Nicholas Senn.

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far above the sea of less favored trees, which find
in its shade protection against the burning rays


of the tropic sun and the fury of the trade-winds.
Proudly it stands guard at the shores of the
coral-girt islands of the South Pacific, waving its
lofty, fruit-laden crown, responding alike to the
cool, refreshing land breezes and the humid
trade-winds in the balmy air of the tropics.
Peaceful and lovely is a forest of palms, where

Leaves live only to enjoy love, and throughout the
forest every tree is luxuriating in affectionate embrace;
palm, as it nods to palm, joins in mutual love; the
poplar sighs for the poplar; plane whispers to plane,
and alder to alder. Claudianus.

The sight of a forest of cocoa-palms from a
distance is imposing, a walk through it full of
enchantment. Nowhere does this noble tree
appear to better advantage than in Tahiti. This,
the most favored of all islands, is engirdled by an
almost unbroken belt of palm-forest, stretching
from the very verge of the ocean to the base of
the foot-hills, with the towering, tree-clad moun-
tains for a background; a forest planted by the
invisible hand of Nature, a forest cared for by
Nature, a forest which produces nearly all of the
necessities of life for the natives from day to
day, and year to year, with unfailing regularity.
Enter this forest and the eye feasts on a scene
which neither the pen of the most skilled natural-
ist nor the brush of the ablest landscape artist
can reproduce with anything that would do
justice to nature's inexhaustible resources and


artistic designs. Such a scene must be gazed
upon to be appreciated. Between the colonnade of
symmetrical silvery stems and crowns of feathery
fronds, inlaid with the ponderous golden fruit,
the eye catches glimpses of the blue, placid ocean,
the foam-crested breakers, of the still more beau-
tifully blue dome of the sky, the deep green
carpet of the unbroken tropic forest thrown over
the mountainsides, or the naked, rugged, brown
peaks basking in the sunlight, and on all sides
flowers of various hues and most delicate tints.

Who can paint
Like Nature? Can imagination boast.
Amid its gay creation, hues like hers,
Or can it mix them with that matchless skill.
And lose them in each other, as appears
In every bud that blows? Thomson.

Add to the pleasures flashed upon the mind by
the ravished eye, the perfumed, soothing air of
the tropics, the sweet sounds of the aeolian harp
as the gentle breeze strikes its well-timed chords
in the fronded crowns of the palms overhead, the
bubbling of the ripples of the near-by ocean as
they kiss the sandy rim of the island shore, and
the clashes of the breakers as they strike with un-
erring regularity the coral reef, the outer wall of
the calm lagoon, and your soul will be in a mood
to join the poet in singing the praises of nature :


O Nature!
Enrich me with knowledge of thy works:
Snatch me to heaven! Thomson.

Queen of the tropic isles, guardian of their sun-
kissed strands, friend of their dusky, simple
children of Nature! Continue in the future as
you have done in the past, to dispense your work
of generosity and unselfish charity, to sustain and
protect the life of man and beast in a climate you
love and revere, a climate adverse for man to
earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow !
I have seen your charms in your favorite island-
abode and studied with interest your innumerable
deeds of generosity, your full storehouse for the
urgent needs of man and your safe refuge for
the inhabitants of the air. Had Whittier visited
the island Paradise, your native home, he would
have written in the positive in the first stanza,
when he framed that beautiful verse :

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I can not drift
Beyond His love and care I


There is no other country and no other island
in the world that has such a variety of indig-
enous fruit trees as Tahiti. Add to these trees
that have furnished the natives with an abun-
dance of fruit for centuries, the fruit trees that
have been introduced since the island was dis-
covered, and many of which flourish now in a
wild state in the forests, and it will give some
idea concerning the wealth of fruit to be found in
the forests of Tahiti. Most of the inland habi-
tations away from the coast have been abandoned
long ago, and in all these places, in the valleys
and high up on the mountainsides, many kinds
of exogenous fruit trees, planted by former gen-
erations, have gained a permanent foothold. Here
they multiply, blossom, ripen their fruit, and all
the islanders have to do is to gather the annual
crop. Here delicious little thin-skinned oranges
grow, and the finest lemons and limes can be had
for the gathering. The poor find here

Fruits of all kinds in coat
Rough or smooth rind, or bearded husk or shell,
She gathers tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand. Milton.

