pierre laszlo

Deutzia scabra (Hydrangeaceae)

This shrub, also known as fuzzy deutzia, about 10 ft-tall, belongs to a genus comprising about 60 species, most of them Chinese in origin. The naturalists Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716) and Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828) came upon this plant in Japanese gardens during the eighteenth century. The latter named this plant after a Dutch legal expert, Jo-hann van der Deutz (1743-1784) who had supported his expeditions to various exotic lands. It was not imported into Europe until the following century, primarily for its abun-dant white flowers.
Botanists have a somewhat hermetic lexicon which is worth quoting from at some length, for its fascinating opaqueness: «shrubs stellate hairy. Branchlets opposite; buds enclosed by imbricate scales. Leaves opposite, exstipulate, subdeciduous. Inflorescences racemose, paniculate, corymbose, or cymose, rarely a solitary flower. Calyx tube adnate to ovary, campanulate, 5-lobed. Petals 5, induplicate, valvate, or imbricate. Stamens 10(-15), 2-seriate; filaments subulate, flat, or dilated and apex 2-dentate; anthers shortly stalked, subglobose. Ovary inferior, rarely subinferior, 3-5-loculed; ovules numerous, in many se-ries on fleshy placenta. Styles 3(-5), free; stigma terminal or decurrent. Fruit a capsule, subglobose, 3(-5)-valved, dehiscing loculicidally or between styles. Seeds numerous, oblong, compressed; testa membranous, reticulate, apex winged; embryo borne in middle of fleshy endosperm».
In other words, the hollow, cinnamon-colored, branches grow opposite to one another and leaves do likewise. They fall off during winter. The leaves, 4-7 cm long, are simple, lanceolated in shape and their edges are serrated, like the blade of a bread-cutting knife. «Adnate» simply means «attached to.» The flowers are grouped into panicles, i.e., as branched clusters. Five-fold symmetry obtains in each of the flowers, with five sepals, five petals, 10 stamens, five long and five short, and 3-5 styles, filaments flattened and extended into lateral teeth on either side of the anthers.
Each science thus has its own technical language. Opaque to outsiders, as this example shows — even though obviously this is not the purpose — it has many merits, above all those of precision, lack of ambiguity and terseness.