If the holes be intended for young plants or seedlings, the plants must be removed with boles of earth from the nurseries, and placed in the holes, taking the same care as with the stumps, both in watering and covering, in the event of its being dry weather. When the seedlings take root, the coverings should not be removed until the plants throw out a new pair of leaves from the buds, which is a sign of their having taken root.
When a plantation is formed of old stumps, all the branches should be cut down within six inches from the ground; this should be done with one stroke of a sharp instrument, in order to avoid the splitting of the stem. From these stumps cinnamon may be cut and peeled within eighteen months from the time of transplanting. Often this is done after the lapse of twelve months from the time of transplanting.
From seedlings one cannot expect to gather a crop before two or three years from the time the plants were transplanted, when there will be but one or a single tree, which, when cut down as already shown, four or six inches to the ground, ought to be covered with fresh earth gathered from the space between the rows, and formed in a heap round the plant. The next crop will be three or four times as much as the first, from the number of sprouts the stem will throw out, and so on every year, the crop increasing according to the number of sprouts each stem will throw out yearly from the cuttings. In the course of seven or eight years, the space left between the rows will only admit the peelers and others to go round the bushes, weed, clear and remove cuttings, as the branches from each bush will almost touch each other at their ends.
It is essentially necessary to take every care not to allow any creepers or other weeds to grow, the former interfere with the growth of the bushes by entangling, because it not only takes out so much of the support feeding the cinnamon trees, but interferes with the peelers during the cutting season, and prevents the branches growing up straight with a free circulation of air. The plantation ought to be kept clean and free from weeds; the cinnamon requires no manuring, but when the plantation is weeding the bushes should be covered with the surface soil and raising the ground round the bush by making a heap of the earth, which answers well in lieu of manure. This operation must be attended to as soon as the cinnamon sticks are removed for peeling. The plantation requires weeding three or four times a year during the first two or three years, then twice a year will answer the purpose; as by that time the trees will form into bushes and destroy the seeds of the weeds on the ground.
The forming of a nursery is necessary, for which a space of ground, say an acre, should be selected in a rich bit of soil free from stones. Clear the whole brushwood, only leaving the large trees for shade, remove all stones, stumps, and roots, dig the place well six or eight inches deep, then form into long beds of three or four feet wide, put the seeds down nine or twelve inches apart, cover them eight or twelve inches above the ground by a platform, and water them every other day until the seeds grow up and give one pair of leaves, then leave off watering (unless great dry weather prevail, then it ought to be continued) but not uncover until the plants grow up six or eight inches high, and can bear the sun; these seedlings will be ready for transplanting after three months from the time they were sown.
The forming of nurseries is done at the close of the year, before December. When this is done first, the party commences clearing and preparing the land during the dry season, which is from the beginning of December up to the end of March following. April will set in with heavy rain (it is generally so in Ceylon), and it will continue wet weather till the end of August, very often till September and October, and you have the benefit of four or five months rain.
The cinnamon seeds are to be gathered when they are fully ripe, they must be heaped up in a shady place, to have the outside red pulp rotted, when it turns quite black, then have the seeds trampled or otherwise freed from the decomposed pulp, without injuring the seeds, and well washed in water (just as is done to cherry coffee, before they are made into parchment in the whole shell). Finally, have the seeds well dried in the air without exposing them to the sun, and then put them in on the ground prepared for their reception. In washing the seeds, those that float on the surface should be rejected.
There are five different sorts of cinnamon, viz.:—
1st is called Panny Meers Carundoo. 2nd Tittha " " 3rd Kahatte " " 4th Wallee " " 5th Savell " "
Of these, the first kind is the best of all, the 2nd and 3rd, although inferior, are peeled likewise, the 4th and 5th are spurious.
The distinction in the cinnamon can be known both by taste, the shape of the leaves on the tree, and an experienced "Challya" man will judge the cinnamon by first sight.
The quality of the bark depends upon its situation in the branch, that peeled from the middle of the bush or branch being the most superior, and classed as 1st sort, that taken from the upper end is the 2nd quality, while the bark removed from the base of the branch, or the thickest end, is the inferior, and called the 3rd sort.
From the cinnamon bark refused in the sorting store of all kinds, in separating the first, second and third qualities and in making bales for exportation, the refuse is collected, and by a chemical process cinnamon oil is extracted, which sells very high, with an export duty of 3s. or l1/2 rupees on each ounce, exclusive of the British duties payable in England for importation, which is at present one shilling and three pence per pound. Of the cinnamon roots camphor is made, which sells well both in Ceylon and other parts of the world.
Cinnamon, as a medicine, is a powerful stimulant, but it is not much used alone. It is generally united with other tonics and stimulants, but its ordinary use is to mask the disagreeable odor and taste of other medicines. The oil of cinnamon is prepared by being grossly powdered and macerated in sea water for two days and two nights, and both are put into the still. A light oil comes over with the water, and floats on its surface; a heavy oil sinks to the bottom of the receiver, four hours before the light oil separates from the water, and whilst the heavy oil continues to be precipitated for ten, twelve, or sometimes fourteen days. The heavy oil, which separates first, is about the same color as the light oil, but sometimes the portion which separates last has a browner shade than the supernatant oil. The same water can be used advantageously in a second distillation. Professor Duncan informs us that 80 lbs. of newly-prepared cinnamon yield about 21/2 ozs. of oil, which floats upon the water, and 51/2 of heavy oil. The same quantity of cinnamon, if kept in store for many years, yields 2 ozs. of light oil and 5 ozs. of heavy oil.
Cinnamon oil is obtained from the fragments of bark which remain after peeling, sorting, and packing. It is distilled over with difficulty, and the process is promoted by the addition of salt water, and the use of a low still. The oil thus obtained by distillation is at first of a yellow color, but soon assumes a reddish brown hue. It has an odor intermediate between that of cinnamon and vanilla, but possesses in a high degree both the sweet burning taste and the agreeable aromatic smell of cinnamon. It is heavier than water, its specific gravity being 1.035.
The ripe fruit of this tree yields a concrete oil called cinnamon suet, which was formerly employed to make candles for the Kandian kings. An oil, called clove oil, is also distilled from the leaf, which is said to be equal in aromatic pungency to that made from the clove at the Moluccas.
The following were the quantities sold, and the average prices realised during the Dutch rule in Ceylon:—
s. d. 1690 3,750 bales sold at 4 8 all round. 1709 3,750 " 4 6 " 1710 3,500 " 4 4 " 1720 5,000 " 4 4 " 1740 4,000 " 9 3 " 1760 5,000 " 8 5 " 1780 2,500 " 12 6 " 1784 2,500 " 17 4 "
The last quotation appears to have been the highest ever obtained for cinnamon, for 17s. 8d. average would give about 22s. for the first sort. In later years we find the deliveries and prices to have been as follows:—
s. d. 1824 5,934 bales sold at 6 6 all round. 1828 3,918 " 6 0 " 1830 5,849 " 7 8 " 1842 1,018 " —- " 1845 3,245 " —- "
The comparative exports of cinnamon from Ceylon in the first six months of 1853, as compared with the same period last year, are as follows:—
1853. 1852. lbs. lbs. Quarter ending 5th January 99,778 93,291 " 5th April 73,815 135,248 ———- ———- Total 173,593 228,539
The diminished export was caused by the prospective abolition of the export duty, which came into operation on the 1st July last. The quantity that will be sent to the English market by the close of the year (1853) will be something prodigious compared with the average consumption. From October 10, 1852, to July 22, 1853, the shipments were 406,326 lbs.
RETURN OF CINNAMON EXPORTED FROM CEYLON, SHOWING THE QUANTITY AND VALUE.
Quantity. Value. Year. lbs. L 1836 724,364 — 1837 558,110 — 1838 398,198 — 1839 596,592 — 1840 389,373 — 1841 317,919 24,857 1842 121,145 15,207 1843 662,704 66,270 1844 1,057,841 105,784 1845 408,211 40,821 1846 491,656 49,165 1847 447,369 44,736 1848 491,688 49,168 1849 733,782 73,378 1850 644,857 64,485 1851 500,518 50,051 1852 427,667 42,766
The question of the export duty on cinnamon has, during the last twenty years, occupied a considerable space in Ceylon correspondence and the Island journals. This duty was first imposed in 1832, on the abolition of the Grovernment monopoly, and was then fixed at the rate of 3s. per lb. on all qualities. From the 19th April, 1835, it was fixed at 3s. per lb. on the best, and 2s. on the second quality. It was reduced in January, 1837, to 2s. 6d. on the first and second sorts, and 2s. on the third; and in June, 1841, to 2s. on all qualities; in 1843, to 1s.; and in September, 1848, to 4d. per lb. Such a rate of export duty could be maintained only on an article for which there was a considerable demand, and which could not be supplied from other places, and this was for a long time the case. The circumstances are now different, and the abolition of the duty, which has so repeatedly been brought under the notice of the Treasury, has at length been determined on. The quantity of cinnamon, &c., taken for consumption in the United Kingdom, scarcely amounts to 2,800 bales per annum. The sale and consumption is nearly stationary, and cinnamon is only in demand for those finer purposes for which cassia, its competitor, cannot be used. Whilst we imported the large amount of 700,095 lbs. in 1850, only 28,347 lbs. went into consumption. The consumption has declined in the last two years to about 21,500 lbs. Cinnamon is now imported into the United Kingdom duty free.
The land under cultivation with cinnamon in Ceylon is about 13,000 acres, principally in the western and southern provinces. The number of gardens being eleven at Kaderane, seven at Ekelli, seven at Morotto, six at Marandham, and two at Willisene. Several enterprising planters have recently commenced the cultivation of this spice at Singapore and Malacca. The plants already promise well. Indeed there can be little doubt of its thriving, as the tree has been long grown in gardens and pleasure grounds in those settlements, as an ornamental plant, and has always flourished.
