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Larva, X A reoda.
WILLOW, (SALIX,) OSIER, ETC:) &c.
Larva, Lucanus dama, (51,) wood.
Larva, Dynastidæ, some, (80) decaying wood.
Larva, Ptilinus pectinicornis, Europe, (153,) wood.
Larva, Ptinus fur, Europe, (150.)
Ellipolampis pyralis, ļ (126.)
REPORT OF SUPERINTENDENT OF GARDEN AND
SIR: Numerous packages of seeds and plants are yearly placed in my hands for trial in the garden. These are sent to the Department in good faith, with a view to the introduction and dissemination of valuable and useful plants; but the majority of these donations proves either to be well known species, or those of but little special value; and very frequently the plants are shrivelled and dead when unpacked, and the seeds fail to vegetate.
Both seeds and plants of these currants have been repeatedly sent to the Department during the past six years. They appear to be varieties of Ribes aureum, and, although the fruit of several of them is large, of fine appearance, and of a variety of colors, from light yellow to black, yet it has large seeds and but little pulp, and will not probably be cultivated where the improved varieties of the red currant, Ribes rubrum, can be procured. It is said that fine jellies have been prepared from these fruits, forming a good substitute for that produced from the red and the white currant of the gardens. Many of these Utah sorts produce as large fruit as the Cherry currant, but of no distinctive flavor.
Under this name seeds of a grape were received, in 1863, from the United States consul at Damascus, said to have been collected from the peasantry of the village of Dario. They were highly recommended. The seeds vegetated freely, but the plants have proved to be unsuited for open air culture in this climate. In order to prove the quality of the fruit, plants were placed in a glass structure, where they produced a small grape of no particular merit; quite inferior to good varieties of the foreign grape.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHERRY.
This cherry was described in the report of the Department for 1866, where it was claimed to possess desirable qualities as a fruit. Plants received by the department have fruited during the past season, proving to be identical with the sand cherry. The fruit has no particular merit, the plant being a slender growing bush, botanically interesting, but not otherwise valuable.
GRAPES FROM AUSTRALIA. In the spring of 1863, a package of grape cuttings was received froin Melbourne. They were cut into pieces about two feet in length, and packed in a tight case so as to be completely enveloped in charcoal dust. Notwithstanding the length of time that elapsed during their passage, and the various casualties of climate and transshipments, they were in perfect condition when opened, fresh and succulent, propagating freely from single eyes. These, although received under various local names, proved to be known varieties of the foreign grape, Vitis vinifera. Samples were fruited under glass; those in the open air have lingered on with more or less vigor, a few dying out yearly; the past season finishing the last of them.
The same result has been experienced with a collection of the so-called Hungarian grapes, which were received and planted several years ago. Some of the plants fruited, bearing good-sized and well-flavored fruit, which, however, failed to mature, on account of diseased foliage, and consequent checked growth. The last remnants of this collection have also disappeared.
The Concord, Hartford Prolific, Ives, Perkins, Clinton, and Dràcut Amber have proved to be the only varieties perfectly exempt from disease during the past year. The Adirondack, Iona, Delaware, Rebecca, Diana, and others of very superior flavored fruit, when compared with the preceding list of healthy varieties, will decidedly take preference in localities congenial to their growth ; but their liability to disease should always be taken into consideration, when extensive planting is contemplated. The conditions securing success, although known, cannot always be made available, and in planting in new localities, experiment can best decide upon the most suitable varieties.
The Diana Hamburg proves to be one of those grapes the liability of which to disease renders their profitable culture extremely local. In this respect the variety named is no exception to other hybrids between the native and the exotic grapes, especially when they partake largely of the qualities of the latter.
Several hybrids received from Mr. Arnold, of Paris, Canada West, by whom they were originated, are not yet of sufficient strength to fruit; their growth, so far, is satisfactory.
The Fedora grape, received from Mr. Cruickshanks, of Chelsea, Massachusetts, is evidently of exotic origin; its growth, however, as is not unusual for a time with varieties of the fereign species, has been healthy and even luxuriant. It has not yet fruited.
The same remarks may be applied to the Weehawken grape, donated by Dr. Siedhof, of Hoboken, New Jersey, who introduced the variety.
HYBRIDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG.
Dr. A. P. Wylie, of Chester, South Carolina, who has been studiously endeavoring to improve the Scuppernong grape, has favored the Department with some of his productions. In a letter accompanying them, he remarks that he has established the following facts in regard to hybrid. izing the Scuppernong:
“1st. The Scuppernong cannot be hybridized by any species of American grapes, and not even by its own hybrids with foreign varieties. 2d. The foreign species (Vitis vinifera) can be hybridized by Scuppernong. 3d. All native species and varieties, as well as foreign species, can De hybridized by hybrid Scuppernong; and, if any useful hybrid Scuppernongs are ever produced, it will be from operations in this direction.”
