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Mr. Loudon remarks that, “These holes, by admitting water, accelerate the decay of the heart-wood of the tree; but it is a mistake to suppose, as many do, that the decay originates with the wood-pecker, who gets the credit of making the holes out of sheer mischief, or for amusement; the truth being, that decay has commenced, and that he is only in search of his food, which consists of the larvæ which have already begun to eat the wood of the tree.”
Among the insects which infest the common cherry-tree are several species of the Geometridæ, including the canker-worm, (Phalana vernata,) and numerous wood-eating larvæ (Xylophagidæ.) The curculio, (Rhynchænus nenuphar,) noticed under the head of “Insects, &c.,” in our article on the domestic cultivated plum, is also known to be the cause of the warty excrescences found on the small branches of the cherry, from which circumstance, it was called by Professor Peck, Rhynchanus cerasi, the cherry-weevil. These excrescences, which serve as the residence of the larvæ, are known to be produced by the punctures made in the tree by the beetles; and, according to Peck, “the sap is diverted from its regular course, and is absorbed entirely by the bark, which is very much increased in thickness; the cuticle bursts, the swelling becomes irregular, and is formed into black lumps, with a cracked, uneven, granulated surface. The wood, besides being deprived of its nutriment, is very much compressed, and the branch above the tumour perishes.” The same remedies will apply in the present case as those recommended for the excrescences found on the domestic cultivated plum-tree.
But by far the most pernicious enemy to the common cherry-tree, is the slugfly, Blennocampa cerasi, of Harris. He describes the perfect insect, in his “Report,” as being “of a glossy black colour, except the two first pairs of legs, which are dirty yellow or clay-coloured, with blackish thighs, and the hind-legs, which are dull black, with clay-coloured knees. The wings are somewhat convex, and rumpled or uneven on the upper side, like the wings of the saw-flies generally. They are transparent, reflecting the changeable colours of the rainbow, and have a smoky tinge, forming a cloud, or broad band across the middle of the first pair; the veins are brownish. The body of the female measures rather more than one fifth of an inch in length; that of the male is smaller. In the year 1828, I observed these saw-flies, on cherry and plum-trees, on the 10th of May; but they usually appear towards the end of May or early in June. Soon afterwards some of them begin to lay their eggs, and all of them finish this business and disappear, within the space of three weeks. Their eggs are placed, singly, within little semicircular incisions through the skin of the leaf, and generally on the lower side of it. * * * * * On the fourteenth day afterwards, the eggs begin to hatch, and the young slug-worms continue to come forth from the 5th of June to the 20th of July, according as the flies have appeared early or late in the spring. At first, the slugs are white; but a slimy matter soon oozes out of their skin and covers their backs with an olive-coloured, sticky coat. They have twenty very short legs, or a pair under each segment of the body, except the fourth and the last. The largest slugs are about nine-twentieths of an inch in length, when fully grown. The head, of a dark-chesnut colour, is small, and is entirely concealed under the fore-part of the body. They are largest before, and taper behind, and in form somewhat resemble minute tadpoles. They have the faculty of swelling out the fore part of the body, and generally rest with the tail a little turned up. These disgusting slugs live mostly on the upper sides of the leaves of the pear and cherry-trees, and eat away the substance thereof, leaving only the veins and the skin beneath, untouched. Sometimes twenty or thirty of them may be seen on a single leaf; and, in the year 1797, they were so abundant in some parts of Massachusetts, that small trees were covered with them, and the foliage entirely destroyed; and even the air, by passing through the trees, became charged with a very disagreeable and sickening odour, given out by these slimy creatures. * * * * * The slug-worms come to their growth in twenty-six days, during which period they cast their skins five times. Frequently, as soon as the skin is shed, they are seen feeding upon it; but they never touch the last coat, which remains stretched out upon the leaf. After this is cast off, they no longer retain their slimy appearance, and olive colour, but have a clear yellow skin, entirely free from viscidity. They change also in form, and become proportionably longer; and