The Ceylon article is being supplanted in the continental markets by a cheaper one, of China and Malabar growth. The Javanese, tempted by the fatally high prices caused by the excessive duties on our Colonial spice, smuggled a quantity of seed, and with it a cinnamon cultivator, out of the island, and have since paid considerable attention to its growth. The Dutch have at present more than five millions of plants, equal to upwards of 5,000 acres, the greater part of which are in tolerably full bearing.
The cinnamon trees in Java begin to blossom in the month of March. They do not all flower at the same time, but in succession. The fruit begins to ripen in October in the same manner, so that the crop lasts from October to February. In Ceylon the blossom begins to appear in November. The seeds when plucked ought to be fully ripe, and after being separated from the outer pulpy covering, should be dried in the shade. They can be kept for two or three months in dry sand or ashes, but must not be exposed to the sun, as they would split, and thus be rendered useless.
The plants in nurseries must be well sheltered from the sun and heavy rains, but the plants are strengthened by the covers being removed at night when heavy rains are not expected to fall, and in the day time when only light rains prevail. The mode of planting out, cultivation, preparing the bark, &c., appears to be the same in Java as that practised in Ceylon. The only difference is, that while in Ceylon the cinnamon, when ready for market, is packed in "gunny" or canvass bags, in Java it is put into boxes, made of wood free from any smell or flavor which would injure the spice. The inferior cinnamon, however, is packed in straw mats.
The following is a return of the extent of cinnamon culture in Java :—
In 1840. In 1841. Residencies in which cinnamon is cultivated 10 10 Number of plantations 48 49 " families devoted to this culture 7,901 9,688 " paid budjans 294 345 Extent of ground occupied by the cultivation, in bahus of 71 decametres 1,690 1,880 ————- ————- Cinnamon trees of which the bark can be taken 1,106,566 1,407,213 Young trees in the parks 2,478,427 2,565,774 For renewing 307,000 86,800 ————- ————- Total 3,891,998 4,059,787 ————- ————- Cinnamon crop, in Dutch lbs. 57,074 38,219 " refuse 23,283 82,803
The number of trees peeled in 1842 was taken at 1,824,599, and the crop reckoned at 108,905 lbs.
In the residency of Bantam, four trees suffice to produce a pound of cinnamon, whilst in the other residencies eleven trees must generally be stripped to furnish the same quantity; in 1839 one pound could scarcely be obtained from thirteen trees.
This cultivation increases each year, and the quality of the produce improves, whilst the expenses diminish. However, the Dutch Government has judged it proper not to extend it, although the soil of Java appears favorable to this culture.
From 200,000 to 300,000 lbs. of true cinnamon, not freed from its epidermis, is exported annually from Cochin-China.
JAVA CINNAMON SOLD IN HOLLAND.
lbs. In 1835 2,200 " 1836 1,300 " 1837 1,600 " 1838 2,100 " 1839 4,700 " 1840 7,900 " 1841 23,900 " 1842 13,000 " 1843 23,000 " 1844 101,400 " 1845 134,500 " 1848 250,550
STATISTICS OF PACKAGES IN LONDON.
1842. 1843. 1844. 1845. Imported 2,196 4,458 9,197 8,909 Exported 3,661 3,964 6,712 6,081 Duty paid 838 738 801 1,012 Stock 2,709 2,622 4,230 5,549
Cinnamonum Cassia, or aromaticum, the Laurus cassia of Linnaeus, seems to be the chief source of the "cassia lignea" of commerce. It differs from the true cinnamon tree in many particulars. Its leaves are oblong-lanceolate; they have three ribs, which coalesce into one at the base; its young twigs are downy, and its leaves have the taste of cinnamon.
Malabar cassia appears to be the produce of another species of Cinnamonum, probably C. eucalyptoides, or Malabatrum.
Dr. Wight, of the Madras Medical Service, in a report to the East India Company, expresses his belief that the cassia producing plants extend to nearly every species of the genus. "A set of specimens (he observes) submitted for my examination, of the trees furnishing cassia on the Malabar coast, presented no fewer than four distinct species; including among them the genuine cinnamon plant, the bark of the older trees of which, it would appear, are exported from the coast as cassia. Three or four more species are natives of Ceylon, exclusive of the cinnamon proper, all of which greatly resemble the cinnamon plant, and in the woods might easily be mistaken for it and peeled, though the produce would be inferior. Thus we have from Western India and Ceylon alone, probably not less than six plants producing cassia; add to these nearly twice as many more species of Cinnamonum, the produce of the more eastern states of Asia, and the Islands of the Eastern Archipelago, all remarkable for their striking family likeness; all, I believe, endowed with aromatic properties, and probably the greater part, if not the whole, contributing something towards the general result, and we at once see the impossibility of awarding to any one individual species the credit of being the source whence the Cassia lignea of commerce is derived; and equally the impropriety of applying to any one of them the comprehensive specific appellation of cassia, since all sorts of cinnamon-like plants, yielding bark of a quality unfit to bear the designation of cinnamon in the market, are passed off as cassia."
The cassia tree, according to Mr. Crawfurd, is found in the more northern portion of the Indian isles, as in the Philippines, Majindanao, Sumatra, Borneo, and parts of Celebes. It is also grown on the western coast of Africa. The principal seat of its culture is, however, the Malabar coast, and the provinces of Quantong and Kingse, in China.
The famous cassia of China is incomparably superior in perfume and flavor to any spice of its class. Its native place is unknown, though supposed to be the interior provinces of China. The market price is said to be L5 per lb.
The Malabar sort brought from Bombay is thicker, darker colored, and coarser than that from China, and is more subject to foul packing. A small quantity of cassia is brought from Mauritius and Brazil, and a large amount from the Philippine Islands.
Cassia bark fetches from 80s. to 105s. per cwt. in the London market, according to quality. The imports appear on the decline. In 1843 and 1844 we imported nearly two millions of pounds. The quantity imported and retained for home consumption in the past four years are shown in the following figures:—
Imported. Retained for consumption. lbs. lbs. 1848 510,247 76,152 1849 472,693 83,500 1850 1,050,008 97,178 1851 267,582 82,467
The cheaper Indian barks, as well as the cinnamon of the East, seemed at one time to be fast driving out of the market the superior class cinnamon of Ceylon.
In 1841 Java exported 400 cwts. of cinnamon; and the quantity of cassia imported into the United Kingdom from India and the Philippine Islands, in the five years ending with 1844, was—
lbs. 1840 329,310 1841 1,261,648 1842 1,312,804 1843 2,470,502 1844 1,278,413
40,000 lbs. were received from India in 1848; and 3,795 arrobas of cassia were exported from Manila in 1847. In 1852, 2,806 cwts. of cassia were received at Singapore from China, and 1,380 cwts. exported from that settlement to the Continent, against 903 cwts. shipped in the previous year.
What the Ceylon spice-grower wants, is an extended field of operation—a larger class of consumers to take off his cinnamon, and this can only be obtained by bringing it within the means of the great mass of cassia buyers.
Look at the quantity of cinnamon exported by the Dutch in the middle of the eighteenth century. Eight or nine thousand bales a year were exported, and now, after a lapse of a hundred years, Ceylon hardly sends away half that quantity. Yet the consumption of spice must have kept pace with the increased population of countries using it, and so it has. But the difference is made up, and more than made up, by cassia from China, Java, Sumatra, Malabar Coast, &c., and though the new article is not equal to the cinnamon of Ceylon, yet the vast difference in the price obtains for it the preference. Now what the Ceylon planter wants, is to be allowed to produce a spice on equal terms, and of a superior quality to cassia, which might be done under an ad valorem export duty of 5 per cent. Spice of this description of course could not afford the high cultivation bestowed on the fine qualities, neither would it be required. In fact little or no cultivation need be given it. At present anything inferior to the third sort is not worth producing, because it cannot stand the shilling export duty. But under a more enlightened system of things, with a low duty such as I suggest, myriads of bushes would spring up on those low, sandy, and at present unprofitable wastes that skirt the sea-coast of the western province, around Negombo and Chilaw.
The difference of duty would be more than made up by the diffusion of capital in planting, the employment of vast numbers of laborers, the purchase from Government of many thousand acres of now valueless flats, and all the attendant benefits arising out of the development of a new field of operation for the colonial industrial resources. The cassia tree grows naturally to the height of 50 or 60 feet, with large, spreading, horizontal branches. The peelers take off the two barks together, and separating the rough outer one, which is of no value, they lay the inner bark to dry, which rolls up and becomes the Cassia lignea of commerce. It resembles cinnamon in taste, smell and appearance. The best is imported from China, either direct from Canton, or through Singapore, in small tubes or quills, sometimes the thickness of the ordinary pipes of cinnamon and of the same length; but usually they are shorter and thicker, and the bark itself coarser. It is of a tolerably smooth surface and brownish color, with some cast of red, but much less so than cinnamon. The exports from China are said to be about five million pounds annually; price about 32s. per cwt. In 1850, 6,509 piculs of cassia lignea (nearly one million pounds), valued at 87,850 dollars, were shipped from the single port of Canton. Cassia bark is of a less fibrous texture, and more brittle, and it is also distinguished from cinnamon by a want of pungency, and by being of a mucilaginous or gelatinous quality.
CASSIA BUDS are the dried flower buds (perianth and ovary) of the cassia tree, and are mostly brought from China. They bear some resemblance to a clove, but are smaller, and when fresh have a rich cinnamon flavor. They should be chosen round, fresh, and free from stalk and dirt. They are used chiefly in confectionery, and have the flavor and pungency of cassia. The exports from Canton in 1844 were 21,500 lbs.; in 1850, 44,140 lbs., valued at 7,400 dollars. The average quantity of cassia buds imported into the United Kingdom, in each of the thirteen years ending with 1842, was 40,231 lbs.; the average quantity entered for home consumption in these years was 6,610 lbs., and the average annual amount of duty received was L312.
Cassia bark yields a yellow volatile oil, called oil of cassia, the finer kind of which differs but little in its properties from that of cinnamon, for which it is generally substituted; it has a specific gravity of 1071. The best is manufactured in China, where the wood, bark, leaves and oil are all in request. The cassia oil is rated at 150 dollars per picul, and the trade in this article reaches about 250,000 dollars.
