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IXIA TRICOLOR. THREE-COLORED IXIA
Class III. Triandria. Order I. Monogynia.
Gen. Char. Calyx and corolla superior. Sepals short. Stamens three, arising from the base of the sepals.
Spe. Char. Filaments distinct: Anthers bursting. Style one. Stigmas five. Capsule three-celled. Seeds attached.
This rare and beautiful plant is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, where it grows spontaneously, in the plains and by the borders of woods; it is also found growing wild in some parts of Asia and Africa, and is extensively cultivated in Spain as an ornamental flower. The root is large and bulbous, very much resembling the crocus or meadow saffron; calyx and corolla superior, confounded, their divisions either partially cohering or entirely separate, sometimes irregular; stamens three, rising from the base of the sepals; filaments distinct or connate; anthers bursting externally lengthwise, fixed at their base, two-celled; the ovarium is three-celled, cells many-seeded; style one; stigmas five, often petaloid, and sometimes two-lipped; capsule threecelled and three-valved; the seeds, which are very small and numerous, are attached to the inner angle of the cell, and sometimes to a central column, which afterwards becomes loose.
Genus Crocus. This is an ancient name, being derived from the youth Crocus, who as the heathen poets feigned, was turned into this flower. This genus has a large number of species, growing from six inches to several feet in height, many of which rank among tha most ornamental of garden flowers, and from their beautiful appearance and variety of colors have become particular favorites, on account of their early flowering as well as their beauty. Nearly all the varieties of this class and order are propagated by their bulbous roots, and can be cultivated to almost any extent by sowing the seeds.
Another very important species of the Ixia Tricolor is one so frequently spoken of by the ancients. The top spreads itself into a kind of umbel, composed of many long, narrow leaves. The lower part of the stalk is surrounded with long sword-shaped leaves. This is the plant from which the celebrated papyrus of the Egyptians and other ancient nations was obtained. Between the flesh and bark of the thick part of the stalk there grows a membrane, which being stripped off in the form of narrow pieces or ribbons, was united into sheets by pressure, and then dried in the sun. Many of those sheets put together made the rolls on which the ancient manuscripts were written. This plant is indigenous in the swamps of Egypt and Ethiopia, and as a matter of experiment in England has been cultivated in cisterns of water, with rich mud at the bottom.
Medical Properties and Uses. The Ixia Tricolor, the representative of our drawing, possesses some very valuable medical properties. In France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, it has been introduced into practice, and successfully administered in obstinate cases of diarrhoea and dropsies. The root, when dried, is one of the most powerful astringents that has been introduced into the materia medica; it is frequently used instead of galls in the manufacturing of ink; the fresh root is a powerful cathartic, and for this purpose the juice has been employed in doses of a drachm and upwards, in dropsies; it is also used to scent hair powder on account of its aromatic and fragrant odor.