Nothing reminds one more of Tahiti being the
forbidden Garden of Eden, than the abundance of
fruit that grows in the forests without the inter-



vention of man. Some kind of fruit can be found
during all seasons of the year, and

Small store will serve, where store
All seasons, ripe for use, hangs on the stalk.'


It is here not as in most countries where

The poor inhabitant beholds in vain
The redd'ning orange and the swelling grain.


as the poorest of the poor have access to Nature's
orchard and can fill their palm-leaf baskets v^ith
the choicest fruits. The Tahitian

He feeds on fruits, which of their own accord
The willing ground and laden tree afford.


This mingling, in the most friendly manner, of
the old forest trees with familiar fruit trees in-
troduced from distant lands and laden with
golden fruit, is a most beautiful sight. The fruit
trees stand their ground even against the most
aggressive shrubs, and it is often no easy matter
to reach the ripe hiding fruit in the dense net-
work of branches thrown around and between the
branches of the imprisoned tree. What a bless-
ing these acid fruits are to the natives, sweltering
under the rays of the tropic sun! How easy it
is for them to make a cooling, refreshing drink!
Take a young cocoanut, open it at one end, and
add to its milk the juice of a lime or a lemon, and
the healthiest and most refreshing drink is made.


Bear me, Pomona! to thy citron groves,
To where the lemon and the piercing lime,
With the deep orange glowing through the green,
Their lighter glories lend. Thomson.

'It is claimed that the large apple family is the
descendant of the Siberian crab-apple, modified
by climate, soil and grafting. This statement
appears to me incorrect, as I have seen a tree in
the Hawaiian forests which bears a real sweet
apple which in shape and taste has a strong
resemblance to the apples of our orchards. The
tree is from twenty to thirty feet in height,
slender and few branched. The same tree is
found in the forests of Tahiti, and its fruit is
much sought after by the natives. It would be
difficult to connect the wild apple tree of the
South Sea Islands with the Siberian crab-apple,
to which it bears no resemblance, either in the
appearance of the tree or its fruit. Let us now
consider a few of the fruit trees which adorn and
enrich the forests of Tahiti :

Alligator Pear, or Avocado. — This is the most
delicate and luscious of all the fruit-products of
the Tahitian forests, where it is found in its wild
state in great abundance. It is the fruit of the
Persea gratissima, a tree belonging to the natural
order Lauracece, an evergreen tree of the tropic
regions of America and the South Sea Islands.
It attains a height of from thirty to seventy feet,
with a slender stem and dome-like, leafy top.


The branches, like the stem, are slender, and
ascend on quite an acute angle from their base.
The leaves resemble those of the laurel. The
flowers are small, and are produced toward the
extremities of the branches. The fruit is a drupe,
but in size and shape resembles a large pear.
The rind is green, thin, and somewhat rough on
the outside. In the center of the pulp is a large,
heart-shaped kernel, wrapped in a thin, paper-
like membrane. The pulp is green or yellowish,
not very sweet, but of a delicious taste and ex-
quisite flavor, and contains about eight per cent,
of a greenish fixed oil. The way to eat this
delicious fruit is to cut it in two lengthwise,
remove the kernel, season with sweet oil, vine-
gar, salt and pepper, and eat with a teaspoon.
In the form of a salad it is one of the daintiest
of all dishes. The softness of the pulp and the
richness in oil have led the French to call this
fruit 'Vegetable butter." The seeds of the alli-
gator pear have come into medical use at the
instance of Dr. Froehlig, and particularly through
the efforts of Park, Davis & Co., a manufactur-
ing firm. The alligator pear is a very perishable
fruit, which accounts for its scarcity and fabu-
lous price in our markets.

