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2 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

The Alleged Poison Plant on

Liverpool Plains.

To tho Editor.

SIB,-TJudor sepáralo covor, I send yon a spccimou o£ tho socd that poisoned my iifty.livo bullocks ou tho Hound Island, Liverpool Plains. Will you bo good onough to make it known that a specimen eau bo seen at yonr ollico ; also give your opinion on it.

1 am. dear Sir,

Yours Sn'..,

WILLIAM NOWLAND. .Rosedale, Camberwell, 24th May, 1873.

I Grasped la clirysantha is tho muño of tho phial, a specimen of which (seo accompanying rough skotch) was forwarded hy Mr. Nowland. It belongs to Liudloy's natural order Aslcraccoi, moro popularly rocoguiscd as tho composite order, which contains many of our well known plants, including thistles, suu-ilowcrs, dahlias, ohrysanthomums, artichokes, lottuco, everlasting flowers, daisies, &c, &c.

Tho order is a very extensivo one, rarely palatable to cattlo, nnd freo from, in dangerous quantity, nay poison ous principles. Though somo members of it aro used in medicino, and many contain bittor and .acid principles, nono aro known to bo dangerous or injurious, with perhaps tho doubtful execptiou of tho perennial herb, Arnica montana, a native of tho Alps, and tho coWor tparts of I'Juropo. and of woll-kuowu medicinal value, tho activo principles hoing (according to Profes sor iWittstoin) nrniein,' volatile oil, cupron nnd capryl acid. Graspedia chnjsanlha is synonymous with Pyenosorus ylobosns _ montionod as a common plant in tho lato Sir Thomas Mitchell's work on Tropical Australia. Tho species is very common on most of our best inlnud pastoral couutry, as tho Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Darling, Liverpool Plains, nnd similar pastoral divisions of tho wostorn and northern districts. It is a stiff growing poronuial herb, with downy* laveudar white, linear lanceolate, slightly obovato, generally, al ternately irregular leaves, three to four luches long noar tho lowur purl of tho stem, and decreasing gradu illly towards tho upper extremity, to half au inch, tho greatest breadth of tho longest hoing about hnlf nu inch. Flowers goldeti yellow, globular, solitary, from hak' to three quarters of au inch in diameter, but rather elongated perpendicularly. Florets circular, distinctly drvidud from.each other, having thc pappous appen dages timied with yellow. Plant leaches from l.j to 2 faur in height, including flower stoma, which vary in

Fig. 1.-The plant in flower ; about 18 inches in height, and showing root.

Fig. 2.-Flower and 3A indies of stem, natural size. Fig. 8.-Leaf, natural size near the base of stem. Fig. 4.-Five or six inches from the flower.

number, but rarely exceed twelve. Gregarious in char acter. Tho very common occurrence of this plant over so wido an area of our very best pastoral districts, and tho fact that other species of the genus Graspcdia are also common both in Now South Wales and tho other

Australianjcolonics, as 0. macrocephela^ in Tasmania,

&a, would alone auffico to satisfy ns, ns | as far as that can bo without positive proof that Mr. Nowland's 55 bullocks must have boon poisonod by some substance other than

can bc found in tho plant sent us from Liverpool Plains, i No phytologist would believe that a plant belonging to the order could, in its natural state, poison cattle, unless the proof were very positive. Besides belonging to a harmless family, the plant itself is of a nature very   unlikely to tempt oven hungry bullocks to eat it. Its   very colour would to them bo the reverse of inviting, and, if tasted, nasty. It is dry, hard, harsh, and as juicclcss as it is possiblo for a living plant to bo. This qustiou, howovor, could bo easily determined, and those who havo blamed thc plant should make the trial. Tho plant is plentiful, and if a bullock wore kept for two or three days without food, and thon supplied with a cart load of the host growu shoots of tho craspedia, it would decide the question, drat, as to tho eating ; and second, if calen, it would determine as to its hurtful nature. Without suoli a trial, well-authenticated, wo, at all oven ts, shall remain sn tis lied that it is harmless. Thora aro, however, plants in the neighbourhood whero thu occurrence took placo that aro known lo he poison oas to cattle, horses, and sheep. It is also possible that they may havo drunk water ÍH which some poison may have existed in solution. The blackfellows often use the leaves and bark of poisonous trees to poison waterholes to stupify the fish contained in them; and it is possible   that such poisoned water may prove fatal to cattle if imbibed in sufficient quantity. At any rate we know that in some instances blackfellows have cautioned whitefellows against drinking water so treated:-"Bail patta dat fella: derekly tumble   down : murry saucy dat fella," &c. If these cattle were poisoned by eating of any plant the one most likely to have furnished the poison, will have been one of the plants known as the "poison pea," or Swainsonia, one or two species being found in the part of the country where they succumbed in a way so unaccountable, or, at any rate, not yet satisfactorily accounted for. The late hubbub at Melbourne in reference to the supposed poisoning [of cattlo by tho plant Solanum nigrum, was at onco pronounced in theso columns (and Binco ad mitted to bu) amistako, because, although tho plant be longed to a dangerous family, yet oxporiouco said that this particular member of it was not so, just as it would say of tho potato or tho tomato, which also bolong to tho family of tho Deadly Nightshades. To such as did not possess cxporionco ia rofcroncn to this particular ono, there wera much bettor grounds for suspecting it than thoro ii now for any ono suspecting tho Uraspedia chrgsantha. Tho plant sent by Mr. Nowland can bo Been at our ofllco --ID».]

A well brod woman never hears au impertinent re mark. A kiud of discreet duufuess saves ono from insult, from much blame, and from uot a little apparent connivance iu úishuuourublu conversation.