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Unicorn Plant

racemes, leaves and black

UNICORN PLANT, one of the popular names of plants of the genus Martynia, glan dular, pubescent and fetid herbs, natives of America. They have irregular funnel form corollas, with oblique tubes, and limbs which are slightly two-lipped. The flowers are vel vety, yellowish-white and purple-mottled, and borne in racemes on a decumbent stem possibly two feet long in the devil's horns (M. louis iana), common in the southwestern United States, and occasionally escaped from gardens. The leaves vary from ovate to orbicular, some times undulate at the edges, and the fruits are four-celled, four to five inches long, oblong, and prolonged into a curved point much longer than the body. At maturity the rather fleshy outer green layer of the fruit disappears, and leaves the woody part of the pods, which ulti mately splits into two valves, that are very tough and black, and sometimes as much as 13 inches long. These tapering horns are moistened and split by the Indian women of the Southwest, who weave them into their bas kets, as the black element necessary in their color-scheme of decoration. The plant itself

often serves as a motif for the design.

a graceful smooth plant (Chanurlirium of the bunch-flower family. It has a tuft of radical spattilate foliage and narrow stem-leaves, The flowers . are small and white, with a perianth of six seg ments, and are direcious, in long racemes. The staminate racemes, nodding at first, eventu ally stand straight; fertile ones are always erect. The fertile plants are sometimes three feet high. The tuberous rootstocks are bitter, i and an infusion of them is a popular tonic and and is said to be a large ingredient of certain patent medicines. One of the indus tries of the mountaineers of the southern Alle ghanies is that of digging these roots. This Chantcrlirium is also known as devil's bit, or blazing star. The latter name being more gen erally and correctly applied to the stargrass (Aletris farinosa), which is a similar plant, having a bitter tuberous rhizome.