THE FLORICULTURAL MAGAZINE AND MISCELLANY OF GARDENING
OBSERVATIONS ON THE INCREASING TASTE FOR THE CULTIVATION OF SUCCULENTS, WITH REMARKS RELATIVE TO SOME OF THE MOST CURIOUS OR INTERESTING SPECIES.
By THE EDITOR.
It is by taking a retrospective view, that we are often the best able to form an opinion of the future; and by applying this principle to Floriculture, we are led to the conclusion, that in the latter there are yet many new features to introduce: nor is the realization of this hope the less probable, if we look to the almost incredible number of recognised species, most of which either are or have been cultivated in this country. In Loudon's Hortus Brilannicus there are upwards of fifty thousand species enumerated; but suppose there were only half this number within the reach of the British florist, he would have but small cause to complain for the want of materials; and should he extend his hopes to the probable importations from foreign climes, he will have still greater reason to be satisfied. Indeed, we can scarcely suppose it possible that the vast floral treasures of North and South America, the East and West Indies, and especially China, can ever be exhausted. Amongst the hardy plants which have already more especially occupied the cultivator's attention, we have Dahlias, Pinks, Carnations, Tulips, Ranunculuses, Hyacinths, Crocus, with many others. In this class the Dahlia is one of comparatively recent introduction, and we may reckon the Pansy still more so. If we turn to those kinds which require the protection of the stove or greenhouse, we have many splendid families
amongst which, as a large-growing shrub, the Camellia may be first mentioned. There are then Heaths, Geraniums, Calceolarias, and Epiphytes, to the discovery of which the attention of British collectors is at present particularly directed; and as a half-hardy plant, the Chinese Chrysanthemum, when well grown, is not surpassed in beauty by any of the preceding.
Our present purpose, however, is more particularly to notice the rapidly increasing taste for the cultivation of succulents; and here there is an ample field, and one that will well repay the trouble of those who cultivate this most singular and interesting family. Amongst gardeners the term " succulent" comprehends all plants possessing very fleshy stems and leaves : there are, however, many plants which come within the range of this term, that are entirely destitute of the latter; and it may be further remarked, that the excessive accumulation of cellular tissue in plants, and from which the name of "succulent" is derived, is no indication of natural affinity, the same order frequently containing both succulent and woody genera; and besides, the former will be found scattered over several orders having no natural relationship.
In point of interest, the several genera included in the natural order Opuntiaceae: deserve to be first noticed, not only on account of the beauty of the flowers of some of the species, but also on account of the singularly grotesque and fantastic forms assumed by the stems of others. The native country of the genus Cacti is confined to South America; and there the species extend but a short distance on either side of the tropics: to the north they are seldom found beyond latitude 32 deg. C. Opuntia, though comparatively hardy, and apparently indigenous to other parts of the world, is believed to have originated from the same vast continent. The most interesting and scarce species of this genus is C. senilis, of which, however, there are now plants in several collections in this country: last spring we saw two in the stoves of Earl Mountnorris, and the benevolence of that amiable nobleman had suggested to him the idea of removing the crown of one of his plants, with the view of inducing it to produce offsets, by which he might be enabled to contribute plants to other collections. What renders Cactus senilis particularly interesting, is the bundle of silvery white, hair-like spines, which rise from its crown, all shade in the centre, hanging down close to the plant, and several inches in
length, resembling in a most striking manner the grey hairs of the aged ; hence the name C. senilis, or Old-man Cactus.
Melocactus, or Melon Thistle. This genus is composed of species all of which are more or less orbicular in their form, and in, their appearance not unlike the Melon ; hence the name. Here also is included the Turk's-cap, formerly Cactus Melocactus, but now generally recognised as Melocactus communis. Its appearance is that of an immense-sized green Melon, with deep angles; these are, however, set with strong sharp thorns. In the hothouses in England, imported plants of this species are sometimes seen, measuring as much as a foot or fifteen inches across ; but in the West Indies, specimens of much larger growth are occasionally met with. In cultivation, its progress in growth is so slow, as, in the course of years, to be scarcely perceptible.
Echinocactus, or Hedgehog Cactus. A genus containing a considerable number of species, many of which are of diminutive growth, having a roundish hedgehog appearance. Many recent additions have been made to this genus.
