A Catechism of Familiar Things; eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 237 pages of information about A Catechism of Familiar Things;.

In some parts of Africa, Syria, and Egypt.  It was anciently cultivated in the two last-mentioned countries in large quantities, the seeds being used for the oil they yielded, which was burnt in lamps.

[Illustration:  BEAVERS BUILDING THEIR HUTS.]

Is not the Palma Christi much affected by soil and situation?

Greatly so.  In some places it attains the stature of a tree, and is not a biennial plant, but endures for many years, as in the warm plains of Irak, Arabia, and some parts of Africa.

     Biennial, lasting for the space of two years only.

What are Melons?

A species of the Cucumis, a genus of plants to which the cucumber belongs.  There are great varieties of this fruit cultivated in different parts of the world; that sort called the Cantaleup (so named from being cultivated at a place of that name in the neighborhood of Rome, whither it was brought from Armenia,) is a species of musk-melon; the mature fruit is juicy, and delicately flavored.

Where is Armenia situated?

Armenia is a large country situated in Asiatic Turkey, to the west of the Caspian Sea.

What species of Melon is that which almost makes up for a scarcity of good water in hot countries?

The water-melon, which affords a cool, refreshing juice, and quenches the thirst produced by the excessive heats.  It requires a dry, sandy soil, and a warm climate; the pulp of the fruit is remarkably rich and delicious.

What are Tamarinds?

The fruit of the Tamarind Tree, a native of both the Indies, Asia, Africa, &c.  It is of a roundish form, and composed of two pods inclosed one within the other, between which is a soft pulpy substance, of a tart but agreeable taste; the inner pod contains the seeds or stones.

     Tart, sharp, acid.

For what are they used?

We use them only as medicine; but the Africans, and many of the Oriental nations, with whom they are common, make them into a kind of preserve with sugar, which they eat as a delicacy, and which cools them in the violent heats of their climate.

From what nation was the knowledge of their use in medicine obtained?

From the Arabians.

What does the word Oriental signify?

Belonging to the East; therefore those countries of the globe situated in the East are called Oriental, those in the West, Occidental, from Oriens, signifying East, and Occidens, West.

What are Dates?

The fruit of the Palm, a beautiful and graceful tree, peculiar to the warmer regions of the globe; the growth of the palm is extremely singular, for although some species attain to the height of the largest forest trees, their structure differs materially from that of a tree, properly so called.  The leaves of the young plant arise directly from the surface of the ground, and there is no appearance of any stem for several years; this stem once formed, never increases in size, the growth of the plant being always upward, so that the stem itself is formed by the prior growth of the green portions of the palm.

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A Catechism of Familiar Things; from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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