This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It appears the Eucalyptus, or Australian gum tree, at last, after having been highly extolled by some, and sadly disparaged by others, according to the different views each entertained of its character, has recently been reported as a valuable timber tree for firewood, in California. And the statement made by "an Anaheim farmer," whose actual experience of its highly profitable cultivation, is worth more than a great deal of vague theory, proves it to be one of the most remunerative sexennial crops, possible. From the well known rapidity of its growth, after a grove is planted, it probably requires less attention from the planter, than anything herbaceous or ligneous we know of. And I think no one will dispute the assertion, when it is shown that the gross profits from six-year-old trees, set out in a six-acre grove, realized $2,400, when cut down for fuel, it augurs well for Eucalyptus growing. See, page 20 in January Monthly. It is also said to make excellent charcoal. That it should not be rated of equal value with walnut, live oak, ash, or the various kinds of pine, for general purposes, or with oak, hickory, beech, or maple, for firewood, does not prove it to be entirely worthless for domestic uses, as some would have it.
Again, in the last month's magazine, the Editor presents a communication from the well known intelligent horticulturist, Mr. Isaac Collins, of Hayward's, Cal.; which strengthens the writer's faith in the merits of the tree. Evidently, it is an excellent kind to plant where wood is scarce, and timber of quick growth is in urgent demand.
During the writer's residence in Australia, he never heard it so unfavorably spoken of as he has in this hemisphere; but on the contrary, has often heard carpenters and cabinet makers condemn the wood-work imported from Europe, where it was worked up into window frames and sashes, doors, wagon and carriage wheels, furniture, etc, and afterwards shipped there. The extreme heat and dryness of the climate, was said to cause foreign timber to warp and shrink so much. Although, at the same time, native kinds were not so easily worked, on account of their being so cross-grained, and intensely hard, as are the many excellent kinds of this country. For durability, and resistance to the teredo worm, when used for piles in wet places, or about wharves, or docks, it is considered nearly equal to East Indian teak wood,; Tectona grandis.
Of the therapeutic properties attributed to it in cases of diphtheria, fever and ague, etc., I personally know nothing. But it is very likely, from its immense absorbent powers, to be capable of drying up marshy grounds, and so convert unhealthy localities into more salubrious habitats for man. Out of the somewhat large genus of Eucalyptus - possibly no other than the pepper- i mint tree, E. piperata - is made a pleasant camp fire, the agreeably perfumed smoke of which effectually disperses the dense clouds of tormenting mosquitoes from around the traveler's bivouac, as long as a stick holds out to burn.
As so many Australian plants seem to flourish in California, I feel surprised at not hearing of the successful cultivation of the remarkable broad leaved conifer, the Kauri pine, or Dammara Aus-tralis. Ever since your wandering correspondent first saw it in a wild state, in New Zealand - possibly, the identical trees which astonished Captain Cook, and his scientific associates, in 1769 - he has always taken an interest in them. And the writer, on a former occasion, described them as curious straight stemmed trees, of one hundred and fifty feet high, and upwards. In the old groves, they are remarkable for the absence of any side branches upon their singularly smooth lead-colored trunks, which appear never to have had any lateral growth, as no marks are visible where they had previously been. Although, a proper cone bearing tree, its peculiar veinless leaves, in breadth half an inch, and length one and a half) inches, have a more striking resemblance to the enlarged foliage of Buxus latifolia nova, or those of Laurus camphora, than pines.
The Dammar,; or Kauri gum, of commerce, is now found in a fossil state, in New Zealand, where at some remote age, huge trees must have stood, and while gradually yielding to "the touch of the destructive fingers of Time,"the imperishable gum, or resin, j was deposited in the soil, within the hollow the decaying roots made for it; and thus, it is pre- served for our use now.
Perhaps the Editor, who has been in California since the writer was there, will be kind enough to inform us whether the singularly beautiful Norfolk Island Pine, Araucaria excelsa, and its beautiful Australasian congeners, and the gorgeous Warra-tah, Telopia speciosissima, Dammar Pine, Cun-ninghamia, Flindersia, Stenocarpus, and Oxleyas, grow as vigorously there, as does the Eucalyptus. Some twenty-five years ago, there were a few small ones planted out in the neighborhood of San Francisco and Oakland, where also might be seen a choice variety of pretty Australian shrubs, growing with equal vigor to the indigenous flora. Mount Holly, New Jersey, March 3rd, 1884.