The genus next in order, but which we can only briefly notice, is Mammillaria, scarcely differing from the preceding except in the nipple-like tubercles which cover the stems. The species are for the most part smaller than the preceding, but equally curious and interesting.
Cereus is a genus which contains a greater number of plants usually known as Cactuses, than any of the other genera belonging to the same natural order. Many of these are very stately plants, attaining the height of thirty feet or more; some also bear handsome flowers, such as speciosisshnus, flagelliformis, and others.
In the genus Epiphyllum, or flat-leaved, we have speciosum, with many of the recent ornamental hybrids.
The next genus, Opuntia, or Indian Fig, is extensive, and contains some very tall-growing kinds. It is further remarkable from containing the species on which feeds the true cochineal insect, affording the well-known dye of that name.*
* " On the top of the fruit thero grows a red flower; this, when the fruit is ripe, falls down on the top of it, and covers it so that no rain or dew can wet the inside. A day or two after, the flower being scorched up by the heat of the sun, the fruit opens wide, and the inside appears full of small red insects. The Indians, when they perceive the fruit open, spread a large linen cloth, and then with sticks shake the plant to disturb the insects,' so
Rhipsalis contains eight or nine species, remarkable only from their round and singularly ramified, or fasciculated, pendulous, Willow-like branches.
Pereskia, or Barbadoes Gooseberry, differs from the preceding genera in the species being of a rather more ligneous nature, and in having perfectly formed leaves. P. aculeata is therefore very often used as a stock, on which many of the other ornamental kinds, such as Epiphyllum speciosum, E. truncatum, &c., are grafted.
Euphorbiace«.—In section 6. (Euphorbiae) of this natural order there are many interesting succulents, confined for the most part to the genera Euphorbia and Pedilanthus. The latter contains but a few species, the most remarkable of which is the singularly formed flower of P. tithymaloides, which has some resemblance to the human foot. It is the former of these genera with which the cultivator is interested : it contains nearly 250 species, and although a large number of them are worthless and insignificant weeds, many others are curious succulents, in appearance resembling the whimsical and grotesque form of some of the Cacti. A few of them are highly ornamental, such as E. punicea, splendens, and Bojeri (see No. VI. p. 138). Poinsettia pulcherrima, although still more shrubby than the preceding, also belongs to the same natural order (see No. II. p. 41). Those species requiring the protection of the stove or greenhouse are mostly natives of the East and West Indies, South America, and the Cape of Good Hope. The medicinal properties of the genus Euphorbia are very powerful, and the powdered roots of E. Ipecacuanha, Gerardiana, and others, have been recommended as substitutes for ipecacuanha. The juice of all the species, when applied internally, is acrid and dangerous : externally it is applied to remove warts, and, dropped into the hollow of a decayed tooth, will allay the pain by destroying the nerve. The celebrated caoutchouc (India rubber) is obtained from a variety of plants belonging to this natural order, such as Jatropha elastica, Hura crepitans, Plukenetia volubilis, Hippomane Mancinella, but most abundantly in the former; and although belonging to a different natural order
that they take wing to be gone, but keep hovering over the plant till by the heat they fall down dead on the cloth, where the Indians let them remain two or three days till they are dry."—Dr. Lindley, in Loudon's Enc. Plants.
(Urticeae), it is also found in Ficus elastica. The caoutchouc is imported from South America, and is obtained by making incisions in the bark of the tree, and applying the juice whilst in a liquid state to a Pear-shaped clay model. The juice, which is at first of a milky white appearance, is conducted to receivers: the clay model is then covered to a certain thickness with the recent juice, and often tastefully ornamented on the outside with an iron or wooden instrument; after which it is hardened by the heat of the fire, or by being held over a dense smoke. The clay is then softened and removed from the inside, and thus, in the form of small bottles, caoutchouc is generally imported into Europe. This extraordinary natural production was scarcely known in Europe a century ago, and it is but of late that it has begun to be extensively used in the arts and sciences, in which department we believe its varied capabilities are comparatively but little known.
R. M. (to Re Continued.)
( Continued from page 149.)