CANELLA ALBA, or wild cinnamon, is a valuable and ornamental tree, growing about fifteen feet high, which is cultivated in South America and the West Indies for its pungent bark, which is shipped to this country in bales or cases, in long quills and flat pieces, something like cinnamon. Large old cuttings root readily in the sand. It is grown chiefly in the Bahama Islands, from whence we derive our supplies.
By the Caribs, the ancient natives of the West Indies, and the negroes, it was first employed as a condiment. In this country it is chiefly used as an aromatic stimulant and tonic, ranking between cinnamon and cloves. The bark possesses, however, no other quality than its hot spicy flavor and strong aromatic odor when exposed to the action of heat.
CASCARILLA BARK is obtained chiefly from the Croton cascarilla, a small shrub growing at St. Domingo, the Bahama Islands, and the Antilles. The chief portion comes from Eleuthera. In Hayti a pleasant kind of tea is made from the leaves. Other species of the family supply some of the bark of commerce.
From its strong and aromatic properties it has been found very efficacious in all febrile diseases, and vies with the Jesuits' bark; as a tonic it has very wholesome qualities, a pleasant and strong bitterness, and was for some time held in considerable repute among the faculty.
About twenty years ago, large shipments were made from the Bahamas. It was found, upon adulteration with hops, to reduce the cost of that article, and for the encouragement of the hop grower a prohibitory impost was laid upon it by the Home Government, consequently it became an unsaleable product.
The sea-side balsam, or sweet wood (Croton Eleuteria), from which some cascarilla bark is obtained, grows in the Bahama Islands and Jamaica, but almost all the bark imported comes from Nassau, New Providence. In 1840, 15,000 lbs. were imported for home consumption.
This bark produces the combined effect of an aromatic and of a moderately powerful tonic; but it does not possess any astringency. It has been employed as a substitute for cinchona. When burned it gives out a musky odor, and is often used in pastiles.
The value of this bark ranges, according to quality, from 17s. 6d. to 43 s. per cwt.
The cloves of commerce are obtained from the flower buds of Caryophyllus aromaticus (Eugenia caryophyllata), which was originally a native of the Moluccas, but is now cultivated in several parts of the East and West Indies. They have the form of a nail, and when examined are seen to consist of the tubular calyx with a roundish projection, formed by the unopened petals. It is a very handsome tree, growing to the height of about twenty feet. The trunk is straight, and rises four or five feet before it throws out branches. The bark is smooth, thin, of a grey color, and the wood of the trunk too hard for ordinary cabinet work.
The leaves are opposite, smooth, narrow, pointed, of a rupous color above, and green on the under side. They have a very aromatic odor when bruised between the fingers. The flowers produced in branched peduncles, at the extremity of the bough, are of a delicate peach color. The elongated calyx, forming the seed vessel, first changes to yellow, and, when ripe, red, which is from October to December, and in this state it is fit to gather. If left for a few weeks longer on the trees, they expand, and become what are termed "mother cloves," fit only for seed or for candying. The ground under the tree is first swept clean, or else a mat or cloth is spread. The nearest clusters are taken off with the hand, and the more distant by the aid of crooked sticks. Great care should be taken not to injure the tree, as it would prevent future bearing.
The cloves are then prepared for shipment by smoking them on hurdles near a slow wood fire, to give them a brown color, after which they are further dried in the sun. They may then be cut off from the flower branches with the nails, and will be found to be purple colored within, and fit to be baled for the European market. In some places they are scalded in hot water before being smoked, but this is not common. The tree may be propagated either from layers or seed. Layers will root in five or six months if kept moist.
A strong dark loam, a gravelly, sandy, or clayey soil, but one not retentive of moisture, seems that best suited for its successful culture.
It does not thrive well near the sea, nor in the higher mountains, the spray of the sea and the cold being found injurious. The plants at first require the shade of other trees, such as the mango, coco-nut, &c. Although generally a hardy plant, it suffers from excessive drought. They should be planted about twenty feet apart. In its native country the tree begins to yield fruit in the sixth year, but a crop can seldom be looked for in other quarters under eight years. It is very long lived, sometimes attaining the age of 130 years.
There appears, according to Mr. Crawfurd, to be five varieties of the clove, viz.—the ordinary cultivated clove; a kind called the female clove by the natives, which has a pale stem; the kiri or loory clove; the royal clove, which is very scarce, and the wild clove. The three first are equally valuable as spices, the female clove being considered fittest for the distillation of essential oil. The wild clove, having scarcely any aromatic flavor, is valueless.
The produce which may be expected from the tree seems to be uncertain; it may, however, be averaged at five or six pounds. A clove tree, well weeded and taken care of, will produce from five to twenty pounds. On the other hand, a tree that is neglected will not give above two or three pounds. At intervals of from three to six years they usually produce one extraordinary crop, but then a year now and then intervenes, when they yield none at all; in others they will afford a double harvest.
The clove tree was originally confined to the five principal Molucca islands, and chiefly to Machean. From these it was conveyed to Amboyna, a very short time only before the arrival of the Portuguese. By them the cultivation was strictly restricted to Amboyna, every effort being made to extirpate the plant elsewhere.
It has now, however, spread to Java, Singapore, and the Straits' Settlements, Ceylon, the Mauritius and Seychelles, Bourbon, Zanzibar, Cayenne, Dominica, Martinique, St. Kitts, St. Vincent, and Trinidad.
Cloves contain a volatile oil, associated with resinous, gummy, and astringent matter, which is yielded in larger proportion than by any other plant. Neuman obtained by distillation two ounces and two drachms from sixteen ounces of cloves. On an average cloves yield from 17 to 22 per cent. of oil, including the heavy and light oils. The oil is aromatic and acrid, and has been used as a condiment and a stimulant carminative. It is also extensively used by distillers and soap makers.
It is said that the clove does not thrive well on the soil of Java, the plantations of which trial had been made not having succeeded to the extent expected, although they were directed by skilled persons from Amboyna; the places they made choice of did not differ materially as to soil and climate from those of the Moluccas.
M. Teysman, Director of the Botanical Gardens at Batavia, seems to have bestowed much attention on the subject. The exports however from the island have been considerable. In 1830, there were 803 piculs shipped; in 1835, 4,566; in 1839, 2,334; in 1843, 2,027 piculs of 133 lbs.
M. Buee, who introduced the culture of the clove in the island of Dominica, about 1789, thus describes the results of his experience, which may be useful to other experimental cultivators. He obtained a few plants from Cayenne, and raised 1,600 trees from seed, which, in a year from the first sowing, were transplanted. The seeds were sown at about six inches apart from each other, in beds; over these beds small frames were erected about three feet from the ground, and plantain leaves were spread on the top, in order to shelter the young plants from the sun. The leaves were allowed gradually to decay, and at the end of nine months the young plants, which by that time were strong, were permitted to receive the benefit of the sun; but if not protected from it when very young, they were found to droop and die.
When transplanted, the trees were placed at sixteen feet apart from each other. They grew very luxuriantly, and at the end of fifteen months after their removal, attained the height of from three to four feet. The ground wherein they were planted had been a coffee plantation during forty years. The coffee trees had decayed, and an attempt had been made to replace them; but they refused to grow; whereas the clove plants flourished as if on congenial soil, and a crop was gathered on some of them when they were not more than six years old, which period is two or three years earlier than the usual time for gathering.
The cloves sent from St. Vincent to England in 1800, were obtained from trees eight feet high, having a stem only two inches in diameter. Trial was made in that island of the relative growth of the plant on different soils; it grew sickly on land which was not manured, but on land which had received this preparation it flourished.
In Singapore, about ten years ago, there were then about 15,000 clove trees planted out, a few of which only had come in bearing. If these plantations had proved equally productive with those of the sister settlement of Pinang, it would have been able to export 60,000 lbs. of cloves, its own produce; but this expectation, it will be seen, has not been realised. In the season of 1841-42, there was 1000 piculs of cloves shipped from Pinang, but none were exported in the two previous years.
The quantity of land under cultivation with cloves there, in 1843, was 463 orlongs in Prince of Wales Island, and 517 in Province Wellesley. The number of trees planted out in the former island was 72,779; in the latter province 7,639. There were in the island 25,161 plants in nursery.
The trees in bearing were—In Prince of Wales Island, 28,739; not bearing, 44,040; produce in 1843, 87 piculs, 50 catties; gross value, 3,399 dollars; estimated produce of cloves for 1844, 469 piculs. In Province Wellesley—Trees in bearing, 1,073; not bearing, 6,566; produce in 1843, 1 picul, 13 catties; gross value 45 dollars.
The export of cloves from Pinang was, in 1849, 24,000 lbs.; in 1850, 52,400; in 1851, 27,866; in 1852, 45,087.
From tabular statements drawn up in 1844, by Mr. F.S. Brown, Chairman of the Pinang Chamber of Commerce, it appears that there were, in 1843, in that island and Province Wellesley adjoining, 96 clove plantations, containing 80,418 clove trees; besides many young trees in nurseries ready to be planted out. The produce of cloves there, in 1842, was 11,813 lbs., and this was a very short crop, it having that year proved a complete failure; the average crop for some years previous had been 46,666 lbs. Pinang only began to export this spice in 1832. Of the clove trees in Pinang there were then only 29,812 in bearing, leaving 75,767 in that settlement alone to come to maturity; estimated to yield about 300,000 lbs.
No success has attended repeated trials of cloves in Singapore. Until the trees reach the age of bearing, they grow and look extremely well; but any expectation of a crop that may have been raised by their hitherto fine condition, ends in disappointment, for just then the trees assume the appearance of sudden blight, as if lightning-stricken, and then die. 125 clove plants and 350 seedlings were sent to Singapore from Bencoolen, by Sir T. Raffles, in the close of 1819; but although every care was paid them—while the nutmegs which accompanied them throve amazingly well—little or no progress has been made with clove culture. Two or three hundred-weight were shipped in 1845, but since then hardly any mention is made of the spice.
