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are chiefly of the fern and orchis tribes. The Tara fern, which in appearance very strongly resembles the common brake of England, covers very extensive portions of open land, and varies in height according to the richness of the soil in which it grows. In some places it reaches to the height of a few inches only, in other and more congenial spots it arrives at a size so gigantic as to hide a man on horseback. The root creeps a few inches under the ground, and, when luxuriant, is about the thickness of a man's thumb. When turned up by the plough, the pigs eagerly devour it, and in light sandy soils they grub it up themselves. The aborigines roast it in ashes, and peeling off the outside black skin with their teeth, eat it as a sauce to their roasted kangaroo, in the same manner as Europeans eat bread. sesses much nutritive matter, and yet those persons who have been obliged to use it in long excursions through the bush, though they have supported life, became very weak and reduced. This may have arisen either from the parties resorting to it too late, or from being too exhausted to procure it in sufficient quantity or from eating it raw.
Great quantity of arrow-root may be procured from this root. When grated and reduced to a pulp by mixing it with cold water, the arrow-root is detached and sinks to the bottom of the vessel. By pouring off the floating pulp and water, and adding fresh water, stirring up the white powder, and again allowing it to settle, it may be easily prepared for use. It may then be cooked by boiling, or the powder may be spread on cloths and dried in the sun, or hung up in linen bags where there is a free circulation of air.
The base of the inner leaves of the grass tree affords food also to the aborigines. The heads of these singular plants are beaten off by striking them about the top of the trunk with a large stick. The outer leaves are then stripped off, the inner leaves cut away, leaving about an inch and a half of the white tender portion adjoining the stem, (like our artichoke.) This portion is eaten both raw and roasted; the flavour is like that of a nut, and is also slightly balsamic. Other species of the grass tree are used in different parts of the colony. Small bulbs of the orchis tribe of plants, which are very numerous in the open and thinly wooded parts of Van Diemen's Land, are also eaten by the natives, and by cockatoos, kangaroos, rats, &c. Little holes often mark spots where the latter animals have been searching for them. One species, which springs from the decaying roots of the stringy bark, produces tubers, growing one out of the other, of the size and nearly the form of kidney potatoes. These are roasted and eaten by the natives, resemble beet-root in flavour, and are called in the colony "native potatoes." A species of fungus is often found, which reaches the size of a child's head ; it is known by the name of native bread, and in taste resembles boiled rice. Like the heart of the tree fern and the native potatoe, cookery produces very little change in its character. It is found attached to a rotten tree. Another esculent fungus grows in clusters round the swollen portions of the branches of the myrtle in the western part of the island. It varies from the size of a marble to that of a walnut; when young, it is of a pale colour, and covered with a skin like that of a young potatoe; this skin is easily taken off, and the remaining portion when raw tastes like cold cow-heel.
numerous nor to be compared to the commonest English kinds ; but, in proportion as civilization advances, suitable trees will be introduced, and will rival those of, at present, more favoured climes.
THE GAMBOGE TREE.
This important substance to the painter, and very valuable drug to the surgeon, was first made known to Europe a little more than two centuries ago. It was brought from China by the Dutch admiral Van Neek, and given by him to Clusius, Professor of Botany at Leyden, with a short account of its efficacy in dropsical complaints. It soon became pretty generally used in painting, and is now also useful in medicine, for, although a vegetable poison, it is, under due regulation, safely administered.
It is singular that the source of a substance so well known, and of such general use, should be involved in great obscurity ; but so it is. This obscurity may be in a great degree accounted for, when we learn that the article in question comes