The next important family of succulents most deserving of notice are those genera belonging to the natural order Hemerocallideae, of which the genus Aloe may be regarded as the type. To this extensive and interesting tribe, the late Mr. Haworth, of Norwich, paid much attention, both to their cultivation and botanical affinities; and the following genera, constructed by him from species formerly included in the genus Aloe, are now generally recognised by botanists. Mr. Haworth's genera to which we allude are, first, Haworthia, named in honour of himself, and consisting of about a hundred exceedingly smallj but particularly interesting specie3.
Gasteria contains about an equal number of species with the
last, of rather larger growth, and may be recognised by the curved flowers, and the foliage being often placed in opposite oblique [r]ows.
Bowiea is a small genus, containing but a very few species, of rather diminutive growth.
Apicra. This contains from fifteen to twenty species, seldom attaining more than a few inches in height, with the leaves mostly of a spiral form.
The next in point of numbers is the original genus Aloe, which, according to Mr. Haworth's arrangement, contains between seventy and eighty species, in stature exceeding greatly the preceding genera. The foliage is mostly imbricated ; and some of the species, such as arborescens, purpurascens, and Soccotrina, attain the height of fifteen feet. Many of the preceding, and some of the following genera, may be interesting in the eyes of the botanist, owing to their rarity, or other circumstances; but the genus Aloe contains species of immense importance to the inhabitants of those countries in which they abound, entering into nearly every branch of their domestic economy. We are told that, in the kingdom of Mexico, the inhabitants use a species of this genus for forming hedges to inclosures, the stems of which supply beams for the roofs of their houses, and the leaves answer instead of tiles. Some parts of them are eaten, others applied as medicine, whilst from their juices sugar, wine, and vinegar are manufactured, and from the ligneous fibres of the leaves is obtained thread, cordage, and various articles of clothing. From a species of the same genus the inhabitants of Jamaica manufacture stockings, hammocks, bow-strings, and fishing-lines. It is probably from the stem of the same kind that the Hottentots construct for themselves quivers for their arrows. In medicine, A. vulgaris and A. Soccotrina are the species of most importance, and are extensively cultivated in the West India islands, especially Barbadoes, from whence is obtained the hepatic aloes chiefly used for horses. Aloes cultivated for medicine are invariably grown on poor soil; and the drug known by that name is obtained from the juice of the leaves, being expressed, and afterwards inspissated, by exposure to heat in copper boilers, placed over slow fires, till it acquires the consistence of honey. It is then poured into calabashes, or gourd shells, inwhich it is exported to England, and other parts of Eu-
-rope. It is found that the resinous part of the juice of aloes is insoluble in water, and is therefore employed in hot climates as a preservative to ship bottoms against the attacks of marine insects, and in eastern countries in embalming, to preserve dead bodies from putrefaction. Wood placed under water is preserved from decay by a mixture of white lead, turpentine, tallow, and aloes; and an extensive mountainous district, about sixty miles north of the Cape of Good Hope, is wholly covered with an arborescent species of this genus.
Agava is a well-known genus, belonging to Bromeliaceae, and contains about fifteen species, the most remarkable of which is the A. Americana, or American Aloe, to which popular error has ascribed the honour of flowering but once in a hundred years. We can conceive it quite possible that, by particular treatment, the flowering of this plant may be protracted to fifty, or even a hundred years : but we are equally confident that, whenever it is made an object of careful cultivation, it will flower at intervals of seven or ten years. The average height of the flower-steins of those plants which occasionally flower in this country may be reckoned at about twenty feet; but they often grow to a greater height; and we have an account of one that flowered in the gardens of the King of Prussia, the flower-stem of which attained the unusual height of forty feet. In Spain, Portugal, and Italy, the American Aloe is used as a hedge-plant for separating inclosures. In Algarva, the juice of the leaves is made into cakes, and used as a substitute for soap, by which lather can be procured as well with salt water as with fresh. Thread, cordage, and clothing are manufactured from the fibres of the leaves, but they are not durable, especially when exposed to wet.
Pachidendron consists of about fifteen or twenty species, averaging about ten feet in height.
