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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/110

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102
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ounce of seeds may produce from twenty to twenty-five thousand plants. When thoroughly dried they are sown in beds, and when well started the young plants are transferred to nursery beds protected from sun and rain by light thatched roofs. When from eight months to a year old, or about twelve inches high, they are ready to be planted out, the thatch-covering having been removed for a fortnight or so to harden them. Propagation by cuttings is practiced to some extent, and succeeds well. The plants are about six feet apart, and an acre of ground may produce a thousand or more trees.

Where vegetation is so rapid and profuse as in India, constant weeding is necessary, and, until the trees are sufficiently large to shade the ground, one or two weedings a year are highly beneficial. The following may be considered as a fair representation of the rapidity of growth:

At four years of age, 9 inches girth, 9 feet height.
" six " " 13 " " 17 " "
" ten " " 21 " " 30 " "
" twelve " " 28 " " 39 " "

At first, a very successful method was introduced for securing the bark without injury to the tree. Commencing with trees about eight years old, a strip of bark an inch and a half wide was taken from the trunk, extending from the lower limbs to the roots. Leaving a strip of equal width, an inch and a half, another was taken, and so on quite round the tree, thus removing one half and leaving one half intact. The whole trunk was then covered with moss, carefully bound on, so as to exclude the light and air. In from ten to eighteen months the bark would be found to be completely renewed without detriment to the growth of the tree. The new bark thus formed was found to be thicker and richer in quinine than the natural growth. This process could be repeated at intervals of from a year to a year and a half for an indefinite period. This method is still followed in the Nilgiris, while in the Himalayas it has failed on account of the ants, which penetrate the moss and destroy the exposed wood. In the Himalayas two methods are now practiced. By the first the trees are felled and the bark carefully peeled from the trunk and branches. The stumps are allowed to remain, and from the sprouts that spring up two of the most thrifty are preserved for future trees, while the rest are cut away. This is called coppicing. By the second method the tree is uprooted, and the bark removed from the trunk, branches, and roots. The ground is then replanted with seedlings. Time must show which of these methods will prove the most profitable.

The bark, on being removed from the trees, is placed in open sheds near at hand to dry, that the first process of drying may be in the open air and in the shade. When dried as much as possible without artificial heat it is carried to the dry-house, a close brick building, where the process is completed with the aid of slow charcoal-fires.