The Botanist's Companion, Vol. II
Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Tobias von der Haar
THE BOTANIST'S COMPANION,
OR AN INTRODUCTION TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF PRACTICAL BOTANY, AND THE USES OF
PLANTS. EITHER GROWING WILD IN GREAT BRITAIN, OR CULTIVATED FOR THE
PUROSES OF AGRICULTURE, MEDICINE, RURAL OECONOMY, OR THE ARTS.
By WILLIAM SALISBURY, OF THE BOTANIC GARDEN OF SLOANE-STREET.
"Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, and every tree
yielding fruit, and to you it shall be for meat."
PREFACE TO THE SECOND VOLUME
In demonstrating the Plants which occur in our annual herborizing
excursions, I have found it necessary to put into the hands of my pupils
some Manual of Botany; and in so doing I have found all that have yet
been published, deficient in one or two essential points, and
particularly as relating to the uses to which each plant is adapted;
with out which, although the charms of the Flora are in themselves truly
delightful, yet the real value of Botanic knowledge is lost. The study
of plants, so far as regards their uses and culture, has engaged my
particular attention for the last twenty-five years, during which time I
had the honour of conducting a series of experiments on the growth of
plants, for the Board of Agriculture, which gave me an opportunity of
ascertaining many facts relative to our Grasses, &c. an account of
which, I have had some time ready for publication. The necessity of a
work of this kind in my present profession, has therefore induced me to
abridge it and put it to press; as such I offer it to the Public. To the
Subscribers to my Botanic Garden this will also prove of great service;
it being intended to arrange the plants in their several departments, so
as to make it a general work of reference both in the fields or garden.
In the department which treats of the Vegetables used for medicinal
purposes, I have given as ample descriptions as the nature of the work
will admit of, having in view the very necessary obligation which the
younger branch of the profession are under, of paying attention to the
In prosecuting this work, I have been more actuated by a desire to
render to my pupils and others, useful in-formation, than that of
commencing Author on such a subject; and writing for the press has been
but very little my employment, I trust that an ample excuse will be
granted for any errors that may appear, or for the want of that
happiness of diction with which more able and accomplished Authors may
Sloane Street, May 1816.
CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME
PLANTS USEFUL IN AGRICULTURE.
SECT. 1. Observations on saving Grass-seeds and the use of the British
Grasses in general, as fodder, &c.
SECT. 2. Observations on Artificial Grasses
SECT. 3. Observations on Plants affording fodder from leaves and roots
SECT. 4. Observations on Grains
SECT. 5. Observations on Miscellaneous Articles
PLANTS USEFUL IN THE ARTS.
SECT. 6. Observations on British Trees and Shrubs
SECT. 7. Observations on Medicinal Plants contained in the London,
Edinburgh, and Dublin Pharmacopoeias
SECT. 8. Observations on Medicinal Plants not in the Pharmacopoeias of the
Observations on drying and preserving Plants for medicinal use, &c.
SECT. 9. Observations on Plants cultivated for culinary purposes
SECT. 10. Observations on Wild Plants useful for culinary purposes,
which are not in cultivation
SECT. 11. Observations on Plants useful for Dyeing
SECT. 12. Observations on Plants used in rural oeconomy
POISONOUS PLANTS GROWING IN GREAT BRITAIN, And their best recommended
SECT. 13. Observations on Nauseous Poisonous Plants
Observations on Acrid Poisonous Vegetables
Observations on Stupefying Poisonous Vegetables
Observations on Foetid Poisons
Observations on Drastic Poisons
Observations on Poisonous Fungi, Mushrooms, &c.
SECT. 14. Observations on Plants noxious to cattle
SECT. 15. Observations on Annual Weeds, or such as grow wild and do not
produce food for cattle
Observations on Weeds with creeping roots
Observations on Perennial Weeds
SECT. 16. Observations on Exotic Trees and Shrubs, and the soil to which
each is best adapted
SECT. 17. Observations on Foreign Hardy Herbaceous Plants, with the
soil which each is found to thrive best in
SECT. 19. Observations on Hardy Annual Flowers, with the seasons for
SECT. 20. Observations on Hardy Biennial Flowers, with their culture
SECT. 21. Observations on Tender Annual Flowers
SECT. 22. Observations on Foreign Alpine Plants, or such as are adapted
to the decoration of rock-work, with the best soils for each denoted
British Plants cultivated for ornamental purposes
Miscellaneous Articles not mentioned under the foregoing heads
On extracting Sugar from Beet-root
On liquid Sugar made from Apple-juice
On the Urtica canadensis, or Canadian Hemp-plant
On the bleeding of Trees and obtaining Sap for the purposes of making
Wine and brewing Ale
PLANTS USEFUL IN AGRICULTUE.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE CULTURE OF GRASSES, AND ON SAVING SEEDS, &c.
It is now fifty years since the celebrated Stillingfleet observed, "that
it was surprising to see how long mankind had neglected to make a proper
advantage of plants, of so much importance to agriculture as the
Grasses, which are in all countries the principal food of cattle." The
farmer, for want of distinguishing and selecting the best kinds, fills
his pastures either with weeds or improper plants, when by making a
right choice he would not only procure a more abundant crop from his
land, but have a produce more nourishing for his flock. One would
therefore naturally wonder, after this truth has been so long published,
and that in an age when agriculture and the arts have so much improved,
that Select Seeds of this tribe of plants are scarcely to be produced.
From the experience I have had on this subject, I find their culture is
attended with certain difficulties, which arise not so much from the
nature of the plants, as from the labour requisite to this purpose,
great attention being necessary for saving Grass-seeds at the seasons
when the farmer must exert all the strength of his husbandmen to get his
other business accomplished.
The only mode by which this can be effected is by selecting a proper
soil for the kinds intended to be saved. The seeds should be drilled
into the ground at about one foot distance; and care taken that the
plants are duly weeded of all other kinds that may intrude themselves,
before they get too firm possession of the soil. The hoe should be
frequently passed between the drills, in order both to keep the land
clean and to give vigour to the young plants. The sowing may be done
either in the spring or in the month of September, which will enable the
crop to go to seed the following spring. In order to preserve a
succession of crops, it is necessary every season to keep the ground
clean all the summer months, to dig or otherwise turn up the land
between the drills early in the spring, and to be particular in the
other operations until the seeds ripen. Now this business being so
inconvenient to the farmer, it is not to be wondered at, that, wherever
attempts of this kind have been made, they should fail from want of the
necessary care as above stated, without which it is needless to
speculate in such an undertaking. There is nevertheless still an
opportunity, for any one who would give up his land and time to the
pursuit, to reap a rich and important harvest; as nothing would pay him
better, or redound more to his credit, than to get our markets regularly
supplied with select seeds of the best indigenous Grasses, so that a
proper portion of them may be used for forming pasture and meadow-land.
The above hints are not thrown out by a person who wishes to speculate
in a theory which is new, but by one who has cultivated those plants
himself both for seed and fodder, and who would readily wish to promote
their culture by stating a mode which has proved to him a profitable
pursuit, and for which he has, already, been honoured with a reward form
the Society of Arts.
The following observations are intended to embrace such kinds only as
are likely to be cultivated, with those that are distinguished for some
particular good properties; as it would be impossible within the limits
of this small memorandum to enumerate all the plants that are eaten by
cattle. The same mode shall be pursued under all the different heads in
PLANTS USEFULL IN AGRICULTURE.
1. ANTHOXANTHUM odoratum. SWEET-SCENTED VERNAL-GRASS.--This is found
frequently in all our best meadows, to which it is of great benefit. It
is an early, though not the most productive grass, and is much relished
by all kinds of cattle. It is highly odoriferous; if bruised it
communicates its agreeable scent to the fingers, and when dry perfumes
the hay. It will grow in almost any soil or situation. About three
pounds of seed should be sown with other grasses for an acre of land.
2. ALOPECURUS pratensis. MEADOW FOX-TAIL-GRASS.--One of our most
productive plants of this tribe: it grows best in a moist soil, is very
early, being often fit for the scythe by the middle of May. About two
bushels of seed will sow an acre, with a proportionate quantity of
Clover; which see.
3. ALOPECURUS geniculatus. FLOTE FOX-TAIL-GRASS.--Is very good in water
meadows, being nutritive, and cattle in general are fond of it. We do
not know if the cultivation of this plant has as yet been attempted.
4. AGROSTIS capillaris. FINE BENT-GRASS.--Dr. Walker, in his History of
the Hebrides, speaks very favourably of this grass. I have therefore
noticed it here, but I do not think it so good as many others. It grows
on the sandy hills near Combe Wood in Surrey, and forms the principal
part of the pasturage; but it is neither very productive, nor are cattle
observed to thrive on it. The seeds are very small; one peck would sow
5. AGROSTIS pyramidalis. FIORIN-GRASS [Footnote: Fiorin is the Irish
name of butter].--No plant has engaged the attention of the farmer more
than this grass, none ever produced more disputes, and none is perhaps
so little understood. It is perfectly distinct from any species of
Agrostis indigenous to this country: it is introduced by Dr. Richardson,
and to that gentleman's extraordinary account of it we are indebted for
numerous mistakes that have been made respecting it. It is an amphibious
plant, thriving only in water or wet soils, is very productive, and the
stalks after a summer's growth secrete a large quantity of sugar. It has
the power, when the stalks are ripe, of resisting putrefaction, and will
become blanched and more nutritious by being cut and laid in heaps in
the winter season, at which time only it is useful. The cultivator of
this plant must not expect to graze his land, but allow all the growth
to be husbanded as above; and although it will not be found generally
advantageous on this account, it nevertheless may be grown to very great
advantage either in wet soils, or where land can be flooded at pleasure.
The seeds are often barren; and the only mode is to plant the shoots or
strings in drills at nine inches apart, laying them lengthways along the
drills, the ends of one touching the other.
6. AIRA aquatica. WATER HAIR-GRASS.--This is an aquatic, and very much
relished by cattle, but cannot be propagated for fodder. Water-fowl are
very fond of the young sweet shoots, as also of the seeds; it may
therefore be introduced into decoys and other places with good effect.
