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The fifth kind of resinous tree has the same localities, and is very similar in appearance; it is known as the larch.1 The wood of this tree is far more valuable, being unimpaired by time, and proof against all decay; it is of a reddish colour, and of an acrid smell. Resin2 flows from this wood in still greater quantities; it is of the colour of honey, more viscous than the other varieties, and never turns hard.

A sixth variety is the torch-tree,3 properly so called, which gives out more resin than any of the others, with the exception of the pitch-tree; but its resin is more liquid than that of this last. The wood, too, of this tree is more particularly employed for kindling fires and giving torch-light in religious ceremonials. Of this tree it is the male only that bears what is known to the Greeks by the name of "syce,"4 remarkable for its extremely powerful odour. When the larch5 is changed into the torch-tree, it is a proof that it is in a diseased state.

The wood of all these trees, when set fire to, gives out immoderate volumes of sooty smoke,6 and sputters every now and then with a sudden crackling noise, while it sends out red-hot charcoal to a considerable distance—with the sole exception of that of the larch, which will neither burn7 nor char, nor, in fact, suffer any more from the action of fire than a stone. All these trees are evergreens, and are not easily8 distinguished by the foliage, even by those who are best acquainted with them, so nearly related are they to one another. The pitch- tree, however, is not so high as the larch; which, again, is stouter, and has a smoother back, with a more velvety leaf, more unctuous to the touch, thicker, and more soft and flexible.9 The pitch-tree, again, has a leaf more sparsely scattered and drier; it is thinner also, and of a colder nature, rougher all over in appearance, and covered with a resinous deposit: the wood of this tree is most like that of the fir. The larch, when the roots are once burnt, will not throw out fresh shoots, which the pitch-tree will do, as was found to be the case in the island of Lesbos, after the Pyrrhæan grove had been burnt there.

In the same species too, the variety of sex10 is found to constitute a considerable difference: the male is the shorter tree; and has a harder wood; while the female is taller, and bears a leaf more unctuous to the feel, smooth and free from all rigidity. The wood of the male tree is hard and awry, and consequently not so well suited for carpenters' work; while that of the female is softer, as may be very easily perceived on the application of the axe, a test, in fact, which, in every variety, immediately shows us which trees are males; the axe in such case meeting with a greater resistance, falling with a louder noise, and being withdrawn from the wood with considerably greater difficulty: the wood of the male tree is more parched too, and the root is of a blacker hue. In the vicinity of Mount Ida, in Troas, the circumstance whether the tree grows in the mountain districts or on the sea-shore, makes another considerable difference. In Macedonia and Arcadia, and in the neighbourhood of Elis, the names of the several varieties have been totally altered, and it has not been agreed by authors which name ought to be given to each: we have, therefore, contented ourselves with employing the Roman denominations solely.

The fir is the largest of them all, the female being the taller of the two; the wood, too, is softer and more easily worked. This tree is of a rounder form than the others, and its leaves are closely packed and feathered, so as not to admit of the passage of rain; the appearance, too, of the tree is altogether more cheerful. From the branches of these different varieties, with the sole exception of the larch,11 there hang numbers of scaly nuts of compact shape, like so many catkins. The nuts found upon the male fir have a kernel in the fore-part, which is not the case with those on the female tree. In the pitch-tree, again, these kernels, which are very small and black, occupy the whole of the catkin, which is smaller and more slender than in the other varieties; hence it is that the Greeks call this tree by the name of phthirophoron.12 In this tree, too, the nuts on the male are more compressed, and less moist with resin.

1 The Abies larix of Linnæus, and the Larix Europæa, it is thought, of Decandolles.

2 It is the Venice turpentine of commerce. Each tree will furnish seven or eight pounds each year for half a century.

3 It is doubtful if the tæda, or torch-tree, has been identified. Some take it to be the Pinus mugho of Miller, the torch-pine of the French; others, again, suggest that it is the same as the Pinus cembro of the botanists.

4 So called from its resemblance to a fig. Fée says that there is little doubt that this pretended fruit was merely a resinous secretion, which hardens and assumes the form of a fig.

5 He somewhat mistranslates a passage of Theophrastus here, who, without transforming the larch into another tree, says that it is a sign of disease in the larch, when its secretions are augmented to such a degree that it seems to turn itself into resin.

6 The lamp-black of commerce is made from the soot of the pine.

7 This statement, though supported by that of Vitruvius, B. ii. c. 9, is quite erroneous. The wood of the larch gives out more heat than that of the fir, and produces more live coal in proportion.

8 This, Fée remarks, is the fact.

9 This description is inexact, and we should have some difficulty in recognizing here the larch as known to us.

10 Pliny is in error here, there being no distinction of sex in the coniferous trees. All that he relates relative to the differences between the male and female pine is consequently false. He has, however, in this instance, only perpetuated an erroneous opinion of Theophrastus.

11 This is an erroneous statement. The larch has its cone, as well as the rest. It is possible, however, that its small size may have caused it to be overlooked by Pliny.

12 Or "louse-bearing." As Fée says, it is difficult to see the analogy.

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