[Latin word, signifying wonderful.]
Mirabilis Jalapa, or common Four-o'clock of the gardens, is a very ornamental plant for borders. When cultivated it sports into many agreeable varieties. It is considered and treated as a tender annual. It may, however be planted the last of April, and bears a profusion of flowers in August and September. Although treated as an annual, it is, in its native country, a perennial, with the rest of the genus. Its large tuberous roots, which, if taken up and preserved during winter, like the Dahlia, will flower perennially. The flowers are red in its native country, the West Indies; but in the garden are to be found white, yellow, various shades of red, and variegated, in the same flower. Stem from two to three feet high.
M. longiflora, like the last, is handsome and fragrant. The flowers are pure white, with purple below, standing on long tubes; in. July and August. This species is not so common as M. Jalapa. The hybridization of these two species has brought forth new varieties most remarkably and singularly colored. The same plant and even the same branch produces very different flowers, sometimes of one color only, and others striped or parti-colored. In some of the rarer varieties, that are distinguished by the elongated tube of the flower, are recognized the traits of M. longiflora. These produce but very few seeds, and yet they give us too perfectly distinct kinds, which are very remarkable, and, perhaps, an exceptional example of the fruitful products obtained by hybridization. Among other names for this admirable flower, it is known as World's "Wonder, Evening Beauty, Afternoon Ladies, and Four-o'clock, because the flowers open about that time in the afternoon. The French call it Belle de nuit, or the Beauty of the Night. The flowers continue through the night and perish before noon, the next day, if very warm. This is an old-fashioned border-plant, but none the less beautiful on that account. If planted three feet apart, they will grow into quite a bush before Cold weather; but, if huddled together, as we often see them, into a small space, they loose half their beauty.
[From mordeo, to bite; its seeds having the appearance of having been bitten.]
Momordica Balsamina, or Balsam Apple, is cultivated as an object of curiosity, and for its fruit, which is sometimes used for curing wounds. It has fleshy, ovate fruit, remotely tubercled in longitudinal rows; smooth in the other parts; red when ripe, bursting irregularly, and dispersing the seeds with a spring.
The fruit is used in Syria for the same purpose that it is here. It is cut open when unripe, and infused in sweet oil, and exposed to the sun for some days, until the oil has become red. This, dropped on cotton, is applied to a fresh wound. The fruit here is not picked until ripe, and then preserved in spirits. An annual, native of India; a climber, four feet high; flowers yellow, in July and August; time of planting ire May.
Like the last a tender annual, the same height and color of flower; growth and habits the same. Both species must be supported with brush four feet high. The fruit of this is pear-shaped, otherwise somewhat similar to the first described species.
[In honor of Monardes, a Spanish botanist of the 16th century.)
Monarda didyma. - Oswego Tea. - A perennial, native of North America. A well-known garden plant, three feet high, with brilliant scarlet flowers; from June to August. Its familiar names are Red Balm, Crimson Balm, or Bergamot. The leaves are sometimes used as a substitute for tea. M. fistulosa, has light-purple flowers, and not so handsome as M. didyma, but possess the same properties. There are also many other species, which, in large collections, would be interesting.
[From moschos, musk, on account of the odor- of the flowers.,
Is a pretty, hardy, bulbous-rooted plant, with dark, light-blue or white flowers, having a strong smell of musk.
M. comosum, in a variety called monstrosum, is the Feathered Hyacinth, a most ornamental, hardy border-flower; the bulb is large, ovate and solid; the leaves narrow, a foot long, with obtuse points; the flower-stalks rise nearly a foot and one-half high; they are naked at the bottom for about seven or eight inches, above which the panicles of flowers begin, and terminate the stalks. The flowers stand upon the peduncles, which are more than au inch long, each sustaining three, four, or five flowers, whose petals are cut into slender filaments, like hairs; they are of a purplish-blue color, and, having neither stamens nor germs, never produce seeds.