Pulling up the plants and throwing them into the water with a weight
tied to them, is the best mode of introducing it.
7. ARUNDO arenaria. SEA-SIDE REED-GRASS.--This is also of no value as
fodder, but it possesses the property of forming by its thick and wiry
roots considerable hillocks on the shores where it naturally grows:
hence its value on all new embankments. If it be planted in a sandy
place, during its growth in the summer the loose soil will be collected
in the herbage, and the grass continues to grow and form roots in it;
and thus is the hillock increased. Local acts of parliament have been
passed, and now exist, for preventing its destruction on the sea-coast
in some parts of Great Britain, on this account.
8. ARUNDO Phragmites. COMMON REED.--Is useful for thatching, and making
slight fences; it grows best in ponds near streams of water; it does not
often seed, but it could easily be introduced to such places by planting
its roots in spring: it is a large-growing plant; and where herbage may
be wanted either for beauty or shelter for water-fowl, nothing can be
more suitable, and the reeds are of great value.
9. AVENA flavescens. YELLOW OAT-GRASS.--Is much eaten by cattle, and
forms a good bottom. It has the property of throwing up flowerstalks all
the summer; hence its produce is considerable, and it appears to be well
adapted to pasture. The seeds of this grass are not to be obtained
separately; hence it is not in cultivation. It is however worthy of
attention, as the seeds are produced very abundantly in its native
places of growth. It will grow either in wet or dry soils.
10. AVENA pubescens. ROUGH OAT-GRASS.--This appears to have some merits,
but the foliage is extremely bitter. It grows in dry soils.
11. AVENA elatior. TALL OAT-GRASS.--From the good appearance of this
grass some persons have recommended it as likely to be useful for
forming meadows; but it is excessively bitter, and is not liked by
cattle generally, though when starved they are sometimes observed to eat
of it. There is a variety of it with knobby roots which is found to be a
most troublesome and noxious weed in arable lands, particularly in some
parts of the coast of Hampshire where it abounds. This variety was some
years ago introduced into the island of St. Kitts, and it has since
taken such firm possession of the land as to render a large district
quite useless. Persons should be cautious how they speculate with weeds
from appearances only.
12. BRIZA media. QUAKING-GRASS.--Is common in meadow land, and helps to
make a thick bottom; it does not however appear to be worth the trouble
of select culture. It is bitter to the taste.
13. BROMUS mollis. SOFT BROME-GRASS.--Mr. Curtis has given a very clear
account of this grass, which he says predominates much in the meadows
near London, but that the seeds are usually ripe and the grass dried up
before the hay time: hence it is lost; and he in consequence considered
it only in the light of a weed. It has seldom occurred to me to differ
in opinion from this gentleman, who certainly has given us, as far as it
goes, a most perfect description of our useful grasses: but experience
has convinced me that the Soft Brome-Grass, which seeds and springs up
so early, makes the chief bulk of most of our meadows in March and
April; and although it is ripe and over, or nearly so, by the hay
harvest, yet the food it yields at this early season is of the greatest
moment, as little else is found fit for the food of cattle before the
meadow is shut up for hay, and this plant being eaten down at that
season is not any loss to the hay crop. Whoever examines the seeds of
this grass will be led to admire how wonderfully it is fitted to make
its way into the soil at the season of its ripening, when the land is
thus covered with the whole produce of a meadow. I notice this curious
piece of mechanism [Footnote: Many seeds of the grasses are provided with
awns which curl up in dry weather and relax with moisture. Thus by
change of atmosphere a continued motion is occasioned, which enables the
seeds to find their way through the foliage to the soil, where it buries
itself in a short time in a very curious manner.], not that it is
altogether peculiar to this plant, but to show that Nature has provided
it means of succeeding in burying itself in the ground, when all the
endeavours of man could not sow the land with any other to answer a
similar purpose. If the seeds of this grass were collected and
introduced in some meadows where it is not common, I am sure the early
feeding would be thereby improved.
The seeds are sometimes mixed with those of Rye-grass at market, and it
is known by the name of Cocks: it has the effect of reducing such
samples in value, but I should not hesitate in preferring such to any
other. If any one should be inclined to make the above experiment, two
pecks of the seed sown on an acre will be sufficient.---See Treatise on
Brit. Grasses by Mr. Curtis, edit. 5.
14. CYNOSURUS cristatus. CRESTED DOG'S-TAIL-GRASS.--A very fine herbage,
and much relished by sheep, &c.; it grows best in fine upland loam,
where it is found to be a most excellent plant both for grazing and hay.
The seeds are to be purchased sometimes at the seedshops. About twelve
pounds will sow an acre.---See Observations on laying Land to Grass, in
the Appendix to this work.
15. CYNOSURUS coeruleus. BLUE DOG'S-TAIL-GRASS.--Dr. Walker states this
plant to be remarkably agreeable to cattle, and that it grows nearly
three feet high in mountainous situations and very exposed places. As
this grass does not grow wild in this part of the country, we have no
opportunity of considering its merits. In our Botanic Garden it seldom
exceeds the height of ten inches or a foot.
It is the earliest grass of all our British species, being often in
bloom in February.
The above intelligent gentleman, who seems to have studied the British
Gramina to a considerable extent, says that the following kinds give
considerable food to sheep and cattle in such situations; I shall
therefore mention their names, as being with us of little esteem and
similar to the above.
Phleum alpinum. Eriophorum polystachion. Festuca decumbens. Carex
flavescens. Carex gigantea, probably Pseudocyperus. Carex trigona,
probably vulpina. Carex elata, probably atrata. Carex nemorosa, probably
pendula. And he is of opinion that the seeds may be sown to advantage.
Be this as may, the observation can only apply to situations in the
north of Britain, where he has seen them wild; in this part of the
island we have a number of kinds much better adapted to soil, climate,
16. DACTYLIS glomerata. ROUGH COCK'S-FOOT-GRASS.--Has a remarkable rough
coarse foliage, and is of little account as a grass for the hay-stack;
but from its early growth and great produce it is now found to be a
useful plant, and is the only grass at this time known that will fill
up the dearth experienced by graziers from the time turnips are over
until the meadows are fit for grazing. Every sheep-farm should be
provided with a due portion of this on the land; but no more should be
grown than is wanted for early feed, and what can be kept closely eaten
down all the season. If it is left to get up it forms large tufts, and
renders the field unsightly, and scarcely any animal will eat it when
grown old or when dried in the form of hay. The seed is to be bought;
two bushels per acres is sown usually alone.
17. FESTUCA elatior. TALL FESCUE-GRASS.--This in its wild state has been
considered as a productive and nutritive grass; it grows best in moist
places; but the seeds have been found in general abortive, and the grass
consequently only to be propagated by planting the roots, a trouble by
far too great to succeed to any extent.--See Poa aquatica.
18. FESTUCA duriuscula. HARD FESCUE-GRASS.--A very excellent grass both
for green fodder and hay, and would be well worth cultivating; but the
seeds have not hitherto been saved in any quantity.
I have seen a meadow near Bognor where it formed the principal part of
the herbage; and it was represented to me by the owner as the best
meadow in the neighbourhood, and the hay excellent [Footnote: Mr. Curtis
observes that this grass grows thin on the ground after a time. I have
sometimes observed this to be the case in the Botanic Garden, but it is
otherwise in its native state of growth. Nothing stands the dry weather
better, or makes a more firm sward.].
The seeds of this grass are small, and about one bushel would sow an
acre of ground.
19. FESTUCA rubra. RED or CREEPING FESCUE-GRASS.--A fine grass, very
like duriuscula; but it is not common in this part of the country; it
grows plentifully on the mountains in Wales.
It does not produce fertile seeds with us in the garden.
20. FESTUCA pratensis. MEADOW FESCUE-GRASS.--No plant whatever deserves
so much the attention of the graziers as this grass. It has been justly
esteemed by Mr. Curtis and all other persons practically acquainted with
the produce of our meadows. It will grow in almost any soil that is
capable of sustaining a vegetable, from the banks of rivulets to the top
of the thin-soiled calcareous hills, where it produces herbage equal to
any other plant of the kind; and all descriptions of cattle eat it, and
are nourished by the food. The plant is of easy culture, as it yields
seeds very abundantly, and they grow very readily. I have made some
excellent meadows with this seed, which after a trial of ten years are
now equal to any in the kingdom. The culture of the seed selected is
now nearly lost, which is a misfortune, I had almost ventured to say a
disgrace, to our agriculture.
If the farmer could get his land fit for meadow laid down with one
bushel of this seed, one bushel of Alopecurus pratensis, three pounds of
Anthoxanthum, and a little Bromus mollis, with Clover, I will venture to
predict experience will induce him to say, "I will seek no further."
21. FESTUCA ovina.--SHEEP'S FESCUE-GRASS.--This is very highly spoken of
in all dissertations that have hitherto been written on the merits of
our grasses; but its value must be confined to alpine situations, for
its diminutive size added to its slow growth renders it in my opinion
very inferior to the duriuscula. In fact, I am of opinion that these are
often confounded together, and the merits of the former applied to this,
although they are different in many respects. Those who wish to obtain
more of its history may consult Stillingfleet's Observations on Grasses,
22. FESTUCA vivipara. VIVIPAROUS FESCUE-GRASS.--This affords a striking
instance of the protection that Nature has contrived for keeping up the
regular produce of the different species of plants; as when the Festuca
ovina is found in very high mountainous situations, places not congenial
to the ripening seeds of so light a nature, the panicle is found to
become viviparous, i.e. producing perfect plants, which being beaten
down with heavy rains in the autumn, readily strike root in the ground.
This plant was introduced into our garden many years ago, and still
preserves this difference; otherwise it is in all respects the same as
the Festuca ovina.
23. FESTUCA pinnata. SPIKED FESCUE-GRASS.--I have observed this near the
Thames side to be the principal grass in some of the most abundant
meadows; and as the seeds are very plentiful, I am of opinion it might
be very easily propagated: it is, however, not in cultivation at
24. FESTUCA loliacea. DARNEL FESCUE-GRASS.--This in appearance is very
like the Lolium perenne, but is a more lasting plant in the ground.
