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A gric . - Forestry . Main Library




AT MAY BE LEARNED



A TREE.



HAKLAND COULTAS,
/ /

AITTHOK ov "ORGANIC LIFE THE SAME IN ANIMALS AS IN PLANTS,'' ETC., ETC.



1 Sweet are the uses of adversity,
"Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything."

SIIAKSPEAEB.



HEW YORK:
I), APPLETON & COMPANY,

443 & 445 BEOADWAT.
1863.



*r\



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1959,

BY HABLAXD COULTAS,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for lh ! District of Peooayl



Agric.-Forestry. Main Library



RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED



TO



ALL LOVERS AND FKIENDS OF NATURE.



39345:2



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.



IT was originally my intention to have published my
Tree in eight parts, and to have brought them out in suc-
cession, as rapidly as possible ; but I have decided, for the
present, to stop at Part IV. A much larger subscription
than I have yet obtained is necessary to anable me to carry
out my original project. Trees will not grow without sap
or sunlight, and if mine is, at present, only a mere shrub,
and has not advanced to the condition of a California
Sequoia, it is because I require more time and means.

Do not suppose, reader, that I am at all discouraged, or
that I have the slightest intention to give up the work ;
but the present delay is absolutely requisite in order that
I may be able to meet the expenses which I have incurred
in its publication. An author who appears before the
world in the character of a moralist, and a lover of Nature,
must endeavor to live a pure and blameless life, and be
upright and honorable in all business transactions.

No work which the press has received from my pen has
been so much encouraged as the present one, and to my
numerous kind friends and patrons I return my sincere
thanks. The present edition is printed on much better
paper, and is in every respect a decided improvement on
the former one.

The question is simply this : " Will this book do me
any good ?" " Is it worth its price ?" Gentlemen are re-
spectfully requested to read and judge for themselves. As
the author of the book, I wish it to stand entirely on its
own merits. I wish no man to buy my book unless he
thinks its perusal will do him good.

The biography of a tree, or of a flower, is to my mind
an illustration of human life, every stage of which is



VI PREFACE.

interesting when life is properly conducted. There is the
beauty and innocence of childhood ; the enthusiasm and
buoyancy of youth ; the energy and strength of manhood,
and the ripened wisdom and experience of age. Our
vitality declines now almost imperceptibly, and, finally,
man passes away like a leaf, a flower, a tree.

These influences affect not only the works of Nature,
but those of man. We may retard the operation of the
laws of decay, but we cannot suspend them. The most
enduring monuments, once resplendent with the glory of
the genius of man ; his palaces and pyramids, or the lofty
column which tells of the struggles of the past to future
generations, may, for ages, defy the stroke of the lightning
and the storms of the atmosphere, but they shall be con-
quered by its quiet and imperceptible influences ; by its
gently descending dews, and the disintegrating power of
its oxygen, as time rolls onward. Their beauty and strength
shall disappear, and other generations shall look thought-
fully on their ruins, and the lowly moss and lichen shall
feed on their broken and dissevered fragments.

Life is short, and we must make the most of it ; it is a
warfare, and we must nerve ourselves for the conflict.
How many spend it miserably in the vain pursuit of riches !
Is this wise ? It is our duty to obtain a competency, and
prepare, if possible, a beautiful home for our family which
they can call their own when we are gone ; but the most
valuable wealth that we can leave them, is a spirit of self-
dependence and good principles. For uprightness of con-
duct is so noble and beautiful a feature, that it invariably
makes a man friends and leads to inevitable success in the
pursuits of life.

The few hints given in this volume as to the study of
Nature, and how to spend life happily, will not, I hope, be
lost on some of my readers, who will gratefully remember
me for the good I have done them, when I shall have long
passed away from this fleeting evanescent scene.

HABLAND COULTAS.

STOREY STREET, MANTUA YILLE,
February 12th, 1860.



CONTENTS.



Introduction, i*

CHAPTER I.

The building-up of the Tree-form out of its unit ; or, the Life of the
Tree traced throughout its vegetative period from infancy to puberty, 13

CHAPTER II.

