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ing to be a natural provision to secure fertilization in case the earlier catkins failed.
The genus Castanea, as now restricted, contains shrubs and large trees, with simple, alternate deciduous leaves, coarsely serrate, with pointed spiny teeth. Indigenous, and widely distributed over northern Africa, southern Europe, Asia and the eastern half of the United States.
The common English name of this nut is supposed to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon cystel, chestnut, and cyst-beam or cisten-beam, chestnut tree; Old English, chastein or chesten; Old German, chestinna or kestinna ; Modern German, kestene or kastanie ; French, castaigne or chataigne; Provencal, castanha; Spanish, castana; Italian, castagna, from the Latin castanea.
History of the Chestnut.-The so-called European chestnut is supposed to be indigenous to Asia Minor, Armenia, Caucasus and northern Africa, and from these countries it was introduced and became naturalized throughout the greater part of temperate Europe, where it has been cultivated from time immemorial. The Romans are supposed to have distributed it northward through France and Great Britain, and in the latter country there were trees centuries ago of such large size that many of the early English authors claimed this tree was indigenous. But in the absence of any natural forests of chestnut, the claim had to be abandoned. In parts of France, Italy and Spain, the chestnut has become thoroughly naturalized and, as we may say, run wild, but as one of the early investigators says, in speaking of the abundance of old chestnut trees on the Apennines, they are generally scattered over the surface like trees on a well-arranged lawn, and not crowded and massed, as they would be in a state of nature or in a forest. On the south side of the Alps the trees grow up to an altitude of twenty-five hundred feet, and on the Pyrenees some two or three hundred feet higher.
There are old trees of immense size almost everywhere in the milder regions of Europe, and the celebrated monarchs of Etna have been many times described by travelers. The largest measure one hundred and eighty feet in circumference near the root. All the early Roman writers who have anything to say about rural affairs, mention the chestnut as one of their valuable trees, producing nuts used for various purposes. Pliny enumerates eight varieties, but Columella appears to place more value upon the timber, especially the sprouts, for stakes, than he does on the nuts. But long before the Romans began to cultivate the chestnut, the Greeks held it in high esteem under the name of Sardianos Balanos or Sardis nut, and still later it was called Dios Balanos Lopimon.
The European chestnut has been so frequently and extensively referred to by ancient and modern authors that it would not be at all difficult to fill a large volume with brief extracts from their works, but my aim is not so much to show what has been done with this nut in other countries as what we may do with it here. All nations who have any experience with it admit its value as food for many wild and domesticated animals, as well as for the human race, and we know, from our long experience with the native species, that it is highly esteemed wherever known, although it must be admitted that our sparse population and the abundance of other kinds of food, have tended to make us careless and neglectful of the indigenous chestnut.
It may be well, before dismissing this brief history of the chestnut, to add that while nearly all the ancient authors, in referring to it, employed its present scientific name of Castanea, still, when botanists first attempted what has since been recognized as the scientific
classification of plants, many of them placed the chestnut in the same genus as the beech, retaining the generic name of Fagus for both.
Linnæus, in his Systema Naturæ, 1766, Vol. II, p. 630, describes two species of the chestnut and one of beech in the genus Fagus, although Tournefort, in his “History of Plants Growing About Paris,” published seventy years before that of Linnæus, had recognized the distinctive characteristics of these two groups of nut trees, and he adopted the present name of Castanea for the generic name of the chestnut, and Fagus for that of the beech. But nearly all of the English and earlier American botanists adopted and followed Linnæus in his classification, ignoring the works of the earlier as well as contemporaneous continental botanists. I merely refer to this matter of botanical nomenclature because some of my readers may have occasion to consult the earlier authors who describe American plants, as, for instance, such works as John Clayton's "Flora of Virginia," 1739, Thomas Walter's “Flora Caroliniana,” 1787, or Humphrey Marshall's “American Grove,” 1785. In all of these, and others, the chestnut is described as a species of beech (Fagus).
Propagation of the Chestnut.--The usual mode of propagating the chestnut is from seed, when trees are wanted for general planting or for stocks upon which to graft improved and rare varieties. Under some conditions and circumstances, it is best to plant the nuts soon after they are ripe in autumn, and this appears to be the most natural method ; in fact, it is the way in which forests have been produced and are constantly renewed and perpetuated, when man does not interfere to prevent it. But nature is in no hurry in such mattors, while man always is, because his time is limited; consequently, in our attempts at the multiplication and cultivation of plants we aim to save both time and mate
rial, therefore cannot afford to adopt nature's slow and wasteful processes.
The principal objection to planting chestnuts in the fall is the danger of having them destroyed by vermin, which abound almost everywhere. There is also danger of the nuts sprouting prematurely in the autumn, and of the young growth being killed by cold or by excessive moisture during late fall rains. But these natural enemies and obstacles prevent an excess in number and the overcrowding of trees in our forests. It is, no doubt, possible and practicable to smear the nuts with poisonous substances, or those sufficiently offensive to prevent the depredations of vermin, but taking all things into consideration, I am decidedly in favor of preserving the nuts in bulk and in a dormant state until the season arrives for insuring a rapid and continuous growth, and then planting them. To do this in our cold northern climate, as well as in the South, requires more care and attention with chestnuts than with the harder-shelled kinds, like the walnut and hickory nut. As a rule, it may be said that all the hardy kinds of nuts sprout at a rather low temperature and a few degrees above the freezing point, and for this reason it is well to select as cool a spot in the open ground as possible for their winter quarters, and then examine them as early as can be done conveniently in the spring.
In this matter of manipulating and preserving chestnuts for planting, as well as what follows in regard to transplanting, pruning and grafting, I shall give my own practice, with results; and while it may differ from that of other propagators, it is one evolved from long experience, many successes, and a few failures.
· Gathering and Assorting Nuts. When the uuts begin to ripen and fall, gather as soon as possible, and if the trees are on your own grounds and will admit of such an operation, thrash them and secure the entire