« AnteriorContinuar »
ern states of the American union, and is first met with, in a wild state, on the Atlantic coast, on the banks of the river Savannah, and west of the Alleghanies, on those of the Cumberland, between the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth degrees of latitude. Further south, it is more common, and abounds near the borders of all
In a cultivated state, it is to be met with, as an ornamental tree, in most of the cities and large towns, from New Orleans, in Louisiana, to Newburyport, in Massachusetts; but in the latter place, it dwindles down to a mere shrub, and is often killed back by the frost.
This species was introduced into Britain, by Mark Catesby, in 1726, and is frequently to be met with in gardens and collections, both in that country, and on the continent of Europe.
The largest recorded tree of this species in Britain, is at Syon, which is fiftytwo feet in height, with a trunk three feet in diameter, and an ambitus or spread of branches of fifty feet.
The largest catalpa in France is at the Scéaux, which, in thirty years after planting, had attained the height of fifty feet, with a trunk two feet in diameter, and that of the head thirty feet.
At Schwobber, in Hanover, Germany, there is a tree of this species, exceeding thirty feet in height.
In Austria, at Vienna, in the university botanic garden, there is a catalpa, which, in twenty-six years after planting, had attained the height of forty feet, with a trunk eighteen inches in diameter, and an ambitus or spread of branches of twenty-four feet.
In various parts of Italy'and the south of France, particularly in the neighbourhood of Milan and Montpellier, the catalpa is planted as a road-side tree, and along the avenues to houses in the country, where, with the Melia azedarach, and the tulip-tree, (Liriodendron,) and in some places, where the soil is moist, with the Magnolia acuminata, and other species, it forms a scene of splendour and beauty, worthy of a climate so congenial to vegetation.
About the first tree of this species, which was introduced into New England, is said to stand in front of the late residence of Major Babcock, in Washington street, Hartford, in the state of Connecticut. It is represented as being of a large size, and when in bloom, appears like one solid mass of elegant flowers. It is believed to exceed fifty years of age.
Propagation, foc. The catalpa is generally propagated by seeds; but it will grow readily from cuttings of the root; and, when thus raised, it will flower much sooner than when propagated by seeds. The tree is of rapid growth till it reaches the height of twenty feet, which, in a deep, free soil, it will usually attain in ten years. Seedling plants generally begin to flower, under favourable circumstances, in twelve or fifteen years; and in soils and situations where the wood is well ripened, they continue flowering every year, making a splendid appearance, not only from the large size and lively colour of the blossoms, but from the fine pale-green of their leaves.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the catalpa is remarkably light, of a very fine texture, and is susceptible of a brilliant polish. Its colour is of a grayishwhite; and, when properly seasoned, it is very durable. It resembles the wood of the sycamore, (Platanus,) with this exception, that the latter is of a reddish hue, and is less durable when exposed to the alternations of moisture and dryness. It is sometimes used for posts to rural fences, and in cabinet-making. If a portion of the bark of the catalpa be removed in the spring, a venomous and offensive odour is exhaled. In a thesis, read at the medical college of Philadelphia, the bark of this tree was maintained to be tonic, and more powerfully
antiseptic than that of the Cinchona officinalis. It is considered to be a good antidote for the bite of snakes. It is stated that the honey collected from the flowers is poisonous, and that its effects, though less alarming, are analogous to those produced from the honey of the yellow jasmine (Gelsenium nitidum.) The flowers are extolled as being a sovereign remedy against asthma.
Derivation. The word Laurus is derived from the Latin laus, praise, in reference to the ancient custom of crowning tho Roman conquerors with laurel, in the triumphal processions. Generic Characters. Sexes polygamous or diæcious. Calyx with 6 sepals. Stamens 9; 6 exterior, 3
interior, and each of them having a pair of gland-like bodies attached to its base. These have been deemed imperfect stamens. Anthers adnate; of 2 cells in most of the species, of 4 unequal ones in the others; each cell is closed by a vertical valve, that opens elastically, and often carries up the pollen in a mass. Fruit a carpel that is pulpy externally, and includes 1 seed. Cotyledons eccentrically peltate, or, in other words, attached to the remainder of the embryo a little above the base line.--Loudon, Arboretum.
