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THE CAROLINIAN CHERRY-TREE.
Michaux, North American Sylva.
Engravings Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 89; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, ii., fig. 423, and the figures
Specific Characters. Evergreen. Leaves, with the petioles short; and the disk lanceolate-oblong, mucro
nate, even, rather coriaceous, mostly entire. Flowers densely disposed in axillary racemes, that are shorter than the leaves. Fruit nearly globose, mucronate.- De Candolle, Prodromus.
itat, usually attains a height of twenty to fifty feet, and ramifies at a short distance from the ground, forming a tufted head. The bark of the trunk is of a dun colour, and is commonly without furrows or cracks. The leaves are smooth and shining on their upper surfaces, and are about three inches long. The flowers are white, and numerous, being arranged in little bunches, from one inch to an inch and a half long, which spring from the axils of the leaves, in the month of March or April. The fruit, which is oval, and nearly black, consists of a soft stone, surrounded by a small quantity of green, inedible pulp. It remains upon the branches during the greater part of the second year, so that the tree is laden, at the same time, both with flowers and fruit.
Geography and History. The Cerasus caroliniana appears to be principally confined to the Bahamas, and the islands along the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. On the main land, it is seldom found growing wild, even at a distance of eight or ten miles from the sea. It was first made known to Europe by Catesby, who sent seeds to Miller in 1759, under the name of "bastard mahogany.” The largest recorded specimen in Britain, is at Swallow field, in Hampshire, which, in 1833, formed a shrub ten feet in height, with a head twelve feet in diameter.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the Carolinian cherry is fine-grained, and of a roseate hue; but the scarcity, and inferior size of the tree, forbids its use in the mechanic arts. The bark of the roots possesses a strong prussic odour; and from it, Michaux observes, a fragrant spirituous liquor may be obtained. The leaves, according to Elliot, are very poisonous, frequently destroying cattle that are tempted to feed freely upon them, in spring. Its flowers are more sought after by bees than all others of the regions where it abounds.
And the tree may be considered as one of the most beautiful vegetable productions of the south, and is generally there selected by the inhabitants, to plant near their dwellings, not only on this account, but because it grows with rapidity, and affords an impenetrable shade. It may be propagated from seeds, and it has been suggested, that it would succeed if engrafted upon the Portugal laurel (Cerasus lusitanica.) It requires a deep, free, dry soil, and a sheltered situation.
Genus CRATÆGUS, Lindl.
BRITAIN AND ANGLO-AMERICA.
bony shells, each including 1 seed. Leaves angled or toothed ; in most cases, deciduous. Flowers in terminal corymbs.-Loudon, Arboretum.
viewing the various genera of hardy ligneous plants, cultivated in the gardens and shrubberies of Europe and America, not one, taken as a whole, can be compared with that of the Cratægus. It consists of small, spiny shrubs or low trees, mostly natives of Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and of North America. All the
species flower and fruit freely, their wood is hard and durable, and the plants are of considerable longevity. They may all be trained, at the pleasure of the cultivator, either as small, handsome, exceedingly picturesque trees, or as beautiful gardenesque shrubs. Their mode of growth is orderly, neat, and characteristic, being neither so slow as to convey the idea of want of vigour, nor so rapid and robust as to be considered as coarse and rambling. Their leaves are remarkably neatly cut, and finely tufted; but are subject to considerable variation in almost every species, particularly when young. The flowers, in some kinds, appear in masses so abundant, as almost to cover the entire plant; and the fruit is produced in as great abundance as the flowers. The colour of the blossoms is generally white, more or less fragrant, and in some cases, as in the double-flowered hawthorn, as they die off, are of a very fine pink. The fruit, which is usually red, and sometimes yellow, black, or green, including many varieties of shade, varies in size, from the smallness of a grain of mustard seed, as in the Cratægus spathulata, to the bigness of a large golden pippin, as in the Cratægus mexicana. The fruit of several species, such as that of the Cratægus azarolus, aronia, odoratissima, æstivalis, and tanacetifolia, is agreeable to the palate; and that of all the species is greedily devoured by singing birds. All the species may be propagated from seeds, by grafting, or inoculation, and will grow on any soil that is tolerably dry; but they will not grow vigorously in a soil that is not deep and free, and rich, rather than poor. Whether employed as small trees, or as shrubs, they are all admirably adapted for planting grounds of limited extent; and especially for small gardens in the neighbourhood of cities and large towns. Finally, were a man to be exiled to an estate without a single shrub or tree, with permission to choose only one genus of ligneous plants, to form all his plantations, shrubberies, orchards, and flower-gardens, it is probable that he could not find a genus that would afford him so many resources as that of the Cratægus.*
* See Loudon's Arboretum Britannicum, ii., p. 814.
