« PreviousContinue »
THE SCOTCH FIR.
universal importance to mankind than (Pinus Sylvestris.)
this, whether we view it with reference to its timber or secretions. Gigantic in size, rapid in growth, noble in aspect, robust in constitution, these trees form a considerable proportion of every wood or plantation in cultivated countries, and of every forest where nature remains in a cultivated state." They clothe the interminable plains of northern Europe and America, and mantle the craggy heights of the Himalaya and the Andes. But, although this order ranks among its many species, the goodly cedar, the tufted larch, the spiry, spruce fir feathered to the ground, the fanciful arancaria, the silver fir, of graceful symmetry, the gloomy cypress, and the arbor vite; still our native species is universally allowed to be in
ferior to none of its brethren, either in a, Male catkin. 6, Another shedding its pollen useful properties, or picturesque granc, Female catkin. d, Ripe cone. e, Cone expand ing to discharge its seeds. f, Winged seed.
deur of appearance.
Cesar has stated in his Commentaries, NATURAL ORDER. Coniferæ, or Pinaceæ. LINNEAN ARRANGEMENT. Monccia Mona
that the abies was not found in Britain, delphia.
and hence much discussion has arisen, Barren Flowers placed at the end of the branches and many ingenious arguments brought of the preceding year, and at the base of the forward to explain his meaning, as it young shoots ; in a deciduous catkin of numerous naked spreading stamens, connected by a common
is an indisputable fact, not only that stalk. Calyx none. Filaments two or more, and
the Scotch® fir is indigenous to our very short, with a scale at their base, Anthers island; but that at that early period the two on each stamen, erect, wedge-shaped, crowned by a jagged, membranous crest. Fertile Flowers greater part of, at least, our northern on the summit of the shoots of the current year, districts, was completely overrun with generally in clusters of two together. Catkin eggshaped, or roundish, afterwards enlarged, conical
trackless forests of this tree. and pointed, composed of numerous, imbricated, tion admits of a very easy solution, if close, woody scales. Corolla none. Scales oblong, swelled at the upper extremity into a sort of
we consider, that by abies he intended
pyramid truncate at the summit. Style, one to each
the silver fir, a native of the southern germen. Stigma simple. Seeds two within each, parts of Europe, and but recently inrecurved scale, oval, each crowned with a membranous wing. The apex of the cone opens when
troduced among us.
The mistake evithe seeds are ripe, and changes in colour from dently arose from the name fir having green to reddish brown. Leaves linear, smooth, been injudiciously applied to our native obtuse, and acuminated, arranged spirally on the branches in pairs within a scale. A tall, straight
species, instead of that of pine, to which tree, with scaly, reddish brown bark. Flowers in
it undoubtedly belongs. May and June; but the cone does not attain its
The pinus sylvestris was well known size till the autumn of the following year.
to the ancients, and a native of the -The pine, long-haired, and dark and tall, Alps, and many parts of Gaul ; and In lordly right predominates o’er all.”
Cesar, in the passage alluded to, says The pine of mountain race,
that Britain had all the trees of Gaul, The fir, the Scotch fir, never out of place.” excepting the fagus and the abies.
Both the spruce and silver firs are found The Scotch fir, or pine, is the only in many parts of France and Italy, but species of the natural order, Abietine, are not indigenous in England. The indigenous to this country; an order difference between the two genera of equally distinguished by the remarkable pinus and abies, is very slight, though resemblance which prevails throughout easy to be distinguished; in the former, the numerous and widely diffused fa- the leaves are long and spirally inserted milies of which it is composed, their on the branch, two, three, or five being extreme utility to man, and their pe- grouped within one sheath ; in the latter, culiar adaptation to the situation in they are short, and inserted singly in which they are placed. * No order," whorls round the branch. The habits says Lindley, can be named of more and properties of the two genera are
remarkably similar, and they are often wood, is quite fresh and elastic. Many indiscriminately mentioned by the poets, vestiges yet remain of the vast forests, as applied to the same purpose.