Pawpaw or Papaya is the fruit of the Carica
Papaya, natural order Papayacece. It is an ex-
ceedingly graceful, branchless little tree, which
grows to the height of from ten to twenty feet


and is of short vitality. Its natural home is
in South America and the islands of the Pacific.
The cylindrical stem is grayish white, roughened
in circles where the previous whorls of leaves
had their attachment. The leaves are from
twenty to thirty inches long and are arranged
in the form of a whorl at the very top of the stem,
where also the fruit grows, close to the stem.
The fruit when ripe is light yellow, very similar
to a small melon, and with a somewhat similar
flavor. The skin is very thin and the pulp ex-
ceedingly soft, hence a very perishable fruit.
The seeds are numerous, round and black, and
when chewed have, in a high degree, the pun-
gency of cresses. It requires time to acquire a
taste for this healthy, very digestible tropical
fruit, but when once developed, it is keenly rel-
ished. It is eaten either raw or boiled. It
possesses digestive properties of considerable
value, which have been utilized in the preparation
of a vegetable pepsin. The acrid, milky sap of
the tree or the juice of the fruit much diluted
with water, renders any tough meat washed with
it, tender for cooking purposes, by separating
the muscular fibres (Dr. Holder). It is said
even the exhalations from the tree have this
property ; and meats, fowls, etc., are hung among
its leaves to prepare them for cooking. The tree
is of very rapid growth, bears fruit all the year
and is very prolific.


Mango is the fruit of Mangifera Indica. It
is a stately, broad-branching, very shady tree,
from thirty to forty feet in height, belonging to
the natural order Anacardiacece. The stem is
short, from eight to ten feet, when it divides
into long, graceful branches, with an impene-
trable foliage, a fine protection against the
rain and the scorching rays of the sun. The
bark is almost black and somewhat rough. The
leaves are in clusters, lanceolate, entire, alternate,
petioled, smooth, shining, tough, and about
seven inches long, with an agreeable resinous
smell. The flowers are small, reddish white or
yellowish, in large, erect, terminal panicles. The
fruit is kidney-shaped, smooth, greenish yellow,
with or without ruddy cheeks, varying greatly
in size and quality, and containing a large, flat-
tened stone, which is covered on the outside
with fibrous filaments, largest and most abundant
in the inferior varieties, some of which consist
chiefly of fibre and juice, while the finer ones
have a comparatively solid pulp. The size varies
from that of a large plum to that of a man's
fist. The largest and finest mangoes are found
in Tahiti. The fruit is luscious and agreeably
sweet, with an aromatic flavor and slightly acid
taste. The kernels are nutritious, and have been
cooked for food in times of scarcity. A mango
tree laden with its golden fruit is a pleasing
sight, and reminds one vividly of a Christmas


Lime. — The fruit of Citrus Planchoni, Citrus
Australis Planchon. The lime tree of Tahiti was
undoubtedly introduced from Eastern Australia,
where it is found as a noble tree, fully forty feet
high, or, according to C. Hartmann, even sixty
feet high. In Tahiti the tree is small, and in the
dense jungles hardly exceeds the size of a shrub.
The stem, as well as its numerous slender, wide-
spreading, prickly branches, is very crooked. The
fruit is similar to the lemon, but much smaller
in size, being only about one and one-half inches
in diameter, and almost globular in shape, with a
smooth, green, thin rind and an extremely acid,
pungent juice. For a thirst-quenching drink,
the lime-juice is far preferable to the lemon.

Pomegranate. — The fruit of Punica Granatum,
a shrub belonging to the natural order Grana-
tacece. This historic and useful shrub grows lux-
uriantly and with little or no care, in the fertile,
sun-kissed soil of Tahiti. More than one-half
of the interior of the oval purple fruit consists
of large black seeds. The seedless variety has
evidently never been introduced. The juice is
subacid and very palatable. The flowers are or-
namental, and sometimes are double. The rind
of the fruit and the bark of the roots possess val-
uable medicinal properties. Consider for a
moment what nature has done for the support,
comfort and pleasure of the inhabitants of Tahiti,
and we are ready to admit the truth of what the
prince of poets said :



Here is everything advantageous to life.


And we can answer with a positive yes the ques-
tion proposed by another famous poet, in the
beautiful stanza :

Know'st thou the land where the lemon trees bloom,
Where the gold orange glows in the deep thicket's

Where a wind ever soft from the blue heaven blows,
And the groves are of laurel and myrtle and rose?










