Azalea PonticaYellow Azalea
- Class and Order
- Pentandria Monogynia
- Generic Character
- Cor. campanulata. Stamina receptaculo inserta. Caps. 2-5 locularis polysperma.
- Specific Character and Synonyms
- AZALEA pontica foliis nitidis lanceolatis, utrinque glabris, racemis terminalibus. Linn. Sp. Pl. App. p. 1669. Pall. Fl. Ross. t. 69. p. 51.
Descr. Shrub from two to three feet or more in height, the thickest part of the stem not exceeding the size of the little finger, covered with a smooth brown bark, irregularly branched; Flowers appearing before the leaves are fully expanded, and produced in umbels at the extremities of the branches, from eight to twelve or more in an umbel, of a fine yellow colour and agreeable fragrance; each blossom is about the size of that of the horse-chestnut, and as some of them are produced much earlier than others, the plant of course continues a considerable time in bloom, standing on short peduncles; Calyx very short, viscous, and irregularly divided, most commonly into five ovato-lanceolate segments; Corolla, tube cylindrical, viscous, grooved, brim divided into five segments, undulated and somewhat wrinkled, ovate, pointed, three turning upwards, two downwards, of the three uppermost segments the middle one more intensely yellow than the others and inclining to orange, with which it is sometimes spotted; Stamina usually five, yellow, projecting beyond the corolla, and turning upwards near their extremities; Antheræ orange-coloured; Pollen whitish and thready; Germen somewhat conical, evidently hairy, and somewhat angular; Style yellowish, filiform, projecting beyond the stamina, and turning upwards; Stigma forming a round green head.
The figure and description here given were taken from a plant which flowered by means of artificial heat, in the spring of 1798, at Mr. Watson's, Nurseryman, Islington, and which had been introduced the same year, by Mr. Anthony Hove, of Warsaw.
As an hardy ornamental shrub, it bids fair to prove an acquisition truly valuable, its flowers produced in the months of June and July, being highly ornamental as well as fragrant.
We have the best authority for regarding this plant as the Chamærhodendros Pontica of Tournefort, it agrees with his own specimens in Sir Joseph Banks's Herbarium, it accords also with his description, and figures, more especially of those flowers which are of their natural size; nor have we any doubts of its being the Azalea Pontica of Prof. Pallas, figured in the Flor. Rossica, since it corresponds generally with his description, though not in all points with his figure, which bears evident marks of inaccuracy, the stigma, for instance, is represented as trifid.
Tournefort found this plant on the eastern side of the Black Sea, Mr. Hove on the north side near Oczakow, and elsewhere; Professor Pallas on Mount Caucasus.
As yet there has been no opportunity of ascertaining the best means of propagating this new denizen, but there is every reason to suppose that it will succeed with the treatment bestowed on the other Azalea's.
Prof. Pallas relates that the honey of bees frequenting the flowers of this plant is supposed to be narcotic, and that goats, kine, and sheep on eating its leaves have been poisoned thereby.
By permission and with the approbation of Mr. Anthony Hove, the following extracts from his journal are here inserted."June 9, 1796, found a few of this species of Azalea on the river Dnieper in swampy ground, four feet high, beginning to blow, called here the stupifying shrub, and considered by some as highly efficacious in curing the venereal disease."June 20, found this species on the river Dniester, on the estate of Count Stanislaus Sczesny Potocki, about sixteen English miles from the town of Mohilow, in peat earth, from four to twenty feet high; regarded by the common people as intoxicating, and used in the cure of various diseases."July 4, near Oczakow, found thousands of these plants fully blown, in a marsh, every spring-tide overflown by the sea; found there also, a Tartarian farmer, who lived entirely by the profits arising from the honey which the bees extracted from the flowers of this plant, sold to Constantinople and other parts of Turkey for medicinal uses."July 15, arrived at Trebizond, found a valley about ten English miles from the sea covered with these plants."On cultivation, Mr. Hove relates that he found the Azalea's from Trebizond much more tender than those from the borders of the Dnieper and the Dniester, and was therefore inclined to regard them as strong varieties if not distinct species.
The leaves, when fully expanded, are in size and figure like those on the plate, hairy on both sides, and terminating in a very remarkable blunt mucro or point, which has not been noticed either by those who have described or figured the plant as it deserves, for it appears to form a very strong character.