The History of the development of Trees may be advantageously
studied by a careful examination of the marks left by Nature on
their young branches The growths made by the Tree during the
former years of its life, having been there accurately recorded, . 26

CHAPTER III.

The inner organization of Trees ; or a description of the Anatomy and
Physiology of the different species of Cells which enter into the
composition of their tissues, 37

CHAPTER IV.

The Tree is constructed on the principle of a cone Its leaves are the
sources whence proceed the formative material used in the building-
up of its Stem and Branches, which is distributed amongst them
after a common law, 57

CHAPTER V.

Those natural Causes which produce the inequality in the Develop-
ment of the Branches and Buds of a Tree, illustrate clearly the laws
of social inequality and subordination in civilized communities, . 67

CHAPTER VI.

The rhythms or oscillations of Growth in the Development of Trees
are durably impressed on their Organism, and the Organization of
Man is equally as susceptible of receiving and retaining impression?
from without, 91



Vlll CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VII.

PAGE

The Leaf, with the entire edge, is alone to be regarded as a simple
Leaf The Leaf takes a higher form of Organization, and becomes
compound in proportion to the Development of the fibrous portion
of its Lamina All the irregularities of its margin, such as Lobes,
Teeth, Crenatures, Serratures, result from an effort at new leaflet-
formation arrested in its first stages, 107

CHAPTER VIII.

A sketch of the History of Creation as recorded in the strata of the
Earth, showing that the Trees which now cover its surface were not
all created at the same time, but were introduced as the Earth be-
came fitted for their reception Trees were created in succession
Those of a low type of Organization are the most ancient inhabi-
tants of the Globe The more highly organized Trees have been in-
troduced at a, comparatively speaking, modern Geological epoch, . 131

CHAPTER IX.

Change which takes place in the constitution of Trees at the period of
puberty Organic Metamorphosis of their Leaves into Flowers and
Fruit, and relative physiological rank of the Floral organs, . .152

CHAPTER X.

Contains a Description of Trees remarkable for their gigantic growth
and great age } found in different parts of the World, . . .169

CHAPTER XL

The Woods take the first rank in the communities of the Vegetable
Kingdom Reciprocity of action amongst Plants A cool Atmo-
sphere produced by Woods Their removal is followed by a warmer,
drier Climate, and is beneficial in some cases Woods on Mountains
must not be cut down Pernicious results of their removal in Italy
Woods useful along the Sea-shore, where the coast is low and sandy
Concluding remarks, . . . . . . . .176

CHAPTER XII.

The Death of the Tree is founded on an inner law of its organism,
and is not the result of accidental causes, 185



INTRODUCTION.



CHANGE is the soul of nature. Stars appear and disap-
pear, and new ones come in their stead. The day gives
its place to the night, and the night to the day. The
moon is ever changing her aspect as she moves round the
earth. Spring, summer, autumn, and winter follow each
other in succession, and with this gradual change of the
seasons, the earth is continually changing its plant-cover-
ing. Nature is ever moving onward, and mutability
marks all these forward movements. The vegetable
world is ever adapting itself to the ever-varying condi-
tions of moisture, heat, and light, which mark the days
and years of the earth's pilgrimage. One flower, for ex-
ample, is seen to open as soon as the first rays of morning
tremble on the horizon, another in the morning sun, a
third at mid-day, a fourth in the evening, and a fifth at
midnight. The animal world, too, strikes as it were the
hours. Scarcely do the dew-drops glitter in the beams of
the advancing sun, than the earth-worms come to the
surface to enjoy themselves, the birds commence their
song, the sun rises higher and the woods reverberate with
their ever-varied melodies. But the sun sinks in the west
and night hides from our view the glory and beauty of
nature ; and the nightingale warbles, the owl screams, the
bat flies abroad, and an innumerable variety of beautiful
moths sport themselves in the gloom. So appear and dis-



10 INTRODUCTION.

appear successive generations of plants, animals, and
men.

We have felt, for many years, interested in the plant-
world, that beautiful and ever-variegated carpet with
which Nature has overspread the earth, and which is ever
changing its character as the seasons roll on. We have
also printed several elementary works on Botany, and
this time have chosen for our subject, a Tree ; because it
is a picture of the whole of Nature, and of the way in
which Nature works.

It is quite evident that each part of a tree, whether it be
leaf-scale, or leaf, sepal or petal, has its place assigned
and task allotted in the construction of its organism;
and that there is a system of mutual dependency and
subordination which pervades all the parts of the tree
from the cell upwards. Now this variety, and at the
same time unity of organic action, so apparent in all the
life-phenomena of a tree, and in all the mutations of its
form is exceedingly instructive, for it throws light not only
on the natural laws which govern society, but on the whole
of organized Nature.

Nature is a mechanism whose parts are intimately as-
sociated with each other. The forest leaf, for example,
has infinite connections not only with the tree which it
helps to build, but with the atmosphere which it oxyge-
nates, and with the raindrop which it absorbs and decom-
poses. And it is the same with every insect, moss, and
mountain floweret. Each has its place assigned in the
organism of the universe, and its allotted labors to per-
form. All take their part in effecting those grand
changes now taking place in nature ; and which are un-
doubtedly conducted on a plan devised by infinite intelli-
gence and wisdom, and therefore perfect in all its parts,
harmonious in all its arrangements.

In like manner that part of Nature called civilized so-
ciety, notwithstanding all the evils with which it is neces-
sarily accompanied, is equally a mechanism, and governed
by natural law. It is my design in this work to try to



INTRODUCTION. 11

exhibit this fact in its true light. Men have formed their
Utopia. They have closed their eyes on the existence of
natural evil ; they have denied that it is an inevitable ne-
cessity, and inseparable from the present condition of
things ; they have sought to make the world otherwise
than God has made it. They have promulgated erro-
neous schemes of philanthropy, which, having no foun-
dation whatever, either in truth or reason, can never do
otherwise than mislead and betray. They would over-
turn the granite foundations of the present social fabric.
Vain and futile attempt !

It is time that we looked these evils fairly in the face.
It is time that we admitted their existence as an inevitable
necessity, as part of the discipline of life ; that we re-
garded those grand compensatory forces which are ever
at work in the realms of Nature, and by means of which
these conflicting elements are made to harmonize, and a
just equilibrium brought about in the scale of human
happiness. When will man learn wisdom and truth
from the teachings of Nature ? "When will he open his
eyes to those important practical lessons which may be
learned from the commonest object ? It is my inten-
tion, in this book, to show " What may be learned from
a Tree."

We are about to write its life-history. We shall trace it
from the first manifestations of vitality in the germinating
seed until the period of puberty, when it puts forth flowers,
and fruit. We shall consider its phenomena after it has
passed its prime, and show that it has its appointed limits in
consequence of the same physiological law which governs
the development of its organism, equally with that of the
lowly plant which grows beneath its shade. We shall show
that the tree may be regarded as a vast community of phy-
tons, or plants, which co-operate in its construction and are
mutually dependent on and subservient to each other We
shall prove the individuality of these phytons which devel-
ope about the axophyte or stem of the tree and its ramifica-
tions or branches, by their difference of form and function,



12 INTRODUCTION.

and also by those separate periods of time at which they
arrive at a state of maturity and decay. We shall show
that the amount of work done by these phytons, in their
individual and collective capacity, constitutes the growth
of each year, and has been recorded in the wood of its stem
and on the outer surface of its bark. But all the parts of
organic nature are so intimately connected with each other,
that the careful study of any one part necessarily leads as
a reward to correct ideas respecting the whole. This is
particularly the case with the tree, which is a microcosm,
or little world, beautifully illustrative of those unchanging
laws of individual and social development which lie at the
foundation of the present social system.

My own experience has taught me that a work of this
nature is likely to be very useful. It is emphatically
written for the people for those who feel life to be one
continued struggle for existence. Many of the truths
which will be illustrated are stern and incontrovertible
realities, confirmed by the daily and hourly experience of
life. Of all the author's botanical works, this is perhaps
the only one that will survive him. One thing is certain,
that it will be more generally understood. The reader of
only ordinary education and intellectual power may readily
comprehend the principles inculcated in this book, and
see their applicability as guiding rules for the judicious
and happy management of each day's duties. Reader,
whoever you are, may this book prove to you a friend,
may you be induced by its pages to look on the Tree with
a new interest ; and obtaining from its noble form a clear
and truthful view of your own position and duty in life,
become by the perusal of this volume, a wiser man and a
better citizen.



CHAPTER I.

THE BUILDING UP OF THE TREE-FORM OUT OF ITS UNIT; OR, THE
LIFE OF THE TREE TRACED THROUGHOUT ITS VEGETATIVE PERIOD
FROM INFANCY TO PUBERTY.

A TREE is indisputably the most highly-developed form
which vegetable life assumes. In the appearance of one
that has stood for centuries, there is something noble and
majestic. When we look at its now massive stem and far-
extended branches, and then call to mind its smallness and
feebleness at the commencement of its life ; when we re-
member that this great tree was once so small as to be in-
closed within a little seed, and that the tons of solid timber
which it contains have been all drawn by that seed from
the earth and atmosphere, we cannot but feel that we have
before us a most impressive proof of the operations of the
attractive forces. What an immense amount of vitally
organized material has been here gathered together ! It
is God's own architecture ! This mass of vegetable matter
is only earth and air which has undergone transmutation !
The material alike of wandering zephyrs and rushing
storms, of gently descending night-dews and angry thun-
der-showers, has been here, on this spot, metamorphosed !

Yet we pass these great and wonderful works of Provi-
dence every day of our lives without a thought. The
gradual and silent building-up of a tree excites no curiosity,
conveys no moral lesson. What may be learned from a
tree ? Clear and comprehensive views of the organization
and laws which govern the civilized world ! Rules of con-
duct which lie at the foundation of all success in business,
all progress in the pathway to pre-eminence. It is the aim



14 THE BUILDING UP OF THE

of this book to establish this fact by a direct appeal to
nature and experience. And first of all we will give a
brief sketch of the life-history of a tree from infancy to
puberty, or from the commencement of germination till
the period when the tree reaches its maximum height, and
puts forth its flowers and fruit. By so doing, we shall be
able to show the principles on which trees are constructed,
and the reader will form for himself a correct idea or in-
tellectual picture of a tree. As this is all-important to a
thorough understanding of the principles inculcated in
this book, we earnestly request that the purely botanical
portion of it may have a most careful and attentive peru-
sal.

The First Tear's Growth. If we plant a beech-nut in a
suitable soil, when spring and warm weather come it will
begin to germinate. It first attracts the moisture of the
soil itself. This produces the softening and swelling of
the tough covering of the nut, which is finally ruptured
by the growth of the embryo or infant beech-tree in its
interior, which sends downward, through the lacerated in-
tegument or seed-cover, a young rootlet, and upwards a
young stem, to which are attached the first pair of leaves.
These leaves, which are thick and fleshy, and constituted
the great bulk of the seed, are in reality the nursing-leaves
of the young embryo. Lifted above the ground and ex-
posed to the light of the sun, they speedily expand, take
a leaflike texture and hue, and become so much enlarged
that they present quite a different appearance to that
which they exhibited when they were folded together and
enveloped by the seed-skin.

I call them nursing-leaves (folia nutrientia\ because
these words convey a more correct idea of the services which
they render the plant, and are therefore better than the
word cotyledons, or seed-leaves, terms employed by other
writers. These nursing-leaves are only temporary appen-
dages of the axis or stem, and perform a distinct and sepa-
rate duty in connection with the building-up of the tree.



TREE FORM OUT OF ITS UNIT. 15

They contain a store of starch, provisions elaborated by
the plant which produced the seed. On this store of starch
the young embryo or infant beech, with its little root and
stem, bearing toward its summit the first phyton, or true
aerial leaf, is wholly parasitic until it is sufficiently grown
to draw a sufficient amount of sustenance from the earth
and atmosphere, and can do without the nursing-leaves.

The polar opposition between root and stem, which is
among the first indications of the commencement of active
vitality in the young embryo, is wholly inexplicable, and
continues throughout the entire life of the tree. During the
first stages of its life, oxygen is absorbed from the air by the
nursing-leaves of the growing embryo, and through its in-
fluence the starch contained in them is transmuted into a
soluble sugary gum called dextrine, which is conveyed, by
the water absorbed during the germination, to the young
rootlet and to the gemmule, and also to the first true
aerial leaf, or phyton. Thus nourished, this leaf speedily
expands, takes the form peculiar to the plant, and remains
permanently attached to them till the close of the grow-
ing season. It is otherwise with the nursing-leaves : for
having yielded up their store of nutrient material to the
first true aerial leaf, and given it the necessary degree of
strength to enable it to support itself, they become gradu-
ally atrophied, or waste away and shrivel up, and we see
them finally fall from the stem. With the full develop-
ment of the first true aerial leaf, and the atrophy and ulti-
mate fall of the nursing-leaves, the first stage of vegetative
life is closed.

We have now a simple individual plant, or vegetable
unit, consisting of root, stem, and leaf, having subterranean
and aerial organs beautifully adapted to its nutrition ; it is,
therefore, perfect in all its parts. And now, the fully-de-
veloped tree, with its massive stem, branches, and roots,
its noble canopy of foliage and fiowers, stands before us in
its simplest form. For the first true aerial leaf is the
foundation of the vegetable fabric, the parent of those



16 THE BUILDING UP OF THE

countless numbers of leaves which are developed through
succeeding years, and by whose united labors a goodly
tree is at last constructed, capable of withstanding the
storms of the atmosphere, as the submarine structures
reared by the coral insect resist the surges of the ocean.

It is therefore important to study carefully the organi-
zation and life-processes of the first true aerial leaf, or
vegetable unit ; for as its simple repetition constitutes the
growth of the first year which again must be regarded as
a vegetable unit of a somewhat higher, more complex cha-
racter, by simple repetition of which the entire tree itself
is ultimately produced ; so it is plain that a thorough know-
ledge of the physiology and organization of this first true
aerial leaf must furnish a key not only to the growth of
the first year, but of succeeding years, of which the tree is
the solid and enduring monument.

Nothing is apparently more insignificant and feeble than
our beech-tree at this period of its life. Look at the young,
delicate leaf and stem of the phyton, or first plant, which
does not even raise above the green blades of grass by
which it is surrounded, thrown as it were on the charity
of Nature ! It has lost its nursing-leaves and is left to pro-
vide for itself, surrounded by innumerable dangers. It is
at first a struggle for life against fearful odds. It may be
eaten by cattle, or be crushed by a careless footstep ; want
of rain or too much moisture in the soil, excessively hot or
severely cold weather, may permanently injure its structure
and bring its life to an early and premature close.

But if the seed was planted in a good soil, and the con-
ditions continue favorable, an impulsive energy will very
soon be called forth which shall carry it over every obstacle.
Yea, verily, it shall extract nutriment from the very tem-
pest which would hurl it to destruction, and render its
enemy subservient to the advancement of its upward and
onward progress.

See how beautifully Providence has adapted the organi-
zation of the two extremities of the phyton, or first plant,



TREE-FORM OUT OF ITS UNIT. 17

to the earth and atmosphere, the two sources from whence it
must for the future draw its supplies of food. Its little root
descends into the soil, and puts forth from its surface a
number of fine, white, hairlike fibres, which are the instru-
ments by means of which the plants absorb inwardly the
subterranean nutrient material which surrounds them ; its
young stem ascends into the air, and the bark and fibre,
which are arranged cylindrically in separate beds or layers
in the stem, are spread out horizontally towards its summit,
in the form of a flat green plate, or absorbent surface,
called a leaf.

The bark, or cellular tissue of this leaf is penetrated by
the fibrous portion of the stem, in the shape of veins and
veinlets, which communicate freely with the roots in the
soil, and thus act as conduits of the sap or nutritive mate-
rial from one extremity of the plant to the other. In this
manner the sap, brought from all parts of the plant, be-
comes, as it were, thoroughly spread out and aerated in the
leaf. To facilitate the processes of evaporation and absorp-
tion, the leaf is provided with an epidermis, through the
pores or openings of which the superfluous water of the sap
is evaporated, and such gases absorbed from the atmosphere
as are nutritious to the plant.

Hence, when fully developed, this leaf aerates the sap
much more perfectly than the nursing-leaves ; and as it is


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