Aspidistra

(Greek, a small, round shield; referring, probably, to the shape of the stigma). Liliaceae. A popular florists' plant, grown for its stiff, shining, beautiful foliage, and still more interesting for it's remarkable flowers, which are inconspicuous because borne close to the ground. The casual observer never suspects that Aspidistra is a liliaceous plant. The parts of the flower in monocotyledons are typically in 3's. The genus Aspidistra is considered abnormal, as usually having its parts in 4's. This tetramerous state (which is here considered the normal one, and described below) is pictured in B.M. 2499, but the species was first described upon a trimerous state and pictured in B.R. 628. In Aspidistra lurida the trimerous state must be regarded as an exceptional reversion: in Aspidistra typica, B.M. 7484, the trimerous state is thought to be constant. Of all plants that are rented for the temporary decoration of public halls, Aspidistra lurida is one of the greatest favorites, as it stands much abuse, such as dust, dry air, and lack of water and light. It is, however, naturally fond of water, and grows freely on the margins of ponds or streams, especially south. In rich soil the variegation often disappears altogether until the plants begin to starve, hence a compost of nearly half sand is desirable. The best method of propagation is by means of division in spring, before active growth begins, as the young leaves are not then disfigured.