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readily increased. “Summer Grass” (Panicum sanguinale) was noticed in gardens and on the permanent way, and a coarse form of P. gracile was common amongst the shrubs. “Kangaroo Grass” (Anthistiria ciliata) was fairly plentiful, and so was the slender, graceful Microlana stipoides, which, like many other grasses, likes damp soil. The three-awned grasses (Aristida) were represented by both A. ramosa and A. vagans, which are very closely related, and very wiry grasses, of little fodder-value, except when young. Stipa pubescens, a tall, handsome“ spear-grass " was rather common, forming tussocks in the rockiest, poorest land. Dichelachne sciurea is one of the “plume grasses.” It did not occur in any abundance, and is rather a thin, weak grass here. The well-known Deyeuxia Forsteri was abundant, and it is a good fodder-grass. Anisopogon avenaceus (a so-called “oat-grass ") is one of the commonest grasses, and very conspicuous with its large white per. sistent glumes. It is abundant in tussocks on the sandstone ridges everywhere, and also at the foot of railway embankments. It flowers very freely, and has so little the appearance of having been eaten down by stock, it is presumably not a favourite with them, for the grass is eo thin at Hill Top as a very general rule that cattle and horses must often be put to sore straits. Danthonia semiannularis was not common, which is to be regretted, as it is both nutritious and ornamental. It also forms a fair amount of leafy fodder. Echinopogon ovatus was not uncommon, hiding amongst the bushes. It is a thin, harsh grass, not a favourite with stock. The so-called "Lore-grasses" were represented by two species,—Eragrostis pilosa and Brownii, both useful to the stock-owner. But Hill Top is not a place for the pastoralist, and never will be.
FILICES (FERNS). And now we come to the ferns, a subject that ladies usually take especial interest in,-cultivating, and pressing, and mounting them. Hill Top does not at first sight promise much in the way of these plants, but exploration of the gullies shows the presence of a fair variety. As with the ferns, so with the other plants, my cursory examination of Hill Top, during an especially trying season, revealed probably only few of the species to be found in the district.
The bright green “ Umbrella fern" (so called because its habit reminds one of an inverted umbrella) is Gleichenia flabellata, and with one of the “ Bead ferns" (G. circinata) was to be found in gullies. These beautiful ferns are, as far as my personal experience goes, difficult to propagate.
Todea barbara, sometimes called "squatty fern," and looked upon by some people as a diminutive tree-fern, was noticed. Of the true tree-ferns we have the widely diffused Alsophila australis, and also Dicksonia antarctica, in the shady gullies, the localties, of course, for most of the ferns. Davallia dubia, forming large exuberant masses of rich green foliage, was also observed along the banks of creeks, while the pretty little delicate looking ferns, Lindsæa microphylla and L. linearis were found chiefly under the shelter of rocks and in ordinary scrub land respectively, though not exclusively in these situations. The beautiful maiden-hair (Adiantum æthiopicum) was not rare, and fine patches of the bracken whose root (rhizome) was employed by the aborigines for food (Pteris aquilina, var. esculenta) were seen in sandy patches where creeks overflow in time of flood. Large masses of Lomaria discolor were found near the Davallia. Blechnum cartilagineum was very abundant in some places. The weil-known Doodia aspera, with its rough fronds, was collected in various places, in grass-land and in gullies, while the widelydiffused delicate Asplenium flabellifolium completes the list of the ferns observed, or collected, by me.
FIBRE OF Wikstræmia indica, C: A. Mey. A CORRESPONDENT from Palmer's Island, Clarence River, sends to the Depart. ment a sample of the bark of this shrub, which grows near the sea-shore, on the banks of salt-water rivers, or at no great distance from salt water. It is found from the Illawarra northward, along the Queensland coast; also in Asia and the Pacific Islands. It is a neat plant, with small leaves, ovate to oblong-lanceolate, paler underneath ; yellowish green, inconspicuous flowers, and small succulent fruits which turn red when ripe.
It belongs to the Daphne family (Thymelaceæ), which includes those (usually) white-flowered plants so widely diffused in this Colony—the Pimeleas. Wikstremia fibre is of excellent colour, silky and strong, but I had regretfolly to report that there is no commercial future before it. To begin with, the plants are only shrubs, and the labour of collecting the bark would be excessive. In India, where the plant is common and labour cheap, notbing has been done with it except for local use, as in rope-making. The bark of our plant is used in Fiji and the Samoan Islands for cordage, fishing-nets, &c.
Solander records that the leaves and branches of the Tahitian variety are bruised and mixed with the rasped seeds of Barringtonia speciosa for the purpose of stupefying fish when they come to the surface of the water.
