This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
Cannas are commonly used only in formal beds, but most excellent effects may be secured by scattering them singly or in very small clumps in the hardy border or amongst shrubbery. Against a heavy background of green, the gaudy flowers show to their best, and the ragged effect of the dying flowers is not noticed. They also make excellent centerpieces for formal beds. The tall-growing cannas, with small and late flowers, have given way almost wholly to the modern race of Crozy or French dwarf cannas, which usually remain under 4 feet high, and give an abundance of large early flowers. The canna always must be used for bold planting effects, because the flowers have not sufficient durability to be very useful as cut-flowers. As individual blooms, the flowers are not usually attractive, but they are showy and interesting in the mass and at a distance. The new race of Italian or Flaccida cannas has more attractive flowers, but even these are most useful when on the plant.
Fig. 781. Modern flowering canna.
Fig. 782. Flowering or French canna -Prince Hohenlohe.
Fig. 783. Italia canna
It is impossible for the gardener to determine species of canna in the common garden forms. In fact, the species are little known except in herbaria and as wild plants growing in their original habitats. The monographers do not agree as to the definitions of what have been described as original or wild species. The following account of species is included more for the purpose of showing the range within the genus and of making a catalogue of leading botanical names than to set specific limits or to indicate what species-forms are in cultivation. The Crozy experiments began with crossing C. Warscewiczii with a variety of C. nepalensis of gardens (C. flaccida?) having large yellow flowers and very long creeping tubers; and some of the progeny was crossed with C. aureo-picta (a garden form). The recent attractive orchid - flowered cannas spring largely from the C. flaccida forms.
a. Petal-like staminodia none.
stem very tall, slender, glabrous: leaves oblong or ovate and acute, green and glabrous above and pubescent beneath: racemes lax, disposed in a squarrose panicle, the flowers in 2's; sepals lanceolate, 4/5in. long, obtuse; petals lanceolate, yellow-green, 2-3 in. long; lip rather longer than the petals, crimson. Subequatorial Andes.
AA. Petal-like staminodia 2.
B. Plant woolly-pubescent on the sheaths and sometimes on the If. - blades.
stem tall, stout, and green: leaves many, oblong to ovate and acute: raceme simple and densely many-flowered, the rachis 3-angled; sepals ovate, acute, 1/2in. long; petals unequal, narrowly lanceolate and long-acuminate, 1 1/2 in. long, red-yellow; staminodia oblanceolate, slightly emarginate, 1 1/2-2 in. long, scarlet or deep orange-red; lip broad-linear, emarginate, red-yellow. S. Amer.
stem green, woolly, 4-6 ft., densely lvd.: leaves ovate-oblong, acute, green: raceme long and contracted, many-flowered, simple, the bracts obtuse, small and green; sepals ovate-lanceolate, greenish red, 1/2in. or less long; petals long-lanceolate, 1 1/2 in. long, tinged with red; staminodia entire, red or red-yellow; lip the same color, and revolute. Brazil, Peru. B.R. 1358.
Differs from C. lanuginosa in having long pale yellows flowers, by some referred to C. lutea: plant of medium size, lightly lanate on the sheaths: If . - blades ovate-oblong, short-acute and apicu-late, pale-margined: petals linear-lanceolate and acuminate: lip strongly revolute, red-spotted. Mex., Cent. Amer. B.R. 1311,1358. Aug. - Nov.
Plant medium height: If . - blade elongate-elliptic, acuminate and filamentous at end, sometimes white-margined: raceme simple and narrow, the bracts broadly oblong-cuneate; sepals ovate and obtuse, green; petals lanceolate and acuminate, greenish-sulfur-color; lip linear, 2-tipped, revolute, pale yellow, spotted. W. Indies and N. S. Amer.
bb. Plant glabrous on sheaths and If . - blades.
c. Leaves of 2 colors.
stem stout, 6-10 ft., purple and glabrous: leaves very broad-oblong, acute, the lower ones sometimes 3 ft. long, dark green and purple-margined, red-purple beneath: flowers in a deeply forked panicle of lax racemes, the bracts small and oblong; sepals lanceolate, obtuse, 1/2in. long, green, tinted with purple; petals lanceolate, acuminate, 1 1/2 in. long, pale green tinted with rose; staminodia entire, 2 1/2 in. long, bright red, exterior yellow; lip lanceolate and emarginate, brick-red. Cent. and S. Amer. B.R. 1231. C. concinna, Bouche,is a related species with lanceolate leaves narrowed at both ends. S. Amer.
cc. Leaves unicolored, green. D. Flowers narrow, the parts connivent.
stem slender and green, 3-4 ft., distantly foliated: leaves oblong or broad-lanceolate, acute: raceme lax, simple or rarely forked, the small green bracts oblong and obtuse; sepals oblong, 1/3in., green, white-margined; petals lanceolate, pale yellowish white, 1-1 1/4 in-long; staminodia pale yellow, often emarginate, 1 1/2-2 in. long; lip linear, pale yellow, emarginate. Mex. to Brazil. B.M. 2085. L.B.C. 7:646. C. Tinei, Tod., perhaps a hybrid, apparently is to be associated with this species.
Variety aurantiaca, Kranzl. Flowers orange; lip yellow.
stem green, 3-6 ft.: leaves broad-lanceolate or elliptic, acute, bright green: raceme simple and lax, the small bracts oblong and obtuse; sepals lanceolate, green, 1/2in. long; petals lanceolate, acuminate, concave, 1 1/2 in. long, pale flesh-color; staminodia 2, spatulate-linear, mostly entire, variable in color but mostly orange or rose; lip linear or ligulate and entire: caps, small, globose. S. Brazil, the particular place unknown.
dd. Flowers ringent or gaping, or open-spreading. e. Infloresence simple or only moderately branched.
Low, 3 ft. or less, slender: leaves short-petioled, the blade oblong, acute or short-acuminate, glabrous above and below, 10-16 in. long: raceme sub-simple (rarely paniculate), bearing flowers large for size of plant (about 3 in. long); sepals very unequal, ovate-oblong; petals long-lanceolate, concave, connate at base into a tube, scarlet; staminodia spatulate, more or less 2-lobed at apex; lip rather narrow, about 2 1/4 in. long. Farther India, China, etc. C. cinnabarina, Bouche (C. fulgida, Bouche), is a related species but larger and with yellow and scarlet rather smaller flowers Mex., Cent. Amer., W. Indies.