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.
(Dirke, mythological name; also a spring near Thebes). ThymelAeaceae. Leatherwood. Two North American small early-blooming shrubs, sometimes planted.
Fig. 1276. Fuller's teasel - Dipsacus fullonum.
Bushes with tough fibrous bark, alternate, thin short entire petiolate deciduous leaves, apetalous perfect flowers in peduncled fascicles of the previous season's growth, the branches developing subsequently from the same nodes: calyx corolla-like, yellowish, campanulate, undulately obscurely 4-toothed, bearing twice as many exserted stamens as its lobes (usually 8); ovary nearly sessile, free, 1-loculed, with a single hanging ovule; style exserted, filiform: fruit berry-like, oval-oblong. The dircas often have the habit of miniature trees. The bark is of interlaced strong fibers, and branches are so tough and flexible that they may be bent into hoops and thongs without breaking, and were so used by the Indians and early settlers. The leatherwood is not one of the showiest of hardy shrubs, but its small yellowish flowers are abundant enough to make it attractive, and it deserves cult, especially for the earliness of its bloom in spring. It is of slow growth, and when planted singly makes a very shapely specimen; planted in masses or under shade it assumes a straggling habit. It thrives in any moist loam.
Prop, by seeds, which are abundant and germinate readily; also by layers.
Linn. Leatherwood. Moose-wood. Wicopy. Fig. 1277. Two to 6 ft. high, with numerous branches having scars which make them appear as if jointed, at the beginning of each annual growth, and with yellow-brown glabrous twigs: leaves oval or obovate, with obtuse apex, 2-3 in. long, green and smooth above, whitish and downy below, becoming smooth, the base of the petiole covering buds of the next season: flowers yellowish, abundant enough to be attractive, nearly sessile, 1/4in. long, falling as the leaves expand: fruit hidden by the abundant foliage, egg- or top-shaped, 1/3in. long, reddish, or pale green. Woods and thickets, mostly in wet soil Canada to Fla. and Mo. B.R. 292. - Common.
D. occidentalis, Gray. A similar species found on northerly slopes of cafions in Calif., differs mainly in the deeper calyx-lobes, lower insertion of the stamens, sessile flowers, and white involucre; blooms Nov. - Feb. Not in the trade, but worthy of cultivation.
A. Phelps Wyman.