These plants undoubtedly present external evidences of hybridization; the peculiar, slender foliage and wood of the Scuppernong. are plainly discernible. In my last report I alluded to the belt of no frost” regions on the slopes of the southern mountain ranges, more particularly to the spurs of the Blue Ridge, in North Carolina, as noteworthy grape-growing localities. This important subject was first brought prominently into notice by Mr. Silas McDowell, of Franklin, Macon County, North Carolina. In a recent letter from this gentleman he remarks that further observations have enabled him to state that, “the frost line is not permanently fixed at any particular height on a mountain, but takes a higher or lower range according to the degree of frost that produces it; within the space of eleven years its maximum height has been three hundred feet, and its minimum height one hundred and twenty-five feet, vertical. The maximum is attained when the thermometer falls to twenty-four degrees, and the minimum when the thermometer shows thirty-one degrees. Another fact ascertained is, that there is no fixed dew-line on our mountain sides, but that it gradually abates as you ascend, and at the height of three hundred feet the dew is too light to produce either a grape-rotorleaf-blight. Hence we understand why the thermal zone is both warm and dry—the true cause why grapes growing in that region never fail to ripen their fruit in perfection. I will not venture to say that the grape will never rot within the limits of that zone, because an exceedingly wet summer might produce that result; but this I can say: The Isabella is decidedly the most unreliable grape that we have, when planted in our low valleys; but, where the vines are growing on the slopes of the mountains, they have not failed to ripen their fruit for more than thirty years, whether the season was wet or dry. In relation to a climate and soil most congenial to the grape, within the field of my observations, I would name that portion of the Alleghany range of mountains which runs through western North Carolina and northern Georgia, named here Blue Ridge. The main direction of this range is from northeast to southwest at its most southern bend, reaching the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude; and the crests have an average height of about three thousand feet, perpendicular, above the level of tide-water. The waters that flow from them on the northwest side run into the Mississippi, and those of the southeast directly into the Atlantic. The country on the Atlantic side sinks rapidly by a succession of long sunny slopes, reaching down into the plain or level country. It is on these slopes that the atmosphere is pure and dry, a refuge for the con. sumptive, as diseases of the lungs have never yet been known to origi. nate among the inhabitants of these dry, fogless mountains; and here also will the grape find its most salubrious climate and genial home; and, if ever a Johannisberger,' a Medoc,' or a Margeaux’ is found on this side of the Atlantic, in my opinion it will be here."
The frequent loss of bearing trees by blight is a fruitful source of vexation and loss in many localities. It is now fully established that the active agent in this disease is fungoid growths.
It cannot be doubted that healthy vegetation may be attaeked by these minute organisms of destruction ; but it is still questionable whether they will originate on a perfectly healthy plant. It seems more generally true that diseased or unhealthy individuals contract this form of rapid decay, from which it is communicated to others. We know, for instance, that decayed potatoes and apples will communicate their con ditions to healthy specimens when placed in contact with them.
Among the many reasons that have been suggested as a cause of blight in the pear tree, that of unripened wood has not been the least frequent; and the fact that many independent observers have arrived at the same conclusion seems to point it out as a probable cause.
It cannot have escaped the notice of persons who have had a general collection of pear trees under their care and observation for a series of years, that those plants which have, by whatever means, been induced to grow freely until late in the season, and'have been overtaken by frosts while their growth was soft and succulent, have been the first to show symptons of disease. There are many noted instances on record showing that pear orchards, while kept under a continued system of disturbing cultivation, surface stirring during the summer, manuring and ploughing during the winter and spring; have been severely thinned by blighted limbs and dead trees, but which have been rendered both fruitful and healthy, and all diseases checked, by simply abandoning all such cultural expedients, and employing the scythe as the only implement in keeping weeds and undergrowths in check. It is notat all uncommon to meet with comments deprecatory of this " negligent treatment," as it is termed. We must not, however, be too strongly influenced by mere terms, or words, especially when they are misapplied. All appliances and operations that are distinguished by the term culture should have for their object the increase and healthy development of the products to which they are directed. Cultivation, in this instance, is a term indicative of those operations necessary to maintain a healthy equilibrium of the elements of plant growth. It therefore ceases to be a proper term when describing operations the effects of which are clearly to induce disease in plants, by encouraging extension of growth at improper periods. If the health or the productiveness of an orchard depends upon the absence of all disturbance of the soil over the roots of the trees, further than may be necessary to prevent extended spread of weeds or undergrowths by occasionally mowing, it seems difficult to understand why such treatment should be denounced as improper, and designated as “ neglected culture." Still, it is quite as reasonable to use that phrase, under the circumstances, as it is to characterize a course of treatment that stimulates plants to their destruction, by the high-sounding term of * scientific cultivation."
Among other operations tending to the production of unripened growths, late summer pruning may be mentioned as one of the most injurious. Although the practice is not so prevalent as it was ten years ago, it is far from being obsolete; but as cultivators shape their practice more and more from the knowledge acquired by study of cause and effect, rather than from one-sided theories, (an error we are all prone to adopt,) summer “ shortening in," as it is technically termed, will have few advocates, and still fewer practitioners.
It is now many years since the writer, somewhat timidly, recommended root pruning as an auxiliary to fruitfulness, and as a corrective of evils resulting from plethoric growth in trees. This ancient operation is an innovation upon the rules at present established, and will be performed only by those who are not trammeled by popular opinion, when opposed to convictions formed from careful observations and practical study of vegetable economy—a class of cultivators rapidly increasing in numbers and influence.
It may be well questioned whether the system of “ shortening in,” now so generally performed on fruit trees at the winter pruning, is not more injurious thau beneficial in most cases. In establishing the base or foundation for a spreading form in young trees, a shortening back of the youngest shoots will be unavoidable, but that a continuation of such