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Full text of "Report on Natal Botanic Gardens and Colonial Herbarium for the year ..."

DURBAN BOTANIC SOCIETY. 



REPORT 



ON 



NATAL 



gtftmwf (Santo 

FOR THE YEAR 1896, 



BY 



J. MEDLEY WOOD, A.L.S., 

Corresponding Member of the Pharmaceutical Society 
of Great Britain. 

CURATOR. 



DURBAN : 

Bennett & Davis, Printers, 345, West Street 



897. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Field Museum of Natural History Library 



http://archive.org/details/reportonnatalbot1896wood 



DURBAN BOTANIC SOCIETY. 



REPORT 



ON 



NATAL 




aterait dfante 



FOR THE YEAR 1896, 



BY 



J. MEDLEY WOOD, A.L.S., 

Corresponding Member of the Pharmaceutical Society 
of Great Britain. 

CURATOR. 



DURBAN : 

Brnnett & Davis, Printers, 345, West Street. 



i8 97 . 



Durban Became SoeMi) 



.«««.«.««.««-»♦«->«««« 



COMMITTEE FOR 1 896 



B. W. GREENACRE, Esq., M.L.A. 

Mr. J. D. BALLANCE. 

Ilutt. €r casing : 

Mr. M. S. EVANS. 

Hon. R. Jameson, M.L.C. Mr. G. Rutherford, C.M.G. 

Mr. T. W. Edmonds. 



Mr. J. S. Steel. Mr. P. Button. 

Curator : 

J. MEDLEY WOOD, A.L.S. 



REPORT 



T*"*r*t*f*»**-w"» 



Botanic Gardkns, 
Berea, Durban, January, 1897. 

To the President and Committee, 

Durban Botanic Society. 
Gentlemen, — 

1 have the pleasure to hand you herewith my fifteenth 
Annual Report on the work of the Botanic Gardens, It is 
gratifying to be able to state that during the past year, we 
have been quite free from damage from flood, frost, or drought, 
and though the locusts paid us several short visits, no material 
damage was done. The rainfall for the year as supplied by the 
kindness of the Government Astronomer has been 39'63 inches, 
being 8*7 inches less than in 1895 ; the season has nevertheless 
been a fairly good one, and the plants in the Gardens have 
made very satisfactory growth. In consequence of the opening 
of the railway to Johannesburg, the business of the Gardens 
lias been very much increased, and large numbers of plants 
have been sent away, entailing a considerable amount of extra 
work, both to the gardeners and myself, and it has only been 
by the energy and ability of the staff that we have been able to 
keep pace with the work ; as a matter of course the Garden 
has been somewhat neglected, and I represented to the commit- 
tee that more assistance was urgently necessary, I therefore 
with the consent of the committee advertised in the local 
papers for a gardener, and though I had numerous applications, 
I was unable to select one from the number that was likely to 
be quite suitable for the work. I tried three for a short time 
each, but none of them were what we required, that is skilled 
propagators. I therefore wrote to the Director of Kew 
Gardens asking him to select and send out a suitable man for 
us, which he has very kindly done, and we expect the new man 
to arrive here early in January. The time-of the gardeners has 
been so much taken up with attending to the large number of 
visitors that we have had during the year, that very few plants 
have been put out into the Gardens, though we have a large 
number in pots and tins* which ought to have been put out 



before now. We "hope, however, during the early part of the 
year to get some of them planted, but we are urgently requir- 
ing more space, and it will soon be necessary to clear away 
some more of the native bush, either at the foot of the Gardens, 
or at the upper portion near the Observatory, but with the 
present supply of labour, and the great pressure of other work, 
we have been quite unable to attend to this, however desirable 
it may be. 

We have long felt the need of a propagating house, and I am 
pleased to be able to say that during the present year that 
want will be supplied ; the walls are already erected and the 
superstructure, with boiler and piping, is on board the " Clan 
Lindsay," now daily expected, so that in a few weeks time, we 
may hope to have the building in working order. 

As stated in my last Annual Report a new Conservatory is 
very much required, the present building is too small for out 
stock of plants, and is also sadly out of repair ; we had hoped 
during the past year we should have been able to have had it 
put in thorough repair, and still look forward to having a larger 
and more commodious building at no very distant date. 

I have been frequently asked by visitors whether a " Guide " 
of any kind was to be obtained, and as the number of visitors 
has very much increased, and it is quite impossible for a mem- 
ber of the staff to go round with all, I took advantage of a little 
comparative leisure in the winter to compile a " Guide to the 
trees and shrubs." Of course the information given is neces- 
sarily in a very condensed form, but it is hoped nevertheless 
that it may be found useful and interesting. It will be accom- 
panied by a lithographed plan of the ground, on which the 
position of the trees is indicated by numbers, and also includes 
indices to both popular and scientific names of the trees. 
When time can be found for the work it is intended to affix to 
the plants numbers corresponding with those in the " Guide." 
This pamphlet will be ready it is hoped during the present 
month, and can then be obtained at the Gardens at about cost 
price. 

The enamelled plant labels alluded to in my last report give 
general satisfaction, and it was my intention to have obtained 
a much larger number, so that one specimen at least of every 
tree in the Gardens should have a label affixed to it, but in 
consequence of many of them having been maliciously destroyed, 
presumably by mischievious boys, I hesitated about sending for 
more, but as I believe they are the best, neatest, and most 
conspicuous ones we can obtain, I shall have to send for more 
in the early part of the year, and we shall be compelled to make 
an example of the first person who may be detected in damag- 
ing them, either with slings, sticks, or otherwise. 



My annual collecting trip with wagon was almost a failure. 
I left in company with E. liyley, Esq., ML. A., for Van Reenen, 
where the wagon was to meet us, and travelled to Nelson's Kop, 
in the Orange Free State, but the day after leaving I had an 
attack of dengue fever, which quite incapacitated me for work 
for several days, and left me too weak to do much in the way 
of collecting, and I returned earlier than I should have done if 
I had been in my usual health. I however succeeded in getting 
a few plants for the Gardens, and for exchange, but by no 
means as many as I had hoped for. 

The locusts which have given so much trouble in other parts 
of the Colony, have, I am glad to be able to say, spared us 
altogether ; they visited us more than once, and on one oc- 
casion stayed for a few days, but except destroying a few 
annuals, and eating the leaves of some of the palms, they did 
but very little damage here ; in other parts of the Colony, and 
even within a short distance of the Gardens, farmers and 
planters have not been so fortunate. In addition to killing the 
young insects, several ways of getting rid of these pests has 
been proposed, such as spreading disease amongst them by 
scattering about the swarms the spores of the fungus which 
kills such numbers of them, shooting them with specially made 
mortars, and poisoning them with arsenic, and this last method 
is said to have been vary successful when carefully carried out. 

On February 20th, a Horticultural Show was held in the 
Town Hall under the auspices of the Society, assisted by a 
committee of gentlemen interested in this work ; the Gardens 
sent a large number of plants, not for competition, and the 
show was a complete success. It was intended that a similar 
show should be held annually, but we found that the staff were 
so overworked that it would have been almost impossible to 
have given the same time and attention to it at the close of the 
year, when it was proposed to hold it, as we had done at the 
commencement of the year. If, however, a separate committee 
had been formed to carry it out, the Society and the staff at the 
Gardens would have done what they could to make it a success, 
and would no doubt be prepared to do so at any future time, 
if arrangements are made to hold a similar show. 

