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Palm-trees are also propagated by planting;1 the trunk is first divided with certain fissures two cubits in length which communicate with the pith of the tree, and is then buried in the earth. A slip also torn away from the root will produce a sucker with vitality, and the same may be obtained from the more tender among the branches. In Assyria, the tree itself is sometimes laid level, and then covered over in a moist soil; upon which it will throw out roots all over, but it will grow only to be a number of shrubs, and never a tree: hence it is that they plant nurseries, and transplant the young trees when a year old, and again when two years old, as they thrive all the better for being transplanted; this is done in the spring season in other countries, but in Assyria about the rising of the Dog-star. In those parts they do not touch the young trees with the knife, but merely tie up the foliage that they may shoot upwards, and so attain considerable height. When they are strong they prune them, in order to increase their thickness, but in so doing leave the branches for about half a foot; indeed, if they were cut off at any other place, the operation would kill the parent tree. We have already2 mentioned that they thrive particularly well in a saltish soil; hence, when the soil is not of that nature, it is the custom to scatter salt, not exactly about the roots, but at a little distance off. There are palm-trees in Syria and in Egypt which divide into two trunks, and some in Crete into three and as many as five even.3 Some of these trees bear immediately at the end of three years, and in Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt, when they are four years old; others again at the end of five years: at which period the tree is about the height of a man. So long as the tree is quite young the fruit has no seed within, from which circumstance it has received the nickname of the "eunuch."4

1 The same methods of propagating the palm are still followed in the East, and in the countries near the tropics.

2 In c. 7 of the present Book. See also B. xvii. c. 3.

3 Fée mentions one near Elvas in Spain, which shot up into seven distinct trees, as it were, from a single trunk. The Douma Thebaica, he says, of Syria and Egypt, a peculiar kind of palm, is also bifurcated. The fruit of it, he thinks, are very probably the Phænicobalanus of B. xii. c. 47.

4 "Spado." Represented by the Greek εὔνουχος and ἔνορχος.

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