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Derivation. The word Diospyros is thought to be corrupted from the Greek Diospuros, (dios, divine, and puros, wheat.) a name given by the ancients to the Lithospermum officinale. Its application to the date plum is supposed to have arisen by confounding the Greek puros, wheat, with the Latin pyrus, a pear-tree, to the fruit of which the date plum may have been thought to bear some resemblance.
Generic Characters. Flowers polygamous. Calyx deeply 4-cleft, sometimes 3 or 6-cleft. Corolla urceo
late, 4-cleft; sometimes 3 or 6-cleft. Male flowers having the stamens inserted by.pairs into the base of the corolla, twice the number of its segments, with double or twin filaments, and the rudiment of a pistil. Hermaphrodite flowers having fewer and sterile stamens. Ovarium 8—12-celled : cells 1seeded. Berry globose, with a spreading calyx which is at length reflexed. Albumen horny.-Don, Miller's Dict
A HE genus Diospyros embraces deciduous low trees, with white or
pale-yellow flowers; natives of Europe, Northern Africa, WestDen ern Asia, the islands of the Indian Archipelago, and North Amer
ica. The only hardy species cultivated to much extent in Europe eige) or America, are the European lotus, (Diospyros lotus,) and the
di Virginian date plum, or persimon (Diospyros virginiana.) The former grows to twenty or thirty feet, or more, in height, and is characterized by the beautiful dark, glossy green of the upper sides of its leaves, which, when mature and exposed to the air, assume a purplish hue beneath. Its fruit is sometimes brought to the market at Constantinople, under the name of Tarabresan Curmasi ; and in that part of Europe, it appears to grow much larger than either in Britain or in Italy, being nearly of the size of a walnut; it is austere, however, and unfit for the table, unless made into a conserve.
Nearly allied to the same natural family are the iron-wood argania, (Argania sideroxylon,) a native of Morocco, and several species of bumelia, natives of the southern states of the American union.
(LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum. Diospyros virginiana
Michaux, North American Sylva.
LOUDON, Arboretum Britannicum
· Engravings. Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 93; Audubon, Birds of America, i., pl. Insı.- , LouLou, ar
“If Fever's fervid rage
TRAITS OF THE ABORIGINES
C HE Virginian Date Plum, 2T when grown under fa
vourable conditions, some
times attains a height of sixty or seventy feet, with a trunk eighteen or twenty inches in diameter; but, under ordinary circumstances, it does not usually exceed one half of these dimensions. The trunk of a fullgrown tree is covered with a deeply-furrowed blackish bark, from which exudes a greenish gum, without taste or odour. This tree is readily distinguished from the European date plum, by its leaves being nearly of the same shade of green on both surfaces; while those of the latter are of a dark purplish-green above, and much paler, and furnished with a somewhat pinkish down beneath. Those of the Virginian date plum are from four to six inches in length, oblong, entire, of a fine green above, glaucous beneath, and often, in autumn, are variegated with black spots. The terminal shoots are observed to be usually accompanied, at the base, by small rounded leaves. This species belongs to that class of vegetables, the sexes of which are confined to different trees. Both the barren and fertile flowers are of a greenish-yellow, but not strikingly conspicuous. They put forth in June and July, and are succeeded by a round fryit, about the size of a bullace plum, of a reddish complexion, with a fleshy pulp, containing six or eight semi-oval stones, slightly swollen at the sides, and of a dark-purple colour. The fruit is nột palatable till it has been softened by frost, when it becomes sweet, though still astringent. In the southern states of the union it adheres to the branches long after the leaves have dropped; and when it falls, it is eagerly devoured by wild and domestic animals.
Varieties. The varieties recognized under this species are as follows:
1. D. V. PUBESCENS. Pubescent-leaved Virginian Date Plum-tree; Diospyros pubescens, of Pursh, Don, and others. The chief distinction between this variety and the Diospyros virginiana is, in its fruit having fewer seeds, and the downiness of its leaves on their under sides, which are also slightly different in their shape. Michaux makes this only a variety of this species, occasioned by difference of climate; which, he observes, exerts an extraordinary influence on the development of all trees that are common to different parts of the United States.
2. D. V. DULCIS, Prince. Sweet-fruited Virginian Date Plum-tree, characterized in having sweeter fruit than that of the species.
