This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There is a tradition among the inhabitants of this locality, that two Sabbatias, which are the only species I have found here, appear but once in seven years; and, although I cannot quite credit the statement, my own limited observation goes to corroborate it. In 1870, the first Summer after we moved to Kirkwood, I very well remember my pleasure in finding these pretty plants in considerable numbers. But from that year until 1877 I was not able to col-lect a single specimen. During the Summer of the last named year, however, they occurred in unexampled profusion throughout this section of the country, blossoming by the roadsides, in uncultivated fields, on the border of forests and the banks of streams, - everywhere. The flowers are so showy and beautiful that they attracted very general attention, and specimens were frequently brought to me by old settlers with the remark, " Here is a flower that blooms only once in seven years".
I resolved to test the truth of the assertion, if possible, so my sisters and myself carefully marked a number of situations where the plants were growing in abundance. We also trans-planted several to our garden beds - a process which they bore remarkably well - and we gathered and sowed quantities of the seed.
The succeeding Summer, however, we looked in vain for the plants - they were not to be found in their native haunts, nor did they re-appear either from root or seed, in our garden. Neither have we been more successful in finding them during the Summer just passed, and I am beginning to credit the popular notion concerning them.
I was at first inclined to ascribe the idea of the seven-years-development to a vague association with the scientific name and a misconception of its derivation. None of the people who mentioned the idiosyncracy of the Sabbatias to me, were botanists, nor had they the least idea of the technical name. But would it not prove a singular and interesting coincidence between name and habit, should it be found that these Sabbatias do bloom but once in seven years?
Of course, I remember that the genus was named for the Italian botanist, Sabbati, but that does not make the name of the term less suggestive of Sabbath. I should like to know what your experience has been with the plant under consideration.
[The periodic disappearance of some plants is believed in by most botanists. It may be that ! the plants are in existence, but that the circumstances which induce flowering do not occur. i The writer of this once had a number of plants of Senecio Jacoboea which remained perfectly healthy for years without blooming, though there should be flowers every year. Biennial plants only die from the exhaustion by flowering, and annual or biennial gentians may remain as mall perennial plants for years unnoticed if they did not flower. Again, seeds require peculiar conditions to germinate, and although there are some that will germinate at any temperature, there are others which if they are not advanced a certain stage towards development when a certain stage of moisture or of temperature occurs at a certain season of the year, will remain until the chance comes the next, or future years. There are some nursery seeds that will not germinate after the Spring temperature of the soil goes beyond 45° or 50.° - Ed. G. M].