ON THE MINERAL CONSTITUENTS AND ALGÆ OF THE HOT-SPRINGS OF BEHAR, THE
HIMALAYA, AND OTHER PARTS OF INDIA, ETC., INCLUDING NOTES ON THE FUNGI
OF THE HIMALAYA.
(By Dr. R. D. Thomson and the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, M.A., F.L.S.)
The following remarks, for which I am indebted
to the kindness of the able chemist and naturalist mentioned above, will
be highly valued, both by those who are interested in the many curious
physiological questions involved in the association of the most obscure
forms of vegetable life with the remarkable phenomena of mineral
springs; or in the exquisitely beautiful microscopic structure of the
lower Algæ, which has thrown so much light upon a branch of natural
history, whose domain, like that of astronomy, lies to a great extent
beyond the reach of the unassisted eye.—J.D.H.
1. Mineral water, Soorujkoond, Behar (vol. i.,
p. 27), contains chloride of sodium and sulphate of soda.
2. Mineral water, hot springs, Yeumtong,
altitude 11,730 feet (see vol. ii., p. 117). Disengages sulphuretted
hydrogen when fresh.—This water was inodorous when the bottle was
opened. The saline matter in solution was considerably less than in the
Soorujkoond water, but like that consisted of chloride of sodium and
sulphate of soda. Its alkaline character suggests the probability of its
containing carbonate of soda, but none was detected. The rocks
decomposed by the waters of the spring consist of granite impregnated
with sulphate of alumina. It appears that in this case the sulphurous
waters of Yeumtong became impregnated in the air with sulphuric acid,
which decomposed the felspar,* and united with its alumina. I found
traces only of potash in the salt.
Sulphuretted hydrogen waters appear to give
origin to sulphuric acid, when the water impregnated with the gas
reaches the surface;
* I have, in my journal, particularly
alluded to the garnets (an aluminous mineral) being thus entirely
[ 375 ]
and I have fine fibrous specimens of sulphate
of lime accompanied with sulphur, from the hot springs of Pugha in west
Tibet, brought by Dr. T. Thomson.
3. Mineral water, Momay hot springs, (vol.
ii., p. 133).—When the bottle was uncorked, a strong smell of
sulphuretted hydrogen was perceived. The water contains about
twenty-five grains per imp. gallon, of chloride of sodium, sulphate and
carbonate of soda; the reaction being strongly alkaline when the
solution was concentrated.
4. Effloresced earth from Behar (vol. i., p.
13), consists of granite sand, mixed with sesquicarbonate of soda.
On the Indian Algæ which occur principally in different
parts of the Himalayan Range, in the hot-springs of Soorujkoond in
Bengal, Pugha in Tibet, and Momay in Sikkim; and on the Fungi of the
By the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, M.A.
It is not my intention in the present appendix
to give specific characters or even accurately determined specific names
to the different objects within its scope, which have come under
investigation, as collected by Dr. Hooker and Dr. Thomson. To do so
would require far more time than I have at present been able to devote
to the subject, for though every species has been examined
microscopically, either by myself or Mr. Broome, and working sketches
secured at the same time, the specific determination of fresh water Algæ
from Herbarium specimens is a matter which requires a very long and
accurate comparison of samples from every available locality, and in the
case of such genera as Zygnema, Tyndaridea, and Conferva,
is, after all, not a very satisfactory process.