Where I have seen it wild, it is certainly very good; but it is liable
to the objection of Festuca elatior, the seeds grow but sparingly.
25. HOLCUS lanatus. YORKSHIRE GRASS, or MEADOW SOFT-GRASS.--This has
been much recommended as fit for meadow-land. I am not an advocate for
it. It is late in blooming, and consequently not fit for the scythe at
the time other grasses are; and I find the lower foliage where it occurs
in meadows to be generally yellow and in a state of decay, from its
tendency to mat and lie prostrate. I hear it has been cultivated in
Yorkshire; hence probably its name. Two bushels of the seed would sow
an acre; and it is sometimes met with in our seed-shops. It will grow in
any soil, but thrives best in a moist loam.
26. HOLCUS mollis. CREEPING SOFT-GRASS.--Mr. Curtis in the third edition
of his Treatise on Grasses says, he is induced to have a better opinion
than formerly of this grass, and that Mr. Dorset also thinks it may be
cultivated to advantage in dry sandy soils. I have never seen it exhibit
any appearance that has indicated any such thing, and do not recommend
27. HORDEUM pratense. MEADOW BARLEY-GRASS.--This is productive, and
forms a good bottom in Battersea meadows: but although I have heard it
highly recommended, I should fear it was much inferior to many others.
One species of Barley-grass, which grows very commonly in our
sea-marshes, the Hordeum maritimum, is apt to render cattle diseased in
the mouth, from chewing the seeds, which are armed with a strong bristly
awn not dissimilar to the spike of this grass.
28. LOLIUM perenne. RAY- or RYE-GRASS.--This has been long in
cultivation, and is usually sown with clover under a crop of spring
corn. It forms in the succeeding autumn a good stock of herbage, and the
summer following it is commonly mown for hay, or the seed saved for
market, after which the land is usually ploughed and fallowed, to clear
it of weeds, or as a preparation for Wheat, by sowing a crop of Winter
Tares or Turnips. The seed is about six or eight pecks per acre, and ten
pounds of Clover mixt as the land best suits. Although this is a very
advantageous culture for such purposes, and when the land is not to
remain in constant pasture; yet it is by no means a fit grass for
permanent meadow, as it exhausts the soil, and presently goes into a
state of decay for want of nourishment, when other plants natural to the
soil are apt to overpower it. There are several varieties of this
grass. Some I have seen with the flowers double, others with branched
panicles; some that grow very luxuriantly, and others that are little
better than annuals; and there is also a variety in cultivation called
PACEY's Rye-grass, much sought for. But I am of opinion that nothing but
a fine rich soil will produce a very good crop, and that the principal
difference, after all, is owing more to cultivation or change of soil,
than to any real difference in the plant itself.
29. MELICA coerulea. BLUE MELIC-GRASS.--This is common on all our heaths;
it appears coarse, and not a grass likely to be useful. Yet this kind is
spoken of by Dr. Walker under the name of Fly-bent, who says it is one
of the most productive and best grasses for sheep-feed in the Highlands
of Scotland, where it grows to the height of three feet, a size to which
it never attains in this part of the country. It is found in all soils,
both in dry and boggy places.
30. PANICUM germanicum. GERMAN PANIC, or MOHAR.--I notice this plant
here, although it is not a native of this country; neither is it in
cultivation. It was introduced some years since by Sir Thomas Tyrrwhit
from Hungary. It is said there to be the best food of all others for
horses; and I think it might be cultivated to advantage on high sandy
soils, as a late crop of green fodder. The seeds are similar to Millet
[Footnote: The Hungarian horses are remarked for their sleekness, and it
is said that it is in consequence of being fed on Mohar.].
31. PANICUM crus galli. COCK'S-FOOT-PANIC-GRASS.--This plant has, I
believe, never been recommended for cultivation; but it possesses
qualities which render it worth attention: it will sometimes grow to the
height of four feet, is very fine food for cattle, and will no doubt
make excellent hay. It stands dry weather better than most other grasses
I know. The seeds will not vegetate before May, and the crop not in
perfection till late September. In dry soils I think it could be
cultivated to advantage if sown among a crop of Tares or Rye in the
autumn; and after they are cut in summer, this would spring up and be a
valuable acquisition in a dry autumn, as it would seldom fail producing
an abundant crop.
It grows thick, and would tend to clear the land as a smothering crop
over weeds: it is annual.
32. PHALARIS arundinacea. REED CANARY-GRASS.--This is not in
cultivation, but grows plentyfully on the muddy banks of the Thames; it
will also grow very well in a moderately dry soil; and I have observed
that cattle eat it when it is young. As it is early and very productive,
as well as extremely hardy, I think it might become valuable as early
feed. The seeds of this plant do not readily grow, but it might easily
be introduced by planting the roots in the spring. The Striped or
Ribbon Grass of the flower garden is only a variety of this. See Poa
33. PHLEUM pratense. TIMOTHY-GRASS, or MEADOW-CAT'S-TAIL-GRASS.--Is very
coarse and late, and consequently not equal to many of our grasses
either for hay or pasture. It has been highly recommended in America,
where it may probably have been found to answer better than it has done
with us in cultivation. The seed used to be imported from New York, and
met with a ready sale; but I believe it is seldom imported at this
time. Dr. Walker says the seeds were taken from South Carolina (where it
was first cultivated) to that State, by one Timothy Hanson, from whence
it acquired its name.
The same gentleman supposes it may be introduced into the Highlands of
Scotland with good effect, but is of my opinion as to its utility in
England.--Rural Economy of the Hebrides, vol. ii. p. 27.
34. PHLEUM nodosum. BULBOUS CAT'S-TAIL-GRASS. (Phleum pratense var. ?
Hudson.)--This affects a drier soil than the Timothy-grass: it grows
very frequently in dry thin soils, where it maintains itself against the
parching sun by its bulbous roots, which lie dormant for a considerable
time, but grow again very readily when the wet weather sets in,--a
curious circumstance, which gives us an ample proof of the wise
contrivance of the great Author of Nature to fertilize all kinds of soil
for the benefit of his creatures here below. There is another instance
of this in the Poa bulbosa, Bulbous Meadow-grass, which grows on the
Steine at Brighton, and which I have kept in papers two years out of
ground, and it has vegetated afterwards.
35. POA annua. ANNUAL MEADOW-GRASS.--This is the most general plant in
all nature: it grows in almost every situation where there is any
vegetation. It has been spoken of as good in cultivation, and has had
the term Suffolk grass applied to it, from its having been grown in that
county. I have never seen it in such states, neither can I say I should
anticipate much benefit to arise from a plant which is not only an
annual, but very diminutive in size.
36. POA aquatica. WATER MEADOW-GRASS.--This is quite an aquatic, but is
eaten when young by cattle, and is very useful in fenny countries: it is
highly ornamental, and might be introduced into ponds for the same
purpose as Arundo Phragmites: it might also be planted with Festuca
elatior and Phalaris arundinacea, in wet dug out places, where it would
be useful as fodder, and form excellent shelter for game.
37. POA fluitans. FLOTE FESCUE-GRASS.--This would be of all others the
most nutritive and best plant for feeding cattle; but it thrives only in
water. I have noticed it only because it is highly recommended by the
editor of Mr. Curtis's Observations on British Grasses, 5th edit. The
cattle are very fond of it; but it is not to be cultivated, unless it be
in ponds, being perfectly aquatic.
Linnaeus speaks of the seeds being collected and sold in Poland and
Germany as a dainty for culinary purposes; but I have never seen it used
here, neither are the seeds to be collected in great quantities.
Stillingfleet, on the authority of a Mr. Dean, speaks highly of its
merits in a water-meadow, and also quotes Mr Ray's account of the famous
meadow at Orchiston near Salisbury. There this, as well as Poa
trivialis, most certainly is in its highest perfection; but the real and
general value of grasses or other plants must not be estimated by such
very local instances, when our object is to direct the student to a
general knowledge of the subject. See Curtis, art. Poa trivialis.
38. POA trivialis. ROUGH-STALKED MEADOW-GRASS.--Those who have observed
this grass in our best watered meadows, and in other low pasture-land,
have naturally been struck with its great produce and fine herbage. In
some such places it undoubtedly appears to have every good quality that
a plant of this nature can possess; it is a principal grass in the
famous Orchiston meadow near Salisbury, and its amazing produce is
mentioned in the Bath Agricultural Papers, vol. i. p. 94: but persons
should not be altogether caught by such appearances; for I have seen it
in some lands, and such as would produce good red Clover, a very
diminutive and insignificant plant indeed.
When persons wish to introduce it, they should carefully examine their
neighbouring pastures, and see how it thrives in such places. The seeds
are small, and six pounds would be sufficient for an acre, with others
that affect a similar soil.
39. POA pratensis. SMOOTH-STALKED MEADOW-GRASS.--This is also a grass of
considerable merit when it suits the soil; it affects a dry situation,
and in some such places it is the principal herbage; but I have
cultivated this by itself for seed in tolerably good land, and after
some time I found it matted so much by its creeping roots as to become
quite unproductive both of herbage and seed. Care should therefore be
taken that only a proper portion of this be introduced. The seeds of
this and Poa trivialis are the same in bulk, and probably the same
proportion should be adopted. The seeds of both species hang together by
a substance like to cobwebs, when thrashed, and require to be rubbed
either in ashes or dry sand to separate them before sowing.
* * * * *
SECT. II.--ARTIFICIAL GRASSES [Footnote: This technical term is
generally known to farmers. It is applied to Clovers, and such plants as
usually grow in pastures, and not strictly Gramina.].
Under this term are included such plants as are sown for fodder, either
with a view to form permanent pastures when mixed with the grasses, or
as intermediate crops on arable land. In those cases they are usually
sown with a spring crop of Oats or Barley, and the artificial grasses
are protected after the harvest by the stubble left on the ground,
affording the succeeding season a valuable crop, either for pasturage or
40. ACHILLEA Millefolium. YARROW.--This has been much recommended for
sheep feed; but I observe it is frequently left untouched by them if
other green herbage is found on the land. It will thrive in almost any
soil, but succeeds best in good loam. The seed used is about twelve
pounds per acre.
