Plant Nature Study I by Various Plant Nature Study I by Various    

Lesson 13: Beauties of the Swamp (Plants and Habitat)

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April with its showers had passed, and May had come with its longer sunny days. All the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows were busy with the building of new homes, or with the care of babies. I said all the little people, but this isn't quite true. A few there are who seldom spend much time in such cares. Peter Rabbit is one of these. Peter leaves most of the care of his growing family to Mrs. Peter. So it was that Peter still had time to try to satisfy his never-ending curiosity.

Not yet had he lost interest in flowers. Indeed, his interest had grown. It was still a delight to find a flower he had not seen before this season. And wherever he went, he kept his eyes open for newcomers. Many of the flowers which had so delighted him when he discovered the first blossoms were now so numerous that he hardly gave them a thought. It was not that he loved them less, but that he was so eager to find new ones that he couldn't spend time with those he had already learned about.

One morning he happened to think that he had not yet seen his old friend, Longbill the Woodcock. "Of course he is here," thought Peter. "I'll find him over in that swampy place where the Laughing Brook comes out of the Green Forest on its way to the Smiling Pool. He is always there this time of year. I'll just run over and pass the time of day with him."

So away went Peter, straight over to where the Laughing Brook enters the Green Meadows. Redwing the Blackbird had a nest in there, and Peter stopped to inquire how many eggs there were in the nest. Of course Redwing wouldn't tell him, for it really was no business of Peter's. He was just about to go on in something of a huff when on the very edge of the swamp he caught sight of a big, blue flower that caused him to squeal right out with joy and forget all about Redwing and those eggs.

This flower was very stately as it stood erect above long, narrow, pointed leaves like giant blades of grass. It was at the top of a stout, straight, green stalk, and even when Peter sat up was above his head. Peter gave little attention to leaves and stalk, for he had no eyes for anything but the beauty of that wonderful flower. Truly, it was beautiful. It was quite the largest flower he had yet found. It was violet-blue with lines of white, green, and yellow.

Peter counted the petals, at least what he thought were the petals. There were nine, and they were arranged in groups of three. The three largest were broad and rounded and bent gracefully downward. They were beautifully marked with white and yellow on a wonderful background of violet-blue. Really they were not petals, though Peter was quite excusable in thinking they were. They were sepals, which are those parts which are usually green and form the outer covering for the true petals when the flower is in the bud.

The true petals, of which there were three, were smaller, narrower, and stood nearly erect. They were violet in color and marked with delicate purple veins. The other three petal-like parts were narrower, smaller, notched at the tips, and each curved outward directly over the base of one of the sepals. Although they did not look it at all, these were really divisions of this flower's curious pistil, which, as you remember, has to do with the seed-bearing part. Hidden directly under each was a slender, yellowish stamen.

So Peter had found a flower as interesting as it was beautiful. It was a flower beloved by Bees, for in the heart of it was much of the sweet nectar of which they are so fond. Then, too, blue is their favorite color. The parts of this flower were so curiously formed by Old Mother Nature for the express purpose of making it impossible for the Bees to get the nectar without becoming dusted with the golden pollen, and this meant that they could not visit another flower of the same kind without leaving some of that pollen there.

It was an old friend, and one Peter was delighted to find. It was the Larger Blue Flag, which is also called Blue Iris and Fleur-de-lis, a flower you cannot mistake for any other, for there is none like it.

"You are staring at that Blue Flag as if you had never seen one before," said a voice.

Peter turned quickly to find the very one he had started over to the swamp to look for, — Longbill the Woodcock. "Hello, Longbill!" cried Peter joyously. "I was hoping I would find you over here. I came over purposely to see you. How is Mrs. Longbill?"

"Mrs. Longbill is fine, thank you. She is on our nest and doesn't want to be disturbed, or I would take you to see her," replied Longbill politely. What is there about that Blue Flag that interests you so much?" he inquired as an afterthought.

"All flowers interest me," replied Peter. "Until this season I never had thought about them much, but now I am learning more every day of the beauty and wonder of them. Isn't that Blue Flag lovely?"

"I suppose it is," agreed Longbill, without showing any particular interest. "I am not much interested in flowers myself. But if you are, I can show you one that to my way of thinking is really worthwhile, and one I don't believe you have seen."

Peter pricked up his ears. "Where is it?" he cried eagerly.

"Follow me," replied Longbill, and led the way into the swamp.

The ground became more and more wet and in places very muddy. Peter would never have thought of going in there to look for flowers. He began to doubt if Longbill really had found a flower there. But Longbill kept on. You know he is very much at home in a swamp. Presently he disappeared behind a big tussock of grass. Peter hurried to catch up. When he came around that tussock the first thing he saw was a beautiful little pink blossom that fairly took his breath away. Yes, sir, it did so.

"Oh, how beautiful!" he cried, and for the moment forgot all about Longbill. He squatted down and stared at that flower. This one really was new to him. Never before had he found it. It was six or seven inches above the ground at the top of a smooth, very slender stalk, and there were no leaves.

