The Apple, the Pear, the Service, the Beam tree, and the Mountain Ash, besides several less important plants, belong to this genus.
Pyrus coronaria. - Sweet-scented Crab. - This beautiful Crab tree is a native of North America. It grows upwards of twenty feet high. In May, when it flowers, a delightful fragrance is emitted, which in the evening perfumes the whole of that part of the garden. It will grow in almost any low situation, and may be propagated by grafting on other crab stocks, or by layers.
P. Jioribunda. - This forms a broad-spreading, but not very lofty, bush, which in spring is thickly covered with blossoms, and in autumn with purple berries. It grows freely in common garden soil, and may be propagated by the same means as coronaria.
P. spuria. - A small deciduous shrub, very hardy, and easy of propagation. Grafted upon the common stock, or crab or pear stocks, it grows very freely.
P. angustifolia. - This very pretty shrub rarely loses all its leaves; for, although not an evergreen, the leaves of the previous year seldom fall until new ones are produced. It resembles in size P. coronaria, seldom growing above eight feet high. It is propagated by grafting on the crab stock, and by layers. Flowers pink, in May. Grows from ten to twenty feet high.
P. prunifolia. - Siberian Crab. - This well-known species is a native of Siberia. It is not only ornamental in flower, but in fruit. There are two varieties, one with scarlet, the other with yellow, fruit. The fruit is sometimes used as a preserve, but it is more ornamental than useful. The tree grows fifteen to twenty feet high; in flower in May. Propagated by grafting or budding.
P. Americana. - American Mountain Ash. - This shrub, or small tree, has a strong resemblance to the European Mountain Ash, but is much more dwarf and bushy. It grows sixteen to twenty feet high. The flowers, which expand early in June, are white. The fruit is first orange, then turns to a bright-scarlet, and very much like the imported species.
P. aucupana. - European Mountain Ash. - This is more graceful in its habits than the American species, making quite a handsome tree, of twenty-five or thirty feet in height. The foliage of both kinds is graceful, but this species is the most delicate. The berries are more compact, and produced in great profusion. These constitute the great ornament of the tree.
Mr. Emerson informs us "that the English Mountain Ash is commonly known in England by the name of Rowan or
Roan-tree, and, in some districts, Witchen, and has long been considered of sovereign power against witches and evil spirits, and all their fascinations and spells. For this purpose it was made into walking-sticks, or branches of it were hung about the house or about stables and cow-houses. In a stanza of an ancient song, quoted by the author of 'Sylvan Sketches,' we have: 'Their spells were vain; the hags returned
To the queen in sorrowful mood,
Crying that witches have no power
Where there is Roan-tree wood.'
She adds, - ' This last line leads to the true reading of a line in Shakspeare's tragedy of Macbeth. The sailor's wife", on the witch's requesting some chestnuts, hastily answers, "A rowan-tree, witch!" but all the editions have, "Aroint thee, witch ! " which is. nonsense, and evidently a corruption.'
"As the Rowan-tree grows freely in the most exposed situations, it is often planted as a nurse to young trees of slow growth, exposed to the sea-breeze, and it has the great advantage of not growing above a certain height, so that when it has performed its office it does not interfere with the growth of the oaks and other trees for whose benefit they were planted. It flourishes best in a good moist soil, in any easy exposure."
The trees are easily raised from the seed. If sown in autumn, the young plants will appear in eighteen months.