John Jacobs Thomas.

The American fruit culturist, containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees, in the nursery, orchard, and garden, with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties, cultivated in the United States online

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Online LibraryJohn Jacobs ThomasThe American fruit culturist, containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees, in the nursery, orchard, and garden, with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties, cultivated in the United States → online text (page 3 of 31)
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plications of these different names by different cultivators,
may be easily imagined. The varieties of the peach which
Lindley, an eminent British writer, describes as Grosse Mig-
nonne, Neil's Early Purple, Pourpree Hative, Royal Ken-
sington, and Superb Royal, are all described as a single va-


riety by Mclntosh, another British writer, under the name
Grosse Mignonne, to which he adds twenty-seven synonyms.
The labors of the London Horticultural Society have con-
tributed much towards removing the bewildering confusion
into which the numerous fruits and their names were thrown.
Large collections were made from different countries ; and
by a careful and minute examination for many successive
years, innumerable mistakes were corrected. The Massa-
chusetts Horticultural Society, at Boston, in connection with
the labors of the late Robert Manning, of Salem, (whose
collection of pears alone contained eight hundred sorts,) have
tended greatly towards the same useful end in this country.
The subject is also receiving much attention in various parts
of the United States. The indispensible necessity of a more
thorough examination of fruits by those who propagate them
for sale, is more appreciated and becoming reduced to prac-
tice. Many extensive private collections of American and
European fruits have recently been made, or greatly aug-
mented, for the purpose of a more thorough examination,
comparison, and selection of varieties. These, in connec-
tion with the increased facilities for an interchange of fruits
and information, cannot fail to pour a flood of light upon the
darkness which has so long enveloped this branch of the
subject; to lead to a greater uniformity in names, and ac-
curacy in their application ; to point out those only which
are worthy of general cultivation, and to lead to the rejec-
tion of the hundreds, which, possessing good qualities, do not
come up to the high standard of excellence which should be
adopted by every enlightened cultivator and disseminator of



THE tendency is more or less common with all plants, when
successively produced from seed, to depart from the charac-
ter first stamped upon them. These departures give rise
to new varieties. In their native forests, many trees and
plants do not exhibit these changes, either because they are
slight and obscure, or in consequence of the inflexible nature
of the species. With others, varieties are conspicuous ;
examples of which may be seen in the White Spruce, a part
of the trees presenting rigid, erect branches, in contrast
with the drooping aspect of others ; in the American Elm,
the branches, in rare instances, being as pendant as the
weeping willow ; in the more brilliant glow of red flowers
on some trees of the Red Maple ; and in the diversity of
size, form, and flavor of the wild plum of the woods.

This tendency to vary is increased as plants are removed
from their native localities ; and in an eminent degree by
cultivation. Planted in gardens, and subjected to high
culture, repeated and successive sowings often develope
striking changes from the appearances which for previous
centuries had remained unchanged. By a constant selec-
tion of seeds from the best, a gradual improvement on the
original is effected. Most of our finest fruits, doubtless owe
their existence to this improving process.*

" If," says Downing, " we sow a quantity of seed in gar-

* The distinction between species and varieties should be well understood. A single
species, or original, distinct, individual plnnt, often includes many varieties. All the
varieties of one species, are from the same original plant; the thousands which
have been named of the single species, the apple, are but a small portion of the myri-
ads which have been actually produced. Successive plantings have given us sorts
as different in size as the Monstrous Pippin and the minute Lady Apple ; or as
remote in flavor as the harsh and astringent Hewes Crab, and the rich and honied
Bough. But widely different as these may be, they can never pass the boundary of
the species an apple can never be changed to a pear, a cherry to a plum, nor a
gooseberry to a currant.


den soil, of the common black mazzard cherry, we shall
find that, in the leaves and habit of growth, many of the
seedlings do not entirely resemble the original. When they
come into bearing, it is probable we shall also find as great
a diversity in the size, color, and flavor of the fruit, though
only a few, perhaps only one, may be superior to the origi-
nal species.