The object in view is merely to give some
general notion of the forms which presented themselves in the vast
districts visited by the above-mentioned botanists, comprising
localities of the greatest possible difference as regards both
temperature and elevation; but more especially in the hot-springs which
occur in two distant parts of the Himalayas and in Behar, and these
again under very different degrees of elevation and of extrinsic
[ 376 ]
The Algæ from lower localities are but few in
number, and some of these of very common forms. We have for instance
from the Ganges, opposite Bijnour, a Batrachospermum and
Conferva crispata, the former purple below, with specimens of
exactly as they might occur in the Thames. The Conferva, or more
properly Cladophora, which occurs also under various forms, at
higher elevations, as in the neighbourhood of Simla and Iskardo, swarms
with little parasites, but of common or uninteresting species. In the
Bijnour specimens, these consist of common forms of Synedra, Meridion
circulare, and a Cymbella, on others from Dacca, there are
about three species of Synedra,* a minute Navicula and
Gomphonema curvatum. Nothing, in fact, can well be more European. One
splendid Alga, however, occurs at Fitcoree, in Behar, on the banks of
nullahs, which are dry in hot weather, forming a purple fleece of coarse
woolly hairs, which are singularly compressed, and of extreme beauty
under the microscope, from the crystalline green of the articulated
string which threads the bright red investing sheath. This curious Alga
calls to mind in its colouring Cænocoleus Smithii, figured in
English Botany, t. 2940, but it has not the common sheath of that Alga,
and is on a far larger scale. One or two other allied forms, or species,
occur in East Nepal, to which I purpose giving, together with the Behar
plant, the generic name of Erythronema. From the Soane River,
also, is an interesting Alga, belonging to the curious genus
Thwaitesia, in which the division of the endochrome in the fertile
cells into four distinct masses, sometimes entirely free, is beautifully
marked. In some cases, indeed, instead of the ordinary spores, the whole
moss is broken up into numerous bodies, as in the fertile joints of
Ulothrix, and probably, as in that case, the resultant corpuscles
are endowed with active motion. In Silhet, again, is a magnificent
Zygnema, allied to Z. nitidum, with large oval spores, about
1/285 part of an inch long, and a dark golden brown colour, and
containing a spiral green endochrome.
Leaving, however, the lower parts of India, I
shall first take the species which occur in Khasia, Sikkim, Eastern
Nepal, and the adjoining parts of Tibet.
* Two of these appear to be S. Vaucheriæ
and S. inæqualis.
[ 377 ]
In the hot valleys of the Gtreat Rungeet, at
an elevation of about 2000 feet, we have the Erythronema, but
under a slightly different form; at Nunklow, at about the same height;
in Khasia, again, at twice that elevation; in Eastern Nepal, at 12,000;
and, finally, at Momay, reaching up to 16,000 feet. In water, highly
impregnated with oxide of iron, at 4000 feet in Sikkim, a Leptothrix
occurred in great abundance, coloured with the oxide, exactly as is the
case with Algæ which grow in iron springs in Europe. At elevations
between 5000 and 7000 feet, several European forms occur, consisting of
Ulothrix, Zygnema, Oscillatoria, Lyngbya, Sphærozyga, Scytonema,
Cladophora. The species may indeed not be identical with European
species, but they are all more or less closely allied to well-known
Hydrophytes. One very interesting form, however, either belonging to the
genus Zygnema, or possibly constituting a distinct genus, occurs
in streams at 5000 feet in Sikkim, consisting of highly gelatinous
threads of the normal structure of the Zygnema, but forming a
reticulated mass. The threads adhere to each other laterally, containing
only a single spiral endochrome, and the articulations are very long.
Amongst the threads are mixed those of some species of Tyndaridea.
There is also a curious Hormosiphon, at a height of 7000 feet;
forming anastomosing gelatinous masses. A fine new species of Lyngbya
extends up as high as 11,000 feet. At 13,000 feet occurs either some
simple Conferva or Zygnema, it is doubtful which from the
condition of the specimens; and at the same elevation, in the nearly dry
bed of the stream which flows from the larger lake at Momay, amongst
flat cakes, consisting of felspathic silt from the glaciers above, and
the débris of Algæ, and abounding in Diatomaceæ, some threads of a
At 17,000 feet, an Oscillatoria, attached or adherent to
Zannichellia; and, finally, on the bare ground, at 18,000 feet, on the
Donkia mountains, an obscure species of Cænocoleus. On the
surface of the glaciers at Kinchinjhow, on silt, there is a curious
apparently quite distinct from any European form.
Amongst the greater part of the Algæ, from
4000 feet to 18,000 feet, various Diatomaceæ occur, which will be best
noticed in a tabular form, as follows; the specific name, within
brackets, merely indicating the species to which they bear most
[ 378 ]
Odontidium (hiemale, forma minor)
Epithemia, n. sp.
Navicula, n. sp.
|4000 to 7000 feet
5000 to 7000 feet
6000 to 7000 feet
We now turn to those portions of Tibet or the
neighbouring regions, explored by Dr. Thomson and Captain Strachey. The
principal feature in the Algology is the great prevalence of species of
Zygnema and Tyndaridea, which occur under a variety of forms,
sometimes with very thick gelatinous coats. In not a single instance,
however, is there the slightest tendency to produce fructification.