In a petition presented by the spice planters of Pinang and Province Wellesley, to the authorities at home, in 1844, praying that the duty on British Colonial nutmegs, mace, and cloves might be reduced to 1s. 9d., 1s. 3d., and 3d. respectively, on importation into England, in order to compete with foreign produce, it was stated that a few years hence Prince of Wales Island might be expected to produce 600,000 lbs. of nutmegs, 200,000 lbs. of mace, and 300,000 lbs. of cloves; whilst Singapore, if equally successful in the culture of the same, would yield yearly 137,000 lbs. of nutmegs, 45,000 lbs. of mace, and 60,000 lbs. of cloves. In short, the planters needed only encouragement to produce in the course of a few years a full supply of those valuable spices for the whole consumption of Great Britain.
Dr. Ruschenberger, who visited Zanzibar in 1835, thus speaks of the clove plantations there:—"As far as the eye could reach over a beautifully undulated land, nothing was to be seen but clove trees of different ages, varying in height from five to twenty feet. The form of the tree is conical, the branches grow at nearly right angles with the trunk, and they begin to shoot a few inches above the ground. The plantation contains nearly four thousand trees, and each tree yields on an average six pounds of cloves a year; they are carefully picked by hand, and then dried in the shade; we saw numbers of slaves standing on ladders gathering the spice, while others were at work clearing the ground of dead leaves. The whole is in the finest order, presenting a picture of industry and of admirable neatness and beauty. They were introduced into Zanzibar in 1818, from Mauritius, and are found to thrive so well that almost everybody in the island is now clearing away the cocoa nut to make way for them. The clove bears in five or six years from the seed; of course time enough has not yet elapsed for the value and quantity of Zanzibar cloves to be generally known; they are worth, however, in the Bombay market, about 30s. the Surat maund of 391/4 lbs.; the price for Molucca cloves in the Eastern market is from 28 to 30 dollars per picul of 133 lbs.; for those of Mauritius, 20 to 24 dollars per picul."
The average annual consumption of cloves in the United Kingdom, in the four years ending 1841, was 49,000 lbs. The largest quantity of cloves imported during the past twenty-five years was 1,041,171 lbs., in 1847. The quantities imported and entered for home consumption in the last five years have been as follows:—
Imports. Home consumption. lbs. lbs. 1848 117,433 126,691 1849 274,713 133,713 1850 749,646 159,934 1851 253,439 138,132 1852 313,949 175,287
In 1848 we received 60,000 lbs. of cloves from British India.
Myristica moschata, M. officinalis, or aromatica.—This tree is of a larger growth than the clove, attaining a height of thirty feet, and has its leaves broader in proportion to their length; the upper surface of these is of a bright green, the under of a greyish color. It is a dioecious plant, having male or barren pale yellow flowers upon one tree, and female or fertile flowers upon another. The fruit is drupaceous, and opens by two valves when ripe, displaying the beautiful reticulated scarlet arillus, which constitutes mace. Within this is a hard, dark brown, and glossy shell, covering the kernel, which is the nutmeg of the shops.
The kernels of M. tomentosa are also used as aromatics, under the name of wild or male nutmegs.
Lindley describes two other species, M. fatua, a native of Surinam, with greenish white flowers, and M. sebifera or Virola sebifera, a native of Guiana, with yellowish green flowers.
By expression, nutmegs are made to yield a concrete oil, called Adeps Myristicae, or sometimes erroneously oil of mace. A volatile oil is also procured by distillation. Nutmegs and mace are used medicinally as aromatic stimulants and condiments. In large doses they have a narcotic effect. The fleshy part of the fruit is used as a preserve.
Dr. Oxley has given such an admirable account of the nutmeg and its cultivation, as the result of 20 years experience in Singapore, that I shall draw largely from his valuable paper, which is contained in the second volume of "The Journal of the Indian Archipelago," page 641.
The nutmeg tree, like many of its class, has a strong tendency to become monoecious, and planters in general are well pleased at this habit, thinking they secure a double advantage by having the male and female flowers on the same plant. This is, however, delusive, and being against the order of nature, the produce of such trees is invariably inferior, showing itself in the production of double nuts and other deformities. It is best, therefore, to have only female trees, with a due proportion of males.
The female flowers, which are merely composed of a tripid calyx and no corolla, when produced by a tree in full vigor are perfectly urceolate, slightly tinged with green at the base, and well filled by the ovary, whereas the female flowers of weakly trees are entirely yellow, imperfectly urceolate, and approach more to the staminiferous flowers of the male.
The shape of the fruit varies considerably, being spherical, oblong, and egg-shaped, but the nearer they approach sphericity of figure, the more highly are they prized.
There is also a great variety in the foliage of different trees, from elliptic, oblong and ovate, to almost purely lanceolate-shaped leaves. This difference seems to indicate in some measure the character of the produce; trees with large oblong leaves appearing to have the largest and most spherical fruit, and those with small lanceolate leaves being in general more prolific bearers, but of inferior quality.
Whilst its congener the clove has been spread over Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, the nutmeg refuses to flourish out of the Malayan Archipelago, except as an exotic, all attempts to introduce it largely into other tropical countries having decidedly failed. The island of Ternate, which is in about the same latitude as Singapore, is said to have been the spot where it was truly indigenous, but no doubt the tree is to be found on most of the Moluccas. At present the place of its origin is unproductive of the spice, having been robbed of its rich heritage by the policy of the Dutch, who at an early period removed the plantations to the Banda isles for better surveillance, where they still remain and flourish. But although care was formerly taken to extirpate the tree on the Moluccas, the mace-feeding pigeons have frustrated the machinations of man, and spread it widely through the Archipelago of islands extending from the Moluccas to New Guinea. Its circle of growth extends westward as far as Pinang, or Prince of Wales Island, where, although an exotic, it has been cultivated as a mercantile speculation with success for many years. Westward of Pinang there are no plantations, looking at the subject in a mercantile point of view. The tree is to be found, indeed, in Ceylon, and the West Coast of India, but to grow it as a speculation out of its indigenous limits, is as likely to prove successful as the cultivation of apples and pears in Bengal.
In the Banda Isles, where the tree may be considered as indigenous, no further attention is paid to its cultivation than setting out the plants in parks, under the shade of large forest trees, with long horizontal branches, called "Canari" by the natives. There it attains a height of 50 feet and upwards, whereas from 20 to 30 feet may be taken as a fair average of the trees in the Straits' Settlements; but notwitstanding our pigmy proportions (adds Dr. Oxley), it does not appear, from, all I could ever learn, that we are relatively behind the Banda trees, either in quantity or quality of produce, and I am strongly impressed with the idea that the island of Singapore can compete with the Banda group on perfectly even terms. Our climate is quite unexceptionable for the growth of the nutmeg, being neither exposed to droughts or high winds; and although we may lose by comparison of soils, we again gain by greater facilities of sending our products to market, by the facility of obtaining abundant supplies of manure, and any amount of free and cheap labor.
A nutmeg plantation, well laid out and brought up to perfection, is one of the most pleasing and agreeable properties that can be possessed. Yielding returns, more or less daily, throughout the year, there is increasing interest, besides the usual stimulus to all agriculturists of a crop time, when his produce increases to double and quadruple the ordinary routine.
Trees having arrived at fifteen years growth, there is no incertitude or fear of total failure of crop, only in relative amount of produce, and this, as will be seen, is greatly in the planter's own power to command. It is against reason to suppose that a tree in flower and fruit will not expend itself if left to unaided nature: it must be supplied with suitable stimuli to make good the waste, therefore he who wants nuts must not be sparing of manure.
The first requisite for the planter is choice of location. It is true that the nutmeg tree, aided by manure, will grow in almost any soil where water does not lodge, but it makes a vast difference in the degree of success, whether the soil be originally good, or poor and improved by art. The tree does not thrive in white or sandy soils, but prefers the deep red and friable soils formed by the decomposition of granite rocks and tinged with iron, and the deeper the tinge the better. I am therefore inclined to think, that iron in the soil is almost necessary for the full development of the plant. If under the before-mentioned soil there be a rubble of iron-stone at four or five feet from the surface (a very common formation in Singapore), forming a natural drainage, the planter has obtained all that he can desire in the ground, and needs only patience and perseverance to secure success. The form of the ground ought to be undulating, to permit the running off of all superfluous water, as there is no one thing more injurious to the plant than water lodging around its roots, although, in order to thrive well, it requires an atmosphere of the most humid sort, and rain almost daily. Besides the form of the ground, situation is highly desirable, particularly as regards exposure. A spot selected for a nutmeg plantation cannot be too well sheltered, as high winds are most destructive to the tree, independently of the loss occasioned by the blowing off of fruit and flower.
At present there is abundant choice of land in Singapore, the greater portion of the island being as yet uncultivated, and much answering to the above description. The land can be purchased from Government at the rate of from 10s. to 20s. per acre in perpetuity. I would advise the man who wishes to establish a plantation, to select the virgin forest, and of all things let him avoid deserted gambier plantations, the soil of which is completely exhausted, the Chinese taking good care never to leave a spot until they have taken all they can out of it. A cleared spot has a great attraction for the inexperienced, and it is not easy to convince a man that it is less expensive to attack the primitive forest, than to attempt to clear an old gambier plantation, overrun with lalang grass; but the cutting down and burning of large forest trees is far less expensive than the extirpation of the lalang, and as the Chinese leave all the stumps of the large trees in the ground, it is almost more difficult to remove them in this state than when you have the powerful lever of the trunk to aid you in tearing up the roots, setting aside the paramount advantage that, in the one case you possess a fresh and fertile soil, in the other an effete and barren one.
