Societies and Academies


    LONDON Linnean Society, November 7.—Prof. Allman, F.R.S., president, in the chair. —Sir Joseph D. Hooker, C.B., presented to the Society, in the name of a committee of gentlemen, a portrait of the Rev. M. J. Berkeley. A great matted mass in sheet of a Chara (Nitella sp.?) was exhibited by Dr. Thos. Boycott. It had been got from a dried-up pond in St. Leonard's Forest, Sussex, June, 1877; within its-meshes many interesting microscopic forms were obtained.—Mr. Thos. Christy next called attention to living specimens of West African indian-rabber trees, the Urostigma Vogelii, and another undetermined species recently arrived. He likewise showed the fruit, flower, and leaf in spirit, with a dried ball of the gum of the commercially valuable Landolphia florida.—Dr. Maxwell Masters read an extract from a letter of Dr. Beccari describing a gigantic Aroid found by him in Sumatra, side by side with the Rafflesia arnolii. The species has a large tuber 5 feet round, from which is pushed up a single leaf, with a long, stout petiole, the divided blade covering an area of 45 feet, or 15 metres. —Dr. R. C. A. Prior showed a specimen of Colletia cruciata in blossom, grown out of doors in Somersetsbire by the Rev. W. Sotheby.—“Notes on Euphorbiaceæ,”by Mr. G. Bentham, read in title, was a paper treating of the history, nomenclature, systematic arrangement, and the origin and geographical distribution of this remarkable order of plants. Among Dicotyledons, Euphorbiaceæ stands fourth in point of numbers, having above 3000 species and 200 genera. In investigating the origin of the order the geological record, unfortunately, is of no assistance. Their evident, generally tropical nature, is a striking feature, and, judging from various data, it is conjectured that their most ancient home was in the old world. Their affinities have repeatedly been discussed by botanists, but though there are individual genera which may exhibit some one character supposed to ally to other orders, yet no real connection has hitherto been pointed out. Their isolation is produced, not so much by any one special character, as by a special combination of several. As to position in the linear series, unless the order be broken up, practically it must remain among the Monochlamydese, in spite of occasional presence of corolla in some forms. The author has a most interesting chapter on nomenclature and synonymy, well worthy the study and serious attention of biologists generally. —Mr. Lewis A. Bernays, in a letter to the secretary, records the undoubted existence of Carpesium cernuum, in Queensland, and suggests its being indigenous there.—In a paper given in abstract, “Descriptions of New Hemiptera,” by Dr. F. Buchanan White, the diagnosis of 2 new genera (Helenus and Neovelia) and 17 new species are entered. These mainly are the results of Prof. Trail's late exploration of the regions bordering the River Amazon. —Mr. Alfred W. Bennett read a communication, “Notes on Cleistogamic Flowers; chiefly of Viola, Oxalis, and Impatiens.” According to him there are two kinds: —(I) Those which hardly differ from the perfect open flowers, other than the partial or entire suppression of the corolla, and the closing of the calyx (= homocleistogamic); and (2) those with a distinct modification in the flower to aid self-fertilization (= heterocleistogamic). He was at first disposed to regard those two kinds as having arisen, one by degradation, the other by a rudimentary form of the organ: but subsequent examination convinced him that both kinds owe their origin to degradation. In the extreme cleistogamic flowers a large number of organs have been correlatively modified. Most interesting phenomena occur in the mode of emission of the pollen tubes, these travelling through the air in a straight line from the anther vertically upwards in Oxalis, horizontally in others, and creep along the surface and even back of ovary in Viola canina. An unseen agency directs, for none wander with uncertainty; and this is all the more remarkable because, when not in proximity to the stigma, the pollen grains protrude their tubes in all possible directions.—The Rev. G. Henslow orally delivered the gist of a pape e On the Absorption of Dew and Rain by the Green Parts of Plants” (vide Science Notes).The Rev. W. W. Fowler and Messrs. Wilfred Huddlestone and T. M. Shuttleworth were elected Fellows of the Society.

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    Societies and Academies . Nature 19, 67–68 (1878).

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