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There are great differences also in trees in respect to age. The almond and the pear1 are the most fruitful when old, which is the case also with the glandiferous trees and a certain species of fig. Others, again, are most prolific when young, though the fruit is later in coming to maturity, a thing particularly to be observed in the vine; for in those that are old the wine is of better quality, while the produce of the younger trees is given in greater abundance. The apple-tree becomes old very early, and the fruit which it produces when old is of inferior quality, being of smaller size and very liable to be attacked by maggots: indeed, these insects will breed in the tree itself. The fig is the only one of all the fruit-trees that is submitted to any process with the view of expediting the ripening of the fruit,2 a marvellous thing, indeed, that a greater value should be set upon produce that comes out of its proper season! All trees which bear their fruit before the proper time become prematurely3 old; indeed, some of them wither and die all of a sudden, being utterly exhausted by the too favourable influence of the weather, a thing that happens to the vine more particularly.

(28.) On the other hand, the mulberry becomes aged4 but very slowly, and is never exhausted by its crops. Those trees, too, the wood of which is variegated, arrive at old age but slowly,—the palm, the maple, and the poplar, for instance.

(29.) Trees grow old more rapidly when the earth is ploughed and loosened about the5 roots; forest trees at a later period. Speaking in general terms, we may say that care employed in the culture of trees seems to promote their fertility, while increased fertility accelerates old age. Hence it is that the carefully tended trees are the first to blossom, and the first to bud; in a word, are the most precocious in every respect: but all natural productions which are in any way weakened are more susceptible of atmospheric influences.

1 He speaks here in too general terms: the pear, for instance, is not more fruitful when old than when young.

2 He speaks of the process of caprification. See B. xv. c. 21.

3 So our proverb, " Soon ripe, soon rotten;" applicable to mankind as well as trees. See B. xxiii. c. 23.

4 See B. xv. c. 27. The mulberry tree will live for several centuries.

5 This stimulates the sap, and adds to its activity: but the tree grows old all the sooner, being the more speedily exhausted.

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