H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Margyricarpus Setosus - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Margyricarpus Setosus Described.
Margyricarpus Setosus - Bristly Pearl-fruit; Nat. Ord. Rosaceæ.
A charming little evergreen shrub, and most aptly named, for not only does the name convey some idea of its beauty, but it is specific to the utmost degree; a glance at the illustration and the English name, which is a translation of the Latin one, will show this. It is the only species of the genus. It was introduced in the year 1829 from Peru, and for a time was considered too tender a subject for other than stove treatment, and even now it is treated as a shrub needing protection; but warm as is its native climate, it proves hardy in ours; it is not merely a safe subject to winter out under special conditions, but quite hardy in fully exposed parts. It stood out with me in the winters of 1879-80 and 1880-1, and in 1881-2, which, however, was specially mild, it held its berries until spring. Its evergreen character renders it all the more desirable, for though the foliage is small and somewhat spare, it is of a bright and pleasing colour. Quite young specimens are prolific, and only during the severe months are they without berries.
A full-grown example does not exceed the height of 6in. or 8in. in this climate. The flowers are green and insignificant—in fact, hardly visible, and must be closely looked for; they are produced singly on the riper parts of the soft wooded branches; they are chubby forms, all but stalkless, and supported by a brown stem-clasping sheath, which is long-pointed and bent backwards, resembling a spine; these sheaths are numerous, and probably suggested the specific name, setosus—rough or bristly. The flowers appear for many months, and there is a corresponding succession of berries; the latter form the main feature of this singular shrub, measuring 1/8in. to 1/6in. in diameter, they are of a clear, shining white colour, and are well named "pearl fruit." Sooner or later in the season every joint of the main branches seems to be furnished with fruit, which lasts a long time in perfection. The leaves are ½in. to 1in. long, pinnate, leaflets awl-shaped, reflexed, and of a deep glistening green colour; they are arranged in minute tufts on stoutish branchlets, and, for the most part, have a single berry at the parent node. All these young shoots grow in the upward direction, leaving the procumbent branches to form an even line on the lower side. The habit of this shrub is spreading and prostrate, and, from the bright berries and foliage (the latter all turned upwards), it becomes a most pleasing object to look down upon, reminding one of a dwarf erica immediately after a hailstorm. For rockwork, this is a gem. Many amateurs will be glad to learn, if they do not already know the shrub, that it is one of those pretty, uncommon, and distinct forms ever desirable for choice collections.
It should be so planted that its branches can rest on a dark-coloured stone; this will show up its fruit to advantage. It enjoys a rich, light soil, thriving in a mixture of sand, loam, and rotten leaves. Beyond this there is nothing special about its culture; moreover, it is easily increased, either by cuttings taken in summer and pricked into moist peat under a bell glass, or by layering the branches. These only need to be pegged down and covered with soil, or to have a small boulder placed on the part where roots are desired.
Flowering period, all summer.
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