" Exactly in proportion as this reproduction is frequently
repeated, is the change to a great variety of forms, or new
sorts, increased. It is likely, indeed, that to gather the
seeds from the wild mazzard of the woods, the instances ot
departure from the form of the original species would be
very few ; while if gathered from a garden tree, itself some-
time cultivated, or several removes from a wild state, though
still a mazzard, the seedlings will show great variety of

" Once in the possession of a variety which has moved out
of the natural into a more domesticated form, we have in
our hands the best material for the improving process. The
fixed original habit of the species is broken in upon, and this
variety which we have created, has always afterwards some
tendency to make further departures from the original form.
It is true that all or most of its seedlings will still retain a
likeness to the parent, but a few will differ in some respects,
and it is by seizing upo'n those which show symptoms of
variation, that the improver of vegetable races founds his

While a few of the seedlings from such improved variety,
may become still further improved, a far greater number
will probably approach towards the original or wild state.
The more highly improved the fruit, the greater the diffi-
culty to find one of its progeny which shall excel or equal
the parent. In ten thousand seedlings from those high-
flavored apples, the Swaar and Esopus Spitzenburgh, it may
be quite doubtful if any shall equal in quality those fruits
themselves, while most may fall considerably below them.

The improvements effected in former ages were doubtless
the result of accident, as the ancients were ignorant of the
means for their systematic accomplishment. The greatest
progress in the art made in modern times, was effected by
Van Mons in Belgium, and Knight in England.


Van Mons, who directed his labors chiefly to the pear, pro-
duced many new and excellent varieties, by a constant and
successive selection of the best seedlings. He first made a
large collection of natural stocks, or wild pears, choosing
those which, from the appearance of the wood and leaf, he
had reason to believe, would be most likely to produce the
best fruit. As soon as the first of these bore, he selected the
best, and planted the seeds. Selections were again made,
from the first, of these, and so on in continued succession ; the
best and soonest in bearing were uniformly chosen. He
thus obtained fruit from the eighth generation ; each suc-
cessive experiment yielding an improved result on the pre-
ceding. At the fourth generation many of the fruits were
good, several excellent, but a smaller number still bad. He
had, in the early part of this series of experiments, no less
than eighty thousand trees ; hence in selecting from so large
a number, his chance for fine sorts was far greater than from
a small collection ; and hence too the reason why, after sev-
en or eight improving generations, he had obtained so many
good varieties. In the early stages of his operations, he
found " that twelve or fifteen years was the mean term of
time, from the moment of planting the first seed of an an-
cient variety of the domestic pear, to the first fructification
of the trees which sprung from them. The trees from the
second sowing, yielded their first fruit at an age of from ten
to twelve years ; those of the third generation, at an age of
from eight to ten years ; those of the fourth generation, at
an age of from six to eight ; and those of the fifth genera-
tion at the age of six years. Van Mons, being actually at
the eighth generation, has informed me that he has obtain-
ed several pear trees which fruited at the age oj four years"*
When his seedlings were at the age of three or four years,
he was able to judge of their appearances, though they had
not as yet borne ; such only were taken for further trial, as
enhibited the strongest probability of excellence. It is hard-
ly necessary to remark that in all these trials, the young
trees were kept in the highest state of cultivation.

.Van Mons maintained that by selecting and planting the
seeds of the first crop on the young tree, the product would
be less liable to run back to the original variety, than where

* Poiteau.


the seeds were taken from the fruit of an old bearing or graft-
ed tree ; and to this practice he chiefly ascribed his success.
The many instances, however, of fine seedlings from old
grafted sorts, throw a shade of doubt over this theory.


A familiar instance of cross-impregnation in plants occurs
in the Indian corn. The pistillate or seed-bearing flowers
covering the young ear, are remotely situated on the plant
from the staminate or fertilizing flowers on the summits or
ta*sds. Hence, from this remote position, the pollen or fer-
tilizing dust from the summits may not certainly fall on the
ear ; and if different sorts grow near, a mixture will proba-
bly result. It is well known to farmers, that if different sorts,
as white, yellow, and purple, are planted in the same field ;
or, if common and sweet corn are planted together, each
sort no longer remains distinct, but each ear the second year
is speckled with a promiscuous assemblage of white, yellow,
and purple, and of common and sweet corn, of various grades.
In fruit trees, the stamens and pistils are in the same flower,
and the chances of accidental mixture from other trees, be-
come very small, unless affected by insects, which, becoming
thickly dusted with powder from one flower, plunge into the
recesses of another, and effect a cross-fertilization. Where
many varieties grow in one garden, in close proximity, cases
of promiscuous intermixture are constantly occurring, which
can be developed only by raising fruit from the seedlings.
In the annexed figure of the pear blossom, (fig. 1,) the
<? five central organs, a, are the pistils ;

