Both of these, but particularly the marsh rice, is divided into a great number of sub-varieties, characterised by being awned or otherwise, having a long or round grain, or being in color black, red, or white. The most singular variety is the O. glutinosa, of Rumphius. This is never used as bread, but commonly preserved as a sweetmeat. The rudest, and probably the earliest practised mode of cultivating rice, consists in taking from forest lands a fugitive crop, after burning the trees, grass, and underwood. The ground is turned up with the mattock, and the seed planted by dibbling between the stumps of trees. The period of sowing is the commencement of the rains, and of reaping that of the dry season. The rice is of course of that description which does not require immersion.
The second description of tillage consists also in growing mountain or dry land rice. This mode is usually adopted on the common upland arable lands, which cannot conveniently be irrigated. The grain is sown in the middle of the dry season, either broadcast or by dibbling, and reaped in seven or five months, as the grain happens to be the larger or the smaller variety.
The culture of rice by the aid of the periodical rains forms the third mode. The grain being that kind which requires submersion, the process of sowing and reaping is determined with precision by the seasons. With the first fall of the rains the lands are ploughed and harrowed. The seed is sown in beds, usually by strewing very thickly the corn in the ear. From these beds the plants, when 12 or 14 days old, are removed into the fields and thinly set by the hand. They are then kept constantly immersed in water until within a fortnight of the harvest, when it is drawn off to facilitate the ripening of the grain.
The fourth mode of cultivating rice is by forcing a crop by artificial irrigation, at any time of the year; thus, in one field, in various plots, the operations of sowing, ploughing, transplanting, and reaping may be seen at the same period.
The fertile, populous, and industrious countries of the Eastern Archipelago export rice to their neighbours. The most remarkable of these are Java, Bali, some parts of Celebes, with the most fertile spots of Sumatra, and of the Malay Peninsula. Rice is generally imported to these western countries from those farther east, such as the Spice Islands. Java is the principal place of production for the consumption of the other islands, and the only island of the Archipelago that sends rice abroad. The rice of the eastern districts is generally superior to that of the western. The worst rice is that of Indramayu, which is usually discolored. The subdivision of the province of Cheribon, called Gabang, yields rice of fine white grain, equal to that of Carolina. The rice of Gressie preserves best. All Indian rice is classed, in commercial language, into the three descriptions of table rice, white rice, and cargo rice. From the limited demand for the first, it is only to be had in Java, in small quantity. For the same reason the second is not procurable in large quantity, unless bespoken some time before-hand; but the third may be had at the shortest notice in any quantity required. Java rice is inferior in estimation to that of Bengal or Carolina in the markets of Europe.
The following statistics show the extent and progress of the culture in Java:—
In 1840. In 1841. ————- ————— No. of Residencies in which rice is cultivated 18 18
" Regencies 69 68
" Districts 414 414
" Desas or villages 39,931 36,296
Amount of the population who take a part in it, without distinction of caste 6,704,797 6,857,372
Number of families, &c. 1,466,845 1,475,675
" " families who devote themselves to the cultivation 1,150,406 1,146,083
Number of men bound to obligatory service 1,321,767 1,325,746
Cleared grounds in bahus, of 71 decametres 1,470,047 1,540,054
Upon this extent the population had cultivated for the government, in bahus of 71 decametres 78,182 74,277
Extent of fields which the population had cultivated 1,286,139 1,381,216 on their own account, in bahus, &c.
Extent of land in fallow in bahus, &c. 105,726 84,561
Produce in piculs of fields cultivated by the population on its own account 21,273,278 23,810,573
Average produce of a bahu 161/2 17
Gross amount of the land tax of 1840 8,502,402 fl 9,030,761 fl.
Extent of rice fields newly cultivated in bahus 10,328 13,561
This comparative summary shows that the culture of rice increases yearly, and that the average produce of the fields is also continually increasing. These results have been obtained by the attention paid to the proper irrigation of the soil fit for this culture; and to the hydraulic works which the Government executes on its own account in the parts of the island where rice fields can be established, and where they are required to feed a population whose number is still increasing yearly.
I have seen, continues Mr. Crawfurd, lands which have produced, from time beyond the memory of any living person, two yearly crops of rice. When this practice is pursued, it is always the five-months grain which is grown. The rapid growth of this variety, has, indeed, enabled the Javanese husbandman, in a few happy situations, to urge the culture to the amount of six crops in two years and a half. Rice cultivated in a virgin soil, where the wood has been burnt off, will, under favorable circumstances, give a return of twenty-five and thirty fold. Of mountain rice, cultivated in ordinary upland arable lands, fifteen fold may be looked upon as a good return. In fertile soils, when one crop only is taken in the year, marsh rice will yield a return of twenty-five seeds. When a double crop is taken, not more than fifteen or sixteen can be expected. In the fine province of Kadu, an English acre of good land, yielding annually one green crop and a crop of rice, was found to produce of the latter 641 lbs. of clean grain. In the light sandy, but well watered lands of the province of Mataram, where it is the common practice to exact two crops of rice yearly without any fallow, an acre was found to yield no more than 285 lbs. of clean rice, or an annual produce of 570 lbs. —("History of the Indian Archipelago.")
The low estimation of Java rice is not attributable to any real inferiority in the grain, but to the mode of preparing it for the market. In husking it, it is, for the want of proper machinery, much broken, and, from carelessness in drying, subject to decay from the attack of insects and worms. When in the progress of improvement more intelligent methods are pursued in preparing the grain for the market, it will equal the grain of any other country. Machinery must be employed for husking the grain, and some degree of kiln drying will be necessary to ensure its preservation in a long voyage.
I know nowhere that rice is so cheap as in Java, except in Siam, whence it is exported at one-third less cost. A great deal of rice is exported from Siam to China by the junks, and also occasionally a little from Java.
The quantity exported from Java in 1830 was 13,521 coyans.
" " 1835 " 25,577 "
" " 1839 " 1,103,378 piculs
" " 1841 " 676,213 "
" " 1843 " 1,108,774 "
Rice is grown to some extent in the Dutch portion of Celebes; it yields at a minimum one hundred and fifty fold. The average annual delivery of rice to the Government, from 1838 to 1842, was 3,390,119 lbs. At present the Government pays sixty cents for a measure of forty pounds. That which is sold for the consumption of the inhabitants may be procured at the public warehouse for a guilder the 351/2 lbs.; and that which is sold for export may be had at public auction for 125 florins the coyan of 3,000 lbs.
The following description of some varieties of rice cultivated in the Philippine islands, is given by Mr. Rich, botanist to the United States Exploring Expedition. The varieties are very numerous; the natives distinguish them by the size and shape of their grain:—
Binambang.—Leaves slightly hairy; glumes whitish; grows to the height of about five feet; flowers in December: aquatic.
Lamuyo greatly resembles the above; is more extensively cultivated, particularly in Batangas, where it forms the principal article of food of the inhabitants of the coast: aquatic.
Malagcquit.—This variety derives its name from its being very glutinous after bailing; it is much used by the natives in making sweet or fancy dishes; and also used in making a whitewash, mixed with lime, which is remarkable for its brilliancy, and for withstanding rain, &c.: aquatic.
Bontot Cabayo.—Common in Ilocos, where it is cultivated both upland and lowland; it produces a large grain, and is therefore much esteemed, but has rather a rough taste.
Dumali, or early rice.—This rice is raised in the uplands exclusively, and derives its name from ripening its grain three months from planting; the seed is rather broader and shorter than the other varieties; it is not extensively cultivated, as birds and insects are very destructive to it.
Quinanda, with smooth leaves.—This variety is held in great estimation by the people of Batangas, as they say it swells more in boiling than any other variety; it is sown in May, and gathered in October: upland.
Bolohan.—This variety has very hairy glumes; it is not held in much esteem by the natives, but it is cultivated on account of its not being so liable to the attacks of insects and diseases as most of the other upland varieties.
Malagcquit.—With smooth leaves, and red glumes (all the preceding are whitish); possesses all the qualities of the aquatic variety of the same name—that of being very glutinous after boiling. This rice is said to be a remedy for worms in horses, soaked in water, with the hulls on; it is given with honey and water.
Tangi.—Leaves slightly hairy, glumes light violet color. This upland variety is held in much esteem for its fine flavor.
435,067 arrobas of rice were exported from Manilla in 1847.
A simple but rude mill is in use in Siam, and many parts of India, for hulling paddy, which is similar to those used 4,000 years ago. It consists of two circular stones, two feet in diameter, resting one on the other; a bamboo basket is wrought around the upper one, so as to form the hopper. A peg is firmly set into the face of the upper stone, half way between its periphery and centre, having tied to it by one end a stick three feet long, extended horizontally, and attached by the other to another stick pending from the roof of the shed under which the mill is placed. This forms a crank, by which the upper stone is made to revolve on the other set firmly on the ground. The motion throws the rice through the centre of the stone, and causes it to escape between the edges of the two.
More starch is contained in this grain than in wheat. Braconnet obtained from Carolina rice 85.07, and from Piedmont rice 83.8 per cent. of starch. Vogel procured from a dried rice no less than 98 per cent. of starch. There are several patent processes in existence for the manufacture of rice-starch, which are accomplished chiefly by digesting rice in solutions, more or less strong, of caustic alkali (soda), by which the gluten is dissolved and removed, leaving an insoluble matter composed of starch, and a white substance technically called fibre. Under Jones's patent, the alkaline solution employed contains 200 grains of real soda in every gallon of liquor, and 150 gallons of this liquor are requisite to convert 100 lbs. of rice into starch. In manufacturing rice-starch on a large scale, Patna rice yields 80 per cent, of marketable starch, and 8.2 per cent. of fibre, the remaining 11.8 per cent. being made up of gluten, gruff, or bran, and a small quantity of light starch carried off in suspension by the solution.
