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One of the most highly esteemed of all the woods is the box,1 but it is seldom veined, and then only the wood of the root. In other respects, it is a wood, so to say, of quiet and unpretending appearance, but highly esteemed for a certain degree of hardness and its pallid hue: the tree, too, is very extensively employed in ornamental gardening.2 There are three3 varieties of it: the Gallic4 box, which is trained to shoot upwards in a pyramidal form, and attains a very considerable height; the oleaster,5 which is condemned as being utterly worthless, and emits a disagreeable odour; and a third, known as the "Italian" box,6 a wild variety, in my opinion, which has been improved by cultivation. This last spreads more than the others, and forms a thick hedge: it is an evergreen, and is easily clipped.

The box-tree abounds on the Pyrenean7 range, the mountains of Cytorus, and the country about Berecynthus.8 The trunk grows to the largest size in the island of Corsica,9 and its blossom is by no means despicable; it is this that causes the honey there to be bitter.10 The seed of the box is held in aversion by all animals. That which grows upon Mount Olympus in Macedonia is not more slender than the other kinds, but the tree is of a more stunted growth. It loves spots exposed to the cold winds and the sun: in fire, too, it manifests all the hardness of iron; it gives out no flame, and is of no use whatever for the manufacture of charcoal.11

1 The Buxus sempervirens of Linnæus.

2 It is still extensively used for a similar purpose.

3 There are only two species now known: that previously mentioned, and the Buxus Balearica of Lamarck. The first is divided into the four varieties, arborescens, angustifolia, suffruticosa, and myrtifolia.

4 The Buxus sempervirens of Linnæus; very common in the south of France, and on the banks of the Loire.

5 It is doubtful if this is a box at all. The wild olive, mentioned in B. xv. c. 7, has the same name; all the varieties of the box emit a disagreeable smell.

6 A variety of the Buxus sempervirens, the same as the Buxus suffruticosa of Lamarck.

7 The Pyrenean box is mostly of the arborescent kind.

8 In Phrygia. See B. v. c. 29.

9 The arborescent variety.

10 This is doubted by Fée, but it is by no means impossible. In Pennsylvania the bees collect a poisonous honey from the Kalmia latifolia.

11 A very good charcoal might be made from it, but the wood is too valuable for such a purpose. It burns with a bright, clear flame, and throws out a considerable heat.

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