This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There are few things more interesting in plant studies, than the effort to get at the reason for things. The idea that what exists is not the result of blind accident, but is deliberately and wisely plannel for some purpose, is so fixed in the human mind, that even the most matter of fact person, no matter how much he may be impressed with the idea to believe nothing but that which can be proved, insensibly asks what is the good of this, or the use of that, in everything he sees. Now in regard to this plant, it belongs to the family of Rutaceae, all of which have peculiar oil glands, which can be readily seen on holding it up to the light, and which even give, very often, a dotted character to the petals, as we see in the illustration before us. The common garden Rue, from which the order takes its name Rutaceae, will give an illustration of what we intend to convey. What are these bitter oily secretions for? Nobody knows yet, and it is this which we desire to point out to plant lovers as a good matter for special study.
Some have thought that bitter oils are for the purpose of deterring animals from eating what may be to their detriment, and thus protect the plant, but Dr. Richardson, of New Orleans, recently pointed out to the writer, that while strychnine was bitter, and might be repellent, the poison of Hura crepitans, equally virulent, had no taste at all.
But we may get at the reason some day. We have found out why the sugar maple produces sugar - at least we are nearly sure we know - and we may at some time find the reason why Ruta-ceous and other plants have oil glands.
Independently of the interest to deeper students, the lovers of beautiful flowers will find pleasure enough in the Calodendron capense, which is a tall-growing greenhouse evergreen plant, with pubescent stems, and opposite pale green leaves, pubescent on both surfaces, lanceolate-acuminate, and narrowed to the base. The creamy white flowers, composed of linear oblong petals, are borne in immense terminal panicles. Is a native of South Eastern Africa, and was introduced to our notice by Mr. Wm. Bull, to whom lovers of beautiful plants are indebted for so many striking novelties.