Sunday, 29 June 2008

Species Canna coccinea Mill.

A small species; green foliage, oval shaped, branching habit; flowers are erect, self-coloured scarlet, staminodes are long and narrow, edges regular, petals red, fully self-cleaning, average bloomer; fertile both ways, self-pollinating and also true to type; rhizomes are thick, up to 3 cm in diameter, coloured purple; tillering is prolific.

The species was named by Philip Miller (1691 - December 18, 1771) who was a botanist of Scottish descent. Miller was chief gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden from 1721 until shortly before his death. He wrote The Gardener's and Florists Dictionary or a Complete System of Horticulture (1724) and The Gardener's Dictionary containing the Methods of Cultivating and Improving the Kitchen Fruit and Flower Garden, which first appeared in 1731 in an impressive folio and passed through numerous expanding editions.

Miller corresponded with other botanists, and obtained plants from all over the world, many of which he cultivated for the first time in England. His knowledge of living plants was unsurpassed in the breadth in his lifetime. He trained William Aiton, who later became head gardener at Kew, and William Forsyth, after whom Forsythia was named.

The standard author abbreviation Mill. is applied to species he described.

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