1868 - Haynes, S. L. A Ramble in the New Zealand Bush - [Text] p 1-36

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  1868 - Haynes, S. L. A Ramble in the New Zealand Bush - [Text] p 1-36
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To one who never before had seen aught else than the vegetation of Great Britain and France, excepting such meagre and imperfect glimpses of other growths as are afforded by the botanic gardens and conservatories of those countries, a stroll in the "bush" in the province of Auckland is one well calculated to fill him with surprise, and still more, with admiration,--surprise on account of the extraordinary luxuriance of all the kinds of vegetation by which one is there literally surrounded,--plants above, on all sides, and beneath one's feet, and by reason of trees and plants growing commonly there which cannot be, or only with difficulty, grown at home,-- and admiration, because of the beauty and size of much of that growth. The most striking feature of bush vegetation, as compared with British, is its sub-tropical character; in the bush there are various varieties of palms, tree and climbing ferns, aerial plants, and other peculiarities which constitute a broad line of demarcation between the vegetation there and in England.

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In this sketch I cannot do more than attempt to give an imperfect idea of New Zealand bush land for the reason that my stay, which only lasted a fortnight, was made during a most unfavourable period, it being in winter (May), and many of the then short days being miserably wet; it should be remembered that in New Zealand the rain falls much more heavily than in England. In consequence of these great drawbacks I could form but a comparatively poor idea of bush growth, there being very few flowers, and the foliage being scanty compared with the vast number of the former and the luxuriance of the latter as seen in the summer, when the tints of the trees are much more varied than in winter. What I have said of plant growth applies also to insect life; of this I saw very little; had I been there during the summer months I should have had much to record about the magnificence, beauty, and variety of some of the insects: to be sure, I should in all fairness have been compelled to mention the vast numbers of mosquitoes and sand-flies, which then levy a red mail on all new comers. In addition to the disadvantages I experienced from the rainy reason, the duration of my stay in the bush was limited to a fortnight; short, however, as was the time spent in the bush I became tolerably well acquainted with it, its beauties, wonders, and difficulties, in consequence of my being almost constantly wandering about in it, collecting specimens of natural history, botanical and ornithological being the chief. I trust that when the reader has perused this article he will have some conception of what is to be seen during the winter in the bush of that limited portion of New Zealand which I visited, but --

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"He who would know what feelings animate
The soul 'mid these wild regions--who would know
The emotions in the heart these scenes create--
He 'mid these scenes sublime himself must go;
For deep and silent oft these raptures flow,
And he who feels them deepest knows the best,
How vain the fruitless effort is to throw
Into expression, from the heaving breast,
That which far deeper lies than aught in words express'd."

Of all modes of investigating a country certainly the best is to walk over it, picking up its products on the way: by so doing one acquires a far more intimate and accurate knowledge of it than is possible to one who travels rapidly over its surface and gathers his information on details from others.

Of New Zealand uncleared land there are different kinds: they are kauri forest, only found north of the town of Auckland; grass land, such as the plains of Canterbury; swamps, in which the New Zealand flax {Phormium tenax) grows; fern land, ti-tree land, and bush land. It is of the last more particularly that this paper is to treat. A valuable plant has just been mentioned, the New Zealand flax; a few words about it may not be deemed uninteresting. It is very different from the flax (Linum usitatissimum) of Europe, being a broad and long-leaved kind of sedge, growing in very dense clusters of several feet in diameter; the leaves are about three inches in breadth, and five to seven feet long; they contain very numerous fibres, which are said to reach continuously throughout the entire length of the leaf and which are tougher and longer than those of European flax; the interstices between these fibres

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(which are beautifully white when clean) are occupied by a thick and tenacious gummy matter which cannot be washed out by, or dissolved by maceration in, water and which has unfortunately caused the ruin of many who have endeavoured to prepare the flax for the market, where it would meet with an enormous demand; some have succeeded in producing it, but only to find the cost of its preparation so great that it was--practically--unsaleable, from its very high price. A reward has long been offered by the Government to any one who can produce a sufficient sample to prove their right to it, and demonstrate that clean flax can be sold to the public at a marketable price. When I left New Zealand (June, 1865), there was a brisk competition there, and it appeared very probable that the reward (5000l., I believe) would soon be successfully claimed. At present the flax, to a certain extent cleaned from the gummy matter, is extensively used in Sydney for stuffing mattresses, and the leaves are split up by the settlers and Maoris and used as rope and string are by us.

Fern land consists of a more or less dense mass of a brachen fern (Pteris), which grows to the height of eight to ten, or even in some places twelve feet, and which sometimes has some small ti-tree growing with it. This fern is often so dense that one has to divide it with the hands and force one's way through. Unless the traveller has a compass--as he always should--with him, or is careful in noting the bearings of the high ground in the neighbourhood, he runs the risk of being lost: this remark applies equally to going through other descriptions of uncleared land.

Ti-tree bush is of two kinds, the one being formed

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of ti-tree, 1 of from six to ten feet high, the other of a larger variety of ti-tree, attaining the height of about thirty feet. The ti-tree belongs to the Myrtaceae, or myrtle family, and is a very pretty object when in blossom (as I saw the smaller variety) with its five white papery petals contrasting with its narrow, stiff, dark-green, and sweetly scented leaves.

The bush is somewhat difficult to describe because there are so many objects in it which deserve mention. How shall I begin? Perhaps I had better commence by stating that in the fern and small ti-tree lands the peculiar forms of vegetation are, in most places, so dense that little besides grass grows at their roots and that it is only in the "heavy bush" and the ti-tree bush (i.e., the larger variety) that the undergrowth, which is so varied and so beautiful in them, is seen to any extent. Let me suppose I, accompanied by the reader, enter the heavy bush where it begins at the edge of a swamp which is full of flax and sedges and is fringed with ti-tree; by a tortuous belt of sombre-looking mangroves crossing the swamp we know a tidal stream runs through it. First of all, perhaps, we come upon some cabbage-tree palms with their symmetrically divided and bare branches, and their bunches of long, straight, grass-like leaves, the lowermost of which are pendent, the central of which are horizontal, and the upper ones erect, altogether forming egg-shaped clusters.

