Home >> British Encyclopedia >> Pediculvs to Ples 12 >> Pin Us

Pin Us

tree, leaves, cones, feet, fir, bark, white, scales and pine

PIN US, in botany, pine tree, a genus of the Monoecia Monadelphia class and or. der. Natural order of Coniferac. Essen tiaL character : male, calyx four-leaved ; corolla none ; stamina very many, with naked anthers : female, calyx strobiles, with a two-flowered scale ; corolla none ; pistil one ; nut with a membranaceous wing. There are twenty-one species ; we shall notice some of the most re markable.

P. cedrus, cedar of Lebanon, has a ge neral striking character of growth so pe culiar to itself, that no other tree can he mistaken for it ; it is placed by Linnxus along with the larch, in the same genus with the firs and pines ; it agrees with the former in its foliation, with the latter in being evergreen ; the leaves resemble those of the larch, but are longer and closer set, erect, and perpetually green ; the cones are tacked and ranged between the branch leaves, in such order as to give it an artificial and very curious ap pearance, and at a little distance a beau tiful effect : these cones have the bases rounder, or rather thicker, and with blunter points, the whole circumzoned with broad, thick scales, which adhere together in exact series to the summit, where they are smaller ; but the entire lorication is smoother couched than those of the firs: within these repositories, under the scale, nestle the small nutting seeds, of a pear shape. Many wonderful pro perties are ascribed to the wood of this celebrated tree, such as its resisting pu• treffiction, destroying noxious insects, continuing a thousand or two thousand years sound, yielding an oil famous for preserving books and writings.

The P. sylvestris, wild pine tree, is called in Britain the Scotch fir, from its growing naturally in the mountains of Scotland ; it is common in most parts of Europe, particularly the northern ; the wood is the red or yellow deal, which is the most durable of any of the kinds yet known ; the cones are small, pyramidal, ending in narrow points ; they are of a light colour ; the seeds are small. In a favourable soil, this tree grows to the height of eighty feet, with a straight i trunk ; the bark is of a brownish colour, full of crevices ; the leaves issue from a white, truncated, little sheath, in pairs ; they are linear, acuminate, entire, striat ed, convex on one side, flat on the other, mucronate, bright green, smooth, from an inch and a half to two inches in length ; the scales of the male catkins roll back at top, and are feathered ; the inner and upper scales of the cones gra dually terminate in a short awn, the lower scales have none. Few trees have been applied to more uses than this ; the tallest and straightest afford masts to our navy ; the timber is resinous, durable, and applicable to numberless domestic purposes; from the trunk and branches of this and others of the genus, tar and pitch are obtained; by incision, barras, Burgundy pitch, and turpentine, are ac quired and prepared ; the resinous roots are dug out of the ground in many parts of the Highlands of Scotland. The fisher

men make ropes of the inner bark ; and hard necessity has taught the Laplanders and Kamschatdales to convert it into bread ; to effect this, in spring they strip off the outer bark carefully from the best trees, collecting the soft, white, succu lent, interior bark, and drying it in the shade. When they have occasion to use it, they first toast it at the fire, then grind, and after steeping the flower in warm water, to take off the resinous taste, they make it into thin cakes and bake them.

P. strobus, Weymouth pine tree, or white pine, is one of the tallest species, frequently attaining a hundred feet in height; in its native country, North Ame rica. The hark is very smooth and deli cate, especially when the tree is young ; the leaves are long and slender; they are closely placed on the branches ; the cones are long, slender, and very loose, opening with the first warmth of the spring.

P. picea, silver fir, is a noble, upright, tree ; the branches are not numerous, but the bark is smooth and delicate ; the upper surface of the leaves is of a fine strong green, the under has two white lines running lengthwise on each side of the mid-rib, giving the leaves a silvery look, for which reason this fir takes its name ; the cones are large, growing erect ; when the warm weather comes on they soon shed their seeds ; the scales are wide, deltoid, rounded above, below beaked, and appendicled with a membra naceous, spatulate, dorsal ligule, termi nated by a recurved dagger-point ; nuts rather large, membranaceous, variously angular, dun-coloured. It has been ob served in Ireland, that no tree grows so speedily to so large a size as the silver fir ; some at forty years' growth, in a wet clay on a rock, measuring twelve feet in circumference at the ground, and seven feet and a half at five feet high; one contained seventy-six feet of solid _ timber.

P. balsamea, balm of Gilead fir tree, rises with an upright stem ; the leaves arc dark green on their upper surface, marked with whitish lines underneath; the cones are roundish and small ; the buds and leaves are remarkably fragrant ; from wounds made in this tree a very fine tur pentine is obtained, which is often sold for the true bahn of Gilead. This tree makes little progress alter eight or ten years' growth ; it has very much the habit of the silver fir ; but the leaves are wider and blunter, disposed on each side along the branches like the teeth of a comb, but in a double row, the upper one shorter than the under ; underneath they are marked with a double, glaucous line, each having eight rows of white dots ; they are often cloven at top.