Jones's process may be thus described:—100 lbs. of rice are macerated for 24 hours in 50 gallons of the alkaline solution, and afterwards washed with cold water, drained, and ground. To 100 gallons of the alkaline solution are then to be added 100 lbs. of ground rice, and the mixture stirred repeatedly during 24 hours, and then allowed to stand for about 70 hours to settle or deposit. The alkaline solution is to be drawn off, and to the deposit cold water is to be added, for the double purpose of washing out the alkali and for drawing off the starch from the other matters. The mixture is to be well stirred up and then allowed to rest about an hour for the fibre to fall down. The liquor holding the starch in suspension is to be drawn off and allowed to stand for about 70 hours for the starch to deposit. The waste liquor is now to be removed, and the starch stirred up, blued (if thought necessary), drained, dried, and finished in the usual way. Rice is imported into this country in bags of 11/2 cwt., and tierces of 6 cwt., not only for edible purposes, but, when ground into flour, for cotton manufactures, in aiding to form the weaver's dressings for warps. Rice-meal is commonly used for feeding pigs.
Imported. British Retained for home Plantation. Foreign. consumption of all kinds. Bags. Bags. Bags. 1843 136,319 35,125 60,965 1844 127,876 69,112 126,733 1845 173,794 5,713 114,933
Tons. Tons. Tons. 1847 38,736 3,033 28,375 1848 21,226 4,631 15,468 1849 19,397 1,410 14,961
Total imported. Re-exported. 1849 976,196 cwts. 290,732 cwts. " in the husk 31,828 qrs. 1850 785,451 cwts. 248,136 " " in the husk 37,150 qrs. 1851 714,847 cwts. 345,677 " " in the husk 31,481 qrs. 1852 989,316 cwts. 414,507 " " in the husk 23,946 qrs.
The quantity of rice retained for home consumption, by the corrected returns, in 1850, was 401,018 cwts. and 35,119 quarters; in 1851, 399,170 cwts. and 31,481 quarters; in 1852, 574,809 cwts. and 23,946 quarters. The aggregate imports range from 40,000 to 80,000 tons annually, of which about 500 to 800 tons are in the husk.
Among culmiferous plants and legumes used in the East, are the Panicum italicum, P. miliaceum, Eleusine coracana (the meal of which is baked and eaten in Ceylon under the name of Corakan flour), and Paspalum of several varieties. The pigeon pea (Cytisus Cajan), and a very valuable and prolific species of bean, called the Mauritius black bean (Mucuna utilis), growing even in the poorest soil, is cultivated in India and Ceylon. Sorghum vulgare is the principal grain of Southern Arabia, and the stems are also used extensively for feeding cattle. The plant bears its Indian name of joar, or juri, and is cultivated throughout Western Hindostan. Job's tears (Croix lachryma) is another cereal grass, native of the East Indies.
Millet of different kinds is met with in the hottest parts of Africa, in the South of Europe, in Asia Minor, and in the East Indies. It is a small yellowish seed, growing in dense panicles or clusters, the produce of a grassy plant with large and compact seeds, growing to the height, in India, of seven or eight feet.
The millets, known to Europeans as petit mais, are tropical or sub-tropical crops. In India they hold a second rank to rice alone; and in Egypt, perhaps, surpass all other crops in importance. In Western Africa they are the staff of life. The red and white millets shown by Austria, Russia, and the United States, at the Great Exhibition, were beautiful, and Ceylon exhibited fair samples. Turkey abounds in small grains.
Panicum miliaceum and P. frumentaceum are the species grown in the East Indies. Loudon says there are three distinct species of millet; the Polish, the common or German, and the Indian. Setaria Germanica yields German millet. The plants are readily increased by division of the roots or by seed, and will grow in any common soil. The native West Indian species are P. fascisculatwm and oryzoides. Millet receives some attention in New South Wales. In 1844 there were 100 acres of land under cultivation with it, and the amount grown in some years in this colony has been about 3,500 bushels.
In the United States millet is chiefly grown for making hay, being found a good substitute for clover and the ordinary grasses. It is a plant which will flourish well on rather thin soils, and it grows so fast that when it is up and well set it is seldom much affected by drought. It is commonly sown there in June, but the time of sowing will vary with the latitude. Half a bushel of seed to the acre is the usual quantity, sown broadcast and harrowed in. For the finest quantity of hay, it is thought advisable to sow an additional quantity of three or four quarts of seed. The ordinary yield of crops may be put at from a ton to a ton and a half of hay to the acre. It should be cut as soon as it is out of blossom; if it stands later, the stems are liable to become too hard to make good hay. The variety known as German millet is that most common in North America. It grows ordinarily to the height of about three feet, with compact heads from six to nine inches in length, bearing yellow seed. There are some sub-varieties of this, as the white and purple-seeded.
The Italian millet, Setaria italica, is larger than the preceding, reaching the height of four feet in tolerable soil, and its leaves are correspondingly larger and thicker. The heads are sometimes a foot or more in length, and are less compact than the German, being composed of several spikes slightly branching from the main stem. It is said to derive its specific name from being cultivated in Italy, though its native habitat is India. It is claimed by some that this variety will yield more seed than any other, and the seed is rather larger, but the stalk is coarser, and would probably be less relished by stock.
If the greatest amount of seed is desired from the crop, it is best to sow it in drills, two to two-and-a-half feet apart, using a seed drill for the purpose. This admits of the use of a small harrow or cultivator between the rows, while the plants are small, which keeps out the weeds. The crop will ripen more uniformly in this way than broadcast, and enables the cultivator to cut it when there will be the least waste. The seed shatters out very easily when it is ripe, and when the crop ripens unequally it cannot be cut without loss, because either a portion of it will be immature, or, if left till it is all ripe, the seed of the earliest falls out. It should be closely watched, and cut in just about the same stage that it is proper to cut wheat, while the grain may be crushed between the fingers. It may be cut with a grain cradle, and, when dry, bound and shocked like grain; but it should be threshed out as soon as practicable, on account of its being usually much attacked by birds, many kinds of which are very fond of the seed. In particular localities they assail the crop in such numbers, from the time it is out of the "milk," till it is harvested and carried off the field, that it is no object to attempt to ripen it. This crop is sometimes sown in drills, when it is only intended for fodder, being cut and cured in bundles, as the stalks of Indian corn are. It is best to pass it through a cutting machine before feeding it to stock; indeed, all millet hay will be fed with less loss in this way, than if fed to animals without cutting.
The seed is used in various European countries as a substitute for sago, for which it is considered excellent. It is likewise a valuable food for poultry, particularly for young chickens, which from the smallness of the grain can eat it readily, and it appears to be wholesome for them.
In some countries millet seed is ground into flour and converted into bread; but this is brown and heavy. It is, however, useful in other respects, as a substitute for rice. A good vinegar has been made from it by fermentation, and, on distillation, it yields a strong spirit. Millet seed—the produce of H. saccharatum—is imported into this country from the East Indies for the purpose chiefly of puddings; by many persons it is preferred to rice. It is cultivated largely in China and Cochin-China. The stalks, if subjected to the same process that is adopted with the sugar-cane, yield a sweet juice, from which an excellent kind of sugar may be made.
Millet will grow best on light, dry soils. The ground being first well prepared, half a bushel of seed to the acre is ploughed in at the commencement of the rains, in India. The crop ripens within three months from the time of sowing. The usual produce is about 16 bushels to the acre. The Canary Islands export annually about 212,400 bushels of millet.
Great Indian Millet, or Guinea Corn.—This is a native of India (the Sorghum vulgare, the Andropogon Sorghum of Roxburgh), which produces a grain a little larger than mustard or millet seed. It is grown in most tropical countries, and has peculiar local names. In the West Indies, where it is chiefly raised for feeding poultry, it is called Guinea corn. In Egypt it is known as Dhurra, in Hindostan and Bengal as Joar, and in some districts as Cush.
In Lower Scinde joar is very extensively cultivated, as well as bajree (H. spicatus). It is harvested in December and January; requires a light soil, and is usually grown in the east, after Cynosurus corocanus.
Guinea corn is extensively cultivated in some parts of Jamaica. I did not, however, find it thrive on the north side of the island. It is best planted in the West Indies between September and November, and ripens in January. It ratoons or yields a second crop, when cut. The returns are from 30 to 60 bushels an acre, but the crops are uncertain.
Mr. C. Bravo tried Guinea corn at St. Ann's, Jamaica, as a green crop, sown broadcast, for fodder, and it answered admirably, the produce being very considerable. It was weighed, and yielded 14 tons of fodder per acre, and was found very palatable and nutritious for cattle. It was grown on a very poor soil, which had, previously to ploughing, given nothing but marigolds and weeds. The luxuriant growth of the corn completely kept under the weeds. A great number of the stalks were measured, and they averaged 10 feet from the root to the top of the upper leaf. It had been planted 10 weeks, and had, therefore, grown a foot a month. Mr. Bravo is of opinion, that sown broadcast it would answer either as a grain crop, as fodder, or ploughed in to increase the fertility of the soil.
