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The pitch-tree1 loves the mountain heights and cold localities. This is a funereal tree, and, as an emblem of death, is placed before the door of the deceased, and is left to grow in the vicinity of the funeral pile. Still, however, it is now some time since it was admitted into our gardens, in consequence of the facility with which it is clipped into various shapes. It gives out considerable quantities of resin,2 which is intermingled with white granulations like pearls, and so similar in appearance to frankincense, that when mixed, it is impossible to distinguish them; hence the adulterations we find practised in the Seplasia.3 All this class of trees have a short bristly leaf, thick and hard, like that of the cypress. The branches of the pitch-tree are of moderate size, and extend from almost the very root of the tree, adhering to the sides like so many arms: the same is the case with the fir,4 the wood of which is held in great esteem for ship-building.

This tree grows upon the summits of lofty mountains, as though, in fact, it had an antipathy to the sea, and it does not at all differ from the pitch-tree in appearance: the wood is also very highly esteemed for the construction of rafters, and many other appliances of life. A flow of resin, which in the pitch-tree constitutes its great merit, is looked upon as a defect in the fir,5 though it will generally exude in some small quantity on exposure of the wood, to the action of the sun. On the other hand, the wood which in the fir-tree is remarkably fine, in the pitch-tree is only used for making shingles, vats, and a few other articles of joiners' work.

1 The Abies excelsa of Decandolle—the Pese or Faux sapin (false fir) of the French. This tree, however, has not the pectinated, or comb-like leaf, mentioned by Pliny in c. 38.

2 It is still known in commerce as "false incense;" and is often sold as incense for the rites of the Roman church: while sometimes it is purposely employed, as being cheaper.

3 A great street in Capua, which consisted entirely of the shops of sellers of unguents and perfumes.

4 It has the same pyramidal form as the pitch-tree. It is still much used in ship-building, both for its resinous and durable qualities and the lightness of the wood.

5 The presence of resin is not looked upon as any defect in the fir at the present day. It produces what is known in commerce as "Strasbourg turpentine."

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