J. Forbes (John Forbes) Royle.

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

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of the whole is formed.


ration of the Tea localities, and the appearance of Mr. Griffith's

the Tea plants are described. Comparisons are

also made on the Vegetation associated with the

tea plant in Assam and in China, as well as

between the climate of Upper Assam and that of

the tea provinces of Central China. Many of

the observations are necessarily the same in the

several reports, as the different observers describe

the same things at the same time. But we find DiflFerenceof

j'rr. ... . . . opinion among

a diiierence m their opinions respecting the loca- obseners in

-,• . /•! 1 -/-ii- 1 1 Assam respect-

11 ties 01 the tea plant m China, and consequently jng best sites
as to what situations are best suited to the tea cul-
ture in India. Dr. Wallich, as we have seen. Dr. waiiich
(p. 283) considers higher elevations to be neces- greater eieva-
sary in Assam for the cultivation of the superior '""'
kinds of tea. Mr. Bruce, from the results of his Mr. Bmce

, 1-1 advocates ex-

experience, advocates greater exposure to light posure to light
and sun, which will necessarily subject the plants
to greater vicissitudes of temperature. For open
places we know are warmer in summer from the
unchecked absorption of the solar rays, while they
are colder in winter from the more free radiation.
This is checked in shady situations and cloudy
nights, and therefore the cold is not so great.

It is unfortunate that we have so little positive
information respecting the principal tea tracts
of China, and are unacquainted with the nature
of their localities, their climate and the vegetation
associated with the tea plant. Mr. M'Clelland Messrs.nrciei-
considers the notions erroneous regarding the fith consider
mountain habit of the plant; and Mr. GriflSth erroneous re-



specting the
inountain iiabit
of the 'J'ca

Most Botanists
have recom-
mended the

Dr. Abel re-
Table moun-
tain for the
culture of Tea.

Extent of dis-
tribution of
Tea plant

says, p. 52, that " all the evidence points out
the visionai'y nature of the views of the aptitude
of the Himalayas, &c. for the cultivation of the
tea plant ;" though at p. 83 he also states, " that
the tea plant may succeed in certain portions of
the Himalayas is probable enough." If it did not
require more time and space than can be spared
on the present occasion, it would be curious to
trace how these views, if erroneous, should have
been entertained by all those who have written on
the subject, previous to these two gentlemen, and
how so many botanists, without any communica-
tion with one another, should have recommended
the same part of the Himalayas for the culture of
tea. Also why Dr. Abel, after passing through
China, should say, " it appears from every ac-
count given of the tea plant, that it succeeds best
on the sides of mountains, where there can be
but little accumulation of vegetable mould ;" and
why he should have recommended "Table Moun-
tain at the Cape of Good Hope as a particularly
eligible situation."

If we contemplate the extent over which tea is
cultivated, we see with Mr. Griffith that " it grows
in great abundance in Cochin-China, between
10° and 10° of N. lat.," and that Mr. M'Clelland
admits that it is indigenous over 28° of latitude.
"But in order to avoid exaggeration, I will con-
fine my observations (he says) to the limits within
which it is known to be cultivated with success,
that its, from Fokien in 24° N. lat. to Meaco in


the Isles of Japan, in about 35° N. lat." Mr. Distribution of

All T®* plant.

Reeves has, however, informed the Author that
the most northern place at which tea is cultivated
in China is Tang-chow-Foo, in 36° 30^ N. lat.
These extreme limits, Mr. G. considers "only AWetowitb-
interesting, as pointing out the hardy nature of sund heat and
the plant ;" while Mr. M*C. says, " we may sup-
pose temperature to have little influence on its
distribution." The Tea being thus cultivated
over so great an extent of territory, must neces-
sarily be able to bear considerable vicissitudes of
temperature, and probably also of moisture. It is
not remarkable, therefore, that flourishing in 10** ^^ therefore
and 36° of latitude, it should also be found inter- *^i°"°^^°:i^

' and moist situa-

mediately in low and comparatively moist situa- ^°°^*
tions, and that it should be seen only in such,
by British embassies travelling along Chinese
canals. This has, however, been long well known,
and eight years before the tea deputation visited
Assam, the Author had stated that the tea plant
delights in " sheltered vallies, the declivities of
hills and the banks of rivers." (Vide p. 258.) That
it may also succeed on the mountains of the same Tea plant may
latitudes is not more remarkable ; for if it is capa-
ble of bearing the extremes of temperature of still
more northern plains, such as 36°, it will very
easily be able to bear those of moderate elevations
in lower latitudes, such as from 24° to 31°. On
these the range of the thermometer will be found
to be less than in the plains at their base, for
the cold of winter is not in proportion to the

also be found
on mountains.



