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collections, and a tree, bearing this name, is standing in Washington square, in Philadelphia, which has nearly attained the utmost magnitude to which this species grows.
Soil, Situation, foc. According to Loudon, the perfumed cherry will thrive in any poor soil, that is not too dry, even in the most arid sands and naked chalks; and as it forms a low, bushy tree, which is capable of resisting the wind, it may be planted in an exposed situation. When young plants are to be raised from seeds, the fruit is sown as soon as ripe, or preserved in sand till the following spring, in the same manner as that recommended for the common cherry. The tree may also be propagated, in a moist climate, by layers, by slips from the stool, taken off with a few roots attached, by suckers, or by cuttings from the roots. In France, it is extensively raised as a stock on which to graft the different kinds of cherries, for which, it has not only the advantage of growing on a very poor soil, but of coming into sap about fifteen days later than the gean, by which means the grafting season is prolonged, and of dwarfing the plants grafted upon it. Yet, as in the case of other dwarf species of a genus which will unite with a tall, robust-growing tree, the perfumed cherry, when grafted on the Cerasus sylvestris, attains a larger size than when grown on its own roots.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the Cerasus mahaleb is of a reddish-gray, hard, compact, and is susceptible of a high polish. When green, it possesses a powerful odour, but less so, and more agreeable, when dry, in which last condition it weighs nearly sixty pounds to a cubic foot. In France, it is much sought after by cabinet-makers, on account of its fragrance, and is sold by them, green, in thin veneers, because in that state it does not crack, or at least, the slits or chinks, are less perceptible. In the Vosges, in the vicinity of the Abbey of Ste. Lucie, it is much sought after by turners, and for the manufacture of snuff-boxes and tobacco-pipes. It is also highly prized for fuel, on account of the fragrance which it sends out when burning. The leaves are powerfully fragrant, more particularly when dried,-are greedily eaten by cattle and sheep, and are used by cooks for giving flavour to game. The flowers and fruit, like the wood and leaves, are powerfully scented, the former being so much so, as to be almost insupportable in a close room, even when they have remained only for a short time. The kernels of the fruit are employed by perfumers to scent soap. In Britain and America, this species is principally cultivated as a hedge-plant, or as an ornamental shrub or low tree.
EHRHART, Beiträge zur Naturkund.
LOUDON, Arboretum Britannicum.
Engravings. Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 88; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, ii., fig. 418 et vi. pl. 114, ang the figures below Specific Characters. Leaves (rather coriaceous) oval, oblong, or lanceolate-oblong, acuminate, glabrous, 'or bearded along the midrib beneath, smooth and shining above, finely serrate, with appressed, or incurved callous teeth ; petioles, (or base of the leaf,) mostly with two or more glands; racemes elongated, spreading; petals broadly obovate; drupes globose, purplish-black.- Torrey and Gray, Flura.
HE Cerasus virgin
iana, where the soil
and climate are the Y o most congenial to its growth, sometimes attains a height of eighty or one hundred feet, with a trunk three or four feet in diameter; but it varies much in size, according to the circumstances under which it grows. In England and the North American British provinces, it seldom exceeds thirty or forty feet in height, with a trunk ten or twelve inches in diameter; and in the neighbourhood of the Great Slave Lake, in latitude 62° N., it grows only to a height of about five feet. The general surface of the bark is smooth; but it is blackish and rough, detaching itself in narrow semi-circular, hard, thick plates, which adhere for a time to the tree, previous to dropping off. The trunk is usually straight for about one fourth of its height, where it ramifies into a spreading summit of a handsome outline; but its foliage is too thin to display that massy richness which gives so much beauty to the maples and many other trees. The leaves are usually from two to four inches long, toothed, very much pointed, and of a beautiful, smooth, shining green, with two or more small reddish glands at the base. The flowers are white, and occur in spikes, which, when fully expanded, have a beautiful effect. They put forth in Florida and the state of Georgia in the month of February, but in some parts of Canada, not before the early part of June. The fruit is about one-fourth of an inch in diameter, of a
roundish form, purplish-black colour, and edible, but slightly bitter to the taste. It arrives at maturity at St. Mary's, in Georgia, by the first of June, but not in the northern states and Canada before August or September, when it affords great nourishment to several species of birds. .
