Imágenes de páginas

Lincolnshire. It is represented as being a most magnificent tree, fifty-nine feet high, with immense branches, spreading over a space of three hundred and five feet in circumference. The branches are supported by props, so that at a little distance, the tree appears like an immense Indian bannian. At Coombe Abbey, in Warwickshire, there is another tree of this species, which attained the height of seventy feet in one hundred years after planting, and had a trunk seven feet three inches in diameter, with an ambitus, or spread of branches, of one hundred and three feet. Sir T. Dick Lauder, speaking of horse-chesnuts in Scotland, says, "The horse-chesnuts on the lawn, which was formerly the garden of Dawick, the seat of Sir John Murray Nasmyth, Bart., a few miles from Peebles, in Tweeddale, are certainly the oldest and finest in Scotland; or, perhaps, we should say there are none equal to them in Britain. They stand twelve feet from each other; but they support a mass of foliage that appears to be but one head, which takes a beautiful form, and covers an area of ground, the diameter of which, is ninety-six feet. The larger of the two is in girt, immediately above the root, sixteen and a half feet. The smaller tree is twelve and a half feet in circumference at the base, and ten feet at three feet high." The age of these trees was estimated by him to be from one hundred and eighty to one hundred and ninety years. Mr. Loudon has recorded another tree of this species, as growing at Enfield, near London, which, in 1835, had attained the height of one hundred feet.

The largest horse-chesnut in France, and which was considered as the parent stock from which all others have been propagated in that country, formerly existed in the garden of the Temple. The second tree of this species introduced into that kingdom, was planted in the Jardin des Plantes, in 1650, and died in 1767. A section of its trunk is still preserved in the Museum of Natural History. There is a tree of this kind existing in the garden of the Tuileries, which is distinguished, even in summer, from all others in the same garden, by the profusion of flowers with which it is covered, and also by the earliness of their putting forth. It is said to unfold its leaves always a fortnight earlier than any others, which is exemplified by the following historical incident. On Napoleon's entry into Paris, on the 20th of March, 1815, after his return from the island of Elba, this tree furnished to him and his friends, foliage for their personal decoration, being the only tree in the leaf in the garden of the Tuileries.

In Germany, the horse-chesnut, after having been planted at Vienna, soon found its way to Baden, where it was planted about the end of the XVIth century, and where some of the trees are said to be still in existence.

The introduction of the common horse-chesnut into the United States probably dates back to about the middle of the XVIIth century. The tree, supposed to be the first brought to this country, is still standing on the estate of Mr. Lemuel W. Wells, of Yonkers, (formerly Phillipsburgh,) New York, and is ten feet in circumference at a yard above the ground, sixty-five feet in height, with an ambitus, or spread of branches of fifty feet. It is in a flourishing condition, and bears a profusion of fruit, from which the New York nurseries and seed-stores are annually supplied. It is said to have been planted by Frederick Philipse, the founder of Phillipsburgh, who formerly lived on the place of its present proprietor. In the vicinity of this tree there are numerous others of nearly the same magnitude, which were raised from its nuts, and from the accounts of the oldest residents of Yonkers, they have not increased materially in size within their recollection.

Poetical and Legendary Allusions. The horse-chesnut, when allowed to attain its proper shape on a lawn, has been compared by some authors to an immense "lustre or chandelier," its long racemes of flowers tapering up from its drooping foliage like light; a "giant's nosegay;" a "gigantic hyacinth;" a "Brobdignagian

lupine;" and, from the manner in which it scatters its flowers on the grass, and the comparative uselessness of its fruit and timber, it is regarded by poets as a symbol of ostentation.

In Paris, the magnificent trees in the garden at the Luxembourg have been eelebrated by Castel.

"La de marroniers les hautes avenues
S'arrondissent en voûte, et nous cachent les nues."

Soil, Situation, &c. The horse-chesnut requires a deep, free, loamy soil, and will neither attain an ample size, nor flower freely, except in a situation rather sheltered than exposed. It is always propagated by the nut, sown in autumn or spring, and covered with from two to three inches of soil. The cotyledons do not rise to the surface, as in the oak, the beech, and some other trees. "Some nurserymen," says Loudon, "cause the nuts to germinate before sowing them, in order to have an opportunity of pinching off the extremity of the radicle; by which means the plants are prevented from forming a taproot; or, at least, if a taproot is formed, it is of a much weaker description than it would otherwise be, and the number of lateral fibres is increased; all of which is favourable for transplanting. When the tree is intended to attain the largest size, in the shortest time, the nut ought to be sown where the tree is finally to remain; because the use of the taproot is mainly to descend deep into the soil, to secure a supply of water, which, in dry soils and seasons, can never be obtained in sufficient quantities by the lateral roots, which extend themselves near the surface in search of nourishment and air." This is admitted, by Selby, to be the case for a certain number of years, but he doubts whether a transplanted tree will not ultimately attain as large a size as one reared in the manner recommended above. He cites an instance of a tree at Twizell, eighteen years planted, which measured, at two feet from the ground, four feet, two inches in circumference, with a height of thirty-eight feet.

