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.
Ixora Coccinea. Scarlet Ixora.
Cor. 1-petala, infundibuliformis, longa, supera, Stamina supra faucem. Bacca 4-sperma.
IXORA coccinea foliis ovalibus semiamplexicaulibus, floribus fasciculatis. Linn. Syst. Vegetab. ed. 14. Murr. Ait. Hort. Kew. p. 148.
JASMINUM indicum, lauri folio, inodorum umbellatum, floribus coccineis. Pluk. alm. 196. t. 59. s. 2.
CERASUS zeylanica humilis sylvestris, floribus holosericeis intense rubris umbellatim congestis, fructibus nigris. Mus. Zeyl. p. 15.
FLAMMA SYLVARUM Rumph. Amb. 4. p. 105. t. 46.
It will appear strange, we presume, to most of our readers, when they are informed, that the Ixora coccinea, a plant at present in few hands, and which a short time since was sold in some of our nurseries for five guineas, should have been known in this country a hundred years ago; and yet Mr. Aiton, who has so laudably exerted himself, in ascertaining the precise period, when most of the exotics cultivated in the royal garden at Kew first made their appearance in Great-Britain, informs us on very respectable authority, that this plant was introduced by Mr. Bentick in 1690.
There is every reason to suppose, that this splendid exotic did not long survive its introduction; on inquiry, we learn that it was reintroduced about fifteen years ago, by the late Dr. John Fothergill, a name, to medicine and botany ever dear, in whose rich and magnificent collection at Upton was first known to flower; about the same time, the late Mr. Thoburn, Nurseryman at Brompton, raised a few Ixoras from foreign seeds, and from these (an accident having happened to the plant which was Dr. Fothergill's) are said to have arisen the plants at present in this country.
Both Rheede and Rumphius describe and figure this plant in their respective works, the Hortus Malabaricus and Herbarium Amboinense; it is mentioned also by several other authors: from their various accounts we discover, that in different parts of India, where it grows wild, it forms a slender shrub, or tree, about six feet high, rising generally with a single stem; that its clusters of flowers, seen from afar are so brilliant as to resemble a burning coal, especially in a dark wood, whence its name of Flamma Sylvarum; that it grows in the woods, and flowers in September and October, producing a black fruit, the size of small cherries, on which the peacocks are supposed to feed, and from whence they have obtained the name of Cerasa Pavonina. The Chinese call it Santanhoa; with them it produces flowers and fruit the year through, and they hold the blossoms in such veneration, as to use them in the sacrifices they make to their idol Ixora, whence Linnaeus has taken the name applied by him to this genus. The root is said to possess some acrimony, and to be made use of by the natives in curing the toothach.
It is customary in this country, to treat the Ixora as a stove plant; perhaps it may be less tender than we are aware of; it flowers in July and August, but has not been known to produce fruit; is increased from cuttings, without much difficulty.
Our drawing was taken from a small but very healthy plant in the stove of Mr. Whitley (late Thoburn and Whitley, Brompton).
Linnaeus describes, and some authors figure this plant with stipulae, which our plant had not, not being arrived at an age, perhaps, to produce them.