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Properties and Uses. The wood of the Olea americana is compact, of a finegrain, and when perfectly dry, is excessively hard and difficult to cut and split. Hence, the provincial name of devil-wood. From its small size, and difficulty of being wrought, it is appropriated to no particular use in the arts. On laying bare the cellular integument of the bark, its natural yellow hue immediately changes to a deep-red; and the wood, by contact with the air, soon assumes a rosy complexion.
Derivations. The derivation of Frarinus, given by Don, in Miller's Dictionary, is from the Greek phrasso, lo enclose; the ash having been formerly used for making hedges. Linnæus derives it from the Greek phrasis, a separation; because the wood splits easily. Others derive it from the Latin frangitur, because the young branches are easily broken; or which may have been applied ironically, in allusion to the extreme ioughness of the wood. The English name Ash, may be derived either from the Saxon word esc, a pike; or from the colour of the bark of the trunk and branches, which resembles that of wood-ashes. Generic Characters. Flowers polygamous. Calyx none, or 4-parted, or 4-toothed. Corolla none. Sta.
mens 2, in the male flowers. Anthers sessile, or on short filaments, dehiscing outwardly. Female flowers the same, except that they have no stamens, but have each a pistil, that has a bifid stigma. Fruit, or samara, 2-celled, compressed, winged at top. Cells 1-seeded.-Don, Miller's Dict.
HE genus Fraxinus consists of deciduous trees, with opposite,
impari-pinnate, rarely simple leaves, and lateral racemes of greenish-yellow flowers; and natives of Europe, northern Africa, a part of Asia, and of North America. They are raised from seeds, or by grafting on the Fraxinus excelsior. In all the species, there is
a great tendency to sport into varieties; and most of those which are described by botanists as species, do not appear to be entitled to that distinction. Indeed, with two or three exceptions, the trees belonging to this genus bear so close a resemblance to each other, when young, that it is difficult to determine which are species and which are varieties; and, in pursuance of the idea advanced by Mr. Loudon, that, "no plant can be truly a species, that is not readily distinguished from every other, in every stage of its growth, and at every season of the year,” we are inclined to believe that there are no more than two species of ash hitherto discovered, either in Europe or America, viz. :-Fraxinus excelsior, and americana. We have accordingly, for the sake of brevity, and convenience of classification, brought them all under these two heads, and have considered them only as varieties. Those, however, who differ from us in opinion, will find no difficulty in recognizing among our synonymes, the names as given by Michaux, Don, Loudon, and others, and will be enabled to know under what head they are described in the works of these authors.
THE EUROPEAN ASH-TREE.
LINNEUS, Species Plantarum.
Michaux, North American Sylva.
Loudon, Arboretum Britannicum.
Derivation. The specific name ercelsior is derived from the Latin es, from, and cello, to lift up, and signifies taller, or more elevated; from the superior height which this species allains.
Engravings. Michaux, North American Sylva, pl. 121; Selby, British Forest Trees, pp. 84, 86 et 101 ; Loudon, Arboretum
“The ash asks not a depth of fruitful mould,
But, like frugality, on lillle means
HE Fraxinus ex-
of the European forests. In a close grove, and in a free, deep soil, it becomes a lofty tree, from eighty to one hundred feet in height, with a trunk free from branches for more than half its length. Standing singly, it throws out large limbs, which divide into numerous branches, forining a full spreading head, with a short, but very thick trunk. In some situations, particularly on rocky steeps, the branches of old trees become pendent; but, in most cases of old trees of this species, there is a tendency in the extremities of the lower branches to curve upwards. The bark is of a dark-gray, when young, and ash-coloured as the tree advances in age. The roots, which are numerous and take a horizontal direction, are furnished with more fibres than those of most other forest trees. Both fibres and roots are white, which, indeed, is the case in all the oleaceæ. The buds are short, oval, obtuse, and constantly black; and, by this last circumstance, this tree is easily distinguished from the American species. The leaves are opposite, and are composed of from five to thirteen leaflets, slightly pedicellate, smooth, oval, acuminated, and serrated. The common petiole is semi-cylindrical, with a channel on the upper side. The flowers, which put forth in March and April, are produced in long, loose spikes, from the sides of the branches. On some there are only female flowers; on others, hermaphrodite ones; while on some there are only male flowers, and frequently trees are to be met with containing flowers in two of these states, and even in all of them. The seeds, which are included in what are commonly called keys, or botanically samaræ, are generally ripe in October; and, like those of the aceraceæ and the ailantus, from their wedge-like shape, they are liable to fix themselves in the crevices of rocks, ruins, walls, and even in the clefts of old trees, where they often vegetate and grow.*
Varieties. These are very numerous; but we shall first give those which are universally allowed to be varieties, and are described as such by Don and Loudon; and afterwards indicate those which are treated by botanists as species.
1. F. E. PENDULA. Pendulous-branched European Ash; Frêne pleureur, Frêne parasol, of the French; Trauer Esche, of the Germans. This singular and beautiful variety was discovered about the middle of the last century, in a field belonging to the vicar of Gamlingay, near Wimpole, in Cambridgeshire. The tree was standing as late as 1835, but comparatively in ruins. There are many individuals growing in England, which have been propagated from it; some in Scotland, Ireland, France, and Germany, and a few in America. In a list of trees planted in the government gardens at Odessa, by M. Descemet, is an ash with pendent branches, found in a bed of seedlings, which may possibly be somewhat different from the English variety. The weeping ash is commonly grafted standard high; and, as it is very hardy, and grows with great rapidity, it is a valuable tree for forming arbours, or for covering seats more especially in public gardens.