41. ANTHYLLIS vulneraria. KIDNEY VETCH.--This plant is not in
cultivation, but it has been noticed that where it grows naturally the
cows produce better milk and in greater quantity. It grows best in
calcareous soils: the seeds are large, and easily collected. This plant
well deserves attention.
42. CICHORIUM Intybus. CICHORY, or BLUE SUCCORY.-Much has been said of
the good properties of this plant; and if it has them to the full extent
mentioned by different authors, I wonder there is not little else than
Cichory grown in this country. It is very prolific, and will grow
extremely quick after the scythe during the summer months: but I fear,
from the observations I have made, that it does not possess the
fattening quality it is said to have. The plant is so extremely bitter,
that although cattle may be inclined to feed on it early in the spring,
yet as the season advances and other herbage more palatable is to be met
with, it is left with its beautiful blue flowers and broad foliage to
rob the soil and adorn our fields, to the regret of the farmer. It grows
wild in great abundance in Battersea fields, where my late friend Mr.
Curtis used ludicrously to say that bad husbandry was exhibited to
perfection. This plant is there continually seen in the greatest
abundance, where the ground has not been lately disturbed, even under
the noses of all the half-starved cattle of that neighbourhood that are
turned in during the autumn.
The root dried and ground to a powder will improve Coffee, and is
frequently drunk therewith, especially in Germany, where it is prepared
in cakes and sold for that purpose.
43. HEDYSARUM Onobrychis. SAINT-FOIN.--This is certainly one of the most
useful plants of this tribe, and in the south of England is the life and
support of the upland farmer: in such places it is the principal fodder,
both green and in hay, for all his stock. I have not observed it to be
cultivated in Worcestershire or Herefordshire, where there appears to be
much land that would grow it, and which is under much inferior crops.
The seed sown is about four bushels per acre. A mistake is often made in
mentioning this plant. The newspapers, in quoting prices from Mark Lane,
call it Cinquefoil, a very different plant, (Potentilla) of rather a
noxious quality. See Gleanings on Works of Agriculture and Gardening, p.
88, where a curious blunder occurs of this kind.
44. LATHYRUS pratensis. MEADOW VETCHLING.--Abounds much in our natural
meadows, particularly in the best loamy soils, where it is very
productive and nutritious. It is not in cultivation, for the seeds do
not readily vegetate; a circumstance much to be regretted, but
unfortunately the case with several of our other Tares, which would
otherwise be a great acquisition to our graziers.
45. LOTUS corniculatus. BIRD'S-FOOT-LOTUS.--There are several varieties
of this plant; one growing on very dry chalky soils, and which in such
places helps to make a good turf, and is much relished by cattle. The
other varieties grow in marshy land, and make much larger plants than
the other. Here it is also much eaten; and I have also noticed it in
hay, where it appears to be a good ingredient. As it thus appears to
grow in any situation, there is no doubt, if the seeds were collected,
that it might be cultivated with ease, and turn to good account in such
land as is too light for Clover. In wet and boggy situations it becomes
very hairy, and in this state its appearance is very different from that
which it has when growing in chalk, where it is perfectly smooth.
This plant should not be overlooked by the experimental farmer.
It is very highly spoken of in Dr. Anderson's Essays on Agriculture,
under the mistaken name of Astragalus glycophyllos, p. 489; but a truly
practical account is given of it by Ellis in his Husbandry, p. 89, by
the old name Lady-Finger-Grass.
46. MEDICAGO falcata. YELLOW MEDIC.--Is nearly allied to Lucerne, and is
equally good for fodder; it will grow on land that is very dry, and
hence is likely to become a most useful plant; its culture has, however,
been tried but partially. Some experiments were made with this plant by
Thomas Le Blanc, Esq., in Suffolk, which are recorded by Professor
Martyn. Martyn's Miller's Dict. art. Medicago.
47. MEDICAGO polymorpha. VARIABLE MEDIC.--This is also a plant much
relished by cattle, but is not in cultivation: it is an annual, and
perhaps inferior in many respects to the Nonsuch, which it in some
measure resembles. There are many varieties of this plant cultivated in
flower gardens on account of the curious shapes of the seed-pods, some
having a distant resemblance to snails' horns, cater-pillars, &c. under
which names they are sold in the seed-shops. It grows in sandy hilly
soils; the wild kind has flat pods.
48. MEDICAGO sativa. LUCERNE.--Too much cannot be said in praise of this
most useful perennial plant: it is every thing the farmer can wish for,
excepting that it will not grow without proper culture. It should be
drilled at eighteen inches distance, and kept constantly hoed all
summer, have a large coat of manure in winter, and be dug into the
ground between the drills. Six or seven pounds of seed will sow an acre
in this mode.
I have known Lucerne sown with Grass and Clover for forming meadow land;
but as it does not thrive well when encumbered with other plants, I see
no good derived from this practice. No plant requires, or in fact
deserves, better cultivation than this, and few plants yield less if
49. MEDICAGO lupulina. TREFOIL, or NONSUCH.--A biennial plant, very
usefully cultivated with Rye-grass and Clover for forming artificial
meadows. Trefoil when left on the ground will seed, and these will
readily grow and renew the plant successively; which has caused some
persons to suppose it to be perennial. About eight or ten pounds of seed
are usually sown with six or eight pecks of Rye-grass for an acre, under
a crop of Barley or Oats.
50. PLANTAGO lanceolata. RIB-GRASS.--This is a perennial plant, and very
usefully grown, either mixed with grasses or sometimes alone: it will
thrive in any soil, and particularly in rocky situations. It is much
grown on the hills in Wales, where by its roots spreading from stone to
stone it is often found to prevent the soil from being washed off, and
has been known to keep a large district fertile which would otherwise be
only bare rock. Sheep are particularly fond of it. About four pounds
sown with other seeds for pasture, will render a benefit in any
situation that wants it. Twenty-four pounds is usually sown on an acre
when intended for the sole crop, and sown under corn.
51. POTERIUM Sanguisorba. BURNET.--This plant grows in calcareous soils,
and is in some places much esteemed. On the thin chalky soils near
Alresford in Hampshire, I have observed it to thrive better than almost
any other plant that is cultivated. Sheep are particularly fond of it;
and I have heard it said that the flavour of the celebrated Lansdown
mutton arises from the quantity of Burnet growing there. It is also the
favourite food of deer. This will grow well in any soil, and
there are few pastures without it but would be benefited by its
introduction. Twenty-five pounds per acre are sown alone: eight pounds
mixed with other seeds would be sufficient to give a good plant on the
52. SANGUISORBA officinalis. GREAT CANADA BURNET.--Cattle will eat this
when young; and it has been supposed to be a useful plant, but I do not
think it equal to Burnet.
It is perennial, and is often found wild, but has not yet been
53. TRIFOLIUM pratense. RED CLOVER.--This is a very old plant in
cultivation, and perhaps, with little exception, one of the most useful.
It is very productive and nutritive, but soon exhausts the soil; and
unless it is in particular places it presently is found to go off, which
with the grazier is become a general complaint of all our cultivated
Clovers. It is also well known, that if the crop is mown the plant is
the sooner exhausted.
Seeds of Clover have the property of remaining long in the ground after
it has become thus in a manner exhausted; and it frequently occurs that
ashes being laid on will stimulate the land afresh, and cause the seeds
to vegetate; which has given rise to the erroneous opinion with many
persons, that ashes, and particularly soap ashes, will, when sown on
land, produce Clover.
Red Clover is usually cultivated in stiff clays or loamy soils; and when
sown alone, about sixteen or eighteen pounds of seed are used for the
54. TRIFOLIUM medium. ZIGZAG, or MOUNTAIN-CLOVER.--Is in some degree
like the preceeding; it produces a purple flower, and the foliage is
much the same in appearance: but this is a much stronger perennial, and
calculated from its creeping roots to last much longer in the land. It
is equally useful as a food for cattle, and does not possess that
dangerous quality of causing cattle to be hove, or blown, by eating it
when fresh and green. This plant is, however, only to be met with in
upland pastures, and there in its wild state; for it does not seed very
abundantly, and is not in cultivation.
In the London seed-markets we often hear of a species of red Clover
termed Cow-grass, and it generally sells for more money, and is said to
differ in having the characters ascribed to it of this plant, namely, a
hollow stem; the leaves more sharply pointed; the plant being a stronger
perennial, and having the property of not causing the above-mentioned
disorder to cows that eat of it. It is said to be cultivated in
Hampshire, from whence I have often received the seeds which have been
purchased purposely for the experiment; but on growing them, I never
could discover these differences to exist. It is a circumstance worthy
notice, that the very exact character of the Trifolium medium should
thus be said to belong to the supposed variety of red Clover. I have
endeavoured for the last twenty years to find out the true Cow-grass,
and am of opinion that it has been from some cause mistaken for this
The Trifolium medium is, at all events, a plant worth attention, and I
think it might be easily brought into cultivation; for although it does
not seed so abundantly as the T. pratense, I have observed it in places
where a considerable quantity has been perfected, and where it might
have been easily collected by gathering the capsules.
55. TRIFOLIUM repens. DUTCH CLOVER.--This is not so robust a plant as
either of the former kinds, but it creeps on the ground and forms a fine
bottom in all lands wherever it occurs, either cultivated or wild. This
has not the property of blowing the cattle in so great a degree as the
other sorts have. This disease is said to be accelerated by clover being
eaten whilst the dew is on it: and when green clover is intended to be
used as fodder, it is always best to mow it in the heat of the day, and
let it lie till it is whithered, when it may be given to cows with
Clover seeds of all kinds are necessary ingredients in laying down land
to pasture; and the usual quantity is about twelve pounds per acre mixt
in proportion at the option of the grower.
This kind remains longer in slight soils than the red does; but although
both are perennial plants, they are apt to go off, for the reason
pointed out under the head of T. pratense. This plant, as well as the T.
medium and other perennial kinds, is sometimes found in old pastures on
loamy soils; and whenever this is the case, it is a certain indication
of the goodness of the soil, and such as a judicious gardener would make
choice of for potting his exotic plants in, as he may rest assured that
the soil which will maintain clover for a succession of seasons will be
fit loam for such purposes.
