formations. We now ascend to a higher plane, that of the Erian or Devopian period, in which, for the first time, we find varied and widely distributed forests.

The growth of knowledge with respect to this flora has been somewhat rapid, and it may be interesting to note its principal stages, as an encouragement to the hope that we may yet learn something more satisfactory respecting the older floras we have just discussed.

In Goeppert's memoir on the flora of the Silurian, Devonian, and Lower Carboniferous rocks, published in 1860,* he enumerates twenty species as Silurian, but these are all admitted to be Algæ, and several of them are remains which may be fairly claimed by the zoologists as zoöphytes, or trails of worms and mollusks. In the Lower Devonian he knows but six species, five of which are Algæ, and the remaining one a Sigillaria, but this is of very doubtful nature. In the Middle Devonian he gives but one species, a land-plant of the genus Lepidodendron. In the Upper Devonian the number rises to fifty-seven, of which all but seven are terrestrial plants, representing

Jena, 1860.

a large number of the genera occurring in the succeeding Carboniferous system.

Goeppert does not include in his enumeration the plants from the Devonian of Gaspé, described by the author in 1859,* having seen only an abstract of the paper at the time of writing his memoir, nor does he appear to have any knowledge of the plants of this age described by Lesquereux in Rogers’s “ Pennsylvania.” These might have added ten or twelve species to his list, some of them probably from the Lower Devonian. It is further to be observed that a few additional species had also been recognised by Peach in the Old Red Sandstone of Scotland.

But from 1860 to the present time a rich harvest of specimens has been gathered from the Gaspé sandstones, from the shales of southern New Brunswick, from the sandstones of Perry in Maine, and from the wide-spread Erian areas of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Nearly all these specimens have passed through my hands, and I am now able to catalogue about a hundred species, representing more than thirty genera, and including all the great types of vascular Cryptogams, the Gymnosperms, and even one (still doubtful) Angiosperm, Many new forms have also been described from the Devonian of Scotland and of the Continent of Europe.

Before describing these plants in detail, we may refer to North America for illustration of the physical conditions of the time. In a physical point of view the northern hemisphere presented a great change in the Erian period. There were vast foldings of the crust of the earth, and great emissions of volcanic rock on both sides of the Atlantic. In North America, while at one time the whole interior area of the continent, as far north as

*“Journal of the Geological Society of London,” also “Canadian Naturalist."

the Great Lakes, was occupied by a vast inland sea, studded with coral islands, the long Appalachian ridge had begun to assume, along with the old Laurentian land, something of the form of our present continent, and on the margins of this Appalachian belt there were wide, swampy flats and shallow-water areas, which, under the mild climate that seems to have characterised this period, were admirably suited to nourish a luxuriant vegetation. Under this mild climate, also, it would seem that new forms of plants were first introduced in the far north, where the long continuance of summer sunlight, along with great warmth, seems to have aided in their introduction and early extension, and thence made their way to the southward, a process which, as Gray and others have shown, has also occurred in later geological times.

The America of this Erian age consisted during the greater part of the period of a more or less extensive belt of land in the north with two long tongues descending from it, one along the Appalachian line in the east, the other in the region west of the Rocky Mountains. On the seaward sides of these there were low lands covered with vegetation, while on the inland side the great interior sea, with its verdant and wooded islands, realised, though probably with shallower water, the conditions of the modern archipelagoes of the Pacific.

Europe presented conditions somewhat similar, having in the earlier and middle portions of the period great sea areas with insular patches of land, and later wide tracts of shallow and in part enclosed water areas, swarming with fishes, and having an abundant vegetation on their shores. These were the conditions of the Eifel and Devonshire limestones, and of the Old Red Sandstone of Scotland, and the Kiltorcan beds of Ireland. In Europe also, as in America, there were in the Erian age great ejections of igneous rock. On both sides of the Atlantic there were somewhat varied and changing conditions of

« ÎnapoiContinuați »