Conferva crispata again, as mentioned above, occurs in several
localities; and in one locality a beautiful unbranched Conferva,
with torulose articulations. At Iskardo, Dr. Thomson gathered a very
gelatinous species of Draparnaldia, or more properly, a
Stygeoclonium, if we may judge from a little conglomeration of cells
which appeared amongst the threads. A Tetraspora in Piti, an
obscure Tolypothrix, and one or two Oscillatoriæ,
remarkable for their interrupted mode of growth, complete the list of
Algæ, with the exception of one, to be mentioned presently; as also of
and of the species of Nostoc and Hormosiphon, which occurred
in great profusion, and under several forms, sometimes attaining a very
large size (several inches across), especially in the districts of Le
and Piti, and where the soil or waters were impregnated with saline
matters. It is well known that some species of Nostoc form an
article of food in China, and one was used for that purpose in a late
Arctic expedition, as reported by Dr. Sutherland; but it does not seem
that any use is made of them in Tibet, though probably all the large
species would form tolerable articles of food, and certainly, from their
chemical composition, prove very nutritious. One species is mentioned by
Dr. Thomson as floating, without any attachment, in the shallow
[ 379 ]
water of the pools scattered over the plains,
on the Parang River, separated only by a ridge of mountains from Piti,
broad and foliaceous, and scarcely different from the common Nostoc,
which occurs in all parts of the globe. I must not, however, neglect to
record a very singular new genus, in which the young threads have the
characters of Tyndaridea, but, after a time, little swellings
occur on their sides, in which a distinct endochrome is formed,
extending backwards into the parent endochrome, separated from it by a
well defined membrane, and producing, either by repeated pullulation, a
compound mass like that of Calothrix, or simply giving rise to a
forked thread. In the latter case, however, there is no external
swelling, but a lateral endochrome is formed, which, as it grows, makes
its way through an aperture, whose sides are regularly inflected. I have
given to this curious production the name of Cladozygia Thomsoni.
The whole of the above Algæ occurred at
heights varying from 10,000 to 15,500 feet. As in the Southern Himalayan
Algæ, the specimens were infested with many Diatomaceæ, amongst which
the moat conspicuous were various Cymbellæ and Epithemiæ.
The following is a list of the species observed.
and three others.
Odontidium n. sp.
Epithemia n. sp.
There is very little identity between this
list and that before given from the Southern Himalayas, as is the case
also with the other Algæ. Till the species, however, have been more
completely studied, a very accurate comparison cannot be made.
In both instances the species which grow in
hot springs have been reserved in order to make their comparison more
easy. I shall begin in an inverse order, with those of the springs of
Pugha in Tibet, which attain a temperature of 174°. Two Confervæ
only occur in the specimens which have been preserved, viz., an
Oscillatoria allied to that which I have called O. interrupta,
and a true Conferva
[ 380 ]
extremely delicate with very long
articulations, singularly swollen at the commissures. The Diatomaceæ
Odontidium n. sp., same as at Piti on Conferva.
Cymbella, three species.
Scarcely any one of these except the
Navicula is peculiar to the locality. A fragment apparently of some
Closterium, the only one which I have met with in the collection,
accompanies one of the specimens.
The hot springs of Momay, (temp. 110°) at
16,000 feet, produce a golden brown Cænocoleus representing a
small form of C. cirrhosus, and a very delicate Sphærozyga,
Anabaina, and Tolypothrix; and at 17,000 feet, a delicate green
Conferva with long even articulations. With the latter is an
Odontidium allied to, or identical with O. turgidulum, and with
the former a fine species of Epithemia resembling in form, but
not in marking, E. Faba, E. (Zebra) a fine Navicula,
perhaps the same with N. major and Fragilaria (virescens).*
In mud from one of the Momay springs (a), I detected Epithemia
(Broomeii n.s.), and two small Naviculæ, and in the spring (c)
two species of Epithemia somewhat like E. Faba, but
different from that mentioned above.
The hot springs of Soorujkoond, of the
vegetation of which very numerous specimens have been preserved, are
extremely poor in species. In the springs themselves and on their banks,
at temperatures varying from 80° to 158°, at which point vegetation
entirely ceases, a minute Leptothrix abounds everywhere, varying
a little in the regularity of the threads in different specimens, but
scarcely presenting two species. Between 84° and 112° there is an
imperfect Zygnema with very long articulations, and where the
green scum passes into brown, there is sometimes an Oscillatoria,
of a very minute stellate Scytonema, probably in an imperfect
Epithemia ocellata also contributes often to produce the tint. An
Anabaina occurs at a temperature of 125°, but the same species was
found also in the stream from the springs where the water had become
cold, as was also the case with the Zygnema.