the upper extremity of each is the
stigma. The surrounding thread-like
organs, i, are the stamtns, surmount-
ed by the anthers. The anthers are
little bags or cases filled with the
pollen or fertilizing dust. When the
flowers open, the anthers burst, and
Fi ff- * discharge the pollen- on the stigma,

which operates on the embryo fruit at its base.

The production of new varieties is greatly facilitated by
cross-impregnation, or by fertilizing the pistil of one variety
with the pollen of another. This was performed with great


success by Knight. Selecting two varieties, while yet ear-
ly in flower, and before the anthers had
J ) burst and discharged the pollen, he cut
" out with a fine pair of scissors all the
stamens, leaving the pistils untouched,
(fig. 2.) When the stigma became
sufficiently mature, which was indica-
ted by its glutinous surface, he trans-
ferred the pollen of the other sort, on
the point of a camel's-hair pencil. The fruit, thus yielded,
was unchanged ; but its seeds partook variously of the nature
of both parents, and the trees growing from them bore new
and intermediate varieties.

For the success of such experiments, several precautions
are requisite. The flower must be deprived of its stamens
before it has fully expanded, or before the anthers have
already burst and scattered their dust ; the pollen must be
procured from a bursting or fully matured anther, when it
will be dry and powdery ; the stigma must be inoculated
as soon as it becomes adhesive or glutinous, otherwise it
may be fertilized from another source, and then the intend-
ed pollen cannot possibly take effect. For a stigma once
inoculated, cannot be inoculated again. It is safest, where
practicable, to force the trees by artificial heat into flower-
ing a few days earlier than others, so as to be secure from
accidental inoculations of pollen floating in the air ; and to
prevent its spread by bees, to apply a temporary covering of
gauze. A want of attention to these minutia?, has led some
experimenters to fancy they had obtained crosses, when
they had only natural seedlings.*

To obtain new varieties of certain desired qualities, select
two which possess those qualities separately, and seedlings
from crossing will be likely to exhibit these qualities com-
bined. Thus, a very early pear deficient in flavor, as the
Amire Joannet, might furnish one of superior quality *by a
cross with a better and later sort, as Dearborn's Se'edling.
Or, a small and very rich pear, as the Seckel, might give
us one of the larger size by fertilizing the Bartlett. A slow-
growing and tender peach, as the Early Anne, might be
rendered hardier and more vigorous by an intermixture with

* Pollen may be kept without injury for months, if sealed air-tight in a small vial.


che Early York or Cooledge's Favorite. But it must be
remembered, that there is a tendency in such highly im-
proved sorts to deteriorate, and that out of a large number
3f seedlings, perhaps only one or two may be equal in fla-
vor to the original.

Some of our best fruits have resulted from artificial cross-
ing. Coe r s Golden Drop plum was obtained by planting
seed of the Green Gage, impregnated with pollen from the
White Magnum Bonum ; the Elton cherry, from the Graffion
)T Bigarreau, fertilized with the White Heart ; and Knight's
Early Black and Waterloo, from the Mayduke and Graffion.

The first crop of a young seedling is not always suffi-
:iently developed to exhibit its true character. Some years
jf bearing are often essential. Thus, the Black Eagle, one
jf the finest cherries, when exhibited the first time before
the London Horticultural Society, was pronounced worthless.

