Stránka:tales 1921.djvu/110

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TALE 33

Ribgrass or Whiteman’s-Foot

If you live in the country or in a small town, you will not have to go many steps, in summer time, before you find the little plant known as Ribgrass, Plantain, or Whiteman's-foot. If you live in a big city, you may find it in any grassy place, but will surely see it, as soon as you reach the suburbs. It grows on the ground, wherever it can see the sun, and is easily known by the strong ribs, each with a string in it when you pull the leaf apart. The Indians call it Whiteman's-foot, not because it is broad and flat, but because it came from Europe with the white man; it springs up wherever he sets his foot, and it has spread over all America. Gardeners think it a troublesome weed; but the birds love its seed; canary birds delight in it; and each plant of the Ribgrass may grow many thousands of seeds in a summer.

How many? Let us see! Take a seed-stalk of the Plantain and you will find it thickly set with little cups, as in the drawing. Open one of these cups, and you find in it five seeds. Count the cups; there are two hundred on this stalk, each with about five seeds, that is, one thousand seeds; but the plant has five or more seed-stalks, some have more (one before me now has seventeen), but suppose it has only ten; then there are 10,000 seeds each summer from one little plant. Each seed can grow up into a new plant; and, if each plant were as far from the next as you can step, the little ones in a row the following summer would reach for nearly six miles; that is, from the City Hall to the end of Central Park, New York.[1]

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  1. Let the Guide illustrate with some local measure.