Page:The Oak.djvu/170

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152
THE OAK.

considered in the technical cultivation of the oak, but enough has been said to give the reader a general account of the procedure, and I now pass to the subject of the dangers and diseases which threaten the tree at various periods in its development, and the timber afterwards.

The diseases and injuries to which the oak is subject are very numerous and various, although, compared with some other indigenous trees, it suffers remarkably little from the different dangers which await it at all stages in the course of its long life from the seedling to the aged tree. Some of these are referable to the exigencies of the non-living environments—the climate, soil, etc.; others are due to the attacks of living organisms, both vegetable and animal—from the weeds which smother the young seedlings by keeping the light from them, to man himself, who injures the trees in various ways. The earliest struggles of the young seedling are with the weeds, slugs, and insects of various kinds that invade the territory on which the acorn has germinated; and of course the baby plant has also to contend against any inclemencies of climate or unsuitableness of soil that it may meet with. Owing to such vicissitudes very many of the seedlings never obtain the dimensions of a plant at all, and in some seasons the mortality is enormous. Other destructive agents during these early phases of the life of the oak are cattle and deer, which not only tread down the shoots but also nibble them off, and mice, squirrels, etc., do their share of injury, as also do