When a cross is obtained between two different species,
instead of between mere varieties, it is termed a hybrid. But
while varieties of the same species intermingle freely, the
Dperation rarely succeeds between fruits of different species.
The gooseberry, currant, and black currant, species of the
same genus, and nearly related, have never produced a hy-
brid. Neither have any ever been obtained between the ap-
ple and the pear, or the pear and the quince. But different
species of other plants, as the Heaths, and some of the Cacti,
intermingle freely. The Rhododendron will fertilize the
Azaleas, and the Red Cedar has been made to inoculate the
American Arbor-vitae, though both these examples are be-
tween plants of different genera. Hybrids are frequently,
sterile ; or if they possess the power of reproduction by seed,
the progeny returns to the state of one or the other of its



WHEN trees are raised from seeds, as before stated, there
is no certainty that the same identical variety will be re-
produced. In many cases, the shade of variation will be
scarcely perceptible ; in others it will be wide and distinct.
It hence becomes desirable in preventing a return towards
the original wild state, or, in other words, to perpetuate the
identical individual thus highly improved, to adopt some
other mode of propagation, for the purpose of multiplying trees
of such varieties as possess a high excellence, instead of con-
stantly creating new ones, with the hazard of most of them
proving worthless.

It will be distinctly remembered, that new varieties must
always spring from seeds ; but the same individual variety
can be multiplied only by separating the buds, or shoots bear-
ing the buds, of such individual plant. As an example, the
Fall Pippin, when first produced from seed, was a single
tree of a new variety. The myriads of trees now existing of
this variety, are only multiplications of the branches of the
original. This multiplication or propagation of varieties, is
effected in several ways : 1, Cuttings ; 2, Layers ; 3, Graft-
ing ; 4, Budding. Without these means of propagation,
such delicious sorts as the Green Gage plum, the Elton cher-
ry, and ihe Seckel pear, could never have been tasted ex-
cept as picked from the single parent tree.

In the multitude of different modes of grafting and bud-
ding, success must depend on the observance of certain fun-
damental principles ; a brief glance, therefore, at these
principles, may serve to render the explanation of all the va-
riations simple and intelligible.

During the growing season of a fruit tree, the sap enters at



the spongioles, or minute spongy extremities of the fibrous
roots,* at which time it consists merely of \vater, with minute
portions of other substances in solution. It passes up through
the alburnum or sap-wood, dissolving mucilage in its pro-
gress ; it becomes further charged in a very slight degree,
and acquires a saccharine character. It ascends to the ex-
tremities of the branches, and is distributed through the
leaves. Emerging thus from the dark and minute vessels
of the wood, it is spread out and exposed to the action of
the light, by means of the fine web or net-work of veins
running from the mid-rib to all parts of these broad
and thin organs. Here it becomes essentially chang-
ed in character, it enters into new combinations, and
is charged with the materials for the newly forming
wood ; it now descends, not through the sap-wood,
but through the inner or living bark,t and deposits
a new layer between the bark and the wood. This
new layer being soft and fresh, interposed between
them, causes that separation known as the peeli?ig
of the bark.t

The sap is capable of flowing sidewise, through
lateral openings in the vessels or microscopic tubes.
Hence some trees may be cut at one point more
than half through on one side, and at another point
more than half through on the other side, without
intercepting the upward flow of sap, as in fig. 3.
Fig 3 This lateral motion explains the reason why a graft
set in the longitudinal cleft of a stock, receives the
sap from the split surfaces of the cleft, and succeeds as well
as when cross-sections of both are brought into contact.

* A greatly magnified representation of one of these spongelets is shown in the
-r-,^-^1 , s -' .-j,^^. - - annexed figure, (fig. 4.) the cen-
tral or dark part being woody,
and the point of the exterior being
cellular and spongy.

t The liber, or inner bark, con-
stitutes almost the whole bark in
young trees, but often not one-
half on very old and rough-barked
forest trees.

t The importance of leaves to
the growth and even life of the
tree, is exhibited in various ways.
A tree stripped of its leaves


at midsummer, instantly ceases
A sue cession of such stripping*, during ihe course of the season, soon




When a ligature is bound closely round a branch, the ob-
struction which it imposes to the descending juices, causes
an enlargement or swollen ring above the ligature, as in

fig. 5. The same result
is produced if a small ring
of bark is cut out, as in
fig. 6. If a shoot is taken
from the tree before the
leaves expand, and plung-
ed into moist earth till il
commences growth, the de-
scending current exuding
from the lower extremity,
forms a callus or ring oi
the newly formed wood,
as in fig. 7; and under
favorable circumstances
the granulations forming
the callus emit roots into
the soil, (fig. 8,) and thus
a new plant is formed.
Every leaf bud on a fruit tree may be regarded as an em-
bryo branch, and capable of forming a tree when supplied

kills it. Weeds which spread rapidly by the roots, as the Canada thistle, may be
totally destroyed in one summer, if constantly kept cut off below the surface.

