J. Forbes (John Forbes) Royle.

Essay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] online

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dency. A new supply was, however, laid open,

on the acquisition of the territories along the East

Coast of the Bay of Bengal. The forests to the

eastward of the Saluen river, in Martaban, when

visited by Dr. Wallich, were very favourably re- ^eak Forests

•^ ' "^ ^ of Martaban.

ported on, for the supply of splendid Bamboos as
well as of Teak, for the extent of forests, the size of
timber, and the facility of procuring it, as the
timber could be procured within two miles of
the river. Teak is not generally considered of
so good a quality as that of Malabar, probably
owing to its being produced on an alluvial soil,
while the former is the produce of a mountain
range.

Besides the timbers commonly employed, India
produces a vast variety of trees which are pos-
sessed of every diversity of quality required in
wood, and which may, whenever attention is paid
to the subject, be applied to almost any purpose.*



* A very extensive collection of Indian Woods is contained
in the Museum of the India House. One of 117 specimens
was sent by Dr. Roxburgh, and one of 100 specimens from
Java was presented by Dr. Horsfield. A collection of 436 kinds
was also presented by Dr. Wallich, who gave the duplicates of
this collection to the Society of Arts, of which they published
a list in their '* Transactions," vol. xlviii. p. 439.

A Collection was also presented to the same Society by Capt.
Baker, late of the Bengal Artillery, who was Superintendent
of the half- wrought Timber-yard in Calcutta.

Col.



192 practical benefits of

Practical Benefits of the Calcutta
Botanic Garden.
Practical bene- Besides the scientific services of the several

fits of Calcutta . • • , • i i j.- i.u

Botanic Gar- iSuperintendaiits, it IS desirable to notice tne
practical benefits which have been derived from
the Calcutta Botanic Garden ; and for these we
can refer to a report by Dr. Wallich, dated 1st
December 1836. But we may commence with a
few general observations on its peculiarities of
climate, as these are applicable to the gardening
in general of Bengal, as well as to the open
culture of the plains.
SiiufreS^ro! ^^ ^ tropical country, there exist few, and
picai climates, thcsc vcry limited, means of reducing the tem-
perature of the air during the hot season ; and
in the rains there is a still more unmanage-

Col. Frith, of the Madras service, sent to the United Service
Museum, 1836, from the peninsula of India, 111 specimens of
different kinds of wood in use in various parts of the country,
and which were collected in the course of a tour partly under-
taken for that purpose. The necessity of precision in the
names of such substances is noticed in their letter of acknow-
ment. " In returning you their thanks for your very interest-
ing collection of woods, the Council have desired me to request
as a particular favour, if attainable, a list of the botanical
names, corresponding to the native names affixed : this would
be of infinite value, as it would permanently identify the spe-
cimens which the native name may fail to do in futurejyears.
Such a list would be a most valuable document indeed for
many purposes." — Wight's Illustrations of Indian Botany.
Introd.



THE CALCUTTA GARDEN. 193

able combination of excessive heat with all-per- ^^ema of ob.

viating heat of

vading moisture. The means of obviating exces- climate,
sive heat are confined to a cautious degree of
shading, combined with the admission of as large
a proportion as possible of the indirect rays of
the sun. This is attainable under the shade of
some tree, that does not too much interfere with
the influence of night dews ; or under that of
some narrow but lofty shed, from which the
plants must be removed when the sun has sunk
beneath the horizon.

The cultivation of extra tropical plants de- Principles of
pends therefore, on the combination of the maxi-
mum of light with the greatest reduction of heat;
and it is hopeless for the purposes of Agriculture
and Commerce, to cultivate shrubs and trees, the
perennial plants of such climates. But annuals,
which are exposed for a few months only, to the
climate of a place, may be varied according to
the seasons of the year. Hence we may see the
plants of various countries cultivated in the
same fields at different periods of the year.
Thus in India, Rice, Indigo, and Cotton are
cultivated during the hot weather and rains ; and
Wheat, Barley, and Millet in what are the
winter months of European latitudes.

Kitchen garden vegetables and other exotic Exotic An-
annuals are perfectly cultivated in India, though
frequent changes of seed have been required ;
partly because the climate is in some measure
unsuitable, and partly because all the modifica-

o



194



PRACTICAL BENEFITS OF



degeneration
of exotic an-
nuals in India ;



acclimation ;



Annuals for
culture in In-
dia ;



Perennials for
Calcutta,



from hot coun-
tries.



