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base, very acuminate, and doubly and irregularly toothed. The petioles are slightly twisted, and the leaves are almost as tremulous as those of the aspen. It is a beautiful small tree for ornamental plantations.
The common Black or Sweet birch. (B. lenta.) This is the sort most generally known by the name of the birch, and is widely diffused over the middle and southern states. In colour and appearance the bark much resembles that of the cherry tree; on old trees, at the close of winter, it is frequently detached in transverse portions, in the form of hard ligneous plates, six or eight inches broad. The leaves, for a fortnight after their appearance, are covered with a thick silvery down, which disappears soon after. They are about two inches long, serrate, heart-shaped at the base, acuminate at the summit, and of a pleasing tint and fine texture. The wood is of excellent quality, and Michaux recommends its introduction largely into the forests of the north of Europe.
The Yellow birch, (B. lutea,) grows most plentifully in Nova Scotia, Maine, and New-Brunswick, on cool, rich soils, where it is a tree of the largest size. It is remarkable for the colour and arrangement of its outer bark, which is of a brilliant golden yellow, and is frequently seen divided into fine strips rolled backwarks at the end, but attached in the middle. The leaves are about three and a half inches long, two and a half broad, ovate, acuminate, and bordered with sharp and irregular teeth. It is a beautiful tree, with a trunk of nearly uniform diameter, straight, and destitute of branches for thirty or forty feet.
The Red birch, (B. rubra) belongs chiefly to the south, being scarcely ever seen north of Virginia. It prefers the moist soil of river banks, where it reaches a noble height. It takes its name from the cinnamon or reddish colour of the
outer bark on the young trees; when old, it becomes rough, furrowed, and greenish. The leaves are light green on the upper surface, whitish beneath, very pointed at the end, and terminated at the base in an acute angle. The twigs are long, flexible, and pendulous; and the limbs of a brown colour, spotted with white.
The European White birch. (B. alba.) This species, the common birch tree of Europe, is intermediate in appearance and qualities, between our Canoe birch and White birch. The latter it resembles in its foliage, the former in its large size, and the excellence of its wood. There is a distinct variety of this, to which we have alluded, called the Weeping birch, (Var. pendula,) which is very rapid in its growth, and highly graceful in its form. From the great beauty of our native species, this is perhaps the only European sort, which it is very desirable to introduce into our collections.
THE ALDER TREE. Alnus.
Nat. Ord. Betulaces. Lin. Syst. Monacia, Tetrandria.
The alder tree is a native of the whole of Europe, where it grows to the altitude of from thirty to sixty feet. Our common Black alder, (A. glauca,) and Hazel-leaved alder, (A. serrulata,) are low shrubs of little value or interest. This, however, is a neat tree, remarkable for its love of moist situations, and thriving best in places even too wet for the willows; although it will also flourish on dry and elevated soils. The leaves are roundish in form, wavy, and serrated in their margins, and dark green in colour. The tree rapidly forms an agreeable, pyramidal head of foliage, when growing in damp
situations. As it is a foreign tree, we shall quote from Gilpin its character in scenery. "The alder," says he, "loves a low, moist soil, and frequents the banks of rivers, and will flourish in the poorest forest swamps, where nothing else will grow. It is perhaps the most picturesque of any of the aquatic tribe, except the weeping willow. He who would see the alder in perfection, must follow the banks of the Mole in survey, through the sweet vales of Dorking and Mickleham, into the groves of Esher. The Mole, indeed, is far from being a beautiful river; it is a silent and sluggish stream, but what beauty it has, it owes greatly to the alder, which everywhere fringes its meadows, and in many places forms very pleasing scenes. It is always associated in our minds with river scenery, both of that tranquil description most frequently to be met with in the vales of England, and with that wider and more stirring cast which is to be found amidst the deep glens and ravines of Scotland; and nowhere is this tree found in greater perfection than on the wild banks of the river Findhorn, and its tributary streams, where scenery of the most romantic description everywhere prevails."*
Although the beauty of the alder is of a secondary kind, it is worth occasional introduction into landscapes where there is much water to be planted round, or low running streams to cover with foliage. In these damp places, like the willow, it grows very well from truncheons or large limbs, stuck in the ground, which take root and become trees speedily. There are two principal varieties, the common alder, (A. glutinosa,) and the cut-leaved alder, (A. glutinosa laciniata.) The latter is much the handsomer tree, and is also the rarest in our nurseries.
*Lauder's Gilpin, 1. p. 136,
THE MAPLE TREE. Acer.
Nat. Ord. Aceraceæ. Lin. Syst. Polygamia, Monacia.
The great esteem in which the maples are held in the middle states, as ornamental trees, although they are by no means uncommon in every piece of woods of any extent, is a high proof of their superior merits for such purposes. These consist in the rapidity of their growth, the beauty of their form, the fine verdure of their foliage, and in some sorts, the elegance of their blossoms. Among all the species, both native and foreign, we consider the Scarlet-flowering maple as decidedly the most ornamental species. In the spring, this tree bursts out in gay tufts of red blossoms; which enliven both its own branches and the surrounding scene long before a leaf is seen on other deciduous trees, and when the only other appearances of vegetation are a few catkins of some willows or poplars, swelling into bloom. At that season of the year, the Scarlet maple is certainly the most beautiful tree of our forests. Besides this, it grows well either in the very moist soil of swamps, or the dry one of upland ridges, forms a fine clustering head of foliage, and produces an ample and delightful shade; while it is also as little infected by insects of any description as any other tree. The latter advantage, the Sugar maple and our other varieties, equally possess. As a handsome spreading tree, perhaps the White maple deserves most praise, its outline and surface being, in many cases, quite picturesque. There is no quality, however, for which the American maples are entitled to higher consideration as desirable objects in scenery, than for the exquisite beauty which their foliage assumes in autumn, as it fades and gradually dies off. At the first approach of cold, we
can just perceive a bright yellow stealing over the leaves, then a deeper golden tint, then a few faint blushes, until at length the whole mass of foliage becomes one blaze of crimson or orange.
The contrast of colouring exhibited on many of our fine river shores in a warm dry autumn, is perhaps superior to any thing of the kind in the world: and the leading and most brilliant colours, viz: orange and scarlet, are produced by maples. Even in Europe, they are highly valued for this autumnal appearance, so different from that of most of the trees of the old world. Very beautiful effects can be produced by planting the Scarlet and Sugar maples in the near neighbourhood of the ash, which, as we have already noticed, assumes a fine brownish purple; of the sycamore, which is yellow, and some of the oaks, which remain green for a long time: if to these we add a few evergreens, as the White pine and hemlock, to produce depth, we shall have a kind of kaleidiscope group, harmonious and beautiful as the rainbow.
When the maple is planted to grow singly on the lawn, or in small groups, it should never be trimmed up ten or twenty feet high, a very common practice in some places, as this destroys half its beauty; but if it be suffered to branch out quite low down, it will form a very elegant head. The maple is well suited to scenes expressive of graceful beauty, as they unite to a considerable variation of surface, a pleasing softness and roundness of outline. In bold or picturesque