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Volume 22, 1889
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Art. LVII.—A Description of Two Newly-discovered. Indigenous Cryptogamic Plants.

[Read before the Hawke's Bay Philosophical Institute, 8th July, 1889.]

Isoëtes, Linn.

1. I. multangularis, sp. nov.

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Root a tuber as big as a small marble, orbicular in outline, sub-conical, 8–9 lines long, 6–7 lines diameter, multangular; deeply furrowed, covered with a dense coating of fine dark-brown hairs; a cross-section shows 5–6 broadly-obovate and nearly regular pure-white knobs (or lobes), their sinuses each 2–3 lines deep, with a minute central pith-like ring (primá facie reminding of a small primrose corolla). Rootlets many; very long—3in.–5in., filiform, mostly simple, brown. Leaves numerous, 15–20 and upwards, 6in.–7in. long, erect, linear, very acuminate, sub-rigid, brittle, glabrous, glossy, minutely and clearly marked in quadrilateral divisions, the upper portion light-green, the lower white, semi-terete on the under and slightly flattened on the upper surface, regularly septate in 4 alternate longitudinal divisions as if composed of 4 rows, tips terete filiform, apex obtuse, breadth at middle 1/15in., the lower portion for lin.–1½in. canaliculate with the margins membranous and gradually conniving, decreasing upwards, the basal portion for about lin. dilated to nearly 3 lines in breadth. Below the leaves on the outside are broadly elliptic light-brown transparent scales with a thickened dark centre and very finely reticulated, their margins irregularly lacerate and tip apiculate. Sporangium ovoid, sides straight, sub 2 lines long and 1 line wide. Macrospores of various shapes, some hemispherical, others globoso-tetrahedric like segments of spheres, usually smooth, a few only having 2 or 3 minute points; and also varying in size from 1/50 in. to 1/80in. diameter Microspores very minute, globular and sub-elliptic, hyaline, 1/8000in.–1/2000in. diameter.

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To this I append with very great pleasure the interesting and valuable detailed microscopical examination of the sporangia and their contents kindly and purposely made for me by my friend Dr. Spencer, with the aid of his powerful microscope; who thus writes: “I have had another hour with the pretty little Isoëtes. 1st. The sporangium at the base of the leaf is an ovoid body, slightly flattened at the sides, ⅛in. long by 1/12in. broad; in some cases with a Y-mark at the end as though this were the shape of the opening when ripe. Within this are the macrospores. Out of one of the sporangia, which I divided, I counted twenty of these bodies. They vary in size from 1/50in.in. to 1/70in. in diameter; a few are even smaller than this. They are not uniform in shape, but for the most part give the idea of being segments of spheres; some are hemispherical, others, and by far the larger number, have the appearance of hemispheres either divided into four parts or their inner sides flattened by mutual compression into a solid triangle with one face forming a segment of a sphere. You may get an idea of the shape by dividing an apple or potato into halves, then laying one half on its flat face, dividing it again into four by a crucial incision. Each of these bodies is composed of three tunics; the outer semi-transparent, membranous, brownish in colour, showing ridges and furrows, which seem to result from pressure on the middle coat. The middle coat is white, thick and ridged along the margins, with the facet sculptured into figures of various shapes. Under the microscope the effect is very beautiful, and the original must be seen to appreciate it. The innermost coat is also white, but smooth. Within it are the microspores, minute spherical or ovoid bodies 1/8000in.–1/2000in. in diameter, pellucid, having much the appearance of starch-grains or oil-globules. I put on the polariscope, but they did not respond, and therefore are not the former; and I washed them with ether, but they did not disappear, and therefore they are not the latter. The effect of the latter operation was to make the contour much more distinct, and also to relieve it of a brownish coloration, so that I am disposed to think they must have been surrounded by or contained some oily matter. They are very numerous.”

Hab. “In sheltered bays, Lake Taupo, in 2ft.–10ft. water with sandy bottom.” Mr. C. J. Norton, June, 1889.

Obs. I. The examination, &c., of this little plant has occupied no small amount of both time and labour, with also the scattered necessary references; partly, however, owing to the fact of the lot I had received from Mr. Norton arriving in a much damaged state, being mostly beached specimens of plants torn up and cast on shore in a furious gale. It was pretty apparent, notwithstanding, that they differed from our other (described) New Zealand species, as also, on fuller

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examination, from known foreign ones, which will be found from the description.

II. This species differs from I. lacustris, Linn., of the British lakes (probably also cosmopolitan), in its peculiarly-formed thick tuberous root with its hyaline scales, its longer and narrower and differently-constructed leaves, and more slender sporangia. In its tuberous root it slightly resembles I. duriæi, Bory (a French species, but lately found also in the Island of Guernsey), and also I. hystrix, Durieu (an Algerian species), but it is a much larger plant than either, with very different leaves, &c., and its root also wants the peculiar rigid, trifid, and pungent scales of I. duriæi, and the long, black incurved spines of I. hystrix.

III. Preserving some of their roots, I cleaned and placed them in a clear glass vase, covering them with water. They soon sprouted fresh leaves, and have grown nicely, with many young plants as fine as hairs springing from their sporangia.

Order VIII. Fungi.

Genus 27.* Geaster, Micheli.

1. G. coriaceus, sp. nov.

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Outer peridium 4½in. diameter, expanded, broadly hemispherical at base, very thick—sub 2 lines or more, leathery, tough, firm and rigid when dry, divided about half-way down into 5 pretty equal broadly-triangular acute spreading segments, their tips very distant, each lin. wide at base, much recurved and deeply transversely fissured creased and wrinkled above at base, their fissures, &c., of a pale colour, dark blackish-brown rough and much reticulated on the outside, smooth and somewhat shiny and light-brown on the inside, with a continuous thick border at their inner bases raised all round much above the inner peridium, the large hemispherical sac or cup being 1¾in. diameter, and fully ¾in. deep; inner peridium 1¼in. diameter, globular, thin, papery, somewhat smooth but not shiny (under a lens very slightly but evenly roughish, as if finely felted), sessile, the junction being small, very free all round, dark-brown, having a depressed coronula 4 lines diameter, with its centre raised and of a lighter brown, the ostiole large—1½ lines diameter, gaping, margins irregular, incurved, thickly silky and sub-ciliate. Spores very minute, spherical, “1/6000in. diameter, studded with minute processes; under the microscope are numerous puncta, evidently the places where the processes are attached on the flattened surface” (Dr. Spencer, in lit.).

Hab. On the ground at Tangoio, near Napier; 1889: Mr. A. Hamilton.

[Footnote] * The number of this genus in Hooker's “Handbook N.Z. Flora.”

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Obs. A fine species, having some slight affinity with our other described indigenous ones (most so, perhaps, with G. coronatus, Col., “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xvi., p. 362); also with those of Tasmania and Australia; but it is very distinct from them all. I have received several specimens, and they generally agree in size, form, cuttings, and markings. This is by far the largest indigenous species known to me in a perfect state; but I have found at various times, in travelling, deposited on both river-mouth- and sea-beaches, the detached outer peridium of a much larger and coarser species, but could never meet with a perfect specimen.