« AnteriorContinuar »
The prevailing trees (I speak only of what I saw) on the east and west branches of the Penobscot and on the upper part of the Allegash were the fir, spruce (both black and white), and arbor-vitse, or "cedar." The fir has the darkest foliage, and, together with the spruce, makes a very dense "black growth," especially on the upper parts of the rivers. A dealer in lumber with whom I talked called the former a weed, and it is commonly regarded as fit neither for timber nor fuel. But it is more sought after as an ornamental tree than any other evergreen of these woods except the arbor-vitse. The black spruce is much more common than the white. Both are tall and slender trees. The arbor-vitse, which is of a more cheerful hue, with its light-green fans, is also tall and slender, though sometimes two feet in diameter. It often fills the swamps.
Mingled with the former, and also here and there forming extensive and more open woods by themselves, indicating, it is said, a better soil, were canoe and yellow birches (the former was always at hand for kindling a fire, — we saw no small white-birches in that wilderness), and sugar and red maples.
The Aspen (Populus tremuloides) was very common on burnt grounds. We saw many straggling white pines, commonly unsound trees, which had therefore been skipped by the choppers; these were the largest trees we saw; and we occasionally passed a small wood in which this was the prevailing tree; but I did not notice nearly so many of these trees as I can see in a single walk in Concord. The speckled or hoary alder (Alnus incana) abounds everywhere along the muddy banks of rivers and lakes, and in swamps. Hemlock could commonly be found for tea, but was nowhere abundant. Yet F. A. Michaux states that in Maine, Vermont, and the upper part of New Hampshire, &c, the hemlock forms three fourths of the evergreen woods, the rest being black spruce. It belongs to cold hillsides.
The elm and black ash were very common along the lower and stiller parts of the streams, where the shores were flat and grassy or there were low gravelly islands. They made a pleasing variety in the scenery, and we felt as if nearer home while gliding past them.
The above fourteen trees made the bulk of the woods which we saw.
The larch (Juniper), beech, and Norway pine (Pinus resinosa, red pine), were only occasionally seen in particular places. The Pinus Banksiana (gray or Northern scrubpine), and a single small red oak (Quercus rubra) only, are on islands in Grand Lake, on the East Branch.
The above are almost all peculiarly Northern trees, and found chiefly, if not solely, on mountains southward.
II. FLOWERS AND SHRUBS
It appears that in a forest like this the great majority of flowers, shrubs, and grasses are confined to the banks of the rivers and lakes, and to the meadows, more open swamps, burnt lands, and mountain-tops; comparatively very few indeed penetrate the woods. There is no such dispersion even of wild-flowers as is commonly supposed, or as exists in a cleared and settled country. Most of our wild-flowers, so called, may be considered as naturalized in the localities where they grow. Rivers and lakes are the great protectors of such plants against the aggressions of the forest, by their annual rise and fall keeping open a narrow strip where these more delicate plants have light and space in which to grow. They are the proteges of the rivers. These narrow, and straggling bands and isolated groups are, in a sense, the pioneers of civilization. Birds, quadrupeds, insects, and man also, in the main, follow the flowers, and the latter in his turn makes more room for them and for berry-bearing shrubs, birds, and small quadrupeds. One settler told me that not only blackberries and raspberries, but mountain maples came in, in the clearing and burning.
Though plants are often referred to primitive woods as their locality, it cannot be true of very many, unless the woods are supposed to include such localities as I have mentioned. Only those which require but little light, and can bear the drip of the trees, penetrate the woods, and these have commonly more beauty in their leaves than in their pale and almost colorless blossoms.
The prevailing flowers and conspicuous small plants of the woods, which I noticed, were: Clintonia borealis, Linncea, checkerberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla), great round-leaved orchis, Dalibarda repens, Chiogenes hispidula (creeping snowberry), Oxalis acetosella (common wood-sorrel), Aster acuminatus, Pyrola secunda (one-sided pyrola), Medeola Virginica (Indian cucumber-root), small Circcea (enchanter's nightshade), and perhaps Cornus Canadensis (dwarf-cornel).
Of these, the last of July, 1858, only the Aster acuminatus and great round-leaved orchis were conspicuously in bloom.
The most common flowers of the river and lake shores were: Thalictrum cornuti (meadow-rue), Hypericum ellipticum, mutilum, and Canadense (St. John's-wort), horsemint, horehound, Lycopus Virginicus and Europceus, var. sinuatus (bugle-weed), Scutellaria galericulata (skull-cap), Solidago lanceolata and squarrosa East Branch (golden-rod), Diplopappus umbellatus (double-bristled aster), Aster radula, Cicuta maculata and bulbifera (water-hemlock), meadowsweet, Lysimachia stricta and ciliata (loose-strife), Galium trifidum (small bed-straw), Liliurn Canadense (wild yellowlily), Platanthera peramcena and psycodes (great purple orchis and small purple-fringed orchis), Mimulus ringens (monkey-flower), dock (water), blue flag, Hydrocotyle Americana (marsh pennywort), Sanicula Canadensis? (black snake-root), Clematis Virginiana f (common virgin's-bower), Nasturtium palustre (marsh cress), Ranunculus recurvatus (hooked crowfoot), Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Aster Tradescanti (Tradescant's aster), Aster misery also longifolius, Eupatorium purpureum apparently, lake shores (Joe-Pye-weed), Apocynum Cannabinum East Branch (Indian hemp), Polygonum cilinode (bindweed), and others. Not to mention among inferior orders wool-grass and the sensitive fern.
In the water, Nuphar advena (yellow pond-lily), some potamogetons (pond-weed), Sagittaria variabilis (arrowhead), Slum lineare f (water-parsnip).
Of these, those conspicuously in flower the last of July, 1857, were: rue, Solidago lanceolata and squarrosa, Diplopappus umbellatus, Aster radula Lilium Canadense, great and small purple orchis, Mimulus ringens, blue flag, virgin's-bower, &c.
The characteristic flowers in swamps were: Rubus triflorus (dwarf-raspberry), Calla palustris (water-arum), and Sarracenia purpurea (pitcher-plant). On burnt grounds: Epiloblum angustifolium, in full bloom (great willow-herb), and Erechthites hieracifolia (fire-weed). On cliffs: Campanula