John Muir


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Found splendid assemblages of the shining leaved ericaceae evergreens for which the Alleghany Mountains are noted; also formed of which Osmunda Cin. is the largest and perhaps the most abundant, Osmunda regalis abundant but not large. In Woods’ and Gray’s botany O. cin. is said to be a much larger fern than O. Claytoniana. This I found to be true in Tennessee and southward, but in Indiana part of Illinois and Wisconsin, the opposite is true. Found here the beautiful sensitive Schrankia or sensitive brier. It is a long prickly leguminous vine with dense heads of numerous small yellow fragrant flowers. Vines growing on roadsides receive many a tormenting blow simply because they give evidence of feeling. Sensitive people are served in the same way. But the roadside vine soon becomes less sensitive like people getting used to teasing, Nature in this instance making the same benevolent arrangement for the comfort of flower creatures as for men. Thus I found that the Schrankia vines growing along footpaths leading to a backwoods schoolhouse were much less sensitive than those in the adjacent unfrequented woods, having learned to pay but slight attention to the tingling strokes they get from teasing scholars. It is wonderful to see the pairs of pinnat leaves rising quickly erect out of the grass and folding themselves close in regular succession from the root to the end of the prostrate stems 10 to 20 feet long. How little we know as yet of the life of plants – their hopes and fears, pains and enjoyments.

Date Original

July 1867


Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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