The following publications have been received — 

Name. From. 

Kew Bulletin ... ... ... ... Director. 

Report Royal Botanic Gardens Jamaica .... ,, 

,, Trinadad... ,, 

„ Ceylon ... ,. 

Hong-Kong 

Botanic Gardens, Bangalore ... ,, 

„ Saharunpur ... ,, 



Report Agricultural Experiment Station of 
Minnesota 
Agricultural Experiment Station of 

Mississippi 
Secretary of Agriculture, United 

States of America 
Secretary of Agriculture, Nova 

Scotia 
Museum of Pharmaceutical Society 
Pomologist, U. States of America ... 
of Chemical Investigations, by E. 

Merck 

Albany Museum, Cape Colony 

Botanic Garden and Museum, Berlin 

Bulletins of Botanic Gardens, Jamaica ... 

,, ,, Grenada ... 

Experiment Station Records U. States of 

America... 
Chemical Composition of American Food 

Materials 
Canadian Field Peas, by T. Shaw .. 
Forage conditions of the Prairie regions, by 

J. G. Smith 
Oil Producing Seeds, by G. H. Hicks 
Purity and value of Agricultural Seeds ... 
Testing Seeds at Home 
List of publications of the Smithsonian 

Institute 
American Blight on Apple Trees ... 
Mayflower 

And the following have been purchased : 
turist; Farmers' Magazine. 

Seeds wei e received during the year as under : 



From. 



Director. 



U.S. Government. 

Secretary. 
President. 
U.S. Government. 

Author. 
Curator. 
Director. 



U.S Government. 



Kew. 

Editor. 

■Tropical Agricul- 



Royal Gardens, Kew 

,, Jamaica 

„ Trinidad ... 

Botanic Gardens, Hong-Kong 
„ Bangalore 

„ Saharunpur 

„ Grenada 

Najpur 
„ Madras 

,, New South Wales 

,, Paris 

Experiment Station, Kamerunga, Australia 



Packets. 

35 

1 

1 
18 

2 
42 

3 

3 
49 

1 

1 

2 



■ I H 






United States Governmeut 

L. Cockayne ... 

Dr. Schonland, Grahamstown 

Baron F. v. Mueller, Melbourne . 

W. Bujsman, Middleburg ... 

Messrs. Reasoner Bros., Florida . 

J. Butt Davy, California ... 

Max Leichtlin, Baden Baden 

Dr. Franceschi, California... 

J. C. Harvey 

General Lowther, England... 

Messrs. Sander & Co. 

Messrs. Christy & Co. 

Mr. A. Buring. Central Africa 

Major Giles, Richmond 

Mr*. G. H. Wilkinson, Maritzburg 

Mr. W. Groom, Inanda 

Mr. R. Jameson, Durban ... 

Mr. W. Nicholson, Richmond 

Mr. M. S. Evans, Durban ... 

Mr. W. Bazley, Umzinto ... 

Mr. W. J. Dickens, Noodsberg 

Mr. A. Wagner, Leipsic 

Mr. F. Button, Durban 

Mr. Jas. Wilson, East Africa 

Mr. G. F. Hall, Lidgetton ... 

Mrs. Schultz, Durban 

Dr. Thompson, Gazaland ... 

Messrs. Damman & Co., Naples . 

Messrs. Schaff, Shorting & Co. 





Packages 

144 




14 




1 




20 




( 4 




16 




23 




5 




15 




18 




3 




1 




1 




1 




5 




1 




1 




31 




1 




1 




1 




1 




7 




1 




1 




1 




1 




5 




90 




5 



583 
And the following plants were received : — 
Messrs. Schaff & Shorting — Bulbs of Calochortus, 3 species. 
Mr. J. C. Harwey — Bulbs of Hesperocallis undulatus. 
Messrs. Sander & Co. — 

3 Amaryllis aulica. 100 Gloxinias. 

6 Crinum sjp. 2 Arum discorides. 

2 Begonia socotrana. 2 „ aristatum. 

3 Qrijjinia hyacinthina. 2 ,, palestrinum. 
Hugh Dixon, Esq., New South Wales — 



1 Dendrobium gracicaul: 



I 


?» 


Kingianum . 1 


1 


f) 


caniculatum. 1 ( 


1 


)) 


teretifolium. 1 


1 


)> 


undulatum 1 j 


1 


n 


,, Joliannis. 



L Dendrobium bigibbum. 

,, macrophyllum 

1 Cymbidium albuciflorum, 

Kria Fitzalleni. 
1 Phaiusgrandifolius (dead) 



10 



Agri- Horticultural Society of India, Madras — ■ 

3 Dendrobium nobile. 
3 ,, formosum. 

2 ,, Farmeri. 

2 ,, jimbriatum. 

12 Vanda Roxburghii. 

Mr. Albert Wagner — 

100 Gocos Weddelliana. 

2 ,, campestris . 

2 Geonoma gracillis. 

2 Fhmnix canariensis. 

2 Ehapis aspera. 

2 ,, humilis. 

5 Kentia Forsteriana. 
200 Azaleas (assorted). 

5 Kentia Mooreana. 



1 Denarobium moschatum. 
1 ,, suavissimum. 

6 , , densijiorum. 

1 Aeridas odoratum. 
12 Vanda teres (dead) 



1 Sabal Adansonii. 

3 Livistona rotund if 'alia. 

1 ,, altissima. 

2 ,, Hoogendorflii. 
2 Chamaerops excelsa. 
2 Areca sapida. 

200 Gycas revoluta. 

250 Camellias (assorted). 



Mr. Jas. Wilson — 20 Mangos varieties. 

Botanic Gardens. Mauritius, per Mr. Bijoux — 

40 Orchids 5 (dead). 2 M.aranta zebrina. 

4 llymenopliyllnm (diverse). 2 Pandanus. 
9 Manihot (cuttings). 2 Hedychium. 

1 Alpinia. 12 Gloxinia. 

During the year 1895 we received 307 plants and 800 packets 
of seeds, with the following results : — 

PLANTS. 



Dead on arrival 


... 19 


Died afterwards from effects of voyage ... 


... 50 


Planted in Gardens... 


... 83 


Still in Pots 


... 138 


Already in stock 


... 17 




307 


SEEDS. 




Failed to germinate... 


... 214 


Germinated, but died afterwards ... 


... 70 


Distributed ... 


... 82 


Already in stock 


... 200 


Still in pots or planted in Gardens 


... 190 


Annuals and weeds ... 


... 37 



800 



11 



Packages of plants were sent away for exchange during the 
year as under : — 



Royal Gardens, Kew 


1 box conta 


nlng 


14 


plants 


„ Mauritius . . 


4 cases 


113 


?' 


E. M. Holmes, London 


1 box 


5 


?? 


J. Moir, Central Africa 


1 case 


40 


n 


J. Wilson, East Africa 


i ,; 


24 


>? 


