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their seeds were scattered when the right time came.
When the wind died down, the woods grew still.
What became of all the little tramps and wanderers? How many miles did they travel by land or water? Where did they find new homes ?
I am sure no one can tell.
IF all the seeds in milkweed pods, in thistle or dandelion heads, in pine cones and fruits of other kinds, were to grow, there would be no room in the world for farmers or other men or for animals.
But all of the seeds do not grow. It is because Nature knows how many chances there are against them, that she makes so many, hoping a few may grow into strong vines, shrubs, bushes and trees. Out of hundreds in a bunch of grapes or in a sunflower, only a few live long, useful lives.
These are some of the things against which they have to struggle.
The seed falls on hard ground or the dead leaves in the forest, where it dries and withers, if it is not picked up by a bird or some other animal.
The seedling starts, but the farmer plows it under without knowing it is there.
Another seedling starts and gets on fairly well; but dry weather comes, and it dies of thirst in the sun-baked earth.
The wheels of a wagon put an end to the life of another.
Weeds choke the seedlings; tall trees shade them and make them prisoners from the light.
Winds beat them to the earth, and floods uproot them.
The frost or cold freezes them ; fire burns and destroys them.
Other trees or vines choke them or take all the nourishment from the earth.
Man comes with ax and saw and clears a place for his house.
With all of these hardships, it seems almost a wonder that seeds do not get discouraged before they begin to grow; but you see they do not know all these things, and can trust Mother Nature to take good care of some of them in spite of all obstacles. .
THE BANANA The banana is a plant which is fond of both the Old World and the New; but it refuses to live anywhere except in a tropical climate and insists on deep, rich earth and plenty of moisture.
It does not have a woodytrunk as the palms do, but it has a smooth stalk eight or ten inches thick, made of the stems of the long, broad leaves.
When the banana plant is about nine months old, a deep purple bud appears in the center of the leaves. Its stem grows longer and longer until it pushes past the leaves and hangs down toward
the ground. The purple coverings fall off, and ever so many little buds appear, which afterward burst into yellow flowers. From
these blossoms the young bananas grow. They are very small at first, and have to keep on growing for three or four months before they are ripe. They, too, grow with their heads hanging down, just as you see them in the fruit and grocery stores; but they are so perishable that they have to be picked and sent to the stores before they are ripe.
Perhaps you have seen express wagons or freight trains loaded with green fruit, which does not ripen until its long journey is over.
Bananas are eaten raw, or are cooked in ever so many different ways in different countries. The young shoots of the plant are cooked as a vegetable, and it is said that a piece of ground bearing wheat enough to feed one man will bear bananas enough to feed twenty-five.
A fine fabric called grass cloth is made from the leaves, and a black dye is obtained from the stem. The leaves are also used for thatching rude huts; but as the stems do not harden into wood, they are not so useful as those of the bamboo, the date and the cocoanut palms.
THE AGAVE OR CENTURY PLANT The natural home of the agave, or century plant, is in Mexico and Central America, in which hot countries it flourishes anywhere, from the low, sandy plains on a level with the sea to the tablelands and mountains nearly two miles above it.
When it is taken to northern countries it grows very slowly, requiring from fifty to a hundred years to bloom, hence its nickname, the century plant;