1. The Botanical Magazine
  2. The Botanical Magazine, Volume IX

Melianthus Minor

Small 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.

301Melianthus Minor
Melianthus Minor
Small Melianthus