Dr. Thompson, Gazaland 


1 „ 


12 


n 


A. Wagner, Leipsic ... 


6 ., 


, 244 


ii 


Sander & Co., St. Al ban's .. 


2 „ 


„ 460 


ii 


i j n 


1 „ 


>? 


seeds 


Botanic Gardens, Mancheste: 


' 1 „ 




plants 


Packets of seeds were sent away as under : — 








Packets. 


Botanic Gardens, Mauritius 


14 


,, Bangalore 


... 




25 


,, Maritzburg 






22 


,, St. Petersburg 






25 


Scharff & Shorting, California ... 






25 


Reasoner Bros., Florida ... 




... 




26 


Jackson & Perkins 








25 


J. C. Harvey, California... 








26 


C. Gross 








25 


S. Tomayana, Japan 








25 


Damman & Co., Naples ... 




. • . • 




2 


To 30 correspondents in the 


Colony 


•• 


... 




370 



370 

And to 27 applicants in the Colony, 81 lots of Sweet Potato 
cuttings, in 3 varieties. 

The following free grants of plants have been made during 
the year : — 

Government Asylum, Maritzburg ... £10 12 1 

Ladies College, Durban ... ... ... 156 

Durban Corporation ... ... .. 3 5 

Baptist Chapel, Durban ... ... ... 216 



£17 4 1 



The following plants have flowered for the first time in the 
Gardens during the year : — 

Received From 



Acacia spectabilis 
Agati grandijlora coccinea 
AJchornea ilicifolia 
Aloysia ly cioides . . . 
urticoides 



Damman & Co. 

ii 
Kew 
Damman & Co. 



12 



Amoora Bohituka 
Aristolochia elegans 

,, gig as Sturtevantii. 

,, ridicula 

Cannas (50 varieties) ... 
Gienkowskia Kirkii 
Glerodendron siphonanthus 
Glusia alba 
Gubaea macrostemma 
Gostus igneus 
Grescentia cujete... 
Gypripedium Chamber! lay nii . 
Dendrobium Farmeri 
Ehretia serrata ... 
Erythrina crista-galli ... 
Ixora picturala ... 

„ venusta 
Jacquinia aurantiaca 
Lettsomia sp. 
Lycium chinense ... 
Melia azederach (continuous 

flowering) 
Passiflora mannicata 
Physalis glabra ... 

Physostegia virginica alba 
Roupelia grata ... 



Saharunpur 
Mr. Labistour 
Port Elizabeth 
Mr. Labistour 
Damman & Co. 
Sander & Co. 
Madras 
Mauritius 
Max Leichtlin 
Sander & Co. 
Saharunpur 
Sander & Co. 
H. Strauss 
Sahrunpur 
Damman & Co. 
Agri-Horticultural Society 
of India 

Reasoner Bros. 
Damman & Co. 



J. C. Harvey, California. 

Acclimatisation Society of 

California 
Damman & Co. 
Agri- Horticultural Society 

of India 
Damman & Co. 
Kew 
Damman & Co. 



Stevia odorata 

Thunbergia grandiflora alba 

Turner a elegans ... 

Amongst the plants enumerated in my last report as having 
been put out in the Gardens, the following have since died, or 
been found to be mere weeds, for which we have not sufficient 
room in the Gardens : — 



Delphinium cardinale 
„ puniceus 

Genista tinctoria 

Hypericum assyrion ? 
,, tetrapteron 

Isatis tinctoria 



Pueraria Thunbergii 
Bumex Barlandieri 
Sisynchrium bellum 
Trifolium rossidum 
Vicia grandiflora 
,, serratifoha 



Poterium sp. 

" Sweet Potatos." — The 3 varieties imported from Florida 
have done very well indeed with us, and a large number of the 
bines have been distributed to applicants. The tubers are not 
so good a colour as those commonly grown here, but have a 



13 

different flavour, and are afc any rate a change from those that 
we have been accustomed to for so long. One of the varieties 
yields a very large amount of bines, and will no doubt be found 
useful as a forage plant, as well as for its tubers, as cuttings of 
the bines may be freely taken without apparently diminishing 
the yield of tubers. Another variety produces but a small 
quantity of bines, which reach only a very short distance from 
the root, but the produce of all of them is very similar, and 
which of them may be most profitably grown may be a matter 
for experiment. 

Atriplex spp. — Seeds of several species of this genus have 
been repeatedly received from Australia, chiefly from the late 
Baron F. v. Mueller ; they have been tried here, plants have 
been raised and put out in the Gardens but have invariably 
dwindled away, and eventually died off ; numbers of packets of 
seed have been given away to applicants, but I have not heard 
of a single case in which any of the plants have been success- 
fully reared, and think it most likely that they will not succeed 
in Natal, except it may be in an alkaline soil, of which we do 
not appear to have much in the Colony. I have, however, 
received from the United States Government, seeds of another 
species of this genus, Atriplex canescens, of which Mr. F. Lam- 
son Scribner, the States Agrostologist. says : — " ] send you by 
mail to-day a small sample of seed of one of our native forage 
plants, Atriplex canescens, James, locally known as " Shad 
Scale," "White Sage," or " Sweet Sage," It was formerly one 
of the chief reliances of the cattle men on the arid plains from 
Western Texas to Arizona, but has now become almost extinct, 
occurring only on steep cliffs and in protected situations where 
cattle and sheep cannot reach it." This plant will have a fair 
trial here and will be noticed in a future report. 

Desmodium tortuosum, " Florida Beggar Weed." — In Septem- 
ber I received from the same gentleman a packet of seed of this 
plant about which he says that it is "A wild forage plant 
highly esteemed in the subtropical portion of the United States. 
It produces a fodder of fine quality in large quantities, and 
grows best on sandy soils containing lime. On cultivated lands 
it grows often 8 to 10 feet high. The haulms, though woody, 
are eaten by cattle and working stock of all kinds. Beggar 
Weed makes an excellent green manure. In Florida it is 
extensively used as a renewer of worn lands. It promises to 
be a plant of much agricultural value in the warmer countries." 
This seed w T as sown at once on receipt, and the plants are now 
from 12 to 15 inches high, and growing vigorously, seed will 
most likely be obtained from it for distribution, and I quite ex- 
pect to be again told that " cattle will not eat it," but farmers 
must surely understand that cattle require a little management 



14 

before they will take to a plant so different from their ordinary- 
food plants as these are, but a little care and trouble will soon 
overcome the difficulty, as I know from personal experience. 

Rheea or China Grass. — (Boehmeria nivea). — So many en- 
quiries have been made during the last few months about this 
plant that I venture to take over from the " Tropical Agricul- 
turist " for November last, the following article, which contains 
information for which I have been frequently asked. I would 
at the same time strongly recommend those who are inclined 
to cultivate the Rheea, to first make sure that our native 
species, Urera tenax, called by the natives um-Bogozembe, will 
not be a more profitable plant to cultivate than the Rheea : — 

SOME PARTICULARS REGARDING RHEEA 
CULTIVATION". 

(Being extracts from a report to the Government of India by 
James Montgomery, Esq., Kangra). 

PROPAGATION. 