which there is every reason to believe, “ The adventurous fir that sails the vast profound of Scotland, though they suffered much,
once extended over the hilly regions
in consequence of the scarcity of Nor"The pine, with whom men through the ocean
way deals during the last war, being felled,
more than otherwise would have been The firre that oftentimes doth rosin drop.”- the case. Of the principal, yet remain
ing, we shall have occasion to speak Although an undoubted native of hereafter; but in those districts which Scotland, the Scotch pine is found in are now open, the remains of roots on every part of the north temperate zone, the surface, and extensive peat mosses from grim Kamtschatka's desert plains, in which scarcely any other timber is to the rocky chain of Caucasus. On found, prove that they formerly exthe Alps, the Apennines, the Tyrol, tended much further. In the neighand the Pyrennees, it skirts the region bourhood of Aberdeen, this submerged of eternal snows; and, in connexion timber is so abundant, that it forms with the spruce fir, extends over vast an article of trade, as the vast quantity districts in Lapland, Russia, Germany, of turpentine which it contains renders Norway, Sweden, and Austria. Of the it superior to any other fire wood; and Scandinavian forests, Dr. Clarke thus among the peasants, slips of it are used speaks :—“If the reader cast his eyes as a substitute for candles. upon the map of Sweden, and imagine The pine attains to the greatest perthe Gulf of Bothnia to be surrounded fection in mountainous districts, in situby one continuous, unbroken forest, as ations and soils in which scarcely any ancient as the world, consisting prin- other tree will thrive. Its very name cipally of pine trees, with a few min- betokens that it is a native of the moungling birch and juniper trees, he will tain, being derived from the Celtic have a general and tolerably correct word, pen or pin, signifying rock or notion of the real appearance of the mountain, and is retained in the various country: If the sovereigns of Europe languages derived from this as a comwere to be designated, each by some title, mon source. Thus the tree is known characteristic of the nature of their domi- as peinge, in the Erse ; pinna, in nions, we might call the king of Sweden, Welsh ; pymbaum, in German ; piner, Lord of the Woods ; because, in survey- in Anglo Saxon; pin, in French; and ing his territories, he might travel over a pino, in Italian. Hence also the term Apgreat part of his kingdom, from sunrise pennines (or Alps pennines) mountains to sunset, and find no greater subjects covered with pines, and the Spanish towns than the trees of his forests. The po- Pennafiel and Pennaflor, etc., which are pulation is everywhere small, because amid the mountains ; nor is it unlikely the whole country is covered with wood.” that the Scotch ben is derived from the Such was, no doubt, in former times, same word. The more bleak and exthe condition of a large proportion of our posed the situation, and the more sterile island. The famous levels of Hatfield the soil, the better timber is produced, Chase, when drained in the seventeenth because its growth is slower. A light century, discovered vast multitudes of hazelly loam, or the debris of granite, trees, of various sorts, the roots in their is best adapted to it. On clay or bog natural position, and the trunks lying its growth is stunted, and it soon dies; beside them; one third, at least, of on a rich soil, it grows rapidly, but the them are pines, and some of these were timber is inferior and perishable, bethirty feet in length. In the extensive ing composed, for the most part, of peat mosses, or bogs, which are found sap wood. in every part of Scotland, and afford The botanical student is aware that the fuel little inferior to coal, the remains dicotyledous plants of our northern counof pine trees are very abundant, and tries deposit every year a fresh portion principally in the most exposed districts ; of wood within the bark, and that the even when the damp and cold have re- circles, which are said to mark the yearly duced the birch to a pulp, and the oak increase of the trunk, are produced by to splinters, the heart of the pine, pre- the check given by the severity of winserved by the resinous properties of the l ter to the flow of the sap. He will also