Forest land, or "jungle," as it is called in the East, can be cleared for about 25 to 30 dollars (L5 to L6) per acre, by contract, but the planter had better be careful to have every stump and root of tree removed, ere he ventures to commence planting, or the white ants, attracted by the dead wood, will crowd into the land, and having consumed the food thus prepared for them, will not be slow in attacking the young trees. Whilst the planter is thus clearing the ground, he may advantageously at the same time be establishing nurseries; for these the ground ought to be well trenched and mixed with a small quantity of thoroughly decomposed manure and burned earth, making up the earth afterwards into beds of about three feet wide, with paths between them for the convenience of weeding and cleaning the young plants. Of course if the planter can obtain really good plants, the produce of well-selected seed, it will be a great saving of time and expense to him, but unless the seed be carefully chosen, I would prefer beginning my own nurseries, and in the selection of seed would recommend the most perfectly ripe and spherical nuts. Oval long nuts are to be rejected, particularly any of a pale color at one end.
The planter having selected his seed, which ought to be put in the ground within twenty-four hours after being gathered, setting it about two inches deep in the beds already prepared, and at the distance of twelve to eighteen inches apart, the whole nursery to be well shaded both on top and sides, the earth kept moist and clear of weeds, and well smoked by burning wet grass or weeds in it once a week, to drive away a very small moth-like insect that is apt to infest young plants, laying its eggs on the leaf, when they become covered with yellow spots, and perish if not attended to speedily.
Washing the leaves with a decoction of the Tuba root is the best remedy I know of, but where only a few plants are affected, if the spots be numerous, I would prefer to pluck up the plant altogether, rather than run the risk of the insect becoming more numerous, to the total destruction of the nursery. The nuts germinate in from a month to six weeks, and even later, and for many months after germination the seed is attached to the young plant, and may be removed apparently as sound as when planted, to the astonishment of the unlearned, who are not aware of the great disproportion in size between the ovule and albumen, the former of which is alone necessary to form the plant. The plant may be kept in nursery with advantage for nearly two years. Should they grow rapidly, and the interspaces become too small for them, every second plant had better be removed to a fresh nursery; and set out at a distance of a couple of feet from each other. When transplanted, either in this way or for their ultimate position in the plantation, care should be taken to remove them with a good ball of earth, secured by the skin of the plantain, which prevents the ball of earth falling to pieces. The nurseries being established, the ground cleared and ready, the next proceeding is to lay out and dig holes about 26 or 30 feet apart, and as the quincunx order has so many advantages, it is the form I would recommend for adoption. The holes should be at least six feet in diameter, and about four feet deep, and when refilled the surface soil is to be used, and not that which is taken out of the hole. Each hole should be filled up about one foot higher than the surrounding ground, to allow for the settling of the soil and the sinking of the tree, which, planted at this height, will in a few years be found below the level. Over each hole thus filled up, a shed, made of Attap leaves or other shelter, closed on two sides, east and west, and proportioned to the size of the plant, is to be erected. It is not a bad plan to leave an open space in the centre of the top of each shed, about twelve inches wide, by which the young plant can obtain the benefit of the dew and gentle rains, which more than compensates for the few rays of sun that can only fall upon it whilst that body is vertical. After the sheds have been completed, each hole should have added to it a couple of baskets of well decomposed manure, and an equal quantity of burned earth, when all is ready for the reception of the plant, which, having been set out, if the weather be dry will require watering for ten days or a fortnight after, in fact until it takes the soil.
The planter having set out all his trees must not deem his labors completed, they are only commencing. To arrive thus far is simple and easy, but to patiently watch and tend the trees for ten years after, requires all the enthusiasm already mentioned. About three months after planting out, the young trees will receive great benefit if a small quantity of liquid fish manure be given them. In the first six years they ought to be trenched round three times, enlarging the circle each time, the trenches being dug close to the extremities of the roots, which generally correspond to the ends of the branches, and each new trench commencing where the old one terminated. They must of course greatly increase in size as the circle extends, requiring a proportionate quantity of manure, but the depth ought never to be less than two feet.
The object of trenching is to loosen the soil and permit the roots to spread, otherwise the tree spindles instead of becoming broad and umbrageous. Manure is beyond all other considerations the most important to the welfare of the estate; it is that which gives quantity and quality of produce, and without it a plantation cannot be carried on. The want of it must limit the cultivation in the Straits' Settlements, and will arrest many a planter, who, having got his plantation to look well up to the eighth year with very little manure, thinks he can go on in the same manner. The nutmeg tree likes well all sorts of manures, but that which is best suited for it seems to be well-rotted stable and cow-yard manure, mixed with vegetable matter, and when the tree is in bearing the outer covering of the nut itself is about one of the very best things to be thrown into the dung-pit. Dead animals buried not too near the roots, also blood, fish, and oil cakes are beneficial. Guano is of no use.
But although manuring is the chief element in successful cultivation, there are many other matters for the planter to attend to during the period that the trees are growing. All obnoxious grasses must be carefully kept out of the plantation, at least from between the trees, and the harmless grasses rather encouraged, as they keep the surface cool. The trunk of the tree ought to be carefully washed with soap and water once a year to keep it clear of moss; this has been ridiculed as a work of supererogation, but let those who think so omit the operation.
Parasitical plants of the genus Loranthus are very apt to attach themselves to the branches, and if not removed do great injury.
The insect enemies of the tree are not very numerous, but it has a few, white ants among the number. They seldom attack a vigorous plant; it is upon the first symptoms of weakness or decay that they commence their operations. Their nests may be dislodged from the roots of the plant by a dose of solution of pig dung, to which they have a great aversion.
There are several species of insects which lay their eggs on the leaves, and unless carefully watched and removed, they commit great havoc amongst the trees. For this purpose it is necessary to wash the leaves with a decoction of Tuba root, and syringe them by means of a bamboo with lime and water, of the consistence of whitewash; this adheres to the leaves, and will remain even after several heavy showers.
Another nuisance is the nest of the large red ant; these collect and glue the leaves together, forming a cavity for the deposition of their larvae. The best mode of destroying them is to hang a portion of some animal substance, such as the entrails of a fowl, fish, &c., to the end of a pole, thrust through and protruding from the branches; the ants will run along the pole and collect in immense quantities around the bait, when, by a lighted faggot, they can be burned by thousands. This repeated once or twice a day for a week or so, will soon rid the tree of the invaders.
The number of men to be kept on an estate to preserve it in first-rate order after it has come into bearing, must depend of course upon the size of the plantation, but in general one man for every one hundred trees will be found sufficient, provided there be some four or five thousand trees. On a small scale the proportion must be greater.
The nutmeg planter is under the necessity of keeping up nurseries throughout the whole of his operations for the replacement of bad plants and redundant males. Of the latter ten per cent. seems to be about the best proportion to keep, but I would have completely dioecious trees. No person can boast to get a plantation completely filled up and in perfect order much sooner than fifteen years. Of the first batch planted, not more than one-half will turn out perfect females, for I do not take into account monoecious trees, which I have already condemned. The tree shows flower about the seventh year, but the longer it is before doing so, the better and stronger will it be. I cannot refrain from a smile when a sanguine planter informs me with exultation that he has obtained a nut from a tree only three or four years planted out; so much the worse for his chance of success, too great precocity being incompatible with strength and longevity.
The best trees do not show flower before the ninth year, and one such is worth a score of the others. This will be evident when it is stated that I have seen several trees yield more than 10,000 nuts each in one year, whereas I do not believe that there is a plantation in the Straits' that averages 1,000 from every tree. This very great disparity of bearing shows plainly that the cultivation of the plant is not yet thoroughly understood, or greater uniformity would prevail, and I think it clearly enough points out that a higher degree of cultivation would meet its reward.
The tree has not been introduced into the Straits' sufficiently long to determine its longevity, but those introduced and planted in the beginning of the present century, as yet show no symptoms of decay. The experiment of grafting the trees, which at first view presents so many advantages, both in securing the finest quality of nut and the certainty of the sex, has still to be tried in this cultivation. Some three years ago (continues Dr. Oxley), I succeeded in grafting several plants by approach; these are not sufficiently old for me to decide whether it be desirable or not, for although the plants are looking well and growing, they as yet have thrown out their branches in a straggling irregular manner, having no leaders, and consequently they cannot extend their branches in the regular verticles necessary for the perfect formation of the tree, without which they must ever be small and stunted, and consequently incapable of yielding any quantity of produce. The grafts have succeeded so far as stock and scion becoming one, and in time a perpendicular shoot from the wood may appear. If after that it should increase in size and strength, so as to form a tree of full dimensions, the advantage gained would be worth any trouble, the quality of some nuts being so far above that of others, it would make a difference beyond present calculation; in short, 1,000 such picked trees at the present prices would yield something equivalent to L4,000 a year, for L4 per tree would be a low estimate for such plants. If this ever does occur, it will change the aspect of cultivation altogether, and I see no good reason why it should not, except that those possessing trees of the quality alluded to, would not very willingly permit others to graft from them, so it is only the already successful planter who can try the experiment properly.
An acre of land contains on an average 92 trees, and it is calculated an outlay of 300 dollars is required upon every acre to bring the tree to maturity; but as not more than one-half of the trees generally turn out females, and as many others are destroyed by accident and diseases to which this plant is very liable, it makes the cost of each tree, by the time it yields fruit, about eight dollars. The nutmeg tree begins to bear when about eight years old, but it gives no return for several years longer; and therefore to the expense of cultivation must be added the interest of the capital sunk. The plant being indigenous in the Moluccas, the expense of cultivation there is greatly less, and this consequently forms a strong ground of claim to the British planter for protective duties to their spices from the British Government.
The planter having his tree arrived at the agreeable point of producing, has but slight trouble in preparing his produce for market. As the fruit is brought in by the gatherers, the mace is carefully removed, pressed together and flattened on a board, exposed to the sun for three or four days, it is then dry enough to be put by in the spice-house until required for exportation, when it is to be screwed into boxes, and becomes the mace of commerce. The average proportion of mace yielded in Singapore is one pound for every 433 nuts.
