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Prior to emergence from its nameless barbaric state, the human race was undoubtedly versed in botany of a strictly practical kind. All omnivorous and vegetable feeding creatures distinguish between wholesome and poisonous plants. Even the butterfly selects the right species on which to deposit its eggs, often from among others that to our eyes are almost identical with it. As our race has advanced in civilization, owing its progress to a more and more rigid division of labor, with the attendant and ever increasing specialization by which each piece of the great machine does its work more perfectly, yet more and more completely loses its direct touch with all but a few of the other parts, most men have lost much of what was at first common to all; and this is, perhaps, quite as true of a knowledge of plants as of anything else. As we go from the
TRELEASE W. MEDICAL BOTANY. JAMA. 1897;XXIX(10):467–471. doi:10.1001/jama.1897.02440360011002c
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