Dr. Phillips, of Barbados, being of opinion that it might be advantageously employed as human food, requested Dr. Shier, the analytical chemist, of Demerara, to determine in his laboratory its richness in protein compounds (the muscle-forming part of vegetable food) in comparison with Indian corn. He, therefore, caused a sample of each to be burned for nitrogen, when the following results were obtained:—
Indian corn. Guinea corn. Water, per cent. 12.81 13.76 In ordinary state— Nitrogen, per cent. 1.83 1.18 Protein compounds 11.51 7.42 In dry state— Nitrogen, per cent. 2.10 1.36 Protein compounds 13.20 8.60
According to these results, the Guinea corn is less rich in nitrogen or protein compounds than Indian corn, though not much less so than some varieties of English wheat.
Indian corn meal, analysed by Mr. Hereford, from two localities, gave in the ordinary state of dryness 11.53 and 12.48 per cent. of protein compounds—results which come very near to that obtained by Dr. Shier.
Sorghum avenaceum, or Holcus avenaceus, is a native of the Cape.
Several species and varieties of sorghum have been introduced, and more or less cultivated in the United States. It is often popularly termed Egyptian corn. It is closely allied to broom corn (S. saccharatum), the head being similar in structure, and the seed similar, except that in most varieties of sorghum, the outer covering does not adhere as in broom corn. The plant bears a strong resemblance, while growing, to maize or Indian corn. There is also some similarity in the grain, and it is extensively used as food by many oriental nations.
A variety, under the name of African purple millet, was some years since introduced into North America, and recommended for cultivation as a soiling crop; but this, as well as other varieties, do not possess any advantages over Indian corn.
The natives of Mysore reckon three kinds, known as white, green, and red. The red ripens a month earlier than the rest, or about four months from the time of sowing. Near Bengal, Bombay, and elsewhere, in Eastern India, sowing is performed at the close of May or early in June. A gallon and a third of seed is sown per acre, and the produce averages 16 bushels. This grain, though small, and the size of its head diminutive, compensates for this deficiency by the great hulk and goodness of its straw, which grows usually to the height of 8 or 10 feet. It is sometimes sown for fodder in the beginning of April, and is ready to cut in July. It is said to be injurious to cattle, if eaten as green provender, the straw is therefore first dried, and is then preferable to that of rice.
This grain is frequently fermented to form the basis, in combination with goor or half made sugar, of the common arrack of the natives, and in the hills is fermented into a kind of beer or sweet wort, drank warm.
Holcus spicatus, the Panicum spicatum of Roxburgh, is cultivated in Mysore, Behar, and the provinces more to the north. From one to four seers are sown on a biggah of land, and the yield is about four maunds per acre. It is sown after the heavy rains commence, and the plough serves to cover the seed. The crop is ripe in three months, and the ears only are taken off at first. Afterwards the straw is cut down close to the surface of the soil, to be used for thatching, for it is not much in request as fodder. Being a grain of small price, it is a common food of the poorer class of natives, and really yields a sweet palatable flour. It is also excellent as a fattening grain for poultry.
The Poa Abyssinicais one of the bread-corns of Abyssinia. The bread made from it is called teff, and is the ordinary food of the country, that made from wheat being only used by the higher classes. The way of manufacturing it is by allowing the dough to become sour, when, generating carbonic acid gas, it serves instead of yeast. It is then baked in circular cakes, which are white, spongy, and of a hot acid taste, but easy of digestion. This bread, carefully toasted, and left in water for three or four days, furnishes the bousa, or common beer of the country, similar to the quas of Russia.
The production of broom corn is rapidly extending, and corn brooms are driving broom sedge, as an article for sweeping floors, out of every humble dwelling in the United States. There are about 1,000 acres of it under culture in one county (Montgomery) alone, and it brings 30 dollars per acre in the field.
Messrs. Van Eppes, of Schenectady, have been engaged in the broom manufactory business about eleven years. They have a farm of about 300 acres, 200 of which are Mohawk flats. A large portion of the flats was formerly of little value, in consequence of being kept wet by a shallow stream which ran through, it, and which, together with several springs that issue from the sandy bluff on the south side of the flats, kept the ground marshy, and unfit for cultivation. By deepening the channel of the stream, and conducting most of the springs into it, many acres, which were formerly almost worthless, have been made worth 125 dollars per acre. They have also, by deepening the channel, saving the water of the springs, and securing all the fall, made a water privilege, on which they have erected an excellent mill, with several run of stones, leaving besides sufficient power to carry saws for cutting out the handles of brooms, &c.
They have about 200 acres of the flats in broom-corn. The cultivation of this article has within a few years been simplified to almost as great a degree as its manufacture. The seed is sown with a seed-barrow or drill, as early in the spring as the state of the ground will admit, in rows 31/2 feet apart. As soon as the corn is above ground, it is hoed, and soon after thinned, so as to leave the stalks two or three inches apart. It is only hoed in the row, in order to get out the weeds that are close to the plants, the remaining space being left for the harrow and cultivator, which are run so frequently as to keep down the weeds. The cultivation is finished by running a small, double mould-board plough, rather shallow, between the rows.
The broom corn is not left to ripen, as formerly, but is cut when it is quite green, and the seed not much past the milk. It was formerly the practice to lop down the tops of the corn, and let it hang some time, that the brush might become straightened in one direction. Now, the tops are not lopped till the brush is ready to cut, which, as before stated, is while the corn is green. A set of hands goes forward, and lops or bends the tops to one side, and another set follows immediately and cuts off the tops at the place at which they are bent, and a third set gathers the cut tops into carts or waggons, which take them to the factory. Here they are first sorted over, and parcelled out into small bunches, each bunch being made up into brush of equal length. The seed is then taken off by an apparatus with teeth, like a hatchet. The machine is worked by six horses, and cleans the brush very rapidly. It is then spread thin to dry, on racks put up in buildings designed for the purpose. In about a week, with ordinary weather, it becomes so dry that it will bear to be packed closely.
The stalks of the corn, after the tops have been cut off, are five or six feet high, and they are left on the ground, and ploughed in the next spring. It is found that this keeps up the fertility of the soil, so that the crop is continued for several years without apparent diminution. It should be observed, however, that the ground is overflowed every winter or spring, and a considerable deposit left on the surface, which is undoubtedly equivalent to a dressing of manure.
This may be inferred from the fact that some of the flats have been in Indian corn every year for forty or fifty years, without manure, and with good cultivation have seldom produced less than sixty bushels per acre, and with extra cultivation from eighty to ninety bushels have been obtained.
In case of need, the stalks would furnish a large amount of good food for cattle. They are full of leaves which are nutritive, and whether cut and dried for winter, or eaten green by stock turned on the ground where they grow, would be very valuable in case of deficiency of grass.
Messrs. Van Eppes employ twenty hands during the summer; and in autumn, when the brush is being gathered and prepared, they have nearly a hundred, male and female. They are mostly Germans, who come to Schenectady with their families during the broom corn harvest, and leave when it is over.
The manufacture of brooms is carried on mostly in the winter season. The quantity usually turned out by Messrs. Van Eppes is 150,000 dozen per annum.—("Albany Cultivator.")
About twenty-eight years ago this plant was introduced into Britain from Peru, where the seeds are used as food, under the name of petty rice. Attention was drawn to it by Loudon, in his "Gardener's Magazine," in 1834, and in 1836 it was cultivated on a large scale by Sir Charles Lemon. This plant and the lentil are two of the most promising exotics that have been recommended for field culture. There are two varieties of quinoa, the white and the red seeded; the red has bitter properties, and is only used for medicine. In North America the seeds of the former are used as a substitute for maize and the potato. A white meal is obtained from it, having a tinge of yellow. It contains scarcely any gluten, but, like oatmeal, makes very good porridge and cakes. Its nutritive qualities are proved by the analysis of Dr. Voelcker ("Journal of Agriculture of Scotland," October, 1850), which states it to yield 3.66 per cent. of nitrogen, equal to 2.87 per cent. of protein compounds. In this respect the meal appears to be superior to rye, barley, rice, maize, the plantain, and potato. It has long furnished the food of millions in South America; and in Scotland and Ireland the plant would find a congenial climate and rich soil.
FUNDI OR FUNDUNGI.
This is an hitherto undescribed species of African grain (probably the Paspalum exile), much cultivated and esteemed in Sierra Leone, and other places on the African coast, where it is known by the Foulahs, Joloffs, and other native tribes, under the local name of Hungry rice. It is a slender grass with digitate spikes, which have much of the habit of Digitaria, but which, on account of the absence of the small outer glume existing in that genus, Mr. Keppist, Librarian of the Linnean Society, of London, refers to Paspalum. It produces a semi-transparent cordiform grain, about the size of a mignionette seed; the ear consists of two conjugate spikes, the grain being arranged on the outer edge of either spike, and alternated; they are attached by a peduncle to the husk. The epicarp, or outer membrane, is slightly rugous.
The ground is cleared for its reception by burning down the copse wood and hoeing between the roots and stumps. It is sown in the months of May and June, the ground being slightly opened, and again lightly drawn together over the seeds with a hoe. In August, when it shoots up, it is carefully weeded. It ripens in September, growing to the height of about 18 inches, and its stems, which are very slender, are bent to the earth by the mere weight of the grain. The patch of land is then either suffered to lie fallow, or is planted with yams or cassava in rotation. Experienced cultivators of this Lilliputian grain assert that manure is unnecessary, as it delights in light soils, and it is even raised on rocky situations, which are most frequent about Kissy. When cut down, it is tied up in small sheafs and placed in a dry situation within the hut; for if allowed to remain on the ground and to become wet, the grains are agglutinated to their coverings. The grain is trodden out with the feet, and is then parched or dried in the sun, to allow the more easy removal of the chaff in the process of pounding, which is performed in wooden mortars. It is afterwards winnowed with a kind of cane fanner or mats.
