« AnteriorContinuar »
In all the European species of the Violet the flower is reversed or inverted, while in most of the Indian ones it is erect.
The Violet tribe consist chiefly of European, Siberian, and American plants. A few only being found within the tropics of Asia. They are abundant in South America ; the forms of which are, however, materially different from those of the more temperate parts of the world, most of them being shrubs, while the northern violets are uniformly herbaceous, or nearly so.
The roots of all Violaceæ appear to be more or less emetic, a property which is strongly possessed by the American species, one of which is frequently sold for the true ipecacuanha. The European species possess the same property, only in a less degree.LINDLEY.
From the converging anthers, Linnæus and other Botanists formerly placed the Viola among syngenesious plants.
This species is well distinguished from V. hirta, by its acute calyx leaves, and the green spur of the corolla.
The plant is fed upon by the caterpillars of Argynnis Aglaia, and A. Paphia. It has a reputation for being an extremely powerful agent in the removal of obstinate cutaneous affections.
The difference between this plant and V. odorata has been thus beautifully noticed by C. H. Townshend :
Deceitful plant ! from thee no odours rise,
Perfume the air, or scent the mossy glade,
Of her, the sweetest offspring of the shade.
Yet not like hers, still shunning to be seen,
And by their fragrant breath alone betrayed,
To every gazer are thy flowers displayed.
Thus Virtue's garb Hypocrisy may wear,
Kneel as she kneels, or give as she has given ;
No incense of the heart exhales to heaven!
. Natural Order.-PRECIÆ, Linn. LYSIMACHIÆ, Juss. PRIMULACEÆ,
Ventenat, Brown, Lindley.
Calyx tubular, 5-toothed.
Capsule l-celled, opening with ten teeth.
From primus, first, on account of the early appearance of the flowers in the commonest of the species.
1. PRIMULA VULGARIS, Hudson.-COMMON PRIMROSE.
Leaves toothed, wrinkled. Scape single-flowered. Corolla limb flat.
Specific name from vulgaris, common.
Eng. Bot. t. 4. Sm. Eng. Fl. vol. 1. p. 270. Hook. Brit. Fl. p. 105. J. and K. Fl. Dev.
35. Lindl. Syn. p. 184. Loud. Ency. Pl. p. 126. Loud. Hort. Brit. p. 57. Primula veris y acaulis, Linn. Sp. Pl. 205. Henslow.
P. veris vulgaris Raii Syn. 284.
Root fleshy ; very knotty ; sending out long, tough, gradually diminishing fibres, at the extremity of which are numerous branched fibrillæ; perennial ; upper part of a pink colour.
Stem none. Leaves vernation revolute; ovateoblong, gradually tapering to a broad, short petiole; wrinkled ; unequally toothed ; radical; soft; veiny; upper surface smooth, except the mid-rib, which has a few long soft hairs; every part of the under surface, particularly the prominent veins, covered with thick, long, jointed hairs; darkish green above, paler beneath ; shorter than the
surface flat, underneath acute ; smooth above, downy beneath; winged ; stained with purplish pink. Stipulas none. Scapes taller than the leaves; slender; pinkish; woolly; numerous; if traced to their base (as Dr. Hooker observes,) they will be found to spring from one common point, and to constitute a sessile umbel. Bracteas one at the bottom of each peduncle; awl-shaped ; ciliated at the edge; with a strongly marked central nerve; about an inch long; smooth. Flowers upright; solitary ; large, pale yellow; (near Helleston the varieties of
colour are very great, from the lightest blush to a deep red; the white variety also common.—Mr. C. Johns.) with an agreeable, though very slight odour. Calyr of one leaf; tubular; 5-angled, the angles clothed with jointed hairs ; 5-toothed, teeth acute, their margins ciliated ; inferior; erect; inside smooth ; nearly as long as the tube of the corolla ; persistent. Corolla salver-shaped ; limb flat, deeply 5-cut; lobes generally inversely heart-shaped, notched ; inferior ; tube cylindrical; a little longer than the calyx ; orifice dilated. Stamens 5 inserted in the throat of the corolla; equal ; alternate with the divisions of the limb of the corolla. Anthers tapering to a point; erect; converging ; one-celled. Germen globose. Style thread-shaped; as long as the calyx. Capsule ovate; closely invested with the calyx; 1-celled; opening on the top with 5—10 acute parallel teeth. Seeds numerous; minute; roundish; arranged about a central, ovate, unconnected receptacle.
It is fed upon by the caterpillar of the Graphiphora festiva.—Stephens.
The Primrose tribe are common in the northern and colder parts of the globe, growing in marshes, hedges, and groves, by fountains and rivulets, and even among the snows of cloud-clapped mountains. They are uncommon within the tropics, where they usually occupy either the sea shore, or the summits of the most lofty hills. As beautiful objects of culture these rank among the most esteemed, both on account of their bright but modestlooking flowers, the earliest harbingers of spring, and also for the sake of their fragrance. The varieties of P. Auricula are carefully cultivated and highly prized by florists.Gerarde says that the dried roots taken up in Autumn are a strong, but safe emetic.
Langham, as quoted by Ray, states that the expressed juice of the leaves and flowers, with an equal quantity of milk from a red cow, frequently taken up into the nostrils, has perfectly cured a most inveterate head-ache, which had defied all other remedies.