Tea plant of

Found on
mountains by
Dr. Abel and
Mr. Cunning-

obtained by
Mr. Reeves,
Mr. Gordon,

coolness of summer, as the Author has endea-
voured briefly to show in his Observations on the
Meteorology of the Plains and Mountains of
North-western India, in " Illustrations of Hima-
layan Botany," p. xxx.

That the tea plant is found on mountai ns as well
as in plains in China, there can be no doubt, as
all the accounts we have concur in placing the
tea districts in the midst of hills; and though Dr.
Abel may not have seen the tea plant in all the
situations he has mentioned in his book, yet he
seems only to have adhered to the general im-
pression on the subject when he ascribed hilly
situations as most favourable to its culture ; and
at See-chow, about 26° N. lat., where he did see
it, it was on hills which were covered with pines.
Mr. Cunningham, the only other botanist who has
given us his personal testimony on the subject,
states, that it delights " summitatibus montium,"
in 30° N. lat. So the information obtained by Mr.
Reeves, also by Mr. Gordon from Mr. Daniell
and others, all point to hills and hilly situations.
Mr. Gordon himself visited the Ankoy tea hills,
where he found it on the top and sides of some
that are seven hundred feet high ; and attempted
unsuccessfully to reach the Bohea tea hills. But
in Assam itself the tea plant has been found to a
great extent on the hills of Naga, Gubroo, and
Tipum since the tea deputation left the country.
(Vide p. 285.)

No one has attempted to assign the elevation at


which the tea is, or may be, cultivated in China, Height of chi-

... . 1 1 • "^^^ mountmns

for we have no positive information on the subject, unknown.

But it has been argued, and argued justly, that

the hilly districts are alone suited to its culture in

India. Assam itself is one of the vallies included

within these mountains, and partaking as much

of their characteristic climate, as of that of the

plains. (Vide p. 302.) Hills of even moderate ele- Peculiarities of

^ . , . . . 1 • 1 climate on hiUs.

vation oner certain peculiarities, which may or may
not be suited to particular plants. They present di-
minished temperature in proportion to their eleva-
tion ; with a moderate degree of equability. There is
a certain degree of moisture, in consequence of the
more frequent showers of rain, accompanied with
more free drainage, and usually greater poverty of
soil than on flat plains. There is exposure to the
sun and light, and more free circulation of air,
which though they may restrain the plant shoot-
ing up, as in Assam, yet will favour the pro-
duction of finer flavoured leaves. Mr. M'Clel-
land has thought that the moisture of many of
the situations in China may be useful, from the
equalizing effects of water on temperature. If
so, it will be found that being surrounded by the
atmosphere, is fully as effectual, and will there-
fore be equally beneficial.

The most important consideration with respect ThecUmateof

1 • 1-11 1 I 1 /• ^"^ recom-

to the sites which have been recommended tor mended for
the cultivation of tea, is not, what is the lati-
tude or the elevation, but what is the climate,
including temperature and moisture, of these


The climate of Situations, and what the vegetation they support.

sites recom- . , • ' r ^' j.i

mended for As we have uo precise information on these
points respecting the tea districts of China, the
method was adopted of taking Pekin and Canton
as extreme points, and drawing inferences from
these and the few facts we possess, respecting the
climate and vegetation of the tea districts, by the
passage near them of the British embassies. But
as this method is liable to the objection that
different writers have come to different and
almost opposite conclusions, we may for the pre-

compared with sent take the climate of Assam where tlie tea-

that of Upper /» i • i

Assam. plant has actually been found growing, and com-

pare this with that of some of the situations where
it was recommended that tea should be cultivated,
before it was known that it existed in Upper

Tea districts of The principal tea districts of China are situ-
ated between the parallels of 27" and 31° N. lat.