Insects. The foliage of the Esculus hippocastanum is rarely eaten by the larvæ of insects, except by those of several species of the Geometriæ, some of which indiscriminately attack every tree within their reach, and persist in their devastations, unless the qualities of the leaves are disagreeable to them in the extreme. Among the trees, in which the leaves are unpleasant to them, are the Ailantus glandulosa, Catalpa syringifolia, and Broussonetia papyrifera (Paper mulberry.)

Properties and Uses. The wood of the horse-chesnut is white and very soft, and according to Loudon, when dry, weighs from thirty-five to thirty-seven pounds to a cubic foot. It is unfit for use where much strength and durability in the open air are required; nevertheless, there are many purposes for which it is applicable, when sawn into boards; such as for flooring, lining to carts, packing-cases, &c. In France, sabots, or wooden shoes are made from it; and it is said to be used by carvers, turners, &c. Boutcher says, that it is suitable for water-pipes that are to be kept constantly under ground; and it is also recommended for this purpose by Du Hamel. The charcoal made of this species may be used in the manufacture of gunpowder; and the ashes of every part of the plant, more especially of the fruit, afford potash in considerable quantity. The bark, which is very bitter, is employed for tanning, and also for dyeing yellow; and it has been used medicinally as a substitute for Jesuit's bark. In Turkey, the nuts are ground, and mixed with horse-food, especially when the animals are broken winded; and in their crude state, they are eaten by goats, sheep, deer, and hogs. They are used in Ireland to whiten linen, and for this purpose are rasped into water, in which they are allowed to macerate for some time. The saponaceous juice, which they contain, is very useful, not only in bleaching, but in

washing linens and other stuffs. The nuts must be peeled and ground, and the flour of twenty of them is sufficient for ten quarts of water; and either linens or woollens may be washed with the infusion, without any soap, as it effectually eradicates spots of all kinds. The clothes, however, should afterwards be rinsed in clean water. The nuts, when ground into flour, and mixed in the proportion of one-third with the flour of wheat, are said to add to the strength of bookbinder's paste; and when steeped in hot water, and mixed with an equal proportion of bran, it makes a nutritious food for pigs and poultry. M. Vergaud has proposed to change the starch contained in the flour, into sugar, and afterwards employ it in distillation.

In Europe and America, the horse-chesnut can only be considered as an ornamental tree. It produces a splendid effect when in flower, either singly, in avenues, or on the margins of plantations. Gilpin objects to this tree, as being "lumpish in its form;" but in saying this, he evidently judged of the tree merely with reference to picturesque beauty, to which it has but few pretensions till it becomes very old; whereas in point of floral beauty, it is unequalled by few other trees. "To the painter the magnificence of its stature" and the richness of its drapery, especially when clothed in the beauty of its broad palmated leaves, and embroidered with its profusion of silver flowers, "scarcely atone for the exceeding regularity of its form, terminating, as it invariably does, when left to the hand of nature, in an exact parabola." And in addition to these beauties, its massive and luxuriant summit contrasts well with those of trees of a more airy character, and thus produces that breadth of light and shade so essential to landscape scenery.

[blocks in formation]

Engravings. Audubon, Birds of America, pl. lxxxviii.; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, v., pl. 51; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Fruit smooth. Corolla 4 petals, that are longer than the stamens. Leaflets 5, elliptic-oblong, tapered at both ends, and smooth, as is the petiole; axils of the nerves hairy on the under surface of the leaf.-De Candolle, Prodromus.



HE Small Buckeye is
a slender-growing tree
or shrub, varying in
height from two to


twenty feet, in its natural habitat, and sometimes thirty feet when in a state of cultivation. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate, cuneate-oblong, or oval, slightly acuminate, unequally serrulate, minutely pubescent, or nearly glabrous, except along the veins beneath. The racemes are lax, and generally with ternate flowers; the corollas are tetrapetalous, with their connivent claws of the length of the calyx; the stamens are seven, and shorter than the corolla. The flowers appear in Georgia and Carolina in March, and a month or six weeks later near Philadelphia and New York; and according to Mr. Audubon, they are scentless, and much sought after by humming-birds.