This grain could be raised in sufficient quantities to become an article of commerce, and I have no doubt would prove a valuable addition to the list of light farinaceous articles of food in use among the delicate or convalescent. In preparing this delicious grain for food, it is first put into boiling water, in which it is assiduously stirred for a few minutes; the water is then poured off, and the Foulahs, Joloffs, &c., add to it palm oil, butter, or milk; but Europeans and negroes connected with Sierra Leone prepare it as follows:—To the grain cooked as above mentioned, fowl, fish, or mutton, with a piece of salt pork for the sake of flavor is added, the whole being then stewed in a close saucepan. This makes a very good dish, and thus prepared resembles "Kous-kous." The grain is sometimes made into puddings, with the usual condiments, and eaten either hot or cold, with milk. By the few natives of Scotland in the colony, it is occasionally dressed as milk porridge.
The negroes also eat it in the same way as they do rice, with palaver sauce. Fundi ought to be well washed in cold water, and afterwards rewashed in boiling water. If properly prepared it will be white, and perfectly free from gritty matter.
Canary-seed, obtained from Phalaris canariensis, is grown rather largely in Kent, the Isle of Thanet, and other parts of the south of England, as much as 500 tons being annually consumed here for feeding singing birds. The produce is three to five quarters the acre, and it is sold at about L25 the ton. We receive foreign supplies of the seed from Germany and the Mediterranean, and the duty on imports is 2s. 6d. per bushel.
There are a variety of pulses and leguminous seeds extensively cultivated as food for both man and cattle, and which form an important article in the husbandry of tropical countries. The importance of peas and beans is well appreciated, both by the horticulturists and agriculturists in Europe and our temperate colonies, where, however, they are comparatively of less importance than the smaller pulses and grains are in various tropical countries, such as haricots in the Brazils and West Indies; ground or earth nuts in South America, and especially in Western Africa; beans of different kinds amongst the miners of Peru; gram (Ervum lens), and dholl (Cajanus), with innumerable varieties of beans and small lentils among the natives of India and Egypt; and the Carob bean, or St. John's bread (Ceratonia siliqua), in the Mediterranean countries.—("Jury Reports.")
Of leguminous grains there are various species cultivated and used by the Asiatics, as the Phaseolus Mungo, P. Max and P. radiatus, which contain much alimentary matter; the earth-nut (Arachis hypogaea), which buries its pods under ground after flowering.
The gram (Cicer arictinum) which is mentioned by Dr. Christie ("Madras Journal of Science," No. 13) as exuding oxalic acid from all parts of the plant. It is used by the ryots in their curries instead of vinegar. It is the chick pea of England, and chenna of Hindostan.
Among the most commonly cultivated leguminous plants are the lentil (Ervum lens), horse gram (Dolichos biflorus, Linn), various species of Cytisus and Cajanus, &c. Many of these are grown in India as fodder plants; others for their seeds, known as gram, dholl, &c. The Cajanus flavus, of Decandolle (Cytisus Cajan), is very generally cultivated along the Western coast of Africa, and continues to bear for three years. Several species of dolichos are used as food in various countries, as D. ensiformus in Jamaica, D. tuberosus in Martinique, D. bulbosus and D. lignosus in the East Indies.
The vessels of the North bring to Shanghae a great quantity of a dry paste, known under the name of tanping, the residuum or husk of a leguminous plant called Teuss, from which the Chinese extract oil, and which is used, after being pressed, as manure for the ground. Captain H. Biggs, in a communication to the Agri.-Hort. Soc. of India, in 1845, states that of the esculents a large white pea forms the staple of the trade of Shanghae, or nearly so, to the astonishing amount of two and a-half millions sterling. This he gives on the authority of the Rev. Mr. Medhurst, of Shanghae, and Mr. Thorns, British Consul at Ningpo. These peas are ground in a mill and then pressed, in a somewhat complicated, though, as usual in China, a most efficient press, by means of wedges driven under the outer parts of the framework with mallets. The oil is used both for eating and burning, more for the latter purpose, however, and the cake, like large Gloucester cheese, or small grindstones in circular shape, is distributed about China in every direction, both as food for pigs and buffaloes, as also for manure.
We import on the average about 20,000 quarters of beans, peas, &c., from Ireland, 450,000 quarters of beans and 200,000 quarters of peas from foreign countries.
The land under cultivation with pulse, and the crops raised, have been estimated as follows:—
Acres. Quarters. England 500,000 1,875,000 Ireland 130,000 540,000 Scotland 50,000 150,000 ———- ————- 680,000 2,565,000
This is of course exclusive of garden cultivation. The average produce of beans per acre in England is 33/4 quarters, 31/2 in Ireland, and three in Scotland.
The price of beans per quarter in the last ten years has ranged from 39s. to 27s. the quarter; peas from 40s. 6d. to 27s. 6d.
Algaroba beans.—The seed pods or bean of the carob-tree (Ceratonia siliqua, or Prosopis pallida?) a tree common in the Levant and South of Europe, are used as food. The pods contain a large proportion of sweet fecula, and are frequently used by singers, being considered to improve the voice. The name of St. John's Head has been applied to them, from the supposition that they were the wild honey spoken of in Scripture as the food of John the Baptist. About 40,000 quintals of these carobs are annually exported from Crete. During the Peninsular war, the horses of our cavalry were principally fed upon these algaroba seeds. The pods of the West India locust tree, Hymenaea courbaril, also supply a nutritious matter.
That well known sauce, Soy, is made in some parts of the East, from a species of the Dolichos bean (Soja hispida), which grows in China and Japan. In Java it is procured from the Phaseolus radiatus. The beans are boiled soft, with wheat or barley of equal quantities, and left for three months to ferment; salt and water are then added, when the liquor is pressed and strained. Good soy is agreeable when a few years old; the Japan soy is superior to the Chinese. Large quantities are shipped for England and America. The Dolichos bean is much cultivated in Japan, where various culinary articles are prepared from it; but the principal are a sort of butter, termed mico, and a pickle called sooja.
1,108 piculs of soy were shipped from Canton in 1844, for London, British India, and Singapore. 100 jars, or about 50 gallons of soy, were received at Liverpool in 1850. The price is about 6s. per gallon in the London market.
THE SAGO PALMS, BREAD-FRUIT, &c.
Sago, and starchy matter allied to it, is obtained from many palms. It is contained in the cellular tissue of the stem, and is separated by bruising and elutriation. From the soft stem of Cycas circinalis, a kind of sago is produced in the East and West Indies. The finest is, however, procured from the stems of Sagus laevis (S. inermis, of Roxburgh), a native of Borneo and Sumatra; and Arenga saccharifera, or Gomutus saccharifus, of Rumphius. The Saguerus Rumphii, or Metroxylon Sagus, which is found in the Eastern Islands of the Indian Ocean, yields a feculent matter. After the starchy substance is washed out of the stems of these palms, it is then granulated so as to form sago. The last-mentioned palm also furnishes a large supply of sugar. Sago as well as sugar, and a kind of palm wine, are procured from Caryota urens.
In China sago is obtained from Rhapis flabelliformis, a dwarfish palm; and some sago is made from it for native use in Travancore, Mysore, and Wynaad, and the jungles in the East Indies.
The trunk of the sago palm is five or six feet round, and it grows to the height of about 20 feet. It can only be propagated by seed. It flourishes best in bogs and swampy marshes; a good plantation being often a bog, knee deep. The pith producing the sago is seldom of use till the tree is fourteen or fifteen years old; and the tree does not live longer than thirty years. Mr. Crawfurd says there are four varieties of this palm; the cultivated, the wild, one distinguished by long spines on the branches, and a fourth destitute of these spines, and called by the natives female sago. This and the cultivated species afford the best farina; the spiny variety, which has a slender trunk, and the wild tree, yield but an inferior quality of sago. The farinaceous matter afforded by each plant is very considerable, 500 lbs. being a frequent quantity, while 300 lbs. may be taken as the common average produce of each tree.
Supposing the plants set at a distance of ten feet apart, an acre would contain 435 trees, which, on coming to maturity in fifteen years, would yield at the before-mentioned rate 120,500 lbs. annually of farinaceous matter. The sago meal, in its raw state, will keep good about a month. The Malays and natives of the Eastern Islands, with whom it forms the chief article of sustenance, partially bake it in earthenware moulds into small hard cakes, which will keep for a considerable time. In Java the word "saga" signifies bread. The sago palm (Metroxylon Sagus) is one of the smallest of its tribe, seldom reaching to more than 30 feet in height, and grows only in a region extending west to Celebes and Borneo, north to Mindanao, south to Timor, and east to Papua. Ceram is its chief seat, and there large forests of it are found. The edible farina is the central pith, which varies considerably in different trees, and as to the time required for its attaining proper maturity. It is eaten by the natives in the form of pottage. A farina of an inferior kind is supplied by the Gomuti palm (Borassus gomutus), another tree peculiar to the Eastern Archipelago growing in the valleys of hilly tracts.
At so great a distance it is difficult to decide as to which of these trees really produce the ordinary sagos of commerce, for there are several kinds. Planche, in an excellent memoir on the sagos, has described six species, which he distinguishes by the names of the places from which they come. Preferring to classify them according to their characters, M. Mayet distinguishes only three species.