The nutmeg itself requires more care in its curing, it being necessary to have it well and carefully dried ere the outer black shell be broken. For this purpose the usual practice is to subject it for a couple of months to the smoke of slow fires kept up underneath, whilst the nuts are spread on a grating about eight or ten feet above. The model of a perfect drying-house is easily to be obtained. Care should be taken not to dry the nuts by too great a heat, as they shrivel and lose their full and marketable appearance. It is therefore desirable to keep the nuts, when first collected, for eight or ten days out of the drying-house, exposing them at first for an hour or so to the morning sun, and increasing the exposure daily until they shake in the shell. The nuts ought never to be cracked until required for exportation, or they will be attacked and destroyed by a small weasel-like insect, the larvae of which is deposited in the ovule, and, becoming the perfect insect, eats its way out, leaving the nut bored through and through, and worth less as a marketable commodity. Liming the nuts prevents this to a certain extent, but limed nuts are not those best liked in the English market, whereas they are preferred in that state in the United States. When the nuts are to be limed, it is simply necessary to have them well rubbed over between the hands with powdered lime. By the Dutch mode of preparation, they are steeped in a mixture of lime and water for several weeks. This no doubt will preserve them, but it must also have a prejudicial effect on the flavor of the spice.
After the nuts are thoroughly dried, which requires from six weeks to two months smoking, they cannot be too soon sent to market. But it is otherwise with the mace; that commodity, when fresh, not being in esteem in the London market, seeing that they desire it of a golden color, which it only assumes after a few months, whereas at first when fresh it is blood red; now red blades are looked upon with suspicion, and are highly injurious to the sale of the article.
This is one of those peculiar prejudices of John Bull, which somewhat impugns his wisdom; but it must be attended to, as John is very ready to pay for his caprice; therefore those who provide for him have no right to complain, although they may smile.
The nutmeg tree was sent from Bencoolen to Singapore, the latter end of 1819, so that thirty-four years have elapsed since its first introduction. Sir Stamford Raffles shipped to the care of the resident commandant, Major Farquhar, 100 nutmeg plants, 25 larger ditto, and 1,000 nutmeg seeds, which were committed to the charge of Mr. Brooks, a European gardener, who was specially engaged by the East India Company to look after their embryo spice plantations here. Some of these plants were set out in rather a bad soil and locality, but several of them are at present, and have been for the last ten years, fine fruitful trees. 315 of the trees in the Government garden yielded, in 1848, 190,426 nuts, or at the average of 604 for each tree; but of these not over 50 were of the old stock, most having been planted since 1836; so that a planter may safely calculate on having a better average than is here set forth, provided he attends to his cultivation, and his trees are brought up to the age of fifteen years. If a plantation be attended to from the commencement after the manner I have endeavoured to explain, and the trees be in a good locality, the planter will undoubtedly obtain an average of 10 lbs. of spice from each tree from the fifteenth year; this, at an average price of 2s. 6d. per lb., is 25s. per annum. He can have about seventy such trees in an acre, so that there is scarcely any better or more remunerative cultivation when once established. But the race is a long one, the chances of life, and a high rate of interest in the country, make it one of no ordinary risk, and it is one that holds out no prospect of any return in less than ten years.
A person commencing and stopping short of the bearing point, either by death or want of funds, will suffer almost total loss, for the value of such a property brought into a market where there are no buyers must be purely nominal. Again, if the property has arrived at the paying point, almost any person of common honesty can take charge of and carry it on, for the trees after twelve years are remarkably hardy, and bear a deal of ill treatment and neglect; not that I would recommend any person to try the experiment. But it is some consolation for the proprietor to know that stupidity will not ruin him, and that even at the distance of thousands of miles he can give such directions, as, if attended to, will keep his estate in a flourishing and fruitful state.
The total number of nutmeg trees in Singapore in 1848 was 55,925, of which 14,914 only were in bearing. The produce of that year was 4,085,361 nutmegs, or 33,600 lbs. in weight. The greater number of the trees, it will be perceived, have not come into full bearing, but the produce is increasing rapidly, and in 1849 it amounted to fully 66,670 lbs.
Among the principal growers in that island are Dr. Oxley, Mr. C.R. Prinsep, and Mr. W. Montgomerie, who have each large plantations, with from 2,000 to 5,000 bearing trees on them. Others, as Sir. J. d'Almeida, Mr. Nicol, and one or two more, have planted extensively, but have not yet got their trees to the bearing point.
A large supply of nutmeg and clove plants arrived at Pinang in 1802, from the Molucca Islands. There were 71,266 nutmeg and 55,264 clove plants; allowing one half of the former to have been male trees, there would only have been 35,633 useful nutmeg plants. It is believed that a mere fraction of these ever reached maturity, but they served to introduce the cultivation permanently. Plants were likewise sent to Ceylon and Cape Comorin. It does not appear that the climates of these two localities suit the nutmeg tree, as it requires rain, or at least a very damp climate throughout the year. The East India Company's spice plantations in Pinang were sold in 1824, and the trees were dispersed over the island.
The spice cultivators of the Straits' Settlements have for some time sought a further protective duty on nutmegs, and the extension of a similar protection to mace and cloves, the produce of these settlements; for singularly enough the present tariff affords no protection to mace, the growth of British possessions. From tabular statements, furnished by the Chamber of Commerce of Pinang, drawn up apparently with great care, it appears that in 1843 there were 3,046 acres cultivated with spice trees in Pinang and province Wellesley, containing 233,995 nutmegs, and 80,418 clove trees, besides 77,671 trees in nurseries ready to be planted out; and by a similar statement from Singapore, which is however not so complete, that 743 acres are cultivated, containing 43,544 nutmeg trees. The island of Pinang is estimated to contain 160 square miles, nearly the whole of which, with the exception perhaps of summits of the hills, is well adapted to spice growing. Province Wellesley is of much greater extent, and the soil of it has already been proved to be equally well fitted for that kind of cultivation; and the settlements of Malacca and Singapore are said to be admirably suited, in many places, for that species of produce, the latter of which has already several plantations fast approaching to maturity.
The cultivation is capable of great extension; encouragement is only required to be held out, and new plantations will be rapidly formed in these settlements. The same tables show that the produce in 1842 was, in Pinang and Province Wellesley, 18,560,281 nutmegs, 42,866 lbs. of mace, and 11,813 lbs. of cloves; and in Singapore, 842,328 nutmegs, and 1,962 lbs. of mace. Thus making the produce from the two settlements 19,408,608 nutmegs in number (or in weight 147,034 lbs.), 44,822 lbs. of mace, and 11,813 lbs. of cloves. Now the consumption of these spices in Great Britain was, on an average of four years ending 1841, as follows:—Nutmegs, 121,000 lbs.; mace, 18,000 lbs.; cloves, 92,000 lbs. Showing, therefore, that the Straits' Settlements already produce more than sufficient of the two former to supply the home market.
In the course of four or five years more, Pinang alone will more than double the present quantity of nutmegs and mace produced in the Straits, and the produce of cloves will be more than tripled.
I have been able, from several elaborate papers in my "Colonial Magazine," to condense details, showing the progress of spice plantations in Prince of Wales Island and Province Wellesley. In the close of 1843 there were 64,902 nutmeg trees in bearing in the island; 39,209 male trees, 103,982 not bearing; making a total of 208,093 trees planted out, besides 52,510 plants in nursery. The quantity of ground under cultivation was 2,282 orlongs. The produce in 1842 was 15,116,591 good nuts, 1,461,229 inferior nuts, and 38,260 lbs. of mace. The gross value of the produce in 1843, reckoning the good nuts at five dollars per thousand, and the inferior at one dollar, was 76,944 dollars. The estimated number of nuts in 1843 was 12,458,762; in 1844, 25,429,000.
In Province Wellesley there were 247 orlongs under cultivation with the nutmeg, on which were 10,500 bearing trees, 8,095 male trees, and 7,307 not yet bearing, making in all 25,902 trees planted out. The produce was in 1842, 1,969,619 good nuts, 18,842 inferior ditto, and 4,500 lbs. of mace. The value of the produce of nutmegs was 9,867 dollars. The estimated number of nuts in 1843 was 1,980,000; in 1844, 2,958,000. There were in all 423 nutmeg plantations on the island and main land.
There were annually exported in the four years ending 1850, 48,000 lbs. of nutmegs from Pinang, and 57,400 lbs. of mace.
The French at an early period cultivated the nutmeg at the Mauritius, and from thence they carried it to Cayenne. In Sumatra it appears to have been grown successfully, and according to Sir S. Raffles, there was in 1819 a plantation at Bencoolen of 100,000 nutmeg trees, one-fourth of which were bearing. Attempts have been made in Trinidad and St. Vincent to carry out the culture, but for want of enterprise very little progress seems to have been made in the matter.
Under the new duties which came into operation this year, nutmegs, instead of standing at 1s. per pound all round, have been classified, and the so-called "wild" nutmegs of the Dutch islands are to pay only 5d per pound. This deprives the Straits' produce of its last protection against that of the Banda plantations, where the tree grows spontaneously, while it gives the long Dutch nut a high protection. If an alteration in this suicidal measure is not speedily obtained, the Straits' planters will be ruined. The Dutch have the power of inundating the market with the long aromatic nut. If the original plan of putting all British and all foreign nutmegs on the same footing had been adhered to, the Straits' planters would not have complained, as they would have trusted to their superior skill and care to compensate for the grand advantage the Dutch have in their rich soils.
On observing this alteration of duty, Mr. Crawfurd and Mr. Gilman immediately prepared the following memorandum for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which however failed to influence that Minister:—
"MEMORANDUM ON THE DUTIES ON NUTMEGS.
"The duty proposed to be levied on nutmegs is 1s. per pound for cultivated, and 5d. per pound for those commonly called wild. The ground on which this distinction is founded, is said to be that the market value of the one is but half that of the other, and that the Customs can readily distinguish between them.
Now it is admitted, on all sides, that there is but one species of culinary nutmeg, the Myristica Moschata of botanists, although at least a score of the same genus, all unfit for human food. The parent country of the aromatic nutmegs extends from the Molucca Islands to New Guinea, inclusive. In this they grow with facility and even in the Banda Islands, where there are parks of them, they hardly undergo any cultivation, and may truly be said, even there, to be a wild product. It is only when grown as exotics, as in the British settlements of Pinang and Singapore, that they require cultivation, and that a more careful and expensive one than any other produce of the soil.
