(The "New York American"
gives the following interesting account of the "paternoster pea.")
Would you like always to know what the weather is going to be forty-eight hours ahead? If so, you should have a "weather plant."
It is a plant native to the island of Corsica, where its powers of meteorological prophecy were first discovered. Otherwise known as the "paternoster pea," its leaves, two to three inches long, resemble those of the acacia.
The plant is a legume. The more delicate leaves of its upper branchlets foretell the state of the weather two days in advance. The lower and hardier leaves indicate atmospheric changes three days before they occur.
Weather indications are given by changes in the position of the leaves, and by the lifting or drooping of the twigs and branchlets. Any given position of the leaves corresponds to a certain condition of the weather forty-eight hours later.
If they gradually turn upward, the forecast is "clearing". The higher they point, the better the weather that is in prospectó"fair," or "fine and cloudless," according to the angle the leaves assume.
On the other hand, if the leaves show a tendency to decline, there will be an overcast sky forty-eight hours later. A further sinking forecasts "probably rain." If they turn vertically downward, it means that heavy rains will arrive.
At the point where each leaf joins the twig there is a joint which enables the leaf to perform the up-and-down and sidewise movements above described. Likewise, there is a joint, similar in function, at the point where each branchlet joins the main stem of the plant.
When a thunderstorm or other electrical disturbance of the atmosphere is in prospect, the leaves, even though the weather at the time be clear and fine, will curl their tips downward in such wise that their upper surfaces become convex. The curl may even be so pronounced as to bring the leaf-tips into contact with the twig; in which case a very violent storm with lightning and thunder is to be expected within two days.
So reliable are the forecasts given by this wonderful plant that the Austrian Tourists' Club, in the Styrian Alps, was persuaded to discard ordinary barometers, preferring to depend on the plant alone.
It is claimed that the plant foretells earthquakes three to eight days ahead, such warnings being given by a marked tendency of the branchlets to sink downward and gather themselves about the main stem. On a number of occasions, it is said, the forecasts thus made of coming seismic convulsions have enabled mine-owners to take precautions which prevented loss of human lives.
The plant is a semi-tropical species, and, in order to make observations of its forecasts reliable for practical use, it should be grown in a pot under glass, with a temperature kept at 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
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