The first he denominates Ancient sago, which comes from different parts, and varies much in color. It comprehends—1st, Maldivian sago of Planche, in spherical globules, of two or three millimetres in diameter, translucid, of an unequal pinkish white color, very hard and insipid. 2nd, New Guinea sago, of Planche, in rather smaller globules, of a bright red color on one side, and white on the other. 3rd. Grey sago of the Moluccas or brown sago of the English; of unequal globules, from one to three millimetres in diameter, opaque, of a dull grey color on one side, and whitish on the other. This grey color probably arises from long keeping and humidity. 4th. Large grey sago of the Moluccas, exactly resembling No. 3, only that the globules are from four to eight millimetres in diameter. 5th. Fine white sago of the Moluccas; entirely resembling No. 3, only that it is purely white, owing to the complete edulcoration of the fecula of which it is made.
Whatever may be the places of origin of these sagos, they all possess the following characters—
Rounded globules, generally spherical, all isolated, very hard, elastic, and difficult to break or powder. The globules put into water, generally swell to twice their original size, but do not adhere together.
Second sage.—This species corresponds with the pinkish sago of the Moluccas of Planche. It is in very small globules, less regular than those of the "first sago," and sometimes stuck together to the number of two or three. Soaked in water, it swells to double its volume.
Third Species.—Tapioca sago.—-This name has been applied to a species of sago now abundant in commerce, because it bears the same relation to the ancient or first sago, and even to the preceding sago, that tapioca bears to "Moussache," which is the fecula of the manioc, Janipha manihot (Manihot utilissima).
Whilst the two preceding species of sago, whatever may have been stated to the contrary, have been neither baked nor submitted to any heating process, as is proved by the perfect state of nearly all their grains of fecula, this species has been subjected to the action of heat while in a state of a moist paste. This sago is not in spherical globules, like the two preceding species, or at least there are but few of the globules of that form; it is rather in the form of very small irregular tubercular masses, formed by the adherence of different numbers of the primary globules. The facility with which this sago swells and is divided by water, has occasioned it to be preferred as an article of food to the ancient sago. It has been described by Planche under the name of the white sago of the Moluccas, and by Dr. Pereira under the name of pearl sago.
Bennet, in his work on "Ceylon and its Capabilities," (1843), states that sago is procured from the granulated pith of the talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera.
The Sagus Rumphii, Willdenow, and S. farinifera, Gaertner.—Before maturity, and previous to the formation of the fruit, the stem consists of a thin hard wall, about two inches thick, and of an enormous volume of tissue (commonly termed the medulla or pith), from which the farina or sago is obtained. As the fruit forms, the farinaceous medulla disappears, and when the tree, attains full maturity, the stem is no more than a hollow shell. Sago occurs in commerce in two states, pulverulent and granulated. 1. The meal or flour as imported in the form of a fine amylaceous powder. It is whitish, with a buffy or reddish tint. Its odor is faint, but somewhat unpleasant and musty. 2. Granulated sago is of two kinds, pearl and common brown. The former occurs in small hard grains, not exceeding in size that of a pin's head, inodorous, and having little taste. They have a brownish or pinkish yellow tint, and are somewhat translucent. By the aid of a solution of chloride of lime they can be bleached, and rendered perfectly white. The dealers, it is said, pay L7 per ton for bleaching it. Common sago occurs in larger grains, about the size of pearl barley, which are brownish white.
Sago is an article of exportation to Europe, and is also shipped to India, principally Bengal, and to China. It is in its granulated form that it is usually sent abroad. The best sago is the produce of Siak, on the north coast of Sumatra. This is of a light brown color, the grains large, and not easily broken. The sago of Borneo is the next in value; it is whiter, but more friable. The produce of the Moluccas, though greatest in quantity, is of the smallest estimation. The cost of granulated sago, from the hands of the grower or producer, was, according to Mr. Crawfurd, only a dollar a picul. It fetches in the London market—common pearl, 20s. to 26s. the cwt., sago flour, 20s. the cwt. The Chinese of Malacca and Singapore have invented a process by which they refine sago, so as to give it a fine pearly lustre, and it is from thence we now principally derive our supplies of this article. The exports from Singapore in 1847 exceeded 61/2 million pounds, but are now much larger.
The following is a description of the manufacture of this important article of commerce:—The tree being cut down, the exterior bark is removed, and the heart, or pith of the palm, a soft, white, spongy and mealy substance is gathered; and for the purpose of distant transportation, it is put into conical bags, made of plantain leaves, and neatly tied up. In that state it is called by the Malays Sangoo tampin, or bundles of sago; each bundle weighs about 30 lbs.
On its arrival at Singapore it is purchased by the Chinese manufacturers of sago, and is thus treated:—Upon being carried to the manufactory, the plantain-leaf covering is removed, and the raw sago, imparting a strong acid odor, is bruised, and is put into large tubs of cold spring water, where it undergoes a process of purification by being stirred, suffered to repose, and again re-stirred in newly-introduced water. When well purified thus, it is taken out of the tubs by means of small vessels; and being mixed with a great deal of water, the liquid is gently poured upon a large and slightly inclined trough, about ten inches in height and width; and in the descent towards the depressed end, the sago is deposited in the bottom of the trough, whilst the water flows into another large tub, where what may remain of sago is finally deposited. As the strata of deposited sago increases in the trough, small pieces of slates are adjusted to its lower end to prevent the escape of the substance. When by this pouring process the trough becomes quite full of sago, it is then removed to make room for a fresh one, whilst the former one is put out into the air, under cover, for a short time; and on its being well dried, the sago within is cut into square pieces and taken out to be thoroughly dried, under cover, to protect it from the sun. It has then lost the acid smell already noticed, and has become quite white. After one day's drying thus, it is taken into what may be called the manufactory, a long shed, open in front and on one side, and closed at the other and in the rear. Here the lumps of sago are broken up, and are reduced into an impalpable flour, which is passed through a sieve. The lumps, which are retained by the sieve are put back to be re-bruised, whilst that portion which has passed is collected, and is placed in a long cloth bag, the gathered ends of which, like those of a hammock, are attached to a pole, which pole being suspended to a beam of the building by a rope, one end of it is sharply thrown forward with a particular jerk, by means of which the sago within is shortly granulated very fine, and becomes what is technically termed "pearled." It is then taken out and put into iron vessels, called quallies, for the purpose of being dried. These quallies are small elliptical pans, and resemble in form the sugar coppers of the West Indies, and would each hold about five gallons of fluid. They are set a little inclining, and in a range, over a line of furnaces, each one having its own fire. Before putting in the sago to be dried, a cloth, which contains a small quantity of hog's-lard, or some oily substance, is hastily passed into the qually, and the sago is equally quickly put into it, and a Chinese laborer who attends it, commences stirring it with a pallit, and thus continues his labor during the few minutes necessary to expel the moisture contained in the substance. Thus each qually, containing about ten pounds of sago, requires the attendance of a man. The sago, on being taken off the fire, is spread out to cool on large tables, after which it is fit to be packed in boxes, or put into bags for shipment; and is known in commerce under the name of "pearl sago." Thus the labor of fifteen or twenty men is required to do that which, with the aid of simple machinery, might be done much better by three or four laborers. A water-wheel would both work a stirring machine and cause an inclined cylinder to revolve over a fire, for the purpose of drying the sago, in the manner used for corn, meal, and flour in America, or for roasting coffee and chicory in England. But the Chinese have no idea of substituting artificial means, when manual ones are obtainable.
A considerable quantity of sago is exported from Singapore in the state of flour. The whole quantity made and exported there exceeds, on the average, 2,500 tons annually. The quantity shipped from this entrepot is shown by the annexed returns, nearly all of which was grown and manufactured in the settlement. The estimated value for export is set down at 14s. per picul of 11/4 cwt.
EXPORTS FROM SINGAPORE. Piculs 1840-41 Pearl sago 41,146 " Sago flour 33,552 1841-42 Pearl sago 46,225 " Sago flour 7,447 1842-43 Pearl sago 25,306 " Sago flour 4,838 1843-44 Pearl sago 14,266 " Sago flour 14,067 1844-45 Pearl sago 18,472 " Sago flour 36,141 1845-46 Pearl sago 19,333 " Sago flour 26,925 1846-47 Pearl sago 40,765 " Sago flour 9,025
Imports of sago into the United Kingdom, and quantity retained for home consumption:—
Imports. Home consumption. Cwts. Cwts. 1826 9,644 2,565 1830 2,677 3,385 1834 25,763 13,827 1838 18,627 28,396 1842 45,646 50,994 1846 38,595 45,671 1848 65,000 1849 83,711 72,741 1850 89,884 83,954
THE BREAD-FRUIT TREE.
Artocarpus incisa.—This tree is less cultivated than would be supposed from its useful properties. In the West Indies and the Indian Islands, where it has been introduced from its native place, the South Sea Islands, it is held in very little consideration, the graminea, tuberous roots, and farinaceous plants being more easily and readily cultivated. There are two or three varieties known in the Asiatic regions. The properties of this tree are thus enumerated by Hooker:—The fruit serves for food; clothes are made from the fibres of the inner bark; the wood is used for building houses and making boats; the male catkins are employed as tinder; the leaves for table cloths and for wrapping provisions in; and the viscid milky juice affords birdlime.
A. integrifoliais the Jack or Jacca, the fruit of which attains a large size, sometimes weighing 30 lbs., but is inferior in quality to the bread-fruit.
The nuts or fruit of Brosimum Alicastrum, an evergreen shrub, native of Jamaica, are nutritious and agreeable articles of food. When boiled with salt fish, pork or beef, they have frequently been the support of the negroes and poorer sorts of white people in times of scarcity, and proved a wholesome and not unpleasant food; when roasted it eats something like our common chesnut, and is called bread-nut.
