Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/98

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78

TREES

valleys up to 9,500 or 10,000 feet above sea-level. Here vegetation was most abundant. Fine tall trees, dense underwood, and a variety of flowers reminded us of the forests in the Amur country, and were rendered doubly grateful by contrast with the preceding aridity of the desert of Ala-shan.

On our first entrance into the forests we recognised many a flower and plant familiar to us at home, and descried also many new kinds never before seen. Among these the red-barked birch (Betula Bhojpattra?) was most conspicuous, attaining a height of 30 to 40 feet, with a thickness of 1 to 1½) foot in the stem. The trunk is very like that of the common birch, excepting in its bark, which peels off and hangs from it in long festoons. The Tangutans use this, instead of packing paper. Close by grows our old friend the white birch (Betula alba), also conspicuous in the lower forests.

The aspen (Populus tremula) next attracts our attention, standing both solitary and in masses; the pine[1] (Pinus Massoniana?), and spruce fir (Abies obovata), occasionally covering the hill-side; the spreading poplar (Populus sp.), and willow (Salix sp.), only growing in the valleys. The red mountain-ash (Sorbus Aucuparia), side by side with another kind (Sorbus sp.) with fruit of an alabaster white, looked very pretty, growing to a height of 14 feet. The arboreous Juniper (Juniperus sp.), 20 feet high, unlike other trees, is more often met with on the

  1. It is not probable that this is P. Massoniana, which is a Japanese plant of lower elevation. — J. D. H.