« AnteriorContinuar »
many parts of that country, milk-pails are made of thin boards, sawed lengthwise out of this tree, by rolling them into hollow cylinders, and then affixing a bottom to each. From the sonorous properties of the timber of the ash, combined with strength and elasticity, it is preferred by watchmen, for staves, to any other wood. The roots and knotty parts of the trunk of this tree are in demand by cabinet-makers, on account of the curious dark figures formed by their veins, which make a singular appearance when wrought and polished. There are also certain knotty excrescences in the ash, called brusca and mollusca, which, when cut and polished, are remarkably beautiful. Evelyn remarks in his "Sylva," that "some ash is so curiously cambleted and veined, that skilful cabinet-makers prize it equally with ebony, and call it green ebony.” The ash makes excellent fuel, burning, even when newly cut, with very little smoke; and it is said to be the best of all woods for smoke-drying herrings. Few other timber trees in England become useful so soon after planting, it being fit for walking-canes at four or five years' growth; and for handles to spades and other implements, at nine or ten years of age. “An ash pole," observes Nicol, “ three inches in diameter, is as valuable and durable, for any purpose to which it may be applied, as the timber of the largest tree.” It is particularly valuable for hoppoles, hoops, crates, handles to baskets, rods for training plants, forming bowers, for light hurdles, and for wattling fences. In Staffordshire, in the neighbourhood of potteries, the ash is cultivated to a great extent, and cut every five or six years for crate-wood. In Kent, and in various places in the neighbourhood of London, the most profitable application of the young ash is for walking-canes, plant-rods, hoops, and hop-poles. For the latter purpose, coppice-woods are cut over every twelve or fourteen years, according to the nature of the soil; and, for the former purposes, every five or seven years. The ashes of the branches and shoots of this tree afford a very good potash. The bark is used for tanning nets and calf-skins. With the sulphate of iron, it imparts a green or greenish-black; with the salts of alum, a yellow; and with the acetate of copper, a clear olivegreen colour.
In many parts of continental Europe, the ash is formed into hedges, and its leaves serve for feeding cattle in autumn, winter, and spring. The leaves and shoots, eaten by cows, are said to give the milk and butter a rank taste; but this does not appear to have been considered a great evil by the Romans, as they recommend the leaves of this tree for fodder next to those of the elm; and Mr. Sydney, of Cowpen, near Morpeth, in Northumberlandshire, who lives in a country where the ash is more abundant than any other tree, says, in a communication to Mr. Loudon, that, “The statement made by several writers, that butter made from the milk of cows which have eaten ash leaves has a disagreeable taste, is certainly not founded in fact.” Medicinally, the leaves, bark, seeds, and wood of this tree, are sudorific, diuretic, and febrifugal; the bark having acquired the name of the "cinchona of Europe. The Arabian, as well as the Greek and Roman physicians, highly extolled the medicinal virtues of the seed, which, it is said, is good for the dropsy, stone, and many other diseases. M. De Perthuis states thai the sap of the ash is an excellent remedy for the gangrene. For this purpose
it is extracted from the leaves by maceration; and from the green wood by putting one end of a branch or truncheon into the fire, and gathering the sap in a spoon as it oozes out from the other end. A decoction of the bark, or of the leaves, has been used as a tonic; and an infusion of the leaves as an aperient, and as a purgative. They have also been employed in England in adulterating tea. The ash keys, which have an aromatic, though rather bitter flavour, were formerly gathered in a green state, and pickled with salt and vinegar, to be sent to the table as a sauce, or, as Evelyn expresses it, "as a delicate salading.” In Siberia, the keys are infused in the water used for drinking, to give it what is there considered an agreeable flavour. The leaves
and bark of the Fraxinus e. heterophylla, in that country, distil a manna, a very gentle purgative, considerably used in materia medica, as well as in the veterinary art. This manna, when freshly gathered, serves as a good substitute for sugar. From the ash, as before observed, are obtained the cantharides of the shops, commonly known by the name of Spanish flies.
