Saturday, 16 January 2010

Stifftia chrysantha

Golden-flowered Stifftia.

Few cultivators have seen native specimens or the fine figure given by Mikan of this beautiful shrub, without feeling desirous to possess it in our stoves. It has been longer in our collections than we were aware of. Many years ago, plants of it were presented to Kew by Mr. Henderson of the Pine-Apple Nursery; and plants have been also communicated to the Edinburgh Botanic Garden; yet no one suspected that it was the celebrated Stifftia till its flowers appeared, nearly at the same time, both in Edinburgh and Kew. Our drawing was made from the Edinburgh specimen, kindly sent in February, 1849, by Professor Balfour, with the following notes. W. J. H.

" This plant has been flowering for some time in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden. It is a native of Brazil, and was derived, I believe, originally from Kew. It is cultivated in a warm stove.

Descr. The plant is at present almost six feet high (according to Mikan it attains a height of eight to ten feet) and has six heads of very showy flowers. The woody stem is four inches and a half in circumference at the base, and the bark is rough. The primary branches come off in a somewhat dichotomous manner. Leaves lanceolate, acuminate, alternate, shortly petiolate, entire, smooth and shining, having a single mid-rib, which is slightly penninerved both on the under and on the upper surface; venation reticulated, primary veins ending in curved veins within the margin. Petiole slightly grooved on its upper surface, articulated with the stem. Capitula solitary, terminal on the young branches, homogamous, containing about twenty-five discoid flowers. Peduncles short, thickened upwards, having small scales. Involucre somewhat turbinate, coriaceous, having thirty to forty imbricated scales arranged in several series, closely appressed in the young state, spreading after the corolla falls; scales green in the centre, paler towards the margins which are fringed with short hairs; outer scales short, ovate, obtuse, often tipped with black, intermediate scales longer and less ovate, innermost oblong-linear, pale greenish, and about one inch in length. Receptacle having milky juice, nearly flat, marked with hexagonal spaces, in the centre of each of which there is a depression or pit for the flower. Corolla smooth, regular, tubular, about one inch and three-quarters long, of a pale orange colour below and becoming darker above, its limb divided into five narrow, revolute circinnate segments, which when unrolled are about half an inch long. Filaments smooth, coloured, inserted into the upper part of the corolline tube, alternating with the segments of the limb, arching over the orifice of the tube to join the anther below the middle; anthers two-lobed, much exserted, bifid at the apex, ending below in a bipartite prolongation ; pollen elliptical, furrowed. Style cylindrical, exserted nearly one inch beyond the corolla and about a quarter of an inch beyond the antheric tube, undulated at its lower part, straight above. Stigma bifid, its segments equal, acute, hairy on the inner side of its lobes, which close on the application of the pollen. Ovary green, triangular, three-quarters of an inch long, with a short yellowish beak at the summit whence the pappus proceeds. Pappus reaching to near the upper part of the corolline tube, in several rows, its hairs unequal and beautifully serrated with projecting cellular processes, of a pale orange colour, spreading much after the corolla falls." J. H. Balfour.

Cult. This is a shrub of a robust and bushy habit, requiring the heat of the tropical stove, and growing in any kind of garden loam not retentive of moisture. Although we have had it in cultivation for about eight years, it was only recently that it showed flower ; but we are of opinion that if young plants were vigorously grown, they would not be so dilatory in producing their curious inflorescence. It is propagated readily by cuttings placed under a bell-glass in bottom-heat. J.S.

Fig. 1. Single flower:—magnified.

April 1st, 1849

Curtis's botanical magazine, Volume 75

Table 4438

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