This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Ferraria Undulata. Curled Ferraria.
Monogyna. Spathtae uniflorae. Petala 6, undulato-crispata. Stigmata cucullata. Caps. 3-locularis, infera.
FERRARIA undulata caule multifloro. Linn. Syst. Vegetab. p. 820. ed. 14. Murr. Ait. Kew. p. 305. v. 3.
FLOS INDICUS e violaceo fuscus radice tuberosa. I. B. Ferrar. Flora, ed. nov. p. 167. t. 171.
GLADIOLUS INDICUS e violaceo fuscus radice tuberosa nobis. Moris. hist. f. 4. t. 4. f. 7.
NARCISSUS INDICUS flore saturate purpureo. Rudb. Elys. 2. t. 49. f. 9.
IRIS stellata cyclamine radice pullo flore. Barrel. Icon. 1216.
The old Botanists appear to have been wonderfully at a loss to what family they should refer this very singular plant, as will appear on consulting the synonyms; Burman at length made a distinct genus of it, naming it Ferraria in honour of Joh. Baptista Ferrarius, by whom it was described, and very well figured, in his Flora feu de Florum Cultura, published at Amsterdam, in 1646.
Mr. Miller informs us, that he received roots of this plant from Dr. Job Baster, F. R. S. of Zirkzee, who obtained it from the Cape, of which it is a native.
In the vegetable line, it is certainly one of the most singular and beautiful of nature's productions; much it is to be regretted that its flowers are of very short duration, opening in the morning and finally closing in the afternoon of the same day; a strong plant will, however, throw out many blossoms in succession.
In its structure and oeconomy, it approaches very near to the Sisyrinchium.
It flowers very early in the spring, from February to May, and is usually propagated by offsets, which its bulbs produce in tolerable plenty. It requires a treatment similar to the Ixias and other Cape bulbs. Our figure was drawn from a plant which flowered this spring, in the possession of R. Forster, Esq. of Turnham-Green.