This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The natives of the island of Otaheite, relate a touching legend in regard to the origin of the breadfruit tree. Once upon a time, when there was a famine in the land, a father assembled his numerous children upon the mountains, and addressed them as follows : "You will inter me in this place, but you will find me again on the morrow." So the children complied with his wish, and coming on the following day, as had been commanded, they were astonished to find that the body of their father was transformed into a great tree. His toes formed the roots, his body the trunk, while his outstretched arms were changed into branches, and his hands into leaves. His bald head had dissappeared, and a delicious fruit took its place.
The Cedar of Lebanon was not introduced into France until the year 1737, when Benard de Jussieu brought over from the Holy Land a little seedling of this plant, which he had with great difficulty succeeded in keeping alive during the voyage. Owing to severe storms, and contrary winds, the passage was prolonged until the supply of water began to fail. The passengers were each allowed a half-glass daily, and Jussieu shared his portion with his plant, which by this means he kept alive until they reached Marseilles. Having no flower pot he had planted it in his hat, which strange proceedings so excited the suspicions of the custom house officers, that they at first insisted upon emptying the naturalist's chapeau, in order to ascertain whether or not contraband goods were concealed therein. But Jussien managed to preserve his precious bantling, and carried it to Paris, where it flourished in the Jardin des Plantes until one hundred years old, and eighty feet high, when it was cut down to make room for a railway.
It would take fifteen men with their arms extended, to embrace the trunk of a boabab tree. Boababs do not attain their full size until eight hundred years old. In the village of Grand Galarques, in Senegambia, stands a boabab, the hollow of which the negroes have ornamented with carvings cut in the wood. Many African tribes entomb poets and musicians in the trunks of boababs, believing them to be in communication with spirits. Sometimes the natives encamp in these enormous trees, and frequently use them as stables.
Near Lake Geneva stands one of the most famous chestnut trees in the world. Ever since the fifteenth century it has cast its shadow over a modest hermitage. Its trunk measures at the base forty-six feet in circumference.
Cos, the celebrated island of the Sporades, contains in the centre of its public square a plane tree whose branches cover the whole park. These branches would have broken of their own weight long ago if they had not been supported by marble columns.
In Nuremburg there is an aged linden tree which was planted by the Empress Kunigunde. In the year 1445 the patrician Philip Pirkleimer was married under this same old tree. Four statues surround it now, representing four ancient emperors of Germany.
Among the highest trees in the world are the marsh gum trees of Van Dieman's Land. One of these attained the height of three hundred feet and yielded wood to the amount of 1,540,758 pounds.
The village of Allonville, France, can boast a most famous oak. It stands in a graveyard, and the peasants from all the country around come to pray beneath its branches. The hollow trunk was fitted up as a chapel in the seventeenth century and dedicated to the Virgin. Above the chapel lives a rustic hermit, while still higher in the tree is a small belfry surmounted by a cross. During the Revolution ignorant fanatics attempted to burn the chapel oak, but the inhabitants of Allonville and its vicinity turned out in arms and protected it against the vandals.