Herbs with flat, narrow leaves which are usually sheathing at base. Perianth of
2 series, the outer of 3 herbaceous sepals, the inner of 3 colored petals. Stamens
6, some of them usually deformed or abortive, hypogynous. Ovary 2 to 3-celled, cells few-ovuled. Style and stigma united into one. Capsule 2 to 3-celled, 2 to 3valved; cells often but 2-seeded, with losulicidal dehiscence. Seeds few, with dense, fleshy albumen. Embryo opposite the hilum. Figs. 584, 592.
Genera 16,species 260, chiefly natives of the Indies, Australia and Africa, a few N. America-They are of little importance to man. The anomalous genus, Mayaca, constitutes an order by itself in Kunth.
§ Flowers irregular, clustered in a spathe-like, cordate, floral leaf...........
§ Flowers regular, clustered; floral leaves like the rest. Stamens 6........
§ Flowers regular, solitary, axillary stamens 3. Most-like herbs.........................................
1. COMMELY'NA, Dill. (In honor of the brothers Commelyn, German botanists.) Fls. irregular; sepals herbaceous, petals colored; stamens 6, 3 of them sterile and furnished with cruciform glands for anthers; capsule 3-celled, 3-valved, one of the valves abortive. - Lvs. lance-linear with sheaths at base. Fls. enfolded in a conduplicate, persistent, spathaceous, cordate bract, erect in flower, recurved before and after. Petals blue, open but a few hours.
* Prostrate spathe opposite the leaves, complicate, base-lobes free........................
Nos. 1, 2
* Erect or ascending. Spathe subterminal, - complicate, subpeltate......................
- cucullate - peltate................................
Nos. 4, 5
1 C. communis L. Procumbent, much branched; brancldets marked with a hairy line; lvs. sessile, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, rounded at base, margin finely serrulate: sheath open, ciliate; spathe opposite the leaves, roundish-cordate, complicate; ped. in pairs, 1 to 3-flowered; petals unequal (blue), the odd one reniform; sep. (pale) the 2 lateral larger, connate below. - In wet grounds, Car. and Ga. Prostrate and spreading 1 to 3f. Lvs. a to 5' long. Jn. - Nov. (Elliott.)
2 C. agraria Kunth. St. procumbent, glabrous, branched; lvs. oblong or oblong-ovate, obtuse, the upper short-petioled; sheaths ciliate; spathe opposite the leaves, cordate-ovate, acuminate, complicate, 3 to 4-flowered; odd petal (blue) roundish-ovate. - River banks, S. I11. to La. Sts. If or more in length. Lvs. small (15 to 30" long). Fls. often polygamous. Sep. pale. Two of the (blue) petals clawed. (C. Cajennensis Rich.)
3 C. Virginica L. St. assurgent, branching, subgeniculate; lvs. lanceolate, subpetiolate, sheaths split to the base; spathe broad-cordate, distinct and open at base (except a short cohesion), enfolding 2 peduncles and several flowers; pedicels contorted; pet. unequal, the lower one much smaller, unguiculate. - Dry soils Middle! Southern and Western States! Plant nearly smooth, 12 - 18' high, glabrous. Leaves 3 - 5' by 8 - 14", varying from lance-linear to lance-ovate. Spathe veiny, 3 - 5-flowered. Jl., Aug. (C. angustifolia Mx.)
4 C. hirtella Vahl. Strictly erect, tall, and conspicuously pubescent; lvs. long-lanceolate, sheaths densely rusty-bearded at the throat; spathe subsessile, small, clustered at the summit of the stem; petals subequal. - In shady woods, Va. to S. Car. St. 2 to 3f high, rather thick and firm. Lvs. 5 to 8' long, both sides hairy. Spathe subreniform when open, 5" long, glabrous, colored, base lobes cucullate, slightly united. - Hardly distinct from No. 1.
5 C. erecta L. St. erect, branched at base, ciliate-pubescent; lvs. lanceolate, subpetiolate, sheaths entire, elongated, ciliate-pilous; spathe deltoid-falcate, united and entire at base as if peltate, about 2-flowered; pet. nearly equal - Rocky woods, thickets, Penn. (Muhl.) Harper's Ferry to Ga. St. simple or branched at base, upright, 1 - 2f high. Leaves 3 - 5' by 6 - 12", usually lanceolate, pilous-scabrous, the sheaths 9 to 11" long. Spathe broadly funnel-shaped. Jl, Aug. (C. Virginica Ph.)
β. angustifolia. Of very slender habit, with lance-linear lvs. and the spathe conspicuously arcuate (hawk-bill-shape). - Southern.
2. TRADESCAN'TIA, L. Spiderwort. (Named in honor of John Tradescant, gardener to Charles I.) Flowers regular; sepals persistent; petals large, suborbicular, spreading; filaments clothed with jointed hairs; anthers reniform. - Fls. in terminal, close umbels, subtended by 2 or 3 long, leafy bracts.
* Umbels sessible, terminal and axillary, with leaf-like bracts..............................
Nos. 1, 2
* Umbel long-pedunculate, terminal and axillary, bractless.................................
1 T. Virginica L. St erect, simple or branched; lvs. lance-linear, or linear chanueled above, sessile, ciliate or glabrous; fls. in a terminal, subumbellate cluster, pedicels finally elongated and reflexed; cal. pubescent. - Moist meadows, prairies, etc, Mid., W. and S. States common. Stem thick, round, jointed, 2 - 3f high. Leaves numerous, 12 - 18' by 6 - 12", the bracts similar. Petals large, suborbicular, of a deep, rich blue, soon fading. May - Aug - The juice of the plant is viscid and spins into thread; hence the common name.
2 T. pilosa Lehm. St. erect, smoothish, bractlets hairy; lvs. lanceolate with a narrow base, long-acuminate, complicate, on a loose sheath, and pilous both sides, the floral like the rest; umbels both terminal and axillary, many-flowered, dense; pedicels and sepals glandular-hairy. - Shady river banks, I11., to Ohio and La. St. 2f high. Lvs. 4 to 7' by 6 to 12", sheaths entire, 8 to 10" long. Fls. in the upper axils, small, bluish purple.
3 T. rosea Mx. St. erect, simple; lvs. linear, glabrous, channeled, amplexicaul: ped. elongated; cal. glabrous. - Penn. to Ga., in moist woods. Stem 8 - 12' high-Leaves 6 - 8' by 2 - 3'. Umbel terminal, subtended by 2 or 3 subulate bracta. Pedicels nearly 1' long. Flowers much smaller than in the preceding species. Petals ros-colored, twice longer than the smooth calyx. May.
3. MAYA'CA Aublet Flowers regular; sepals 3, green, lanceolate; petals 3, obovate, colored; stamens 3, opposite the sepals, persistent; ovary 1-celled, style filiform, stigma simple; capsule 3-valved, seeds several, attached to the middle of the valves. - Moss-like aquatics, glabrous, creeping, branched, densely clothed with narrowly linear lvs. Ped. axillary, solitary, 1-flowered.
M. Michauxii Schott. & Endl. Ped. longer than the lvs., reflexed in fruit; caps. 9 to 12-seeded; petals white. - In shallow waters, Va. to Ga (Feay, Pond) and Fla. (Mettauer). Sts. several inches long, somewhat resembling Sphagnum. Lvs. numerous and minute, bifid, 2 to 3" long, ped. thrice longer. Sep. near 3" long. Seeds globular, white. Jl (Syena fluviatilis Ph.)