Here is another of the palm family, the Maori-named Nikau, the innermost base of whose leaves is

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eaten and much liked by the Maoris; its taste, to me, seemed insipid, but the settlers' children say they enjoy its nut-like flavour. The deeply divided and radiating leaves of this palm are much used, after being plaited together so as to form a mat, for thatching the whares 2 of the Maoris, for which purpose the settlers also sometimes use it. The leaves of the raupo, the sedge which grows in the swamps, are very extensively used for thatching whares. While walking on, still looking at the large bunches of pea-sized fruit hanging below the lowest leaves of the nikau and against its bare annular trunk, we find ourselves arrested by, and our feet entangled in, a cluster of naked stemmed supplejacks, which grow straight up from their underground, creeping and clubbed roots (technically called "rhizomes"), and ascend into the trees above, where their thick and broad leathery leaves may be seen; the upright stem of the supplejack--so named from its stem being very elastic and tough, like cane-with its clubbed and mottled root makes a good cattle-driving or walking stick.

Our stumble reminds us of things at our feet; let us see what there is. To do this comfortably we had better take a seat on the prostrate trunk of a large tree, which has evidently been blown down by one of the violent hurricanes which occasionally vent their destructive powers here. But let us sit where we may we are almost certain to damage some plant; the immense trunk of the long-fallen tree is covered with cryptogamic vegetation-lichens, mosses, and ferns. One of the mosses has received the name of the "New Zealand moss" and

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is a handsome plant. Some of the ferns here are very beautiful, others as curious. This thick-leaved one, whose spotted stem is creeping along the bark, was most probably growing up the tree when it fell; it is the Niphobolus rupestris, the shining leathery leaves of which would at first sight make one think it was not an acrogenous plant, but a glance at the under side of the leaves (it seems unnatural to call them fronds) proves, by the circular sori or masses of spore cases seen there, that it is a fern. The leaves of this variety vary much in form, the spore-bearing ones are club-shaped or lanceolate, the barren ones are almost circular; their length varies from half an inch to three inches and they are thinly distributed along the stem of the plant, which grows equally well when its connexion with the ground is severed. Here is another, somewhat resembling the last and, like it, a climber; the leaves of the Dictymia lanceolata are considerably longer and less leathery than those of the Niphobolus and have not a wax-like surface. This small and very beautiful fern with its feathery fronds is another climber and runs along the interstices of the bark to a considerable height; it is the Hymenophyllum flabellatum. On the ground at our feet is a most remarkable fungus; it is difficult to describe it. It consists of milk-white, thin, and rather crumpled tubes of about a quarter of an inch in diameter and of lengths varying from about half an inch to two inches; all these tubes open into two similar ones at each end at such angles that six such form the sides of more or less regular hexagons; these so constituted hexagons collectively form a globular network of tubes, which is of from four to six inches (in various specimens)

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in diameter: on the inner aspect of the tubes are scattered irregular masses of what resembles a brown slimy mud; these are collections of spores. This strange organism (which feels like a frog, it is so wet and cold to the touch) is one part of the plant; by looking on the ground beneath it we find an almost equally odd portion of it; it is the capsule from which the other has escaped. But what is this close to it? It is a circular, "whitey-brown" coloured, firm object--in fact, it looks just like, and is of the same size as, a tennis-ball: let us examine it. We find it is attached to the ground in a similar manner as the common English "puff ball": on squeezing it gently it opens by straight lines which unite with others at an obtuse angle so that this ball is made up of hexagonal segments; these segments are about three quarters of an inch in diameter and, like the tubular hexagons, are of unequal size; they consist of a dirty white, gelatiniform and semi-opaque substance of about the eighth of an inch in thickness. Inside this capsule we perceive a shrivelled mass of substance, which is a folded-up tubular structure similar to what we first found: on opening the capsule sufficiently the inner portion gradually and quickly expands until it has attained its full size and is in all respects similar to the one we found loose. 3 Close to the side of where this fungus was is a very pretty fern: it is the Adianthum hispidulum, whose small and compact pinnae form portions of a composite frond which springs straight up from the ground. That clump of fern near it is the

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Adianthum Cunninghamii; it is a graceful and pretty dark-green fern and is found very commonly in shady places, where it grows from six to eighteen inches in height; but for its greater size it would look much like the favourite and beautiful maiden-hair fern of England, at first sight. There is a very dissimilar fern, the Asplenium lucidum, with its broad simple pinnae and their long straight sori running along the veins almost from the midribs to the edges of the leaflets: like the last this is an universally distributed plant in shady places in this district. In front of us there are two of the exquisitely beautiful and majestic tree-ferns so common in this bush: of these there are several varieties, the finest, perhaps, of which is the Cyathea dealbata, so called from the underside of its fronds being white. These tree-ferns attain a height of thirty-five or forty feet and, with the cabbage-tree palm, nikau, climbing ferns and parasitic plants, especially tend to give that sub-tropical character to the "bush" of this portion of New Zealand to which I have before alluded. The trunks of many of them, where devoid of aerial rootlets (by a dense aggregation of which their lower portions are enveloped), are of about eight inches in diameter and are of uniform size up to the cluster of far-spreading fronds which arch over so gracefully; the composite fronds often being six or eight feet long and very much divided look quite fairy-like. The Cyathea medullaris contains a pith which used to be an article of diet of the Maoris; it, and the C. Smithii, do not vary much in general appearance from the C. dealbata; the fructification of all three occurs on the ordinary fronds and somewhat resembles that of the common British male

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shield fern (Lastrea filix mas) but that of the Dicksonias (other kinds of tree-ferns) is very different; in them the sori are capsular and are found on the fertile fronds, which present a very distinct appearance from the barren; especially is this the case in the Dicksonia lanata which is, like D. squarrosa and D. antartica, a very beautiful tree. The stems of these tree-ferns are sometimes used by the squatters as a pavement to their stock yards and other places where a wood is wanted which will withstand for a long time the destructive agency of continuous moisture; under water they last for some years, but when used for building and other above-ground purposes they speedily decay, and especially fast just where they are exposed at the surface of the ground. On going up to the tree-ferns--which, like most ferns, will only thrive in shady and moist localities--to see more accurately and to admire the symmetrical spirality of the sears left by the fronds on their trunks we find in the crevices of them the delicate and beautiful Hymenophyllum Tunbridgense, whose small feathery fronds remind me of pleasant days of botanical exploration, when I found this fern in far distant Caledonia.

