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;.

     Structure, the manner of formation.

How often does this tree cast its circle of leaves?

Every year; so that the number of years a palm has existed is known by the scars which are left by their falling off.  The palm is an evergreen.

What are the uses of this Tree?

The Palm is of the utmost importance to the inhabitants of the tropical regions; the fruit and sap providing them with food, the fibrous parts with clothing, and the leaves forming the greater part of their slightly-constructed huts; the leaves of some species are formed into fans, hats, and parasols; others are written on, in the same manner that we write on paper; artificial flowers are made of the pith of some; the light and supple rattan walking-cane is the slender shoot of another kind; and solid and useful utensils are made of the shell of the cocoa-nut.  The fibres of the Date Palm are formed into ropes and twine; a liquor is drawn from the trunk, called palm wine; the trunks of the old trees furnish a hard and durable wood; and even the nuts or stones of the fruit are useful for feeding cattle; a wholesome flour is also made of the fruit, when dried and reduced to powder.

     Constructed, put together.

Whence is its name derived?

From the Latin word palma, a hand, given to these productions of the vegetable world, from the supposed resemblance of their broad leaves to the human hand.  The Date, the fruit of the Date Palm, derives its name from the Greek dactylus, a finger, from its mode of growing in clusters spreading out like the fingers of the hand.  The Palm sometimes forms impenetrable forests; but more frequently is found in small groups of two or three, or even singly, beside springs and fountains of water, affording a kindly shade to the thirsty traveller.

     Impenetrable, not easily penetrated or got through.

From what countries are Dates brought?

From Egypt, Syria, Persia, Africa, and the Indies.  Among the Egyptians and Africans, they make a principal article of food.  Dates, when ripe, are of a bright coral red, of an oblong form, and possess a sharp biting taste:  they are usually gathered in autumn, before being perfectly ripe.



Of what are Hats made?

Of felt and wool.  Dress hats for men’s wear, were formerly made of beaver-fur, but the increasing scarcity of this article led to the introduction of silk plush as a substitute, and the result is that beaver is entirely superseded, and plush is used altogether.  They possess many advantages over the beaver hat, as they are light, glossy, and durable.  Hats are also made of straw, plaited and sewed together.

When did Hats come into general use?

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