Herbs or shrubs with opposite loaves, with stipules between the petioles, sometimes reduced to an elevated lino or ridge. Flowers 4 or 5-partod, monopetalous, regular, aestivation various. Ovary superior, style simple, stigmas as many as the cells of the ovary. Fruit capsular or baccate, 2-celled, many-seeded, or a 1 to 2-seeded drupe. Seeds albuminous, mostly winged or peltate. (Fig. 221, 302.)
Genera 25, species 200, chiefly tropical.
Properties.-Generally poisonous, often possessed of the highest degree of venom. The pervading poisonous principle is strychnia, especially abundant and fatal in the seeds of Stryeh-nos Nux-voiniea, an East Indian tree, with small, greenish flowers. S. toxifera, of Guiana furnishes the terrible Woorali, poison for arrows, likewise S. cogens of Central American, S. Ticute of Java, yields the celebrated Upas. The species of Spigelia, under the name of Pink-root, are used as a vermifuge, but are dangerous.
Obs.-This order has been appended to Rublaceae;, but its free ovary is a decisive mark of distinction, although otherwise nearly related.
¶ Corolla tubular, lobes 5, valvate in bud. Seeds wingless, (a)
a Styles wholly united into one. Corolla tube long.......
a Styles distinct, with the stigmas united. Cor. tube short.
¶ Corolla campauulate, lobes 4 or 5, imbricate in bud. (b)
b Flowers 4-parted. Diffuse herbs...................
b Flowers5-parted. Twining shrubs............................................
1. SPIGE'LIA. L. Pink-root. (To Adrian Spigelius, Professor of Anat. and Surg, at Padua, 1578-1625.) Calyx 5-parted, segments linear-subulate; corolla narrowly funnel-form, limb 5-cleft, equal; stamens 5 ; anthers convergent; capsule didymous, 2-celled, few-seeded. -Herbaceous or suffrutescent. Lvs. opposite. Stip. small, interpetiolar. Fls. sessile, in terminal spikes.
S. Marilandica L. Erect, simple, nearly glabrous; st square: lvs. sessile, ovate-lanceolate, acute, or acuminate, margin and veins scabrous-pilous ; spikes 3 to 8-flowered; cor. tube 4 times longer than the cal.; anth. exserted; lobes of the cor. lanceolate; caps, glabrous, shorter than the cal.- In woods, Penn. to HI., S. to Fla. An elegant dark green herb, a foot high. Lvs. 3 to 4' by 1 1/3 to 2 1/2, entire, often ovate-acuminate, the stipules scarcely perceptible. Fls. 1 1/2 to 2' long, somewhat club-shaped, scarlet without, yellow within. Sty. exserted. Jn.- A celebrated anthelmintic.
2. MITRE'OLA, L. (Lat. mitrcola, a little mitre ; from the form of the capsule.) Calyx 5-parted ; corolla tubular, short, 5-cleft, hairy in the throat, lobes valvate in bud; stamens 5, on the corolla tube, included ; ovary 2-celled, styles 2, united at the top with one stigma, separate below, as well as the 2 horns of the co-seeded capsule.- Glabrous herbs. Stipules minute. Fls. small, white, in scorpoid racemes, forming a terminal, stalked cyme.
1 M. petiolata Torr. & Gr. Erect, branched; tea. lanceolate or oblong-ovate, acute, tapering at the base into a petiole; fls. somewhat distant in the racemes.-A plant of singular aspect, in damp shades, Va. to Fla. and La. St. 1 to 2f high, Lvs. thin, about 2' long, including the short petiole. Cymes about twice trichote-mous, the small fls. all on the upper side of the racemes. Capsules mitre-form. Jn.-Sept. (Ophiorhiza Mitreola, L.)
2 M. sessilifolia Torr. &, Gr. Erect, nearly simple; lvs. broad-oval, or ovate, sessile, acute, much shorter than the internodes; fls. contiguous in the racemes.- Damp soil, S. Car. to Fla. and La. More slender than the other, 10 to 18' high. Lvs. thickish, not veiny, 6 to 8" by 4 to 6'. Cymes small, compact. Fls. about half as large as in No. 1. Jn.-Aug. (Anonymus, Walt.) β. angustifolia, Torr. & Gr. has lance-elliptical leaves; at Quincy, Fla.
3. POLYPRE'MUM, L. (Gr. many, stem ; a characteristic of the plant.) Calyx 4-parted, segm. subulate, membranous-margined at base ; cor. broadly campanulate, 4-parted, lobes slighly unequal, obtuse; throat bearded; stam. 4, adherent to the corolla tube, included, anth. globular; stig. entire, subscssile; caps, ovoid, 2-ce!led, 2-ovuled, loculicidal, ∞-seeded.- Herb glabrous, diffusely much branched from the base, with opposite, linear-subulate lvs. connected at base by a slight stipular membrane. Fls. sessile, cymous, small, white.
P. procumbens L. Dry fields, Va. to Fla. and La. Plant forming roundish patches, with somewhat the aspect of Scleranthus, its numerous stems procumbent or ascending, 6 to 12' long. Lvs. hardly 1' long, rigid. Cal. persistent, its pointed sepals exceeding the capsule. May-Sept.-Bentham refers this genus to Serophulariaceae. Torr. & Gr., hither.
4. GELSE'MIUM, Juss. Yellow Jessamine. (Ital. gelsemio, the common name of the Jessamine.) Calyx 5-parted, lobes oblong ; corolla funnel-form, with 5, short, rounded lobes, quincunncial in bud; filaments 5, on the corolla; ovary smooth, short-stiped ; style filiform ; stigmas 2, each 2-parted, and with the anthers dimorphous, i. e. in some plants the stamens exceed the stigmas, in others the stigmas exceed the stamens, as in Houstonia; capsule twin, compressed, with a very narrow dissepiment (or 0 ?), valves each 2-cleft at top, cells few (4 to 6)-seeded, seeds winged.-Shrub slender, smooth, climbing, with evergreen lvs. and large, showy yellow fls. Stip. reduced to a raised rim.
G. sempervirens Ait Woods and banks of streams, Va. to Ala. and Fla., very abundant. A slender vine, twining and overrunning bushes and low trees, and profusely flowering. Lvs. coriaceous, shining, revolute at edge, lanceolate, acute at each end, short-petioled. Cor. tube 1' long, of a rich golden yellow. In one variety the stamens equal the corolla and the stylo but half as long ; in the other vice versa (a fact first pointed out to the author by Professor Pond, March, 1857). Fls. in Mar.-May.