We have now progressed into the bush so far that we cannot see its edge and are literally surrounded by luxuriant vegetation of all kinds. All the larger trees have clumps of aerial plants upon their branches and climbers of various descriptions up their trunks, or suspended from their branches; in some places the interlacing branches are bound and matted together by the climbers. This tree of thirty feet high and graceful habit is at once recognised as a fuschia by its shining,

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red-veined leaves; when in blossom these trees, which are numerous, must indeed be beautiful. That fine tree, as large as a good-sized English elm and branching out much like one, is a valuable one, on account of the durability of its timber, which is extensively used in the construction of outbuildings, bridges, and fences; from the trunk being often hollow the tree can rarely be sawn into planks. It is called the "baredi," and is of very quick growth. In walking through the bush a number of bees may sometimes be seen about orifices leading into the hollow cavities of the baredis--a sure sign of a swarm being located there and of, in all probability, the presence of a quantity of delicious honey which is obtainable by the simple expedient of cutting off, or open, the natural hive. The baredi has a dense foliage of large, shining, dark-green leaves, has numerous bunches of red tubular flowers, and cherrysized berries, of a splendid crimson colour when ripe and containing a hard stone; flowers and fruit are found at the same time. On looking a little closely at the corrugated bark of the tree we see numerous holes drilled in and through it and which have evidently been made from within; in some of these we find the empty cases of a large larva which, after living in the tunnels it has bored in the wood (on which it feeds) of the tree, eats its way to the bark, enters another phase of its existence and escapes to deposit its ova in the bark of other trees; in Australia a similar larva is a bonne bouche to the aboriginals when eaten au naturel, and to white children up country when roasted. In many of the bifurcations of the branches of the baredi, and seated on some of its more horizontal ones, are large clusters

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of a coarse-leaved sedgy-looking epiphyte whose roots cling closely to the bark, from which they hang down along with the brown and decaying leaves of the plant; its living leaves are of a light green colour and therefore form a fine contrast against the dark ones of the baredi.

Look at that bird flying about and into those aerial plants; how it clings to the leaves and bark and flutters about like a flycatcher! from here it appears much like a greenfinch, but as we cannot see it very well where it is I shoot it. We now find the plumage of its body is green, gradually changing into iridescent purple as it reaches the base of its beak, which is so strong that the bird is enabled to strip off decayed bark, beneath which it finds much of its insectivorous food; in order that it may secure this the tongue is long and can be considerably extruded and is terminated by a fine brush which sweeps up any small insects the bird may desire. This feathered creature, whose crimson eye increases the beauty of its appearance, is the "bell bird," so called from its emitting a rapid series of notes at dusk very much resembling the tinkling of small and distant silver bells; from this bird being little afraid of man and frequenting the trees close to settlers' houses it is deservedly a great favourite. The baredi trees are the favourite resort of the New Zealand paroquets (Rosela tinctoria), which devour the berries; in search of them and other food they move about very rapidly and silently in the dense tops of the trees; in consequence of the prevalence of green and crimson in their beautiful plumage and of the silence with which they glide among the leaves it is at first somewhat difficult to

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see them. When they fly they make a harsh loud noise and keep so high in the air that they look no larger than larks, although they are as large as blackbirds; their long tails, straight flight (if not frightened--when they are they fly very crookedly as if to disconcert one's aim)--and the rapid movements of their wings distinguish them at a glance. But what a sudden commotion there is now above our heads! Such a noisy flutter of wings, such a variety of notes! There is apparently a good deal of scolding, carried on in all degrees of intonation. These varied sounds are produced by four or five black, short-winged and tailed birds, like so many blackbirds; after a while some of them noisily take their departure, leaving the others to search for insects while they are fluttering about the thick foliage above us and investigating the entomological hiding-places in the bark and in the epiphytes we have already noticed--and this they do in a very conspicuous manner, strongly contrasting with the noiseless movements of the paroquets--it becomes easy to see they have below the throat, on each side, a white patch; these white patches almost touch each other and are at a distance so much like the bands worn by the clergy that the bird has received the appellation of the "parson bird" (the Maori name of Tui is perhaps more generally used). It is really amusing to watch these birds; they jump about and squabble with each other so much and make such queer noises that a "new chum," if he have the least sense of the ludicrous, feels almost obliged to laugh; at one moment one of these birds is singing, at another crying like a cat, now it is whistling incoherently, and then it is giving forth a series of sounds which are quite indescribable

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and some of which are hardly audible--while producing these the bird is perched on a twig with elongated neck and looks as if it were vomiting up its extraordinary sounds. Although these pugnacious birds are near us and occasionally fly quite close we cannot see one well or have the skin of one to take to "merrie England" unless one is shot. It was with reluctance I pressed the trigger while aiming at that tui which was a minute ago exciting our risible propensities and is now dead in my hand. See what a handsome bird it is. Its plumage, which before seemed black, is now seen to be principally of a deep purple colour which varies in depth as the rays of light play upon the glistening feathers, whose ends, round the neck of the bird, consist of white downy hairs. Under the throat we see the patches we recognised while the poor bird was enjoying its suddenly terminated life; we now perceive each cluster consists of a congeries of white curling and much divided prominent leathers, more like hairs than feathers. The beak and tongue, excepting in size, are similar to those of the bell-bircl and have similar uses: it is impossible for the contemplative Christian to look upon these beautiful adaptations to special circumstances without having his thoughts raised to veneration of, and admiration of the infinite wisdom of, the Creator, who pronounced His works to be "very good" after He had called them into existence. Tuis 4 are sometimes kept in cages by the settlers; they become very tame and soon learn to imitate many of the sounds of the neighbourhood.

