Melianthus MinorSmall Melianthus
- Class and Order
- Didynamia Angiospermia
- Generic Character
- Cal. 5-phyllus: folio inferiore gibbo. Petala 4: nectario infra infima. Caps. 4-locularis.
- Specific Character and Synonyms
- MELIANTHUS minor stipulis geminis distinctis. Linn. Syst. Vegetab. ed. 14. Murr. p. 581. Ait. Kew. v. 2. p. 368.
- MELIANTHUS africanus minor fœtidus. Comm. rar. 4. t. 4.
There are few flowers that do not secrete from some kind of a glandular substance, honey, or nectar, to a greater or smaller amount; in those of the present genus, this liquid is particularly abundant, even dropping from the flowers of the major, in considerable quantity; in the present species it flows not so copiously, but is retained in the lower part of the blossom, and is of a dark brown colour, an unusual phenomenon.
There are only two species of this genus described, the major and the minor, both of which are cultivated in our nurseries; the major is by far the most common, the most hardy, and the most ornamental plant; its foliage indeed is peculiarly elegant: this species will succeed in the open border, especially if placed at the foot of a wall with a south or south-west aspect, taking care to cover the root to a considerable depth with rotten tan in severe frosts: the minor is always kept in the greenhouse, in which, when it has acquired a certain age, it flowers regularly in the spring, and constantly so, as far as we have observed of the plants in Chelsea Garden; Mr. Aiton says in August, and Commelin the summer through.
The Melianthus minor grows to the height of three, four, or five feet; its stem, which is shrubby, during the flowering season is apt to exhibit a naked appearance, having fewer leaves on it at that period, and those not of their full size; but this, perhaps, may in some degree be owing to the plant's being placed at the back of others.
The foliage when bruised has an unpleasant smell.
It is a native of the Cape, and, according to Mr. Aiton, was cultivated by the Duchess of Beaufort, in 1708; is propagated readily by cuttings.