Plants culti-
vated in CaU*
cutta Botanic
Garden.



tions required in culture in their new situation
have not been ascertained. Hence the plants have
been said to degenerate. But, in fact, they return
to the state in which they were found in nature,
when the causes are removed which produced
their artificial state ; that is, as they are when
in a high state of culture. When the mode of
cultivation is better understood, deterioration
does not take place, or, in other words, the
artificial state is retained. Dr. Wallich adduces
Oats as a remarkable instance of this, as annual
supplies used formerly to be imported from the
Cape of Good Hope, but it may be said now to
be acclimatized. Though in fact the present
success is probably only a simple consequence of
a better knowledge of its proper treatment, after
oft- repeated trials.

It is practicable, therefore, in the Calcutta
climate, and very successfully in the northern
parts, of India to cultivate the annuals of Euro-
pean countries in the cold weather, and those
of tropical ones in the hot and rainy seasons.
But the perennial plants of all parts of the
Tropics, such as those of many of the tropical
islands, of the countries from the Malayan Penin-
sula to the south of China, of the hot parts of
Africa, as well as those of South America and of
the West-Indies, are well suited to its climate.

The Calcutta Botanic Garden, thus situated in
a tropical climate which yields to none in its
vegetable resources, has had for its first and per-



THE CALCUTTA GARDEN. 195

manent object, the accumulation of the greatest chief objects

•' ' . * of Calcutta Bo-

possible number of native Indian plants, and the tanic Garden.
subsequent dissemination, throughout the empire,
of such of them as are in any degree useful for
the purposes of Agriculture, Commerce, Medi-
cine, the Technical Arts, and Horticulture, or
can in any manner contribute to the comfort and
even to the luxuries of domestic life.

The number of species in the Garden in 1836, Number of

. species.

was double the number of what it contained
when the catalogue was published in 1814.
The whole includes plants of the mountains
and of the plains of India, besides others from
the Malayan Archipelasfo, China, the Mauri- Countries

•^ . . wlience ob-

tius, and the south of Africa, with some from tained.
Europe and America. The number of species
kept in cultivation for the purposes of general
distribution exceeds 1,200, comprising buds,
layers, and cuttings of the best sorts of fruits in
the country, of valuable timber, or otherwise use-
ful trees, and shrubs ; also medicinal plants, with
elegant flowering or ornamental trees, shrubs, and Extent of dis-
herbaceous plants. Commencing with the 12th
June 1835, to the same date in 1836; that is,
from the commencement of one rainy season (the
chief period for moving plants) to the beginning
of the next, sixteen thousand growing plants were about sixteen

. thousand plants

gratuitously supplied to three bund red individuals, annually;
both European and native, residing in all parts
of the country. Besides these, forty-two thousand
Tea plants were raised in the Garden from Chi- Tea plants

o2



196



PRACTICAL BENEFITS OF



raised and dis-
tributed ;



also seeds.



Importance of
such distribu-
tions in a coun-
try without
nursery gar-
dens.



Botanic Gar-
dens nindia
perform the
offices of Nur-
sery Gardens.



nese seeds, and forwarded to Upper Assam, Ke-
maon, Sirniore, and the Peninsula. From the
J5th June to the 1st October 1836, nine thousand
plants were distributed to 170 individuals.

The difficulty of preserving seeds, combined
with the facility with which growing plants are
transported and preserved, during the rains and
the cold weather, induces most applicants to
prefer growing plants to seeds, though these are
also abundantly supplied. During the above
period sixteen thousand papers of seeds were
distributed, independently of large quantities of
seeds of timber trees and shrubs of extensive cul-
tivati(m, such as Teak, Sissoo, Coffee, &c.

The importance of such distributions may not
be obvious to those accustomed to the existence
of Botanic and Horticultural Gardens in every
town, with Nursery Gardens and seedsmen in
almostevery village, by which the wants of the pub-
lic are supplied with whatever is required either
for Horticultural or x4gricultural pursuits. But in
a country where no such facilities exist, the ser-
vices of the Government Institutions, labouring
incessantly, and successfully, in supplying wants
from which the country so materially benefits, are
most important and indispensable.

From the absence of the facilities which exist in
Europe, the Botanic Gardens in India are obliged
to unite in themselves the offices of Botanist,
Gardener, Nurseryman, and Seedsman ; and " the
inhabitants have been in the habit of looking to



THE CALCUTTA GARDEN. 197

the Calcutta Botanic Garden, and havings their Calcutta Bo-
tanic Garden
wants supplied during: a period of fifty vears, with looked to by

^^ ,. , • 1 the inhabitants

a degree of liberality and attention worthy at once for a supply of
of the paternal care of the Government and of the plants.
magnitude of this garden."

The result now is, that a complete change has Results of dis-

• 1 1 •



Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 14 of 32)