Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

Call of the Wildflower

unknown, 1922

SALT, Henry S. THE CALL OF THE WILDFLOWER pp.192, 1922. G. Allen & Unwin, London; 6/-. In this breezy book of Mr Salt’s we are carried into pleasant scenery with a charming guide. He loves the flowers and the country which they haunt. Nor are his interests limited to plants and their habitats. The places he conducts us to are pleasant spots—the Sussex Shingles—‘salt and splendid from the circulating bring’—Shoreham with its introduced Triflolium stellatum and its native Vicia lutea, or Paghan with its proliferous pink. “By Ditch and Dike” includes a sketch of those rich hunting-grounds—the Amberley Wild Brooks, the Pevensey levels, or the Lewes meads. Mr Salt has not an unwonted admiration for botanical nomenclature, and he rightly condemns the indiscriminate use of “Common” as an English appellative since as he says any one searching for the “Common hare’s-ear” would find that he had got his work cut out. He dislikes, too, personal names for genera, such as Hottonia or Hutchinsia. His reasons, however, are not convincing. He is more contented and more at home on the open downland, where the pride of Sussex, the Phyteuma orbiculare, grows, or the early Spider Orchis gladdens the eye, or near the Ditching Beacon where he can see the Musk Orchid and enjoy the freedom and space which the Downs afford. He makes a sturdy quantities as to threaten the very existence of the species. A delightful chapter devoted to “A Sandy Common” with all its varied vegetation, nor are the Derbyshire Dales omitted with their Silene nutans, Hutchinsia and Draba muralis. But why should Draba be spelled with a little “d” and Thlaspi with a little “t”? “Limestone Coasts and Cliffs” are illustrated by the Orme’s Head and Arnside Knott, but we may say that the Cotoneaster he saw at Capel Curig was not the rare Orme plant, which once rejoiced in the inapplicable name vulgaris but a Himalayan cousin C. microphylla. “A Northern Moor” refers to the splendid area round High Force in Teesdale with all its splendid plants, and in “Snowdonia” he describes an April visit. A good description is given of its splendid scenery, and of the places of growth of Lloydia and Saxifraga oppositifolia of which it is said that it is a true Alpine not found in this country much below 2000 feet. In Sutherlandshire the writer has seen it at less than 200 feet in great beauty. On Helvellyn he describes the Cerastium alpinum and the rich growth of the alpine lady’s mantles with which the Lake District abounds. Needless to say the book is written with a literary charm which will delight a large circle of readers.