The flower was a bright, purplish-pink. Here again was another flower in which the sepals or outer coverings were colored like the petals. In fact, they were very much like the petals, and all were partly united. They arched over a curious drooping part called the lip, which was broad and rounded and had three little white, hairy ridges. It bore little blotches or spots of purple. Peter's wobbly little nose already had discovered that it had a scent much like that of Sweet-scented Violets.

"What is it?" he asked at last.

"I don't know," replied Longbill, "but I guess you'll admit that you never have seen anything prettier."

Peter nodded. "Yes," said he, "I'll admit that. I wonder why I have never seen it before."

"Probably because you have never been where it grows," replied Longbill. "I see it every spring. But it isn't very common. People who see it have to look for it."

"I wonder why it hasn't any leaves," said Peter.

"There will be only one leaf, and that will come later and be much like a blade of grass," replied Longbill.

Peter remained for some time admiring the wonderful little flower and wondering what it could be. It was the Arethusa, often called Indian Pink, and sometimes called Dragon's-mouth, and it belonged to the Orchid family, the family which has the strangest and most interesting of all flowers.

    Plant Nature Study I by Various Plant Nature Study I by Various    

Lesson 13: Beauties of the Swamp (Plants and Habitat)


Study the lesson for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the story.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Recite aloud the vocabulary words and their definitions.
  • Learn the concepts.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


Peter spots a big, beautiful swamp flower called the Larger Blue Flag or Blue Iris. The flower has leaves like large blades of grass and a tall, straight stalk. Although the flower appears to have nine petals, the bottom three marked in white and yellow are actually sepals. The three smaller ones, notched at the tips, are part of the pistil. Only the top three standing erect are true petals. Peter finds another swamp beauty, a member of the Orchid family, called the Arethusa or Dragon's-mouth. Like the Blue Iris, the purplish-pink Dragon's-mouth has sepals that look like petals.


Woodcock: Any of several wading birds, characterized by a long slender bill and cryptic brown and blackish plumage.
Habitat: A place or type of site where an organism or population naturally occurs.
Petal: One often brightly colored part of the flower corolla.
Sepal: The outermost, often green, part of a flower which protects the early bud from injury and cold.
Notch: A V-shaped cut.
Swamp: A low piece of wet, spongy land.


Plants and Habitat:

  1. A habitat is a place or type of site where an organism or population naturally grows.
  2. Plants grow in many different types of habitats.
  3. Some plants grow in the dry desert. Some grow in watery swamps. Others grow on the rocky sides of mountains.
  4. Types of plant habitats include swamps, rivers, meadows, plains, mountains, forests, deserts, oceans, and ponds.


Activity 1: Narrate the Story

  • After reading or listening to the story, narrate the story events aloud using your own words.

Activity 2: Name that Habitat!

Call out the name of each of the following habitats:

Activity 3: Take a Nature Walk, Visit a Flower Shop, or Research Online - Plants in Special Habitats

Embark upon a nature walk, visit a flower shop, or engage in online research.

  • Locate a specimen of a plant from a special type of habitat.
  • Make observations of the plant and its habitat and gather data.
  • Use the gathered information to create the field book entry.

Activity 4: Complete a Field Book Entry   

After your nature walk, complete page 17 in 'Science Field Book for Third Grade.'


Question 1

Describe the habitat of the Arethusa or Dragon's-mouth.
1 / 3

Answer 1

The habitat of the Arethusa or Dragon's-mouth is the swamp.
1 / 3

Question 2

The Large Blue Flag has nine structures that look like petals. How many are actually petals?
2 / 3

Answer 2

Three of the structures are actually petals.
2 / 3

Question 3

List four examples of habitats.
3 / 3

Answer 3

Answers might include swamps, rivers, meadows, plains, mountains, forests, deserts, oceans, and ponds.
3 / 3

  1. Describe the habitat of the Arethusa or Dragon's-mouth. The habitat of the Arethusa or Dragon's-mouth is the swamp.
  2. The Large Blue Flag has nine structures that look like petals. How many are actually petals? Three of the structures are actually petals.
  3. List four examples of habitats. Answers might include swamps, rivers, meadows, plains, mountains, forests, deserts, oceans, and ponds.


  1. Burgess, Thornton. Burgess Flower Book for Children. Ithaca, Boston, Massachusetts. Little, Brown, and Company, 1923.
  2. Comstock, Anna Botsford and Gordon, Eva L., Handbook of nature-study (Twenty-fourth edition). Ithaca, New York Comstock Publishing Company, Inc, 1911.
  3. 'Swamp Picture by skeeze. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  4. 'Desert Picture by werner22brigitte. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  5. 'Mountain Picture by domelaci. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  6. 'Plain Picture by BrinWeins. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  7. 'Meadow Picture by pixel2013. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  8. 'Forest Picture by SplitShire. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  9. 'Ocean Picture by 12019. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  10. 'River Picture by cowins. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  11. 'Pond Picture by dimitrisvetsikas1969. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.