Tea district of The tea district of Upper Assam is scarcely a

ssam. degree of latitude in breadth, and is situated

between 26**45' and 27^35' N. lat. (Griffith,p.45).

The tract recommended by the author included

British Hima- the British territories in the Himalayas from 28** to

to 31 i° N. lat. 31 J° of N. latitude; so that there is identity of lati-
tude with the tea districts of China, and no great
excess over that of Upper Assam. As so much was
inferred, rather than known, respecting the phy-
sical condition of the tea plant in China, no pre-
cise locality was dogmatically fixed upon within
the above tract; but several were|)ointcd out, be-


cause experiments might be conveniently made sites pointed
in them, in consequence of the vicinity of Euro- Himalayas.
pean stations.

Of the situations pointed out, Bheemtal, Hawul-
bagh, Deyra Doon, and Pinjore were in vallies.
Almora, Jurreepanee, Nahn, andSabathoo, at ele-
vations of from four thousand to five thousand feet,
and one localitv, Mussooree, where the nurserv of
the Saharunpore Garden is established, at six thou-
sand five hundred of elevation, in 30°ofN. latitude.
It might be thought desirable to have mentioned
some places in the plains, but the Botanic Grarden
was too obvious to be included in the above enu-
meration, as had any one who had charge of the
experiment in the hills, omitted sending seeds or
plants, Dr. Falconer is too zealous to have omitted
applying for them. But those who are acquainted Plains too hot
with the great heat, dry atmosphere, and hot ^iture. °^ ^
winds of the plains of India, will perceive it
would be hopeless without the aid of copious
irrigation to grow the tea-plant in them. The
above localities were pointed out, as enabling the
advantages of various elevations to be ascertained,
though the author was of opinion that an eleva-
tion of about five thousand feet, as at Jurreepanee,
(runnifig tvater) was most desirable.

Neither time nor space permit that we compare
the climate of all these localities with that of
Upper Assam. But to give the objectors the full
advantage of the argument, we will compare the
extremes of temperature observed in Upper


The climate of Assam, With those of the most elevated, and

the highest,

and therefore therefore the Coldest of the positions pointed

the coldest, of

these sites out by the author. The observations on the

compared with .

that of Upper JVlussooree range during several years, give a
range of the thermometer of 53° from a maximum
of 80° to a minimum of 27°, giving a mean of SS^'S,
which is 3° -5 lower than 57° -04, the mean tem-
perature deduced from all the observations. How
much higher is the mean temperature at Nankin?
Climate of The greatest degree of cold which has

been recorded at Suddya was by Major White,
who observed it on one occasion, at 6 a. m.,
to be so low as 32°. On another occasion
it fell to 37°, but 42° is not uncommon. The
highest range during the hot months was 92°,
in 1836. At Gowahatty it was never observed
above 90° by Captain Jenkins, (Griffith, p. 47).
Taking the extremes, we have an annual range
of the thermometer of 60°, which is 7° more than
that at Mussoorree ; the mean is 62°, which is
5° -2 less than the mean 67° -2 of all the observa-
tions, which is only 10° higher than at Mussooree.
Temperatures Mr. Griffith has Compared the mean annual tem-
ton.'neyra, Mui pcraturc, as well as that of the four warmest, and
JJmp^eT of the four coldest months of Suddya and of Can-
ton, which is about 4^° more to the Southward.
To the means which he has adduced, we add
similar ones for Deyra and Mussooree, in 30° of
N. latitude ; the former elevated about two thou-
sand, and the latter six thousand five hundred
feet. The climate of Jureepanee, elevated five


thousand feet, and midway between the two, and Temperatures

. of Suddya,Can-

which the author thought ehgible for the expe- ton, Deyra, and
riment, as well as easily accessible, may be in- compared.
ferred from that of the upper and lower stations.

Canton. Stiddya. Deyra. Mussooree.

Mean Annual Temperature 70 67.2 70.65 57.04.

„ of four hottest months 82.2 80 82.75 66.72

„ of four coldest months 54 57.8 56.45 45.45

If the object had been to find a climate similar Deyra most
to that of Canton, N. lat. 23° 8', we could hardly Canton.
have found any thing to correspond with it more
closely than does that of Deyra, compared, at least,
in this method. But the author was well aware
that it was absolutely necessary for all purposes
of culture to give the extremes, as well as the
means of temperature, as one night's frost, or a
few days of hot winds, might destroy the la-
bours of a year of careful cultivation. Canton
is some degrees south of the principal tea dis-
tricts, and yet the minimum of the thermometer
there is 29°, or 3° below the freezing point. If Canton, cold of.
we suppose the rate of diminution of tempera-
ture to be equal to what takes place in the
cold weather in India, we should have it some-
times several degrees below 29°, in N. lat. 31°,
or 8° further north. But we have every reason
to believe that the whole of the coast of China, coid of china

1 • 1 /• TVT 1 4 • • • . , in winter.

like that of JNorth America, participates, in de-
gree, in what is so strikingly characteristic of
the northern parts of China, that is, a climate
strongly contrasted, or where there are hot sum-



Cold of Can.
ton in compari-
son with that
of Calcutta.

Humidity of
Mountain cli-

mers with very cold winters. That this charac-
teristic extends even as far south as Canton is
evident, if we compare its minimum 29° with that
of Calcutta, 56° -8, which is only a degree to the
southward, and yet we have a difference in their
lowest temperatures of 27° -8. In such a country,
therefore, there is nothing incredible in there
being frost in 31° of latitude, as there is in the
plains of India in winter. Also, as there is, no
doubt, a good deal of moisture, that this should
occasionally descend in the form of snow. That
this indeed is the case, we have the united testi-
mony of several accounts, which state that snow
storms occur in the green tea districts, and this
we can easily believe, from the cold which tliat
plant is capable of withstanding in this country
even as far north as Forfar.

Next to temperature, and, perhaps, equally
important, is the humidity of the climate of the
mountains. In this it might be tliought by those
unacquainted with the Himalayas that there
would be some deficiency. But the author, when
writing upon the subject, thought that its excess
would be the chief point of difficulty. He was sa-
tisfied only after considering that the baneful
effects of excessive moisture would be less felt,
where evaporation was favoured by the rarity of the
atmosphere : also after ascertaining that rain was
frequent in Canton, and extended to the tea
districts, especially of Fokien.

Assam may be considered as enjoying the


maximum of humidity. The rains are of lon'^
the tea deputation reached Assam : ** The climate
of the Himalayas is decidedly damp," and " as a
general fact it may be stated, what with rain, snow,
and dew, that moisture, in one shape or other,
falls abundantly every unclouded day during the
year; and the cloudy days without rain do not
amount to a week in the year," (Tea Report, p.
25). We have no data concerning the humidity
of the tea districts of China, but Mr. M'Clelland
has shown the great probability of there being con-
siderable humidity in some of them, and that this
may in some degree modify the temperature.

The vegetation of the Himalayas was com- comparison of
pared by the author with that of China, as far as of the Hima-
materials were procurable. The same has been up^er^Asim
done by Mr. Griffith with regard to that of Upper cwna.
Assam. The vegetation is, no doubt, chiefly tro-
pical, all along the base of the Himalayas from
Assam to the Deyra Doon. Mr. Griffith states
that neither latitude nor elevation account for the
northern forms in Assam. But the moisture and
equability of the climate seem to explain this



Climate of
Assam moist
and equable,
supports a va-
riety of vegeta-
ble forms.

Northern val-
lies hot and

Assam more
moist than Tea
districts of

Tea plants of
Assam much
larger than
those of China.

satisfactorily. The valley being surrounded by
mountains, and covered with dense forests, wa-
tered by large rivers, and also kept damp by nu-
merous showers, as well as by the cloudiness of
the atmosphere, resembles, in a great measure,
to compare great things with small, Mr. Ward's
mode of growing plants in glass cases, in which
we may often see both Tropical and European
plants growing nearly equally well in the same
case. To the climate, therefore, it is probably
owing that many of the peculiar genera and spe-
cies of the Himalayas and of China are found in
Assam, in the forest-covered vallies, but which
in the Himalayas can only exist, especially in the
northern parts, at considerable elevations ; in
consequence of the heat and dryness of the val-
lies there at some seasons of the year.

The climate of Assam in the uncleared
parts is undoubtedly much more moist than
that of the tea districts of China, as is evident
from the great height which many of the Tea
plants attain, having slender stems, of often forty
to fifty feet, with leaves four to eight inches in
length. The China tea makers expressed their
astonishment on seeing them. Mr. Bruce de-
scribes the great difference, by stating, *' that our
trees or plants are certainly more than four or
five times the size of theirs, and must conse-
quently yield so many times more produce —
theirs is the dwarf, ours the giant tea." The
Chinamen, moreover, on seeing the plants wjiich


had been produced from Chinese seeds, " de- Great sizeof

^ ^ ' China Tea

clared that the China plants now at Deenjov plants in as-

, sam.

would never have attained half the perfection they
now have, under ten years in their own country."
Even in Assam those growing on hills attain less Assam Tea
height, as even the kind found originally at Gu- huis.
broo, though only on a hillock forty or fifty feet
high, "exists only as a moderate sized shrub, and
was hence pointed out as a new variety, and was
even dignified with the name of dwarf tea." Those
obtained from the Nigroo Hill tracts, Mr. Bruce
thinks will never attain any size, but be dwarfish
like the China plants ; but it is probable that if
they were planted in the shady tea tracts of the
Assam plains, they would attain the same height
as the others, as their difference in size probably
depends upon the influence of physical agents.
That excessive moisture, both of soil and at-
mosphere, is not suitable, is evident by the pre-
ference the Tea plant has for sandy and porous
soil, and for mounds in the moist climate of As-
sam, but which would probably not be requisite
in a drier climate.

The foregoing examination of the habits, of the comparison of
tea plant in Upper Assam, and of the peculiari- witrnima^"*
ties of the climate and vegetation of that province, *^^'
and of the Himalayas, show the resemblance of
both in these points to the tea districts of China.
Whether this is to the extent desirable, can only
be ascertained when we have positive information
from thence. But it might be said that things



Resemblance which RFC cqual to the Same thing, are equal
mate of Upper to One another. The mid region of the Hima-

Assam and that ■, j tt a t rr- i i j.i

of mid region layas and Upper Assam diner much less than
imaayas. j^jg|^|. j^^yg ^ccn anticipated, considering that the
one has an open and the other a close climate,
and from the difference in latitude and elevation.
From the heat and dryness of the plains and vallies
of north-western India, from March to the middle
of June, the influence of the hot winds extends
much higher than in more southern latitudes ;
where, in fact, they are absent even from the
plains. Hence we have to ascend above their ut-
most limits to obtain a cool climate and congenial
moisture; or where "the air, charged with moisture
in the heated vallies, in rising may deposit it on the
mountains, when it reaches an elevation where it
is cooled below the point of saturation."
Tea from Tca, howcvcr, it is now well known has been

manufactured of a good and sound quality from
the tea plants of Assam ; and it has been very
favourably reported on by experienced judges in
this country. From the great curiosity which
was excited on the subject, it, however, sold at
such high prices, that it is difficult to form a very
correct judgment on its true value when com-
Theeuitiire pared with the teas of China. The Court of
AsJim'com-'^ Dircctors and the Government of India having
pany- brought this important experiment to so success-

ful an issue, have handed over its further exten-
sion to a private company, who will no doubt
carry it forward witli the requisite vigour, and we


shall see Assam tea imported in large quantities Tea culture in

, . , , • • /. I Upper Assam.

into this country, and as the requisites tor the
culture of the plant are better understood, of a still
higher flavour.

From the facts we have enumerated, there is. Tea may also

be cultivated

however, no necessity that the tea culture should »" ^long the

•' ^ Himalayas.

be restricted to the province of Assam. A tea
plant has for many years lived in the open air in
Nepal, and Dr. Falconer, who has had to carry
the experiment into execution, so far from ob-
jecting, had, like the Author, formed an opi-
nion that Tea could be cultivated in the Hima-
layas. He has in fact, already, at elevations of
five thousand feet, obtained seedlings {vide p. 279)
from the Chinese plants which were introduced
into the Gurhwal and Sirmore nurseries. Those of
Kemaon have also been placed under his charge.
We might wait patiently, therefore, for the result

Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 21 of 32)