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Page:Illustrations of Indian Botany, Vol. 1.djvu/93

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ILLUSTRATIONS OF INDIAN BOTANY.

from a blister, without its inconveniences. This freedom from inconvenience is not however always experienced. I once saw extensive vesication produced by the application of the leaves of this plant, as a discutient, to an incipient boil. The previously existing inflammation of the skin probably gave rise to this excessive action. The root of Crataeva gynandra, a Jamaica plant, is said to blister like Cantharides. Dr. Ainslie in his Materia Medica, mentions six species of this order, as being employed in medical practice, but upon the whole gives very little information regarding them.

Remarks on Genera and Species. Roxburgh was acquainted with but a small number of the Indian species of this order, amounting in all to only 13, and these he distributed under three genera, viz. Cleome, Strcemia, and Capparis. The two first, most unaccountably, placed respectively in tetradynamea, and pentandria digynia : whether through errors of his Editors, or by his own arrangement I am unable to say. Dr. Wallich, (List of Indian plants) has greatly augmented the catalogue, which now extends to 42 species. DeCandolle, in his Prodromus, revised the genera, and by adopting the views of those who had previously subdivided the old genus Cleome, into three distinct genera, rendered the determination of species much easier, by making the genera themselves more natural. Of those having long pedicelled ovaries, with 6 long stamens, apparently springing from above the middle of the pedicel, he formed the genus Gynandropsis. Those having numerous stamens, and a nearly sessile ovary, now form the genus Polauesia : while all those having 6 stamens and a subsessile ovary, are retained to form the present genus Cleome. The Peninsular flora, presents examples of each of these forms. Cadaba as being an older name was substituted by DeCandolle for Strcemia. The species of the genus Capparis, (of Roxburgh's Fl. Ind.) are also distributed among three distinct genera, viz. Capparis, Cratceva, and Niebuhiia. Capparis and Cratceva are both Linnaean genera, more readily distinguished by habit, and foliage, than by characters taken from the inflorescence. In Cratceva the petals are furnished with a slender claw, expanding above into a broad limb, and the leaves are 3 foliolate : while in Capparis, the petals are sessile, and the leaves simple, often with spinous stipules. Niebiihria is distinguished from both, by the sepals being united at the base, the petals wanting or shorter than the calyx, and by the elongated, irregularly torulose fruit, caused by the seed bulging out the sides of the berry, on either side of a rigid central placenta. Judging from the figures, as well as the description given of the genus Moerua in the Flora SenigambiaB, it appears, that JYiebuhria is identical with that genus, and hence Moerua, being the older name of the two, must necessarily be adapted, on the ground of priority. Since my return to India in 1S34, the following species have been added to Capparis.

CAPPARIS.

1 C. floribunda. (R. W.) Shrubby unarmed: leaves oval oblong, obtuse at both ends, glabrous: flowers numerous, umbelled; umbels axillary, numerous near the ends of the branches, and forming, through the abortion of the leaves, large terminal panicles: pedicels glabrous; calyx and petals ciliale on the margine: stamens eight, much longer than the petals and pedicel of the ovary: ovules several, pendulous, berry few, (1-3) seeded.

Apparently a beautiful shrub, which, however, I have not myself seen, the drawing from which the figure is taken, having been made by the draughtsman in the course of an excursion he made unaccompanied by me. The figure is defective, in so far as not distinctly showing the pedicelled ovaries in the flowers generally.

C. Moonii. (R.W.) Shrubby, diffuse, scandent, armed with short reflexed stipulary thorns: leaves oval, or a little broader below, mucronate at the apex, racemes terminal, leafless, corymbiform, pedicels I-flowered —flowers very large.

C. grandis ?-Moon. Cat. Ceylon Plants.

This species I found in Ceylon usually among clumps of jungle, in moist or even marshy soil. In such situations its large pure white flowers render it a very conspicuous object, and are seen from a great distance. It seems very nearly allied to C. Roxburgii, but judging from the description, and still more from specimens of what I consider his plant, is I think disctinct. The leaves in this are nearly an exact oval, with an abrupt somewhat retuse mucro. The flowers which are white, nearly six inches across the filaments cf the stamens, alone sometimes exceeding three inches in length. The fruit I have not seen.

EXPLANATION OF PLATE 14.

1. Flowering branch of Capparis floribunda.

2. Flower detached, showing the sepals, petals, stamens and ovary.

3. Ovary laid open, showing the pendulous ovules,

4. Anther—all magnified. 5. Fruit.

6. Cut transversely, showing a single seed—natural size. J. Seed removed—natural size. 8. the same, cut vertically, showing the large embryo.

9. Embryo removed, showing its curved form and radical pointing to the hilum.