Rhipidodendron is a still smaller genus than the last, containing only two species, the type of which we may consider the Fan Aloe, often met with in collections, and still best known as Aloe plicatilis. It attains the height of six or eight feet, mostly branched, at the extremities of which are disposed the leaves, representing a fan ; hence the name of Fan Aloe. In reference to this plant, we will mention a circumstance which has just come to our recollection ; it will help to illustrate the tenacity of life displayed by this
plant—a principle common to all succulents, when preserved from damp. The circumstance to which we allude occurred at Bretton Hall, in April 1832. Whilst preparing for the sale of plants which took place there at the time just mentioned, a plant of this Aloe, about five feet in height, and much branched, was carried in mistake to the lots intended for sale. Its immense weight suggested to those employed in this operation, the necessity of transporting it by means of a slang, or rail, placed under the stem, close to the surface of the pot. By this mode of carriage, and by suffering the plant to turn several times over whilst the stem was resting on the stick, the whole of the bark was so much injured as to entirely decay for several inches up the stem. The decayed parts were afterwards carefully cut away, and in this state it remained for about twelve months, when it was discovered to be emitting roots from the lower edge of the live bark. These roots, in about twelve months more, reached the soil in the pot; and the plant, when we last saw it (a few months ago), was quite vigorous ; nor, indeed, did the accident which we have just described produce any perceptible effect on the health of the plant.
Stapelia. Another extensive tribe of succulents, belonging to the natural order Asclepiadeae, and although characterised by the closest generic affinity, as also by uniformity of habit and general appearance, they have been made by Mr. Haworth to constitute the following genera. In this instance, however, the propriety of his generic divisions is far less obvious than in the case of the Aloes. In respect to both, he has been followed by some, whilst others have entirely disapproved of his arrangements. The genera are—Stapelia, Orbea, Gonostemon, Podanthes, Tridentea, Tromotriche, Hurnia, Duvallia, Obesia, Caruncularia, Piaranthus, Pictinaria, Brachystelma, and Caralluma. Four of these are genera of the late Mr. R. Brown, but the others are those of Mr. Haworth. With the exception of Caralluma, which is from the East Indies, all these genera are natives of the Cape of Good Hope, and the greater part were discovered by Mr. Masson, a collector sent out from the Royal Gardens at Kew about the beginning of the present century. It is said S. pilifera is eaten by the Dutch settlers at the Cape; but as an article of food, even to the Hottentots, they may be regarded as worthless; nor do they possess any known property for which they can be considered
valuable, excepting in so far as they are objects of ornament. The flowers of all are curious, some are ornamental, and in many the smell is exceedingly offensive, representing the odour of animal matter in an advanced state of decay. This is often so powerful as to present us with one of those rare instances, which we are apt to attribute to mistaken instinct; but our limited comprehensions and acquaintance with those laws by which the insect world is governed, will perhaps best account for our presuming to suspect the existence of some derangement or defect in those laws, merely because we observe Musca vomitoria, or the common flesh-fly, depositing its eggs on the disk of those Stapelia flowers whose scent most resembles that of tainted flesh ; and this we state without being prepared to prove that the Stapelia flower is a substance unsuited to protect the eggs, or nourish the larvae, of this insect.
We shall conclude this paper in the next Number, with some remarks on the cultivation of succulents.
( Concluded from page 183.)
We have already protracted our observations on succulents to a much greater length than at first contemplated; but in this we shall probably be forgiven, since the cultivation of this interesting class of plants does already occupy the attention of cultivators, and we doubt not they will soon form an important feature in the cultivation of house plants.
There are still a few genera which we wish to notice, but this shall be done very briefly;
Sempervivum is an interesting genus, and contains about forty species, some of which are familiar to most persons—such as S. tectorurm, or common house-leek, often seen on the roofs of houses. In the North of Scotland, the extent of the healing properties of this species remains to be discovered; it is therefore applied to all kinds of external wounds and sores whatever; it is also applied to remove corns. This, together with ten or twelve others, are hardy; the remainder are green-house. S. tabulaefornie, or table plant, as it is generally called, is a curious species, with a single stein, bearing a series of imbricated leaves; the lower ones the longest, and set so close together, that they present on the upper side a smooth surface, the whole having the appearance of a round table, hence the popular name table plant.
Mesembryanthemum, or Fig Marigold, belongs to the natural order Ficoideae, which in point either of numbers or the beauty of their flowers, rank the foremost among succulents. The genus contains nearly 450 species, and this has also undergone the skilful investigation of the late Mr. Haworth, by whom they have been arranged in sections, known by some obvious character either in the leaves or stem, common to each of these classes or divisions.
