[Name said to be named from Lycia, its native country.]
Lycium Barbarum. - Barbary Box-Thorn, Matrimony Vine, Willow-leaved Lycium. - A climbing shrub, which grows from four to six feet in a season, and valuable for covering arbors, naked walls, etc. The foliage delicate, and the whole plant is covered with small, but handsome, violet flowers, from May to August; these are succeeded by small red berries. It will grow in almost any soil, and is easily propagated by suckers or from cuttings. It may be permitted to ramble, or trained to suit the fancy.
[Named for Magnol, a distinguished French botanist.]
Most of the genus are lofty trees, some of them, however, bloom when quite small, and may be considered as shrubs.
The most northern boundary of the habitation of this beautiful plant is supposed to be in a sheltered swamp, near Cape Ann, and not far from the sea. It is, however, common along the southern coast.
"Few ornamental plants are better worth the attention of the gardener. Carefully trained, it forms a beautiful little tree. No plant is, at any season and in every condition, more beautiful. The flower, pure white, two or three inches broad, is as beautiful and almost as fragrant as the White Lily. The fruit is a cone, about two inches long, covered *with scale-like, imbricated ovaries, from which, when mature, escape the scarlet oboyate seeds, which, instead of falling at once to the ground, remain some time suspended by a slender thread. The bark of the young shoots is smooth and of a rich apple-green, afterwards becoming of a soft glaucous or whitish color."
Although naturally growing in wet ground, it will flourish in almost any good garden soil, if not exceedingly dry, particularly if partially shaded from the sun. It may be propagated by layers, - which require two years to root sufficiently, - or by seed, if great care is observed.
This is called M. Yulan by some botanists. This forms a large tree, but flowers when only a few feet high. Flowers white, appearing before the leaves.
Similar in habit to the foregoing, with long dark-purple flowers. Each of these presents several varieties, and there are some hybrids. The Late A. J. Downing, says:-
"They are certainly among the most striking and ornamental objects in our pleasure-grounds and shrubberies in the spring. Indeed, during the months of April and the early part of May, two of them, the White, or Conspicua, and Soulange's Purple, or Soulangiana, eclipse every other floral object, whether tree or shrub, that the garden contains. Their numerous branches, thickly studded with large flowers, most classically shaped, with thick, kid-like petals, and rich, spicy odor, wear an aspect of novelty and beauty among the smaller blossoms of the more common trees and shrubs that blossom at that early time, and really fill the beholder with delight. The Chinese White Magnolia (M. conspicua,) is, in effect of its blossoms, the most charming of all Magnolias. The flowers, in color a pure, creamy white, are produced in such abundance, that the tree, when pretty large, may be seen at a great distance.
"The Chinese name, Gulan, literally, Lily-tree, is an apt and expressive one, as the blossoms are not much unlike those of the White Lily in size and shape, when fully expanded. Among the Chinese poets, they are considered the emblem of candor and beauty."
"The next most ornamental Chinese Magnolia," he says," is Soulange's Purple, (Magnolia Soulangiana.) This is a hybrid seedling, raised by the late Chevalier Soulange Bodin, the distinguished French horticulturist. The habit of the tree is closely similar to that of the eonspicua; its blossoms, equally numerous, are rather larger, but the outside of the petals is finely tinged with purple. It partakes of the character of both its parents, having the growth of Magnolia conspicua, and the color of M. purpurea, (or, indeed, a lighter shade of purple.) Its term of blooming is, also, mid-way between that of these two species, being about a week later than that of the white, or Gulan Magnolia. It is also perfectly hardy in this latitude." The Magnolia purpurea is sometimes seen in large gardens about Boston, but is a little tender. "It is a shrub of six to eight feet high. The blossoms are white within, of a fine dark-lilac or purple on the outside, and quite fragrant, like the others." The flowers begin to open early in May, and continue blooming a number of weeks, or, if in the shade, through most of the summer.
The same gentleman remarks, that, "If these noble flowering trees have a defect, it is one which is inseparable from the early period at which they bloom, viz., that of having few or no leaves when the blossoms are in their full perfection;" and suggests, that the planting of the American Arbor Vitae and Hemlock would remedy this defect, by forming a dark-green background on which the beautiful masses of Magnolia flowers would appear to great advantage.