Kafir Bread.—According to Thunberg, the Hottentots being very little acquainted with agriculture, or with the use of the cerealia, and subsisting principally upon wild bulbs and fruits, obtain food also from Encephalartos caffer, a species of Zamia, with a cylindrical trunk, the thickness of a man's body, and about seven feet high. Having cut down a tree, they took out the pith, that nearly fills its trunk, and which abounds in mucilage and an amylaceous fluid; after keeping this for some time buried under ground in the skin of an animal, they reduced it by pounding and kneading into a kind of paste; and then baked it in hot ashes, in the form of round cakes, nearly an inch thick. The Dutch colonists, in consequence of this practice of the natives, called the plant brood-boon, which signifies literally bread tree.
THE PLANTAIN AND BANANA.
The several varieties of the edible plantain which are known and cultivated throughout the West Indies, Africa, and in the East are all reducible to two classes, viz., the Plantain and the Banana (Musa Paradisiacaand sapientum). The difference between these two plants is even so slight as to be scarcely specific; it is therefore most probable that there was originally but one stock, from which they have, by cultivation and change of locality, been derived.
The tiger plantain (M. maculata) and the black ditto (M. sylvestris) are cultivated in Jamaica. The whole of the species and varieties of the tribe are what are called polygamous monoecious plants, each individual tree bearing the male and female organs of reproduction.
The plantain and its varieties invariably bear male, female and hermaphrodite flowers within the same spathe, all of them being imperfect and consequently unproductive of seed. An individual may, even from excess of culture, moisture, &c., be entirely incapable of flowering. During the prevalence of a disease or blight among the plantain walks of Demerara in the years 1844 and 1845, it was seriously proposed to introduce male plantains, or obtain fresh stock by seed.
It is, therefore, necessary to determine with exactness, if possible, whether the Plantain or Banana, (whichever be the parent stock) exists anywhere at present, or has been known to have existed as a perfect plant, that is bearing fertile seeds; or, whether it has always existed in the imperfect state, that is, incapable of being procreated by seed, the only state in which it at present exists in our colonies.
Whether Linnaeus be right in his conjecture (Spec. Plant, 1763) that the "Bihai" (Heliconia humilis), a native of Caraccas, which produces fertile seeds, is the stock plant of the plantain, it is almost impossible to ascertain; but the absence of any description of a wild seed-bearing plantain, renders it highly probable that the cultivated species are hybrids produced long ago. The banana, from time immemorial, has been the food of the philosophers and sages of the East, and almost all travellers throughout the tropics have described these plants exactly as they are known to us, either as sweet fruit eaten raw, or a farinaceous vegetable roasted or boiled. It is remarkable that the plantain and banana should be indigenous, or at all events cultivated for ages both in the Old and New World. Numerous South American travellers describe some one of these plants as being indigenous articles of food among the natives, thus showing (if the plantain and its varieties be hybrids) a communication between the tropics of America, Asia and Africa, long before the time of Columbus. The older writers on the colony of Guiana, as Hartsinck, Bellin and others, consider the plantain to be a native. It is remarkable that Sir R. Schomburgk, during his travels, found a large species of edible plantain far in the interior. It appears, therefore, from all the investigations that have been made, that the plantain is either a hybrid, or its power of production from seed has been destroyed long ago by cultivation, and that it is not known to exist anywhere in a perfect state; in which case any attempt to improve the present stock by the introduction of suckers from elsewhere, must be totally futile. Mr. A. Garnett recommends the following system of cultivation, as calculated to prevent the blight. The walk or plantation is to be formed into beds 36 feet wide, divided by open drains 30 inches deep. Two rows of plantains to be planted upon each bed at 18 feet distance, both between and along the rows, to afford a clear ventilation to the enlarging plants, and so soon as the plantation has been established, the space of land between each row to be shovel-ploughed 12 inches deep; the same to be repeated annually, and upon the interspace may be planted maize, yams, sugar cane, or eddoes, and the whole kept clear at all times. Thus, with the conjoined principles of good tillage, free ventilation, and mixed crops, the blight may yet be successfully combated.
A great diminution in the cultivation of the plantain has been occasioned in British Guiana by this blight or disease, which first made its destructive appearance in Essequibo, upwards of thirty years ago, where its ravages increased with such fatal intensity as to render the profitable growth of the plant almost hopeless; and up to this hour no one has been able to discover the immediate or remote cause of this extraordinary vegetable endemic; whether arising from the action of insects among the sheathes of the petioles of the leaves, or in the soil, or from organic decay of the plant, remains without solution. The last-named cause seems to be rejected, by the fact that the fructification of the plant is as healthy and abundant in parts of the colony where the blight does not prevail, both in number and size of the fruit upon the spike, as at any former period. On the east coast of Demerara, both the plantain and banana have been grown for more than twenty years upon the same land, without any attack of the disease, and without any extraneous manure or even lime having been applied, and the plants still exhibit great luxuriance, and produce their former weight of fruit.
The foliage of the plantain affords food and bedding, and is used for thatch, making paper, and basket making; and from its petioles is obtained a fine and durable thread. The tops of the young plants are eaten as a delicate vegetable; the fermented juice of the trunk produces an agreeable wine.
The abundance and excellence of the nutritive food which the plants of this valuable genus supply are well known; but of the numerous uses to which they are applied I may mention, the following:—
The fruit is served up both raw and stewed; slices fried are also considered a delicacy. Plantains are sometimes boiled and eaten with salt meat, and pounded and made into puddings, and used in various other ways. In their ripe state these fruits contain much starchy matter. From their spurious stems, the fibres of the spiral vessels may be pulled out in such quantity as to be used for tinder. M. textilis yields a fibre which is used in India in the manufacture of fine muslins, and the coarser woody tissue is exported in large quantities from Manila, under the name of white rope or Manila hemp. Horses, cattle, swine, and other domestic animals are fed upon the fruit, leaves, and succulent trunks.
The same extent of ground which in wheat would only maintain two persons, will yield sustenance under the banana to fifty. That eminent naturalist and elegant writer, the Baron Von Humboldt, states ("Political Essay on New Spain," vol. ii.) that an acre of land cultivated with plantains produces nearly twenty times as much food as the like space sown with corn in Europe. He refers to a place in Venezuela, where the most careful tillage was rendered to a piece of land, yielding produce supporting a humble population residing in huts, each placed in the centre of an enclosure, growing the sugar cane, Indian corn, the Papaw tree, and the Musa—a tropical garden!—upon the elaborate culture of which a whole family relied for subsistence.
Although from the extensive plantain walks in our colonies—which are seldom cultivated with a garden-like care—so large an average proportion may not be obtained as twenty times the production of wheat in Europe, yet I have had practical experience of the prodigious quantity of farinaceous matter obtainable from an acre of tolerably well-cultivated plantains, and no esculent plant requires less labor in its culture upon land suitable for its production. They are readily increased by suckers, which the old plants produce in abundance.
Lindley enumerates ten species of Musa, some of which grow to the height of 25 or 30 feet, but that valuable species M. Cavendishii, does not grow more than four or five feet high.
The bananas of the family of the Musaceae, appear to be natives of the southern portion of the Asiatic continent (R. Brown, "Bot. of Congo," p. 51). Transplanted at an unknown epoch into the Indian Archipelago and Africa, they have spread also into the, New World, and in general into all intertropical countries, sometimes before the arrival of Europeans.
According to Humboldt it affords, in a given extent of ground, forty-four times more nutritive matter than the potato, and 133 times more than wheat. These figures must be considered as only approximative, since nothing is more difficult than to estimate the nutritive qualities of different aliments.
Musa paradisiaca is cultivated in Syria, to latitude 34 deg. Humboldt says it ceases to yield fruit at a height of 3,000 feet, where the mean annual temperature is 68 deg., and where, probably, the heat of summer is deficient.
The banana seems, however, to be found no higher than 4,600 feet in a state of perfection.
No fruit is so easily cultivated as are the varieties of the plantain. There is hardly a cottage in the tropics that is not partly shaded by them; and it is successfully grown under other fruit trees, although it is independent of shelter. Its succulent roots and dew-attracting leaves render it useful in keeping the ground moist during the greatest heats. The plantain may be deemed the most valuable of fruits, since it will, in some measure, supply the place of grain in time of scarcity. To the negroes in the West Indian Islands the plantain is invaluable, and, like bread to the Europeans, is with them denominated the staff of life. In Jamaica, Demerara, Trinidad, and other principal colonies, many thousand acres are planted with these trees.
The vegetation of this tree is so rapid that if a line of thread be drawn across, and on a level with the top of one of the leaves, when it begins to expand, it will be seen, in the course of an hour, to have grown nearly an inch. The fruit when ripe is of a pale yellow, about a foot in length and two inches thick, and is produced in bunches so large as each to weigh 40 lbs. and upwards.
The soil best suited to the growth of the plantain is found in the virgin land most recently taken in from the forest, having a formation of clay and decomposed vegetable substances. A large portion of organic matter is required, as well as clay or other ponderous strata, to afford the greatest production of fruit. I have known good plantains produced in the West Indies, upon land considerably exhausted by the culture of cotton, but which was enriched by the application of a quantity of the decomposed seed of that shrub near the roots of the young plantains.
In the Straits' settlements of the East, the following are the most approved varieties:—The royal plantain, which fruits in eight months; one which bears in a year, the milk plantain, the downy plantain, and the golden plantain or banana. A species termed gindy has been lately imported from Madras, where it is in great request. It has this advantage over the other kinds, that it can be stewed down like an apple while they remain tough.
The Malays allege that they can produce new varieties, by planting three shoots of different sorts together, and by cutting the shoots down to the ground three successive times, when they have reached the height of nine or ten inches.