Varieties. Much confusion has long existed among authors with regard to the choke cherry, (Prunus virginiana, of Linnæus,) and the wild cherry (Prunus serotina, of Ehrhart. They appear to have been confounded by Michaux and others, who mistook the latter for the choke cherry, and consequently described it under the name of Cerasus virginiana ; but, as we believe that they both belong to the same species, this is to us a matter of very little consequence. By comparing the two trees in a state of cultivation, it will be difficult to discover anything like a specific distinction, or as Mr. Loudon says, even sufficient to constitute a race. The serratures, and the tufts of hairs on the under sides of the leaves, are, undoubtedly, variable; and those who are familiar with the European bird cherry, (Cerasus padus,) know how little dependence is to be placed upon its foliage, when under cultivation; and in truth, it is so nearly allied to the species under consideration, that Seringe, in De Candolle's “Prodromus," seems to doubt if it be really distinct. Admitting the above remarks to be correct, the variations of the Cerasus virginiana' are as follows:
1. C. v. PRÆCOX. Early-fruited Virginian Cherry-tree; Choke Cherry; Prunus virginiana, of Linnæus; Cerasus virginiana, of Torrey and Gray; Prunus serotina, of Pursh; Cerasus serotina, of Loudon. This variety differs from the species in having broadly-oval leaves, abruptly acuminated, being sometimes sub-cordate at the base, very sharply, and often doubly serrate, and generally hairy in the axils of the veins beneath; the petals are orbicular; the fruit subglobose, of a glossy scarlet-red, when ripe, sweet and pleasant, but so very astringent, that it dries the mouth and throat like the juice of spruce cones, when swallowed. In the northern states and Canada, it usually ripens its fruit several weeks earlier than the black cherry-tree; hence the name precoz.
2. C. v. CAPOLLIN, De Candolle. Capollin Bird Cherry-tree, native of Mexico, and known by its lanceolate, serrated, glabrous leaves, resembling in form, and nearly in size, those of the Salix fragilis; and the whole tree appears so much like the Cerasus virginiana, that there is but little doubt of its being only a variety of this species, but of a larger and more luxuriant growth.
Geography, Soil, foc. The Cerasus virginiana is found, in greater or less abundance, along the Atlantic parts of America, from Mexico to Hudson's Bay, It especially abounds in Upper Canada, and the country west of the Alleghanies, and probably is nowhere more profusely multiplied, nor more fully developed, than in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In the southern and maritime parts of Georgia, and the Carolinas, where the summers are intensely hot, and where the soil is generally dry and sandy, it is but sparingly produced ; and on the banks of rivers, where the ground is very wet, it is rather limited in its dimensions; but in the upper parts of these states, where the climate is more temperate, and the soil is more fertile, it becomes more common, though less abundant than in the slates of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York.
This species appears to have been among the first American trees that were introduced into England; having been cultivated there by Parkinson, in 1629, under the name of “ Virginian cherry-bay.” It is, at present, very common in British collections, and is growing in several of the gardens of the continent. The largest recorded specimen in England, is at Bagshot Park, in Surrey, which is about fifty years old, and forty feet in height. In the botanic garden at Geneva, in Switzerland, there is also another tree of this species, of about the same dimensions.
Propagation. The Virginian cherry is usually propagated from seeds, which may be treated, in all respects, like those of the Cerasus vulgaris.
