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Two North American, low, glabrous shrubs, with small evergreen opposite, leathery leaves and tiny inconspicuous flowers. They have four petals, four stamens, and a two-celled ovary; the fruit is small; oblong, white. These two shrubs thrive best in a soil that is partly peat, partly sandy loam, and are, perhaps, best adapted for a nook in the rock garden, where, however, their interest will be chiefly botanical. They need only be recommended to people who love rare, out-of-the-way plants, irrespective of their beauty. At the same time the paxistimas make neat, rather dainty tufts. Both are easily increased by cuttings.

Rafinesque originally called this genus Pachistima, from the Greek nayv; (pachys), ‘thick’, and ‘stigma’. But he did not validly publish this name, and when he established the genus in 1838 he used the spelling Paxistima. It may well be that Rafinesque inadvertendy wrote the Greek symbol χ instead of ch, and that this was printed ‘x’ in which case it would be in order to treat Paxistima as a misprint for the original Pachistima. But Rafinesque was a strange figure, and a law unto himself so far as the coining of names is concerned. In the light of his other oddities, the possibility cannot be ruled out that he deliberately altered ch to ‘x’, for some reason that is not now apparent. Both spellings appear in modern works. The rendering Pachystima, also sometimes used, is definitely not allowable.

Species articles