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There is so much to see around us that we are incapable of at once appreciating the beauties and curiosities by which we are surrounded. One of the curiosities is the kauri tree; like the other coniferous trees of New Zealand it has a very different habit to that of European firs,-- so different that it would not be recognised as a cone-bearing tree until closely approached by a botanist. Of the remarkable characters of this fir the most so are the facts that the leaves have not any midribs and are broader at their middle than at either end. This tree is very thinly distributed here and is of comparatively small size; its presence is a sure sign to the colonist that the land here is of good quality, as the tree (like the myall of Australia) never begins to grow in poor soil; north of the town of Auckland there are extensive forests of it, and large tracts of country on which it has grown but where no specimens of it at present exist; the latter subject I shall attend to directly, in the meantime let me proceed to point out the value of the tree.

Of all the trees of New Zealand (I believe it is peculiar to that country) the kauri is the most valuable, from the durability, strength, size, grain, and beauty of its wood; some splendid specimens of this, with the other woods of what the antipodean colonists call the Britain of the South, were exhibited in the London Exhibition of 1862. As an instance of the size of the kauri it may be mentioned that a mainmast for the ship "Bombay" which arrived, partly dismasted, in Auckland Harbour last spring, was cut in one of the forests; the mast is eighty feet long and was without a branch: the tree often attains that height without one; when it branches

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it spreads out considerably, but its main trunk continues as straight as the bole of the tree; it is common to see trees of it 150 feet high. There was (and, for aught I know, is) a contract with the government for the supply of kauri spars 130 feet long, to be without knots. As the tree exhausts the land very much (perhaps more so than any other, the English ash not excepted), kauri forest land is comparatively useless for agricultural purposes when cleared; while the forests last they will be valuable on account of the timber they yield. I have alluded to the presence of considerable districts where no kauri can now be found but where it is certain it has grown in dense forests; this is known by the discovery of the fossil turpentine of the kauri in the ground, in which it is found close under the surface and sometimes projecting from it; this "kauri gum" of commerce is used in Great Britain as a cheap substitute for, and an adulteration of, more valuable varnishes and is one of the most important of the few exports of Auckland. It is searched for by the Maoris, who find it by sticking an iron rod into the ground of the locality where they suspect or have discovered its presence; experience teaches them when the rod touches a piece of gum, which they then dig up; it is found in irregular-shaped and sized masses, some of which are two or three feet long and as much as a man can carry. For its bulk, the gum is very light; it is inodorous, semi-transparent, of a pale yellowish brown colour, is very brittle and has a vitreous fracture; it is insoluble in water, and melts in a fire where it burns with a bright yellow flame; in consequence of its easy combustibility it is used in some places by the settlers to light their fires.

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By looking at the bark of the kauri before us we find small heads and masses of the "gum" in its crevices; the surfaces of these have been rendered white by atmospheric action. If we made an incision in the bark to-day we should find a quantity of gum in it tomorrow. Various reasons have been assigned to account for the formation of these masses of solid turpentine in ground in which no remains of the tree which produced it can now be found; the most popular (and it seems the most probable) one is that which supposes kauri forests to have been destroyed by fire, and that the turpentine has been melted out of the burning trees quicker than it could be consumed and had run into the ground. Granting this supposition, it appears very improbable that all the wood, and especially that of the roots, should be so thoroughly consumed that, with the ashes, no traces of their existence--excepting the "gum" --should be found; of course it is possible the destruction of the forests occurred so long ago that any wood and ashes may have become perfectly decayed, but then we have to imagine no such conflagrations have happened for a very considerable period, which there is no actual reason for supposing. So far as I know, the gum is always found without any other remains of the trees.

This theorization respecting the formation of kauri "gum" has been a digression from our subject, viz. a description of a stroll in the bush; let us return there and reach that part of the bush which appears less thick than this. But what is this which suddenly arrests our progress by catching hold of our clothes? In turning to ascertain this we only become more confined to our

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position by the recurved prickles of the "bush lawyer," a straggling, prostrate and climbing plant whose five divisioned leaves and petioles (leaf-stalks) are armed on their lower surfaces with the sharp and irritating prickles which have caught us as we were passing. This plant is sometimes a great nuisance from its abundance rendering its avoidance a matter of difficulty; as the stems, leaves and prickles are all very tough we cannot tear ourselves through or from the plant but must patiently disengage our clothing. Having accomplished this we proceed on our way and speedily arrive at an opening in the bush: it is much lighter here than where we were, much of the light having been there shut out by the dense foliage above us. It is easy to distinguish at least two causes of the increase of light to this spot; one is that those numerous tower trees (so called from their towering far above all the other trees of the bush) cast their leaves like our British trees in the winter, which none (so far as I am acquainted) of the others do; the other is that an immense "cedar" has been uprooted by some hurricane and has felled everything in its descent with its wide-spreading branches and thick canopy of leaves, assisted by the numerous climbers and parasites attached to it. Let us remain here a little while, seated on the projecting root of a tower tree; of this tree we cannot in the winter form an accurate idea but can only see it is a tall straight growing tree branching out but little until it overtops the other denizens of the forest; in general aspect it is a good deal like an English aspen poplar. We now turn to the prostrate cedar: it has received this name from the colour of its wood, which resembles that of the world-