(1) By seed. — This course must be adopted in some cases, 
when the germ of the plants has to be carried over great dis- 
tances ; but probably much disappointment will attend the 
result. To obtain the seed great care is requisite, and a favour- 
able atmospheric season. For this purpose young spring shoots 
should be carefully reserved in a well sheltered position. These 
plants should receive special care and be well manured. 
During the rainy season they must be kept thoroughly drained, 
and after that has passed, the ground should be carefully 
loosened round the plants. If the rains come early in October, 
a fair amount of seed may be obtained; but, as far as I can 
juHge, no amount of care can ensure success, so much depending 
on the season, a dry one being most favourable for the full 
development of the seed. The only method of sowing which I 
found successful, was on a gentle hot-bed under glass, in March 
and April ; the seed scattered over the surface, covered very 
thinly with sifted earth, and carefully shaded from the sun, 
until the plants were about three inches high, when sunlight 
may gradually be admitted. When sufficiently strong they 
should be planted out a foot apart every way. 

(2) By cuttings of the stems. — The stems should be spring 
grown ones, allowed to ripen well and not cut until duly ripe. 
Then divide the ripened portion of the stem where the cuticle 
has turned fully brown into short lengths, each including three 
eyes or buds, cut a quarter of an inch below the the bottom 
bud and as much above the top one, and plant with the centre 
bud level with the surface If the weather be damp and 
cloudy, they will readily strike root, otherwise they will require 
shading for a week or ten days, the soil being kept moist. As 



15 

with seedlings, I find a foot apart every way the most advan- 
tageous distance, as very few shoots are thrown up the first 
year. 

(3) By divisions of the roots. — This is by far the most advan- 
tageous and profitable method. The plants for this purpose 
should be three or four years old. After gathering the spring 
crop, dig out each plant carefully, and remove the earth from 
the roots. I generally put the mass of roots into running water 
for a short time ; this cleanses them thoroughly and enables 
the gardener to see his work clearly. The tuberous portions 
of the roots will be found to show a large number of eyes 
similar to those on a potato. From these carefully separate 
portions, each containing five or six eyes ; let the cuts be clean 
and reject all fibrous and decayed matter. Expose these sets 
to the sun for a couple of hours to dry the surface of the 
wounds, and then plant six inches deep, and at the full distance 
of four feet apart every way. In this way two good crops will 
be obtained from them the first year. 

THE SOIL AND SITUATION FOR PLANTATIONS. 

A rich loam suits the plants best, but they will grow in any 
kind of soil, provided that a full supply of moisture be available, 
combined with thorough drainage. The latter is emergently 
(sic) required, particularly during the rainy season, as should 
the land be retentive, and become swampy, the plants will decay 
in a very short period. 

If the land be poor, a liberal supply of manure is requisite, 
otherwise the stems will be short and weak, yielding scarcely 
any fibre. In no part of upper India can the plant be success- 
fully cultivated unless water for irrigation be available during 
the dry season. The facilities for obtaining an ample supply 
of water, combined with the moderate temperature at all 
seasons, renders this district particularly favourable to the 
plant. 

CULTIVATION. 

Should the land have been stocked with seedlings or cutt- 
ings, then in the following spring, after having reaped the first 
crop of available shoots, every other plant should be transferred 
to fresh ground, and put down at two feet apart. The follow- 
ing year the same course should be pursued, taking up each 
alternate root and replanting at four feet apart. After this 
the plants may well remain undisturbed for four years, hoeing 
well between after each crop, clearing away weeds, irrigating 
moderately during the dry season, and supplying manure where 
neceesary. The only manure I had at command has been vege- 
table, consisting mainly of the leaves and wood portion of the 
plant itself, and of tree and vegetable leaves stored up for the 



16 

purpose, with which I mix a considerable amount of wood 
ashes. With the aid of this only, I have kept plants growing 
in the same spot for upwards of six years ; but consequent on 
the then very crowded state of the ground, the stems were short 
and very weak. I would therefore recommend a thorough 
removal after four yeais, the land to be then well ploughed, 
cleaned and manured. 

GATHERING THE CROP. 

The period of reaping will vary slightly according to differ- 
ence of season. I find that in this district three good crops 
can be relied on each year — the first during the latter end of 
April, the second about the commencement of August, and the 
third about the end of November; the weather here during the 
remainder of that month is not sufiiciently cold to keep back 
the new growth, mid should the young shoots appear above 
ground early in January, the forests (sic) which are usual at 
that period seriously injure them and lessen the spring crop. 
My own experience indicates that the stems should be gathered 
as soon as the cuticle shows a clear brown colour for about one 
third of the length. At this stage, if the soil be good and the 
plant healthy, the stems will be clean from butt to point, the 
leaves of a rich dark green above, and pearly white below, and 
the branch buds, at the axle of each leaf-stalk just showing. If 
gathered earlier than this, I find the connection of the fibres 
very weak, and that a considerable rortion separates in the 
operation of scraping the peel. If allowed a further growth, 
the axillary branches will have been thrown out, which will 
cause breakages at every point both in peeling and cleaning. 

The average height of stems grown here has been six feet, 
after cutting off the soft portion at the top. In gathering I 
supply each coolie with a sharp pruning knife. With this they 
cut the ripe stems close to the butt ; these are removed in 
bundles by boys to the nearest manure pit. Here the boys cut 
nine inches off the top and pass one hand with a gentle pressure 
from top to butt; this removes all the leaves. The stems are 
then placed in clean water, from whence the peelers remove 
them and separate the peel, which is again thrown into water, 
from which it is withdrawn as wanted by the men who clean 
it. These lay three or four strips of peel on a flat board, scrape 
it a few times on the inner side from butt to point, then turn it 
over and repeat the scraping, which removes the cuticle : it is 
then hung up, or thrown on clean grass to dry. 

Taking the distance of four feet apart for fully bearing 
plants, an acre will contain (allowing for paths and water 
channels) 3,000 plants ; more than this I find to be too crowded 
and to increase labour, while lessening the actual yield during 



Lbs. 


Per Cent. 


286 




77-5 


= 27 


83 


= 29 


21-5 


= 7-5 


203 


= 71 


50 


— 195 


18-7 


= 6.5 


208-5 


= 73 



17 

a four years period. Thus planted the yield will be a steadily 
increasing one, and the plants will not show any deterioration. 

From repeated experimental washings, I have deduced the 
following average proceeds from 1,000 freshly cut 6 feet stems 

Weight 
As cut ... 
When dried 
Fresh peel 
Dry peel 
Fresh wood 
Dry wood 
Clean diy fibre 
Water ."'. 

If larger stems, from 7 to 8 feet, be taken, the average is 
less in the weight of peel, but in the outturn of clean fibre it is 
slightly greater. With small stems, from 3 to 4 feet, the per- 
centage of peel is markedly greater, but the return of fibre is 
barely 35 per cent. Moreover the extra labour in cutting, 
peeling, and cleaning these small stems is an important con- 
sideration. 

The g^crop cut during the rainy season will always contain a 
large percentage of water, and that of clean fibre be formed 
rather less, the fibre being also softer than at other periods of 
cutting. This I consider due to the fact that at this period 
the resinous matter in the plant is in a more diluted state, and 
consequently a greater portion of it is removed during the pro- 
cess of washing and scraping the peel 

I have already expressd my opinion against the use of either 
immature or small stems as likely to give a result inferior both 
in quality and quantity. Yet I am fully satisfied as to the 
advisability of not only sorting the crop, as cut, according to 
length of stem when necessary, but I would further recommend 
that the peel from all stems of five feet and upwards should 
be divided into two, and the fibre from the upper and lower 
portions kept distinct. If cultivated as I suggest, the differ- 
ence in length of the stems at each cutting will be found very 
small, the monsoon crop always giving the longest stems. 

In earlier estimates, calculating on closely planted crops, and 
stems four to five feet, I was cautious to restrict my estimate to 
7501bs. per acre, but five years additional experience has shown 
me that with proper open cultivation l,0001hs. per acre may be 
fully assured. 



Mauihot utilissvma — "Cassava." — In my Report for 1892, 
page 13, I alluded to this plant, and gave an extract from the 



18 

" Florida Despatch " showing the value placed upon it there as 
a food for domestic animals and human beings, but no one in 
Natal cares to give it a trial. When Mr. Bijoux, Curator of 
the Botanic Gardens, Curepipe, Mauritius, visited Natal, 
amongst other things that he brought for us were cuttings of 
nine different varieties of this plant, all of which are growing 
well, some of these varieties yield a large and coarse root, and 
are used for feeding cattle and horses, others are used by the 
labourers on the estates, while the finer varieties give a smaller 
crop, but the roots are of a Superior quality, and are extensively 
ueed by the planters, and I add here a description of the 
manner of using them which I obtained from Mr. Bijoux, who 
tells me that the plant is largely grown on nearly every Sugar 
Estate in Mauritius. 

NOTES ON THE CULTIVATION OF " MANIOC " 
("MANIHOT UTILISSIMA.") 

This plant is largely grown at Mauritius, first for food, and 
secondly for starch. It succeeds well in all kinds of soil, but 
prefers a light sandy one. There is in Mauritius no particular 
season for planting the cuttings, but they are planted all the 
year round. When the plant reaches maturity the leave? turn 
yellow and fall off, and this is the time to dig it. In no case 
should the roots be dug for use if they have begun to grow, 
because the starch has lost its properties and the roots become 
watery. To uproot the plant, the stems are seized and gently 
shaken, pulling them upwards until all the roots are out. The 
roots are then cut off and the stems pat in a shady place to be 
replanted in about a month's time. If immediately required to 
extract the starch, or to eat the roots, they should be peeled, 
the whole of the skin being removed. In no case should the root 
be used without the skin being removed. To extract the starch 
the cleaned roots are reduced on a rasp to a pulp, and then 
allowed to drop into a large bath or pail, three-quarters filled 
with water. The pulp is then pressed through a strong linen 
cloth, with the addition of water, until all the starch has 
passed through the cloth. The water with the starch is then 
allowed to settle until all the starch has been deposited, and the 
water becomes clear, which will be in about 24 hours, the 
water is then gently poured off, and the starch is found at the 
bottom of the vessel. It is then collected and laid upon clean 
linen, or plank, till dry, when the starch is ready for market, 
and 4 pounds of roots will yield about 1| pounds of starch. 
When required to be made into biscuits, the pulp is simply 
collected and pressed in a bag, and no water is put with it. 
After 12 hours under the press, the pulp is removed from the 
bag and placed in a basket in which clean linen has been 



19 

laid. A sheet of iron about a foot square and \ inch thick is 
heated to a good heat, it is then well cleaned with a brush, and 
the pulp is spread upon it. After four or five minutes the cake 
is turned and when sufficiently cooked is finally removed. In 
Mauritius this is called " Manioc Gallette," and is eaten by 
children in the morning with milk or coffee. The eake is made 
as follows: — The pulp is prepared as for the " Gralette " and 
mixed with a little sugar and butter to taste, placed in moulds 
of three inches square, and one inch thick, and then baked till 
brown in an oven. There is a factory at Mahebourg, expressly 
to make Manioc biscuits, and to extract the starch, and I can 
say that it is in a very prosperous condition ; there is a very 
large demand for its biscuits. Every sugar estate cultivates 
large quantities of Manioc for its oxen ; the variety cultivated 
for this purpose is a very large one, the roots weighing some- 
times as much as 12 to 151bs. The horses and ponies are also 
fed with it on many estates. 



Zeea Mays. — I received from Mr. Thos. Christy, of London, 
five seeds of a mealie which is said to reach over 12 feet in 
height, and to bear cobs 22 inches in length. These seeds 
were planted on the 22nd of November, and at the close of the 
year were 6 feet in height, and looking exceedingly well; every 
care will be taken of them, and if found to be really an acquisi- 
tion, seeds will be distributed to applicants when ready. 

Widdringtonia Whytei. — This is the large " Cedar " from 
Nyassaland, of which we obtained a few seeds some years ago, 
and subsequently on Mr. Whyte's visit to Natal he kindly gave 
us a larger quantity. A number of plants have been reared 
and sent to different parts of the Colony for trial, and in the 
midlands at any rate, some of the plants have done very well, 
but with us, though they grow very well in pots or tins, are 
taken by white ants soon after being put out, and we have lost 
in this way every one that has been planted. In this connec- 
tion I give below a recipe for protecting trees from these pests. 
We have not tried it yet, as I am at a loss to know what to 
substitute for the " dekamali " gum, an ingredient about which 
I have at present no information whatever. 

PAINT USED AGAINST WHITE ANTS. 

During a brief visit to the Native State of Gondal, the writer 
gave this subject considerable attention. There seemed to be 
no doubt that His Higness the Thakore Sahib, by his enlight- 
ened action in this matter, had effected a radical improvement. 
Tde trees throughout his State were all painted as described, 
and not a single tree could be found showing the mud encase- 



20 

merits so characteristic of the presence of white ants. And 
very possibly, as a consequence of the care bestowed on these 
trees, they were healthy and vigorous while those in neigh- 
bouring States were sickly and badly attacked by white ants. 
In consequence of these observations the writer asked for 
information as to the composition of the paint which had been 
used. He was informed that the red colour was merely to 
indicate the fact that the trees had been painted, and that it 
was for the most part red ochre. The useful ingredients were 
said to be as follows : — 

1 part dekamali gum (the resin of Gardenia gummiferd). 

2 parts asafoetida. 
2 parts bazar aloes. 

2 parts castor oil cake. 

These are well pounded, mixed, and kept in water for about a 
fortnight. When thoroughly united, and what may be called 
decomposed into a thickened compound, water is added in order 
to bring it to the consistency of paint, and the colouring matter 
is then added. The mixture is now ready for use, and if 
thoroughly applied for about two feet will check not only the 
attacks of white ants, but of red ants and other insect pests. 
Its effect will last for two years or more. The cost of the pre- 
paration comes to about 4 to 5 rupees per LOO trees. But 
according to the information furnished from Gondal," al" refuse 
possesses no special properties ; from other parts of India the 
reputation is very general that it is of great value; the red ochre 
added to the above preparation may not only be useful as 
indicating the trees that have been painted but give a useful 
consistency, if it does not serve to mechanically hold the other 
ingredients. 

