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

Lopezia Racemosa

Mexican Lopezia
Class and Order
Monandria Monogynia
Generic Character
Cal. 4-phyllus. Cor. irregularis, pentapetala, duo superiora geniculata, quintum inferne declinatum, plicatum, ungue arcuata.
Specific Character and Synonyms
LOPEZIA racemosa caule herbaceo ramoso; foliis alternis ovato-lanceolatis, serratis; floribus racemosis. Cavanilles Ic. et descr. Pl.

Some plants have a claim on our attention for their utility, some for their beauty, and some for the singularity of their structure, and the wonderful nature of their œconomy; in the last class we must place the present plant, the flowers of which we recommend to the examination of such of our readers as may have an opportunity of seeing them; to the philosophic mind, not captivated with mere shew, they will afford a most delicious treat.

We first saw this novelty in flower, towards the close of the year 1792, at the Apothecaries Garden, Chelsea, where Mr. Fairbairn informed me, that he had that season raised several plants of it from seeds, communicated by Dr. J. E. Smith, who received them from Madrid, to which place they were sent from South-America, and where the plant as Mons. Cavanille informs us, grows spontaneously near Mexico. In October 1793, we had the pleasure of seeing the plant again in blossom in the aforesaid garden, raised from seeds which ripened there the preceding year, but unfortunately from the lateness of their flowering, and the very great injury the plants had sustained from the Cobweb Mite (Acarus teliarius) vulgarly called the red Spider, there seemed little prospect that the seed-vessels would arrive at perfection.

The seeds were sown by Mr. Fairbairn, in March, and the plants kept in the green-house till very late in the summer, when to accelerate their blowing, they were removed into the dry stove: it is worthy of remark, that these plants, even late in the autumn, shew no signs of blossoming, but the flowers at length come forth with almost unexampled rapidity, and the seed-vessels are formed as quickly, so that if the flowers were not very numerous, their blossoming period would be of very short duration; future experience may perhaps point out the means of making the plant blow earlier: in Spain, the blossoms appeared later than here, Mons. Cavanille observed them in the Royal Garden, in November and December, most probably in the open ground, as no mention is made of the plants having been preserved from the weather.

It was not till long after our description was taken, that we had an opportunity of seeing Mons. Cavanille's most accurate and elegant work, above quoted, in which this plant is first figured and described; we have selected the most essential parts of his generic character, and adopted his specific description: there is one point, however, in which we differ from him; the part which he regards as the fifth Petal, we are inclined to consider rather as that indescribable something, called by Linnæus the Nectary, it is indeed of little moment whether we call it a Petal or a Nectary, but there are several reasons why, strictly speaking, we cannot regard it as a Petal: in general the number of Petals correspond with the number of the leaves of the Calyx, those of the latter are four; the base of this Nectary originates deeper than the claws of the Petals, springing in fact from the same part as the Filament, its structure, especially the lower part of it, is evidently different from that of the Petals, corresponding indeed as nearly as possible with that of the base of the filament.—Vid. Descer.

Mons. Cavanille was induced to call this plant Lopezia, in compliment to Th. Lopez, a Spaniard[1].

254Lopezia Racemosa
Lopezia Racemosa
Mexican Lopezia