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renowned cedar of Lebanon; in no other respect is the tree before us like that majestic conifer. The blossoms of the cedar occur in bunches and are greenish-white in colour; they are succeeded by smooth capsules the size of small horse-chestnuts, like which they open when ripe and expose four cavities, each of which contains two crimson seeds in a common envelope. Although this tree has fallen it is evidently flourishing and is sending its branches straight up like so many young trees, as if they desired to fill up the void caused by the descent of their parent trunk; this vigorous condition of the tree is manifestly due to that large root which remained in "mother earth" and to the terminal and undermost branches having thrown out roots and become firmly secured to the ground, so that the one tree has two distinct sets of roots. See that beautiful fern growing in a cavity in one of the large upper branches; I climb up to it and secure one of its fronds. Here it is, more than two feet long; it is an extraordinarily large and fine specimen of the Asplenium bulbiferum and was growing in an unusual position, being chiefly found on the banks of streams. What a size it seems after the small plants of it we have seen in English greenhouses; and what a great number of little such plants there are on the divisions of the frond! they are seen scattered about all over the upper surface of it as well as being situated regularly near the terminations of the divisions; each of these smaller plants is capable of having a separate existence when they become detached from the parent frond: in addition to this mode of multiplication of the fern the lower surface of the frond is almost covered by reniform sori, each

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of which contains an enormous number of spore cases. There is another fern, which has evidently climbed up the trunk while it was erect; on looking about us we see it ascending, by its thick stem, many of the surrounding trees until its long fronds with their finger-shaped divisions become lost in the foliage above; this is the Phymatodes pustulata: although the majority of its fronds, and especially the higher ones, are such as I have mentioned many of them are undivided and short, like those of the Phymatodes Billiardieri, which in many respects resembles the P. pustulata and of which we see specimens on the trunks of some of the adjacent trees.

What saucy-looking little birds those are, flitting and squeaking about us in all directions in their apparently perpetual hunt for insects and constantly opening out and closing their tail-feathers during their ubiquitous researches; when remaining stationary for a moment they droop their wings besides expanding their tails, reminding one, notwithstanding the other broad distinctions between them, of irate turkey-cocks. These little things are very appropriately termed fantails, and are favourites here, being very tame and fond of frequenting the neighbourhood of the settlers' houses; by their size, great variety of colours, manner of moving and audacity they put one in remembrance of English tom-tits. Were we so inclined it would be easy to kill one with a well-directed stick, but as we can see them perfectly as they fly about us we feel reluctant to molest or harm them. "Live and let live." By their resemblance to titmice they have reminded us of pleasant wanderings in far distant England. Ah! there is an-

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other bold little biped, sedately hopping about amongst grasses, mosses and ferns and decaying leaves and bark. He comes close to us and impudently shows us his black and white breast and brown body, turning the while one of his large black eyes towards us; from the appearance of the eyes, the size and the tameness--in fact, the tout ensemble excepting in regard to colours--of this bird it is called the "robin" of New Zealand. There are in this bush two other birds sometimes called robins: one having the same habits as that we have just seen and being of the same size but of a speckled brown colour, like the plumage of a thrush; I am inclined to think this must be the hen, and the above-mentioned one the cock bird. I did not see the other kind.

Over there is a fine and handsome but not very large tree, the red kareka. It has dark green, thick and very glossy leaves and altogether is very ornamental. The leaves of this tree make an excellent fodder for cattle, milch-cows eat them greedily and give a large quantity of rich milk when fed on them; of this fact the settlers in this district, before they have cleared their land and got clover and grass to grow on it, take advantage by felling the trees and giving their branches to their cows. The kareka grows with great rapidity. Suspended from the branches and hanging against the trunks of many of the trees near us and reaching to the ground are masses of smooth, wirelike brown stuff which look very much as though coils of whipcord had been much entangled and stretched out between the grounds and the branches above; these are the stems of a climbing fern, the Lygodium articulatum, here called the "monga monga,"

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that being the Maori name--it is open to doubt which of the two names is the easier to pronounce. Here and there we see its symmetrically four-divisioned fronds and the long, tortuous, bright green terminations of its branching stems which twist about like those of a convolvulus in search of something to catch hold of. If we go up to one of these plants we may succeed in recognising two kinds of fronds on it. See, here is a cluster of both kinds; until these are seen together on the same stem few would imagine the monga monga to be a fern, (I must have seen hundreds of plants of it before I happened to see two descriptions of leaves on one; my curiosity was aroused and to my great astonishment I found them to be fronds of a fern, which I had not before imagined). The fronds we have already remarked are the barren ones; the others, whose pinnae or leaflets are as much divided and sinuous as those of the barren ones are undivided and flat, are those which bear the fructification; when we turn one of these over we can detect the sori at the edges of the pinnae. Occasionally a frond can be found with some of its leaflets barren, others fertile. I have slept very comfortably in a whare on a sack filled with the very elastic and twisting brown stems of the monga monga; one could hardly wish to have a better spring mattress than they make. Perhaps this favourable opinion of them is due to my having been tired when I so used them.

Flitting about in a birch-like tree we perceive a number of little birds about the size of wrens. Their plumage is light brown, with white throats and breasts. Ah! they have gone with twittering notes, and it is not very likely we shall see any more of them, they being

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far from numerous. In their movements and note they much resemble the British golden-crested wren.

Up many of the trees we see a climbing plant whose leaves are something like those of our English box, and as dense; this is the Maori-named rata, and completely conceals the bark of many of the trees, to which it adheres like ivy and, like it, mingles its glossy foliage with that of its supporter. In time it so closely invests the trees up which it creeps that it kills them, and then remains as a rata-tree, sometimes after the original support has completely decayed. The rata is said to have a most remarkable mode of commencing its existence; on dit that the young plant begins in the head of a caterpillar which buries itself before it dies (or is killed by its strange parasite? ) and so enables the young plant to obtain a legitimate and radical nourishment from the soil. Be this as it may, dried caterpillars are found below the surface of the ground at the base of the trees with the stem of a plant arising from their heads; I have heard of two leaves having been seen on such a stem. I possess four specimens of this lusus naturae in three of them the stem springs from the top of the caterpillar's head; in the other it grew straight forward between the eyes; in one of them two stems arise from the head. The caterpillars are three inches long and half an inch in diameter, and are quite dry and brown, without indications of having become at all decomposed; au contraire, the true and false feet, the eyes and mouth are well preserved. The vegetable stems attached to the animal organisms are tough, woody, and stringy. A transverse section of the mummified body of one of the caterpillars does not, to the naked eye, clear up the

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mystery--a white, powdery substance is all which is seen.