It appears that this genus did not attract much attention in Britain until the commencement of the present century; since which period, according to Mr. Loudon, the number of sorts has been more than doubled, chiefly through the exertions of the London Horticultural Society, and Messrs. Loddiges, of Hackney. At least eighty well-marked species and varieties exist in their collections, and about the same number at Somerford Hall, in Staffordshire, made by General Monckton, and at the seat of Frederick Bourne, Esquire, at Terenure, near Dublin. The best collections in Scotland are in the Edinburgh botanic garden, and in Lawson's nursery. The greatest number of species in one garden, in France, is said to be in the Pepinière de Luxembourg. Good collections are also found in the nurseries of MM. Audibert, at Tarascon; and of MM. Baumann, at Bollwyller. The best collection in Belgium is at Humbeque, near Brussels; and the finest in Germany are those in the Floetbeck nurseries, at Hamburg, and in the Göttingen botanic garden. Collections have also been formed in the botanic garden at Warsaw, and in the arboretum of Count Wodzicki, at Niedzweidz, nearCracow, in Poland ; and at the imperial garden of Odessa, in Russia. Among the American nurseries and collections, the finest specimens are to be found in the Bartram botanic garden, and at the Woodlands cemetery, near Philadelphia.
It is to be regretted that our limits prevent us from describing all the species of this genus at length; we therefore confine ourselves to a brief notice of those which are the most valuable for hedges, and the purposes of ornament; and for more detailed information concerning this interesting family of low trees, we would refer the reader to Loudon's "Arboretum Britannicum.'
Under the name of hawthorns may be comprehended the numerous varieties of the Cratægus oxycantha, and the races nearly allied to it. They have all deeplylobed, rather glossy leaves, with but few hairs, fragrant flowers, and small, shining fruit or haws. Thirty seet is not an unusual height for a tree to attain, and fine specimens exist, in England, of an elevation of forty or fifty feet. The flowers of some varieties are double, in others bright-crimson, while the fruit in some is yellow, and in others black. "The hawthorn," says Lauder, "is not only an interesting object by itself, but produces a most interesting combination, or contrast, as things may be, when grouped with other trees. We have seen it hanging over rocks, with deep shadows under its foliage; or shooting from their sides in the most fantastic forms, as if to gaze at its image in the deep pool below. We have seen it contrasting its tender green, and its delicate leaves, with the brighter and deeper masses of the holly and the alder. We have seen it growing under the shelter, though not in the shade, of some stately oak; embodying the idea of beauty protected by strength. Our eyes have often caught the motion of the busy mill-wheel, over which its blossoms were clustering. We have seen it growing grandly on the green of the village school, the great object of general attraction to the young urchins, who played in idle groups about its roots; and, perhaps, the only thing remaining to be recognized, when the school-boy returns as a man. We have seen its aged boughs overshadowing one half of some peaceful woodland cottage; its foliage half concealing the windows, whence the sounds of happy content and cheerful mirth came forth. We know that lively season,
When the milkmaid singeth blythe,
and with these, and a thousand such associations as these, we cannot but feel emotions of no ordinary nature when we behold this beautiful tree."
Very nearly allied to the true hawthorns are the oriental thorns, which, with the exception of the various-leaved species, (Cratægus heterophylla,) have their leaves deeply cut, and so closely covered with hairs, as to have a dull-gray, or hoary aspect. They are less graceful in their mode of growth, some of them having a round formal head; but their flowers are larger, and even more fragrant, and their large fruit renders them striking objects in autumn. The species most worthy of culture among this group, are the azarole, (C. azarolus) distinguished for its globose, scarlet fruit, which is eaten in Italy; the sweetscented thorn, (C. odoratissima,) with its large, coral-red fruit; the tansy-leaved thorn, (C. tanacetifolia,) known by its globose, yellowish-green fruit; and the aronia thorn, (C. aronia,) celebrated for its light, orange-coloured fruit, which is sold in the markets of Montpellier, in France, under the name of Pommettes à deur closes.
The American thorns are species with leaves but little lobed, usually broad, shining, unequally toothed, often having exceedingly long spines, and having fruit of an intermediate size. They are not regarded as quite so handsome as the species of the preceding groups; but the following, nevertheless, have sufficiently ornamental features, to be well worthy of cultivation :—The cock-spur thorn, (Cratægus crus-galli,) and several of its varieties; the dotted-fruited thorn (C. punctata); the Washington or heart-leaved thorn (C. cordata); Douglas' thorn, (C. douglasii,) distinguished for its dark, handsome leaves and fruit; and the small-fruited thorn, (C. microcarpa,) with graceful, pendulous shoots, and very small, beautiful vermilion-coloured fruit.
Lastly, the evergreen thorns, including the Mexican thorn, (Cratægus mexicana,) and the fiery-fruited thorn (C. pyracantha.) The former is a small tree, with lance-shaped, bright-green leaves, and large, round, yellow fruit; and the latter is an inhabitant of rocks and wild places in the south of Europe, and Caucasus, and has long been cultivated for its flame-coloured berries, which remain upon the plant during most of the winter.