This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Last Spring, whilst wandering through a forest, I came across a Beech tree a foot or eighteen inches in diameter, which was ornamented as usual with the alphabet in disorder. The letters in this case had been cut unusually deep, both the outer and inner bark having been cut away to the wood beneath. Again, the letters were very large, so that strips of the bark an inch or two in width had been removed. When I saw the tree, a year or two had probably elapsed since the artist had completed his work, nature during the intermediate season having tried its hand at improving the angular work of the knife. The outer bark, last Spring, was precisely as when first cut, whilst the inner bark had rounded out into a moulding, to use a term familiar to the builder, all over the surface of which buds had thickly started, in some places looking like a mass of thorns, in others the growth had been continued into short branches which had finally died. This is a record of probably a not unusual circumstance, but I give it, as it bears some relation to the following, which I have just noticed during the past week at Atlantic City, N. J.:
The prevailing trees at this resort are Willows and Poplars, both members of the order Sali-cacese, which trees have been adopted for street planting, after repeated trials of other kinds, as those best suited to the soil, etc. There appears also to be a native Willow, in addition to the one introduced, which in habit is shrubby, and does not grow to any considerable height. This Willow is at this season punctured by an insect, the incision doubtless reaching the inner bark, and eggs therein deposited, the result of which is the growth of a dense mass of leaves or diminutive branches from the wound. These leaves are all twisted and curled up, and the petioles of the leaves or the stems, whichever it may be, grow more or less together, so that they form a mass of green wood in which the caterpillar, when it emerges from the egg, forms its very irregular nest. Am I not right, Mr. Editor, in supposing the cause and result similar in the two cases?
[Not quite. The subject of form as produced by the gall of an insect, and the result of the insect's action in monstrous development, is scarcely to be compared to the production of buds and branches on parts of the stem where none previously existed.
Critically, it was not the " inner bark " which our correspondent saw rounded out. New wood had been made by germination from last year's cells, and these new cells forming a new coat of wood, had made its own coat of bark. In such cases the new wood cells while making the new bark will often make at the same time buds, capable of developing into branches, a fact well-known to horticulturists engaged in propagating from root cuttings, as also to foresters, who often see in the Cottonwood and Horse Chestnut especially, a " forest of shoots" spring from between the old wood and bark of a recently felled tree stump. - Ed. G. M].