There is a fern we have not yet noticed, although it is a very common one; it is the climbing Lomaria heterophylla, whose very long and drooping narrow fronds may be seen on many of the trees near us; we can distinguish its fronds far up on the branches. The Lomariae are numerous in this bush; a large one is visible out there, where it is evident there is a spring of water by the great luxuriance and beautifully fresh green tints of some long mosses and delicate ferns. Let us approach that Lomaria more closely; it is the L. procera var. fona, and is very common in wet places like this; its fertile and its barren fronds (all the Lomariae have these) are from two to three feet in length. The barren fronds and their pinnae are long, smooth and flat, presenting a very different appearance to the long, velvety, almost columnar and more or less twisting fertile pinnae, the older of which are quite black, contrasting much more forcibly than the recent and growing ones with the dark green leaflets of the barren fronds. In this variety the stages of transition from the barren to the fertile pinnae can often be remarkably well seen; in some of the fronds now before us we can see one-half of a frond barren, the other loaded with sporangia or spore-cases, and here and there see a leaflet with a similar arrangement. I have specimens of seven other varieties of Lomaria found in New Zealand: of them I shall mention but one, which at first sight bears a considerable resemblance to the Blechnum boreale, so common in English hedges; it is the L. discolor, whose two kinds of fronds are very erect and characteristic.

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In many of the trees here we can see an orchideous-looking aerial plant; in appearance it is much like the one we have already noticed as being on the baredi tree, but this one has long pieces of bare stem which hang from the trees with clusters of its leaves suspended in air; this kind produces a fruit the flavour of which is much appreciated by the Maoris. This fern, the Leptopteris Hymenophylloides, is the most beautiful of all the ferns we have as yet paid attention to during our ramble; its deeply divided, dark green fronds arise from the ground in thick but graceful clusters, reminding us of massive plumes of feathers. Close to it is the lancewood, a small tree growing as straight and tapering as an arrow, and having long and narrow spine-edged and stiff dark green leaves; a yellowish patch at each spine renders the leaves as ornamental as they are curious. Around the root of it we see a quantity of Trichomanes elongatum; this is a graceful, drooping and feathery fern, occurring in thick tufts on semi-decayed bark and is a very pretty object; so is the Hymenophyllum crispatum which grows like the last; and in similar situations; there is a quantity of it. How beautifully some of it would contrast with the varied colours of a choice bouquet! The Hymenophylli are very numerous here: there is one, the H. polyanthos; look how it has reached far up that fern-tree; we can see its light green and exquisitely delicate fronds mingling with the dead and pendent gigantic leaves of the Cyathea. How delicate is this vegetable skeleton! how beautiful the tracery of the veins; it is all that remains of a fruit capsule of the Cape gooseberry; if we search about a little we may succeed in finding the plant whence it came. See, here

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is one. It is a low growing plant with closely arranged leaves somewhat resembling the young but dust-covered leaflets of a grape vine; on lifting one of its trailing branches we find balloon-like and closed capsules in various stages of greenness and of different sizes up to that of a walnut; we pluck some of the largest ones--those nearest to the root of the plant--and tear open one of the most withered of them, discovering at its base a brownish yellow, semi-transparent round berry, the size of a morello cherry. On biting the "gooseberry" it is found to be not only edible but of a pleasant flavour; this is the only fruit of any kind we can find here at this season. The plant is cultivated in the villages for the sake of its fruit, of which an excellent preserve is made; the only way in which it resembles a gooseberry is in the berry, which contains a quantity of small seed; the plant has soft branches, grows on the ground, is without thorns and has a white flower. Clinging to some of the smaller plants and trees about us we see the dead stems of a convolvulus: here and there we see some of its seed-vessels unopened; we gather these in the hope its blue blossoms may be seen in England next summer.

We may here remark the projecting roots of many of the large bush trees: a good many of them project upwards a foot or eighteen inches and are arched and narrow. The roots run along near the surface and are small in proportion to the size of the trees; this is no doubt due to the land being so rich that larger roots are not required; it is likely they are superficial in consequence of the abundance of moisture in such bush land as this rendering deep roots unnecessary, and

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because the bush is so dense that high winds seldom disturb the trees. Owing to the manner in which we are encompassed by vegetation the atmosphere here is almost stagnant; when we look into the tree tops above we perceive a breeze is rustling their foliage. The result of the tree roots being so superficial and small is that when the trees have been isolated by the settler (who would often like a few of the finest trees to remain on his cleared land, for purposes of ornament as well as for affording shade in summer to his cattle) they die from inanition a year or two afterwards, if they have not in the meantime been uprooted by the winds to which they are then exposed. It is highly probable that, although in a rich alluvial soil, the tree dies of starvation (a tree, like an animal, can be starved) in such cases in consequence of the cleared surface becoming dry during the hot summers and the roots being unable, from their slight depth, to supply sufficient nutriment.

