John Muir


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White violets are very abundant in shady parts of the woods. Measured a tree one hundred and thirty-five feet high, three feet in diameter. Another, one of the tallest I found, was one hundred and fifty-seven feet high, four feet three inches in diameter, bark four to five inches thick. Araucarias rock in the wind and move the branches up and down and horizontally. Other species of trees scattered through the Ar. woods, one has very small yellowish leaves and round heads with graceful slender branchlets. Another larger species have wide glossy leaves which sparkle in the sun, making a dazzle of sun-glow when shaken by the wind. On the sides of wet meadows grows a chocolate-colored fern, like an Epsidium, the fronds about four feet high, and six inches high, simply pinnate. Very handsome. The ribs of the fronds green. The black ants mentioned above cut off great quantities of the Ar. leaves, marching in double columns, each ant with a large leaf over its head, going to their nests in the ground of in the old rotten logs. One column going to nests, the other to the tree they are at work on. The leaves are neatly snipped off, as if cut with a pair of scissors. Of what use the ants make of the great piles of leaves thus carefully gathered from a height of from one hundred to one hundred and twenty or thirty feet above the ground I was not able to make out. They simply seem to be designed only for protection to their nests, the leaves being very prickly, sharp-pointed.

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Original journal dimensions: 7.5 x 13 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist