DURBAN BOTANIC SOCIETY.
FOR THE YEAR 1896,
J. MEDLEY WOOD, A.L.S.,
Corresponding Member of the Pharmaceutical Society
of Great Britain.
Bennett & Davis, Printers, 345, West Street
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2012 with funding from
Field Museum of Natural History Library
DURBAN BOTANIC SOCIETY.
FOR THE YEAR 1896,
J. MEDLEY WOOD, A.L.S.,
Corresponding Member of the Pharmaceutical Society
of Great Britain.
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.
J. MEDLEY WOOD, A.L.S.
Berea, Durban, January, 1897.
To the President and Committee,
Durban Botanic Society.
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
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 —
Kew Bulletin ... ... ... ... Director.
Report Royal Botanic Gardens Jamaica .... ,,
,, Trinadad... ,,
„ Ceylon ... ,.
Botanic Gardens, Bangalore ... ,,
„ Saharunpur ... ,,
Report Agricultural Experiment Station of
Agricultural Experiment Station of
Secretary of Agriculture, United
States of America
Secretary of Agriculture, Nova
Museum of Pharmaceutical Society
Pomologist, U. States of America ...
of Chemical Investigations, by E.
Albany Museum, Cape Colony
Botanic Garden and Museum, Berlin
Bulletins of Botanic Gardens, Jamaica ...
,, ,, Grenada ...
Experiment Station Records U. States of
Chemical Composition of American Food
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
American Blight on Apple Trees ...
And the following have been purchased :
turist; Farmers' Magazine.
Seeds wei e received during the year as under :
Royal Gardens, Kew
„ Trinidad ...
Botanic Gardens, Hong-Kong
,, New South Wales
Experiment Station, Kamerunga, Australia
■ 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.
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:
Kingianum . 1
caniculatum. 1 (
undulatum 1 j
L Dendrobium bigibbum.
1 Cymbidium albuciflorum,
1 Phaiusgrandifolius (dead)
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 : —
Dead on arrival
Died afterwards from effects of voyage ...
Planted in Gardens...
Still in Pots
Already in stock
Failed to germinate...
Germinated, but died afterwards ...
Already in stock
Still in pots or planted in Gardens
Annuals and weeds ...
Packages of plants were sent away for exchange during the
year as under : —
Royal Gardens, Kew
1 box conta
„ Mauritius . .
E. M. Holmes, London
J. Moir, Central Africa
J. Wilson, East Africa
Dr. Thompson, Gazaland
A. Wagner, Leipsic ...
Sander & Co., St. Al ban's ..
i j n
Botanic Gardens, Mancheste:
' 1 „
Packets of seeds were sent away as under : —
Botanic Gardens, Mauritius
,, St. Petersburg
Scharff & Shorting, California ...
Reasoner Bros., Florida ...
Jackson & Perkins
J. C. Harvey, California...
S. Tomayana, Japan
Damman & Co., Naples ...
. • . •
To 30 correspondents in the
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 : —
Agati grandijlora coccinea
Aloysia ly cioides . . .
Damman & Co.
Damman & Co.
,, gig as Sturtevantii.
Cannas (50 varieties) ...
Gypripedium Chamber! lay nii .
Ehretia serrata ...
Erythrina crista-galli ...
Ixora picturala ...
Lycium chinense ...
Melia azederach (continuous
Physalis glabra ...
Physostegia virginica alba
Roupelia grata ...
Damman & Co.
Sander & Co.
Sander & Co.
Sander & Co.
Damman & Co.
Damman & Co.
J. C. Harvey, California.
Acclimatisation Society of
Damman & Co.
Agri- Horticultural Society
Damman & Co.
Damman & Co.
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 : —
Hypericum assyrion ?
" 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
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
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
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
(Being extracts from a report to the Government of India by
James Montgomery, Esq., Kangra).
(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
with seedlings, I find a foot apart every way the most advan-
tageous distance, as very few shoots are thrown up the first
(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
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
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
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
As cut ...
Clean diy fibre
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-
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
Mauihot utilissvma — "Cassava." — In my Report for 1892,
page 13, I alluded to this plant, and gave an extract from the
" 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 "
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
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-
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
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
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
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.
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
Ghenopodium ambrosiodes. (Linn). Natural Order, Ghenopo-
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
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
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. —
„ 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
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
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
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
'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.
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-
,, 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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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 .
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
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
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,
Your obedient servant,
J. MtiDLEY WOOD.
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