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existence in early life, so in the cohune; and I have never, in the scores of nuts opened, found more than one cell. Professor Watson has noticed two cells in several specimens, but never three. In the illustration of this palm the bunch of nearly ripe nuts is clearly shown, and in the diagram of flowers and fruit the fibrous husks and the abortive cells may be seen. The natives crush the ripe nuts between stones, and after pounding the rather small kernel in a mahogany mortar, boil the resulting cake until the oil floats; this is skimmed off and boiled again, to drive out the water. The average yield is a quart of oil from a hundred nuts. The oil is said to be superior to coconut-oil, a pint of it giving as much light, or rather burning as long, as a quart of the latter. It is not probable that the manufacture will pay in the presence of the more tractable coconut.
As the cohune grows older, the hitherto persistent leaf-stems drop, the scars disappear, and the smooth stem rises thirty to fifty feet clear to the crown of leaves at the summit.
The pimento-palm has a small cinnamon-colored stem much used for house building, as is also the poknoboy (Bactris balanoidea). The warree cohune (Bactris cohune), armed with spines, bears an edible nut much easier to crack than the larger fruit of the attalea. The cabbage-palm (Oreodoxa oleracea) is common in the upper valleys, and the base of the leaf is a very poor cabbage, nor is it eaten to any extent.
. In the forests the pacaya (Euterpe edulis) is a slender tree, the unexpanded flowerbuds being the edible part; and these are on sale in the
1 Mr. Coffin, the hospitable magistrate at Punta Gorda, gave me some of the best oil ; and in the limited experiments I have tried with it, its properties much resemble those of coconut-oil.
market-places tied in neat and attractive bundles. In taste it is rather insipid. On the ridges the Acrocomia
sclerocarpa flourishes; its stem is, like the warree cohune, armed with formidable spines, which serve as pins, needles, and awls. The Acrocomia vinifera also is common in the valley of the Motagua. Along the riverbanks the Desmoncus, a climbing palm, is very common and very troublesome to the explorer; but it shows such a curious adaptation of parts to special ends that its bad qualities may be overlooked by the naturalist. It is generally understood that in the foliage of palms the palmate form is the earlier, and that the growth or development of the midrib results in a pinnate or feather form. This is seen to be the case in the coco-palm, where the first leaves are palmate or fan-shaped ; but when the palm is a few months old it puts off these childish garments and dons the toga virilis in the pinnate form. In the desmoncus the development does not stop with the mere lengthening of the midrib, but transforms the leaflets at the end into claws to aid the limp stem to climb into sunlight. Here is a leaftip to show how this is done; the ribs of the leaflets, instead of expanding into thin blades, have thickened and bent backward to
serve as the barbs of an arrow and allow moLeaf-tip of
tion in one direction only. The leaf can push the stiffly bent fingers through the thick foliage, where
they stick fast and hold up the stem. The rattan-palm (Calamus rotang) of the East Indies climbs over the trees in a similar way. The Guatemalan climber bears a small cluster of spiny but edible nuts. The graceful little Chamaedoreas may
be found in flower or fruit at almost any season of the year, and their slender stems make good walking-sticks. The confra (Manicaria Plukenetii), so useful for thatching, grows only near the sea, usually in clumps of five or more. The nut is globular when onecelled, and about two inches in diameter. The coco (Cocos nucifera) is too well known to need description, though we shall consider the commercial importance of the nuts presently. Of the other fifty or more species of palms few have been identified, and their local names have no meaning for us.
To the family of orchids the collector is sure to turn with eagerness; but I must confess that the brilliant colors and bizarre forms of these flowers are not attractive to me. They are parasites; and although possessing a commercial value far above many more beautiful and honest flowers, only the vanilla has any useful qualities, so far as known. The vanilla moreover is an article of luxury, not necessity; for doubtless the chemist will discover, if he has not already done so, a substitute in some of the thousand and one products of the decomposition of coal-tar.
All along the coast the Epidendrum bicornutum and the Schomburgkia tibicina are very common, affecting mangroves especially. On orange-trees in the Motagua valley grows a bright little yellow Oncidium, the flower being the largest part of the plant. In the mountains is an orchid which bears several long spikes of rich purple
flowers, which with the pure white clusters of a ground orchid are much used in church decoration. So little is popularly known of the vanilla (V. planifolia) that I may be pardoned for quoting from Mr. Morris the directions lately issued from his Botanical Department of Jamaica, which are entirely applicable to the plant in Guatemala.
. In the Chocon forests it grows abundantly and fruits naturally, the insect needed to fertilize the flowers being present; and the pods are of excellent quality.
Vanilla. — “ This is a vigorous, soft-stemmed vine, the cured fruits of which are the valuable vanilla-beans of commerce. If cuttings are taken, their upper ends, or portion to appear above ground, may readily be determined by examination of the base of the attached leaf, in the axil or upper face of which is a small growth-bud. Cut the stem with say three or four joints at one fourth of an inch below the basal node or joint, then place the base of each cutting shallowly in prepared soil against the bole or trunk of a rough-barked, low-branching tree, as, for instance, calabash, or on a low-trellised frame three or four feet high, the supports of which should be unbarked logwood, yoke, or calabash.
“ If the insect which fertilizes the flowers of this orchid in its natural habitat is not present, in order to secure a crop of fruit it is necessary that the flowers should be artificially fertilized. This may be easily accomplished as follows. In the flower is a central white column, at the summit of which is a detachable cap or anther, which if touched on the lower front edge with a sharpened pencil or knife-blade will adhere to the implement. The pollen masses contained in the anther must then be made lightly to touch the sticky disk sit