The primeval forests are the pride of Tahiti.
Indirectly they are the wealth of the little island.
They have been spared the ravages of the wood-
man's ax. The forests have been kind to the
natives and the natives to the forests. The avari-
cious lumberman, the greatest enemy of public
wealth and general prosperity, has fortunately
so far not had a design on the magnificent for-
ests of Tahiti, and may he never be permitted to
carry on his work of destruction in this island par-
adise ! The giant trees, growing the finest and most
valuable timber, hold out much inducement to
get-rich-quick men, but they have been destined
for a better purpose'; they, with the more
menial companions, the humble, lowly shrubs,
attract the clouds, determine rain, retain moist-
ure and fill the river-beds, creeks and rivulets
with the purest water. The forests extend from
the shore to near the highest mountain-peaks,
making up one great green sea of foliage, inter-
rupted here and there by the summits of hills,
ridges, and bare spots of brown, volcanic earth,
where vegetation of any kind has been forbidden
to take a foothold. Along and near the coast
are the charming groves of cocoa-palms, where
the ordinary trees, out of deference to the queen
of the tropic forests, are few and modest in their



ambition to compete with her in height. Here
the guava shrub, groaning under the weight of
its golden fruit, adds to the beauty of the grove.
A walk through such a grove, with glimpses of
the blue ocean and the verdant tree-clad hills
and mountains, will bring the [conviction that

The groves were God's first temples.


Raising the eyes and looking up the steep
incline of the mountains clothed in perennial
verdure by a dense virgin forest, we are almost
instinctively reminded of the beautiful lines of
Dryden :

There stood a forest on the mountain's brow, which

overlook'd the shady plains below;
No sounding axe presumed these trees to bite, coeval

with the world; a venerable sight.

The forest in the tropics has no rest. From
one end of the year to the other, it appears the
same. There is no general disrobing at the
bidding of an uncompromising, stern winter.
There are no arctic chills to suffer and no burden
of snow to brave. Most of the trees are ever-
green, and the few that imitate the example of
their kind in the North by an annual change of
their leaves, perform this task almost imper-
ceptibly. There are no bald crowns and bare
arms. Spring, summer and autumn mingle
throughout the year; blossoming and ripe fruits


go hand in hand in the same tree or neighboring
trees. A walk through a tropic forest is no easy
thing, owing to the dense interlacing and often
prickly undergrowth, but the visitor is amply
rewarded for his efforts. Every step brings new
revelations, new surprises. Nowhere are there
any signs of deforestation, either by fire or the
cruel, thoughtless hand of man. You are in a

Where the rude ax, with heaved stroke,
Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
Or frown them from their hallow'd haunts.


The biggest trees are in the shaded, rich
ravines and far up on the mountainside or hill-
tops. They seem to be conscious of their supe-
riority and power in the selection of their abode.
Look at one of these monsters, with wide-spread,
giant branches and impenetrable foliage, and

View well this tree, the queen of all the grove;
How vast her bole, how wide her arms are spread.
How high above the rest she shoots her head!


But in these forests, so full of life and per-
petual activity, indications of death are seen here
and there. The numerous climbing vines which,
serpent-like, creep up and embrace in their
deathly grasp some young, vigorous tree, have
no good intentions for their patient, helpless host.
The struggle may last for years, but the ultimate


lesult is sure. The cruelty of the unwelcome
intruder increases with his age and, strength. The
fight for life becomes more and more intense.
The plant-serpent throttles its victim more and
more, penetrates its body with its additional
roots, and sucks the very life-blood from its
vitals. What promised to become the giant of
the forest sickens and succumbs to a slow, lin-
gering, ignominious death. The victory is com-
plete and he now stands with

Pithless arms, like a wither'd vine,
That droops his sapless branches to the ground.


The ruthless climber has accomplished its
purpose and it has become so strong and has
made such intricate interlacements with adjoin-
ing trees that it holds the corpse erect in its cold
embrace for an indefinite period of time, until
some strong wind lays low forever the victor
with the vanquished.

