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.
(Greek, signifying handflower-tree). Sterculidcese. Odd - flowered ornamental tree of Mexico and to be expected in West Indies and elsewhere in cultivation.
A monotypic genus, which together with the Californian Fremontodendron forms the remarkable group Fremontiese. The flowers are devoid of a corolla, but in its place have a large deeply 5-parted cup-shaped calyx, concave at the base, in which there are 5 glands which secrete an abundance of honey; stamens united together for about one-third their length, above which they separate into 5 rays bearing linear anthers which dehisce by a longitudinal groove; style issuing from the center of the stamens and terminating in a pointed stigma: fruit a woody caps, with 5 valvate dehiscent lobes: foliage linden-like and densely clothed with stellate hairs.
Baill. (Cheirostemon platanoides, Humb. & Bonpl.). The celebrated Macpalxochi-quahuitl, or Handflower Tree of the Mexicans; also called Mano de Mico, Monkey's Hand, and Devil's Hand. Fig. 922. The remarkable feature of the flower is the form of the bright red stamens, which resemble the fingers of a human hand and are tipped with appendages like claws; from the base of the fingers issues the style which is more or less like a thumb. A single tree growing near the city of Toluca was known to the ancient Mexicans, who regarded it with superstitious- veneration. It was of great age and was supposed to be the only tree of its kind in the world. But an entire grove of the trees was discovered in Guatemala on the slope of the Volcano de Agua, near the town of Antigua, whence in pre-Columbian times the specimen had been brought. This established itself on the slope of the volcano of Toluca, where the conditions of soil and climate were similar to those of its original habitat. W. e. Safford.
Fig. 922. Chiranthodendron platanoides. The hand-flower. (X 1/3)