A specimen of the botany of New Holland/Tetratheca juncea

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Tetratheca juncea (Sowerby).jpg


Rushy Tetratheca.


OCTANDRIA Monogynia. Fl. complete.

Gen. Char. Cal. quadrifidus, inferus. Cor. tetrapetala. Capsula bilocularis, bivalvis; valvulis medio septiferis. Semina subbina.

Cal. four-cleft, inferior. Cor. of 4 petals. Caps. of two cells and two valves, with the partition from their middle. Seeds about two in each cell.

Spec. Char. T. glabra, foliis alternis lanceolatis, caule acutangulo, ramis elongatis nudiusculis.

Smooth. Leaves alternate, lanceolate. Stem with sharp angles. Branches elongated, and almost naked.

TO this pretty genus, three species of which have been sent from New South Wales, we have given the name Tetratheca, on account of the curious structure of its antheræ, each of which consists of four cells, communicating with one common tube, the excretory duct of the pollen. In the construction of this name we run counter indeed to a precept of Linnæus (Crit. Bot. p. 44), and we do so because in that instance we think him in the wrong. After objecting, with reason, to generic names too familiar in sound to each other, he is somewhat unmerciful in stigmatising almost all that have any syllables in common, and wonders at Vaillant for using the termination theca at all. The word surely in itself is unexceptionable; and as all the generic names of Vaillant constructed with it, even Tetragonotheca (which Linnæus at first retained), are now laid aside, and therefore there can be no ambiguity, we hope to be excused for adopting theca, as it so precisely suits our purpose.

Tetratheca probably belongs to M. de Jussieu's order of Ericæ, not indeed that it answers well to his characters of that order, but it is allied to some of its genera, especially Pyrola. All its species are small shrubs with red flowers (varying to white), which retain their colour when dried.

Tetratheca juncea has a small woody root, which has some appearance of that of an annual plant. The stem is much branched, even from the base; the branches alternate, long and slender, very acutely triangular, and almost winged. Leaves mostly small and not numerous, alternate, lanceolate, entire. Stipulæ none. Each branch produces a simple series of drooping flowers, in a racemose order, on simple capillary red footstalks, with a small leaf at the base of each. Calyx deeply cloven, obtuse. Petals obovate, crimson, paler on the outside, entire. Stamina equal; the filaments very short; antheræ slightly curved, with four blunt angles, and four furrows, brown, tipped with a pale simple tube, into which the four cells of the anthera open. Germen very small, obovate, compressed. Style short and simple. Capsule pendulous, obovate, compressed, pointed. Seeds two in each cell, one above the other, cylindrical, standing on a white twisted pedicle.

Every part is smooth. We have specimens of a variety with white petals, but the calyx and footstalk remain red.


1. Calyx and Footstalk. 2. Petal. 3. Stamina. 4. A Stamen magnified. 5. The same cut across. 6. Capsule. 7,7. Seeds.