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.
(Latin, signifying boat-petal, from the shape of its petals). Annonaceae. A group of plants remarkable for the fragrance of their aromatic flowers.
Flowers with the 3 inner petals having the margin incurved somewhat like the upper part of the human ear, the several-ovuled carpels forming a cluster issuing from a globose mass of stamens: fruit in the form of separate oblong berries borne on the hardened torus or receptacle and resembling that of our papaw (Asimina triloba). - Several species, all of them endemic in tropical Amer. Among the species thus far described are C. brasil-iensis, Benth. (Uvaria brasiliensis, Velloso). C. penduliflorum, Baill. (Unona penduliflora, Dunal). C. longipes, Diels, and C. stenophyl-lum, Donnell Smith.
Baill. xochinacaztli. teo-nacaztli. Sacred Earflower of the Aztecs. Orejuela. Flor de la Oreja. Mexican Earflower. Figs. 1186, 1187. A shrub or small tree with distichous, membranaceous, subsessile Ivs. oblanceolate in form, subcordate and usually unequal at the base, acute at the apex: solitary flowers borne on long slender peduncles issuing from the internodes of the smaller branches; sepals broadly ovate or suborbicular, cuspidate, reflexed at length; outer petals similar to the sepals but much larger; inner petals thick and fleshy, their margin involute, causing them to resemble a human ear. - The pungently aromatic flowers when fresh are greenish yellow, with the inner surface of the inner petals inclining to orange-color, at length turning brownish purple or maroon, breaking with a bright orange-colored fracture. The tree is planted for the sake of its fragrant flowers, the petals of which are dried and are used medicinally as well as for imparting a spicy flavor to food. They were used by the ancient Mexicans before the introduced of cinnamon and other spices from the E. Indies for flavoring their chocolate.
Though described by Hernandez more than two centuries ago, the botanical identity of the xochinacaztli remained unknown until quite recently (see Smithsonian Report for 1910, pp. 427-431, 1911). This species is native of the mts. of S. Mex. and Guatemala. A closely related species, C. stenophyllum, Donnell Smith, was discovered by Capt. John Donnell Smith in the Dept. of Quetzal-tenango, Guatemala; and another species, C. cos-taricense, Safford (Asimina costaricensis, Donnell Smith) was collected by Adolfo Tonduz in the Dept. of Tala-manca, Costa Rica, in April, 1894. Steps have been taken by the Bureau of Plant Industry to introduced into the U. S. C. penduliflorum, seeds of which have been sent from Guatemala by the American Consul-General, George A. Bucklin. The other Cent. American species, as well as C. brasiliense, recently collected by Henry Pittier in Venezuela, are equally worthy of cult, in greenhouses and in the warmer regions of Fla., Calif, and the Island possessions.
Fig. 1186. Cymbopetalum penduliflorum. (X 1/2)
Fig. 1187. Cymbopetalum penduliflorum.
W. E. Safford.