* Mr. Thomas Brightwell finds in a portion
of the same specimen Epithemia alpestris, Surirella splendida, S.
linearis, Smith, Pinnularia viridis, Smith, Navicula
(lanceolata) and Himantidium (arcus).
[ 381 ]
The Diatomaceæ consisted of:—
|Epithemia Broomeii, n. s.
Epithemia thermalis, n. sp.
Epithemia inæqualis, n. sp.
Navicula Beharensis, n. sp.
The vegetation in the three sets of springs
was very different. As regards the Confervæ, taking the word in
its older sense, the species in the three are quite different, and even
in respect of genera there is little identity, but amongst the
there is no striking difference, except in those of the Behar springs
where three out of the four did not occur elsewhere. In the Pugha and
Momay springs, the species were either identical with, or nearly allied
to those found in neighbouring localities, where the water did not
exceed the ordinary temperature. A longer examination will doubtless
detect more numerous forms, but those which appear on a first
examination are sure to give a pretty correct general notion of the
vegetation. The species are certainly less numerous than I had expected,
or than might be supposed from the vegetation of those European hot
springs which have been most investigated.
In conclusion, I shall beg to add a few words
on the Fungi of the Himalayas, so far as they have at present been
investigated. As regards these there is a marked difference, as might be
anticipated from the nature of the climates between those parts of Tibet
investigated by Dr. Thomson, and the more southern regions. The fungi
found by Dr. Thomson were but few in number, and for the most part of
very ordinary forms, differing but little from the produce of an
European wood. Some, however, grow to a very large size, as for
instance, Polyporus fomentarius on poplars near Iskardo,
exceeding in dimensions anything which this species exhibits in Europe.
A very fine Æcidium also infests the fir trees (Abies
Smithiana), a figure of which has been given in the “Gardeners’
Chronicle,” 1852, p. 627, under the name of
AEcidium Thomsoni. This is allied to the Hexenbesen of the German
forests, but is a finer species and quite distinct. Polyporus
oblectans, Geaster limbatus, Geaster mammosus, Erysiphe taurica, a
infested with Sepedonium mycophilum, Scleroderma verrucosum, an
AEcidium, and a Uromyces, both on Mulgedium Tataricum,
about half-a-dozen Agarics, one at an altitude of 16,000 feet above the
Nubra river, a Lycoperdon, and Morchella semilibera, which
[ 382 ]
is eaten in Kashmir, and exported when dry
to the plains of India, make up the list of fungi.
The region of Sikkim is perhaps the most
productive in fleshy fungi of any in the world, both as regards numbers
and species, and Eastern Nepal and Khasia yield also an abundant
harvest. The forms are for the most part European, though the species
are scarcely ever quite identical. The dimensions of many are truly
gigantic, and many species afford abundant food to the natives. Mixed
with European forms a few more decidedly tropical occur, and amongst
those of East Nepal is a
Lentinus which has the curious property of staining every thing which
touches it of a deep rhubarb yellow, and is not exceeded in magnificence
by any tropical species. The Polypori are often identical with
those of Java, Ceylon, and the Philippine Isles, and the curious
Trichocoma paradoxum which was first found by Junghuhn in Java, and
very recently by Dr. Harvey in Ceylon, occurs abundantly on the decayed
trunks of laurels, as it does in South Carolina. The curious genus
Mitremyces also is scattered here and there, though not under the
American form, but that which occurs in Java. Though Hymenomycetes
are so abundant, the Discomycetes and Ascomycetes are
comparatively rare, and very few species indeed of Sphœria were
gathered. One curious matter is, that amongst the very extensive
collections which have been made there is scarcely a single new genus.
The species moreover in Sikkim are quite different, except in the case
of some more or less cosmopolite species from those of Eastern Nepal and
Khasia: scarcely a single Lactarius or Cortinarius for
instance occurs in Sikkim, though there are several in Khasia. The genus
through the whole district assumes the most magnificent forms, which are
generally very different from anything in Europe.