Gardeners Dictionary: Palma Draco
containing The Best and Newest Methods of Cultivating and Improving The Kitchen, Fruit, Flower Garden, and Nursery; As also for Performing the Practical Parts of Agriculture: Including The Management of Vineyards, With the Methods of Making and Preserving Wine, According to the present Practice of The most skilful Vignerons in the several Wine Countries in Europe.
Together with Directions for propagating and improving, From real Practice and Experience, All sorts of Timber Trees.
The Eight Edition,
Revised and Altered according to the latest System of Botany; and Embellished with several Copper-Plates, which were not in some former Editions.
By Philip Miller, F. R. S.
Gardener tothe Worshipdul Company of Apothecaries, at their Botanic Garden in Chelsea, and Member of the Botanic Academy at Florence.
Printed for the Author;
M. DCC. LXVIII.
PALMA Plum. Gen. 1. Raii Meth. Plant 135. The Palm-tree.
The CHARACTERS are,
It hath male and female flowers in some species on the same plant, and in others on different plants; the empalement of the male flowers are divided into three parts. The flowers of some species have three petals, and six stamina terminated by oblong summits, with an obsolete germen, supporting three short styles, crowned by acute stigmas; these are barren. The female flowers have an common sheath, but no empalement; they have six short petals, and an oval germen sitting upon an awl-shaped style, crowned hy a trifid stigma. The germen afterward becomes a fruit of various forms and sizes in defferent species.
Mr. Ray ranges this genus in the front of this trees and shrubs, which have male flowers at remote distances from the fruit, sometimes on the same, and at others on different trees. Dr. Linnæus has separated the species under the following genera, Chamærops, Borassus, Corypha, Cocos, Phoenix, Areca, and Elate, ranging them in his Appendix.
11. PALMA (Draco) foliis simplicibus ensiformibus integerrimis slacidis. Palm-tree with single, sword-shaped, entire slaccid leaves. Palma prunifera foliis yuccæ, fructu in racemis congestis cerasi formi, duro, cinereo, pisi magnitude, cujus lacryma sanguis dragonis est dicta. Com. Cat. Amst. Plum-bearing Palm-tree, with leaves like those of the Yucca, and fruit gathered in long bunches, which are Cherry-shaped, Ash-coloured, hard, and the size of Peas, whose tears are called Dragons Blood, commonly called Dragon-tree.
The eleventh sort grows naturally in the Cape Verd Islands, from whence I had one of the plants brought me, as also in the Madeira, from whence I have received the seeds. This is called Dragon-tree, because the inspissated juice of the plants becomes a red powder, very like the eastern Dragons Blood, and is frequently used insted of it in the shops; but the tree, from whence the true Dragons Blood is taken is of a very different genus from this. Dr. Van Royen, in the Prodromus of the Leyden Garden, has ranged this among the Yuccas, I suppose, from the similitude of the plant to those of that genus; for, as the fruit of this is a berry non unlike those of the Bay-tree, and the seeds of the Yucca grow in capsules with three cells, they cannot be of the same genus; nor have we any good account of the real characters of this plant, so as asolutely to determine the genus. Dr. Linnæus has, upon the information of his pupil Loefling, ranged it in his genus of Asparagus, to which it seems to have little affinity; therefore, as it has by several modern authors been ranged under this title, I have continued it there. This rises with a thick trunk nearly equal in size the whole length, the inner part of which is pithy; next to this is a circle of strong fibres, and the outside is soft. The stalk or trunk rises twelve or fourteen feet high, and is nearly of the same diameter the whole length, which is rarely more than eight or ten inches; there are the circular marks or rings left the whole length, where the leaves are fallen off; for as there half embrace the stalk with their base, so when they fall away, the vestigia where they grew remain. The top of the stalk sustains a large head of leaves, which come out singly all round it; they are shaped like those of the common Iris, but are much longer, being ofter four or five feet long, and an inch and a half broad at their base, where they embrace the stalk, and lessen grafually to the end, where they terminate in a point. These leaves are pliable, and hang down all round the stem; they are entire, and of a deep green, smooth on both surfaces, and greatly resemble those of hte common yellow Iris. As this plant has not flowered in England, I can give no account of its flowers; but so far as I can judge from the berries which I have received, it may properly enough to be ranged in this genus.