About 144 suckers of the plantain are set on an orlong (1-1/3 acres), each of which spreads into a group of six or eight stems, of about six inches to one foot in diameter, which yield each a bunch of fruit, and are then cut down, when fresh shoots succeed. In very rich soils the plant will continue to bear for twenty years, but otherwise it is dug up after the seventh or eighth year. The cost of cultivating 100 orlongs of land exclusively with plantains, will be nearly 2,000 Spanish dollars until produce be obtained. About 43,200 bunches may be had afterwards yearly, which might give a return of 2,160 dollars, or, deducting the cost of cultivation and original expenses, a profit per annum of 1,450 dollars.
The plantain has frequently been suggested as an article of export from our colonies. A few bunches are occasionally brought over by the Royal West India Mail Company's steamers running to Southampton, but more as a curiosity than as articles of commerce.
In its ripe state no unexceptionable and sufficiently cheap method of preserving it has yet been suggested.
In some districts of Mexico it is, indeed, dried in the sun, and in this state forms a considerable article of internal commerce under the name of "plantado pasado."
It is sometimes so abundant and cheap in Demerara, Jamaica, Trinidad, and other of our colonies, that it might, if cut and dried, in its green state, be exported with advantage.
It is in the unripe state that it is so largely used by the peasantry of the colonies as an article of food. It has always been believed to be highly nutritive, but Dr. Shier states that, in any sample of the dried plantain which he analysed, he could not find a larger amount than 88 per cent of nitrogen, which corresponds with about 51/2 per cent. of proteine compounds.
When dried, and reduced to the state of meal, it cannot, like wheat flour, be manufactured into maccaroni or vermicelli, or at least the maccaroni made from it falls to powder when put into hot water. The fresh plantain, however, when boiled whole, forms a pretty dense firm mass, of greater consistency and toughness than the potato. The mass, beaten in a mortar, constitutes the foo-foo of the negroes. The plantain meal cannot be got into this state unless by mixing it up with water to form a stiff dough, and then boiling it in shapes or bound in cloths.
Plantain meal is prepared by stripping off the husk of the plantain, slicing the core, and drying it the sun. When thoroughly dry it is powdered and sifted. It is known among the Creoles of the West Indies under the name of Conquin tay. It has a fragrant odour, acquired in drying, somewhat resembling fresh hay or tea. It is largely employed as the food of infants, children, and invalids. As food for children and convalescents, it would probably be much esteemed in Europe, and it deserves a trial on account of its fragrance, and its being exceedingly easy of digestion. In respect of nutritiveness, it deserves a preference over all the pure starches on account of the proteine compounds it contains.
The plantain meal would probably be best and freshest were the sliced and dried plantain cores exported, leaving the grinding and sifting to be done in Europe. The flavor of the meal depends a good deal on the rapidity with which the slices are dried; hence the operation is only fitted for dry weather, unless indeed, when there was occasion for it, resource were had to a kiln or stove. Above all, the plantain must not be allowed to approach too closely to yellowness or ripeness, otherwise it becomes impossible to dry it. The color of the meal is injured when steel knives are used in husking or slicing, but silver or nickel blades do not injure the color. On the large scale a machine, on the principle of the turnip slicer, might be employed. The husking could be greatly facilitated by a very simple machine. Were the plantain meal to come into use in England, and bear a price in any way approaching to that of Bermuda arrowroot, it would become an extensive and very profitable export. Full-sized and well-filled bunches give 60 per cent. of core to 40 of husk and top-stem, but in general it would be found that the core did not much exceed 50 per cent., and the fresh core will yield 40 per cent. of dry meal, so that from 20 to 25 per cent. of meal is obtained from the plantain, or 5 lbs. from an average bunch of 25 lbs.; and an acre of plantain walk of average quality, producing during the year 450 such bunches, would yield a ton and 10 lbs. of meal, which, at the price of arrowroot, namely, 1s. per lb., would be a gross return of L112 10s. per acre. A new plantain walk would give twice as much. Even supposing the meal not to command over half the price of arrowroot, it would still form an excellent outlet for plantains whenever, from any cause, the price in the colony sank unusually low.
In respect of the choice of a situation for establishing a plantain walk, with a mill, boiling-house and drying ground, it will be necessary to fix upon new land with plenty of moisture, and flat if possible, in order that there may be no difficulty in making roads to carry the trees; whilst a deep river traversing the land, where there is no tide or danger of salt water—where facility would be afforded in making the basins wherein to wash the fibre; where a sea port would be near at hand for shipping the produce—where workmen, provisions, and fuel would be readily obtained, and where the climate is particularly healthy, should be especially sought after.
The plantain grows in profusion between the tropics in all parts of the world; but as it is an object to have the London market available for the prepared fibre, the following places may be mentioned as best calculated to produce a good and constant supply, viz:—the West India Colonies, the British Colonies in Africa, the South American Republics, along the Mosquito shore, and other places on the Continent of America, including Porto Rico, Hayti, and Cuba. The advantages to the paper manufacturer in employing the prepared fibre instead of rags, will be numerous, for the fibre is equal in texture, clean, and aromatic; whilst rags are dirty, full of vermin, and very often pestilential.
A large stock of the plantain can always be secured, without fear of its being injured by keeping. The paper will be superior to that made of rags, and the process of making it will be more economical, inasmuch as the sorting of the material will not be required. Another advantage is, that a new article of commerce will be opened for the benefit of the colonial shipping interests, and a stimulus will be given to the cultivation of a fruit which is the favorite food of large masses of the population.
The following is a "specification" of articles requisite for making three tons of prepared fibre in a day:—
Four wooden boilers lined with lead, in the form of coolers, 7 feet deep by 6 in diameter. One hydraulic press, from 400 to 500 tons. One stout screw press, to compress the fibre before it is submitted to the hydraulic press. One iron mill with horizontal cylinders. Six waggons; twenty mules. Utensils, such as spatulas, cutlasses, hoes, rakes, &c. &c. One lever, to take out the fibre from the boilers. One steam boiler, equal to 12-horse power, to steam the four wooden boilers.
It being very desirable that the works should be in the immediate neighbourhood of a river, the machinery should be worked by water-power; but if this mode should be inconvenient, a steam engine in addition must be obtained, of about 8 or 10-horse power; or if one steam engine of 20-horse power were employed, it would be sufficient for all purposes. Thirty men are required to make three tons of fibre in a day.
Buildings.—A store, 100 feet long by 25 feet broad, in wood, covered with straw, to contain the dried fibre and the presses. One open shed of the same dimensions, covered with straw for the boilers.
Capital required.—It is ascertained that the following outlay will be sufficient:—
The materials will cost L2,000 Buildings 500 Purchase of land 1,500 Working capital 1,000 ——— L5,000
The estimated expense in cultivating one quarree, or 5 1-5th English acres, in plantains, will be L30, as the work can be easily performed by one laborer in 300 days, at 2s. sterling per day.
A quarree will produce 18 tons of mill fibre, the cost of the preparation of which is as follows:—
For workmen's wages, soda, lime, and fuel, at L3 per ton L54 Freight to Europe at L4 per ton 72 Managers 30 Duty, insurance, office fees, &c., at L1 per ton 18 —— L174
Thus, making the total expense of producing 18 tons of fibre L174, or L9 13s. 4d. per ton. In 1848 Manila rope, or plantain fibre of good quality, was worth L38 per ton.
A correspondent in Jamaica, who has devoted much attention to the subject, has furnished me with some very valuable detailed information, the most complete and practical that has ever yet appeared:—
Cultivation.—The first care of a planter in superintending the cultivation of the banana tree, with the two-fold object of collecting both fibre and fruit, will be to study the nature of the tree to which he will give the preference. A number of experiments have been made upon different species of the banana with a view of obtaining therefrom the largest quantity and the best color of fibre, as well as the finest fruit. Those experiments were very tedious and minute, but were absolutely necessary, in order to arrive at the most economical and advantageous method of rendering the fibre into a state fit for shipment to Europe. At the same time, it was of the utmost importance to find out the best description of tree, for producing the strongest, the most abundant, and the most silky fibre—for containing the least quantity of juice, for producing the color sufficiently white to facilitate the operation of bleaching, for bearing fruit of the most esteemed quality, and, therefore, the most favorable for general consumption.
A banana tree, which seemed at first sight to possess all those good qualities—being of a large size, with whitish or flaxen colored fibre, and producing very savoury fruit, only gave 2 per cent, of fibre after preparation; that is to say, 100 lbs. in its raw state, only gave two pounds of fibre after it was boiled. In endeavoring to find out the cause of such a small result, it was discovered that this specimen of banana (commonly called the "pig banana,") contained a larger proportion of water than of fibre, compared with other sorts—that the heart was too large, and that the inside leaves were so tender that they almost dissolved in the process of boiling. These were the greatest inconveniences of this species of tree. There was also another disadvantage, in the quality of its fruit, which was yellow in color, and not so useful as those descriptions of banana which are generally eaten as a substitute for bread. The results of several experiments made upon various descriptions of banana, demonstrated the properties of each species, both as regarded fibre and fruit. The most profitable in both respects is undoubtedly the yellow banana, or common plantain. This tree grows to the height of about fifteen feet, it is nine or ten inches in diameter, its fibre is firm and abundant, and its fruit is used both in a green and ripe state. This plantain abounds on the continent of Spanish America and between the tropics, where the natives cultivate it as producing the most nutricious fruit of its kind. Cargoes of the fruit are frequently exported from Surinam and Demerara. On the Spanish part of the American continent, land is measured by fanegas, each fanega containing twelve quarrees, and each quarree five and one-fifth English acres. A quarree measures one hundred geometrical paces, or three hundred square feet.
