This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A correspondent inquires what is known of this curious tree of which he sends us a sketch. There is no account of it in standard works of reference. Mr. Isaac Burk, of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, has kindly looked up the matter for us and has given the note below :
" In the catalogue of the Kew Gardens, page 42,I find Sterculia (Brachychiton) rupestris, Australian Bottle Tree, remarkable for the shape of its trunk, similar to a soda water bottle. The natives refresh themselves with the mucilaginous sweet substance afforded by this tree, as well as make nets of its fibre. They cut holes in its soft trunk, where the water lodges and rots them to the centre, thus forming so many artificial reservoirs. On their hunting excursions afterwards, when they are thirsty, they tap them one or two feet below the old cut and procure an abundant supply. When I mentioned to 'W' what we had been looking for he remembered it and brought me the catalogue from which I extract the above".