The paint was prepared according to the directions given by 
the " Economic Reporter " to Governmenl, and applied to a 
number of mango, shisham, and siris trees on the Sirsawa 
road that were badly attacked by white ants. Before applying 
the paint the coating of earthy matter deposited upon the 
trunks of the trees by the ants was removed, and in all instances 
where the earthy deposit was entirely removed, the paint has, 
so far, had the effect of preventing further attacks by the ants 
upon the trees. In a few cases the men employed upon the 
work of painting, overlooked strips of earthy deposit lying in 
hollow channels on several of the trunks of trees operated upon. 
The strips of earthy deposit overlooked were painted over 
together with the cleaned portion of the trunk, but the ants 
took no notice of the paint when applied to the outside of their 
earthy runs, and therefore made use of the strips that were left 
as passages to communicate with the upper portion of the 



21 

trunk, where they continued their attacks as before the applica- 
tion of the paint. The experiment has therefore proved that 
the paint is an effective against the attacks of white ants if 
applied directly to the bark of attacked trees, bat that it is of 
little use if applied without first entirely removing all earthy 
ant deposit from the trees. 

The trees experimented on were 29 full grown specimens 
averaging from 2| to 3| feet in diameter. Ingredients for paint 
to the value of Rs. 13-3-0 were purchased, but as the full 
quantity was not used, the actual cost of painting the 29 trees 
operated on was Rs. 7, or at the rate of 3 annas 10 pice per tree 
nearly. I therefore consider the paint too expensive for ex- 
tended use on large sized trees, but its cost would not be pro- 
hibitive for use on young trees or saplings. In districts where 
it is found exceedingly difficult to establish the commonest and 
hardiest of roadside trees, owing to the presence of white ants, 
the paint, would, I feel sure be most useful. 



The following list of weeds of cultivation commonly found in 
the colony may be of some use, and can be continued in future 
reports, especially if farmers would be good enough to supply 
me with recognisable specimens of weeds which may appear on 
their ground, together with any information they may possess 
about them, so that at some future time a fuller list with more 
complete information may be published. 

WEEDS OF THE FARM AND FIELD. 

Acalypha KcMonii. (Baill). Natural order, Euphorbiaceae. 
— A small plant abounding in some places in the midlands, but 
not specially troublesome. Called by the natives i-Boza. 

Aizoon canariense. (Linn). Natural order, Ficovleue. — A 
prostrate herbaceous plant found all over South Africa, especi- 
ally in cultivated ground. The ashes are said to abound in 
soda. 

Argemone mexicava. (Linn). Natural order, Pa-pave raceae. — 
Originally a native of Mexico, but now widely distributed in 
waste places in most tropical, and sub-tropical countries. The 
seed possess acrid narcotic, and purgative properties, and have 
been used medicinally. In Natal this plant seems to be almost 
confined to the coast districts 

Achyra'nthes aspera. (Linn). Natural order, Amarantace&e. 
— An upright herbaceous plant, found chiefly in the coast 
districts, but reaching also some distance inland ; its barbed 
seed vessels, which adhere to passing animals, would cause it 
to be a great nuisance in the sheep-rearing counties. 



22 

Amaranius paniculatus. (Linn) Natural order, Amarantaceae. 
., spinosus ,, ,, ■ ,, 

„ Thunbergii. (Moq.) ,, „ 

These three plants are all called by the natives im-Buya, and 
are well known to all farmers ; they spread themselves with 
great rapidity from seed, which they produce at a very early 
age. A. spinosus was probably introduced into Natal with 
forage, about the time of the Zulu War, and is particularly 
troublesome, on account of the thorns with which it is furni- 
shed. A. Thunbergii has been used by both colonists and 
natives as a sort of spinach, and is probably still so used. 

Aneleima Dregeana. (C.B.C.) Natural order, Gommelinaceae. 
„ equinoctials. (Kth.) ,, ,, 

Troublesome weeds in the coast districts, the former bearing 
pink, the latter yellow flowers. Like all plants of the order 
found in Natal, they are very difficult to eradicate, as they will 
continue to grow even when pulled up by the roots, and left 
in heaps on the ground. 

Bidens pilosa. (Linn). Natural order, Compositae. 
,, bipinnata. (Linn). ,, ,, 

The first named plant is the well known " Black Jack " or 
" Vegetable Tick," the second one is probably an introduction 
from N. America, where it is indigenous. So far it has only 
been found near the Inanda Mission Station. The flower-heads 
of B. pilosa have been used in the colony as a remedy for diar- 
rhoea, and it is said with good effect. 

Ceratotheca triloba. (E.M.) Natural order, Pedalineae. — A 
weed in waste ground, bearing pretty foxglove like flowers, and 
having a rather unpleasant scent. It is not particularly 
troublesome. 

Ghenopodium ambrosiodes. (Linn). Natural Order, Ghenopo- 

diacae. 
Botrys 
,, murale 

The first and last mentioned are found in the coast districts, up 
to at least 2,000 feet above sea level, the second named one, 
appears to be confined to midland and upper districts, and is 
commonly found in old mealie fields. All three are introduced 
plants, and the first named is used by the natives as a kind of 
spinach 

Goleotrype natalense. (C.B.C.) Natural order, Gommelinaceae. 

Gomelina (several species) ,, ,, 

Golrotrype natal evse is quite confined to the coast and midland 
districts, but several species of Gommelina are found from the 
coast to the top of the Drakensberg, and in the coast districts 
at least are very troublesome on account of the great difficulty 



23 

experienced in eradicating them, as they will grow vigorously 
even if pulled up by the roots and turned completely over on 
the ground. They are often called " Pigweeds," but it is unsafe 
to feed pigs, especially young ones, on their leaves and stems, 
as is often done, as they appear to have some deleterious pro- 
perties, though the underground stems of some of the species 
yield starch, and are said to be used as food. 

Guscuta africana. (Willd), Natural order, Gonvolvulaceae.— 
This is a plant belonging to the same genus as the well known 
" Dodder," and is probably quite as destructive to the plants 
upon which it affixes itself ; it should therefore be carefully 
destroyed whenever found in the vicinity of cultivated lands. 
Another species, 0. cassythioides, which is parasitical on trees, 
is known to the natives as " Makumkumka." 

Gyathula cylindrica. (Moq.) Natural order, Amarantaceae. — 

„ globulifera 

„ lappacea ,, ,, „ 

These plants bear their flowers clustered together in cylindrical 
spikes, or in globose heads, and are extremely annoying to 
passing travellers from their habit of clinging persistently to 
the clothing, by the hooked bristles with which the seed vessels 
are furnished, and for this reason should not be permitted to 
grow on sheep farms. The two first named are found from the 
coast to about 3,000 feet above the sea, the latter one in the 
upland districts only. The second on the list is known to the 
natives as " Sinana " and is used by them medicinally. 

Uynoylossum enerve- (Turcz). Natural order, Boragineae. 
,, micranthum. (Desf). ,, ,, 

Weeds found on hillsides and moist places throughout the 
colony, and whose seed vessels are more or less thickly covered 
with hooked bristles, and therefore very undesirable occupants 
of sheep farms. Specimens of wool have been sent to me in 
which were found numbers of the seed vessels of one of these 
plants. 