56. TRIFOLIUM procumbens. YELLOW SUCKLING.--An annual very like the
Nonsuch; it is a very useful plant, seeding very freely in pastures and
growing readily, by which means it is every year renewed, and affords a
fine bite for sheep and cattle. I have now and then seen the seeds of
this in the shops, but it is not common. There is a gentleman who
cultivates this plant very successfully near Horsham, and who, I am
informed, states it to be the best kind of Clover for that land. It
grows very commonly amongst the herbage on Horsham Common, so that it is
probably its native habitat. The seeds are the smallest of all the
cultivated Clovers, and of course less in weight will be necessary for
57. TRIFOLIUM ochroleucum. YELLOW CLOVER.--This is not a common plant,
but it deserves the attention of the grazier. I believe it is not in
cultivation. In the garden it stands well, and is a large plant. The
herbage appears to be as good as that of any other kind of Clover, and
it might, if introduced, be cultivated by similar means.
58. TRIFOLIUM agrarium. HOP TREFOIL.--This is also a good plant, but not
in cultivation; it is eaten by cattle in its wild state, is a perennial,
and certainly deserves a trial with such persons who may be inclined to
make experiments with these plants.
Buffalo Clover is a kind similar to Trifolium agrarium and Trifolium
repens, and appears to me to be a hybrid plant. This has been sometimes
sent to this country from America, and is a larger plant than either. It
has, however, as far as I have grown it, the same property of exhausting
the soil as all the other species possess, and is soon found to go off:
it is not in cultivation to any large extent.
59. VICIA Cracca. TUFTED VETCH.--Persons who have most noticed this
plant have imagined it might be introduced into cultivation. It is
hardy, durable, nutritious, and productive; but, like the Yellow
Vetchling, the seeds do not readily vegetate; the only way to cultivate
it, therefore, would be by planting out the roots; which might be done,
as they are easily parted and are to be procured in great plenty in the
places where it grows wild.
60. VICIA sativa. VETCHES, FETCH, or TARE.--A very useful and common
plant, of which we have two varieties known to the farmer by the name of
Spring and Winter Tares: they are both annuals. The spring variety is a
more upright growing plant, and much tenderer than the other: it is
usually sown in March and April, and affords in general fine summer
The Winter Tares are usually sown at the wheat seed-time, remain all
winter, and are usually cut in the spring, generally six weeks before
the spring crop comes in. The Winter Tares are now considered a crop
worth attention by the farmers near London, who sow them, and sell the
crop in small bundles in the spring at a very good price. Tares are
usually sown broadcast, about three bushels and a half to the acre.
Persons should be careful in procuring the true variety for the winter
sowing; for I have frequently known a crop fail altogether by sowing the
Spring Tares, which is a more tender variety, at that season. It should
be noticed that the seeds of both varieties are so much alike that the
kinds are not to be distinguished; but the plants are easily known as
soon as they begin to grow and form stems; the Spring kind having a very
upright habit, and the Winter Tares trail on the ground. It is usual for
persons wanting seeds of such to procure a sample; and by growing them
in a hothouse, or forcing frame, they may soon be able to ascertain the
kinds. Ellis in his Husbandry says, that if ewes are fed on Tares, the
lambs they produce will invariably have red flesh.
61. VICIA sylvatica. WOOD VETCH.--A perennial plant growing in the
shade; it seems to have all the good properties in general with the
other sorts of Tares; but it is not in cultivation.
62. VICIA sepium. BUSH VETCH.--Is also a species much eaten by cattle in
its wild state, but has not yet been cultivated: it nevertheless would
be an acquisition if it could be got to grow in quantity.
So much having been said of the different kinds of Tares, perhaps some
persons may be inclined to think that it would be superfluous to have
more in cultivation than one or two sorts. To this I would beg leave to
reply, that they do not all grow exactly in the same situations wild;
and if they were cultivated, some one of them might be found to suit in
certain lands better than others; and perhaps we never shall see our
agriculture at the height of improvement, till by some public-spirited
measure all those things shall be grown for the purposes of fair
comparative experiment--an institution much wanted in this country.
* * * * *
HINTS AS TO THE LAYING DOWN LAND TO PERMANENT PASTURE.
Having endeavoured to explain as nearly as possible the nature and uses
of the plants which are likely to improve our meadows and pastures; I
shall proceed to describe the best approved mode of sowing the land, on
which depends, in a great measure, the future success of the
Under the head Lolium perenne I observed the practice of sowing clovers
and that grass with a crop of barley or oats, which is intended as an
intermediate crop for a season or two, and then the land to be again
broken up and used for arable crops. And this is a common and useful
practice; for although neither the Clover or Rye-grass will last long,
yet both will be found to produce a good crop whilst the land will bear
it, or until it is overpowered by the natural weeds of the ground
[Footnote: It is not an uncommon opinion amongst farmers, that Rye-grass
produces Couch; and this is not extraordinary; for, if the land is at
all furnished with this weed, it receives great encouragement under this
mode of culture.], which renders it necessary to the farmer to break it
I am aware of the difficulty of persuading persons (farmers in
particular) to adopt any new systems; and I have often, when speaking of
this subject amongst men of enlightened understandings, been told it
would be next to madness, to sacrifice the benefit of a crop of oats or
barley when the land is in fine tilth, and whilst we can grow grass
seeds underneath it.
"To this I reply, that there is no land whatever, when left for a few
months in a state of rest, but will produce naturally some kind of
herbage, good and bad; and thus we find the industry of man excited, and
the application of the hoe and the weeder continually among all our
crops, this being essential to their welfare. I cannot help, therefore,
observing how extremely absurd it is to endeavour to form clean and good
pasturage under a crop hat gives as much protection to every noxious
weed as to the young grass itself. Weeds are of two descriptions, and
each requires a very different mode of extermination: thus, if annual,
as the Charlock and Poppy, they will flower among the corn, and the
seeds will ripen and drop before harvest, and be ready to vegetate as
soon as the corn is removed; and if perennial, as Thistles, Docks,
Couch-grass, and a long tribe of others in this way, well known to the
farmer, they will be found to take such firm possession of the ground
that they will not be got rid of without great trouble and expense.
"Although the crop of corn thus obtained is valuable, yet when a good
and permanent meadow is wanted, and when all the strength of the land is
required to nurture the young grass thus robbed and injured, the
proprietor is often at considerable expense the second year for manure,
which, taking into consideration the trouble and disadvantage attending
it, more than counterbalances the profit of the corn crop.
"To accomplish fully the formation of permanent meadows, three things
are necessary: namely to clean the land, to produce good and perfect
seeds adapted to the nature of the soil, and to keep the crop clean by
eradicating all the weeds, till the grasses have grown sufficiently to
prevent the introduction of other plants. The first of these matters is
known to every good farmer,--the second may be obtained,--and the third
may be accomplished by practising the modes in which I have succeeded at
a small comparative expense and trouble, and which is instanced in a
meadow immediately fronting Brompton Crescent, the property of Angus
Macdonald, Esq. which land was very greatly encumbered with noxious
weeds of all kinds: but, by the following plan, the grasses were
encouraged to grow up to the exclusion of all other plants; and though
it has been laid down more than ten years, the pasturage is now at least
equal to any in the county.
"Grass seeds may be sown with equal advantage both in spring and autumn.
The land above mentioned was sown in the latter end of August, and the
seed made use of was one bushel of Meadow-fescue, and one of Meadow
fox-tail-grass, with a mixture of fifteen pounds of white Clover and
Trefoil per acre; the land was previously cleaned as far as possible
with the plough and harrows, and the seeds sown and covered in the usual
way. In the month of October following, a most prodigious crop of annual
weeds of many kinds having grown up, were in bloom, and covered the
ground and the sown grasses; the whole was then mowed and carried off
the land, and by this management all the annual weeds were at once
destroyed, as they do not spring again if cut down when in bloom. Thus,
whilst the stalks and roots of the annual weeds were decaying, the sown
grasses were getting strength during the fine weather, and what few
perennial weeds were amongst them were pulled up by hand in their young
state. The whole land was repeatedly rolled, to prevent the worms and
frost from throwing the plants out of the ground; and in the following
spring it was grazed till the latter end of March, when it was left for
hay, and has ever since continued a good field of grass.
"Several meadows at Roehampton, belonging to the late B. Goldsmid, Esq.,
were laid down with two bushels of Meadow fescue-grass and fifteen
pounds of mixed Clover, and sown in the spring along with one peck and a
half of Barley, intended as a shade to the young grasses. The crop was
thus suffered to grow till the latter end of June, and then the corn,
with the weeds, was mowed and carried off the land; the ground was then
rolled, and at the end of July the grasses were so much grown as to
admit good grazing for sheep, which were kept thereon for several weeks.
It should be observed, that the corn is to be mowed whilst in bloom, and
when there is an appearance of, or immediately after rain; which will be
an advantage to the grasses, and occasion them to thrive greatly.
"I sowed some fields for the same gentleman in autumn in the same way,
and found them to succeed equally well."
The above remarks are part of a communication I gave six years since to
the Society of Arts, for which I was honoured with their prize medal;
and I have great pleasure in transcribing it [Footnote: See Transactions
of the Society of Arts, vol. xxvii. p. 70.], as I frequently visit the
meadows mentioned above, and have the satisfaction of hearing them
pronounced the best in their respective neighbourhoods. Thus are my
opinions on this head borne out by twelve years experience. Let the
sceptic compare this improvement with his pretended advantage of a crop
It should be observed that our agricultural efforts are intended only to
assist the operations of nature, and that in all our experiments we
should consult the soil as to its spontaneous produce, from whence alone
we can be enabled to adapt, with propriety, plants to proper situations.
The kinds of selected grass-seeds that are at this time to be purchased
are few, and consist of Lolium perenne, Festuca pratensis, Alopecurus
pratensis; Dactylis glomeratus, Cynosurus cristatus; with the various
kinds of Clovers: and it is not easy to lay down any rule as to the
mixture or proportion of each different kind that would best suit
particular lands. Attention however should, in all cases, be paid to the
plants growing wild in the neighbouring pastures, or in similar soils,
and the greater portion used of those which are observed to thrive best.