Like everywhere else where the soil is fertile
and other conditions for plant-growth favorable,
so in the Tahitian forest, rank plant-life prospers.
The lantana (Lantana Crocca) a shrubby plant
two to four feet high, with beautiful little yellow
and purple flowers arranged in umbels, has over-
run the whole island. It is here, as in some of the
other islands of the Pacific^^ the most aggressive
and most troublesome of all weeds, and it is
this plant which interferes with a more abun-


dant growth of grass and consequently with a
more productive pasturage in wild and cultivated

The sense of isolation and solitude is nowhere
more profound than in a tropical forest, and
more especially so in Tahiti, as here animal life
is scarce. The only game found are domestic
hogs and chickens, which have run wild, and
these are scarce. There are no birds of plumage
and few song-birds. Chameleons frequent sunny
spots, and butterflies, of all sizes and colors,
enliven the air. There are no snakes and few
poisonous insects; no deer, bear, leopards or
monkeys. Even the ordinary water-birds, with
the exception of a small species of sea-gull and
occasionally a crane, seem to avoid this island.

A day spent in the wonderful forests of Tahiti
will bring no regrets ; on the other hand, will be
replete with pleasure and profit, and will leave
charming pictures on memory's tablet which
time can never efface. On the brightest day,
darkness reigns underneath the almost impen-
etrable roof of branches, vines and foliage. Here
and there the sun's rays penetrate through the
gigantic bowery maze, and fall upon the ground
with almost unnatural intensity, frequently
appearing and disappearing as the wind plays
with the leaves.

The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind,

And make a checker'd shadow on the ground.



The solemn silence of the forest, the grandeur
of vegetation, the effects of light and shadows,
are impressive, and the visitor will carry away
from Tahiti an inspiring and lasting mental
picture of

Her forests huge,
Incult, robust, and tall, by Nature's hand
Planted of old. Thomson.


The forests of Tahiti comprise many species
of trees, the timber of which would command a
high price in the market, but it is my intention
here to enumerate and briefly describe only a
few of the trees which interest the visitor the
most, as he will see them wherever he goes as
shade trees, and as component parts of the mag-
nificent forests.

Purau or Bitrao is the Hibiscus tiliaceiis
(Linne), (syn. : Paritium tiliaceum), order Mal-
vacece. The flowers are bell-shaped, of a beauti-
ful canary color, but quickly fall and turn to
red or reddish brown. They are made up of
five imbricated petals, painted a dark brown at
their base and inner surface. The glaucous leaf-
like calix is five-parted. The five stamens form
a sheath for the pistil, which is five-parted and
brown at its apex. The large leaves are used by
the native housewives in lieu of a table-cloth.
It is said that the macerated leaves and flowers
are used to heal burns, bruises, etc. (McDaniels).
The trunks of the largest trees are made into
canoes. The inner tough bark serves as a sub-
stitute for hemp in the making of twine and
ropes. The roots of this tree have earned a
reputation as a valuable medicine in the treat-
ment of diseases of the gastro-intestinal canal.



This is a common and beautiful shade tree in
Papeete, and if the traveler visits the island in
January or February he will find it in full bloom.
The dark green leaves and the light yellow
flowers form a very pleasing contrast. It attains
a height of from forty to sixty and more feet.
The short and often very crooked stem sends off
numerous large branches, clothed, like the stem,
in a rough black bark. The branches are often
so crooked and tortuous that they form such an
intricate entanglement that even the woodman's
ax would meet with difficulties to isolate and
liberate them. The branches appear to have an
intrinsic tendency to reach the ground, and when
they do so strike root and become daughter trees,
growing skyward, and soon rival in height the
parent tree. In the woods it is not uncommon to
find the parent tree surrounded at variable dis-
tances by numerous daughter trees. Many such
ambitious branches are formed into graceful
arches before they attain the wished-for inde-
pendence. This tree, with its numerous offspring
and interlacing branches, contributes much in
rendering the jungles in which it grows impen-
etrable in many places. The wood is white and
soft. The leaves are as large as an ordinary small
soup-plate, long-petioled, seven-ribbed, broadly
cordate and acuminate, dark green and glossy
on their upper, and strongly veined and paler,"
on their lower surface.



Banyan Tree. — The Ficus Indiea, a native tree
of India, remarkable for its vast rooting branches,
outstripping in this respect by far the tree just
described. It is a species of wild fig, has ovate,
heart-shaped, entire leaves, about five or six
inches long, and produces a fruit of a rich scarlet
color, not larger than a cherry, growing in pairs
front the axils of the leaves. The branches send

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