A CASE OF POISONING THROUGH EATING CUNJEVOI Root,
OR BLACKFELLOWS' POTATOES. THE Cunjeroi is a plant which belongs to the Arum Lily family (Aroidece), and its botanical name is Colocasia macrorrhiza. It is a native of the Colony, and may often be poticed in damp, shady places, with rich soil, say near the banks of rivers and lagoons, from the Illawarra northward. It is often to be seen in Sydney gardens, or grown in tubs and tins, being cultivated as a foliage plant, its large paie green leaves having a refreshing appearance.
The roots (rhizomes) have been used for food by the aborigines of both this Colony and Queensland, but always after treatment with fire, for this plant, in common with many others of the Natural Order to which it belongs, possesses an acrid, poisonous principle, the nature of which is not perfectly understood. Most of our coast residents know it by the name of "Blackfellows' Potatoes," while Cunjevoi is a common Queensland aborig. inal name. Following is an account, by Thozet, of the method adopted by the aborigines of Cleveland Bay, Queensland, of preparing it for food :
"The young bulbs of a light rose colour inside found growing on large old rhizomes are scraped, dirided into two parts, and put under hot ashes for about half an hour. When sufficiently baked they are then pounded by hard strokes between two stones, a large one, Wallarie, and a small one, Kondola. All the pieces which do not look farinaceous, but watery when broken, are thrown away, the others by strokes of the Kondola, are united by twos or threes, and put into the fire again; they are then taken out and pounded together in the form of a cake, which is again returned to the fire and carefully turned occasionally. This operation is repeated eight or ten times, and when the hakkin, which is now of a green-greyish colour, begins to harden, it is fit for use." .
Advantage is takon of the knowledge that the plant possesses much acridity in the fresh state, it being employed by the natives of India as an external stimulant and rubefacient. The acrid principle is, however, very volatile, and by the application of heat, or simple drying, the roots become innocuous.—(Pharmacopæia of India, Waring.)
It is well to remind people of the dangerous nature of the plant, instead of allowing those who have plants of it to find out its properties accidentally.
A few weeks ago a few small boys in Redfern were playing horses, and horses must be fed on turnip, and so on. The unfortunate idea occurred to one of the boys that he would use the root-stock of this plant instead of turnip, and so these little 8-year-old horses were each given a piece, and gnawed at it as small boys do. Shortly afterwards they were all taken alarmingly ill, and the mother of one of the boys, who brought the plant to me for identification, informed me that she had much experience with the ailments of children (she had eleven of her own), and that she never expected her lad (a healthy child) would pull through.
Dr. J. Anderson, of 93, Redfern-street, Redfern, who had charge of the case, very kindly gave me the following note in regard to his patient, and I am happy to say that the sufferer has since perfectly recovered :
The symptoms were :-Much swelling and congestion of the mucous membrane of the lips and mouth, tongue also swollen and protruding, great salivation, eyeballs protruding, and some dilation of the pupils. There was pain in the stomach and bowels, while the abdominal walls were drawn in and tense. The boy had received an emetic and a table. spoonful of castor oil before his arrival here, and these probably accounted for the vomiting and diarrhea which also took place. There was, however, considerable prostration, with slow pulse, when he was first presented here. The salivation continued all night, and the pains in the abdomen, with diarrhea, were frequent next day, with weakness in the muscles of the legs, &c. I prescribed raw egg and milk to be taken as well as the oil, seeing that I knew nothing definite of the poisonous herb, except that it was clearly an irritant.-J. ANDERSON, M.D.
Cunjevoi is the plant which is used in many parts of the North Coast and of Queensland as an antidote to the sting of the nettle-tree (Laportea). The plants grow in similar situations, and the bushman's remedy for nettling is to break a leaf off and rub the affected part with the juice, the pain being usually relieved by the operation.
THE ESPARTO-FIBRE INDUSTRY OF TUNIS. ESPARTO-FIBRE known as Halfa by the Arabs and Alfa in French, is a kind of marine bulrush (it is a coarse grass stipa tenacissima, and is, consequently allied to our spear grasses) which grows abundantly on North African coast, chiefly in Tripoli and Tunis.
The principal districts in Tunis whence this product is obtained are the territories of the following tribes :-Hemmema, Slass, Erghoumma, and in the neighbourhood of Cardato in Sfax and Suza.
Esparto-fibre is generally divided into two kinds—the rusia, long and straight, and the mahbula, which takes its name from the twisted nature of the growth.
The "rusia" kind includes nine different qualities, all taking their names from the districts in which they are found.