For the satne reason, trees which become divested of their foliage by leaf-blight
while the fruit is partly grown, do not perfect the ripening process. An interesting
instance occurred during the pa^t season : A plum tree lost all its leaves, when the
fruit was about two-thirds grown, and before it had attai) e,d in the slightest degree
its flavor. The plums remained stationary, densely loading the naked branches,
for three weeks, when a new crop of leaves came out. The fruit immediately re-
commenced growing, and subsequently acquired full size, and a fine, rich, honied
flavor, about a month later than the usual period of ripening.

Hence also the reason why the removal of large portions of the foliage, to favor
the ripening of grapes and other fruits by admitting the sun, does not always effect
the intended purpose.

Another case, illustrating the same principle, was reported by the late President
Knight: " A peach tree in my garden, of which I was very anxious to see the
fruit, had lost by the severity of the weather, all its blossoms except two, which
grew upon leafless branches. I therefore endevored to derive the necessary returning
sap [1o mature the fruit] from another source. To attain this object, the points of
the branches, which bore fruit, were brought into contact with other branches of
the same age, which bore leave* ; and a part of the bark, extending in length about
four times their diameters, was paired off immediately above the fruit. Similar
wounds were then made upon the other branches, with which these were brought
into contact; the wounded surfaces were closely fitted and tightly bound together.
A union soon took place, and the fruit, in consequence, acquired the highest state
of maturity and perfection."

Fig. 5. Fig. 6. Fig. 7.



with separate roots. But single buds do not contain within
themselves sufficient nutriment to sustain vegetation till
roots are formed, without a considerable portion of the al-
burnum or sap-wood attached; hence the superior advan-
tage of taking an entire shoot or cutting.

Propagation by cuttings is-the simplest mode of multiply-
ing a variety. It consists simply in the insertion of a shoot
of one year's growth into the soil ; the moisture of the soil
renews the supply of sap, the buds swell, the leaves expand,
and the descending juices expend themselves in the produc-
tion of new roots, which shoot downwards into the soil, fig.
9. Under ordinary circumstances, or in open
ground, this mode is only applicable to such
species as readily throw out roots, as the currant,
gooseberry, quince, and grape. Cuttings of the
apple and pear may be made to strike root, only
by confining the moisture under glass, while ar-
tificial heat is applied. The stories of empirics,
of making peach and apple shoots grow by stick-
ing them into potatoes, or covering with wax,
have no foundation in fact.

It may be stated, in general, that cuttings
made of the ripened wood of such trees as have
a large pith, succeed best when taken off with
a portion of the preceding year's wood, such as
the gooseberry, currant, vine, fig, &c. With
large and strong shoots, the best success will re-
sult if cuttings are separated at the point be-
tween the one and two years' growth. When
small side-shoots are used, they should be cut
closely to the main stem, so as to secure the col-
lar or enlarged portion of the wood at the base of the branch.
Roots are more readily thrown out, if the cut is made imme-
dately below a bud.

The best time to take off" cuttings, in ordinary cases, is in
autumn and winter. The autumn is preferable, by giving
time for the w r ounded section to cicatrise, preparing it for the
early emission of roots in spring. But where the soil is
heavy or liable to heave by frost, or where the cuttings are
of tender trees, they should be kept in damp mould in a cel-
lar, to be planted as soon as the frost disappears from the

Fig. 9.




Fig. 10


, If not taken off till spring, the operation must be
performed as early as possible. In ordinary in-
stances to prevent drying, about two-thirds or

Online LibraryJohn Jacobs ThomasThe American fruit culturist, containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees, in the nursery, orchard, and garden, with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties, cultivated in the United States → online text (page 3 of 31)