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Bigarreau classes. Size, large; color, red; slightly heart shaped; flesh moderate, firm, and juicy. Sweet, with a slight acidity that is rare in cherry of its class. It is simply of first quality. The accompanying drawing is from a branch that overbore, and therefore below the usual size.
PINUS PUNGENS—THE TABLE MOUNTAIN PINE.
By Thomas MEEHAN, Professor of Botany to the Society.
About the latter part of the last century our country was visited by a distinguished botanist, Andre Michaux, and his son, F. Andre Michaux, no less distinguished than his father, and the two together traversed the continent in search of its floral treasures. In 1801, the father published his work on the “ Oaks of North America,” and in 1810, the son published a “History of the Forest Trees of North America,” and it was in this work that we were made acquainted with our “ Table Mountain Pine.” He gives a very fair colored plate of a branch with a cone, and says of it: The Table mountain, in North Carolina, one of the highest points of the Alleghenies, at the distance of nearly three hundred miles from the sea, has given its name to this species of pine, which covers it almost exclusively, though it is rare on the neighboring summits, nor is it found in any other part of the United States, as my father and myself have become assured by extensive researches; of all the forest trees of America, this species alone is restricted to such narrow limits, and it will probably be the first to become extinct, as the mountains which produce it are easy of access, are favored with a salubrious air and a fertile soil, and are rapidly peopling, besides which their forests are frequently ravaged by fire."
It is of interest to note that botanists of the present day do not talk as positively as those of the past. The more we learn the more uncertain we are that we have learned all, and if any one now were to say that such or such a plant did not exist, because his “extensive researches had assured him of the fact,” even in these days of railroads and steamboats he would be thought rash. In the case of this pine, instead of being confined to the Table mountain, it has been discovered in various places along the whole Allegheny range, in spite of the extensive researches of our distinguished friends of the past age.
It is now many years ago, when on a botanical excursion, with the President of our Society, Josiah Hoopes, we were told by an aged botanist of Bethlehem, on the Lehigh, that he had, many years previous to our visit, found some half decayed cones of Pinus pungens on ground that, in his boyhood, was a pine forest; and subsequently to this, Professor T. C. Porter, the distinguished botanist of Easton, found old cones at Huntingdon. Then the writer of this found the living trees in great abundance near Port Clinton, on the Schuylkill; and a few years later, when attending the annual fair of the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society, was surprised to find most of the greens used for decoration of the same pine cut from the hills near Harrisburg, where, a year or two later, the writer saw them in the woods in great quantity. Again, in company with President Hoopes, it was seen, in great abundance, in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia. At any rate, it is fair to say that its range is from North Carolina to northern Pennsylvania, an i we may claim it, notwithstanding its name, as a Pennsylvania tree.
Michaux says it grows about forty to fifty feet high, and this accords with my experience. In our mountains it is generally associated with Pinus inops, and seems to grow at about the same rate. Michaux thinks it is of little use in the arts, as compared with other timber trees of the pine family.
Plants, however, which I have raised from seeds of our Pennsylvania plants, show me that it is an immense grower. It has sometimes increased in diameter an inch and a half a year, and, as it has a very strong and deeply penetrating tap root, I believe it would be a capital tree for planting in the dry western lands, where timber is hard to grow, and consequently very scarce. It may also be excellent for clothing with vegetation, dry, rocky, mountain tops, in other places, where few things will do at all, and any kind of tree is a blessing without disguise.
For ornamental purposes, however, few pines are more desirable. Its bright green color is retained at all seasons, not changing its tint, in winter, as some do. Its rapidity of growth would render it liable to a straggling appearance, but it takes to the pruning knife so well, that one can make it of any form desirable. But the large cones are particularly ornamental, and these are produced while the t'ees are yet young. Indeed, I have seen a few bear them at three years ol 1. The male flowers, produced in early spring, are more than usually attractive for one of the pine family, through a beautiful purple tint they bear.
It seems but right that on a Pennsylvania society shoull fall the duty of making known Pennsylvania trees, which, in spite of its North Carolina name, we must justly regarit it; and especially pleasant is it to me to help the Society in making it known, since it fell to my lot to be the one to discover it.