Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/568

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which. the water in a few hours washed out into a navigable channel.

At about three hundred miles above the mouth of the Bermejo the author entered the Teuco, or the channel opened by the erratic waters of that river when they departed from their original bed. In many places along the old bed successive annual floods have covered with rich deposits the low-lying lands, leaving the tops of large trees peering above the surface. It would be impossible for the least sentimental not to admire and feel the influence of those rich woods, clothed in perpetual verdure, the trees entwined by the Paraguay jasmine, with its delicate white and blue flowers, whose fragrance is perceived as you run along the banks, and covered with other climbers, parasites, and orchids in great variety. There is a certain richness of growth in these wilds, filled with the native pineapple, which is unlike the rankness of the Brazilian tropical vegetation, so suggestive of jungle fevers, A Mr. Plaisant, in 1854, by direction of the Minister of Commerce of France, made an analysis of the woods of Paraguay, which practically may be said to be identical with those of the Chaco, and he concluded that they might be advantageously employed to take the place of those used in Europe for cabinet work. Many of them are certainly very beautiful; the tatané (Porliera hygrometrica) compares favorably with the bird's-eye maple; the palo rosa, the Guayacan Cesalpinea melanocarpa, a variety of Lapachos, the urundey, curupáy, and cumpayná, the quebracho, with a hundred others, all of hard, indestructible wood, when used in the earth or water, and which would hold their own with any of the woods of Europe or Asia. Mr. Plaisant classified thirty-nine species of superior quality, useful for naval construction and cabinet work, exclusive of a great number which had special applications for medical and domestic use. Most of the trees I have enumerated are actually used in Argentina in great quantities for ship-building, fencing, telegraph-lines, and railway sleepers. The three species of algarroba produce the long locust-pod, a staple article of food with the Chaco Indians, who pound it up and make it into a very sustaining bread. They also brew from it an intoxicating beverage, under the influence of which they become dangerous. The pod is very fattening food for cattle and horses, having a great percentage of saccharine matter. The presence of the algarroba is an indication of high land not subject to overflow. The alba species is employed extensively in the manufacture of hubs and furniture; its bark is good for tanning purposes, and a majority of the window and door frames of the older houses of Buenos Ayres are made of it. The "palo santo," holy wood, or lignum vitæ, is seen in quantities north of the twenty-sixth parallel. Its wood, which is extensively