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twenty or thirty fruits on one tree. And, as
a hearty eater among the Indians cannot (except he be deprived of every other kind of sustenance) consume
more than two hundred nuts a day, it is easily seen that eighteen Araucarias will maintain a single person for a whole year. The kernel, which is the shape of an almond, and double its size, is covered with a skin that is easily removed.
66 The Indians eat them either fresh, boiled, or roasted, and the latter mode gives them a flavour something like a chesnut. It is not easy of digestion, and is apt to disagree with those unaccustomed to the diet. When the scarcely ripe seeds are dried in the sun, a sugary substance exudes. For winter use these nuts are dried after being boiled, and the women prepare a kind of pastry from them. The collecting these fruits would be attended with great labour, if it were necessary to climb the gigantic trunks ;
as the kernels are ripe, towards the end of March, the cones drop off of themselves, and scatter liberally a boon, which nothing but the little parrot and a species of cherry finch divide with the Indians. In the vast forests, of
a day's journey in extent, that are formed by these trees in the districts of Pehuenches and Huilliches, the fruits lie in such plenty upon the ground, that but a very small part of them can be consumed. The wood of the Araucaria is red where it has been affected by forest fires; but otherwise it is white, and towards the centre of the stem bright yellow. It is very hard and solid, and, if the place of its growth were not so inaccessible, might prove valuable for many purposes. For ship-building it would be useful, but is much too heavy for masts. If a branch be scratched, or the scales of an unripe fruit be broken, a thick milky juice immediately exudes, that soon changes to a yellowish resin, of which the smell is agreeable, and which is considered by the Chilians as possessing such medical virtues, that it
the most violent rheumatic headaches when applied to the spot where the pain is felt. Steep rocky ridges, where there is no water, is the favourite habitat of these trees.
We obliged to seek for water at a considerable distance from the bivouac we chose near the forest of the Araucarias. Our frugal supper did not require much cooking, and we soon after stretched
ourselves on the hard rock to sleep, under the lullaby of a storm, to which the lofty summits above us imparted the most singular tones. All of us who had been accustomed to such primitive beds might have rested well enough, if a fog had not descended upon us about midnight, which was so dense as nearly to extingush our fire. Matters became still worse, when violent thunder and hail apprised us that not even a forest of Araucarias could shelter the traveller from the wrath of the Cordillera. We all trembled ; my companions, however, chiefly from fear and superstition, though the temperature was sufficiently low to occasion a shudder in thinly clad travellers. The anxiously looked for morning brought a brighter sky, and the means of kindling a cheerful and genial fire, the comfort of which we greatly enjoyed.
“A young man who had joined us the preceding day succeeded (by means of his lasso, which he threw over one of the lowest branches) in ascending a tree, from which he brought down many branches loaded with their truly colossal fruit, which have since arrived in Germany." "The reason,
," he adds, “why many of the seeds of the Araucaria that have been sent to Europe did not vegetate, is, because the collectors did not procure them from the Indian country, but bought them in the market at Valparaiso, where they are offered for sale boiled and dried. My excursion to Quall y Leveu obtained for me fresh seeds of the Araucaria, which reached Germany in 1829, being seven months after they were ripe ; and being sown immediately, the period was just that of the Chilian spring. Of some hundreds about thirty came up; but ignorance of the true climate, which led to the error of placing the young plants in a hot-house, killed the greater part during the first year. To my great satisfaction, however, about six individual plants have been preserved in different places. The specimen in the Botanic Garden at Leipsic flourishes beautifully.”
“In 1795, Captain Vancouver touched at the coast of Chili, and Mr. Menzies, who accompanied the expedition, procured cones, seeds from which he sowed on board the ship, and brought home living plants, which he presented to Sir Joseph Banks, who planted one of them in his own garden at Spring Grove, and sent the other to Kew. From this circumstance the tree was called at first in England Sir Joseph Banks' Pine. The tree at Kew was kept in the green-house, till about 1806 or 1808, when it was planted out. After it was planted out, not being considered quite hardy, it was protected during winter with a temporary frame covered with mats; and having become habituated to this mode of treatment, it has been considered unsafe to leave it off. The species is, however, now found quite hardy at Dropmore and other places, and we have no doubt, that, as soon as plants can be procured from seed at a reasonable rate, it will be as generally planted as the Cedar of Lebanon or the Deodar Cedar, and will be found to be quite as hardy as these trees."*
Of the rate of growth of this tree in its native country very little is stated by travellers. It is probably slow as appears to be the case with plants in the climate of London, though scarcely any of them have yet had full justice done to them. The specimen at Kew, which is the largest in Europe, was in 1836, when its portrait was taken, 12 feet high, after having been above forty years planted ; but young plants at Dropmore make shoots occasion
* Loudon's Trees and Shrubs of Britain.