In certain instances I have mentioned particular quantities of seeds to
be mixed with others; but in general I have stated how much it would
require to sow an acre with each kind separately; from which a person
may form a criterion, when several sorts are used, as to what quantity
of each sort should be adopted. Taking into view, therefore, that
nothing but a mixture of proper kinds of Grasses, &c. will make good
pasturage, and that our knowledge is very imperfect on this head at the
present season, we must advise that particular attention be paid to the
subject, or little good can be hoped for from all our endeavours.
* * * * *
SECT. III.--FODDER FROM LEAVES AND ROOTS.
The student in agriculture will find in this department a wide field for
speculation, which, although it has been greatly improved during the
last century, still affords much room for experiments.
During the last thirty-five years I have had opportunity of observing
the great difference in the quantity of cattle brought to one of our
largest beast-markets in the south of England; and it is well known that
this has increased in a ratio of more than double; and I am informed by
a worthy and truly honourable prelate, who has observed the same for
twenty-five years previously, that it has nearly quadrupled. I have also
made it my business, as a subject of curiosity, to inquire if the
increase at other markets has been the same, and from all accounts I am
convinced of the affirmative. Now as we have ample proofs from the
statistical accounts of our husbandry, that less corn has not been grown
in the same period, we shall naturally be inclined to give the merit of
this increase to the introduction of the Turnip husbandry, which,
although it is now become so general, is, comparatively speaking, but in
its infancy; and it is from that branch of our agriculture that has
sprung the culture of the great variety of fodder of the description
which I am now about to explain.
And here it may not prove amiss to observe to the botanical student,
should he hereafter be destined to travel, that by making himself thus
acquainted with the nature of such vegetables, he may have it in his
power to render great benefit to society by the introduction of others
of still superior virtues, for the use both of man and the brute
creation. When Sir Walter Raleigh undertook his expedition to South
America, the object of which failed, he had the good fortune from his
taste for botany to render to his country, and to the world at large, a
more essential service, by the introduction of one single vegetable,
than was ever achieved by the military exploits performed before or
since that period [Footnote: The Potatoe was introduced by Sir Walter
Raleigh, on his return from the River Plate, in the year 1586.]. It has
not only been the means of increasing the wealth and strength of
nations, but more than once prevented a famine in this country when
suffering from a scarcity of bread-corn and when most of the ports which
could afford us a supply were shut by the ambition of a powerful enemy.
63. BRASSICA Napus. TURNIP.--Turnips afford the best feed for sheep in
the autumn and winter months. It is usual to sow them as a preparatory
crop for Barley, and now very frequently for a crop of Spring Wheat.
Turnips are not easily raised but where some kind of manure is used to
stimulate the land. In dry seasons the crop is often destroyed by the
ravages of a small beetle, which perforates the cotyledons of the
plants, and destroys the crop on whole fields in a few hours.
Many remedies against this evil are enumerated in our books on
husbandry. The best preventative, however, appears to be the putting
manure on the ground in a moist state and sowing the seeds with it, in
order to excite the young plant to grow rapidly; for the insect does not
hurt it when the rough leaf is once grown. I have this season seen a
fine field of Turnips, sown mixt with dung out of a cart and ploughed in
ridges. The seeds which were not too deeply buried grew and escaped the
fly; when scarcely a field in the same district escaped the ravages of
that insect. Turnips are sown either broad-cast or in drills. It takes
about four pounds of seed per acre in the first mode, and about half the
quantity in the second.
There are several varieties of turnips grown for cattle; the most
striking of which are, the White round Norfolk; the Red round ditto; the
Green round ditto; the Tankard; the Yellow. These varieties are nearly
the same in goodness and produce: the green and red are considered as
rather more hardy than the others. The tankard is long-rooted and stands
more out of the ground, and is objected to as being more liable to the
attack of early frosts. The yellow is much esteemed in Scotland, and
supposed to contain more nutriment [Footnote: The usual season for
sowing the above varieties is within a fortnight or three weeks after
Midsummer.]. The Stone and Dutch turnips are grown for culinary
purposes, and are also sometimes sown after the corn is cleared, as
being small and of early growth; these in such cases are called stubble
turnips, and often in fine autumns produce a considerable quantity of
herbage. For a further account of the culture &c. see Dickson's Modern
Husbandry, vol. ii. p. 639.
There is nothing in husbandry requiring more care than the saving seeds
of most of the plants of this tribe, and in particular of the Genus
Brassica. If two sorts of turnips or cabbages are suffered to grow and
bloom together, the pollen of each kind will be sufficiently mixed to
impregnate each alternately, and a hybrid kind will be the produce, and
in ninety-nine times out of a hundred a worse variety than either.
Although this is generally the result of an indiscriminate mixture, yet
by properly adapting two different kinds to grow together, new and
superior varieties are sometimes produced. One gentleman having profited
by this philosophy, has succeeded in producing some fine new varieties
of fruits and vegetables, much to the honour of his own talents and his
country's benefit [Footnote: See Mr Knight On the Apple-tree.]. It is
well known to gardeners that the cabbage tribe are liable to sport thus
in their progeny; and to some accidental occurrence of this nature we
are indebted for the very useful plant called the
64. ROOTA-BAGA. SWEDISH TURNIP.--Which is a hybrid plant par-taking of
the turnip and cabbage, and what has within these few years added so
much to the benefit of the grazier. This root is much more hardy than
any of the turnips; it will stand our winters without suffering injury
from frosts, and is particularly ponderous and nutritious.
It is usually cultivated as the common trunip, with this difference,
that it requires to be sown as early in some lands as the month of May,
it being a plant which requires a longer time to come to maturity.
Every judicious farmer who depends on turnips for foddering his stock in
the winter, will do well to guard against the loss sometimes occasioned
by the failure of his Turnips from frost and wet. Various ways of doing
this are recommended, as stacking &c. But if he has a portion of his
best land under Swedish turnip, he will have late in the winter a
valuable crop that will be his best substitute. Another advantage is
this, that it will last a fortnight longer in the spring, and
consequently be valuable on this account. The quantity of seed usually
sown is the same as for the common kinds of turnip. There are two
varieties of this plant, one white and the other yellow: the latter is
the most approved.
65. BRASSICA Napo Brassica. KOHLRABBI.--A hardy kind of Turnip cabbage,
grown much in Germany for fodder: it is very nutritive, and has the
property of resisting frost better than either the turnips or
cattle-cabbage. The seed and culture of this are the same as of
There are two varieties of this plant, the green and the purple; the
latter is generally most esteemed.
66. BRUSSELS SPROUTS.--This is a large variety of cabbage, very
productive and hardy. The culture is the same as for Cattle-cabbage.
67. BRASSICA oleracea. DRUM-HEAD CABBAGE.--This is usually sown in March
and the plants put out into beds, and then transplanted into the fields;
this grows to a most enormous size, and is very profitable. About four
pounds of seed is sufficient for an acre.
* * * * *
73. AVENA sativa. COMMON OATS.--A grain very commonly known, of which we
have a number of varieties, from the thin old Black Oats to the fine
Poland variety and the celebrated Potatoe-Oats.
These give the farmer at all times the advantage of a change of seeds, a
measure allowed on all hands to be essential to good husbandry. The
culture is various; thin soils growing the black kind in preference,
which is remarkably hardy, where the finer sorts affecting a better soil
will not succeed. It is applicable both to the drill and broad-cast. The
seed is from six pecks to four bushels per acre, and the crop from seven
to fourteen quarters.
74. CARUM Carui. CARAWAY SEEDS.--The seeds of this are in demand both by
druggists and confectioners. It is cultivated in Kent and Essex; where
it, being a biennial plant, is sown with a crop of spring corn, and left
with the stubble during the succeeding winter, and after clearing the
land in the spring is left to go to seed. It requires a good hot dry
soil; but although the crop is often of great value, it so much exhausts
the land as to be hazardous culture in many light soils where the
dunghill is not handy.
The seed is about ten pounds per acre, and the crop often five or six
75. CORIANDRUM sativum. CORIANDER.--Is grown in the stiff lands, in
Essex, and is an annual of easy but not of general culture. The seeds
are used by druggists and rectifiers of spirits, and form many of the
The quantity of seed and produce are similar to those of Caraway.
76. ERVUM Lens. LENTILS.--Once cultivated here for the seeds, which are
used for soups; but it is furnished principally from Spain, and can at
all times be purchased for less than it can be grown for.
77. HORDEUM distichon. COMMON TWO-ROWED BARLEY.--A grain now in very
general cultivation, and supposed to be the best kind grown for malting.
The season for sowing barley is in the spring, and the crop varies
according to soil and culture; it is sown either broad-cast, drilled, or
dibbled. The quantity of seed sown is from three pecks to three bushels
per acre, and the produce from three to eleven quarters.
As the process of malting may not be generally understood by that class
of readers for which this work is mostly intended, I shall give a short
sketch of it.--It is a natural principle of vegetation, that every seed
undergoes a change before it is formed into the young plant. The
substance of the cotyledons, which when ground forms the nutritious
flower of which bread is made, changes into two particular substances,
i. e. sugar and mucilage; and whilst mankind form from it the principal
staff of life as an edible commodity, the same parts of the seed in
barley are by certain means made into malt, which is only another term
for the sugar of that grain. To effect this, the barley is steeped in
water, and afterwards laid in heaps, in which state it vegetates in a
few days, and the saccharine fermentation is by that means carried on to
a certain pitch, when it is put on a kiln to which a fire is applied,
and it is by that means dried. It is then perfect malt, and fit for the
purpose of brewing.
Pearl and Scotch Barley, used for soup and medicinal purposes, are made
from the grain by being put into a mill, which merely grinds off the
husk. The Pearl barley is mostly prepared in Holland, but the Scotch is
made near Edinburgh in considerable quantities. A description of an
improved Mill for this purpose is to be seen in the Edinburgh
Encyclopaedia, p. 283.
