Art. L.—Description of new Plants.
[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 3rd March, 1881.]
Asperula fragrantissima, n. sp.
The Strong-scented Woodroof.
Diff. char.—Perennial, matted. Flowers in clusters, pedunculate.
Description.—A small creeping perennial bright-green herb (black when dry) forming dense broad patches 1–3 feet across, scarcely raised above the surface of the ground. Stems wiry slender reddish 6–15 inches long, branching freely and sending down wiry roots. Branches slender, round, glabrous or glandular pubescent. Leaves sessile, entire, in whorls of 4 (2 opposite leaves and 2 leaf-like stipules) 1/12-⅛ inch long or more, linear-oblong, obtuse, rarely sub-acute, not awned, glandular, dotted and slightly pubescent on both surfaces, rather succulent in texture, flaccid when dry. Flowers very numerous, creamy white tinged with rose-in-bud, very fragrant, in axillary clusters of 3–8, rarely only 1, on branched peduncles, which are 1/10-⅛ inch long or more, glandular-pubescent and rather, stout for the size of the plant. Calyx reduced to an extremely short tube and adnate with
the ovary. Corolla 1/10-⅛ inch across, campanulate, split to below the middle into 4, rarely 5, sometimes only 3, rather broad obtuse lobes, which are covered more or less on both surfaces with glistening frost-like particles. Stamens seated on the corolla, always the same in number as the lobes and alternate with them. Styles 2, shorter than the stamens, united almost throughout their whole length, with the tips divergent and surmounted by unequal sized pinhead-shaped stigmas. Ovary inferior, distinctly 2-celled glandular. Fruit not seen. Other characters as in genus.
Hab.—On dry banks at Fairlie Creek, County of Geraldine; 15 Dec., 1880.—Mr. J. F. Armstrong. Also in Selwyn County about 1868, by the same collector.
The discovery of a second species of woodroof in New Zealand is highly interesting. The present seems sufficiently distinct from A. perpusilla, Hk. fil. in the perennial habit, absence of awns on the leaves, the larger size and peduncled clustered flowers; the latter character, however, is liable to vary. The plant is evidently very local, and should be sought for in subalpine and upland localities. Like so many other species of the genus it is very difficult to determine when dried, and the above description has been drawn up from living plants. It is, to my mind, somewhat curious that this plant should possess, in common with the British A. odorata and other species from distant countries, such apparently unimportant characters as the frost-like particles on the corolla and the unevenness in the size of the stigmas. The flowers are exceedingly sweet-scented when fresh, and while drying the leaves emit a smell of newly mown hay, but in a less degree than the common British species. The plant is extremely pretty on account of the immense number of flowers it produces, and might prove a useful plant for rock-work if it should prove amenable to cultivation.
Viola hydrocotyloides, n. sp.
The Water-penny Violet.
Diff. char.—Stems creeping, hairy, perennial. Leaves reniform, hairy. Flowers solitary, axillary.
Description.—A small creeping perennial herb, with glandular hairy branches rooting at the joints, and spotted with purple. Leaves alternate, stipulate, coriaceous, petiolate, reniform, ⅛–¼ inch diameter, glandular and hairy, especially on the margins, which are coarsely obtusely crenate; petioles about half an inch long, rather stout for the size of the plant, slightly channelled, glandular, and hairy; veins netted, conspicuous; stipules deeply lacerated, large for the size of the plant. Flowers irregular, solitary, axillary, about ⅛ of an inch long; peduncles about ¼–½ inch long, glandular, curved, spotted with purple, rather stout, with two opposite small linear sessile entire or serrate subacute bracts. Sepals 5,
subacute, produced at the base and continued downwards as in most other species of the genus, glandular-pubescent. Petals 5, the two upper smallest, the three lower much larger, the central lower one gibbous or slightly spurred at the base, the tip incurved and held in by the two side ones; all pure white; stamens 5, hypogynous; filaments very broad, short, and membraneous; connective membraneous, broad and continued above the anthers into a broad, slightly-hooded or flat appendage. Anthers apparently not spurred. Style declinate, very short and stout. Stigma oblique, slightly pitted. Ovary either glabrous or pubescent. Capsule ¼–⅓ inch long, 1-celled, either glabrous or pubescent, 3-valved, surmounted by the remains of the style. Seeds numerous, on parietal placentas. Other characters as in the genus.
Hab.—Stewart Island—Rev. Mr. Stack, 1879. Apparently an inhabitant of bogs on the outskirts of woods.
Flowers from November to March.
This curious and remarkable little plant was picked out of a tuft of a Cyathodes, brought from Stewart Island by Mr. Stack and presented by him to the Christchurch Public Garden. It appears to be perfectly distinct from all the other New Zealand violets in all its parts, and is readily distinguished when growing by the reniform hairy leaves, much resembling the foliage of some of our native species of Hydrocotyle, with which the plant also coincides in habit.
It is evident that the flora of Stewart Island is at present very imperfectly known, and some efforts should be made to explore the whole island thoroughly. Such an exploration might prove highly valuable and instructive in connection with the important study of the geographical distribution of New Zealand plants.
Asplenium canterburiense, n. sp.
The Canterbury Spleenwort.
Diff. char.—Fronds lanceolate sub-coriaceous, bi-pinnate, pubescent. Pinnæ lanceolate, or deltoid-cuneate, sori covering the whole under surface.
Description.—Rhizome short, tufted, clothed with black, acuminate, narrow-lanceolate scales. Frands tufted, lanceolate, acuminate, erect, 2-pinnate, 3–8 inches long, 2–4 inches wide, rather coriaceous in texture, dark-green, clothed with minute pubescence on both surfaces. Stipes and rachis slender, pale coloured, minutely pubescent or slightly scaley and silky at the base. Pinna deltoid-cuneate below, linear-oblong-cuneate above, alternate or opposite, ½–2 inches long, stipitate, acute; pinnules stalked, ovate-oblong, acute, with cuneate bases, lower deeply pinnatifid, upper confluent, entire or toothed; segments linear-lanceolate, acute; sori, one to a segment. Indusium, linear-falcate, whitish-membraneous, some
what vaulted, fixed in the centre of the segment and opening towards the central vein. Sporangia excessively numerous, ultimately spreading over the whole under-surface of the frond which when mature is a dense mass of rich brown-coloured sporangia entirely covering the involucres.
Hab.—Mount Arrowsmith and Mount Torlesse—J' F. Armstrong; near the Waimakiriri Grorge-J. B. Armstrong. First collected in 1864.
This is a peculiar and interesting little fern hitherto much neglected by fern collectors, and not at present in cultivation. It belongs to the series represented by A. bulbiferum, A. colensoi, richardi, and A. hookerianum, and is by far the most distinct species of the group, differing from all the others in the minute pubescence, the great abundance of sporangia, and the central sori. Any authors who are disposed to unite the previously described species of the group, will of course decline to admit this plant to specific validity; but such a course would be productive of so much confusion that it is to be hoped nothing of the kind will be attempted. In working up the species for my work on the native ferns, I find several new species in my Herbarium which shall be described in due course.