The peat is different in character from that of northern Europe: cellular plants enter but little into its composition, and it is formed almost entirely of the roots and stems of Empetrum rubrum, a variety of the common crowberry of the Scottish hills with red berries, called by the Falklanders the " diddle-dee " berry; of Myrtus nummularia, a little creeping myrtle whose leaves are used by the shepherds as a substitute for tea; of Caltha appendiculata, a dwarf species of marsh-marigold; and of some sedges and sedge-like plants, such as Astelia pumila, Gaimardia australis and Bostkovia grandif ora.
For winter quarters they build more elaborate houses of conical or dome-like form, composed of sedges, grasses and similar materials plastered together with mud.
Among the land plants may be noted the blue anemone; the ranunculus along the road-sides, with a strong perfume of violets; the Malta heath, which flowers at all seasons; Cynomorium coccineum, the curious " Malta fungus," formerly so valued for medicinal purposes that a guard was set for its preservation under the rule of the Knights; the pheasant's-eye; three species of mallow and geranium; Oxalis cernua, a very troublesome imported weed; Lotus edulis; Scorpiurus subvillosa, wild and cultivated as forage; two species of the horseshoe-vetch; the opium poppy; the yellow and claret-coloured poppy; wild rose; Cartaegus azarolus, of which the fruit is delicious preserved; the ice-plant; squirting cucumber; many species of Umbelliferae; Labiatae, to which the spicy flavour of the honey (equal to that of Mt Hymettus) is ascribed; snapdragons; broom-rape; glass-wort; Salsola soda, which produces when burnt a considerable amount of alkali; there are fifteen species of orchids; the gladiolus and iris are also found; Urginia scilla, the medicinal squill, abounds with its large bulbous roots near the sea; seventeen species of sedges and seventy-seven grasses have been recorded.
The summits of some of the mountains are too high for trees and above belts of dwarf spruce, balsam and birch they are clothed chiefly with sandworts, diapensia, cassiope, rushes, sedges and lichens.
In sedges the sheath forms a complete investment of the stem, whilst in Leaf grasses it is split on one side.
Such arrangements as 2, 3 ands are common in Monocotyledons, as in grasses, sedges and lilies.
Formerly the island appears to have been wooded, but it now presents only a few bushes (Edwardsia, Broussonetia, &c.), ferns, grasses, sedges, &c. The natives grow bananas in the shelter of artificial pits, also sugar-canes and sweet potatoes, and keep a few goats and a large stock of domestic fowls, and a Tahitian commercial house breeds cattle and sheep on the island.
The largest genus of the order, the sedges, is widely distributed in the temperate, alpine and arctic regions of both hemispheres, and is represented by 60 species in Britain.
With the exception of some stunted willows the islands are practically destitute of trees, but are covered with a luxuriant growth of herbage, including grasses, sedges and many flowering plants.
2 Sedges available for forage grow in the tundra.
Grow wild according to thy nature, like these sedges and brakes, which will never become English bay.