2. F. E. KINCAIRNIÆ. Kincairney Ash, with the spray alternately pendulous, and rigidly upright, and thus forms a tree of fantastic shape. The original specimen grows on the estate of Mr. Mungo Murray, in Kincairney, in the parish of Caputh, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, in Scotland.
3. F. E. AUREA. Golden-barked European Ash; Frêne doré, of the French. This variety has the bark of the trunk and branches yellow and dotted ; and the leaflets sessile, lanceolate, unequally serrated, acuminated, cuneated at the base, and glabrous. It is particularly conspicuous in winter, not only from the yellow colour of its bark, but from the curved, contorted character of its branches, which somewhat resemble the horns of an animal.
4. F. E. AUREA PENDULA. Pendulous-branched Golden-barked European Ash, which is of as vigorous growth as the F. e. pendula.
5. F. E. CRISPA. Curled-leafleted European Ash. The darkness of the green of the leaves of this variety is remarkable, which, with their crumpled appearance, combined with the rigid stunted character of the whole plant, renders it a striking object.
6. F. E. JASPIDEA. Striped-barked European Ash; Frêne jaspé, of the French. The bark of the trunk and branches of this variety, is streaked with reddishwhite.
7. F. E. PURPURASCENS. Purple-barked European Ash, with the bark purple. It was found in a bed of seedlings, by M. Descemet, who had plants of it under his care at Odessa.
* On the piers of the entrance to Blenheim Park from Woodstock, in England, there were, in 1834, a sycamore established on one pier, and an ash on the other, each about five feet high. “On the ruins of Sweetheart Abbey, in Dumfriesshire,” Mr. Loudon observes, “there is a large tree of the common sycamore on the top of a wall, which, in 1806, when we last saw it, had sent down a fibrous root on the outside of the wall, completely exposed to the air, for the height of ten or twelve feet, till it reached the ground. This fibre soon afterwards acquired considerable thickness, and now constitutes, as we are informed, the main stem of the tree.” Gilpin quotes an instance from Dr. Plot, of an ash establishing itself on, and finally destroying a willow. A similar circumstance also took place with a weeping willow, in the botanic garden of Carlsruhe ; and the same thing not unfrequently happens with the oak and other trees. In the city of New York, where the ailantas is much cultivated for ornamenting the streets, it is not uncommon to see small plants of it from two to three feet high, growing on the roofs and gutters of houses, where they have taken root from seeds.
8. F. E. FOLIIS ARGENTEIS. Silver-striped-leafleted European Ash ; F. e. argentea, of Loudon; Frêne argenté, of the French, with leaflets variegated with white.
9. F. E. LUTEA. Yellow-ed ged-leafleted European Ash, with the leaflets edged with yellow. 10. F. E.
EROSA. Erose-leafleted European Ash, with the leaflets erosely toothed.
11. F. E. HORIZONTALIS. Horizontal-branched European Ash; Frêne horizontal, of the French, with the branches spreading horizontally.
12. F. E. VERRUCOSA. Warted-barked European Ash; Frêne verruqueur, of the French, with its branches warty.
13. F. E. VERRUCOSA PENDULA. Pendulous-branched Warted-barked European Ash.
14. F. E. NANA. Dwarf European Ash, which seldom exceeds a yard in height. The leaves of this variety resemble those of the species, but the leaflets are much smaller and closer together.
15. F. E. FUNGOSA. Fungous-barked European Ash.
16. F. E. VERTICILLATA. Whorled-leaved European Ash; Frêne à feuille verticillées, of the French.
17. F. E. VILLOSA NOVA. Villous-leafleted European Ash, a new seedling, accidentally discovered by M. Descemet, of which there are plants in the Odessa collection.
18. F. E. HETEROPHYLLA. Various-leaved European Ash; Fraxinus heterophylla, of Don, Loudon, and others; Frêne à une feuille, of the French; Verschiedenblättrige Esche, of the Germans. The leaves of this variety are trifoliate, dentately serrated, usually simple, but sometimes with three or five leaflets, three or four inches long, ovate, sub-cordate, or acuminate at the base and apex. The samaræ are oblong-lanceolate, one inch in length, obtuse ånd emarginate at the apex. The branches are dotted, and the buds are black. Some botanists consider this kind as a species; but Sir T. Dick Lauder states that Mr. McNab, of the Edinburgh botanic garden, sowed seeds produced by the tree in that garden, supposed to have been originally planted by Southerland, and found that the plants had pinnated leaves; and M. Sinning, garden inspector of Poppilsdorf, near Bonn, sowed seeds of the common European ash, which he gathered in a distant forest, many of which came up with simple leaves. Nearly one thousand of these plants were transplanted, and left to become trees; when they were about eight feet high, nearly twenty of them were observed to have simple leaves, and almost as many to have only three leaflets; though occasionally they showed a greater number.
19. F. E. HETEROPHYLLA VERIEGATA. Variegated Various-leaved European Ash, discovered in 1830, in the grounds of Captain Moore, of Eglantine, near Hillsborough, in the county of Down, in Ireland. The variegation appeared in summer, on the point of one of the shoots of a tree of fifteen years' growth; and Captain Moore marked it, and had the portion of shoot which showed the variegated leaves taken off, and grafted the following spring. The parent tree, it is said, never has since shown the slightest tendency to variegation, but the grafted plants continue true.
20. F. E. ANGUSTIFOLIA. Narrow-leaved European Ash; Frêne à feuilles étroites, of the French; Schmalblättrige Esche, of the Germans. The leaflets of this variety are sessile, lanceolate, remotely denticulated, occurring in three or four pairs, from an inch and a half to two inches long. The peduncles below the leaves are solitary, and about two inches in length. The flowers, which put forth in May, are naked; and the samaræ are entire at the apex, and acute at the base. The branchlets are green, dotted with white, and the buds brown. This tree is a native of Spain.