101. ULEX europaeus. Furze, gorse, or whin.—Is used in husbandry for fences, and is also much cultivated for fuel for burning lime, heating ovens, &c. Cattle and sheep relish it much; but it cannot be eaten by them except when young, in consequence of its strong spines; to obviate which an implement has been invented for bruising it. When it grows wild on our waste land, it is common to set it on fire in the summer months, and the roots and stems will throw up from the ground young shoots, which are found very useful food for sheep and other animals. It is readily grown from seeds, six pounds of which will be enough for an acre of land.
* * * * *
SECT. VI.—BRITISH TREES AND SHRUBS.
102. Acer Pseudo-Platanus. Sycamore.—The wood of this tree is soft and of little use, unless it is for the turners’ purposes, who make boxes and other small toys of it. It is not of value as timber.
103. Acer campestre. The Maple.—Before the introduction of Mahogany and other fine woods the Maple was the principal wood used for all kinds of cabinet work, and was much esteemed: the knobs which grow on those trees in an old state afforded the most beautiful specimens, and according to Evelyn were collected by the curious at great prices. The Maple trees in this country are none of them at the present day old enough to afford that fine-veined variegation in the timber which is alluded to in this account.
104. Arbutus Unedo. The strawberry-tree.—Is a native of the islands in the celebrated Lake of Killarney in Ireland, where it grows to a large size. We know of no particular use to which it is applied. It is however one of our most ornamental evergreen shrubs, producing beautiful flowers, which vary from transparent white to deep red, in the winter months, at which season also the fruit appears; which taking twelve months to come to maturity affords the singular phaenomenon in plants, of having lively green leaves, beautiful flowers, and fruit as brilliant as the richest strawberry, in the very depth of our winter. We have a fine variety of this plant with scarlet blossoms, and also one with double flowers, both of which are singularly ornamental to the shrubbery.
105. Arbutus Uva Ursi. Bear-berries.—A small trailing plant of great repute as a medicine, but of no use in any other respect.
106. Berberis vulgaris. Barberry.—This has long been cultivated in gardens for its fruit, which is a fine acid, and it is used as a conserve, and also for giving other sweeter fruits a flavour. The common wild kind has stones in the fruit, which renders it disagreeable to eat. There is a variety without stones called the Male Barberry, which is preferred on this account.