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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

festation; and it is therefore impossible for one man to make an adequate study of it. This is the ground on which M. Forel asked the state to take charge of the matter.

 

A Remarkable Fig Tree.—Fig trees grow in Brittany, usually in sheltered places, where they are rarely much taller than the structures that protect them. Near Roscoff is a tree of unusual size and which is very famous. It is about the same height as the other trees of the region—say twelve or sixteen feet—but covers with its branches a surface which may be estimated at about four hundred square metres. It is situated in a farm garden. Its single low, gnarled trunk is partly inclosed in a broad wall, so that it is difficult to measure its diameter exactly, but it is in the neighborhood of twenty inches. From it, starting at about six feet from the ground, a great many limbs extend horizontally in all directions—some of them as far as fifty feet. These limbs are supported on two garden walls and on thirty-eight granite posts, between two of the rows of which is a covered alley-way, about eighty feet long. A French writer, M. A. Mehard, says that when he saw this tree for the first time, in September, 1884, it was covered with a thick, green foliage, and had on it a great many figs, some of which were beginning to ripen. He asked how old it was, and was told that the oldest persons in the region had never known it to be different from its present appearance. "How many figs a year does it bear?" "As many as we want; if we pick them every day, there are always some left." "But how many do you pick a day?" "Several baskets a season" (of two or three months). "Is it still growing." "Yes, sir; it would soon cover the whole plot if I didn't cut off the ends of the limbs every year." It is true that the tree, though very old, is still vigorous and bears good fruit; and that, notwithstanding the disproportion between the trunk and branches, the latter make good growths. The tree stands at the extreme limit of vegetation approaching the seashore.

 

Botany as a University-extension Study.—Writing in University Extension in favor of placing botany among the subjects of extension lectures, Prof. J. M. McFarlane remarks upon the extent to which the mind has been blinded by the current system of education to the perception of all that is in the living world outside it. One, he says, "can watch the process going on. Every average child shows a natural desire to become acquainted not only with the men, women, and children that he meets day by day, but with the animals and plants that he sees moving, and growing. This tendency is usually encouraged by the parents if they are sensible and know something of the facts of Nature. In the majority of cases, however, through pure ignorance they stifle the budding qualities of the child. And as school education advances, the stifling process is completed, for the child is silently taught that all knowledge can only come from books or the talk of teachers, and that to acquire knowledge through the tongue, by touch, from the sounds of natural objects, or by an eye-to-eye study of them, is a waste of time." Perceiving that the course of a few extension lectures is not sufficient to ground pupils well in Nature studies, the author suggests the combination with it of correspondence teaching. In proof of the feasibility of this, he shows that he has himself for eight years directed the work of students hundreds of miles apart, some of whom were advanced to the study of the highest works on the subject. But, besides the use of books and hand diagrams, he every fortnight forwarded from ten to thirty fresh specimens to each, which they were required to examine, describe, and classify. Material for microscopic study was supplied for those possessed of suitable instruments. Many of these pupils are now successful teachers of biology in schools and colleges, and two of them have established school botanic gardens.

 

Pepper-raising in Cambodia.—The pepper plant, says M. Adhémard Leclère, in the Revue Scientifique, is not a bush, as some writers say, but a vine which has to be supported by a tree when wild and by a strong stake when cultivated. The author has seen the vines growing nearly wild near Chandoc in Cambodia, where they had been planted by the villagers and left to themselves. They grew vigorously and to considerable length, but bore only a few bunches of fruit and that of an inferior quality. An abundant crop of good pepper can be obtained only by careful and