This tree, with reference to its picturesque beauties, is characterized by that beautiful writer, Bernard Gilpin, in the following manner :-" The ash generally carries its principal stem higher than the oak, and rises in an easy, flowing line; but its chief beauty consists in the lightness of its whole appearance. Its branches, at first, keep close to the trunk, and form acute angles with it; but as they begin to lengthen, they generally take an easy sweep; and the looseness of the leaves corresponding with the lightness of the spray, the whole forms an elegant depending foliage. Nothing can have a better effect than an old ash hanging from the corner of a wood, and bringing off the heaviness of the other foliage with its loose pendent branches; and yet, in some soils, I have seen the ash lose much of its beauty in the decline of age. Its foliage becomes rare and meagre; and its branches, instead of hanging loosely, often start away in disagreeable forms. In short, the ash often loses that grandeur and beauty in old age which the generality of trees, and particularly the oak, preserve till a late period of their existence. The ash also, on another account, falls under the displeasure of the picturesque eye. Its leaf is much tenderer than that of the oak, and sooner receives impression from the winds and frost. Instead of contributing its tint, therefore, in the wane of the year, among the many-coloured offspring of the woods, it shrinks from the blast, drops its leaf, and, in every scene where it predominates, leaves wide blanks of desolated boughs, amidst foliage yet fresh and verdant. Before its decay, we sometimes see its leaf tinged with a fine yellow, well contrasted with the neighbouring greens. But this is one of nature's casual beauties; much oftener, its leaf decays in a dark, muddy, unpleasing tint; and yet, sometimes, notwithstanding this early loss of its foliage, we see the ash, in a sheltered situation, when the rains have been abundant, and the season mild, retain its green, when the oak and the elm in its neighbourhood have put on their autumnal attire." And the ash is no less beautifully characterized by Strutt, in his "Sylva Britannica," " waving its slender branches over some precipice which just affords it soil sufficient for its footing, or springing between crevices of rock; a happy emblem of the hardy spirit which will not be subdued by fortune's scantiness. It is likewise a lovely object by the side of some crystal stream, in which it views its elegant pendent foliage, bending, Narcissus-like, over its own charms.”
THE AMERICAN ASH-TREE.
WILLDENOW, Linnæi Species Plantarum.
Derirations. This species is called Frêne blanc or White Ash, from the superior whiteness of its wood, over every other species of the genus.
Engrarings. Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 118; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, ii., fig. 1055, and vi., pl. 209; and
HE Fraxinus ameri-
rapidity of its growth, and the beauty of its foliage, is one of the most interesting among American trees. In favourable situations, it sometimes attains the height of eighty feet, with a trunk three feet in diameter, and often is undivided for more than half of its length. The bark is deeply furrowed, with the ridges crossing each other in such a manner, as to give the spaces between, the shape of a lozenge, or what is usually called diamond form. When grown in an open field or lawn, the branches diverge from the central stem, in a double curve, like those of a chandelier, diminishing in length, with great regularity as they proceed upwards. The twigs are thick, and do not taper to a point, but end abruptly, in spring, with a large terminal bud. The shoots of the first two years" growth are of a bluish-gray colour, and are perfectly smooth. The buds, which are intensely bitter, are large and broad, and are of a pale-brown colour, by which latter circumstance this tree is easily distinguished from the European 'species. The leaves are from twelve to fourteen inches long, opposite, and composed of three or four pairs of leaflets, surmounted by an odd one. They are borne on short petiolules, are three or four inches long, about two inches broad, oval, acuminate, rarely denticulated, of a delicate texture, with an undulated surface. Early in the spring, they are covered with a light down, which gradually disappears, and at the approach of summer, they are perfectly smooth, of a light-green colour above, and whitish beneath. This difference in the colour of the surfaces of the leaflets is peculiar to this species, from which circumstance, it has been called by some botanists, Fraxinus discolor. The flowers, which put forth in the month of May, are of a light-green colour, and are succeeded by keys about an inch and a half in length, cylindrical near the base, and gradually flattened into a wing-like form, with their extremities slightly notched. They are usually united in bunches, four or five inches long, and are ripe early in autumn.
Varieties. For reasons stated in our remarks at the commencement of this genus, we have considered all the alleged species of the American ash, only as varieties, which will be found to be no more numerous than those of the European species; and not half so much so as those of the Quercus cerris, ilex, and other species of oak, of which very little notice is taken, because they cannot be readily propagated by grafting. The variations in the American ash may be characterized as follows; but those who differ from us in opinion will find no difficulty in recognizing their names as given by Michaux, Loudon, and others, and will thus be enabled to know under what head they are described in the works of these authors :
