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Cercis canadensis, thirty-five feet in height, with a trunk three feet in circumfer
Soil, Situation, foc. Like most of the Leguminaceæ, this tree prefers a deep, free, sandy soil, rather rich than poor. In Britain, it will only thrive, and become a handsome tree, in sheltered situations, although it is regarded in France and Germany as more hardy than the European species. It may be propagated from seeds, which should be sown on heat, early in spring, and if carefully treated, they will come up the same season.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the Cercis canadensis, like the European species, is very hard, agreeably veined, or rather blotched or waved, with black, green, and yellow spots, on a grayish ground. When seasoned, it is susceptible of a beautiful polish, and weighs nearly fifty pounds to a cubic foot. The bark and young branches of this tree are used to dye wool of a nankin colour. The French Canadians use the flowers in salads and pickles; and, from their agreeable, acid taste, they might be fried with butter or fritters, like those of the Cercis siliquastrum, and the flower-buds and tender pods may be pickled in vinegar.
Derivations. Amygdalus is derived from the Greek, amygdale, an almond. Martinius suspects that it comes from a
axis of inflorescence. Petals and stamens arising from the calyx. Stamens, for the most part, numerous. Ovaries many, several, or solitary ; each of 1 cell, that includes, in most cases, i ovule; in some, 1 to many ovules. Style lateral or terminal. Leaves alternate, in nearly all stipulate; pinnately divided, or simple.—Dé Candolle and Lindley.
HE genus Amygdalus belongs to the same natural family as the
rose, and other trees which produce the most useful and agreeable fruits of the temperate countries of the globe. The fruit-bearing species and the rose have followed man from the earliest periods of civilization, and perhaps have been more
studied, and consequently better known, than any other ligneous plants. The medicinal properties of several of the species are remarkable, from the circumstance of their yielding prussic acid; while others produce a gum nearly allied to gum Arabic, which indicates a degree of affinity between the family to which they belong, and the order Leguminaceæ. “There are two characteristics of this order," says Loudon, “ with reference to its cultivation, which are of great importance to the gardener. The first is, the liability of almost all the species to sport, and produce varieties differing, in many cases, more from one another, than they differ from other species; and the second is, that they are remarkably subject to the attacks of insects and diseases."
Modern botanists have thought proper to divide this genus, on account of certain technical distinctions in the fruit, which will probably be rejected, when, in consequence of extended experience and an improved knowledge of vegetable physiology, a more enlarged view shall be taken of the subject of establishing genera and species. The almond was included by Linnæus in the same genus with the peach, of which it is doubtless, the parent, as trees have been found with almonds in a state of transition to peaches. The nectarine he only considered as a variety of the peach, and numerous instances are on record of both fruits growing upon the same tree, even on the same branch, and one case has occurred of a single fruit partaking of the nature of both.
LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum.
DE CANDOLLE, Prodromus.
Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum.
BRITAIN AND ANGLO-AMERICA. Engrarings. Du Hamel, Traité des Arbres et Arbustes, iv., pl. 29; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, vi., pl. 105; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Fruit a drupe ; compressed and rather egg-shaped ; the nut 2-ovuled, 1—2-seeded. Style terminal. Calyx deciduous, of a bell-shape; flowers solitary. Leaves feather-nerved, undivided, oblong-lanceolate, serrate, with the lower serratures, or the petioles glanded. Stipules not attached to the petiole.
“The hope, in dreams of a happier hour,
That alights on misery's brow,
on the plum, in the central parts of Europe and North America, often attains a height of twenty or thirty feet, with a trunk eight or ten inches in diameter; and even in the neighbourhood of Paris, it is met with of an elevation of forty feet, and in Spain, Italy, and the south of France, it grows still higher. It is neither a handsome-shaped tree, nor of long duration, its head being wide and spreading; but from being open, the shoots are clothed with oblong-lanceolate leaves, and pale, rose-coloured blossom-buds, to a great length, so that when the latter expand, the branches appear to be wholly covered with them. It is commonly one of the first among hardy trees to display its blossoms, which generally put forth in Barbary in January; at Smyrna, in February; near London, in March; in Germany and New York, the latter part of April; and at Christiania, in Norway, not till the beginning of June. Its contemporary flowering trees, in Britain, are the sloe, the apricot, the Cerasus pseudo-cerasus, and the myrobalan plum (Prunus domestica myrobalana.) The blossoms of all these trees appear before the leaves; and hence they produce the finest effect when planted among evergreens. It has been observed that, though vernal frosts often destroy the germs of the fruit, they do not injure the beauty of the flowers, but even increase their splendour. An avenue of almond-trees, quite hoary with frost, in the evening, will be of a brilliant rosecolour the following morning, and will often retain its beauty for more than a month, the flowers never falling off till the trees are covered with verdure. The fruit is not so attractive as that of the peach; because, instead of preserving the same delicious pulp, its pericarp shrivels as it ripens, and becomes a horny kind of husk, which opens of its own accord, at the end of maturity. The kernel of some varieties of the almond is not defended by so thick a shell as that of the peach and nectarine, for it is often so tender that the nuts break, when shaken together. The chief distinction between these fruits is, that the almond has a stone, covered with a coriaceous, dry, hairy covering, while that of the peach and nectarine is developed in a rich, juicy pulp, surrounded by a smooth or downy skin.
