A large number of Cuba’s wild plants circle closely about Havana. In five minutes’ walk from the wharf I could reach the undisturbed settlements of Nature. The field of the greater portion of my rambling researches was a strip of rocky common, silent and unfrequented by anybody save an occasional beggar at Nature’s door asking a few roots and seeds. This natural strip extended ten miles along the coast northward, with but few trees and bushes of the larger size, but rich in magnificent vines, cactuses, Compositae, Leguminosae, grasses, etc. The wild flowers of this seaside field are a happy band, closely joined in splendid array. The trees shine with blossom and with light reflected from the leaves. The individuality of the vines is lost in trackless interlacing, twisting, over-heaping union. Our American “South” is rich in flowery vines. In some districts almost every tree is crowned with them, aiding each other in grace and beauty. Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee have the grapevine in predominant numbers and development. Farther South dwell the greenbriers and countless leguminous vines. A vine common among the Florida islets, perhaps belonging to the Apoc. Overruns live oaks and palmettos, with frequently more than a hundred stems twisted into one cable. Yet in so section of the South is there so complicated and so gorgeously flowered vine-tangles as flourish in armed safety in the hot and humid wild garden of Cuba.
Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist