Australia. Dept. of Agriculture New South Wales.

The agricultural gazette of New South Wales online

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Agricultural gazette of
New South Wales

New South Wales, Australia. Dept. of Agriculture,
Henry Charles Lennox Anderson, New South ...

3 2044 106 345 622



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Agricultural Gazette






JAKTJABY, 189 Jj,.


116 1— »4 («)

Di. finr • Single Vvmber, or lOi. p«r Innnm.]

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Useful Austratjan Plants J. H. Maiden i

The Black Bean or the Moreton Bay Chestnut. {Casianospcrmum
australe^ A. Cunn.)

Two Fodder Plants interesting to the Woolgrower

{J\ftdicago orbicularis and Mcdicago scuicllaia.) . . J. H. Maiden 5

Cape Cotton (Gomphocarpus fruiicosus^ R. Br.) .. J. H. Maiden 7

Botanical Notes .. J. II. Maiden 9

A Native Senna; The Corn Gromwell; Gnaphalium japonicum,

Experiments with Pulses G. Valder 1 1

Notes on Ringbarking and Sapping — Based on Foresters'

Reports — compiled and annotated by . . . . J. H. Maiden 14

PoLT-TRY , S. Gray 40

The Orpington.

Practical Vegetable Growing . . . . 42

Directions for the month of Februar}-.

Orchard Notes for February ..*•• .. •• ••45

General Notes . . . . , , . , . . 46

The Export of Wines ; Planter's Friend ; Rust-resisting
Wheats ; A new Calf-feeder.

Agricultural Societies' Shows, 1894.

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npHE introduction to our readers of the first part of
^ Volume V of the Agricultural Gazette would appear
to be a convenient opportunity for a brief retrospective glance
at the work of last year, and a hint of the possibilities of

There is one point upon which it is fair to express sincere
gratification, and that is the continued and increased appre-
ciation of readers both at home and abroad in the efforts of
contributors to the Gazette to benefit agriculture in all its
branches. It must not be forgotten that the whole of these
contributions are made con amore^ and the Government has
never been called upon for a single shilling by way of
remuneration to those who, month after month, assist in
sustaining the reputation of this now well-established work.
With regard to the year just completed — ^and particularly
the latter half of it — the staff of the Department was
diminished one-half. At the same time, in spite of the
transfer of the crop-reporting to the oflGlce of the Government
Statistician, the actual work performed by officers has
steadily and perceptibly increased. While showing that our
agriculturists appreciate our efforts to render their calling
more remunerative, it will be apparent that an increase in
inquiries for information must of necessity make very large
calls on the energies of the reduced staff, so that their time
for the work of article- writing is practically confined to the
hours which are euphoniously termed " spare time."

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Among the new departures which were initiated during
the year 1893 may be mentioned the exhaustive inquiries
which were conducted by Dr. Cobb regarding the diseases
affecting sugar-cane on the Northern rivers, and the no less
exhaustive experiments which are still proceeding at jMoss
Vale with a view to mitigating the effects of worms in shoep;
and in this branch of inquiry (the Pathological) it should be
added that the investigations regarding rust in wheat made
considerable progress during the year. None of these
matters are such as can be settled off-hand, but it is satis-
factory to be able to report undoubted progress. There are
two other branches of agriculture as to which a distinct
advance has been effected. Experiments were commenced,
and are still proceeding, with a large number of varieties of
tobacco, with the object of ascertaining those most suitable
of the most marketable varieties for each of our tobacco-
growing districts. These experiments were willingly under-
taken by experienced men, and the results will be fully
recorded during the present year. A definite, and, it is
believed, wise step lias been taken in connection with our
wine trade, full particulars of which are given in the present
issue. There is no doubt that even a limited progress in the
direction decided upon must have the effect of opening up
the London market to wines which have only to be properly
known in order to secure a lasting appreciation by Era^opean
wine-drinkers. The fruit trade also received a full share of
attention, and the effoi
being directed to prom
will command the fore
industry the remuners
parts of the world. C
and tasteful and intel]
will rapidly attain tl
climatic conditions en

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worthy of note that the result of the cold-storage experi-
ments conducted by the Department has cleared the way for
a more satisfactory result of exporting to distant markets.
Another important industry, that of Sericulture, lias also
received practical attention. A large quantity of valuable
graine, or eggs, has been received as a present from Italy,
and the Department has obtained permission from the
manager of the A. A. Company to utilise their mulberry
plantation at Booral for the purpose of cultivating and
feeding the worms, and imparting instruction in all branches
of the industry.

The work at the Agricultural College at Richmond will
doubtless be rendered more effective when the new dairy
and other buildings now being erected are completed, and in
the meantime the number of students continues to increase,
while the results of the examination prove conclusively the
completeness of the training imparted. This work of
education will receive considerable impetus and assistance
by the establishment of experimental farms at Wagga and
on the Richmond River, to which it is proposed to draft
such students as may desire to gain practical and scientific
training in fruit and vine growing at the former, and a
knowledge of semi-tropical farming at the latter centre.

In reporting progress, as it appears from the Departmental
point of view, it is satisfactory to note the progress of the
past year, as shown by the increased area of land under
cuJtivation. Without claiming any unreasonable credit for
assisting in promoting this increase, the Department may be
permitted to offer its congratulations to our pioneers, and to
a^ore them of cordial co-operation in the future as in the

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Vol. V, FaH 1. JAJ^UABY.

Useful Australiaij Plants.

By J. H. MAn)EN,
Consulting Botanist.

No. 5. — ^The Black Bean or Moreton Bay Chestnut.

{Castanospermum ausiralcy A. Cunn.)

Ahoriginal Names, — " Irtalie " of the aboriginals of tbo Ricbmond and
Clarence Kivers, New South Wales (C. Moore). "Bogum" was an aboriginal
name in the northern parts of the same Colony ; " Kongo " of the natives
of the Russell River, Queensland (F. M. Bailey).

Vernacular Names. — Because of the seeds, which are very large beans, this
tree goes under the name of bean-tree ; and because of the dark colour of
the wood, and partly by way of distinction from the red bean {Dysoxylon
Muelleri), it is usually known by timber merchants afi black bean. Moreton
Bay Chestnut is an old name for the tree, because it was first found in the
Moreton Bay district.

Botanical Name, — Oastanospermum^ from the Latin castanea, a chestnut,
the sweet chestnut, and spermum, a seed. The tree is confined to Australia,
and in non- Australian descriptions of it the name is usually explained on
the ground that '*the seeds are roasted like chestnuts.'* This matter is
alluded to later on. It belongs to the natural order Leguminosm,

Flowers, — They are borne on the last year's wood, bear a general resem-
blance to pea-flowers, though more solid and fleshy, and in colour vary from
yellow, through all stages of orange, to coral red. They are very handsome,
though not available for cut flowers.

JVitV. — The seeds strongly resemble the horse-chestnut of Europe, but
they are usually much larger in size ; and they are found in a very thick
pod, almost circular in section, like a distended broad bean.

The Sean-tree as furnishing food for man. — This tree was discovered by
Mr. Charles Eraser, colonial botanist, and Mr. Allan Cunningham, a botanist
then attached to the Royal Gardens at Kew, and who afterwards succeeded
Mr. Eraser at Sydney. The plant is figured and described in Hooker's
Botanical Miscellany j vol. i (1830), which contains an account of a botanical
trip made by these gentlemen in the neighbourhood of Moreton Bay. A
forest "near Brisbane Town," contains " a most interesting new plant pro-
ducing fruit larger than a Spanish chestnut, by which name it is nere
known. ... By the natives the fruit is eaten on all occasions. It has,
when roasted, the flavour of a Spanish chestnut, and I have been assured by
Bnropeans who have subsisted on it exclusively for two days, that no other
unpleasant effect was the result than a slight pain in the bowels, and that
only when it is eaten raw." Sir AVilliam Hooker adds a note : " Although
the large and handsome seeds are eaten by the natives of Brisbane River,
and by the convicts in that part of our Colony, as substitutes for our Spanish

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Useful Australian Flants.

chestnuts, I have found them hard, bitter, and their flavour not unlike that
of the acorn." Extended experience shows that very few stomachs can
tolerate them. Dr. T. L. Bancroft, of Brisbane, has examined the beans,
and is very emphatic in regard to their deleterious properties as far as man
is concerned. He states that if a small piece of the bean be eaten it causes
severe diarrhoea, with intense griping, and he states that it does this whether
it has been previously soaked in water or even roasted. He states that no
poisonous principle is removed by water, and no part of the plant is bitter.
Mr. Charles Moore, Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, exhibited a
sample of starch or flour of the beans at the Intercolonial Exhibition of
Melbourne, 1866, and he supplied the followiog information concerning his
exhibit : " The beans are used as food by the aborigines, who prepare them
by first steeping them in water from eight to ten days. They are then taken
out, dried in the sun, roasted upon hot stones, and pounded into a coarse meal,
in which state they may be kept for an indefinite period. When required
for use the meal is simply mixed with water, made into a thin cake, and
baked in the usual manner. In taste, cakes prepared in this w^ay resemble
a coarse ship biscuit." Usually the aborigines scrape it, by means of jagged
mussel shells, into a vermicelli-like substance, prior to soaking it in water.
The starch or flour is neither better nor worse than many of the food starches
at present consumed for food. As an experiment, a chemist at Lismore
once made 401b. of starch from the beans, which he sold at 4d. per lb.
Opossums are fond of the beans.

The Bean-tree as a Plant Injurious to Stock. — Stock-owners have long
waged war against this tree, owing to the belief that cattle and horses are
poisoned through eating the seeds. They are not, however, a poison in the
strict sense of the term, since no alkaloid or poisonous principle can bo
found in them. They have frequently been examined by chemists, and
Mr. W. M. Hamlet, Government Analyst, has reported on the subject to this
Department with negative results. {Annttal Report of Department ofMines^ '
N.S.W., 1886 p. 46). All the same, the beans kill the stock, owing to their
highly indigestible character, the indigestible portion in time forming a ball
ill the stomach. The leaves also are found to be injurious, and animals
which take to eating them become very fond of them, and when taken away
return long distances to these trees, and according to some accounts become
affected similarly to animals which eat the Darling Pea, and, if not carefully
looked after, they will pine away and die. Following are some interesting
notes in regard to bean poisoning on the Eichmond River : — " 1883 was a

dry season, and grass scarce. informed me that he had lost over 100

head of cattle by beau poisoning. Next day my attention was drawn to a
few cattle in the stockyard said to be poisoned by eating beans. I inquired
of the stockman if he had any proof that they had eaten beans, when he
pointed to a beast that had died the day before, and beans had been taken
from its stomach. * In reply to my questions he said he expected some of
the cattle in the yard to recover. They appeared much purged, discharging
thin, watery, foBcal matter. Cattle seem to be attracted by the bright green
appearance of the beans as they lie upon the ground. Many cattle and

horses on the Richmond have been lost from bean poisoning.. -;= lost a

valuable entire horse and cattle in this way ; and many others have similar

experience. It appears to affect horses in a different way to cattle.

informed me that while removing horses from a paddock in which the bean-
tree was growing two of them died without previously showing any symptoms
of poisoning*" The seeds are also rapidly fatal to pigs in some cases,
probably when devoured on an empty stomach.

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Useful Australian Plants. 3

Leaves. — Pinnate, as sbown in the drawing, and in a mass, of more than
ordinarily handsome appearance. The foliage is dark and the whole tree
shapely, quite justifying Cunningham's laudatory remarks in regard to it.
Those who are not &miliar with the tree in its native habitat may see some
magnificent specimens in the Sydney Botanic Gardens.

Exudation. — ^A gum from this tree was shown in the New South Wales
Court at the Paris Exhibition, 1867, but I cannot find any account of it, and
it does not appear to have been examined. The bark of this tree is often
glazed in patches with a gummy exudation, but I have not been able to get
a quantity approximately pure. It is not likely to have commercial value,
as it does not appear to be soluble, but the samples seen may have been
those from which the soluble portion had been washed away by the rain,
leaving the insoluble or metarabic portion. It would be desirable to in-
vestigate the gum from a scientific point of view, and doubtless some North
Coast residents can favour the Department with specimens of it.

Barh. — Smooth, dirty grey externally, pale brown or yellowish internally.
A tree 2 feet in diameter has a bark (say) 4-inch thick. It is not astringent,
and therefore not to be thought of by the tanner. It is, however, bitter to
the taste, and probably contains saponin, though I have not chemically
examined it.

Timber, — This timber is easiest described by stating that it strongly
resembles walnut. I have always endeavoured to urge moderation in advo-
cating the claims of colonial timbers, feeling sure that our timbers have
received a good deal of harm from indiscriminate praise ; but, having kept
Black Bean nnder observation for a number of years, and having caused
large quantities of it to be worked up into various articles, I think very
highly of it. I look upon it as scarcely inferior to wabiut. People some-
times complain of it that it warps and splits a little, but it does not do this
if it receives the seasoning that cabinet woods receive in the northern hemi-
sphere. Let Black Bean be felled when the sap is down, and given a
reasonable amount of seasoning, and I do not hesitate to say that it may
be pitted against walnut without disgrace. Black Bean is easier to dress
than even cedar ; in fact it is almost perfection as regards the ease with
which a surface can be got on it. It polishes readily, but the grain is
inclined to rise under polish. This timber often shows a beautiful figure ;
planks which have the figure in bands, like the marking of an agate, are
really gorgeous. Mr. Allen Bansome tested some specimens sent to the
Colonial and Indian Exhibition. Ho thus reports : — "A beautifully figured,
brown wood. The sample sent, being very wet, was tried under somewhat
unfavourable circumstances. A baluster was turned from it, aild some
boards and panels planed, the work from both lathe and planing-machine
being excellent. Tne wood should prove valuable for cabinet-makers, but
should be thoroughly seasoned before being used, as it shrinks very much
in drying." I have already alluded to seasoning in connection with this
timber, but Mr. Ransome's specimen, " being very wet," is hardly a fair one
from which to draw conclusions. In the building of the Austral Banking
Company, in Phillip-street, I have seen Black Bean used for framing twelve
months after felling, and it was standing splendidly two years afterwards.
A piece of Black Bean, bone dry, having Deen seasoned over twenty-five
years, has a weight which corresponds to 39 lb. 8 oz. per cubic foot ; but,
as a rule, the timber is heavier than this. Although the great use and value
of this timber is for cabinet-work, yet it has been used for rougher work.
I am informed that on the Tweed Eiver it has been used for culverts, and
when free from sap it lasts well under ground. Mr. Forester Pope, of