78. HORDEUM vulgare. BERE, BIG, or WINTER BARLEY.--This is a coarser
grain than the Two-rowed Barley, and hence it is not so well adapted to
the purpose of malting. It is grown on cold thin soils, being much
hardier than the former.
It is now often sown in October, and in the month of May or June
following it is mown and taken off the land for green fodder. The plants
will notwithstanding this produce in August a very abundant crop of
grain. Hence this is a valuable mode of culture for the farmer.
The other varieties of Barley are,
79. HORDEUM hexastichon. SIX-ROWED BARLEY.--This is also a coarse grain;
and although it was once in cultivation here, it has been altogether
superseded by the Bere, which is a better kind.
80. HORDEUM zeocriton. BATTLEDORE BARLEY.--This is a fine grain, but
very tender, and not now in cultivation in this country.
NAKED BARLEY. The two first species sometimes produce a variety which
thrashes out of the husks similar to wheat: these are very heavy and
fine grain, but they are not in cultivation: for what reason I know not.
81. PANICUM miliaceum. MILLET.--Millet is of two kinds, the brown and
yellow. They are sometimes sown in this country for feeding poultry, and
also for dressing; i. e. it is divested of the husk by being passed
through a mill, when it is equal to rice for the use of the pastrycook.
The seed used is from one to two bushels per acre. This is more commonly
grown in Italy, and on the shores of the Mediterranean sea, from which
large quantities are annually exported to the more northern countries.
82. PAPAVER somniferum. MAW-SEED.--The large white Opium Poppy is grown
for seed for feeding birds, and also for pressing the oil, which is used
by painters. The heads are also used by the apothecaries; which see
under the head Medicinal Plants. About two pounds of seed to the acre.
83. PHALARIS canariensis. CANARY-SEED.--This is grown mostly in the Isle
of Thanet, and sent to London &c. for feeding canary and other
song-birds, and considered a very profitable crop to the farmer. It is
sown in April, and the quantity of seed is about one bushel and a half
84. PISUM sativum. THE PEA [Footnote: At the request of Sir John
Sinclair I made an experiment, from directions given by a French
emigrant, of mixing Pease with urine in which had been steeped a
considerable quantity of pigeon's dung. In the course of twenty-four
hours they had swoln very much, when they were put into the ground. An
equal quantity were steeped in water; and the same quantity also that
had not been steeped, were sown in three adjoining spots of land. There
was a difference in the coming up of the crops, of some days in each;
but that with the above preparation took the lead, and was by far the
best crop on the ground. This is an experiment worth attending to. It is
usual to prepare wheat in a similar way, but no other grain that I have
ever heard of.].--The Gray Hog-pea used to be the only one considered
sufficiently hardy for culture in the fields; but since the improvement
in our agriculture we have all the finer varieties cultivated in large
quantities. The seed used is about two bushels and a half per acre, and
the produce varies from three to ten quarters.
The varieties of Peas are many, but the principal ones used in
agriculture are the Early Charlton Pea; the Dwarf Marrow; the Prussian
Blue. All these are dwarf kinds; and as the demand for this article in
time of war is great for the navy and army, if the farmer's land will
suit, and produce such as will boil, they will fetch a considerably
greater price in proportion.
The varieties that are found to boil are either used whole, or split,
which is done by steeping them in water till the cotyledons swell, after
which they are dried on a kiln and passed through a mill; which just
breaking the husk, the two cotyledons fall apart.
85. POLYGONUM Fagopyrum. BUCK-WHEAT.--This is usually sown in places
where pheasants are bred, as the seed is the best food for those birds;
it is also useful for poultry and hogs. I have eaten bread and cakes
made of the flower, which are also very palatable. Two bushels are
usually sown per acre. The season is May; and it is often sown on foul
land in the summer, as it grows very thick on the land, and helps to
clean it by smothering all the weeds. The crop does not stand on the
ground more than ten or twelve weeks.
86. SECALE cereale. RYE.--This is often grown for a spring crop of green
food, by sowing it early in the autumn, as it is very hardy and is not
affected by frost. It grows fast in the spring months, and affords a
very luxuriant crop of green fodder. Tares and Rye are frequently sown
mixed together for the same purpose, and the Tares find a support in the
stalks of the Rye, by which means they produce a larger crop than they
make by themselves. The grain is the next in estimation to Wheat, and is
frequently used for making bread. The quantity sown per acre is the same
87. SINAPIS nigra. BLACK MUSTARD.--This is grown in Essex in great
quantities for the seeds, which are sold to the manufacturers of flower
of mustard, and is considered better flavoured, stronger, and capable of
keeping better, than the white kind for such purpose. It is also in use
for various medicinal preparations; which see. About two bushels of seed
sown broad-cast are sufficient for an acre.
This plant affords another striking instance of the care of Providence
in preserving the species of the vegetable kingdom, it being noticed in
the Isle of Ely and other places, that wherever new ditches are thrown
out, or the earth dug to any unusual depth, the seeds of Black Mustard
immediately throw up a crop. In some places it has been proved to have
lain thus embalmed for ages.
Flower of mustard, which is now become so common on our tables, and
which is an article of very considerable trade, is but a new
manufacture. A respectable seedsman who lived in Pall-Mall was the first
who prepared it in this state for sale. The seeds of the white sort had
been used to be bruised in a mortar and eaten sometimes as a condiment,
but only in small quantities.
When used fresh it is weak, and has an unpleasant taste; but after
standing a few hours the essential oil unites with the water which is
used, and it then becomes considerably stronger, and the flavour is
improved. It is prepared by drying the seeds on a kiln and grinding them
to a powder. As this article is become of considerable importance from
the demand, it has occasioned persons to speculate in its adulteration,
which is now I believe often practised. Real flower of mustard will bear
the addition of an equal quantity of salt without its appearing too much
in the taste. In an old work, Hartman's treasure of Health, I find it to
have been practised by a noble lady of that time to make mustard for
keeping, with sherry wine with the addition of a little sugar, and
sometimes a little vinegar. Query, Is this, with the substitution of a
cheaper wine, the secret of what is called Patent Mustard?
88. TRITICUM aestivum. SPRING WHEAT.--Wheat is a grain well known in most
countries in Europe. It has been in cultivation for many ages. This
species was introduced some years ago from the Barbary coast, and has
been found very beneficial for sowing in the spring, when it often
produces a large crop. It takes a shorter time to come to maturity than
the other sorts; and as it is a more profitable crop to the farmer on
good soils than Barley, it is frequently sown after Turnips are over.
This has, perhaps, been one of the best improvements in Grain husbandry
that was ever introduced, as it gives the grower great advantages which
he could not have under the common culture of Wheat at the usual
seed-time. This is little different in appearance from the Common White
Wheat. But there was a small variety of it with rounder grains sent to
the Board of Agriculture from the Cape of Good Hope about the year 1801,
of which I saved a small quantity of seeds which was distributed among
the members; and I have lately seen a sample of it in the hands of a
gentleman in Devonshire, who speaks very highly of it as producing a
large crop in a short time, and that the flower was so much esteemed,
that the millers gave him a higher price for it than the finest samples
at market of the other kinds would sell for. I believe this variety is
very scarce. It is now twelve years since I grew it, from which what I
saw, and all other in cultivation, if any there are, have sprung.
89. TRITICUM compositum. EGYPTIAN WHEAT.--This is a species with
branched ears, and commonly having as many as three and four divisions.
It is much cultivated in the eastern countries, but has not been found
to answer so well in this country as the common cultivated species.
90. TRITICUM hybernum. COMMON WHEAT.--Of this grain we have a number of
varieties, which are grown according to the fashion of countries,
differing in the colour of the ear and also of the grain. The most
esteemed sorts are the Hertfordshire White and the Essex Red Wheat,
which are both much cultivated and equally esteemed. The season for
growing these kinds is usually September and October. The drill, dibble,
and broad-cast modes are all used, as the land and convenience of the
farmer happen to suit, and the produce varies accordingly; as does also
the quantity of seed sown. From two pecks to two bushels and a half are
sown on an acre.
Wheat is liable to the ravages of many terrestrious insects which attack
its roots; and also some very curious diseases. One of these has been
very clearly elucidated by our munificent patron of science, Sir Joseph
Banks, in the investigation of a parasitical plant which destroys the
blood of the stalk and leaves, renders the grain thin, and in some cases
quite destroys the crop, which has done that gentleman's penetration
great credit [Footnote: Sir Joseph Banks On the Blight in Corn.]. An
equally extraordinary disease is the Smut, which converts the
farinaceous parts of the grain to a black powder resembling smut: a
cirumstance too well known to many farmers. Those who wish to consult
the remedies recommended against this, may refer to The Annals of
Agriculture, and most other books on the subject. It is usual with
farmers to mix the Wheat with stale urine or brine, and to dry it by
sifting it with slaked lime, which has the effect of causing it to
vegetate quickly, and to prevent the attacks of many insects when the
seed is first put into the ground. This is considered as productive of
great benefit to the crop; but it is also to be remarked, that it is
almost the only grain that is ever prepared with this mixture, although
it might be applied with equal propriety to all others. See article
91. TRITICUM turgidum. CONE WHEAT.--This a fine grain, and cultivated
much in the strong land in the Vale of Evesham, where it is found to
answer better than any other sorts. It is distinguished by the square
and thick spike, and having a very long arista or beard.
The following sorts of Wheat are mentioned as being in cultivation. But
I have not seen them, neither do I think any of them equal to the sorts
Triticum nigrum. BLACK-GRAINED WHEAT. Triticum polonicum. POLISH WHEAT.
Triticum monococcon. ONE-GRAINED WHEAT. Triticum Spelta. SPELT WHEAT.
Besides the use of Wheat for bread and other domestic purposes, large
quantities are every season consumed in making starch, which is the pure
fecula of the grain obtained by steeping it in water and beating it in
coarse hempen bags, by which means the fecula is thus caused to exude
and diffuse through the water. This, from being mixed with the
saccharine matter of the grain, soon runs into the acetous fermentation,
and the weak acid thus formed by digesting on the fecula renders it
white. After setting, the precipitate is washed several times, and put
by in square cakes and dried on kilns. These in drying part into flakes,
which gives the form to the starch of the shops.