Crassula.—Natural order Crassulaceae, contains from 40 to 60 species, of which some are ornamental and others curious.
Kalosanthus and Larochea are genera consisting chiefly of species formerly included in the genus Crassula, and in the former of these are now placed two very ornamental species, long known as crassula versicolor and coccinea. There are four other genera of succulents, Turgosia, Globulea, Curtogyne, Vauanthes, which also belong to Crassulaceae.
Besides the preceding there are many other genera containing a greater or less number of species, properly deserving to be classed as succulents, but to enumerate all would occupy more space than we can afford. We shall, therefore, content ourselves with mentioning the following, being the most worthy of cultivation, namely, Cotyledon, Echeveria, Bryophyllum, and Portulaca.
Every step which the student advances in the investigation of vegetable physiology, supplies him with additional proof that all organized beings, whether animals or vegetables, and wherever in the endless variety of conditions or situation they are detected, if placed there by the hand of nature, are ever found to be
adapted to that particular situation. Thus we find in the richer meadows of our own country, the oak and the birch, raising their lofty heads to the height of seventy or eighty feet; whilst on the summits of many of our native hills they scarcely attain the stature of an ordinary sized gooseberry bush. Again in the deserts and more arid parts of Africa, the whole of the vegetables there produced may be described as consisting of little else than bulbs and succulents. We, therefore, perceive that were it even possible for the oak or the birch to appear in their usual magnitude on the summits of our loftiest mountains, they would be immediately torn up by the violence of the storms; and likewise in those sterile plains of Africa, could they be clothed with gramineous herbs, every blade would speedily be destroyed by the parching droughts of summer; and yet there is no part of any extent hitherto explored on the face of the globe, unadorned with plants either peculiar to itself or such as are common in other altitudes, but modified and adapted to their present situation. We have also been recently informed by those who have long resided in Africa, that in those districts where the herbage chiefly consists of succulent plants, they are valuable to the farmer, affording throughout the dry season a supply of food for his sheep and goats.
From the peculiar construction of the cuticle of succulent plants, they are capable of existing and even flourishing under circumstances which would prove speedy destruction to many other plants, and from this property they become objects of the easiest cultivation; and are, therefore, of all other plants the very best adapted to be grown in the windows of dwelling-houses, or in the greenhouses of those whose attendance in watering, &c, is sometimes interrupted. To the amateur who possesses a small greenhouse, and is at the same time his own gardener, we know of no class of plants possessing equal interest in which, when compared with succulents, twice the amount of labour would not be required in their cultivation. During the autumn and winter months, if allowed air during mild weather, they will seldom need any other attendance, except to examine them once or twice a month as to whether they require water. The stove kinds, such as Cactuses and Euphorbias being kept in a higher temperature will of course require more frequent attendance.
We shall now conclude this paper with a brief summary of the
treatment suited to the several genera noticed in the preceding papers on succulents, (see p. 145—179) :—
Cactus, (p. 146.)—Stove. To be grown in a sandy loam, the pots to be well drained with pieces of broken pot. The loam must be quite dry before it is used and made very firm in the pot.
Melocactus, or Melon Thistle, (p. 147.)—Stove. The same treatment.
Echinocactus, or Hedgehog Cactus, (p. 147.)—Store. The same treatment.
Mammillaria, (p. 147.)—Stove. The same treatment.
Cereus, (p. 147.)—Stove. Grandiflora, or night-blowing Cereus, when grown as a portable plant in a pot, should be trained to crooked pieces of oak sticks fastened together according as the plant may require.
Epiphyllum, (p. 147.)—Stove. This is by far the handsomest genus, and may be grown in loam with a mixture of well decomposed manure and sand. They should be kept in the stove during the spring, while in flower, and until they have made their shoots, and then set out of doors till autumn, and again placed in a warm part of the greenhouse during the winter.
Opuntia, or Indian Fig, (p. 147.)—Stove. The same treatment as Cactus.
Rhipsalis, (p. 148.)—Stove. The same treatment as Cactus.
Pereskia, or Barbadoes Gooseberry, (p. 148.)—Stove. The same treatment as Epiphyllum.
Euphorbia, (p. 148.)—Stove. The same treatment as Cactus.
