« AnteriorContinuar »
rosary-beads, forks, spoons, buttons, and numerous other articles. The wood of some roots is more beautifully marbled, or veined, than that of others; and the articles manufactured from them, as well as from the warty excrescences, vary in price accordingly. Articles formed of the trunk, are easily distinguished from those of the root, when the wood is cut transversely, by that of the trunk always displaying a beautiful and very regular star, which is never the case with that of the root. Box-wood is very apt to split in drying; and, to prevent this, the French turners put the wood, designed for their finest works, into a dark cellar, as soon as it is cut, where they keep it from three to five years, according to circumstances. At the expiration of the given time, they cut off the sap-wood with a hatchet, and place the heart-wood again in the cellar till it is wanted for the lathe. For the most delicate articles, the wood is soaked for twenty-four hours, in very clear, fresh water, and then boiled for some time. When taken out of the boiling water, it is wiped quite dry, and then buried, till wanted for use, in sand, or bran, so as to completely exclude it from the light and air. Articles made of the wood thus prepared, resemble, in appearance, what is called, in England, Tunbridge ware. Olivier de Serres, in the “ Théâtre d'Agriculture," recommends the branches and leaves of the box, as by far the best manure for the grape; not only because it is very common in the south of France, but because there is no plant, that by its decomposition, which affords a greater quantity of vegetable mould. The spray of the box, though it burns very slowly, is much esteemed, also, in France, as fuel for lime-kilns, brick-kilns, ovens, &c., where a great and lasting heat is required.
The other uses of the box, in former times, were various; but many of them, doubtless, are forgotten. The bark and leaves are bitter, and have a disagreeable smell; and a decoction of them, when taken in large doses, is said to be purgative; and, in small doses, sudorific. An empyreumatic oil is extracted from them, which is said to cure the toothache, and some other disorders. A tincture was once made from them, which was a celebrated specific in Germany for intermittent fevers; but, the secret having been purchased, and made public by Joseph I., the medicine fell into disuse. The box is said to enter into the composition of various medicated oils, for strengthening and increasing the growth of th hair; and Parkinson says that the leaves and saw-dust, boiled in lye, will change the hair to an auburn colour.” It is stated in Dodsley's" London Annual Register," that, in the year 1762, “A young woman of Grunburg, in Lower Silesia, had a malignant dysentery, and lost her hair. She washed her head, and accidentally her face and neck, with a decoction of box-wood, and her whole face and neck were soon covered with red hairs." Pliny affirms that no animal will eat the seeds of the box; and it is said that its leaves are particularly poisonous to camels. It is also asserted by many authors that box-trees are never cropped by cattle.
In modern gardening, the Buxus sempervirens forms a most valuable evergreen shrub or low tree. It is more particularly eligible as an undergrowth in ornamental plantations; where, partially shaded by other trees, its leaves assume a deeper green, and shine more conspicuously. Next to the holly, it has the most beautiful appearance in winter, more especially when the ground is covered with snow. The variegated sorts are admissible as objects of curiosity; but, as they are apt to lose their variegation when planted in the shade, and as in the full light, their green is frequently of a sickly, yellowish hue, they certainly cannot be recommended as ornamental.
Derivations. Several derivations have been given of the word Morus. Some suppose it to be taken from the Greek more, or moron, signifying a mulberry or blackberry; but others derive it from the Greek mauros, dark, or more remotely from the Celtic mor. which signifies black; from the dark colour of the fruit of the black mulberry, supposed originally to have grown in Persia.
Generic Characters. Flowers unisexual; those of the two sexes, in most species, upon the same plant.
Male flowers disposed in a drooping, peduncled, axillary spike. Calyx of 4 equal sepals, imbricate in æstivation, expanded in flowering. Slamens 4, with a rudiment of a pistil. Female flowers in ovate, erect spikes. Calyx of 4 leaves, in opposite pairs, the outer pair the larger, all upright and persistent, becoming pulpy and juicy. Ovary of 2 cells, one including a pendulous ovule, the other devoid of any Stigmas 2, long. In the state of maturity, each ovary is a fleshy and juicy utricle, and is covered by the fleshy and juicy calyx.–Nees Von Esenbeck, Genera.