A HE genus Laurus has been divided by modern botanists, and sev
eral genera formed out of it; but, for the sake of brevity, and the convenience of classification, we have retained the Linnæan names in all the species which we have noticed. There are only three
perfectly hardy kinds, namely, Laurus nobilis, sassafras and benwid zoin; but there are several species that will live in the open air in mild climates, or with little protection, which are well worthy of cultivation. The Laurus benzoin, (spice bush,) is a beautiful deciduous shrub, a native from Virginia to Canada, growing from three to twelve feet in height, and is readily distinguished by its highly pungent and aromatic bark, which is regarded as a stimulant and tonic, and is extensively used in the regions where it abounds, in the cure of intermittent fevers; and hence, is sometimes called fever bush. : The Laurus cinnamomum and cassia, which are natives of Ceylon, Malabar, CochinChina, Sumatra, &c., and which are cultivated in India, Mauritius, Jamaica, Brazil, and other places, produce the cinnamon and cassia of commerce. What are called cassia buds, are not obtained from the Laurus cassia, but are the hexangular, fleshy receptacles of the seeds of the true cinnamon-tree. Cassia bark and buds are used for the same purposes as cinnamon bark, but they are considered as inferior in value, on account of containing a greater proportion of mucilage. From the present genus we also derive a portion of the camphor of commerce, which is the product of the Laurus camphora, hereafter considered. The Laurus indica is indigenous to Madeira and the Canary Islands, the wood of which is highly esteemed in cabinet-making. It can hardly be distinguished from mahogany, except that it is somewhat less brown in its colour. Hence it is imported into England under the name of Madeira mahogany.
To the same natural order belong the California bay-tree, (Drimophyllum pauciflorum,) and the Californian umbellularia, (Umbellularia californica,) both elegant evergreen trees, natives of Upper California, the former growing to a height of twenty or thirty feet, and the latter from forty to one hundred and twenty feet, with a trunk from two to four feet in diameter. Its foliage, according to Mr. Núttall, gives out, when bruised, a most powerful camphorated odour, which, from its pungency, is capable of exciting sneezing. "The volatile oil,” observes the same writer, “obtained from some species of Laurus found in the vast forests between the Oronoko and the Parimé, is produced in great abundance by merely making an incision into the bark with an axe, as deep as the liber or young wood
It gushes out in such quantities, that several quarts may be obtained by a single incision."*
Nearly allied to the same natural family are the genera Tectona and Vitex the latter of which embraces several species of deciduous shrubs and trees, natives of the south of Europe, India, China, and of North America. The only hardy kind is the Vitex agnus-castus, indigenous to Sicily. The teak-tree, (Tectona grandis,) which is justly called the “oak of the east," abounds in the vast forests of Java, Ceylon, Malabar, Coromandel, &c., more especially in the Birman and Pegu empires. Its timber is considered superior to all others for ship-building. It is easily wrought, and at the same time is both strong and durable. This tree, Mr. Royle informs us, has been planted as far north as Saharunpore, in India, in about the same latitude as the northern parts of Old California, and of the Canary Islands; where, from their mountainous character, it is highly probable it might be cultivated with success.
* See Nuttall's North American Sylva, p. 89.
(LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum. Laurus nobilis,
Martyn, Miller's Dictionary.
LOUDON, Arboretum Britannicum.
franc, Laurier sauce, Laurier à jam- FRANCE.
bons, Laurier d'Apollon,
Derivation. The specific name nobilis was so called by Linnæus, because this tree was consecrated to priests, sacrifices, and heroes, in the ages of antiquity, and has been celebrated accordingly.
Engravings. Blackwell, Herbal, pl. 175; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, vii., pl. 217; and the figure below.
now, Linnæi Species Plantarum.
“Deep in the palace, of long growth, there stood
A laurel's trunk, a venerable wood;
FROM HE Laurus nobilis is a beautiful
16 sometimes growing to a height
on of sixty or seventy feet, but always displaying a tendency to throw up suckers; and rarely, if ever, assuming a tree-like character, without the aid of art. The leaves, which are evergreen, are of a firm texture, and are of an agreeable smell, with an aromatic, sub-acid, slightly bitterish taste. The flowers, which put forth in April or May, are diæcious, or the male and female on different trees, and are disposed in racemes shorter than the leaves. The male tree is the most showy, from the greater proportion of yellow in the flowers. The berries are ovate, fleshy, and of a very dark-purple, approaching to black, and are about the size of a small olive. In winter, they are greedily devoured by the European black bird.
Varieties. The varieties recognized under this species, are as follows:
1. L. N. LATIFOLIA, Loudon. Broad-leaved Noble Laurel ; Laurier d larges feuilles, of the French. This variety has leaves much broader and smoother than those of the species. It is indigenous to Spain, Italy, and Asia, but is less hardy than several other kinds.