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Prinsepia utilis Royle

Modern name

Prinsepia utilis Royle

A deciduous, very spiny shrub of exceedingly vigorous habit; young shoots slightly downy at first, soon glabrous. Spines stout, produced in every leaf-axil, eventually becoming 1 to 2 in. long and some bearing leaves. Leaves lanceolate, slender-pointed, tapered at the base, toothed, up to 4 in. long and 114 in. wide, dull green and quite glabrous. Flowers creamy white, fragrant, 14 in. wide, produced from between the spine and the leaf in racemes 1 to 2 in. long, or sometimes few or even solitary. Fruits purple, cylindric, 12 to 34 in. long. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 194.

Native of the Himalaya, where it is sometimes used for hedges, also of W. China. Although Hooker gives its height as 3 to 5 ft, a plant growing at Kew in a corner outside the Temperate House, facing north-east, is 9 ft high and 12 ft in diameter, a rampant grower. It is distinguished from the other two species by its usually racemose inflorescence, numerous stamens, and by flowering on the leafy shoots of the current season. Judging by dried specimens it often flowers in India with great freedom from the terminal leaf-axils in late autumn and winter, transforming the end of each shoot into a cylindrical wand of blossom, the fruits from such flowers being developed in April and May. To get it to flower well in this country it requires no doubt the sunniest spot obtainable and a lightish, not very fertile soil.

The material figured in the Botanical Magazine was supplied by Lt-Col. Mackenzie from his garden at Penmere near Falmouth – the flowers in mid-February and the fruits in the following June.

The Formosan plant described by Hayata under the name P. scandens is probably only a variant of P. utilis. It is of scrambling habit and reaches the tops of tall trees, but does not differ from the mainland species in any essential character.



Other species in the genus