their head and the marks between the rings are plainly to be seen. In a few hours after this change, they leave the trees, and, having crept, or fallen to the ground, they burrow to the depth of from one inch to three or four inches, according to the nature of the soil. By moving their body, the earth around them becomes equally pressed on all sides, and an oblong-oval cavity is thus formed, and is afterwards lined with a sticky and glossy substance, to which the grains of earth closely adhere. Within these little earthen cells or cocoons, the change of the chrysalides takes place; and, in sixteen days after the descent of the slug-worms, they finish their transformations, break open their cells, and crawl to the surface of the ground, where they appear in the fly form. These flies usually come forth between the middle of July and the first of August, and lay their eggs for a second brood of slug-worms. The latter come to their growth, and go into the ground, in September and October, and remain there till the following spring, when they are changed to flies, and leave their winter quarters. It seems that all of them, however, do not finish their transformations at this time; some are found to remain unchanged in the ground till the following year; so that, if all the slugs of the last hatch in any one year should happen to be destroyed, enough, from a former brood, would still remain in the earth, to continue the species.” Among the natural enemies to these insects, are mice, and other earth-burrowing animals, which destroy many of them in their cocoons, and it is probable that other insects and birds prey upon them, both in the larvæ and in the winged states. Professor Peck has described a minute ichneumon-fly, (Encyrtus,) which punctures the eggs of the slug-fly, and deposits in each, a single egg of its own. These minute eggs, in due time, produce little maggots, which live in the shells of the eggs of the slug-flies, devour their contents, and afterwards are changed to chrysalides, and then to flies, like the parent. Thus, by these atoms of existence, myriads of the eggs of slug-flies are rendered abortive,-an admirable illustration of the order of Providence, which prevents the earth from being overrun with one species, by appointing another race to keep them down. Ashes or quicklime, sifted or thrown on the trees infested by these slugs, has proved effectual in checking their depredations, and Mr. Haggerston's almost universal remedy, (a solution of whale-oil soap and water,) has been found to be equally effectual. The common cherry, as well as the peach-tree, sometimes suffers severely from the attacks of the borers, produced by a large copper-coloured beetle (Buprestis divaricata, Say.)
Properties and Uses. The wood of the common cherry-tree is of a reddish hue, more or less veined with darker shades, and somewhat resembles, in its general appearance, some of the ordinary kinds of mahogany. When well seasoned, its weight does not usually exceed forty-five pounds to a cubic foot. It is sufficiently tender to be easily wrought, and from the openness of its grain, it is readily coloured. In those parts of Europe where mahogany is costly, it is sometimes employed in the manufacture of chairs, the frames of mirrors, and other minor works. The fruit of the cherry, although a favourite food with most persons, has ever been found more tempting than wholesome. Pliny says, “this fruit will loosen and hurt the stomach; but when hung up and dried, has a contrary effect.” He relates that some authors have affirmed that cherries eaten · fresh from the trees, when drenched with the morning dew, and the stones being also swallowed, will purge effectually, and cure those afflicted with the gout in their feet. The hard-fleshed cherries are considered rather indigestible when eaten too freely; but the soft-fleshed kinds, such as the morellos, are esteemed sufficiently wholesome to be given in fevers, where there is a tendency to putridity. The soft-fleshed kinds are often dried, by being exposed on boards to the sun, or in an oven of moderate warmth. Ripe cherries are used for flavouring brandy; and preserves, marmalades, lozenges, and various other kinds of confectionary are manufactured from them. An oil is extracted from the kernels, which is occasionally used for emulsions, and to mix in creams, sugar-plums, etc., to impart to them the flavour of bitter almonds.
Judiciously planted in the shrubbery, the Cerasus vulgaris forms a very beautiful tree. In spring, its early white blossoms are contrasted with the sombre shades of green; and its graceful ruby and variegated balls, give a pleasing variety in summer.
( Michaux, North American Sylva. Cerasus borealis,
DE CANDOLLE, Prodromus.
| LOUDON, Arboretum Britannicum.
