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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/18

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

word that the profit by willows will buy the owner a horse before that by other trees will pay for the saddle." The basket-willow, well cultivated, will yield a net income of $150 a year to the acre. On the whole, therefore, it would seem that the various kinds of willow, the economic value of which has been hitherto entirely overlooked in our country, are eminently deserving, of attention, and will amply reward those who cultivate them.

The ailantus and the catalpa are also deserving of much more attention than has been given them. They are both quick-growing trees, soon attaining a size fitting them for use as fuel or in the form of lumber, while they are also very tough and durable. They combine solidity with rapid growth in an unusual degree, which gives them great value to the tree-planter. The ailantus is a native of China. It was brought to this country about a hundred years ago and planted as an ornamental tree. It was for a time very popular as a shade-tree in the streets of many of our cities, but the disagreeable odor of its flowers soon destroyed its popularity, and it was cast out of good society. But, although it may not be a desirable tree for the street or the vicinity of houses, it has, as we have said, qualities which commend it to the forest-planter. The French have planted it extensively because its leaves have been found to be a welcome food to the silk-worm. We may find it advantageous to plant it for the same reason, if the silk-culture is to be established in this country. The ailantus, while it grows as rapidly as the cotton-wood, produces a wood of a specific gravity nearly equal to white oak, which it resembles in color and structure, and above that of black-walnut. It has a beautiful grain, takes a high polish, is easily worked, and is an admirable wood for cabinet-work or the interior finish of houses. It will grow on almost any soil, and is easily propagated by seed or from suckers, which it throws up very abundantly. It is quite hardy as far north as a line drawn from St. Louis to Boston, and is well fitted for planting in exposed positions. Professor Sargent, of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, says of it: "A careful study of the ailantus from an economic point of view, and as a subject for sylviculture, forces on me the conclusion that no other tree, either native or foreign, capable of supporting the climate of so large an area of the United States, will produce, in so short a space of time, and from land practically useless, so large an amount of valuable material—valuable alike for construction and for fuel."

The Western catalpa (C. speciosa), formerly little known beyond the region of the lower Ohio, except as a few specimens have been grown for the sake of their beautiful flowers, which resemble somewhat those of the horse-chestnut, has lately been found to be one of our most valuable trees. What chiefly commends it, in addition to its very rapid growth, is its remarkable durability. No tree is known to be equal to it in this respect. It seems to be almost imperishable