LEGUMINOUS PLANTS. I7
spite of their humble appearance and secluded position, insects are attracted by the fragrance of the blossoms.
A brief description of the fertilization, which varies in different genera, is given in connection with Alfalfa on page 114, and with Red Clover on page 99.
Fruit: The fruit is a pod; that is, a narrow fruit with leathery or papery walls. When ripe and dry, the pod splits its entire length and lets the seeds out. Its two halves often twist like a corkscrew, some-times with such violence that the seeds are thrown a considerable distance. In some species and genera there is only one seed, when the pod falls off without breaking up, but generally the seeds are numerous.
Agricultural value: On well prepared land, stored with a fair supply of plant food, especially potash and phosphoric acid, leguminous plants yield heavy crops of great nutritive value, relished by all kinds of stock. Putting aside their value for soiling, leguminous plants can be used to advantage for either hay or pasture. Their suitability for fodder depends largely on their mode of development. As a rule their nutritive value is highest when they are in bloom or shortly before. If intended for hay they should therefore not be cut too late. It is true that sometimes the crop is larger if cutting is delayed until shortly after the plants have completed flowering; but, on the other hand, the hay is coarse and more or less woody. It lacks palatability and fat and milk producing constituents, and in spite of its larger quantity it is of smaller total value than if cut at the proper time. Late cutting also spoils the second growth. When Red Clover and Alfalfa, for instance, begin to bloom, new shoots start from the crown of the root. If cutting is delayed until these shoots are high enough to be caught by the mower, it is evident that the second growth will be seriously affected.
Some species, like White Clover, are suitable for pasture, as the tramping of stock encourages the plants to new growth. Others, like Red Clover and Alfalfa, with a crown a little above the ground, must be pastured more carefully, tramping being apt to injure the plants if the soil is not in the proper condition. As the new growth starts from the crown, the plants should not be pastured too close, at any rate not late in the fall.
It is well known that leguminous plants enrich the soil. This faculty used to be attributed to their rather deep root system. It was claimed that the taproots gathered from the subsoil great quantities of food inaccessible to plants with shallower roots. The sub-stances thus removed from the subsoil were said to be used in building