readily understand that the extreme grows older, it assumes a richer brown, durability and hardness of this timber and often becomes deeply furrowed. is occasioned by the very trifling annual The leaves are evergreen, but fall every addition made to its circumference; so fifth year; they are arranged spirally that the hard substance of the yearly on the branches in twos, within a scaly circles greatly preponderates over the sheath. When young, they are of a sap wood. Thus the best timber, which bright hue, but afterwards assume a is known by the name of red deal, is fine bluish tint, probably on account of their grained, hard, and solid; and the trunk, peculiar form, by not allowing much when severed, presents the appearance scope for the influence of the solar rays, of a close and compact series of fine so necessary to enable a plant to decircles: the white deal is less resinous, posit carbonic acid. This acid is concoarser, and more spongy, and much sidered to be of a dark blue colour, more liable to decay. It was formerly which when seen through the yellowish imagined that these were two distinct green tint of the cellular tissue of the species ; but it seems now to be satis- leaf, produces the refreshing green, by factorily proved, that this great differ - which nature everywhere clothes the ence arises solely from a variety of soil, earth, and thus soothes the tired eye. situation, and climate. A northern as- The barren, or staminiferous flowers pect is likewise desirable ; for it has of the pine appear in the month of May, been observed that where trees have at the extremity of the shoots of the been much exposed to the mid-day sun, preceding year, and below those of the the whole southern half of the tree was current year. The pollen is of a yelfrequently little better than sap wood, low colour, and so abundant that when while the northern half contained only ripened, it is sometimes carried by the a layer or two at the circumfer- wind to a distance, and has often been
The most valuable timber is that the cause of much alarm to the superproduced in natural forests, or by stitious Highlanders, who have believed planting in large masses ; the trunks themselves to be visited by a shower being, then drawn up, and destitute of of brimstone. The cones generally apside branches, sometimes even to the pear in pairs above the shoots of the height of fifty or sixty feet, yield planks current year; their colour varies, being which are long, straight, and free from sometimes yellowish or red, though knots, a circumstance so peculiar to this more frequently of a purplish green. tree, that Ovid describes it as un- They do not attain their full size till knotty fir.”
the autumn of the following year, nor The stem of this tree is remarkably is it till the succeeding spring that their straight and taper; in favourable situ- scales expand, beginning from the upper ations, it attains the height of from end, and thus allow the seeds to fall. eighty to one hundred feet, though the They are then in a fit state to sow. diameter of the trunk rarely exceeds Each seed is furnished with a large, four feet.
oval wing, and inclosed within this " Nod the cloud-piercing pines their troubled membranaceous covering, being attached
to the axis of the cone.
As the cones “Straighter than straightest pine upon the steep remain on the tree for some months
Head of an aged mountain."-SPENSER. " The slender fir that taper grows."-DYER.
after the seeds have fallen, we discover
on a pine tree, at the same time, speciThe branches are disposed so that the mens of them in all their various stages. tree, when young, presents a pyramidal As a timber tree, our native pine is appearance ; but the branches afterwards inferior in value to none within the assume a horizontal direction; the lower north temperate zone. In strength and ones, however, as in the other species durability, it is only surpassed by the of this order, have a remarkable ten- oak, and for many important purposes dency to decay, and fall off as it ad- is even superior to it. By the experiments vances in age. In fact, some natural, which have been recently so successfully ists have considered them rather as made, to raise the remains of the galgigantic fronds, or leaves ; and thus lant ship, in which the abietinæ form a connecting link between the monocotyledonous and dico
“Brave Kempenfelt went down,,
And twice four hundred men, tyledous tribes. The bark in young trees is thin, and easily scales off; as it I it has been discovered that the fir planks
heads." - WORDSWORTH.
