Box 15, Folder 11: Grass like Plants of Wisconsin, 1855

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[1855]

The Cyperaceous or Grass-like Plants of Wisconsin, and the adjacent states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, the Territory of Minnesota and the region about Lake Superior By I.A. Lapham, Milwaukee.

In the last volume of the Transactions of the Society [1863] we gave an ccount of the true grasses found growing naturally, or in cultivation in Wisconsin and the surrounding country; and it is now proposed to complete the subject by an examination of those species abounding in all our natural meadows which, though not real grasses, yet approach so near them in their nature as to answer very well the purposes of hay and pasturage. They are arranged in a family by themselves and are known to botanists under the general name of Cyperaceae from Cyperus, which is one of the genera, taken as a type of the family. From their close resemblance to the proper grasses, both in their qualities, and in their botanical relations, they may very properly be called Grass-like plants. They

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The cyperaceae in this latitude usually exceeds the true grasses in the number of species. But they are far less valuable [to the] to mankind.

Michigan to Cumberland House (Rid p. 469)

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[2a]

Figure Cyperus inflexus

[Sketch?]

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belong to the same division of the vegetable kingdom, being monocotyledonous, (one seed-lobed) and endogenous (inside-growing) with the leaves having [favoring with] parallel veins.

The principal and most obvious, as well as the most certain character by which the Cyperaceae can be distinguished from the grasses are the closed sheaths or leaf stalks which clasp the stem as a kind of tube, not being slit down on one side as in the grasses; and the solitary glume or scale like bract enveloping the flower. While in the grasses the glumes or chaff are two or more placed on the opposite side of the flower (and grain) in the Cyperaceae there is but one, placed on the outside. The flowers have mostly three stamens; the style is divided into two or three parts (or there are two or three styles, united at the base) and it has been found that when two-cleft the fruit is lenticular, but when three-cleft the fruit is three cornered. The flowers are in spikes near the summit of the culms or stems, the staminate and pistilate flowers sometimes in the same spike and sometimes on separate spikes. The roots are mostly fibrous, very rarely creeping or tuberous. The culms are usually solid and almost always triangular; and they grow in bunches or tufts, seldom forming a smooth and uniform sod like many of the grasses.-

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These marsh plants are found growing very abundantly in most parts of the state of Wisconsin, but more specially in the heavily timbered districts. If cut at the proper season and rightly cured they make a very good hay, which usually commands a price in the market but little below what is paid for "tame hay" or hay made from the cultivated grasses. This great abundance of wild hay provided by a bountiful providence for the free use of the first occupants of our state, was one of the causes of the very rapid growth and settlement of the country; affording with but little expense of time and labor the means of sustaining their stock until the forest trees could be cleared away and the land seeded down. Had it been necessary to import hay, as was done with other agricultural products the growth of the country would have been materially retarded. When the first few acres were ready for the plough, it was only required to cultivate the more important crops; the culture [of hay and of] grass for the purposes of pasture and hay, being rendered unnecessary by the abundant supply from the marshes.

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