One of the noblest evergreen trees in that noblest of collections of such plants contained in the Temperate House at Kew, is the subject of the present note. Some months since cones were observed to be forming on this tree, and a representation of which we are now enabled, through the courtesy of Mrs. Dyer, to lay before our readers. We are not aware whether the tree has previously produced cones at Kew, though we have the impression that such is the case; at any rate it has done so elsewhere, as recorded in the Flore des Serres, 1856, p. 75, but fertile seed was not yielded, owing to the absence of pollen.
In this country the tree is only valuable for its massive aspect and richly colored thick evergreen leaves, borne on successive tiers of branches, which render it specially suitable for the decoration of winter gardens, corridors, and such like situations, where no great amount of heat is required. In the northern island of New Zealand, however, it is quite another matter, for there, where it is known as the Kauri Pine, it furnishes the most valuable of timbers, as may be judged from the fact that the trunk of the tree attains a height of from 50 to 100 feet clear of the branches; moreover, it yields a gum resin like copal, which exudes from the trunk, and which is sometimes found below ground in the vicinity of the trees, thus giving the clew to the real nature of amber and other similar substances.
[Illustration: THE KAURI PINE.—DAMMARA AUSTRALIS.]
The timber is of slow growth, especially valuable for the construction of masts of ships, its durability, strength, and elasticity rendering it particularly suitable for this purpose, and Laslett speaks of it as one of the best woods for working that the carpenter can take in hand, and recommends its use for the decks of yachts, for cabin panels, for joiner’s work generally, or for ornamental purposes. Owing to the difficulty and expense of working the forests, and the great distance, comparatively little of it comes to this country.—The London Gardeners’ Chronicle.
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Many think it cheaper and better to take up large trees from the woods, and transplant them to their grounds or to the road-side, than to buy nursery trees. As a rule, such trees die; they fail because proper precautions have not been taken. In digging up a tree, all the roots outside of a circle a few feet in diameter are cut off, and the tree is reset with its full head of branches. Whoever has seen trees in the forest that were upturned by a tornado, must have been struck by the manner in which the roots run very near to the surface, and to a great distance. When the roots of these trees are cut off at two or three feet from the trunk, few or no fibrous or feeding roots are left; and if the mass of tops is left, the expansion of the buds in the spring will not be responded to by a supply of sap from the roots, and death must follow. If such trees have the tops completely removed, leaving only a bare pole, they will usually grow when transplanted. The tree is little more than an immense cutting; but there are roots enough left to meet the demand of the few shoots that start from the top, and growth above and below ground is well balanced.