"yet were sound," and little, if at all 2 Sam. x. 12, were a species of fir; affected, by the action of the water and and the purposes to which these were ravages of worms, though the other applied, are exactly those for which the timbers had been much injured by their timber is now used among ourselves. attacks. Evelyn tells us, that on piles “The king made of the almug trees of this wood, “most of Venice and pillars” (that is, rails or props) " for the Amsterdam is built, with so excessive house of the Lord, and for the king's charge, that the foundations of their house, harps also and psalteries for houses, as some report, cost as much singers." These last are also alluded as what erected on them, there being to in 2 Sam. vi. 5. • David and all driven in no fewer than thirteen thou- the house of Israel played before the sand six hundred and fifty-nine great Lord on all manner of instruments made masts of this timber under the Stadt of fir wood, even on harps, and on psal. house of Amsterdam."
teries, and on timbrels, and on corThe ancient Greek and Roman navies nets, and on cymbals.” were wholly constructed from these In the present day, the sonorous quatrees: hence Pliny observes, “It is lities of the wood, doubtless to be atpretty to consider that those trees which tributed to its hard and smooth grain, are so much sought after for shipping, cause it to be selected as the material of should most delight in the highest which the breasts of violins and soundmountains, as if they fled from the sea ing boards of other musical instruments on purpose, and were afraid to descend are made. For such purposes, it is cut into the water." In modern times, the across the grain, and then, from the oak is the timber most generally used fineness of the stripes or layers, prein constructing " the wooden walls of sents a beautiful appearance. To this old England;" yet now, as in the days application of its timber, allusion is of Virgil,
strikingly made in the following address “Pines are for masts a useful wood,”
to the tree:and they are always formed of this tim
“ Thy throne a rock ! thy canopy the skies! ber. These masts are, for the most And circled in the mountain's dark embrace, part, procured from the shores of the 'Mid what stern pomp thy towering branches Baltic. Thus Milton describes the stu
How wild, how lonely is thy dwelling place! pendous height of the spear of Satan :- In the rich mead, a God of love we trace,
We feel His bounty in the sun and shower; “His spear, to equal which the tallest pine
But here His milder glories shun our gaze, Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
Lost in the one dread attribute of power. Of some great ammiral, were but a wand."
I cannot choose but wish thou hadst a fairer Our 'native forests, however, yield timber in no degree inferior, though the
" Yet to the scene thy stately form doth give
Appropriate grace; and in thy mountain hold, supply is not equal to the demand. But Like flowers with zephyrs, 'at the shut of eve,' it is pre-eminently as " the builder's
Thou with the storm hast dallied from of old.
But stateliness of form, and bearing bold tree," that the pine is distinguished ; its
Are not thy only boast: there dwells in thee deals or planks furnish a very consider- A soft, sweet spell (if we be rightly told,) able article of commerce.
Which waiteth but the touch of harmony,
To smooth the brow of care, and make e'en sorstraight, light, and easily worked, although strong, they are peculiarly adapt
“ Thus be't with me, when storms of trouble rise, ed for rafters, joists, flooring, and all Which all of women born, alas! must know, the interior wood work of houses, the Built on a rock, and looking to the skies, frame work of machinery, scaffolding,
Like thee undaunted, may I meet the blow.