Gyperus retusus. (Nees). Natural order, Cyperaceae. — A 
pestilent weed, found in cultivated ground in most parts of the 
Colony, but especially I think in the coast districts. This 
plant belongs to the family which are commonly called 
" Sedges." The base of the stem is bulbous, and not unpleas- 
antly scented. It propagates itself with great rapidity from 
long thin roots or stolons which proceed from the main stem, 
and its rate of growth in the summer season is astonishing. To 
rid the ground of this pest it is necessary to pull it up by the 
l'oots and carry it away, simply hoeing or cutting it oft' above 
the ground is of no use, as in a few days' time it will be as 



24 

vigorous as ever. It is I believe more properly called G. 
escule/itus, and the small tubers have been used as a substitute 
for coffee, and as food in the south of Europe. 

Datura Stramonium. (Linn). Natural order Solanaceae. — 
An introduced weed now found at all altitudes in the colony, 
but perhaps most plentifully near the coast. Simply con- 
sidered as a weed it is not very formidable, but it contains an 
alkaloid called "daturin," and all parts of the plant are more 
or less poisonous. It has been used medicinally in neuralgia, 
epilepsy, and asthma. 

Echinospermum capense. (D.C.) Natural order, Boragineae. 
— A plant closely related to the Oynoylossums, and likely also 
to prove a pest on sheep farms; the chief difference between the 
two genera appears to be that while the seed vessels of Gyno- 
glossums are covered all over with the hooked bristles, those of 
Ectiinospermum have them at the margin only, but in either 
case the purpose of distributing the seeds is equally well accom- 
plished. The seed vessels in both genera consist of four little 
nuts, which are affixed to a central column, from which at 
maturity they are easily detached, The flowers of the above 
named species are either blue or white, and are produced in 
great abundance. 

Eclipta f recta. (Linn). Natural order, Gompositae. — A 
common tropical weed, found in waste places, and ill-kept 
ground all over the coast districts, but not extending far up 
country. The flowers are yellow, and the plant is not specially 
troublesome. 

'Erigeron canadense. (Linn). Natural order, Gompositae. — 
A weed belonging to the same order as the last-named one and 
found in waste and cultivated lands all over the colony. Except 
for the great profusion in which it occurrs, it is scarcely worth 
naming here, as it is very easily got rid of. The name signifies 
" soon becoming old," and is very appropriate, as the plant 
flowers very early, and has a worn out appearance. It is a 
common weed in all tropical countries. 

Euphorbia sanguinea. (E.M.) Natural order, Euphorbiaceae. 
— A common weed all over the colony, found usually on walks, 
in damp places, or in slight shade. It is a native of Tropical 
. and South Africa, but the natives do not appeal- to have any 
distinctive name for it. The flowers are an interesting object 
for microscopical examination. 

Euphorbiapilulifera. (Linn). Natural order, Euphorbiaceae. 
— A tropical weed found on the coast lands only, and probably 
introduced. It is not in great abundance, and is only enumer- 
ated here, as it is used medicinally both in Natal and at Home, 
and the dried leaves are an article of commerce. 



25 

Gfnaphalium lateo-album. (Linn). Natural order Compositae. 
,, purpureum ,, ,, ,, 

„ undulatum ,, ,, ,, 

Weeds appearing sometimes in great profusion, the foliage 
being covered with woolly down, the first named is also a 
native of Great Britain, and prefers moist ground: like the 
Erigeron, and belonging to the same order, they are only for- 
midable on account of their great numbers, and the rapidity 
with which they spread themselves. 

Qomphocarpus physucarpus. (MM.) Natural order, Asclepiada- 

ceae. 
,, fruticosus ,, ,. ,, 

The first named is a coast plant, the second is only found in 
the up-country districts, especially in the vicinity of Lady- 
smith. They are easily got rid of, and only alluded to here, as 
both species may eventually become of economic value, for the 
fibre contained in their stems, and the cottony substance which 
is attached to their seeds, which has been used for stuffing 
cushions, etc., etc. 

Gomphrena globosa. (Linn.) Natural order, Amarantaceae. 
— A pestilent weed, common in tropical, and sub-tropical coun- 
tries, and in Natal almost or quite confined to the coast districts, 
it flourishes well amongst grass, and is a great nuisance when 
present in quantity on grass lawns. 

lledyotis HeyneL (R. Br.) Natural order, Bubiaceae. — A 
low growing, much branched plant found'chiefly in the midland 
districts. I should scarcely have thought of alluding to it 
here, but for the fact that on a recent journey through the 
Noodsberg district, I found it in great abundance in some Kafir 
gardens where it occupied almost the whole surface of the 
ground, and recognised that it might become a most annoying 
weed, it is a native of Natal only, the flowers are small and 
white, the leaves linear, and few, and the branches numerous. 

Hydrocotyle asiatica. (Linn.) Natural order, Umbellifereae. 
— A prostrate plant with reniform, or cordate leaves, usually 
found in moist places all over the colony, it is easily eradicated, 
and though it belongs to an order containing many poisonous 
plants it is itself quite harmless. 

Lactuca capensis. (Thb.) Natural order, Compositeae. — A 
well known plant, common all over the coloiry. It is closely 
related to the garden lettuce, but in outward appearance very 
different, for the lettuce has become so altered by long ages of 
cultivation that it is not quite certain from which species it 
originally sprung. Lactuca cape n sis very probably possesses 
uarcotic properties which are most abundant when in flower, 
or in seed. 



26 

Lantana spp. Natural order, Verbenaceae. — These plants, 
which are so common on the coast lands, were probably intro- 
duced in the earlier days of the colony, and are now quite 
acclimatised. In some parts of India, and Ceylon, they grow 
with great luxuriance, and quite take possession of waste and 
uncultivated lands. By some they are thought to be a great 
nuisance, while others think that they are rather of benefit to 
the land than otherwise, by keeping down other, and more 
troublesome weeds, and improving land which has become im- 
poverished. In Natal they have been attacked by a parasitic 
or suctorial insect, which in a very short time destroys them 
wholesale. 

Leucas martinicensis. (R.Br.) Natural order, Labiatae. — A 
common tropical weed, not worth further notice at present. 

Milla borbonica. (Baker.) Natural order, Liliaceae. — A 
bulb bearing weed with white flowers, formerly known as 
Allium fragrans. It is a native of Mauritius and Bourbon, 
from which place it has no doubt been imported into Natal. It 
is found in great profusion in cultivated lands, spreads with 
great rapidity, and in Mauritius is said to be very troublesome. 

Nic%ndra physaloides. (Graertn.) Natural order, Solanaceae' 
— A half shrubby plant bearing large and pretty bell shaped 
flowers, with its fruit enclosed in the enlarged bladder-like 
calyx, in the same manner as the Cape Goosebery (Physalis sp.) 
hence the specific name. It is a native of Peru, but has be- 
come almost naturalised in Natal, and quickly takes p ssession 
of unoccupied ground. The scent of the crushed leaves is 
somew r hat unpleasant. 

Oenothera inacrantha. (Sellow). Natural order, Onagrarieae. 
— One of the " Evening Primrose" family, a common tropical 
weed, whose native country appears to be uncertain. Though 
sometimes growing in great abundance in waste ground, it is 
quite easily got rid of. 

