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Report of the Microscopist, U. S Department of Agriculture, 1890




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SIR: I have the pleasure of presenting herewith a report of the work of this Division for the year 1890. The report contains a general statement of the concerns of the Division and a few short papers on matters of general interest. The articles on forage experiments in Kansas and in Mississippi are preliminary to full reports to be presented for publication as bulletins. Respectfully,


Botanist. Hon. J. M. RUSK,


INTRODUCTION. The Section of Vegetable Pathology having been created into a separate Division, its work will be separately reported upon.

The appropriation for the Botanical Division provides for experi. ments with forage plants, the development of the herbarium, and other economic botanical work, mentioning specifically that upon medicinal plants.

FORAGE EXPERIMENTS. Grass Experiment Station at Garden City, Kansas.-The Station was established in August, 1888, with Dr. J. A. Sewall, of Denver, as superintendent. A short account of the plan of experiments undertaken in the year 1889 is given in the report of the Botanist for that year. During the present year these experiments have been continued and others instituted, so that with the added experience of the previous year encouraging indications of practical and valuable results have been attained. A statement of the experiments and processes is given on page 383.

Grass experiments at Agricultural College, Mississippi.-By an agreement between the Secretary of Agriculture and Prof. s. M. Tracy, Director of the State Agricultural Experiment Station of Mississippi, a series of forage experiments has been for two seasons conducted in that State under the direction of the Botanist of this Department and the superintendence of the director of the Station. By this arrangement the expense of leasing land and putting up buildings was saved to the Department, and excellent management of the experiments was insured. The Station itself is benefited by the direct interest of the Department in its forage questions and by its ability to make immediate local application of the results. Á preliminary report of this work is given on page 378.

OTHER EXPERIMENTS. The results attained at the Garden City Station are only in a general way applicable to the whole area of the arid lands. The climatic conditions vary exceedingly, even within this area, and while over a comparatively large portion the experiments and methods here used are satisfactory, for other portions it is necessary to make new experiments and to test the methods first found useful. To accomplish this end arrangements have been made with the United States Agricultural Experiment Stations at Fort Collins, Colorado, and Tucson, Arizona. About 5 acres of land was prepared at each of those stations, and sown to seeds of grasses and forage plants, with very poor results, probably due in part to the newness of the land. The experiments will be continued. Arrangements have been made with the Experiment Station at Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the Experiment Station at Logan, Utah, for grass and forage experiments next season.

HERBARIUM. During the last two years means have been given to the Division to make collections of plants in little known regions, to provide for their identification, and to publish the results.

During the present year Dr. Edward Palmer, an old and experienced collector, has explored remote parts of Lower California, Western Mexico, and Arizona, making valuable collections, which add materially to the knowledge of the botanical character and resources of those regions. Mr. J. H. Simpson was employed from May to August, inclusive, to collect plants in the region of Manatee, Florida. He collected such species as were known to be rare, or not to have been found there previously, and made an annotated list of all the plants of that district. Mr. G. C. Nealley, of Houston, Texas, has been collecting since April 15, in Western Texas, for the most part in the desert lands. He was directed to make collections of as nearly as possible all the plants seen, and to take note of such as promised to be of value in the forage experiments. The plants collected in 1888, 1889, and the present year form the basis of a flora of Western Texas, now in preparation by Prof. J. M. Coulter under the direction of the Botanist. On the 15th of September Mr. C. R. Orcutt, of San Diego, California, started on a collecting trip for the Department in the Colorado Desert of Southern California. The specimens from this excursion have not yet been received. Other collectors have been employed for shorter periods, and have added materially to the growth of the herbarium.

The continuation of this method of obtaining specimens will enable the Department to have fully represented in the herbarium the plants of regions before little explored, and will insure a valuable stock of specimens for exchange. It will be possible before the lapse of many years to prepare, from the data now accumulating, handbooks covering the botany of the southwestern States and Territories. Since the establishment of the United States Agricultural Experiment Stations, there has been an especial de mand for such publications.

In addition to the specimens collected by the Division others have been received in exchange, by purchase, and by contribution, so that the number of sheets added to the National Herbarium during the year July, 1889, to July, 1890, is about 6,000.

Exchanges of specimens from the herbarium have been carried

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