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, chain, on account of the fruit resembling nodes chained together). Annonaceae. A genus established in 1790 by Loureiro and based upon Desmos cochinchinensis (Unona Desmos, Dunal, 1817; Unona cochinchinensis, DC, 1824). The flowers are composed of 3 sepals and 6 petals in 2 series, the latter valvate, nearly equal, and flat; stamens numerous, tetragonal-oblong or cuneate, the connective expanded above the dorsal oblong or linear-oblong pollen-sacs into a truncate hood-like process; receptacle, or torus, slightly raised, usually truncate or somewhat concave at the apex; carpels indefinite; ovules several, usually forming a single column, but sometimes sub-biseriate; style ovoid or oblong, recurved; ripe carpels indefinite, either elongate and chain-like from constrictions between the seeds, or baccate and spheroid. D. cochin-chinensis, Lour., is a shrub with an erect or climbing stem and weak reclinate branches, lanceolate leaves, fragrant yellowish green pendulous flowers, and reddish green monili-form fruits D. chinensis, Lour. (Unona discolor, Vahl), is a small tree of the E. Indies, with ovate-oblong leaves glaucous beneath and extra-axillary sweet-scented aromatic flowers, for the sake of which it is often cultivated The greenish yellow corolla resembles that of Canang-ium odoratum, but the moniliform fruit consists of several joints, each containing a pea-like seed.
It is used when green by the Chinese at Hongkong, who make from it a fine purple dye. D. elegans, Safford (Unona elegans, Thwaites), remarkable for its fruit, which resembles strings of beads, and the very closely allied D. zeyldnicus, Safford (U. zeylanica, Hook. f. & Thorns.), are endemic in the moist forests of Ceylon. Many species of Desmos have been erroneously referred to the genua Unona, based upon a S. American plant (Unonadiscreta, Linn, f.) not congeneric with the Asiatic genus above described, but more closely allied, if not to be identified with the genus Xylopia. See Safford, W. E., Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 39:501-8 (1912). W. E. Safford.
Fig. 1244. Desmodium canadense pods. (Nearly natural size.)