Page:Journal of botany, British and foreign, Volume 9 (1871).djvu/48

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38 ON THE SO-CALLED " OLIVEs" OF SOUTHERN CHINA.

dition of P. Persicaria, it is itself on the other hand often difficult to dis- tinguish from subeglaiiduhir states of P. maculatum. Such a difficulty no botanist is unfamiliar with. The names of critical plants in books are often nothing more than halting-points in a long series of connected forms, arbitrary perhaps, yet not without their value in marking out the route. It seems as unphilosophical to ignore anything but the bounding terms, as it would be uncritical to tliink nothing of importance in a journey through an interesting country, but the starting-point and the destination.

��^ ON THE SO-CALLED "OLIVES" {C JN ARII spi^.) OF SOUTHERN CHINA.

By H. F. Hance, Ph.D., etc.

In his excellent ' Notes on Chinese Materia Medica,' Mr. D. Hanbury refers to certain fruits known to foreigners resident in this country by the name of Chinese Olives ; and he suggests the desirableness of more precise information being obtained in regard to tliem. Of those which Mr. Hanbury mentions as sold at Foocliow and Shanghae, I have no know- ledge at all ; and the following observations relate exclusively to the fruit vended everywhere in the south of Kwang-tung province, of which there are two kinds, — the U-lam, or Black, and the Fak-lain or White Olive, — produced respectively by Canarium Pimela, Konig, and C. album, Eseuschel.

On these two plants and a third Cochinchinese species, occm'ring also throughout the Moluccas, Loureiro founded his genus Pimela* which, bv the consent of all subsequent botanists, was merged in Canarium, until again distinguished by the late Professor Blume, who considered it a " genus Optimo jure diguum esse quodrestituatur.f The only characters, however, by which it tliffers from C. commune and its allies consist in the thin foliaceous not fleshy cotyledons, and in the insertion of the stamens at the base instead of the margin of the disk; distinctive marks which Dr. Hooker very naturally regards as of merely sectional value. J

Both the white and black Olives are a good deal grown around Whanipoa, whilst I have seen none in the immediate neighbourhood of Canton, or in Hongkong, and their cultivation is therefore apparently local : I can gain no intelligence of their occurrence in a wild state. They are trees from twenty to thirty feet high, with a whitish trunk, and a close round crown of foliage, § which in hot sunny days exhales a grateful balsamic odour ; in which respect, as well as in general aspect, they resemble our common Walnut. The two species, though perfectly distinct, are singu- larly alike, — so much so, indeed, that even now, after having made them an object of special study, I am quite unable, in the absence of fruit, to tell one from the other at a few feet distance. Blume gives the following differential characters : —

  • Fl. Cochinch. ed. Willd. vol. ii. p. 494.

t Mus. Bot. Lugd.-Bat. vol. i. p. 220.

X G-en. Plant, vol. i. 325. T\\e flores longe pedlcellati, assigned as a character in this work, do not occur in C. album.

§ The name by whicli tiiese trees are properly known to foreigners, and their dense tufted foliage, recall (o mind the Homeric —

'HSe 5' eV! Kparhs A.(/xfVos TafufpvWos 'E\air]. — OJyes. xiii. 346.

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