Page images
PDF
EPUB

ally of above a foot in length. It may be remarked of the Araucaria in Britain, that sometimes young plants remain a whole year without making any shoot whatever, and that at other times the same plants require two years to produce one shoot; that is, the shoot continues slowly increasing in length from the midsummer of one year to that of the year following.

The Araucaria takes its name from being a native of the country of the Araucarians, a people who are said by Molina to pride themselves on their name, its signification being “frank” or “free.” Don Joseph Pavon describes the wood of this tree as of a yellowish white, fibrous, and full of beautiful veins, capable of being worked and polished with facility; that the Indians consider the fruit as very nourishing, and distil from it a kind of spirituous liquor.

THE RELIGIOUS FIG TREE.

Ficus religiosa.

לי

This tree is held in great veneration both in Ceylon and on the continent of India. In the Cingalese language it is called “bogaha," or the tree of Buddha. It drops no fibrous roots from its spreading boughs, but far surpasses the banyan in elegance and gracefulness of form, grows to a very large size, has a smooth bark, and is perhaps the most completely beautiful of all the trees which adorn the wide garden of nature. The leaves are peculiarly handsome, being exactly in the form of a heart, and having a long pointed extremity. When full grown they measure upwards of six inches in breadth at the broadest part, and eight in length, including the tapering point, which measures two inches. The fruit grows without stalks, in the same manner as the Ficus indica, adhering to the smaller branches, but is rather less in size, and does not attain when ripe so bright a red.

This Religious Fig Tree is accounted the most sacred of trees in India, and is held in such high estimation in the country of Candy, that the form of its leaves is only allowed to be painted on furniture employed exclusively for the gratification of the King

Knox, who resided in Ceylon for twenty-one years, from 1651 to 1671, thus describes the care taken by the natives of this tree, and the respect in which it is held by them. “ The people pave round under them, sweep often under them to keep them clean; they light lamps, and set up their images under them; and a stone table is placed under some of them to lay their sacrifices upon. They set them everywhere in towns and highways where any convenient places are; they serve also for shade to travellers. They also plant them as memorials of persons deceased, in the place where their bodies were burnt. It is held meritorious to plant them, which they say he that does shall die within a short time after, and go to heaven. But the oldest men only, who are nearest

לי

death in the course of nature, do plant them, and none else, the younger desiring to live a little longer."

The Religious Fig Tree is planted near houses in India for the sake of its grateful shade. The Hindoo deity Vishnoo is fabled to have been born under its branches; and they have a tradition, that Buddha, when he was upon earth, used to sit under its shade.

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »