Thornton, Robert John (1768?-1837) / Temple of Flora, or, Garden of the botanist, poet, painter, and philosopher.
Passiflora Cerulea; Common Blue Passion-Flower.
PASSIFLORA CERULEA; OR, COMMON BLUE PASSION-FLOWER. ALL the Passifloras claim the admiring eye, nor is this, though the most common, as thriving well out of doors, the least attractive. It was discovered in the Brazils, and its wonders were soon proclaimed to Christian kingdoms as representing the Passion of our Lord, whence its pre- sent appellation. The leaves were said exactly to resemble the spear that pierced our Saviour's side; the tendrils, the cords that bound his hands, or the whips that scourged him; the ten petals, the apostles, Judas having betrayed, and Peter deserted; the pillar in the centre was the cross or tree; the stamina, the hammers; the styles, the nails; the inner circle about the central pillar, the crown of thorns; the radiance, the glory; the white, in the flower, the emblem of purity; and the blue, the type of heaven. On one of the species, the Passiflora alata, even drops of blood are to be seen upon the cross or tree. The flower keeps open three days, and then disappears, denoting the resurrection. At last this sacred flower was brought from the Brazils to Europe, and became a denizon of our gardens in the year 1699. We shall now examine this plant botanically. It is a climbing shrub, remarkable for the growth of its shoots, rising in a few months above fifteen feet. The stem is round and fluted. At distinct distances proceed two stipules half-moon-shaped, on each side the leaf, which is palinate, that is, divided into five pointed lobes, and the lesser lobe is often sublobed. From the axilla of the petiolus of the leaf proceeds first the flower, and next a tendril. The first stage of the flower is protected by a calyx, which, as afterwards appearing somewhat remote from the flower, is called an involucre: this is composed of three intire orbicular leaves, paler than the common leaves, and half the size of the true calyx, which opens by degrees, displaying the organs for reproduction, which are curiously enwrapped within its corolla. The calyx leaves are exteriorly green, and terminate with a hook, but as these leaves are united at their base, it is in fact monophyllous (a single leaf), divided into five segments. The corolla consists of five distinct fleshy petals. The Nec- tary beautifully radiates over these, and consists of two rows of threads, arising purple, then they possess a circular band of white, and terminate in blue interspersed with spots. There is next a ditch or hollow, in the middle of which arises an upright row of short purple threads; then appears a mound of coalesced white threads, which detach into short purple threads converging around the column. At the basis of this column, so protected, lies the cell, in which the honey is deposited, and a gland may be found in the centre of this cell for the purpose of secreting the honey. There is also a lid affixed to the column, which covers the honey-cell. At a short distance up this column proceed the five filaments. These are broad, and become arched; and at each end is a hook to which are attached the back of the oblong anthers, which occasions them very readily to vibrate at every breath of wind. The anthers on their under sides have two bags filled with farina, each of which opens in the centre like a portmanteau. At the place of insertion of the five stamina is the germen, whence proceed the three styles, upright, as may be seen at the first opening of the flower, and then gradually depending more and more for the purpose of impregnation. The styles, which are three are dotted, and each terminate in a club-shaped yellow stigma. As soon as the intention of Nature is accomplished, all this clock-work of the flower ceases, and withers, except the germen, which increases, and forms into an oblong egg-shaped fruit, at first protected by the involucre, full of seeds inclosed in a subacid refreshing pulp. It comes under the CLASS XX. GYNANDRIA, and ORDER I. PENTANDRIA, of LINNAEUS.
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