Linnæus was of opinion that the Primrose, Oxlip, Cowslip, and Polyanthus were only varieties of the same species. Modern botanists are inclined to consider them as distinct, though disposed to allow that the Oxlip may be a cross between the Cowslip and Primrose. In the fourth volume of the Horticultural Transactions the following singular experiment is recorded. “I raised,” says Mr. Herbert, “ from the natural seed of one umbel of a highly-manured red cowslip, a primrose, a cowslip, oxlips of the usual and other colours, a black polyanthus, a hose in hose cowslip, and a natural primrose bearing its flower on a polyanthus stalk. From the seed of that very hose in hose cowslip, I have raised since a hose in hose primrose. I therefore consider all these to be only local varieties depending upon soil and situation.” Professor Henslow has seen P. vulgaris, elatior, and veris produced from the same root, and he has therefore reduced them to varieties of P. veris, as Linnæus had done.
3. P. VERIS, Linnæus.- COMMON Cowslip
Leaves toothed, wrinkled, contracted below the middle. Scape umbellate. Calyx teeth obtuse. Corolla limb concave.
Specific name from ver, the spring.
Linn. Sp. Pl. 204. Eng. Bot. t. 5. Sm. Eng. Fl. vol. 1. p. 271. Hook. Fl. Brit.
J. and K. Fl. Dev. p. 35. Lind. Syn. p. 184. Loud. Ency. Pl. p. 126. Loud. Hort. Brit. p. 57.
Primula veris major Raii Syn. 284. P. veris, a. officinalis, Henslow.
Habitat.- Meadows and pastures, chiefly on a clayey or chalky soil.
Very rare in Scotland.
Root fleshy; fibrous ; knotty ; perennial ; upper part scarcely tinted with pink; smelling very strongly like anise. Leaves vernation revolute; more wrinkled at the edges than P. vulgaris ; toothed ; contracted about the middle; sometimes almost heart-shaped ; radical; veiny; both surfaces covered with short thickset hairs ; colour of a lighter, duller green than P. vulgaris ; spreading. Petiole longer than in P. vulgaris; flat, acute underneath; with a broadish faint pink line; winged ; covered on both sides with very short hairs; shorter than the scape. Stipulas none. Scupe, ascending 4-8 inches high; few; covered with very
short horizontal hairs; streaked with pink; umbellate. Bracteas one at the bottom of each pedicle; awl-shaped; ciliated at the edge; pinkish; hairy. Flowers numerous; drooping ; small ; deeper yellow than in P. vulgaris, with 5 orange spots; turn green in drying ; sweet-scented. Calyx of one leaf; 5-angled, the angles with short horizontal hairs; sometimes tipped with purple; 5-toothed, teeth obtuse, their margins ciliated; inferior; erect ; inside smooth; pale green; white towards the base between the angles; persistent. Corolla limb concave; very small in comparison with P. vulgaris ; 5-cleft, lobes notched; inferior; tube cylindrical; contracted about the middle at the insertion of the stamens. Anthers tapering to a point; erect; converging; one-celled. Germen globose. Style, thread-shaped. Capsule ovate, closely invested with the calyx ; 1-celled; ten-toothed. Seeds numerous; minute ; roundish.
Fed upon by the Phalæna togata. Goats and sheep will eat it; cows rarely; horses and pigs refuse it.
The leaves are sometimes used as a salad or pot-herb; silk-worms will eat both them and the flowers. A sweet and somewhat pleasant soporific wine is made from the flowers, which slightly resembles the Muscat wines of the South of France.
“ Venus lays claim to the herb as her own,” (says the physician-hating, astrological Culpepper) and it is under the sign Aries, and our city dames know well enough, the ointment or distilled water of it adds beauty, or at least restores it when lost. · An ointment made of the flowers taketh away spots and wrinkles of the skin, sun burning and freckles, and adds beauty exceedingly.” This belief is not quite extinct, as in the counties where cowslips abound they still form a component part of one of the most popular cosmetics of the rustic belle.
Notwithstanding the opinions of Linnæus, Henslow, and other eminent botanists that P. vulgaris and P. veris are merely varieties of the same plaut; they are rarely found intermixed. In Scotland P. vulguris is of common occurence, P. elatior and P. veris are scarcely known. “Mr. H. F. Talbot found on the summit of a high mountain near the lake Thun, in Switzerland, P. elatior in great abundance, while P. veris was confined to the base of the hill; and P. vulgaris was not found within 50 miles.”-HOOKER. In Devonshire and Cornwall where P. vulgaris grows most abundantly and luxuriantly, P. elatior and P. veris are very rare ; the latter, where I have seen it, is confined to spots from which it does not appear to spread, so that it may be almost doubted whether it be a native of either county. P. elatior I have never found where I should think it decidedly wild. Montagu in his Ornithological Dictionary has the following singular remark on this plant in connection with the nightingale. The local situation of this bird, (Sylvia Luscinia, Latham,) the nightingale, as well as many others, is probably occasioned by a peculiarity of food, which may be found in some places and not in others. It is said to be found only as far north as Yorkshire ; and certainly not further west than the eastern borders of Devonshire; although they are plentiful both in Somersetshire and Dorsetshire. Why they should not be found in all the wooded parts of Devonshire and Cornwall, which appear equally calculated for their residence, both from the mildness of the air and variety of ground, is beyond the naturalist's penetration. The bounds prescribed to all animals, and even plants, is a curious and important fact in the great works of Nature. It has been observed, that the nightingale may possibly not be found in any part but where cowslips grow plentifully ; certainly, with respect to Devonshire and Cornwall, this coincidence is just."