Now let us make our way to a gully I have visited before to-day--in it we shall see many objects we have not yet seen, in addition to many we have already noticed. The gully is not far distant and contains some lovely ferns. But stop. What is this just in front of us, almost at our feet, with very much divided, stiff, thirsty-looking, narrow leaflets? It is a fern, although no untravelled Englishman would at first recognise it as one; it has received the name of Gleichenia semi-vestita; I have heard it called the "umbrella plant," on account of the mode in which its spreading fronds divide; the fronds are so segregated and so interlaced that we must disentangle one or two from the others with a little care

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in order that we may obtain a perfect specimen to dry; what an awkwardly shaped thing to press flat between sheets of paper! But let us proceed to the small gully and its stream without taking any further particular notice of the objects we shall pass en route. You must know a gully is the colonial name for a valley. On we go, working our way in and out of the bush infesting supplejack which catches our feet and occasionally as we pass springs back and hits us across our faces unless we take care, dodging round the great trunks of baredis, "cedars," and tower trees, giving a wide berth to "bush-lawyers," stooping under the drooping fronds of a young fern tree, getting out of the way of the sharp-edged leaves of a nikau, and preventing ourselves from being strangled by getting our heads through the loops in a wiry chain of monga-monga. These are instances of the over-head impediments offered by dense bush to a "new chum" or recent arrival in the colony; a Maori or Colonial can usually get through heavy bush without any trouble either from obstacles above or below him. Our troops have often had to march through bush such as this, sometimes in pursuit of Maoris; the difficulties and hardships they encountered can therefore be understood to a certain extent; but no one who has not seen heavy bush can fully realize the danger to disciplined troops of bush warfare between them and more or less naked savages. Besides avoiding the objects mentioned, with many other such, above our heads we, as inexperienced bushmen, must keep a keen look out for prominent roots, creeping plants, dead branches, fallen tree fern and nikau leaves, prostrate trees, and pools of water, cum multis aliis, or

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we are almost certain to "come to grief." Experientia docet: knowing what difficulties we have to contend with we catch hold of a branch here, a climber there, now jump over a fallen tree, then spring over a pool, and in other places raise our feet well from the ground; by so doing we easily enough reach our destination, where a subdued light breaks its way through the thick canopy above us, and where the spring-fed streamlet trickles and rushes and falls in its perpetual course down the gully, where-

. . . . . . . . . . . . "out-owre a lin
The water fa's and mak's a singin' din."

Here and there the water is completely shut out of sight by luxuriant masses of drooping ferns, now it is precipitated over "a little linn," as if it could not fall fast enough into a natural basin within which-

"A pool, breast deep, beneath as clear as glass,
Kisses, wi' easy whirls, the bordering grass;"

and there, where the stream is less interrupted in its course and is more direct, it steals gently and silently on, " now in glimmer, and now in gloom "-

"Sparkling where silver light gleams on its breast,
Gliding through nooks where the dark shadows rest."

What a place is this for ferns, with its continual and abundant moisture, a shaded light, a rich and increasing alluvial soil and a temperate, equable climate! A large number of splendid fern trees extending up and down the gully indicate the course of the stream.

There is another Hymenophyllum, the H. dilatatum, thriving luxuriantly on a prostrate, moss-covered and

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partially buried trunk; whether we regard its appearance as it grows in dense clusters, or a single frond of it, this fern is a most beautiful object. Further along on the same trunk is the H. demissum, whose broad and feathery fronds consist of very much divided pinnae. Three other Hymenophyllums I have, but beautiful as they are (H. aeruginosum, H. scabrum, and H. unilaterale), I must, from fear of being tedious, pass over any description of their delicate and papery fronds. With one exception, the same must be said of several varieties of Trichomanes: the T. reniforme is a curious fern, its fronds being, as is implied by the name, kidneyshaped-and sized-and bearing their projecting sori or segregations of spore cases (technically termed "sporangia") at their edges. Another somewhat singular fern is the Asplenium flaccidum with its long, naked, stiff fronds; how different it is from the Asplenium adiantoides, the small fronds of which are so delicate and graceful! Of other Aspleniums I have only space to mention the A. flabellatum, as having long fronds and small pretty pinnae, and the A. polydon, as possessing long and graceful fronds and leaflets.

Many trees, climbers and ferns we have already met with, and very many more of which we know not the names do we see around us. Amongst the trees we see two or three which remind us of upright willows; on a bare branch of one of them a kingfisher is perched. This is a common bird in the bush and is, although its plumage shows many bright colours, less handsome than our common English kingfisher, than which it is much less wild. Likely enough, its comparative tameness results from its being much less molested; few here

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think of shooting at all the handsome birds they see, as is far too commonly the case in Britain; the settlers have other things to do than shooting either for pleasure or with a view of becoming taxidermists. Most probably that bird has come here to fish for the so-called "trout" in the streamlet: these kingfishers are frequently seen in the bush far away from any fish-producing stream, they perch in lofty trees and otherwise conduct themselves very differently from their British confreres. All about us we perceive fine and numerous plants of the Asplenium bulbiferum, but none so large as that found in the cavity of the cedar.

Let us look more closely at that tree, a little distance off; it is a handsome, well-shaped tree and puts us in recollection of one we have seen before, the red kareka; this is the "white kareka," and much resembles the red. In its branches are some birds moving rapidly and conspicuously about; as we cannot see them well, from their small size, I fire, causing the downfall of two of them. What elegantly formed, pretty things they are! the size of the smallest of European birds, the golden-crested wren; these are the least feathered bipeds I have seen in New Zealand; from their minuteness it will be difficult to skin them without damaging the beautiful plumage, the prevailing colours of which are greens of various shades.

How striking is the beauty of this fern, the Polystichum hispidum, it has very distinct and pretty compound pinnae and hairy stalks; there are numerous thick plants of it interspersed between the trees. Ugh! What a harsh disagreeable noise; it is produced by a gaw-gaw, which is flying far above the tree-tops, and is a good-

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sized and handsome parrot. It is not easy to get a shot at one, but if one be wounded its screams attract a number of others when, most likely, no others have been heard or seen before; so long as the injured bird cries the others remain in the neighbouring trees and can be destroyed seriatim. The sound caused by the gaw-gaw appears to have aroused some pigeons, which have noisily flown away; these bush pigeons are very beautiful birds and are as large as those termed runts by English pigeon fanciers. The Nephrodium decompositum over there is a fern we have not yet noticed; it grows in the ground, is very pretty, and of a graceful habit.