In the first instance, the suckers of the plantain (the tree being propagated by cuttings or suckers which shoot up from the bulb), should be set at ten feet distance from each other; this proposition gives 300 plants on one line of trees, or 900 on the surface of one quarree of land. Each plant propagates itself and gives upon an average ten trees of the same size and bearing. On one quarree of land, therefore there would be 9,000 trees, yielding four pounds of fibre and one bunch of fruit each, which is 9,000 bunches of fruit, and 36,000 lbs. nett of fibre, in the whole. In good ground the same plant will last fifteen years without any further trouble. Flat lands ought to be cultivated in preference to any other. The plantain thrives with the root in the water, and the head to the sun. On the borders of the river Orinoco it grows to the height of twenty feet, is one foot in diameter, and the stalks of the branches are three inches in circumference.
Cutting.—The tree which has not produced its ripe fruit ought to be cut, for two reasons—first, that the fruit be not lost; and secondly, that the tree will not have arrived at its full growth and ordinary size, and the fibres will be too tender. In cutting it down, take it off six inches above the surface of the ground, then divide it longitudinally into four parts, take out the heart, which must be left to serve for manure, and if fermentation is decided upon, leave the pieces at the foot of the tree, otherwise take them to the mill to be crushed. The tree being very tender, may, on being bent down, be cut asunder with a single stroke of a hatchet, cutlass, or other convenient instrument. One man can cut down 800 trees, and split them in a day.
Carrying.—The trees being thus divided, may be immediately carried to the mill to be crushed, or may remain until the fermentation separates the juice of sap from the fibres and the pith. By fermenting the trees, their weight will be so much reduced as to render their carriage considerably lighter than if taken away when first cut down. A wagon, with oxen or mules, can carry about a ton per day, and one man can load the wagon and drive the cattle.
Crushing.—If the tree is carried from the plantation without being subjected to fermentation, it must be passed through a mill, the rollers of which, if made about three feet in length, and one foot in diameter, will be found a very convenient size. In this operation, care should be taken, first of all, to separate the tender from the harder or riper layers of fibre. The tree is composed of different layers of fibre, which may be divided into three sorts; those of the exterior, having been exposed to the atmosphere, possess a great degree of tenacity—whilst those of the interior, having been secluded from the air, are much more soft and tender. If, therefore, the layers of the plantain are passed indiscriminately through the mill, those which are hard or firm will not be injured by the pressure, whilst those which are soft will be almost reduced to pulp. Therefore, the rollers of the mill should be always placed horizontally, and upon passing the trees lengthways through the mill, the pressure will be uniform and the fibre uninjured. In this manner, pass the different sorts of layers separately, and the produce will be about four pounds of fibre from each tree. The stalks of the branches of the plantain give the best fibre, and a large quantity, as compared with the body of the tree; 100 lbs. of the stalk will give 15 lbs. nett of fibre. In general, if a tree will give 4 lbs. nett of fibre, the stalks will give 1 lb. out of the 4 lbs. The stalks ought also to be crushed separately, because they are harder than the exterior layers of the tree. About 3,000 trees may be passed through the mill in a day. Whilst the experiments were in progress it was ascertained that with a single horse, 100 plantain trees on an average were crushed in twenty minutes, giving five minutes rest for the horse.
Fermentation.—This operation may be performed in several ways. If the trees are allowed to ferment upon the spot after being cut, a great saving will occur in respect of carriage; this matter ought to be carefully studied, because, on an extensive scale of manufacture, it is of serious importance. It is found that the trees when cut and heaped up, are subject to a drainage of juice, which, having a tanning property, discolors those pieces which lie at the bottom; hence much time is consumed in afterwards restoring the fibre to its natural color. The cut plants should be removed from the stumps of the trees, and then placed in heaps, shaded from the sun by laying the leaves over them. They will take several weeks to ferment. To pursue this process in the immediate vicinity of the establishment, would give rise to many inconveniences, in consequence of the very large space of ground that would thereby be occupied. Fermentation requires a mean temperature. A tree cut down and exposed to the sun, would be nearly dry at about 30 deg. centigrade, showing a result quite different to that which ought to be obtained; whilst a tree placed on a wet soil, and open for the fresh air to circulate between the plants, covered at the same time with its own leaves, and shaded by the foliage of the plantation, would be decomposed at the desired point of about 22 degrees. The different modes of fermentation require the same proportions. If the cut plants be covered with a thick layer of earth, they will not decompose in six months; but if, on the contrary, they are covered slightly, so that they may receive the freshness of the earth, and the heat of the air, they will decompose in six weeks. It is the same with the fermentation of alkaline baths. Baths at only one degree will produce decomposition, whilst baths at three degrees will not produce any decomposition. The stuff after being passed through the mill, or after fermentation, will be put into the chemical baths, or vats, or chemical liquor, and the persons in charge of the mill and boilers will do this work. Fermentation may be advantageously used, in cases where the trees are grown at a distance from the establishment—but, where they are in the immediate vicinity of the works, it will be best to crush them by the mill. The principal saving that is occasioned by fermentation, will be found in the carriage, as the substance will be much reduced in weight by that process. In an establishment where the manufacture is carried on upon a very large scale, trees cut down at a distance can be fermented, whilst those produced near the mill can be crushed.
Chemical Agents.—For decomposing the gluten in the trees during the process of boiling, soda, carbonate of soda, and quick lime, are used. The proportions herein given, are those requisite for making three tons of fibre per day, upon which scale the cost price of the fibre in a prepared state for bleaching, is subsequently calculated. To make three tons of fibre per day, it is necessary to have four boilers of 800 gallons each, and give five boilings in a day, or 1,650 lbs. of nett fibre for each boiler, or 6,600 lbs. for the four boilers per day. After having put into the boiler a sufficient quantity of water to cover the material, wait until the water begins to boil, and then add the chemical agents.
lbs. To the first boiling of a copper, put of soda 60 To the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th boilings of the same copper, 15 lbs., each making 60 ——- 120 ——- Therefore the four boilings will take of soda 480 The same liquid will serve for two other days, by adding 15 lbs. to each fresh boiling, say, in the whole, 40 lbs., or 600 It will consume in soda for nine tons made in three days 1,080 Or 360 lbs. for three tons made in one day.
On the fourth day commence again in the same manner, and go on for the two remaining days as above, producing eighteen tons in the six days. The quick lime is to be employed in each of the boilings, in the proportion of one-third less than the quantity of soda. Crude soda may be used in the boilings, without previously discarbonising it, and quick lime reduced to lime water; but, to render the action of the chemical ingredients more quick and certain, it is better to discarbonise the soda before it is put into the boiler. This may be done by preparing in a small separate boiler the quantity of liquid necessary for a day's consumption, which is prepared in about an hour. The carbonisation is effected in the following manner:—
Ten parts of salt of soda. } Six parts of quick lime. } In weight. Seventy parts of water (never less.) }
Boiling.—This is a most important operation. By it the gluten and coloring matter are separated from the fibres, which separation is absolutely necessary, in order to prepare the fibre to receive the bleaching. It is necessary to observe that the three several sorts of layers which are found in the tree, and which, under the head of "crushing," are recommended to be pressed separately, should be also boiled separately, because the outermost layer has more coloring matter than the next under it, which again has more than the innermost layer. As they are boiled so will they be dried and shipped, and each sort will have a different price in the market; that fibre which is lightest in color bearing the preference, in consequence of its not requiring more than six hours to bleach—whilst the darkest will, probably from its greater tenacity, take twelve to eighteen hours. It is advisable to place over each boiler the means of lifting the mass of fibre when boiled, and suffering it to drain into the boiler before it is carried away to be washed. This is easily effected by a chain from the roof, to which may be hung a lever, having at that end over the boiler some hooks attached to it, whereby the mass is lifted out of the boiler, and the liquor thus preserved for the next boiling.
Washing.—It is absolutely necessary that the fibre should be well washed after being taken out of the boiler, in order that all extraneous matter may be separated therefrom. In choosing the site for an establishment of this kind, care must always be taken to make choice of a spot in the immediate neighbourhood of a large river, or other plentiful supply of fresh clean water. The machinery necessary for cleansing and washing the fibre may be of various descriptions; but, perhaps a selection from one of the three following sorts will be found to answer every purpose, viz., those used by paper manufacturers in England, and by coffee planters and arrowroot growers in the West Indies.
Drying.—The washed fibre, when hung over lines made of the twisted fibre, or any other convenient material, will be sufficiently dry in a few hours to be taken down, when more can be hung up, and then several batches can be dried in a day; and it will be necessary to have the drying ground as near the water as possible, in order to save weight in carriage.
Pressing.—When the fibre is perfectly dry, it must be well pressed, for the convenience of packing, carriage, and shipment. The hydraulic press is the best machine that can be used for the purpose; but in the absence of that, the lever and screw will make a large amount of pressure available. A hydraulic press of from 400 to 500 tons, will press bales of from four to five hundred weight each, which will not be too large for shipment."
STARCH-PRODUCING PLANTS INVESTIGATED.
Starch is one of the constituent parts in all mealy farinaceous seeds, fruits, roots, and other parts of plants, and is in large demand for domestic use, the arts, &c. Our common starch is made from wheat, and a good deal from potatoes. Pure fecula is separated by art from a variety of plants.
Of plants yielding starch we have the Indian arrowroot, which is the fecula in the rhizomata of several species of the Marantaceae. In the West Indies it is obtained from the Maranta arundinacea, Allomyca and nobilis, and also from various species of Canna called Tous les mois, and in the East Indies from species of Curcuma, and from Maranta ramossissima in Silhet.