Professor Goodale's Lecture.
After pointing out the lack of any natural boundaries separating New England from its neighbors, he said that only about twenty of the sixteen hundred flowering plants of the district could be called characteristic. All of the rest pass freely back and forth over barriers which exist only on the map. The vegetation of a country is the expression of ancestral peculiarities modified by the surroundings. The remote ancestry of our flora was proved by the late Professor Gray to be the same as that of Eastern Asia, and hence many species occur in the Atlantic States which are substantially like those of Japan. The species have undergone slightly different development since the geological period when they parted company. But, still, they are so much alike that our Japanese students feel at home in our fields and forests. Our troublesome weeds have all come from other countries. With one possible exception, there is not a native plant in the long catalogue of bad weeds. The special characteristics of the vegetation of our higher mountains, our forests and our fertile valleys in southern New England, were described and in part illustrated by lantern-slides.
Many important facts regarding the distribution of plants and the relationships of our species to those of more favored climates were presented by the lecturer, and a comparison was drawn between our attractive spring flowers and the flowers in the tropics. The comparison left no doubt that in point of attractive coloring, the flowers of temperate regions far excel those of the equatorial belt. The gorgeous highly-colored orchids of the tropics are comparatively rare, and the most brilliant are in secluded nooks or cling as epiphytes to the higher branches of the loftiest trees, well out of sight. And lastly, there is nothing in the tropics which can compare with the ever fresh surprise of the miracle of spring, even as it is seen in our austere and whimsical New England. Our plants, growing under such severe conditions, are well worth studying just as examples of organisms which have endured the hardest of all times.