This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Mr. Jacob Stauffer, of Mount Joy, Penn., calls our attention to a very strong native fibrous substance in the following communication, which we regret to be obliged to condense. The article sent is not unknown to us, and surely presents claims for examination and trial: -
I inclose you a few fibres of the dry stalks of the CEnothera biennis, stripped off this morning after having stood the exposure and vicissitudes of our long and severe winter. You will find they are superior to hemp, and, I doubt not, fully equal to the China Grass' (Boehmeria nivea).
Dr. A. Gray says, respecting the name of our CEnothera biennis, L., that it is from oivos, wine, and oripa, a chase; that the application is uncertain; Loudon informs us ' that the roots of this plant, eaten after meals, are incentives to wine-drinking, as olives are.' He also considers it ornamental, and assigns the reason why it is called evening primrose, because the flower usually opens between six and seven o'clock in the evening.
There are four varieties - the muricata, grandiflora, parvifolia, and cruciata - one or the other common everywhere. I will simply say that it is a biennial, indigenous plant, growing in fields and along fences, from Canada to the Carolinas. It is from two to five feet high, with a rough stem, alternate, ovate-lanceolate leaves, and fine yellow flowers, which make their appearance, in succession, from June till August or September, the stalk extending upwards during the flowering season, thus producing the long spikes in fruit.
It is worthy of notice for its medicinal properties. Schoepf states that it is esteemed useful as a vulnerary; hence it fa called ' heal all' by some botanical doctors, a name properly belonging to the Brunella Tourn, Prunella L. (Self-heal).
My object is to introduce our somewhat abused ' evening primrose' to the notice of the public. I shall send specimens, with some remarks, to the Hon. Chas. Mason, with the hope that our savans will condescend to notice this neglected plant. One thing is certain, I can manufacture a rope out of it that will be able to ' sustain its reputation,' if not quite of the dignity of ' China Grass' or Sisal Hemp.' Very truly yours, Jacob Stauffer".