Varieties. In a wild state, the common almond is sometimes found with bitter kernels, and at other times sweet; in a similar manner as the Grammont oak, (Quercus hispanica,) which, in Spain, generally bears sweet, edible acorns, but sometimes produces only such as are bitter. For this reason we describe the bitter and sweet almond under one head, and consider them only as varieties of the same species, which are as follows:
1. A. C. AMARA, De Candolle. Bitler-kerneled Common Almond-tree ; Amandier amer, of the French; and Gemeiner Mandelbaum, of the Germans. The flowers of this variety are large. Petals pale pink, with a tinge of rose-colour at the base. Styles nearly as long as the stamens, and tomentose in the lower part. Seeds bitter. There are two forms of the bitter almond; one with a hard shell, and the other with a brittle one. The tree is cultivated in the south of Europe for its fruit, which is preferred, for some purposes in medicine and domestic economy, to that of the sweet almond, particularly for giving a flavour, and for stocks for grafting the other varieties upon, as well as the peach, apricot, and even the plum.
2. A. C. DULCIS, De Candolle. Sweet-kerneled Common Almond-tree; Amandier à petits fruits, Amande douce, of the French; and Süsser Mandelbaum, of the Germans. The leaves of this variety are of a grayish-green. The flowers put forth before the leaves; styles much longer than the stamens; fruit ovatecompressed, acuminate; shell hard; kernel sweet-flavoured. It is cultivated in the south of Europe, being generally propagated by grafting standard high on the bitter almond, or on any strong-growing seedling almonds, in order to ensure the sweetness of its fruit.
3. A. C. MACROCARPA, De Candolle. Large-fruited Common Almond-tree; Amandier à gros fruits. Amandier des dames, of the French. The leaves of this variety are broad, acuminate, and slightly gray. The peduncles short, and turgid; flowers of a very pale rose-colour, large, and put forth before the leaves; petals broadly obcordate, waved; fruit large, umbilicate at the base, acuminate at the tip; shell hard, and kernel always sweet. There are two sub-varieties, one with the fruit rather smaller, commonly called, in France, amandier sultane; and the other, with fruit still smaller, called there amandier pistache. The kernels of both of these are considered remarkably delicate, and are preferred for the table. The tree of this variety is large and vigorous, of rapid growth, somewhat fastigiate, and is propagated by grafting on the common species, or on any freegrowing variety of plum. From the magnitude and beauty of its flowers, which are produced earlier than those of any other kind, it is preferred to all others for the purposes of ornament.
4. A. C. PERSICÖIDES, De Candolle. Peach-like-leaved Common Almond-tree; Amandier-pêcher, of the French. The leaves of this variety greatly resemble those of the peach-tree. Fruit ovate, obtuse, with a slightly succulent husk; shell of a dark, yellowish colour; and the kernel sweet-flavoured. Du Hamel states that its fruits vary upon the same branch, from ovate, obtuse, with the husk rather fleshy, to ovate, compressed, acuminate, and the husk dry. It is cultivated in the south of Europe for its fruit. Knight considered the Tuberes of Pliny, as swollen almonds of this variety, having raised a similar one himself, by dusting the stigma of the almond with the pollen of the peach, which produced a tolerably good fruit.
5. A. C. FRAGILIS, De Candolle. Brittle-shelled Common Almond-tree; Amandier à coque tendre, Amandier à coque molle, of the French. The leaves of this variety are short; the petioles thick. The flowers protude at the same time as the leaves, are of a pale rose-colour, with broad, deeply-emarginate petals. The fruit is acuminate, shell soft, and kernel sweet-flavoured. Cultivated for its fruit.
6. A. C. FLORE PLENO, Baumann. Double-flowered Common Almond-tree. 7. A. C. FOLIIS VARIEGATIS, Baumann. Variegated-leaved Common Almond-tree.
The almond, considered as a fruit-tree, has given rise to some other varieties, which will be found treated at length in the Nouveau Du Hamel," and the “Nouveau Cours d'Agriculture," published in France.
Geography and History. The Amygdalus communis is indigenous to Syria and northern Africa, and has become naturalized in the south of Europe, Madeira, the Azores, and the Canary Islands, and is cultivated for ornament in Britain, North America, and according to Mr. Royle, in the mountainous parts of India, in Asia.
The beauty of this species, its flowering at a period when most other trees appear scarcely to have escaped from the icy chains of winter, and the extraordinary profusion of its flowers, doubtless attracted the early attention of aboriginal man. The first mention of the almond is found in “Holy Writ,” when Moses, to ascertain from which of the twelve tribes to choose the high priest, put twelve rods into the tabernacle, and found the following day, the almond rod, which represented the tribe of Levi, covered with leaves and blossoms.
*****"And, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds."
NUMBERS xvii. S.
The almond is also mentioned in that sacred book as one of the choice fruits of Canaan. It was noticed by Pliny, as well as by other early Roman authors. He calls a variety of it Tuberes, which Mr. Knight considers to be the swollen or peach almond (A. c. persicöides.) In Rome, in the time of Cato, the fruit of this species was called “Greek nuts." Pownall, in his "Roman Provinces,” states that the almond was brought from Greece to Marseilles, in the Middle Age, by the Phocæan colonists. Faulkner, in his “Kensington," says that the fruit came from the east, and was introduced into Britain in 1570. According to other accounts, it was first brought into that country in 1548. Turner, and also Gerard have treated of this tree, the latter of whom observes, " That though it is a tree of hot regions, yet we have them in our London gardens and orchards in great plenty, flowering betimes with the peach, and ripening their fruit in August." It is at present in very general cultivation in England, chiefly for its flowers; and in middle and southern Europe, northern Africa, the Canaries, and a part of Asia, for its fruit.
This species, and several of the varieties, were introduced by the late William Prince, of Flushing, New York, previous to 1793, and they are cultivated both for ornament and their fruit in various states of the union.
Poetical and Mythological Allusions. The following is the origin assigned by Grecian mythology to this tree, as given by Mr. Loudon, in his " Arboretum :" — "Demophoon, son of Theseus, returning from Troy, was cast by a tempest on the coast of Thrace, where he was most hospitably received by the beautiful