[Named from Greek words, signifying bear, and capsule, because Its fruit is shaggy, like a bear.]
Arctotis breviscapa, a new annual. I do not know the origin of this plant, but received it, with other seeds, from Paris. The flowers are composite, like the Calendula officinalis, or Pot Marigold, and have some resemblance to that flower, but the foliage is quite different. The flowers are of a brilliant yellow, and open to the sun, tut close at night. There is a succession of flowers through the season, which makes it a desirable border-plant.
[From agema, the name by which the cataract of the eye was known, and was thought to be cured by this plant.]
Argemone Mexicana, is a troublesome weed in the West Indies, with a fig-shaped capsule, armed with prickles, and thence by the Spaniards, called Figo del inferno. The whole plant abounds with a milky juice, which turns in the air to a fine bright yellow. It has handsome poppy-shaped yellow flowers. It is sometimes found in the garden, but that is not a proper place for it, for one cannot touch it without being wounded with the spines which are upon the leaves as well as the capsules; nor break it without soiling the hand, and when the flower is gathered it is not suitable for the bouquet. A. grandiflora, like the last, is an annual in our climate, but the thick fleshy roots may be taken up in the fall, kept in the cellar, and planted out in the spring. It has a very large, showy white flower, with numerous yellow stamens and quite ornamental; but, like A. Mexicana is only to be looked at and not meddled with. A. ochroleuca, has pale-yellow flowers. The leaves, capsules, and the whole plant are armed with formidable spines; having had the hands or any part of the body in contact with the plant, it will be forever after viewed with feelings far from pleasureable. A. Bar-clayana is equal to the others in its powers of annoyance, but its more showy, brilliant yellow flowers, will, in some measure, make amends for its repulsiveness. I cannot recommend this genus of plants, only where large collections are desired.
This genus contains a number of ornamental plants, generally well adapted to rock work.
Armeria vulgaris, is the common Thrift of the garden, and next to box most desirable for edgings. It is rapidly multiplied by divisions of the root. It produces pink flowers, in little heads or clusters in June and July; six inches high.
[The Greek name of the AEsculapius of the Latins.]
This genus is mainly North American, many of the species are well-known as common road-side weeds; nearly all are tall-growing perennial plants, some of which are worthy a place in the garden. We have about fifteen or more indigenous species. The flowers of this genus produce their flowers in umbels; all are very attractive to butterflies and other beautiful insects, and for this reason a few of the most ornamental should find a place in the flower-garden.
Asclepias Cornuti, formerly called A. Syriaca, is a very common plant, highly odoriferous, especially in the evening. The stems, when broken, give a copious discharge of milky, viscid juice; and for this reason it is often called Milk-weed. Parkinson calls the plant Virginian silk, on account of the great quantity of silk, like cotton, which the capsules contain. This silky substance is an attachment to the seed by which it may be carried to a great distance in a windy day. This silk is characteristic of all the species, and has been used for domestic purposes, such as filling for pillows, beds, and other uses.
Root large, fleshy, branching, somewhat fusiform, but it is only by comparison with other species that it can be called tuberous; stems numerous, growing in bunches from the root, hairy and dusky red; flowers numerous, erect, and of a bright orange color; blooms in August. This fine ornamental plant for the garden grows two feet high. A. pur-purascens, A. variegata, and others, are also ornamental; all the species would be interesting in large collections.
Nearly one hundred species of Asters, mostly perennials, are described by botanists as indigenous to North America. Many of them are without much beauty, and may be considered as weeds. But some of the species are quite beautiful, and would add much to the interest of the border or shrubbery, if introduced into the garden. The flowers are star shaped (hence the botanical name) and it is often popularly called the Star-flower. The color of the flowers varies, in the different species, from white to light-blue, dark blue to purple; some of them are quite small as in A. multiforus, and A. diffusus, which, however, are handsome from the great profusion of their flowers.. A. Novce-Angliae has large showy purple flowers. A. puniceus, has fine sky-blue flowers. A collection of the different species may be successfully made when in flower, if the flower stems are cut off and the roots planted in good soil. They will flower well in the following autumn and will richly repay all the trouble, provided there is plenty of room in the garden. I have found that great improvement can be made in them by cultivation. The China Aster does not belong to this genus, but to Callistephus, under which name it will be found.