Geography and History. The Diospyros virginiana is found wild in the United States from the forty-second degree of north latitude to Texas. It is quite common in New Jersey, still more so in the middle and southern states, and abounds also in the west. When it was introduced into Britain is uncertain; but it has been in cultivation, in England, though not very common, ever since the time of Parkinson.
The largest tree of this species in Britain, is in the arboretum at Kew, which exceeds forty feet in height.
In France, Germany, and Italy, there are specimens of about the same height as at Kew.
The largest recorded tree of this kind on the globe, is in the Bartram botanic garden, at Kingsessing, near Philadelphia, which exceeds seventy feet in height, with a trunk two feet in diameter.
Soil, Situation, Propagation, foc. The Diospyros virginiana seems to prefer a soft, black soil, rather moist, and requires a sheltered situation. It is usually propagated from seeds; but may be increased either by grafting or by layers.
Properties and Uses. The fresh sap-wood of the Virginian date plum, is of a greenish colour, which it preserves after it is seasoned; and the heart-wood is brown, hard, compact, strong, and elastic, but liable to split. At Baltimore, screws and mallets have been made of it; at Philadelphia, shoe-lasts; and in Carolina, wedges for splitting trees. Michaux says that he was assured by the coach-makers in Charleston, that they had employed it for the shafts of chaises, and found it preferable to the ash, and all other species of wood, except the lancewood of the West Indies. The inner bark, which is exceedingly bitter, is said to have been employed with success, not only by the American Indians, but by the inhabitants of the regions where this tree abounds, in the cure of intermittent fevers. The bark of the root has also been considered a tonic favourable to the treatment of dropsies. A greenish gum exudes from the tree, but in very small quantities, which never has, as yet, been applied to any useful purpose either as a medicine or in the arts. In the middle and western states, the fruit is sometimes collected, pounded up with wheaten bran, formed into cakes, which are dried in an oven, and kept to make beer. For this purpose, they are dissolved in warm water, with the addition of hops and yeast. The fruit itself, bruised and fermented, yields an ardent spirit, which is said to improve with age. It has been asserted by the farmers of Virginia that, grass grows more vigorously beneath the persimon than beneath any other tree, and this fact is attributed to the speedy decay of its leaves, as well as to those of the common locust, which form an excellent manure.
wood of the preferable to the that they had amx says that
Genus CHIONANTHUS, Linn.
HE order to which this genus belongs embraces trees and shrubs, natives of both hemispheres, and for the most part are deciduous. Some of them are timber-trees; others medicinal, which, in general, are bitter. One genus, (Olea,) produces a valuable oil; and from others, (Ornus and Fraxinus,) is obtained the sweet purgative
manna. The Syringa supplies some of the most beautiful deciduous shrubs, and the Ligustrum and Phillyrea some useful evergreens. As most of the species of this order may be grafted on one another, it is probable that their flowers might be reciprocally fecundated; in which case, some curious hybrids might be produced between the privet and the lilac, the privet and the olive, the lilac and the ash, &c.
( LINNEUS, Species Plantarum. Chionanthus virginica, i
Don, Miller's Dictionary.
(Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum.
Engravings. Catesby, Natural History of Carolina, i , pl. 98; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, ii., figs. 1029 et 1030; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Racemes terminal. Peduncles 3-flowered. Flowers pedicellate. Leaves lanceo
late, glabrous, resembling those of a deciduous magnolia. Drupe purplish.-Don Miller's Dict.
HE Chionanthus virginica is a
a native of North America; introduced into Britain in 1796; flowering from May to July; and requires to be grown in moist soil, either sandy peat or sandy loam, and in a sheltered situation. It may be propagated by layers, or by grafting on the ash, which, if done standard high, would, from its large par leaves and the singular appearance of its snow-white flowers, form a splendid tree. The leaves are often a foot long, and nearly half as broad; but neither the leaves nor the flowers will attain any degree of perfection, unless the soil be kept moist. The bark of the root, bruised, is sometimes employed in healing wounds.
Varieties. Under this species are recognized the following varieties :
1. C. v. LATIFOLIA, Loudon. Broad-leaved Virginian Snow flower-tree, with broad coriaceous leaves, a native of Carolina, &c.
2. C. v. ANGUSTIFOLIA, Loudon. Narrow-leaved Virginian Snow flower-tree.
3. C. V. MARITIMA, Loudon. Sea-side-inhabiting Virginian Snow flower-tree, a native of North America, growing in boggy woods by the sea-side.