Not so, when call'd to hear of others' woe: the beams of coaches, and an endless Then may soft pity touch some chord within, variety of purposes. It is generally
Prompting the tear of sympathy to flow,
And words of healing, such as gently win selected by gilders for frames, etc., be- The mourner's stricken heart, and pour sweet ing smooth and easy to polish, also for
comfort in."-L. A. TWAMLEY. carving, as being easily worked, and holding glue better than any other wood. Nor is it only on account of the use We find mentioned in the Scripture, thus made of its timber, that we must that Hiram, king of Tyre, “gave So- regard the pine as a meet emblem of a lomon cedar trees and fir trees accord- Christian heart, which, though enabled ing to all his desire," as materials for to trust and not be afraid, because his glorious temple. Josephus affirms rooted on the rock Christ, yet, like his that the almug trees of which we read, Divine Master, is ever ready “to
And mountain rocks re-echo to the song,
rejoice with those that do rejoice, and are annually consumed to supply the. weep with those that weep." Like the demand. Dr. Clarke enters into a full tree before us, it may be said of the description of the process, which is believer, that the sharper the blast that much the same as that adopted by the assails him, the more does his thanks- Highlanders for their local purposes. giving abound; the deeper his trial, He tells us, that the roots, logs, etc., the louder he sings; and thus, though being neatly tied in bundles or stocks sorrowful in himself, he is always re- of a conical shape, are placed in a hole joicing. The foliage of this tree, being of the same size and shape, which is composed of innumerable and sharp- dug on the side of a bank or hill. Have edged leaves, when agitated by the ing carefully covered the top with turf, wind, gives forth a mournful, murmur- firmly beaten down, they set fire to the ing sound, varying from loud to soft, stack, which is slowly consumed. A from sweet to shrill, as influenced by cast iron trough having been previthe gentle gale, or the gusty blast; ously fixed at the bottom of the funnel, sometimes, it is as the dash of the with a spout projecting through the billows of ocean on the strand, and bank, conveys the tar exuded from the again as melancholy melody. Hence wood, into barrels placed ready to reVirgil speaks of “the singing pines ;" ceive it. Lampblack is produced from nor have modern poets been neglectful the soot, which is deposited on the top of the circumstance.
or sides of the cavity during the pro
cess of combustion : this is generally “ The loud wind through the forest wakes With sound like oceans, roaring, wild and deep,
the produce of the American forests. And in yon gloomy pines strange music makes, To obtain turpentine, much used in paintLike symphonies unearthly heard in sleep;
ing, an incision is made in the trunk, and The sobbing waters dash their waves and weep; Where moans the blast its dreary path along, the liquid exuding from it, is collected The bending firs a mournful cadence keep, in ladles, and poured into a basket or As fitful raves the wind the hills and woods sieve. The turpentine runs through inamong."-DRUMMOND.
to earthern vessels ready to receive it. " And then there fled by me a rush of air,
The sediment in the basket is then disThat stirr'd up all the other foliage there, tilled with a quantity of water; the oil Filling the solitude with panting tongues; At which the pines woke up into their songs,
thus procured is oil of turpentine, and Shaking their choral locks.”—L. Hunt. the matter which yet remains, rosin.
Tar water is well known on account of In Rowe's translation of Lucan, the the medicinal properties attributed to peals of loud applause, with which the ready legions rent the air, are thus by bishop Berkely, but this remedy
it, which were so highly celebrated compared:
is now much neglected. Even the “Such is the sound when Thracian Boreas spreads fumes of melted rosin are said to
His weighty wing o'er Ossa's piny heads : have been found beneficial in asth-
matic complaints. Indeed, the air when At once their rattling branches all they rear, impregnated with the exhalations of And drive the leafy clamour through the air.
fir trees, is considered not only to
be refreshing and agreeable, but whole“ An idle voice the Sabbath region fills,
some for those whose lungs are delicate. Of deep that calls to deep across the hills, The ancients were accustomed to mix Broke only by the melancholy sound Of drowsy bells for ever tinkling round;
some of the rosinous products of this Faint wail of eagle melting into blue
tree with their wines, as rendering them Beneath the cliffs and pine trees steady sugh." more pleasant and less injurious. The
fresh cones are sometimes boiled in The rosinous secretions of this tree whey as a remedy for seurvy, and Evelyn not only increase the durability and con- strongly recommends the chips as subsequent value of the timber, but are in stitutes for hops. themselves of great use to man, when Dr. Clarke tells us that the fir tree yielding tar, pitch, lampblack, turpen- is the summum bonum of the Norwetine, and rosin. The two latter are ex- gian peasants ; nor is it less useful to tracted from the trunk by incision; tar the Highlanders, furnishing them, as it is produced by burning the roots, chips, does, with wood for their buildings and etc., and is afterwards converted into furniture, food for their cattle, and fuel pitch by boiling. Large forests of the for their fires. In bad seasons, the pinus sylvestris in the north of Europe, I inner bark when kiln-dried and ground,
A later poet says,