Blackberry Lily – Flowers

(Gemmingia Chinensis) Iris family (Pardanthus Chinensis of Gray)

Flowers—Deep orange color, speckled irregularly with crimson and purple within (Pardos = leopard; anthos = flower); borne in terminal, forked clusters. Perianth of 6 oblong, petal-like, spreading divisions; 6 stamens with linear anthers; style thickest above, with 3 branches. Stem: 1 1/2 to 4 ft. tall, leafy. Leaves: Like the iris; erect, folded blades, 8 to 10 in. long. Fruit: Resembling a blackberry; an erect mass of round, black, fleshy seeds, at first concealed in a fig-shaped capsule, whose 3 valves curve backward, and finally drop off.

Preferred Habitat—Roadsides and hills.

Flowering Season—June—July.

Distribution—Connecticut to Georgia, westward to Indiana and Missouri.

How many beautiful foreign flowers, commonly grown in our gardens here, might soon become naturalized Americans were we only generous enough to lift a few plants, scatter a few seeds over our fences into the fields and roadsides—to raise the bars of their prison, as it were, and let them free! Many have run away, to be sure. Once across the wide Atlantic, or wider Pacific, their passage paid (not sneaking in among the ballast like the more fortunate weeds), some are doomed to stay in prim, rigidly cultivated flower beds forever; others, only until a chance to bolt for freedom presents itself, and away they go. Lucky are they if every flower they produce is not picked before a single seed can be set.

This blackberry lily of gorgeous hue originally came from China. Escaping from gardens here and there, it was first re-ported as a wild flower at East Rock, Connecticut; other groups of vagabonds were met marching along the roadsides on Long Island; near Suffern, New York; then farther southward and westward, until it has already attained a very respectable range. Every plant has some good device for sending its offspring away from home to found new colonies, if man would but let it alone. Better still, give the eager travellers a lift!