The leaves and flowers of plants are all formed of a frame-work, beautiful and delicate in the extreme, composed of woody fiber, corresponding to the skeleton of animals; and between the interstices of these fibers is gathered the softer material, forming the leaf or flower. If the leaf be taken and placed in water, and left in the same water for from three to four months, all this soft matter decays, and the stem may be taken in the hand, and the refuse shaken away. There remains behind a network or skeleton of the original object, which can be bleached with a little lime, and it forms a most lovely decoration for the mantel-piece of the tasty. The leaves of the ivy, the stink-pod of the stromonium, (which is now to be found exactly ripe for steeping), the oak leaf, and, in fact, every production of the vegetable world, are not only applicable, but show themselves with greater beauty when skeletonized than when perfect.
This article was originally published with the title "Skeleton Flowers and Leaves" in Scientific American 13, 21, 161 (January 1858)