Podophyllum Peltatum - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Podophyllum Peltatum Described.
Podophyllum Peltatum -
Duck's-foot, sometimes called May Apple; Nat. Ord. Podophyllaceæ.
A hardy herbaceous perennial from North America, more or less grown in English
gardens since 1664. As may be seen from the illustration, it is an ornamental
plant, and though its flowers are interesting, they are neither showy nor conspicuous,
as, from the peculiar manner in which they are produced, they are all but invisible
until sought out. Its leaves and berries constitute the more ornamental parts
of the plant.
The flowers are white, not unlike the small white dog-rose in both size and
form; the calyx is of three leaves, which fall off; the corolla, of six to nine
petals; peduncle nearly an inch long, which joins the stem at the junction of
the two leaf stalks, only one flower being produced on a stem or plant. The leaves
join the rather tall and naked stem by stalks, 2in. to 3in. long; they are handsome
in both form and habit. As the specific name implies, the leaves are peltate
or umbrella-shaped, deeply lobed, each lobe being deeply cut, and all unevenly
toothed and hairy at the edges, with a fine down covering the under sides; the
upper surface is of a lively, shining green colour, and finely veined. The flower
is succeeded by a large one-celled ovate berry, in size and form something like
a damson, but the colour is yellow when ripe, at which stage the berry becomes
more conspicuous than the flower could be, from the manner in which the young
leaves were held.
We want cheerful-looking plants for the bare parts under trees, and this is
a suitable one, provided the surface soil has a good proportion of vegetable
matter amongst it, and is rather moist. The thick horizontal roots creep near
the surface, so it will be seen how important it is to secure them against drought
otherwise than by depth of covering; a moist and shady position, then, is indispensable.
In company with trilliums, hellebores, anemones, and ferns, this graceful plant
would beautifully associate. Another way to grow it is in pots, when exactly
the required kind of compost can easily be given, viz., peat and chopped sphagnum.
Thus potted, plunged in wet sand, and placed in a northern aspect, it will be
found not only to thrive well, as several specimens have done with me, but also
to be worth all the trouble. To propagate it, the long creeping roots should
be cut in lengths of several inches, and to a good bud or crown. When so cut
in the autumn, I have proved them to rot when planted, but others buried in sand
until February, and then planted, have done well.
Flowering period, May and June.
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