HE genus Morus embraces deciduous trees, natives of Europe,
Asia, and of America, remarkable for their large leaves, which are mostly lobed, and which, in a state of cultivation, are liable to a great variation in point of magnitude, form, and texture. They are all easily propagated from seeds, by cuttings, and layers, and by
truncheons. All the species will serve to nourish the silkworm; but the white mulberry, (Morus alba,) and its varieties, are considered much the best. In warm climates, such as Persia, the leaves of the black mulberry, (Morus nigra,) are sufficiently succulent for the purpose; but in colder countries they do not answer equally well. The leaves of the red mulberry, (Morus rubra,) are thick, rough, and hairy, even while they are young, and are also improper for the food of silkworms, which feed with advantage only on foliage that is thin, tender, and succulent. Various attempts have been made to discover some substitute for the natural food of these insects, which may be readily procured at all seasons, and in sufficient abundance to render the silk culturist independent of the chances that attend the growth of the mulberry-tree. It is probable that the leaves of most plants which contain a milky juice, will, if they are appropriate in point of texture, afford nourishment to the silkworm, from the common property of their juice containing caoutchouc; but, notwithstanding the partial success so frequently proclaimed, as the substitution of the tender leaves of the fig, the maclura, the slippery-elm, and the Norway and Tartarian maples, among trees; and those of the lettuce, endive, beet, spinach, nettle, viper-grass, (Scorzonera hispanica,) &c., among herbaceous plants, all practical cultivators of silk are convinced that it would be unprofitable to feed their worms on anything save their natural nourishment. None of these substitutes are of any real use, unless we except the maclura, the viper-grass, and the lettuce.
( LINNÆUS, Species Plantarum.
Poiret, Encyclopédie Méthodique.
Derivation. The specific name nigra is derived from the Latin niger, black; referring to the colour of the fruit of this treo.
Engravings. Nouveau Du Hamel, iv., pl. 22; Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum, iii., fig. 1222, and vii., pl. 223 et 244; and the figures below. Specific Characters. Sexes monecious, sometimes diæcious. Leaves heart-shaped, bluntish, or slightly
lobed, with about 5 lobes; toothed with unequal teeth, rough.-Willdenor, Linnæi Spec. Plant.
“But cautiously the Mulberry did move,
THE Morus nigra is generally
S a low tree, seldom exceeding
@ often spreading into very thick arms near the ground, and forming an extremely large head, with numerous branches. The bark is thick and rough, and in this respect alone, this species may be readily distinguished from the Morus alba, the bark of which is light. The leaves of the black mulberry, which are very rough, are broad, heart-shaped, unequally serrated, and are among the last to appear in the spring. This species is sometimes perfectly decious, and very frequently partially so; the stamens being in greater perfection in most flowers of one tree, and the pistils in those of another; but, as in the case of most other monecious trees, it often produces male blossoms for many years after it is planted, and yet afterwards becomes fruitful. The flowers, which put forth in May or June, are succeeded by large, dark-purple fruit, very wholesome and agreeable to the palate.
Variety. M. N. LACINIATA, Loudon. Cut-leaved or Jagged-leaved Black Mulberry, with leaves jagged, rather than cut.
Geography and History. The Morus nigra is generally supposed to be a native of Persia, where there are still masses of it found in a seemingly wild state; and, although the date of its introduction into Europe is unknown, it is occasion
ally to be met with in Italy, apparently wild. This tree, however, is so frequently confounded with the white mulberry, by the earlier writers, as to render it next to an impossibility to ascertain the countries of which it is truly indigenous. It has been known from the earliest records of antiquity, being mentioned in “Holy Writ,” in the second book of Samuel, and in the Psalms. Ovid evidently points out the black mulberry as the one introduced in the story of Pyramus and Thisbe; and Pliny seems to allude to it, where he observes that there is no other tree that has been so much neglected by the wit of man, either in grafting or giving it names; "an observation," as Mr. Loudon remarks," which holds good to the present day respecting the black mulberry, as it has only one trifling variety, or rather variation, and no synonyme, whereas, there are numerous varieties of the Morus alba.” Pliny adds, “Of all the cultivated trees, the mulberry is the last that buds, which it never does until the cold weather is past; and it is therefore called the wisest of trees. But when it begins to put forth buds, it dispatches the business in one night, and that with so much force, that their breaking forth may be evidently heard.” On Mount Ætna, the black mulberry is grown at an elevation of two thousand five hundred feet, for the food of the silkworm, to the exclusion of the Morus alba, probably on account of the tenderness of the latter tree in that elevated region.
The black mulberry, it is said, was introduced into Britain by the Romans; but at what period, there is no record which throws any light on the subject. It is mentioned in Turner's “Names of Herbes," published in 1548, when there were some trees planted at Syon, one, at least of which is still in existence. The tree is mentioned by Tusser, who wrote in 1557, also by Gerard, who describes both the black and the white mulberry as being cultivated in his time. The royal edict of James I., about the year 1605, recommending the rearing of silkworms, and offering packets of mulberry seeds to all who would sow them, no doubt rendered the tree fashionable, as there is scarcely an old garden or gentleman's seat throughout England, that can be traced back to the XVIIth century, in which a mulberry-tree is not to be found. It is remarkable, however, that, though these trees were doubtless intended for the food of silkworms, they nearly all belong to the Morus nigra, as very few instances of old trees of the white mulberry exist, at the present time, in any part of that country. Shakspear's mulberry is referable to this period, as it was planted in 1609, in his garden, at New Place, in Stratford.
