Saturday, 18 April 2009

Doryanthes palmeri 1883

Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Vol. 109 TAB. 6665, 1883

Native of Queensland

D. Palmeri, W. Hill MSS ; Benth. Fl. Austral. Vol vi. P. 452 ; Gard Chron. 1874, vol. i. p. 181, cum ic. Xylog. F. 44, 45 (icones in Fl. Des Serres iteratae et incaute coloratae), et 1881, vol. i. p. 408, f. 64; Regel Gartenfl. 1874

When, in the very commencement of this century, the prototype of the genus Doryanthes (D. excelsa, Plate 1685) flowered for the first time in Europe, it was regarded as one of the wonders of the vegetable kingdom ; and all the more so from the singular fact that the above mentioned flowering was that of a solitary flower “which came to perfection at Kew from a portion of stem without roots, which had been cut many months before in New Holland.” This fact, overlooked by some of the later historians of the genus is recorded by its founder, Dr. Correa de Serra, in the sixth volume of the Linnean Society’s Transactions, where the genus is well figured and described in a paper read December 2nd, 1800. Though rarely flowering in this country, D. excelsa has continued in cultivation in establishments provided with space enough for so gigantic an amaryllid, along with its allies, the Fourcroyas and

January 1st, 1883

Agaves ; but it was not untill seventy years after its discovery that the present even more gigantic species was made known by Mr. Hill, Government Botanist of Queensland, who found it on elevated rocks between Moreton Bay and Darling Downs. From the specimens then brought, which flowered in the Queensland Botanical Gardens in 1870, and were exhibited at the Intercolonial Exhibition in Sydney, together with a drawing made by Miss Scott, the description of D. Palmeri by Mr. Bentham, in the “Flora Australiensis,” was taken. This description, though accurate, is necessarily incomplete ; it takes no notice of the ribbing of the leaf, nor of their singular tubular brown tips, the latter a character common to both species, though exaggerated in this ; nor of the fact that the ovules and seeds, though inserted in two series, are so superposed as to form a row in each cell ; in which respect the genus differs from all others of the tribe Agaveae to which it belongs, and of which tribe it is the sole extra American representative.

Though as above stated, Doryanthes Palmeri was not known as a distinct species till 1870, it must have been discovered a considerable time before that date, for the plant which is here figured has been in the Royal Gardens for upwards of sixteen years, under the name of D. excelsa.

As a species D. Palmeri differs from D. excelsa in its much larger size, broader, longer, more ribbed leaves, thyrsoid inflorescence, short and coloured bracts, and much shorter not recurved perianth-segments, which are a pale red within, and in the short anthers : it commenced flowering in the Succulent House at Kew in 1881, and was transferred thence to the South Octagon of the Temperate House, where it commenced to open its flowers in March, and continued in beauty for two months, finally ripening its seeds in October.

The name Palmeri records the services to Horticulture of A. H. Palmer, Esq., formerly Colonial Secretary of Queensland.

DESCR. Roots fibrous. Leaves very numerous, spreading and recurved, ensiform, six to eight feet long and four to six inches broad, slightly ribbed, tip brown tubular, four to six inches long. Stem or scape eight to ten feet high, clothed with lanceolate short erect bracts. Inflorescence three feet long, thyrsoid, compact, of many short few-flowered spikes surrounded by red-brown oblong acute bracts, the inner of which are shorter than the perianth. Flowers scarlet, from the tubular ovary, which is one and a half inch long, to the tips of the segments, which are erecto-patent, narrowly oblong, obtuse, and two inches long. Stamens shorter than the perianth-segments, filaments gradually narrowed upwards ; anthers half an inch long, yellow in bud, then purple. Style deeply grooved base conical ; stigmas very minute, radiating. – J.D.H.

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