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4 TJaeful Australian Flanis.

Murwillumbah, also reports: — "Very durable; will last any number of
years under the pround." This is the more satisfactory, as for many years
it was not considered to be a durable timber. It is also used for staves.
The sap-wood is white and thick, and of all the hundreds of New South
Wales timbers with which I am acquainted, I know of no other sap-wood
so readily attacked and so promptly destroyed by borers as this one. Insects
speedily reduce it to a flour-like substance.

Size. — A fair average height would be GO or 70 feet, with a trunk diameter
of 2 or 3 feet. At the same time it frequently attains a height of nearly
double this, with a diameter of 5 or 6 feet.

Distribution. — It is usually found growing in brush land of the very richest
soil, usually near the banks of rivers in the Clarence, Richmond, and Tweed
River districts, but frequently in the scrub, a considerable distance from
creeks and rivers. It comes as far south as the well-known Don Dorrigo
Forest Reserve, in the Bellinger River District. It is also found in Queens-
land, extending a considerable distance along the coast districts.

Propagation. — From seed (the large "beans"). The tree can be supplied
by every nurseryman.

Jie/erence to plate (Bean tree). — a, flowering twig ; b» flower, two- thirds natural size ;
c, standard, two-thirds natural size; d, wings and keel plates, two- thirds natural size ;
£, calyx, two-thirds natural size ; f, stamens and pistil, two-thirds natural size ; G, pistil,
two-thirds natural size ; H, pod or bean, about one-fifth natural size ; J, seed, about
Jjwo-thirds natural size ; K, sketch of a tree in the Sydney Botanical Gardens.

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Agricultural Gazette of N. S. Wales. Vol. V.





Castanospermum australe, A. Cunn.

"Bean Tree" or " Moreton Bay ChestrfM-t'T ^^OO^^^

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Fodder Plants interesting to the Wool-grower.

Two Fodder Plaijts interestiijg to the


Ck)n8ultiDg Botanist.

When we are reminded that the botanical name of lucerne is Medicag(r
sativay it will be at once conceded that agriculturists in New South Wales
owe a good deal to the genus Medicago. It contains about forty species,,
and many of them are useful fodder plants. None of them are Australian,
but a number of them have been introduced, some purposely, and some by
accident. The name Medicago is said to be derived from Medike^ a name
given by the Greek Dioscoricles to a grass from Media. The common English
name for these plants is Medick of one sort or another. Thus, the lucerne
is sometimes known as Purple Medick, those which have burr-fruits as Burr-
Medicks, and so on. Those which have smooth, bookless, burrless fruits or
pods, like Jhe two species now depicted, should be given every encouragement
to spread.

A few months ago Mr. C. H. Fitzhardinge, of Dubbo, sent Medicago orhicu-
laris to the Department for naming, and pointed out that the fruits were
without hooks to attach themselves to wool. At about the same time the
following passage was contained in the Agricultural Journal, the official
organ of the Department of Agriculture of Cape Colony. (Issue of 7th
September, 1893) : — ** I send you seeds of two more fodder plants, Medicaga
Bcutellata (Bauh.) and M, orbicularis (All.). You, doubtless, have a careful
man to start them. They are annual, but produce an immense number of
fruits, which the sheep lick up and eat when pasturage fails. I have gathered
as many as 1,400 seeds from a single plant." This is by Baron von Mueller,
to whom, therefore, belongs the credit of widely publishing the advantages
of a burrless Medick, and he has been the means of distributing both plants
in many Australian localities in which it now. flourishes.

Figures are now given of two species of burrless Medicks, and, as the
botanical descriptions of them are not readily available to most people
who have English text books (as they are not natives of Great Britain, but
come from countries bordering on the Mediterranean), I give the descrip-
tions herewith.

M, orbicularis. All. — Stems diffuse; leaflets obcordate, toothed at the apex;

Online LibraryAustralia. Dept. of Agriculture New South WalesThe agricultural gazette of New South Wales → online text (page 1 of 118)