26 DECEMBER 1931, Page 14


It is worth notice how much more attention is paid to natural history year by year in papers and magazines all over the world. The Sydney Mail perhaps takes the lead ; but the theme spreads wide in the United States. Some,very curious examples of what may be called economic natural history appeared recently in that king of magazines, the Saturday Evening Post. Among many quaint tales is one of a vagrant distiller who travels the country with a car, a still and a tent, cutting boughs of wild witchhazel and distilling the essence of this incomparable bush. Another cut the roots of spruce trees and returned years later to collect the hardened blocks of spruce-gum that filled the notches. We begin to find more rural herbalists in England. I have come upon several, but the wild plant they seem to extract most value from is nothing more rare than the common dandelion. On the whole, it is the cultivator of herbs, not the picker of wild herbs who makes the money out of them.