SECTION IX.

On Pineaster Trees, communicated in Letters to Sir JOSEPH BANKS and Sir JOHN SINCLAIR.

To the Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, Bart. President of the Board of Agriculture.

SIR,

I BEG leave to present you with a specimen of fir timber, the produce of pineaster trees raised on this island. The transmuta­tion which has been effected, by some natural cause, or causes, in the texture and appearance of fir timber, seemed to me so very curious and extraordinary that I could not deny myself the gratification of submitting it to the inspection of yourself, and of the Honourable Members of the Board of Agriculture.

The inclosed is a copy of my letter to the Right Honourable Sir Joseph Banks ; which, with the St. Helena Register of July last, will afford you full information concerning those pineaster trees ; the latter also contains my sentiments upon the vast benefits that would undoubtedly, in a very short period, result to this denuded island, if a due regard were paid to the propagation of trees that produce so beautiful and valuable a timber.

I have the honour to be, with great respect,
SIR,
Your most obedient humble Servant,
ALEXANDER BEATSON.

St. Helena, 18th September, 1811.


To the Right Honourable Sir Joseph Banks, K. B. President of the Royal Society.

SIR,

HAVING lately discovered that pineaster trees raised at St. Helena, from English seed, yield a timber far superior to any of the pine species I have ever seen or heard of, and conceiving that their rapid growth, and the very extraordinary change which has been effected in the appearance and texture of fir timber, are circumstances deserving the attention of those who are accustomed to contemplate the causes and effects in nature, I beg leave to present you with a specimen of the fir timber of this island.

Of the tree from which this specimen was taken, I have published a short account in page 17 of the inclosed St. Helena Register : but after I had sent it to the press, I perceived I had been led into a mistake in naming it “Scotch fir;” for upon examination, and comparing its branches, leaves, cones, and seed, with the descriptions of the various species of pine, they seem to me in every respect, to accord with those of the pineaster. Pin us foliis geminis crasciusculus glabris, conis pyramidatus acutis.

In order, however, to be further satisfied on this matter, I have sent by the present conveyance, to Sir Hugh Inglis, a twig and cones of the trees in question, together with some seeds of the very tree from which the specimen of wood was taken. It is of consequence to be certain upon this point, that I may receive the proper seed from England ; for it is my intention to establish seed-beds and nurseries, sufficient to plant on this island several hundred acres of this most valuable timber.

Many trees of different sorts have been already tried here ; there are none, however, so peculiarly adapted to the climate and soil, nor that stand the almost unceasing south-easterly wind, so well as the pineaster. In the higher and cooler parts they thrive surprisingly ; but in those less elevated, and towards the north and south extremities of the island, the summer heats are too powerful for the propagation of trees that are indigenous to the colder climates.

I have been lately informed by Doctor Roxburgh, that his attempts to raise the oak in the vicinity of Calcutta have failed. Here it is seen covered with beautiful foliage for about nine months in the year, and its girt attains a considerable size ; yet the main stems seldom rise above 8 or 10 feet : whereas the pineaster, when sheltered under the leeward sides of the hills, against the prevailing south-east wind, grows straight and beautiful, and arrives at the height of 50 to 60 feet in the space of twenty-four years.

The following are the dimensions of a pineaster tree (transplanted from a seed bed, sown on the 1st of July, 1787 ) which grows upon the leeward side of a hill about 300 yards west from Plantation-house. It is therefore well sheltered, and having been drawn up perfectly erect and straight, by the surrounding oaks, it is fit for a small mast of 35 or 40 feet in length.

    feet in.
Lower girt, at 1 foot above ground, 4 8
Girt, 26 feet ditto, 3 7
Of serviceable timber, the length is 40 0
Total height to the summit of the highest branches 58 0

 

I have the honour to be, with great respect,
SIR,
Your most obedient humble Servant,
ALEXANDER BEATSON.

St. Helena, 18th September, 1811.



 Section X