Aromatic nutmegs are sometimes large and sometimes small—sometimes round, sometimes oblong, and sometimes long, and this will be found the case whether cultivated or uncultivated. How, then, the Customs are able to distinguish them it is difficult to understand. In the ordinary Prices Current no mention whatever is made of the wild and cultivated, the lowest quality being quoted in the most recent at 2s. per pound, and the highest at 3s. 10d.,—the best of what are called wild fetching a higher price than the lower qualities of what are called cultivated.
But suppose the distinction could be made with the most perfect certainty, to make it would be a palpable departure from the principle adopted with every other commodity, of charging a uniform rate of duty on quality. To give an example, the present price of black pepper is 3-5/8d. to 4d. per pound, while that of white pepper is 81/2d. to 1s. 2d. per pound, both paying the same duty of 6d.; yet nothing can be more easily distinguished than these two commodities, which, except as to curing, are the same article.
Tea is a still more striking example. The duty is the same on all qualities, though prices range from 1l1/2d. to 3s. 6d. per pound. It was the very circumstance of the difficulty of distinguishing between the different kinds of tea, especially between Bohea and Congou, which, after an eighteen months trial, overthrew the system of rated duties of 1s. 6d., 2s., and 3s., adopted on the abolition of the East India Company's monopoly in 1833.
Unless the duty on nutmegs is equalised there will be no end of trouble and disputes, and however expert the Customs may be, they will certainly be outwitted, and long-shaped and small nutmegs, although really cultivated, will be introduced at the lower duty, by unscrupulous traders, as wild ones.
It may be added that duties of 12d. and 5d. do not, even if a departure from the principle of charging on quality were justifiable, represent the just proportional rates which ought to be levied upon what are supposed to be, respectively, cultivated and wild, as they are represented in the ordinary Price Current by the highest and lowest prices, which are 3s. 10d. and 2s. The just proportional duty ought to be on the lowest, not 5d., but 7d. The duty, as first proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of 1s. per pound on nutmegs, without distinction, was perfectly satisfactory to the planters, merchants, and the trade in general.
It is a mistake to suppose that a duty of 1s. would exclude the so-called wild nutmegs. They would be imported in large quantities, as the cost is low. In quantity it was 17 Spanish dollars per picul, and there is no reason to suppose it would be more now. The finest picked cost say 34 Spanish dollars.
In Pinang and Singapore for cultivated the price is 65 to 70 dollars.
The planters for the most part do not sell on the spot, but consign here for sale on their own account.
London, May 23rd, 1853.
NUTMEGS IMPORTED AND EXPORTED TO AND FROM SINGAPORE.
Value of the Imported. Exported. Growth of native growth. piculs. piculs. Singapore. L 1841 2271/2 412 1841/2 3,323 1842 258 809 551 9,897 1843 1501/2 249 981/2 1,760 1844 52 282 230 4,131 1845 41 383 342 6,143 1846 79 331 252 4,526 1847 139 416 277 4,275
NUTMEGS EXPORTED FROM JAVA.
Nutmegs. Mace. piculs. piculs. 1830 1,304 177 1835 5,022 1,606 1839 5,027 1,581 1843 2,133 486
IMPORTS INTO THE UNITED KINGDOM. NUTMEGS, WILD AND CULTIVATED. MACE. Imports. Home consump. Imports. Consumption. lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. 1847 367,936 150,657 1847 60,265 18,821 1848 336,420 167,143 1848 47,572 19,712 1849 224,021 178,417 1849 45,978 20,605 1850 315,126 167,683 1850 77,337 21,997 1851 358,320 194,132 1851 77,863 21,695 1852 357,940 239,113 1852 61,697 21,480
MACE EXPORTED—ACTUAL GROWTH OF SINGAPORE. Quantity—piculs. Value—L 1841 251/2 583 1842 72 1,616 1843 403/4 943 1844 161/2 359 1845 71 1,616 1846 8 179 1847 75 1,661
109 piculs of imported mace were also re-shipped in 1847.
40,000 lbs. of mace were imported into the United Kingdom from India in 1848.
GINGER, GALANGALE, AND CARDAMOMS.
The rhizome of Zingiber officinale (Amomum Zingiber), constitutes the ginger of commerce, which is imported chiefly from the East and West Indies. It is also grown in China. In the young state the rhizomes are fleshy and slightly aromatic, and they are then used as preserves, or prepared in syrup; in a more advanced stage the aroma is fully developed, their texture is more woody, and they become fit for ordinary ginger. The inferior sorts, when dried after immersion in hot water, form black ginger. The best roots are scraped, washed, and simply dried in the sun with care, and then they receive the name of white ginger. The rhizome contains an acid resin and volatile oil, starch and gum. It is used medicinally as a tonic and carminative, in the form of powder, syrup, and tincture.
The root stocks of Alpinia racemosa, A. Galanga, and many other plants of the order, have the same aromatic and pungent properties as ginger.
The consumption of ginger is about 13,000 or 14,000 cwt. a year. Of 16,004 cwt. imported in 1840, 5,381 came from the British West Indies, 9,727 from the East India Company's possessions and Ceylon, and 896 cwt. from Western Africa.
The difference between the black and white ginger of the shops is ascribed by Dr. P. Browne and others to different methods of curing the rhizomes; but this is scarcely sufficient to account for them, and I cannot help suspecting the existence of some difference in the plants themselves. That this really exists is proved by the statements of Rumphius ("Herb. Amb.," lib. 8, cap. xix., p. 156), that there are two varieties of the plant, the white and the red. Moreover Dr. Wright ("Lond. Med. Journal," vol. viii.) says that two sorts are cultivated in Jamaica, viz., the white and the black; and, he adds, "black ginger has the most numerous and largest roots."
The rhizome, called in commerce ginger root, occurs in flattish-branched or lobed palmate pieces, called races, which do not exceed four inches in length. Several varieties, distinguished by their color and place of growth, are met with. The finest is that brought from Jamaica. A great part of that found in the shops has been washed in whiting and water, under the pretence of preserving it from insects.
The dark colored kinds are frequently bleached with chloride of lime. Barbados ginger is in shorter flatter races, of a darker color, and covered with a corrugated epidermis. African ginger is in smallish races, which have been partially scraped, and are pale colored. East India ginger is unscraped; its races are dark ash colored externally, and are larger than those of the African ginger. Tellichery ginger is in large plump races, with a remarkable reddish tint externally.
Jamaica black ginger is not frequently found in the shops. The Malabar dark ginger is in unscraped short pieces, which have a horny appearance internally, and are of a dirty brown color both internally and externally.
Ginger is imported in bags weighing about a hundred-weight.
The Malabar ginger exported from Calicut is the produce of the district of Shernaad, situated in the south of Calicut; a place chiefly inhabited by Moplas, who look upon the ginger cultivation as a most valuable and profitable trade, which in fact it is. The soil of Shernaad is so very luxuriant, and so well suited for the cultivation of ginger, that it is reckoned the best, and in fact the only place in Malabar where ginger grows and thrives to perfection. Gravelly grounds are considered unfit; the same may be said of swampy ones, and whilst the former check the growth of the ginger, the latter tend in a great measure to rot the root; thus the only suitable kind of soil is that which, being red earth, is yet free from gravel, and the sod good and heavy. The cultivation generally commences about the middle of May, after the ground has undergone a thorough process of ploughing, harrowing, &c.
At the commencement of the monsoons, beds of ten or twelve feet long by three or four feet wide are formed, and in these beds small holes are dug at three-fourths to one foot apart, which are filled with manure. The roots, hitherto carefully buried under sheds, are dug out, the good ones picked from those which are affected by the moisture, or any other concomitant of a half-year's exclusion from the atmosphere, and the process of clipping them into suitable sizes for planting performed by cutting the ginger into pieces of an inch and a half to two inches long. These are then buried in the holes, which have been previously manured, and the whole of the beds are then covered with a good thick layer of green leaves, which, whilst they serve as manure, also contribute to keep the beds from unnecessary dampness, which might otherwise be occasioned by the heavy falls of rain during the months of June and July. Rain is essentially requisite for the growth of the ginger; it is also however necessary, that the beds be constantly kept from inundation, which, if not carefully attended to, the crop is entirely ruined; great precaution is therefore taken in forming drains between the beds, and letting water out, thus preventing a superfluity. On account of the great tendency some kinds of leaves have to breed worms and insects, strict care is observed in the choosing of them, and none but the particular kinds used in manuring ginger are taken in, lest the wrong ones might fetch in worms, which, if once in the beds, no remedy can be resorted to successfully to destroy them; thus they in a very short time ruin the crop. Worms bred from the leaves laid on the soil, though highly destructive, are not so pernicious to ginger cultivation as those which proceed from the effect of the soil. The former kind, whilst they destroy the beds in which they once appear, do not spread themselves to the other beds, be they ever so close, but the latter kind must of course be found in almost all the beds, as they do not proceed from accidental causes, but from the nature of the soil. In cases like these, the whole crop is oftentimes ruined, and the cultivators are thereby subjected to heavy losses.
Ginger is extensively diffused throughout the Indian isles, it being especially indigenous to the East, and of pretty general use among the natives, who neglect the finer spices. The great and smaller varieties are cultivated, and the sub-varieties distinguished by their brown or white colors. There is no production which has a greater diversity of names. This diversity proves, as usual, the wide diffusion of the plant in its wild state. The ginger of the Indian Archipelago is however inferior in quality to that of Malabar or Bengal. In the cultivation of ginger great improvement may be adopted and expense saved. The garden plough and small harrow should be used.