Starch is soluble in hot water, and becomes of the nature of gum. It is
however insoluble in cold water, and on this account when pulverized it
makes most excellent hair-powder.
92. Vicia Faba. THE BEAN.--Several kinds of Beans are cultivated by
farmers. The principal are the Horse-Bean or Tick-Bean; the Early
Mazagan; and the Long-pods. Beans grow best in stiff clayey soils, and
in such they are the most convenient crop. The season for planting is
either the winter or spring month, as the weather affords opportunity.
They are either drilled, broad-cast sown, or put in by the dibble, which
is considered not only the most eligible mode but in ge-neral affording
the best crops. The seed is from one to three bushels per acre.
93. ZEA Mays. INDIAN CORN, or MAIZE. In warmer climates, as the South of
France, and the East and West Indies, this is one of the most useful
plants; the seeds forming good provender for poultry, hogs and cattle,
and the green tops excellent fodder for cattle in general. I once saw a
small early variety, that produced a very good crop, near Uxbridge; but
I believe it is not in cultivation.
* * * * *
SECT. V.--MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLES.
94. CANNABIS sativa. HEMP.--This plant is cultivated in some parts of
this country. It is usually sown in March, and is fit to harvest in
October. It is then pulled up and immersed in water; when the woody
parts of the stalks separating from the bark, which sloughs off and
undergoes a decomposition by which the fibres are divided, it is then
combed (hackled), dried, and reduced to different fineness of texture,
and spun for various purposes. It requires good land, and the seed is
usually two bushels and a half per acre.
The seed, which ripens about the time the hemp is pulled, is useful for
feeding birds and poultry, and very nourishing.
95. DIPSACUS Fullonum. FULLER'S TEAVEL.--The heads of this plant are
used for combing kerseymeres and finer broad cloths. The heads are
generally fit to cut about the latter end of August, and are then
separated and made up into bundles, and sold to the clothiers. The large
heads are called Kings; the next size Middlings; and the smaller
Minikins. The reason they are separated before sending to market is,
that the large and small will not fit together on the frame in which
they are fixed to the water-wheel, so that it is usual for the
proprietor of the fulling-mills to purchase all of either one or the
other size. The crop is considered very valuable, but the culture is
confined to a small district in Somersetshire. The plant is biennial,
and is usually sown in May, and the crop kept hoed during that season.
In the following spring the plants bloom, and when the seeds are ripe
the heads are fit for cutting; when they are assorted as above for the
dealers. Three pounds of seed are used to an acre, and the plants at the
last stirring are left from two feet to two feet and a half apart.
96. HUMULUS Lupulus. THE HOP.--The Hop is cultivated for brewing, being
the most wholesome bitter we have, though the brewers are in the habit
of using other vegetable bitters, which are brought from abroad and sold
at a much cheaper rate. There is, however, a severe penalty on using any
other than Hops for such purpose.
The Hops are distinguished by several varieties grown in Kent,
Worcestershire, and at Farnham. The last place produces the best kind.
For its culture more at length see Agriculture of Surry, by Mr.
97. ISATIS tinctoria. WOAD.--Is cultivated in the county of
Somersetshire. It is used, after being prepared, for dyeing &c. It is
said to be the mordant used for a fine blue on woollen. The foliage,
which is like Spinach, is gathered during the summer months, and steeped
in vats of water. After some time a green fecula is deposited in the
bottom of the water, which is washed, and made into cakes and sold for
It is a perennial plant, and found wild in great abundance near
Guildford, where great quantities might be gathered for use, and where a
great deal of the seed could be collected. Its culture is very similar
to that of the Teazle, with this difference, it requires the hoe at work
constantly all the summer months.
The two plants Weld and Woad from the similarity of names are frequently
confounded with each other, and some of the best agricultural writers
have fallen into this error. They are two very different plants, and
ought to be well defined, being each of them of very material
consequence in this country.
98. LINUM usitatissimum. FLAX, or LINT-SEED.--Is grown for the purpose
of making cloth, and has been considered a very profitable crop. The
culture and management is similar to that of Hemp, and the seeds are in
great demand for pressing. Lintseed oil, which it produces, is much used
by painters, and is the only vegetable oil that is found fit for such
purposes in general. The seeds are of several uses to the farmer; a tea
is made of it, and mixed with skimmed milk, for fattening house-lambs
and calves. Oxen are often fattened on the seed itself; but the cakes
after the oil is expressed are a very common and most excellent article
for fattening both black cattle and sheep. These are sold at from 10 l.
to 16 l. per thousand.
It will require three bushels of Flax-seed for one acre, as it must be
sown thick on the land. Lintseed cake has been used also for manure; and
I have seen fine crops of Turnips where it has been powdered and sown in
the drills with the seed.
99. RESEDA luteola. DYER'S-WEED, or WELD.--Is often confounded with
Woad, but is altogether a very different plant. Weld is cultivated on
the chalky hills of Surry, being sown under a crop of Barley, and the
second year cleaned by hoeing, and then left to grow till it blooms,
when it is pulled and tied up in small bundles, and after drying is sent
to market, where it is purchased for dyeing yellow, and is in great
100. RUBIA tinctoria. MADDER.--This very useful dyeing drug used to be
grown in this country in considerable quantities, but it is not
cultivated here at the present time. The principal part of what is used
now is brought from Holland, and affords a considerable article of trade
to the Dutch farmers. Those who wish to be informed of the mode of
culture may consult Professor Martyn's edition of Miller's Dictionary.
Some years since Sir Henry Englefield, Bart., obtained a premium from
the Society of Arts for the discovery of a fine tint drawn from Madder,
called the Adrianople red. It was found that it was to be obtained from
a variety of the Rubia brought from Smyrna; and Mr. Smyth, our consul at
that city, was prevailed on by Dr. Charles Taylor to procure seeds from
thence, which the Society did me the honour of committing to my care;
and I have now a considerable stock of that kind, from whence I have
myself obtained the same beautiful and superior tint. See Trans. Soc.
Arts. vol. 27, p. 40.
101. ULEX europaeus. FURZE, GORSE, or WHIN.--Is used in husbandry for
fences, and is also much cultivated for fuel for burning lime, heating
ovens, &c. Cattle and sheep relish it much; but it cannot be eaten by
them except when young, in consequence of its strong spines; to obviate
which an implement has been invented for bruising it. When it grows wild
on our waste land, it is common to set it on fire in the summer months,
and the roots and stems will throw up from the ground young shoots,
which are found very useful food for sheep and other animals. It is
readily grown from seeds, six pounds of which will be enough for an acre
* * * * *
PLANTS USEFUL IN THE ARTS.
SECT. VI.--BRITISH TREES AND SHRUBS.
102. ACER Pseudo-Platanus. SYCAMORE.--The wood of this tree is soft and
of little use, unless it is for the turners' purposes, who make boxes
and other small toys of it. It is not of value as timber.
103. ACER campestre. THE MAPLE.--Before the introduction of Mahogany and
other fine woods the Maple was the principal wood used for all kinds of
cabinet work, and was much esteemed: the knobs which grow on those trees
in an old state afforded the most beautiful specimens, and according to
Evelyn were collected by the curious at great prices. The Maple trees in
this country are none of them at the present day old enough to afford
that fine-veined variegation in the timber which is alluded to in this
104. ARBUTUS Unedo. THE STRAWBERRY-TREE.--Is a native of the islands in
the celebrated Lake of Killarney in Ireland, where it grows to a large
size. We know of no particular use to which it is applied. It is however
one of our most ornamental evergreen shrubs, producing beautiful
flowers, which vary from transparent white to deep red, in the winter
months, at which season also the fruit appears; which taking twelve
months to come to maturity affords the singular phaenomenon in plants, of
having lively green leaves, beautiful flowers, and fruit as brilliant as
the richest strawberry, in the very depth of our winter. We have a fine
variety of this plant with scarlet blossoms, and also one with double
flowers, both of which are singularly ornamental to the shrubbery.
105. ARBUTUS Uva Ursi. BEAR-BERRIES.--A small trailing plant of great
repute as a medicine, but of no use in any other respect.
106. BERBERIS vulgaris. BARBERRY.--This has long been cultivated in
gardens for its fruit, which is a fine acid, and it is used as a
conserve, and also for giving other sweeter fruits a flavour. The common
wild kind has stones in the fruit, which renders it disagreeable to eat.
There is a variety without stones called the Male Barberry, which is
preferred on this account.
This tree is subject to a disease in the summer, caused apparently from
a yellow fungus growing on the leaves and young shoots; and it is said
that where it grows near corn fields it imparts its baneful influence to
the grain, for which reason it is recommended in some of our books on
agriculture to exterminate the trees.
107. BETULA alba. BIRCH-TREE.--Is in great use and of considerable value
on some estates for making brooms, and the timber for all purposes of
turnery-ware and carving. The sap of the Birch-tree is drawn by
perforating the bark in the early state of vegetation. It is fermented,
and makes a very pleasant and potent beverage called Birch Wine.
108. BETULA Alnus. ALDER-TREE.--This is a valuable tree for planting in
moors and wet places. The wood is used for making clogs, pattens, and
other such purposes; and the bark for dyeing and manufacturing some of
the finer kinds of leather. This wood is of considerable value for
making charcoal for gunpowder. In charring it a considerable quantity of
acetic acid is extracted, which is of great value for the purpose of
bleaching, &c. &c.
109. BUXUS sempervirens. BOX-TREE.--The wood of Box is of great value
for musical instruments, and for forming the handles of many tools:
being very hard, it admits of a fine polish. This tree is growing in
quantity at Box-hill in Surry, and has given name to that place.
This was planted by a late Duke of Norfolk, and has succeeded so well,
that the wood has been cut twice, and sold each time for treble the
value of the fee-simple of the land.
It forms a better cover for game than any other plant; and being very
bitter, is not liable to be destroyed by any animal eating it down. An
infusion of the leaves is frequently given as a vermifuge with good
There is a smaller variety of this, much used for making edging to
gravel walks in gardens.
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