MEADOWBEAUTY DEER GRASS
(Rhexia Virginica) Meadow-beauty family
Flowers - Purplish pink, 1 to 1 1/2 in. across, pedicelled,
clustered at top of stem. Calyx 4-lobed, tubular or urn-shaped,
narrowest at neck; 4 rounded, spreading petals, joined for half
their length; 8 equal, prominent stamens in 2
rows; pistil. Stem:
1 to 1 1/2 ft. high, square, more or less hairy, erect, sometimes
branching at top. Leaves: Opposite, ascending, seated on stem,
oval, acute at tip, mostly 5-nerved, the margins saw-edged.
Preferred Habitat - Sandy swamps or near water.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - United States, chiefly east of Mississippi.
Suggesting a brilliant magenta evening primrose in form, the
meadow-beauty is likewise a rather niggardly bloomer, only a few
flowers in each cluster opening at once; but where masses adorn
our marshes, we cannot wonder so effective a plant is exported to
European peat gardens. Its lovely sister, the MARYLAND
MEADOW-BEAUTY (R. Mariana), a smaller, less brilliant flower,
found no farther north than the swamps and pine barrens of New
Jersey, also goes abroad to be admired; yet neither is of any
value for cutting, for the delicate petals quickly discolor and
drop off when handled. Blossoms so attractively colored naturally
have many winged visitors to transfer their pollen. All too soon
after fertilization the now useless petals fall, leaving the
pretty urn-shaped calyx, with the large yellow protruding
stamens, far more conspicuous than some flowers. "Its
seed-vessels are perfect little cream pitchers of graceful form,"
said Thoreau. Within the smooth capsule the minute seeds are
coiled like snail-shells.
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