Pedilanthus, Slipper Plant, (p. 148.)—Stove. This will also succeed with the same treatment as the Cactuses, and is particularly well adapted for training against a trellis or the back wall of the stove.
Haworthia, (p. 179.)—Greenhouse. These do well in equal quantities of loam, sand, and peat earth, which ought at all times to be dry when used, with the pots well drained, and the soil made very firm and hard, in order that the roots may enjoy a medium susceptible of but little change in regard to moisture.
The above treatment is also applicable to the three following genera, viz:—Gasteria, (p. 179.)—Greenhouse; Boiviea, (p. 180.)—Greenhouse; Apicra, (p. 180.)—Greenhouse.
Aloe, (p. 180.)—Greenhouse. The larger species of this
genera may be grown in a little stronger loam, with rather less peat.
Agava, (p. 181.)—Greenhouse. If required to be grown rapidly will succeed in equal parts of loam, sand, peat earlh, and decomposed manure, with plenty of pot room.
Pachidendron, (p. 181.)—Greenhouse. Will thrive with the same treatment.
Rhipidodendron, (p. 181.)—Greenhouse. Equal parts, loam, peat earth, and sand.
Stapelia, (p. 182.)—Stove. This with the thirteen following genera, which may be regarded as sections only of the genus Stapelia, will all thrive in equal quantities of peat earth, loam and sand :—Orbea, (p. 182) ; Gonostemon, (p. 182) ; Podanthes, (p. 182) ; Tridentea, (p. 182); Tromotriche, (p. 182); Huernia, (p. 182) ; Duvallia, (p. 182); Obesia, (p. 182) ; Caruncularia, (p. 182) ; Piaranthus, (p. 182) ; Pectinaria, (p. 182) ; Brachystelma, (p. 182) ; Caralluma, (p. 182s).
Sempervioum, (p. 198.)—Greenhouse. This requires the same treatment as Aloe.
Mesembryanthemum, (p. 198 )—Greenhouse. The same soil as the above, but the freer growing kinds must be kept in small pots, five inches across, in which they generally flower more freely than if in larger ones.
Crassula, (p. 198.)—Greenhouse. This, but more especially the following, are both very ornamental genera, and will grow and flower freey in equal portions of loam, sand, peat earth, and well decomposed manure.
Kalosanthes, (p. 198.)—Greenhouse.
Larochea, (p. 198.)—Greenhouse. Will grow freely with the same treatment as the preceding.
Turgosia, (p. 198.)—Greenhouse. This and the five following genera, succeed well, treated in the same way as the Aloe. Globulea, (p. 198) ; Curtogyne, (p. 198); Vauanthes, (p. 198) ; Cotyledon, (p. 198) ; Echeveria, (p. 198).
Bryophyllum, (p. 198.)—Stove. Equal parts of well decomposed manure, peat earth, and sand.
Portulaca, (p. 198.)—Stove. The same treatment.
In the cultivation of succulent plants, the chief thing to guard against is too much moisture at their roots. If this be too freely
applied the roots and lower parts of the stem are apt to decay; but on the contrary we do not, during our own experience, remember even a single instance of a succulent plant having died from the want of water. A person having a collection of succulents under his care, might visit the metropolis of Scotland or England, or even both, and yet return in time to water his plants. In the autumn of 1835, a stem of Epiphyllum speciosa, was accidentally broken from a plant in this garden, and was thrown aside in the stove. In the course of January or February, 1836, it was laid on the leaves of Cycas revoluta, where it remained between two and three months, and in this situation it also produced two perfect full sized flowers.
On the 10th of March, 1835, we saw in Mr. Richardson's shop, Orchard-street, Sheffield, a piece of a shoot of Aloe arborescens, suspended from the ceiling, with the cut end enveloped in a piece of sail cloth; it was quite firm, and growing. It had been in this situation since the preceding July, and Mr. R. informed us that it had been twelve months in a similar situation in a shop in Liverpool, and also in the same cloth, which was however coated with vegetable tar. No water had ever been applied.
To feel both surprised and delighted with this curious and interesting tribe of plants, it is only necessary to visit the splendid collection now forming at Chatsworth. We cannot easily forget the impression produced on our mind in walking through the succulent house at that princely place, in October last. We understand that the collection of succulents at the Duke of Bedford's, Woburn Abbey, is now the finest in England.
R.M. [Robert Marnock]