The Hemmema kind has a long and rather thick stalk, and is used for cigar-straws and for the manufacture of artistic objects in basket-work, &c.; it is much employed in paper-making, and is largely exported to England, where it is always in demand.
The Slass species is a very beautiful plant, and preferred at Marseilles for the manufacture of scourtins (mats which are placed under the presses in oil manufactories); it is used also in rope and paper making. The principal market in France is at St. Louis on the Rhone, but though the consumption is on the increase, even there but little is asked for, paper being still made from wood and rags.
The Erghoumma kind all goes to England, being shipped at the port of Gabes; the Schebba kind is the most fine, very elastic, and is much used for textile purposes; and the other qualities are made up into paper, baskets, matting, carpets, &c.
The “mahbula” Esparto is chiefly found along the coast from Media to Tripoli, about 25 miles inland.
At Sfax, in the months of June, July, and August, the inhabitants of the Kerkena Islands flock to the coast of the mainland, gather it, and make it into bundles, which are left to dry in the sun; in one day from 4,000 to 5,000 kilogs. can be obtained; it is spread on the sea-shore to be dried, then steeped in the sea, and then stretched out along the sands to dry again, after which the fibre is twisted and rubbed in the hands till a fairly-good cord is produced.
The inhabitants of these Kerkene Islands occupy themselves, in addition, with making other kinds of thicker rope, even cables, and these latter are
durable. Sea-water, instead of deteriorating, seems to strengthen them, and were it not for a certain want of elasticity, they would be more generally adopted by larger vessels. The Kerkenines also make baskets and mats for the backs of camels.
The esport trade of mahbula, by way of Marseilles, is very great, a small amount only being sent to Italy, but the thicker rope is still sent to Trapani and Cagliari, where good use is made of it in the tunny fisheries.
As an article for the textile industry, Esparto-fibre is principally used in England, hardly at all in France, and very little in Italy.
The principal markets in Tunis for Esparto are Sfax, Gabes, and Skira,
tax. The stuff is done up in fresh bundles, which have to be well dried, to avoid fermentation, and it is finally made up for exportation in bales (by means of hand-presses) of about 150 kilogs. each.
The Tunisian fibre pays an export duty of 1.27 francs per 100 kilogs., but, if worked up, is exempt. The Tripoli fibre, on the other hand, is not subject to any export duty at all.—(The Board of Trade Journal of Tariff and Trade Notices, &c., Vol. XXI, No. 115, Feb., 1896, pp. 151-2.)
NATIVE PLANTS EATEN BY STOCK.
READERS of the Gazette are invited to send notes, and specimens of plants eaten by sheep, cattle, and horses, as it is contemplated to compile a list of such plants for referential purposes.
EVERGREEN MILLET, OR JOHNSON GRASS. In response to a request in Mr. Maiden's article on this fodder plant in our February issue, the following information has been forwarded to the Department by Mr. W. R. Rowles, of “Armadale," Warren, under date 26th March :-“I sowed 4 lb. early last September on a patch of ground about 1 chain wide and 1} chain long. During the following three months the rainfall was about 1 inch only. About the middle of December we had 2 inches of rain, but up to that time the Johnson Grass had been growing steadily, and had attained a height of about 3 feet, and retained its bright green colour, while sorghum, lucerne, and other crops, which are usually looked upon as hardy in a dry and warm climate like ours, presented a faded and stunted appearance. The rain which fell in December gave the millet a great impetus, and by the first week in January it had attained a height of from 4 to 5 feet, and seeded splendidly. I gathered a 3-bushel bag full of seedheads tightly pressed down with the hand, which I have not yet thrashed, but which I estimate will yield from 25 to 30 lb. of seed. I cut nearly 1 ton of good sweet hay, which both horses and cattle eat ravenously, and during the * heat wave' I turned iny stock into the paddock in which the millet was growing, and when the drought broke up there was little or nothing to be seen above the surface of the ground. About 3 inches of rain fell during the month of February, and the Johnson Grass is again up to a height of 2 to 3 feet, and seems to have seeded nearly as thickly as previously, and the seed will be fit to pick by the end of the month. The soil in which the grass is growing is a rich alluvial soil, such as is found along the banks of the Macquarie, the patch being within a hundred yards of the river, but it has in no way been artificially watered...I know one resident in this district who has nearly spoiled his orchard with this grass. Two or three years ago he sowed a small quantity, and although he has frequently tried to eradicate it, it seems as bad as ever. From the above, I think we can safely conclude that Johnson Grass can be grown with advantage in the dry interior of our Colony, and should be considered as a reliable crop by stockowners."