Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/342

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330
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Southern States, and its rate of growth has been determined. On the Mexican table-lands its growth and antiquity are immense.

The "Cypress of Montezuma," near the city of Mexico, is 44 feet in girth, and its age is estimated at upward of twenty centuries. In the church-yard of Santa Maria del Tule, in the Mexican State of Oaxaca, is a cypress which "measures 112 feet in circuit, and is without sign of decay." At Palenque are cypresses growing among the ruins of the old city, whose streets they may have shaded in the days of its pride. By the usual methods, the writer in the North American Review calculates the age of the cypress at Santa Maria del Tule at 5,124 years, or, if it grew as rapidly during its whole life as similar trees grow when young, it would still be 4,024 years old.

The yew has long been used in Great Britain as an adornment of places of sepulture, and is often referred to in English literature:

"Beneath these rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap."

This tree, of almost imperishable wood, is indigenous to Great Britain. De Candolle ascertained its rate of growth, and concluded that individual specimens are of great antiquity. There is a yew at Ankerwyke House, older than Magna Charta. It was an old and celebrated tree when King John met the barons at Runnymede, in 1215, and its age is upward of eleven centuries; but the yews of Fountain's Abbey and the Darley yew' are from three to five centuries older than this. In Fortingal Church-yard, Perthshire, is a yew 18 feet in diameter, through decayed portions of which funeral processions pass on their way to the grave. The age of this tree is estimated at 1,800 years. But of greater antiquity is the one described by Evelyn, which stood in Braborne Church-yard, in Kent. It measured 59 feet in girth, and was believed to be 2,500 years old. This tree, which has long disappeared, was probably contemporary with the founding of Rome. The growth and decline of a great empire was spanned by the duration of a single life.

More immense in bulk, but perhaps not older than these living monuments, are the pines of Oregon and the Sequoias of California. Mr. Douglas counted 1,100 annual layers in a Lambert pine, and 300 feet is not an unusual height for the Douglas spruce. Hutchings states that a Sequoia, which was blown down and measured by him, was 435 feet in length. It was 18 feet in diameter 300 feet from the around. Scientific observation has connected with these trees an interest equal to that awakened by their size and age. Our most distinguished botanist, Prof. Gray, has shown that the Sequoias, now growing on a limited area, had formerly a wide distribution, and are lineal descendants from ancestral types which flourished at least as far back in geologic time as the Cretaceous age. The descent has been with modifications furnishing an important link in the