Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/391

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the tall Chamærops; the Corypha; Weddell's cocoa, and two or three other species, are common as room ornaments. Other species do not bear the close air of apartments well, and are very liable to die if taken from the greenhouse or conservatory.

Fig. 6 represents an avenue called the "Savannah of Cayenne," which is composed of the straight-stemmed cabbage palm (Oreodoxa oleracea of the Antilles), and has been much admired by travelers. Whenever one of the trees is blown down, or removed by any other cause, another one is at once planted in its place.

Palm-trees rarely grow in numbers together. There are, however, groves of a few species. The Attalea excelsa of America, which grows to the height of more than fifty feet, forms small woods. The Oreodoxa oleracea, or cabbage palm, is one of the largest species known, with its head often rising above the foliage of the virgin forest. Specimens of it have been found by measure to be about a hundred feet high, and the royal species of Havana rises to nearly one hundred and twenty feet. These plants are for the most part evergreen. They do not love climates of intermittent temperatures and abrupt changes, except in rare cases, of which the Areca palm of India (Areca catechu) affords an example. This species is extensively cultivated in the Indies, where the firm and astringent kernel of its nut (Fig. 7) is chewed with the betel-leaf by every native, as other people smoke or chew tobacco.

A considerable number of fossil palms have been found, chiefly in the Miocene Tertiary of America, India, and Europe.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from La Nature.


THE compensations of nature are nowhere more forcibly illustrated than along the bleak and rugged coasts of Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany, and their adjoining islands. Towering cliffs, whose scarred faces show no sign of verdure and defy all hope of cultivation, clasp the deeply indented bays in rude embrace. Hamlets by the score hide themselves in the more sheltered nooks, and the inhabitants find a precarious living by following the sea. Amid such unpromising surroundings Nature yearly plants and nourishes beneath the waves and along the wave-washed rocks a bounteous crop of sea-weed, which proves a genuine blessing to the dwellers on those shores. Not only is this both planted and nourished by the ocean, but it is to a great degree harvested by the same hand, and laid ready for use at the very doors of the fisherman's hut. The terrible storms which drive