But evening is approaching. The sun is setting, and my slight knowledge of the brief twilight in this part of the world is sufficient to warn me I must return to the house of my hospitable host ere it is quite dark or, although we have a compass with us, we might have to spend the night in the bush without any other canopy than the leaves of some thick-foliaged tree, or couch than fern-leaves or monga-monga stems: all we could obtain for supper would be the heart of a nikau, which, if we lit a fire, could be supplemented with roasted tui and paroquet. In this wet weather such a mode of ruralizing would be, to say the least, uncomfortable. Let us get out of the bush, therefore, while we can. Compass in hand we commence our return. As we pass along we see a fine ngaho tree; this is not a common tree and is admired by some settlers for its shape, which is something like that of an oak, and for the bright green tint of its foliage. There is an abundance of a pretty lycopodium trailing over the ground we

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are traversing. See what a change there is now: instead of the mould being covered with plants it is here almost quite bare and looks as though its surface had been chopped up with a pickaxe; a herd of wild pigs (descendants of those left in the island by Captain Cook) has been here lately, and has been rooting up the ferns, the rhizomes of which constitute their principal nutriment.

Now we have emerged from the bush. By doing so we startled some ground-larks (which are like those of England) and flushed some pheasants. The Chinese pheasant has been lately introduced, but has already become quite common in many districts. The pheasants flew out of this fern, the Pteris (Lilobrochia) macilenta, whose long and beautiful fronds afford them good shelter. I have five other varieties of Pteris, the prettiest of which are the P. tremula and the P. incisa; one of the others is that mentioned, in the early part of this article, as being the chief plant of the "fern land "; its roots are dried and roasted by the Maoris, with whom they are still an important article of diet; they think the root is better when it has been kept for two or three years.

Far above our heads and gliding rapidly along with outstretched and apparently motionless pinions is a great pest to the settlers, a large hawk. It is a too common bird in the estimation of the colonists, whose chickens, ducklings and young turkeys it snaps up with much temerity. A still bolder rapacious bird is a hawk not larger than the English sparrow-hawk; it sometimes attacks full-grown pheasants, and even turkeys. A voracious kite is another nuisance; they have been

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known to destroy lambs. In some districts the wild cat is a terrible pest, levying a black mail on all kinds of poultry. The cat has run wild from the houses; when it has been bred in the bush it is of a yellowish colour: nuisances as all these are they assist to thin the myriads of rats (and sometimes of mice) which exist in most parts of the New Zealand bush or, more properly, nearly all over the colony. It is indeed a providential circumstance that in this country there are not any snakes of any kind: if there were, a walk in the bush, such as we have had, would be a most dangerous undertaking in the summer--in the winter they would be hybernating, as they do in Australia. New Zealand, like Ireland, is also remarkable in not having any frogs, which are a positive nuisance in Australia.

Were it the summer we should now have swarms of mosquitoes about us; during the winter it is only on warm days that they are seen or, rather, their bites felt. But, winter though it be, we have a number of small spots on our hands where sandflies have bitten us. During our wanderings to-day a sharp stinging pain has occasionally induced us to look for the cause, which has each time been a minute black fly, adhering most pertinaciously by its palpae. These little pests will suffer themselves to be turned round and round, over and over, and submerged for several minutes without releasing the skin from their blood-thirsty grip.

Who is that calling out for "more pork?" The petitioner appears to be near us. Ah! there it is, on that dead branch. After placing a small patch of paper on the sight of my gun, so that I may aim correctly by the little light that remains, I fire. Now we can

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see it is a dark brown-coloured kind of owl, the size of the English barn one. These "more porks" are essentially nocturnal birds and often disturb the rest of the tired colonist by perching on the roof of his house or on some adjacent tree and monotonously repeating its cry (which is, however, occasionally varied by a dismal wailing whistle), sometimes for several hours. Let us call "mo . . . re pork!" and listen.. . . There are three or four answers, like so many echoes, coming from as many directions. These birds render good service by catching the numerous mice about the houses.

While hastening to a good substantial tea we can distinguish the forms and hear the peculiar piercing and shrill squeak of some small bats which are darting about in the now dark atmosphere.

Reader, our stroll in the bush is ended. I much regret my knowledge of the nomenclature of many of the objects there seen is so imperfect, necessarily causing me to avoid descriptions of, or even a few passing words about, an infinite number of plants of all kinds, and that I have not been able to walk there in summer when the bush is so much more well worth visiting, with the fresh tints of the vegetation, numerous flowers and numberless insects. The majority of bush settlers take little or no interest in the botanical beauties by which they are surrounded and which they are destroying as fast as they can in order that their properties may be rendered more valuable than ornamental by the growth of crops. This is a botanical view of the matter: the political and social economist sees it through other glasses, and recognizes that the true beauty of a country

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depends on its cultivation--the more extensive and perfect that is, the more beautiful the country. Earnestly is it to be hoped by all who have visited the colony that the termination of the disastrous war now being desultorily carried on, or rather procrastinated, 5 will be speedy; then, and not until then (supposing the peace to be a genuine one--an almost hopeless supposition until the hostile Maoris have been severely punished, and taught that the British can enforce respect and obedience in all parts of the world) will New Zealand rapidly become the prosperous, peaceful and happy country it could and should have been now.

But I have been running away from my subject matter: revenons a nos moutons. The result of the little interest taken by the colonists in the, to them, practically useless small plants of the bush is that I have been compelled, by the absolute non-existence of English names, to use (in those instances in which I learned them) Maori and technical ones. With regard to the former I have spelt them as they are pronounced without being at all certain they are all spelled as by the Maoris; with regard to the latter I hope I have not used so many scientific names as to render this paper disagreeable to the general reader. It is evident I have aimed much more at a popular than a scientific sketch of a stroll in the Auckland bush.

S. L. H.

London: DAY & SON, LIMITED, Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, W.C.

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[Back cover]

1   Pronounced "Tea."
2   Huts.
3   I must ask the reader's forgiveness for this prolix description; a shorter one would fail to convey a true idea of the peculiarities of this extraordinary plant.
4   Pronounced "Tu-es."
5   The above was written in 1865.

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