H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Apios Tuberosa - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Apios Tuberosa Described.
Apios Tuberosa - Syn. Glycine Apios; Nat. Ord. Leguminosæ.
This is a pretty climber, or, more strictly speaking, a twiner; it is hardy, tuberous, and perennial. The tubers resemble potatoes, but incline to pear-shape, as implied by the generic name. 240 years ago it was introduced from North America; still, it is seldom met with, notwithstanding its good habit and colour. It is one of those happy subjects which most conduce to the freshness and wild beauty of our gardens; the dark and glossy verdure is charmingly disposed in embowerments by means of the delicate twining stems; and though it grows apace, there is never an unsightly dense or dark mass, so commonly seen in many climbers, but, instead, it elegantly adorns its station, and the outlines of its pretty pinnate leaves may easily be traced against the light.
As may be seen by the illustration, it is in the way of a climbing bean. The flowers are purple and borne in small clusters from the axils of the leaves, and, of course, as indicated by the order to which it belongs, they are like pea flowers; they are produced a long time in succession, providing the frosts do not occur; they have the scent of violets. The leaves are distantly produced on fine wiry stems, which grow to the length of 12ft.; they are pinnate, the leaflets being of various sizes, oval, smooth, and of a dark shining green colour.
The roots are not only peculiar in the way already mentioned, but the tubers have the appearance of being strung together by their ends. They are edible, and where they grow wild they are called "ground nuts." From the description given it will be easy to decide how and where it should be planted.
There should be provision made for its twining habit, and it may have the liberty of mixing its foliage with that of less beautiful things during autumn, such, for instance, as the bare Jasmine nudiflora; its spare but effective leaves and flowers will do little or no harm to such trees, and after the frosts come the jasmine will be clear again. It may also be grown with happy results as shown in the illustration, needing only a well-secured twiggy bush. Cut as sprays it is very serviceable for hanging or twining purposes.
It most enjoys a light soil, also a sunny situation. Sometimes it has been found slow at starting into growth when newly planted; this, however, can hardly be the case with newly lifted tubers. I may add that it is no uncommon thing for these to be out of the ground for weeks and months together, when they not only become hard and woody, but when suddenly brought in contact with the damp earth rot overtakes them. There is no difficulty whatever with fresh tubers, which may be lifted after the tops have died off. Beyond securing fresh roots, there is nothing special about the culture of this desirable climber.
Flowering period, August to October.
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