Insects. It has often been remarked that the leaves of the wild cherry are more subject to the attacks of caterpillars, than those of any other tree. Among those which are regarded as its worst enemy, are the American lackey-caterpillars, Clisiocampa americana, of Harris. The eggs, from which they are hatched, are placed around the ends of the branches, forming a wide kind of ring or bracelet, consisting of three or four hundred eggs, in the form of short cylinders standing close together, on their ends, and covered with a thick coat of brownish, water-proof varnish. The caterpillars come forth with the unfolding of the leaves. The first signs of their activity appear in the formation of a little angular web or tent, somewhat resembling a spider's web, stretched between the forks of the branches, a little below the cluster of eggs. Under the shelter of these tents, in making which, they all work together, the caterpillars remain concealed at all times, when not engaged in eating. In crawling from twig to twig, and from leaf to leaf, they spin from their mouths a slender silken thread, which is a clue to conduct them back to their tents; and as they go forth and return in files, one after another, their pathways, in time, become carpeted with silk, which serves to render their footing secure during their frequent and periodical journeys in various directions, to and from their common habitation. As they increase in size and age, they enlarge their tent, surrounding it, from time to time, with new layers or webs, till at length it attains a diameter of eight or ten inches. They come out together, at certain hours, to feed, and all retire at once, when their regular meals are finished; during bad weather, however, they fast, and do not venture from their shelter at all. When fully grown, they measure about two inches in length. They may be known by their black heads, and a whitish line extending along the top of the back from one end to the other, on each side of which, in a yellow ground, are numerous short and fine crinkled lines, that form a broad, longitudinal, black stripe, or rather a row of long black spots, one on each ring, in the middle of each of which is a small blue spot; below this, is a narrow, wavy yellow line, and lower still, the sides are variegated with fine, intermingled, black and yellow lines, which are lost at last in the general dusky colour of the under side of the body; on the top of the eleventh ring, is a small, blackish, hairy wart, and the whole body is very sparingly clothed with soft, short hairs, rather longer and thicker upon the sides than elsewhere. At the age of about seven weeks, they begin to quit the trees, separate from each other, wander about for a while, and finally secrete themselves in some crevice or other place of shelter, and make their cocoons. These are of a regular, oblongoval form, composed of thin, and very loosely woven webs of silk, the meshes of which are filled with a thin paste. From fourteen to seventeen days after the insects have spun, the chrysalides burst their skins, force their way through the wet and moistened ends of the cocoons, and appear in the winged or miller form. These moths are of a rusty or reddish-brown colour, more or less intermixed with gray on the middle and base of the fore-wings, which, besides are crossed by two oblique, straight, dirty-white lines. They expand from one inch and a quarter, to one inch and a half, or a little more and appear in Massachusetts, in great numbers, in July, flying about, and often entering houses by night, at which period they lay their eggs. Many of the caterpillars, however, are unable to finish their transformations, by reason of weakness, especially those which are unable to leave with the rest of the swarm, but make their cocoons within the tent. Most of these will be found to have been preyed upon by little maggots living upon the fat within their bodies, and finally changing' to small, four-winged ichneumon wasps, which, in due time, pierce a hole in the cocoons of their vic
tims, and escape into the air. The American lackey caterpillar-moth selects the Virginian cherry in preference to all other trees, and next to this, the apple, a further account of which will be found in our article on that tree. *
The Virginian cherry-tree, and also the garden cherry, and peach-tree, suffer severely from the attacks of borers, which are transformed to the beetles called, by Mr. Say, in his “American Entomology,” Buprestis divaricata. They are usually found under the bark, and sometimes in the solid wood of the trunks and branches of the trees, where they undergo their transformations. The beetles, or perfect insects, are copper-coloured, sometimes brassy above, and thickly covered with little punctures. They measure from seven to nine-tenths of an inch in length, and may be found sunning themselves upon the limbs of the trees during the months of June, July, and August.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the Virginian cherry-tree is of a dull, lightred tint, which deepens with age. It is compact, fine-grained, takes a brilliant polish, and when perfectly seasoned, is not liable to warp. In America, it is extensively used by cabinet-makers, for almost every species of furniture; and, when chosen near the ramification of the trunk, it rivals mahogany in beauty The wood is generally preferred to that of the black walnut, (Juglans nigra) the dun colour of which, in time, becomes nearly black. It is also, sometimes, employed in the parts of the country where it abounds, in ship-building, and for making the felloes of wheels. The bark of the branches and of the roots, is collected by herb-venders, and brought to market in pieces or fragments, several inches long, and from half an inch to two inches in diameter. From drying, it becomes somewhat curved laterally. That of the root is regarded as the best, is destitute of epidermis, of a reddish-brown colour, brittle, easily pulverized, and presents, when broken, a grayish surface. When fresh, the odour is prussic, which is lost, in a measure, in drying, but regained by maceration. The taste is aromatic, prussic, and bitter. It is, undoubtedly, a useful tonic, and appears to possess, in some degree, narcotic and antispasmodic properties. Dr. Barton informs us, that the leaves of this tree are poisonous to certain animals, as calves, and even the berries intoxicate different kinds of birds. The fruit is employed to make a cordial, by infusion in rum or brandy, with the addition of sugar.
In Europe, the Virginian cherry is planted solely as an ornamental tree; and as such, it well deserves a place in every collection. In America, its growth should be encouraged along the road-sides, and in the woods, in order to attract and afford nourishment to frugivorous birds.
* See Harris' Report, pp. 266, 267, 268 et 269.