The fruit resembles that of the common horse-chesnut, but is much smaller. Varieties. The following are recognized under this form, which may be described as follows:

1. E. P. ARGUTA, P. r. arguta of Loudon. Sharp-toothed Small Buckeye. This variety was introduced into the garden of the London Horticultural Society from the nursery of M. Castros, of Bordeaux, under the name of Esculus pavia parviflora. It is said to be a handsome small tree, with dark, brownishred flowers, differing but little from the Esculus pavia. The tree in the Society's garden, attained the height of fifteen feet in ten years.

2. . P. SUBLACINIATA, P. r. sublaciniata, of Loudon. Slightly-cutleaved Small Buckeye. The leaflets of this variety are acutely serrated; in other respects it differs but little from the species.

3. Æ. P. HUMILIS, P. r. humilis of Loudon. Dwarf Small Buckeye. This is a diminutive, weak, straggling recumbent bush, only from two to three feet in height.

4. E. P. DISCOLOR. Pavia discolor of Loudon. Two-coloured-flowered Small Buckeye. The whole plant of this variety, when young, is covered with pubescence. The leaflets are often somewhat doubly-serrate, sometimes smooth, and a little shining above. The inflorescence resembles that of the Esculus flava, but the flowers are decidedly those of the Esculus pavia. They are large, showy, being yellow, white, pale, dull-red, or purple-variegated, continuing a long time expanding, and numerous, though they are but sparingly succeeded by fruit. This plant varies in height from three to ten feet, and when raised from seed, it is remarkable for its thick, fleshy, carrot-like roots, which, in free soil, penetrate perpendicularly to the depth of eight or ten feet, as was the case in the Hammersmith nursery, in England.

[ocr errors]

5. E. P. HYBRIDA, Pavia hybrida of Loudon. The leaves of this variety are clothed beneath with velvety pubescence, the petioles are smooth, and the flowers yellow. The leaves and flowers of this form bear some resemblance to those of the Esculus pavia discolor, but its flowers are more sparingly produced.

6. Æ. P. NEGLECTA, Pavia neglecta of Loudon. The leaves of this variety have rufous down on the veins on their upper sides, are smooth beneath, and rather plicate. The flowers are pale-yellow, and veined with red. This is a tree resembling the preceding variety, and, like it, is apparently a hybrid between the Esculus pavia, and Æ. pavia discolor.

7. E. P. MACROCARPA, Pavia macrocarpa of Loudon. This variety appears to be intermediate between some variety of Esculus hippocastanum and Æsculus pavia. The leaves are large, smooth on the upper surface, and shining. The flowers are nearly as large as those of the common horse-chesnut, but with the petals less spreading, and of a pale-red colour, mixed with yellow. The branches are spreading and loose; and the whole tree has an open, graceful appearance, and quite different from that compactness of form and rigidity of branches which characterize most of the larger trees of this genus.

Geography and History. The small buckeye is found in fertile valleys and on mountains, from Virginia to Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas; and is said also to be a native of Brazil and of Japan. It was introduced into Britain by Thomas Fairchild, in 1711, and since that time it has been generally cultivated as an ornamental shrub throughout Europe.

In England, at Ham House, in Essex, in 1835, it had attained the height of twenty-one feet, with an ambitus or spread of branches of thirty-two feet. At Wardour Castle, in Wiltshire, in twenty years after planting, it had arrived at a height of thirty feet. A plant of the dwarf variety was engrafted on the common horse-chesnut by Messrs. Loddiges, at Hackney, and produced a beautiful, pendulous, low tree.

In France, at Paris, in the Jardin des Plantes, a tree of this species attained the height of thirty feet in twenty-three years after planting.

In Hanover, at Schwöbber, there is a small buckeye over forty feet in height. At Philadelphia, in the garden of Mr. D. Landreth, there is a tree of this species, thirty years planted, which is twenty-five feet high, with a trunk three and a half feet in circumference.

Properties, Uses, &c. The wood of the Esculus pavia resembles that of the common horse-chesnut, but is of no particular use, thus far, in the arts. On the authority of Elliot, the bruised branches, or powdered seeds of this tree are sometimes employed to stupify fish. When the water of small ponds is impregnated with them, the fish rise to the surface almost lifeless, and may readily be

« AnteriorContinuar »