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some shapes during every stage of their growth, and ultimately become noble trees. Varieties of the Shellbark hickory are sometimes seen producing nuts of twice or thrice the ordinary size; and we have not the least doubt that the fruit might be so improved in size and delicacy of flavour, by careful cultivation, as greatly to surpass the European walnut, for the table. This result will probably be attained by planting the nuts of the finest varieties found in our woods, in rich moist soil, kept in high cultivation; as all improved varieties of fruit have been produced in this way, and not, as many suppose, by cultivating the original species. These remarks also apply to the Pecan-nut; a western sort, which thrives well in the middle states, and which produces a nut more delicate in flavour than any other of this continent.
These trees form strong tap-roots, and are therefore somewhat difficult to transplant; but they are easily reared from the nut; and, for the reason stated above, this method should be adopted in preference to any other, except in particular cases.
The principal species of the hickory are the following:
The Shellbark hickory, (C. alba,) so called on account of the roughness of its bark, which is loosened from the trunk in long scales or pieces, bending outwards at the extremity, and remaining attached by the middle; this takes place, however, only on trees of some size. The leaves are composed of two pair of leaflets, with an odd or terminal one. The scales which cover the buds of the Shellbark in winter, adhere only to the lower half, while the upper half of the bud is left uncovered, by which this sort is readily distinguished from the other species. The hickory nuts of our
markets are the product of this tree; they are much esteemed in every part of the Union, and are exported in considerable quantities to Europe. Among many of the descendants of the original Dutch settlers of New-York and New-Jersey, the fruit is commonly known by the appellation of the Kisky-tom nut.*
The Pecan-nut, (Pacainer of the French,) (C. olivæformis,) is found only in the western states. It abounds on the Missouri, Arkansas, Wabash, and Illinois Rivers; and a portion of the Ohio: Michaux states that there is a swamp of 800 acres on the right bank of the Ohio, opposite the Cumberland river, entirely covered with it. It is a handsome, stately tree, about 60 or 70 feet in height, with leaves a foot or eighteen inches long, composed of six or seven pairs of leaflets much narrower than those of our hickories. The nuts are contained in a thin, somewhat four-sided husk; they are about an inch or an inch and a half long, smooth, cylindrical, and thin-shelled. The kernel is not, like most of the hickories, divided by partitions, and it has a very delicate and agreeable flavour. They form an object of petty commerce between Upper and Lower Louisiana. From New-Orleans, they are exported to the West Indies, and to the ports of the United States.†
Besides these two most valuable species, our forests produce the Pignut hickory, (C. porcina,) a lofty tree, with five to seven pairs of leaflets, so called from the comparative worthlessness of its fruit; which is very thick-shelled, and generally is left on the ground for the swine, squirrels, etc., to
*In some parts, pleasant social parties which meet at stated times during the winter season, are called Kisky-toms, from the regular appearance of these nuts among the refreshments of the evening.
+N. A. Sylva, 1. 169.
devour. It is easily distinguished in winter by the smaller size of its brown shoots, and its small oval buds. Its wood is considered the toughest and strongest of any of the trees of this section. The thick Shellbark hickory, (C. laciniosa,) resembles much in size and appearance the common Shellbark; but the nuts are double the size, the shell much thicker and yellowish, while that of the latter is white. It is but little known except west of the Alleghanies. The Mockernut hickory, (C. tomentosa,) is so called from the deceptive appearance of the nuts, which are generally of large size, but contain only a very small kernel. The leaves are composed of but four pairs of sessile leaflets, with an odd one at the end. The trunk of the old trees is very rugged, and the wood is one of the best for fuel.
The Bitternut hickory, (C. amara,) sometimes called the White hickory, grows 60 feet high in New-Jersey. The husk which covers the nut of this species, has four winged appendages on its upper half, and never hardens like the other sorts, but becomes soft and decays. The shell is thin, but the kernel is so bitter, that even the squirrels refuse to eat it. The Water Bitternut, (C. aquatica,) is a very inferior sort, growing in the swamps and rice fields of the southern states. The leaflets are serrated, and resemble in shape the leaves of the peach tree. Both the fruit and timber are much inferior to those of all the other hickories.
THE MOUNTAIN ASH TREE. Pyrus.*
Nat. Ord. Rosacea.
Lin. Syst. Icosandria, Di-Pentagynia.
The European Mountain ash (Pyrus aucuparia,) is an
* Sorbus of the old Botanists.
elegant tree of the medium size, with an erect stem, smooth bark, and round head. The leaves are pinnated, four or five inches in length, and slightly resemble those of the ash. The snow-white flowers are produced in large flat clusters, in the month of May, which are thickly scattered over the outer surface of the tree, and give it a lively appearance. These are succeeded by numerous bunches of berries, which in autumn turn to a brilliant scarlet, and are then highly ornamental. For the sake of these berries, this tree is a great favourite with birds; and in Germany it is called the Vogel Beerbaum i. e. bird's berry tree, and is much used by bird catchers to bait their springs with.
Twenty-five feet is about the average height of the Mountain ash in this country. Abroad, it grows more vigorously; and in Scotland, where it is best known by the name of the Roan or Rowan tree, it sometimes reaches the altitude of 35 or 40 feet. The lower classes throughout the whole of Britain, for a long time attributed to its branches the power of being a sovereign charm against witches; and Sir Thomas Lauder informs us that this superstition is still in existence in many parts of the Highlands, as well as in Wales. It is probable that this tree was a great favourite with the Druids; for it is often seen growing near their ancient mystical circles of stones. The dairy maid, in many parts of England, still preserves the old custom of driving her cows to pasture with a switch of the roan tree, which she believes has the power to shield them from all evil spells.* "Evelyn mentions that it is customary in Wales, to plant this tree in church-yards; and Miss Kent in her Sylvan Sketches, makes the following remarks:-" In former times this tree was supposed to be possessed of the property of *Lightfoot, Flora Scotica.
driving away witches and evil spirits; and this property is alluded to in one of the stanzas of a very ancient song, called the Laidley Worm of Spindleton's Heughs.
'Their spells were vain; the boys return'd
Crying that "witches have no power
The last line of this stanza leads to the true reading of a stanza in Shakspeare's tragedy of Macbeth. The sailor's wife, on the witch's requesting some chestnuts, hastily answers, 'A rown-tree, witch !'-but many of the editions have it, 'aroint thee witch!' which is nonsense, and evidently a corruption."*
The European Mountain ash is quite a favourite with cultivators here, and deservedly so. Its foliage is extremely neat, its blossoms pretty, and its blazing red berries in autumn communicate a cheerfulness to the season, and harmonize happily with the gay tints of our native forest trees. It is remarkably well calculated for small plantations or collections, as it grows in almost any soil or situation, takes but little room, and is always interesting. "In the Scottish Highlands, says Gilpin, "on some rocky mountain covered with dark pines and waving birch, which cast a solemn gloom on the lake below, a few Mountain ashes joining in a clump, and mixing with them, have a fine effect. In summer, the light green tint of their foliage, and in autumn the glowing berries which hang clustering upon them, contrast beautifully with the deeper green of the pines: and if they are happily blended, and not in too large a proportion, they add some of the most picturesque furniture with which the sides of * Arboretum et Fruticetum, p. 918.