Galax Aphylla - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Galax Aphylla Described.
Galax Aphylla -
Syn. Blandfordia Cordata; Heart-leaved Galax; Nat. Ord. Pyrolaceæ.
Nearly 200 years ago this charming little plant was imported from North America;
still, it is rarely seen, notwithstanding that rock-gardens have long been popular.
On rockwork it not only thrives well, but appears to great advantage. No rock-garden
should be without it. It is a rare and beautiful subject, remarkably distinct
and pleasing; it is perfectly hardy, also perennial and herbaceous; but its last-named
characteristic should be qualified, inasmuch as the old leaves remain in good
form and colour until long after the new ones are fully grown, so that there
are always two sets of foliage. Viewed in this light, it may be called an evergreen
plant; moreover, it is one of those plants which the artist can scarcely do justice
to, for though the illustration depicts faithfully its neat habit and handsome
foliage, the living plant makes a better impression. I said it was rare, but
this is less in the sense of scarcity than because it is little known and seldom
seen; it is also quite distinct from any other plant, and the only species of
Its milk-white flowers, which, though very simple, are richly effective, are
produced on tall, nude stems, 18in. high, round, wiry, and nearly amber-coloured.
They are arranged in a dense spike, 6in. to 8in. long; the corolla is ¼in.
across, and composed of five petals; the calyx has a short tube and five sepals;
the leaves are heart-shaped, nearly round, evenly toothed, and sometimes glandular;
of leathery substance, and somewhat stiff, smooth, shining, and richly veined
or nerved. The leaves of various ages differ in colour; the old ones are dark
green, conspicuously reticulated; the new, but perfectly-developed ones, are
pale green, with a ray of yellowish-green next the edges; the growing ones are
nearly red, and all the serrated edges are hemmed with a nearly scarlet line,
always brightest at the points of the teeth. This finely-tinted foliage is elegantly
disposed by means of the stalks, which bend in various ways; they vary in length
from 4in. to 8in., and are all radical; they are round, wiry, and once grooved.
The bloom lasts for several weeks in good form, and the foliage is always beautiful,
more especially in the autumn, when it glows like polished mahogany. Such a plant
can hardly fail to please when well grown, but it must be so developed.
This lovely plant certainly requires a little special treatment, but that
is easy and simple; in fact, it scarcely can be called special. It may be put
in a few words—damp, but not sour vegetable soil, and very slight shade.
My specimen, from which the drawing was taken, is growing in a little dip at
the base of a small rockery, below the level of the walk, which acts as a watershed;
the soil is nearly all leaf mould—a small portion of loam, and I ought
to add that there is a moderate quantity of small charcoal incorporated with
it, which will doubtless assist in keeping the soil sweet. There cannot, therefore,
be much difficulty in setting up these conditions; the charcoal may not be necessary,
but an annual top-dressing with it will meet the case of such plants as grow
in low damp situations. The propagation of this species is very easy in the case
of well-grown clumps, which, when dug up in the autumn and thoroughly shaken,
will come asunder into many small and well-rooted crowns; these only require
to be replanted separately, under similar conditions to those by which they were
produced. No attempt should be made to divide other than perfectly healthy clumps.
Flowering period, July and August.
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