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[CHAP. XX.
KEELING ISLAND.

metry, were mingled into one wood. A beach of glittering white sand formed a border to these fairy spots.

I will now give a sketch of the natural history of these islands, which, from its very paucity, possesses a peculiar interest. The cocoa-nut tree, at the first glance, seems to compose the whole wood; there are, however, five or six other trees. One of these grows to a very large size, but, from the extreme softness of its wood, is useless; another sort affords excellent timber for ship-building. Besides the trees, the number of plants is exceedingly limited, and consists of insignificant weeds. In my collection, which includes, I believe, nearly the perfect Flora, there are twenty species, without reckoning a moss, lichen, and fungus. To this number two trees must be added; one of which was not in flower, and the other I only heard of. The latter is a solitary tree of its kind, and grows near the beach, where, without doubt, the one seed was thrown up by the waves. A Guilandina also grows on only one of the islets. I do not include in the above list the sugar-cane, banana, some other vegetables, fruit-trees, and imported grasses. As the islands consist entirely of coral, and at one time must have existed as mere water-washed reefs, all their terrestrial productions must have been transported here by the waves of the sea. In accordance with this, the Florula has quite the character of a refuge for the destitute: Professor Henslow informs me that of the twenty species nineteen belong to different genera, and these again to no less than sixteen families![1]

In Holman's[2] Travels an account is given, on the authority of Mr. A. S. Keating, who resided twelve months on these islands, of the various seeds and other bodies which have been known to have been washed on shore. "Seeds and plants from Sumatra and Java have been driven up by the surf on the windward side of the islands. Among them have been found the Kimiri, native of Sumatra and the peninsula of Malacca; the cocoa-nut of Balci, known by its shape and size; the Dadass, which is planted by the Malays with the pepper-vine, the latter intwining round its trunk, and supporting itself by the prickles

  1. These plants are described in the Annals of Nat. Hist., vol. i., 1838, p 337.
  2. Holman's Travels, vol. iv. p. 378.