1. F. A. LATIFOLIA, Loudon. Broad-leaved American Ash, having broader leaves than the species.
2. F. A. PUBESCENS. Pubescent American Ash; Fraxinus tomentosa, of Michaux; Frarinus pubescens, of Don, Loudon, and others; Frêne pubescent, Frêne rouge, of the French; Red Ash, of the Anglo-Americans. This variety is a beautiful tree, sometimes attaining a height of sixty feet, with a trunk fifteen or eighteen inches in diameter. The bark of the trunk is of a deep-brown; and the wood, which is of a reddish hue, is somewhat harder, but less elastic, than that of the white ash, and is applied to similar uses in the arts. It is inferior to that tree, both in size, and in the rapidity of its growth; the length of the annual shoots, and the distances between the buds being only about one half as great. The leaves are from twelve to fifteen inches long, and are composed of three or four pairs of very acuminate leaflets, terminated by an
The lower surface of the leaflets, as well as the shoots of the same season, are covered with a thick down, which, on insulated trees, at the approach of autumn, becomes red, whence, probably, is derived the name of the tree; but by others it is thought to be derived from the reddish colour of its wood. The flowers, which put forth in May, are succeeded by samaræ similar in form and arrangement to those of the white ash, but differing from them in being not quite so long, and in having a short mucro at the apex. This variety is most abundant in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia; where it prefers swamps and places frequently inundated, or liable to be covered with water by copious rains. In these situations, it is accompanied by the shell-bark hickory, (Carya alba) bitter-nut hickory, (Carya amara,) swamp white oak, (Quercus prinus discolor,) red maple, (Acer rubrum) sweet gum, (Liquidambar styraciflua,) and the tupelo-tree (Nyssa biflora.) This variety was introduced into Britain in 1811, where it can only be considered as an ornamental tree.
3. F. A. SUB-PUBESCENS. Slightly-pubescent American Ash, having its leaflets petiolate, elliptic-oblong, acuminated, sharply serrated, downy beneath, with the common petioles glabrous.
4. F. A. SAMBUCIFOLIA. Elder-leaved American Ash; Fraxinus sambucifolia, of Michaux, Don, Loudon, and others; Frêne à feuilles de sureau, Frêne noir, of the French; Black Ash, Brown Ash, Water Ash, of the Anglo-Americans. This tree, in favourable situations, frequently attains a height of seventy or eighty feet, with a trunk from two feet to two feet and a half in diameter. It is easily distinguished from the white ash by its bark, which is more inclined to a yellowish cast, is smoother, with the furrows, in old trees, parallel and perpendicular, ofteri infested with bunches of moss, and may, in some degree, be peeled off in small thin plates, or laminæ. It may also be distinguished by its buds, which are of a deep-blue, or nearly black, and by the colour of its heart-wood, which is of a fine bistre-brown. The young shoots are of a bright-green, beset with black dots, which disappear as the season advances. The leaves at their unfolding are accompanied by stipulæ which fall after two or three weeks, are from twelve to fifteen inches long, when fully developed, and are composed of three or four pairs of leaflets, with an odd one. The leaflets are sessile, oval-acuminate, denticulated, of a deep-green colour, smooth on the upper surface, and coated with a reddish down upon the main ribs, beneath. When bruised, they emit an odour like that of the leaves of the elder. This variety is among the last trees which put forth in spring, and the earliest that lose their leaves in autumn. The very first hard frost that comes, not only causes its leaves to fade and become yellow, as those of the other trees, but blackening and shrivelling them up, so that they fall in showers, with the least breath of wind. It is often completely denuded, in the northern parts of the United States by the 20th of September. The flowers, which put forth in May or June, are succeeded by flat samaræ or keys, disposed in bunches four or five inches long, that are nearly as broad at the base as at the summit. This variety is found chiefly in the middle and northern parts of the United States, and also abounds in the British colonies of North America, particularly in the forests of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where it is generally found in a moist soil, or one that is exposed to inundations, and is usually accompanied by the red maple, (Acer rubrum,) yellow birch, (Betula excelsa,) black spruce, (Abies nigra,) and the American arbor vitæ (Thuja occidentalis.) In the middle states of the union, this tree associates with the Fraxinus a. pubescens, and the Acer rubrum. Its wood is tougher and more elastic than that of the white ash, but less durable when exposed to the vicissitudes of moisture and dryness, for which reason it is less extensively used. Like the European ash, the value of its timber is increased by the rapidity of its growth; and, as in the case of that species, the wood of young trees is more esteemed than that of old ones. The sap-wood of this variety is very white, tough, and compact, when compared with its heart-wood, which, as before observed, is of a fine bistre-brown, and from this circumstance the tree derives its name. In the parts of the country where this variety abounds it is split into rails for rural fences, which rank next to the cedar for durability, but are far more heavy and difficult to move. It has also been employed with advantage in the construction of dams, wharves, canals, and other works, particularly in the parts above the ordinary flow of the waters and streams, where strength and durability are required.' It is not employed by coach-makers nor inill-wrights, nor is it ever wrought into oars, pulleys, or hand