The present mode of preparing the land for this crop in the West Indies, is by first carefully hoeing off all bush and weeds from the piece you intend to plant; the workmen are then placed in a line, and dig forward the land to the full depth of the hoe, cutting the furrow not more than from five to six inches thick. The land is then allowed to pulverise for a short time; you then prepare it for receiving the plants by opening drills with the hoe, from ten to twelve inches apart, and the same in depth, chopping or breaking up any clods that may be in the land. Two or three women follow and drop the plants in the drills, say from nine to ten inches apart. The plants or sets are the small knots or fingers broken off the original root, as not worth the scraping. The plants are then covered in with a portion of the earth-bank formed in drilling. It requires great care and attention in keeping them clean from weeds until they attain sufficient age. It throws out a pedicle or foot stalk in the course of the second or third week, the leaves of which are of similar shape to that of the Guinea grass.
Ginger is a delicate plant, and very liable to rot, particularly if planted in too rich a soil, or where it may be subject to heavy rains. The general average of yield is from 1,500 to 2,000 lbs. per acre in plants, although I have known as much as 3,000 lbs. of ginger cured from an acre of land. The planting season generally commences in Jamaica in February and March, and the crop is got in in December and January, when the stalks begin to wither. The ginger is taken from the ground by means of the hoe, each laborer filling a good-sized basket, at the same time breaking off the small knots or knobs for future planting.
A good scraper of ginger will give you from 30 to 40 lbs. of ginger per day. It is then laid on barbacues (generally made of boards) to dry. It takes from six to ten days to be properly cured. The average yield in weight is about one-third of what is scraped. When intended for preserving, the roots must be taken up at the end of three or four months, while the fibres are tender and full of sap.
The ginger grown in the West Indies is considered superior in quality to that of the East, doubtless because more care is paid to the culture and drying of the root, but it is of less importance to commerce. The quantities imported from these two quarters is however becoming more equal, and Africa is coming into the field as a producer, 1,545 casks and packages having arrived from the western coast in 1846. The annual average export of ginger from Barbados between the years 1740 and 1788, was 4,667 bags; between 1784 and 1786, 6,320 bags; in 1788, 5,562 cwt. were shipped; in 1792, 3,046 bags and barrels. In 1738, so widely was the culture of this root diffused in Jamaica, that 20,933 bags, of one cwt. each, and 8,864 lbs. in casks were shipped. The exports may now be taken on an average at 4,000 cwt.; but, like all the other staple products of the island, this has fallen off one-half since the emancipation of the negro population.
In the three years which preceded the abolition of slavery, 5,719,000 lbs. of ginger were shipped from Jamaica. In the three years ending with 1848, the quantity shipped had decreased 2,612,186 lbs., as will be seen by the following returns:—
GINGER SHIPPED. lbs. lbs. 1830 1,748,800 1846 1,462,000 1831 1,614,640 1847 1,324,480 1832 2,355,560 1848 320,340 - - 5,719,000 3,106,820
In 1843 there were shipped from Jamaica 3,719 casks and bags; in 1844, 3,692 casks and 1730 bags; in 1845, 3,506 casks, valued at L4 10s. each, and 1,129 bags, valued at L2 each, equal in all to L18,037. From the island of Hayti 8,769 lbs. of ginger were exported in 1835, and 15,509 lbs. in 1836. 39 packages of ginger were shipped from Barbados in 1851.
In Maranham and one or two other provinces of Brazil, ginger of an excellent quality is grown, and a good deal is exported. It was very early an article of culture in South America. According to Acosta, it was brought to America by one Francisco de Mendoza, from Malabar, and so rapidly did its cultivation spread, that as far back as 1547, 22,053 cwt. were shipped to Europe. Southey, in his "History of Brazil" (vol. i., p. 320), says, "Ginger had been brought from the island of St. Thomas, and throve so well that in the year 1573, 4,000 arrobas of 25 lbs. each were cured; it was better than what came from India, though the art of drying it was not so well understood. Great use was made of this root in preserves, but it was prohibited, as interfering with the Indian trade in that wretched species of policy which regards immediate revenue as its main object."
Ginger was worth in the London market 25s. to 60s. the cwt. in bond; middling and fine qualities, 80s. to 160s. The duty is 5s. per cwt.
Amount of imports of ginger into the United Kingdom, with the quantities entered for home consumption:—
West India Entered for East India Entered for ginger. home consumption. ginger. home consumption. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. 1831 3,551 4,709 849 79 1832 5,947 6,795 2,508 213 1833 6,064 6,570 10,049 1,099 1834 9,913 9,918 10,004 1,638 1835 8,321 8,982 4,489 1,647 1836 10,226 6,304 13,589 3,524 1837 10,933 9,905 23,876 3,386 1838 13,366 9,944 25,649 1,431 1839 8,996 7,213 29,624 914 1840 5,381 7,935 9,719 1,568 1841 4,446 5,523 5,292 1,177 1842 4,671 5,068 3,680 1,956 1843 4,013 5,953 4,106 3,254 casks, &c. casks. bags. bags. 1844 4,619 3,128 5,101 6,964 1845 6,033 4,000 8,165 7,938
Total Retained for ginger imported. home consumption. cwts. cwts. 1846 24,370 15,937 1846 20,010 15,163 1847 12,995 9,744 1848 13,748 10,454 1849 28,015 12,880 1850 33,953 16,543 1851 35,678 19,855 1852 20,297 18,691
GALANGALE ROOT is a good deal used in China, and forms an article of commerce, fetching in the London market 12s. to 16s. per cwt. in bond. It is the rhizoma of Alpinia Galanga. Its taste is peppery and aromatic. Externally the color of the root-stocks is reddish brown, internally pale reddish white.
1,280 cwt. of galangale root, valued at 2,880 dollars, was exported from Canton in 1850.
Cardamoms are the production of various species of plants of the same tribe as the ginger, and might be profitably cultivated with that aromatic root, as well as the Turmeric (Curcuma longa), which see.
Various species of Alpiniae, Amomum, Elettaria, and Renealmia, appear to furnish the cardamoms of the shops, which consist of the oval, trivalvular capsules containing the seeds. The bright yellow seeds are used in medicine as aromatic tonics and carminatives; and for curries, ketchups, soups, &c. Their active ingredient is a pungent volatile oil. The least dampness injures the finer sorts. About 688 cwts. of cardamoms, and 5,000 cwts. of bastard cardamoms are annually exported from Siam, "We imported about 300 tons in 1849. The price ranges from 1s. 6d. to 3s. the pound. The estimated value of the cardamoms and pepper shipped from Ceylon in the past few years was as follows:—1846, L208; 1847, L246; 1848, L205; 1849, L454; 1850, L960; 1851, L771; 1852, L590. The" following are some of the plants from which cardamoms are procured.
1. Amomum Cardamomum, a Java plant, supplies the round cardamoms. It has pale brown flowers. The fruit varies in size from that of a black currant to a cherry.
2. A. angustifolium (Pereira), a plant having red blossoms; furnishes the large Madagascar cardamoms, and also supplies some of the seeds called "Grains of Paradise," which are, however, larger than those imported under that name.
This species is found in Abyssinia, according to my friend Mr. Chas. Johnston, author of "Travels in Abyssinia," who favored me with some specimens. The seeds are pale olive brown, devoid of the fiery peppery taste of the grains of paradise.
3. A. maximum, the great winged amomum, produces the Java cardamoma of the London market, and is also grown extensively in Ceylon, the Malay islands, Nepaul, Sumatra, and other islands of the Eastern Archipelago. There were exported from Ceylon in 1842, 5,364 lbs.; in 1843, 9,632 lbs.; 1844, 7,280 lbs.; and in 1845, 11,812 lbs. The pods are large and long, and dark colored, approaching to black, the taste nauseous and disagreeable, not the least resembling that of the Malabar cardamoms. It is propagated by cuttings of the rhizoma. The plants yield in three years, and afterwards give an annual crop. They are not used here, but sent to the continent.
4. Alpinia Cardamomum.—This is the source of the clustered cardamoms, and furnishes the best known sort. Its produce is in great request throughout India, fetching as much as L30 the candy of 600 Lbs. About 192 candies are grown annually in Travancore, and the usual crop in Malabar is reckoned at 100 candies annually. It flourishes on the mountainous parts of the Malabar coast, and among the western mountains of Wynaad. The bulbous plants, which grow three or four feet high, are produced in the recesses of the mountains by felling trees, and afterwards burning them, for wherever the ashes fall in the openings or fissures of the rocks, the plant naturally springs up. In the third year the plants come to perfection, bearing abundantly for a year or two, and then die. In Soonda Balagat, and other places where cardamoms are planted, they are much inferior to those grown in the wild state. It may be propagated by cuttings or divisions of the roots. Not more than one-hundredth part of the cardamoms raised in Malabar are used in the country. They are sent in large quantities to the ports on the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf, up the Indus to Scinde, to Bengal and Bombay. The price of Malabar cardamons at Madras, in June, 1853, was about L3 the maund of 25 lbs. They fetch in the Bombay market L4 10s. the maund of 40 lbs. Cardamoms form a universal ingredient in curries, pillaus, &c. The seed capsules are gathered as they ripen, and when dried in the sun are fit for sale. They should be chosen full, plump, and difficult to be broken; of a bright yellow color, and piercing smell; with an acrid bitterish, though not very unpleasant taste, and particular care should be taken that they are properly dried.
5. Amomum Grana-Paradisi, which is indigenous to the islands of Madagascar and Ceylon, yields an inferior sort of cardamoms, known by the names of grains of paradise, or Meleguetta pepper. These are worth in the English market only from 1s. 2d. to 1s. 4d. per pound, while the long and Malabar cardamoms fetch 2s. 8d. to 3s. 3d. the pound. This plant is a native of Guinea, and the western parts of Africa about Sierra Leone. We imported from thence in 1841, 7,911 pounds.
The taste of these Guinea grains is aromatic and vehemently hot or peppery. They are imported in casks from Africa, and are principally used in veterinary medicine, and to give an artificial strength to spirits, wine, beer, &c. The average quantity on which duty was paid in the six years ending with 1840, was 16,000 lbs. per annum. They are esteemed in Africa the most wholesome of spices, and generally used by the natives to season their food.