Oxalis corniculata. (Linn.) Natural order, Geraniaceae. 
,, xemihba. (Sond). ,, ,, 

These plants are usually known as " Sorrel " and are common 
all over the colony ; the first named is also an English weed; 
the second is peculiar to South Africa and is occasionally found 
with double flowers. The natives know it as (um-Swempe) 
and the tuberous roots are said to be useful as a vermifuge, 
while the leaves of most of the species of the genus contain a 
certain amount of acid, and have been used medicinally. 

Parthenkim hysterophonis. (Linn). Natural order, Compo- 
sitae. — A much branched herbaceous plant, bearing numerous 
small white flowers, and growing to two or three feet high. 



27 

Hitherto I have only seen this plant in the vicinity of Verulam, 
where for many years past it has luxuriated in waste places and 
by roadsides. It is a native of Tropic il America, and has evi- 
dently been accidentally introduced into Natal, piobably from 
Mauritius where it abounds. The leaves have been used 
medicinally as a febrifuge. 

Portulaca oleracea. (Linn). Natural order, Portulacceae. — 
The common " Purslane," which has become naturalised here, 
it is somewhat difficult to eradicate, as the succulent stems and 
branches retain life for a considerable time, and should be 
carried from the ground after being hoed up. It has antiscor- 
butic properties, and is frequently used as a salad. 

Richardsonia scabra. (St. Hil.) Natural order, Rubiaceae. — 
A most troublesome weed, which in the vicinity of Durban 
appears to be greatly on the increase. It bears small white 
flowers, in few flowered heads, which are enclosed in in an 
involucre, and its leaves and stems are covered with fine white 
hairs, the roots run for a considerable distance, and take almost 
complete possession of the ground where it is found ; it is per- 
haps most destructive to lawns, from which it is very difficult 
to eradicate. The roots are emetic, and have been used at 
Home under the name of " White Ipecacuana," but have been 
completely superseded by the true drug, which is said to be 
more active and certain in its effects. Baron Mueller quotes it 
as "an herb for pastures and hay-crop, appreciated in localities 
with sandy soil." In Natal, however, it is not much appreci- 
ated for that or any other purpose. 

Rum-ex hlxurians. fLinn.) Natural order, Polygonece. — A 
climber of the " Dock " family, found chiefly at edges of bush, 
and in newly-cleared land, but soon disappears as cultivation 
advances. 

Senecio pterophorus. (DO.) Natural order, Compositae. — A 
tall weed bearing large numbers of yellow flower heads, and 
appearing in quantity in neglected ground in the summer and 
autumn, except for the great profusion in which it occurs, and 
for the rapidity of its growth, it is not a very great pest. 

Siegesbeckia orientalis. (Linn.) Natural order, Compositae* 
— A well known tropical weed reaching from 1 to 3 feet high, 
with branching stems and yellow flowers. It is quite confined 
to the coast and midland districts, not very formidable, and 
has no useful properties. 

Solatium nigrum. (Linn.) Natural order, Solanaceae. — A 
very variable, low growing weed, bearing white flowers with 
conspicuous yellow stamens, berries which are black, when 
ripe. It has been said to have poisonous properties, but the 
berries are eaten by children with impunity, and the leaves have 



28 

been used in salads in Mauritius. So variable is this plant that 
it has received upwards of 60 different names, all of which have 
been reduced to this one species. 

Sonchus oleraceus. (Linn.J Natural order, Gompositae. — ■ 
One of the " Sow-thistles " cosmopolitan weeds in cultivated 
grounds, they have all a milky juice, and are sometimes used in 
salads. 

SpilantTies Africana. (D.C.) Natural order, Gompositae. — • 
Another tropical weed belonging to the same order as the last- 
named one. It is a low growing plant with conical heads of 
yellow flowers. It has been called in Natal the " Electric " 
plant on account of the peculiar pungent taste of the leaves, 
and is used by the natives medicinally. 

Striga coccinea. (Btli.) Natural order, Scrophularineae . 

Forbesii. 

These two plants are called by the natives "i-Sona," and are 
usually found in cultivated ground. The first-named one bears 
scarlet flowers, and is the smallest of the two ; the other has 
lighter coloured flowers, and much more conspicuous leaves. 
Both of these plants are said to be destructive to mealie and 
other crops, and it is, I think, certain that where they appear 
in large numbers in cultivated ground heavy crops need not be 
expected. There are different ■ theories to account for this 
— one being that they are parasitical on roots of other 
plants, especially on those of plants belonging to the Order 
Gramineae, to which the mealie belongs. The other theory is 
that these plants only appear on land that has become to some 
extent exhausted by frequent cropping. 

The matter has often been debated in Natal, but so far 
without satisfactory result. The genus Striga includes about 
18 species, all natives of tropical countries, and taken as a whole 
the genus is thought to be a parasitical one, but though I have 
often examined the plants, I have never been able to discover 
any organs on the roots, which would lead me to say certainly, 
that the plants were parasitical, even when they have been 
gathered in close proximity to a mealie plant I was once 
gravely assured by a farmer that the " Isona " and the " Horse- 
tail " (Equisetum) were the same plant in different stages of 
growth, that is, that the "Horsetail" of this season would be 
the " Isona " of next season, and when I ventured to assert that 
the thing was quite impessible, I was told that botanists " did 
not know everything." Of course the idea is absurd. Of the 
genus Striga, we have in the Colony five species, the two above 
named being the only ones which are commonly found in culti- 
vated ground in any quantity, though probably in the upper 
districts 8. Thunbergii, or S. elegans, may be occasionally 



29 

seen, but I have never yet seen or heard of their being found 
in such profusion as 8. coccinea and S. Forbesii, though they 
are plentiful amongst grass, on the hillsides all over the upper 
districts. Information on this point would, however, be very 
welcome. 

Xanrkium spinoaum. (Linn). Natural order, Gompositae. 
,, strum irium. ,, ,, ,, 

The first of these plants is too well known to need any mention 
here ; spasmodic attempts are made to keep it under or destroy 
it, but it seems still to increase aud to extend its area of 
growth. It may not be generally known, however, that 
X. strumarium has the reputation of being poisonous to cattle, 
and some years ago I supplied the Government with informa- 
tion which had come into my possession on this matter : an 
attempt was then made to exterminate the plant, but I note 
that it is still occasionally met with. It is quite probable that 
it is only in the early spring, when grass is scarce, that cattle 
would care to eat it, and then only in its early stages of growth. 

In conclusion, I wish to offer my very hearty thanks to the 
members of the Committee, for much kindness and valuable 
support in the prosecution of my work, also to all donors of 
seeds and plants, both within the Colony and abroad, and I 
have much pleasure in again acknowledging the very valuable 
services rendered by Mr. Wylie, who has given his time and 
ability without stint to the work of the Gardens during the 
busiest year that we have had since I took charge of the work, 
and probably since the Gardens were first established ; also to 
Mr. Harm an and Mr. Rutter. who still remain with us. 

I have the honour to be, 

Gentlemen, 

Your obedient servant, 

J. MtiDLEY WOOD. 



30 



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