One of the most remarkable trees of this species in Britain, is at Battersea, on the estate of the late Earl of Spencer. It is from thirty to forty feet in height, having fourteen trunks, averaging about one foot in girth at a foot above the ground, with a head fifty feet by seventy in diameter, and is supposed to be over three hundred years of age.
In Suffolk, at Finborough Hall, there is a black mulberry, which, in seventy years after planting, had attained the height of forty feet, with a trunk two feet in diameter, and an ambitus, or spread of branches of forty-two feet..
In France, at Nantes, in the nursery of M. De Nerrières, there is a specimen, which, in sixty years after planting, had attained the height of forty-nine feet, with a trunk two feet and a half in circumference.
The introduction of the black mulberry into the North American colonies, as with most of our foreign trees bearing edible fruit, it is highly probable, dates back to the early periods of their settlements; but, as it produces only a moderately sized fruit, at best, and requires some attention to bring it to perfection, it has fallen into neglect. There are trees, however, of considerable size and age, to be met with, in all the middle and eastern states of the union, which are regarded as comparatively worthless, either for fruit or ornament.
Poetical, Legendary, and Mythological Allusions. The mulberry was dedi
cated by the Greeks to Minerva, probably because it was anciently considered as the emblem of wisdom, from the slowness of its putting out its leaves; and Jupiter, the Protector, in their language, was called after it, Morea. From Ovid we learn that the fruit of the mulberry derives its fine colour from the blood of those two unfortunate lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe. He says, that it was formerly snow-white, but that, when Pyramus, in despair at the supposed death of his mistress, fell upon his own sword, it was under the shade of this tree. Thisbe, shortly after, finding him dead, killed herself in the same way, and their blood mingling together, was absorbed by the roots and imparted its colour to the fruit.
“Dark in the rising tide the berries grew,
And, white no longer, took a sable hue;
Cowley, in the fifth book of his poem on plants, has given a very plain and accurate description of the apparently cautious habits of this tree. He also alludes to the fable just named. The Morea, in the Levant, is said to have been so called, from a supposed resemblance of the shape of that peninsula to the leaf of the mulberry. The roots of this tree are so wonderfully tenacious of life, that an instance is recorded of their sending up shoots after having lain dorinant in the ground for twenty-four years..
Soil, Situation, Propagation, foc. The Morus nigra will grow in almost any soil or situation that is tolerably dry, and in any climate not much colder than most parts of Britain and the United States. It is very easily propagated by truncheons or pieces of the branches, eight or nine feet in length, and of any thickness, being planted half their depth in tolerably good soil; when they will bear fruit the following year. As it is extremely tenacious of life, every part of the root, trunk, boughs, and branches may be converted into plants by separation; the rootlets, and small shoots, or spray, being made into cuttings, the larger boughs into stakes, the arms into truncheons, and the trunk, stool, and roots, being cut into fragments, leaving a portion of the bark on each, and planting them after the Italian mode of propagating the olive-tree. The mulberry may also be increased from seeds, by layers, or by grafting and budding. This tree, from its slowness of putting out its leaves, being rarely injured by spring frosts, and its leaves being seldom or never devoured by any insect, except the silkworm, and never touched with mildew, very seldom fails to produce a good crop of fruit. This fruit, however, though excellent and exceedingly wholesome, does not keep, and is so far troublesome, that it is only good when it is quite ripe, and is best when it is suffered to fall from the tree itself. For this reason, mulberry-trees are generally planted on a lawn or grass-plot, to prevent the fruit that falls from being injured by the gravel or dirt. This practice, however, is objectionable, as no tree, perhaps, receives more benefit from the spade and the dung-hill than the mulberry, and it ought, therefore, to be frequently dug about the roots, and occasionally assisted with manure. The ground under the tree should be kept free from weeds throughout the summer, particularly when the fruit is ripening, as the reflected light and heat from the bare surface of the soil is thus increased. In a cool, moist climate, like that of Britain, the fruit is also very fine if the tree be trained as an espalier, with the reflection of the south side of a building or wall. As a standard tree, whether for ornament or fruit, the mulberry requires very little pruning or attention of any kind, other than that which is given above. As it increases in age, it increases in productiveness, and in full-grown trees the fruit is much larger and better flavoured than in those which are young.
Properties and Uses. The wood of the Morus nigra is less compact than even that of the white mulberry, and when perfectly dry, weighs only about forty