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On Central African Plants collected by Major Serpa Pinto.
By Prof. Count FICALHO and W. P. HIERN, M.A., F.L.S.

[Abstract, read June 16, 1881.]

Tur specimens herein discussed were collected by Major Serpa Pinto, during the month of August 1878, along the upper course of the river Ninda, an affluent of the Zambesi, on the west side of the high plateau. As regards the climate of this locality, the temperature is described as variable, the weather as very dry during seven or eight months of the year, and very wet during two or three months. The nature of the soil is metamorphic argillaceous sehist; the latitude jó 14° 46' S., the longitude 20° 56' E., and the elevation 1143 metres above the ocean.

The present little collection consists of seventy-two numbers, comprising sixty-five species in thirty-nine genera; more than a quarter of these species are new or not previously described and published, and at least one new genus appears amongst them. Some of the specimens are imperfect and have been difficult of final determination, especially the grasses and sedges ; the greater part have had their approximate position ascertained; five specimens are hopelessly defective, and accordingly have been excluded from the examination.

As in the case of the previously known species, the affinities of many of those of the present collection are not only with the flora of Huilla, in South Angola, but also, in several instances, with that of extratropical South Africa ; only a few of the species are widely distributed in the tropics of this and other continents.

This paper, with illustrations, will appear in full in the Society's



Notes on Gramine. By GEORGE BENTHAM, F.R.S.

[Read November 3, 1881.] GRAMINEÆ, so long believed to be the largest Order amongst Monocotyledons, must now yield the palm to Orchidea in respect of number of species ; but they must still be acknowledged as immensely predominant, as well in individual numbers as in the part they take in the vegetation of the globe. The great majority of Orchideæ are very local, and amongst the few that are spread over wider areas it is frequently only in a few individuals dotted here and there; whilst a considerable proportion of Gramineæ are almost cosmopolitan in their geographical distribution within or without the tropics, often covering the ground with innumerable individuals. Orchideæ are difficult to preserve; collectors bring home but few specimens from their chief stations in tropical lands, and those few often imperfect. Their study is therefore surrounded by many impediments, and, with the exception of the few European ones, is in the hands of very few botanists; whilst Grasses, easily dried, abound in herbaria in specimens readily exhibiting their most essential characters; and every local botanist considers himself perfectly competent to describe as new species or genera suggested only by comparison with the few forms known to him from the same limited locality. The consequence is that amongst the large number of new species of Orchidee described of late years the great majority (always excepting garden hybrids or varieties) appear to be really distinct; whilst the number of bad species and genera of Gramineæ with which science has been overwhelmed is truly appalling. Looking to the future, it is only probable that the preponderance in number of species of Orchidere over Gramineæ is likely to be greatly increased as well by new discoveries among the former, as by a critical revision of old species of the latter. On the other hand, although the interest in Orchideæ has been so much intensified of late years, as well by the extent to which they are cultivated as by the singularities observed in their fertilizing-apparatus, yet their importance in the study of the history and development of vegetation, and in their application to the vises of man, remains as nothing compared to that of Gramineæ.

This paramount importance of the latter Order in an economical point of view has called forth innumerable treatises, memoirs, and essays on cereals, on forage and other cultivated grasses, on

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