TORREY AND GRAY, Flora of North America.
Engravings. Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 90; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, ii., fig. 410; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Leaves oval-oblong, acuminate, membranaceous, glabrous, denticulate, and almost
in an eroded manner. Flowers on longish pedicels, and disposed nearly in a corymbose manner. Fruit nearly ovate, small; its flesh red.- De Candolle, Prodromus.
O small tree, growing to a height of twenty or thirty feet, with a trunk six or eight inches in diameter, and covered with a smooth brownish bark, which detaches itself laterally. Its leaves are from two to six inches long, and somewhat resemble those of the common almond. Its flowers put forth in May or June, and occur in small, white bunches, which give birth to a small, red, intensely-acid fruit, that arrives at maturity in July. It is described by Pursh to be agreeable to the taste, astringent in the mouth, and hence called choke cherry; but this name is ordinarily applied to another tree.
Geography, foc. The northern cherry is found in a common soil from Newfoundland to the northern parts of the Rocky Mountains, and as far south as Virginia. It was introduced into Britain in 1822, and is growing at present in Messrs. Loddiges' arboretum, and other European collections. This tree, like the paper birch, is remarkable for springing up spontaneously, in old cultivated fields, or in such parts of the forests as have been burnt over by accident or design. Of all trees of North America, no one is so nearly allied to the Cerasus vulgaris as the present species; and hence it has been recommended as a suitable stock to graft that cherry upon. The wood of this tree is exceedingly hard, fine-grained, and of a reddish hue; but the inferior size to which it usually grows, forbids its use in the mechanic arts.
LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum.
( DE CANDOLLE, Prodromus. Cerasus mahaleb,
Don, Miller's Dictionary.
| Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum.
BRITAIN AND ANGLO-AMERICA.
Derivations. Mahaleb is the Arabian name of this tree. The wood of this species is perfumed, and used by the French in cabinet-work, toys, &c., especially in the village of Ste. Lucie, whence some of the French and Italian names.
Engravings. Du Hamel, Traité des Arbres et Arbustes, v., pl. 2; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, vi., pl. 116; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Leaves cordately ovate, denticulate, glanded, curved. Flowers in leafy sub-corym
bose racemes. Fruit black, between ovate and round. - De Candolle, Prodromus.
CHE Cerasus nahaleb is a
handsome small tree, with a
white bark, and numerous
Own branches. In its natural habitat, it is seldom found above twenty feet in height; but in a state of cultivation, in a good soil, it sometimes attains double that elevation, with a trunk four feet in circumference. The leaves somewhat resemble those of the common apricot, but are of a paler green. The flowers put forth in April and May, and are succeeded by black fruit much smaller than that of the Cerasus sylvestris, very bitter to the taste, though greedily eaten by several species of birds.
Varieties. Besides a tree with variegated leaves, Mr. Loudon mentions two others :
1. C. M. FRUCTU FLAVO. Yellow-fruited Perfumed Cherry-tree. 2. C. M. LATIFOLIUM. Broad-leaved Perfumed Cherry-tree.
Geography and History. The perfumed cherry is found wild in the middle and south of France, the south of Germany, Austria, Piedmont, and in Crim Tartary; and, according to Pallas, it grows in abundance on Mount Caucasus, where it differs from the European variety, in bringing forth both flowers and leaves at the same time, and the latter in being more cordate and acuminate. The tree is very common in the mountainous districts of France, and is very generally cultivated in England for the purposes of ornament. It was introduced into the last-named country in 1714, but was known long before, as Gerard remarks that, “ the cunning French perfumers make bracelets, chains, and such like trifling toys, of the fruit, which they send to England, smeared over with some old sweet compound or other, and here sell unto our curious old ladies and gentlewomen, for rare and strange pomambers, for great sums of money."
At what period, and by whom, the Cerasus mahaleb was introduced into the United States, is uncertain. It is found in several of the American nurseries and