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' IRON WOOD. 27
The wood, like that of the European Hornbeam, is white, and exceedingly compact and fine-grained. The dimensions of the tree are so small as to render it useless even for fuel; but it is employed for hoops in the district of Maine when better species cannot be procured.
From these particulars it will readily be concluded that we have no interest in propagating the American Hornbeam in Europe, as our own species possesses equal strength and solidity, attains the height of thirty-five or forty feet, with a diameter of fifteen or eighteen inches, and‘ is consequently applicable in the mechanical arts and useful for fuel. The only superiority of the American species is for trellises; as it is naturally dwarfish, its growth is more easily repressed, and, as its branches are numerous, it has a closer and more tufted foliage. The Hombeam of Europe, on the other hand, would be a valuable acqui
sition to the forests of America.
A branch with leaves and fruit of the ‘natural size. Fig. 1. A seed.
Osnrmus osrnm. Cl foliis cordato-ovatibus; amentis feminezls oblongz'oribus ; involucris fructtferzls, eompresso-vesicariis.
EAST of the Mississippi the Iron Wood is diffused throughout the United States and- the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Lower Canada. In New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Southern States, where it is most abundant, it bears the name which I have adopted; in Vermont, New Hamp
shire, and the district of Maine, it is called Lever Wood, and by the French of Illinois, Bozls dur, “hard wood.”
Though the Iron Wood is multiplied in the forests, it nowhere constitutes masses even of inconsiderable extent, but is loosely disseminated, and found only in cool, fertile, shaded situations. I have nowhere seen it more common nor more vigorous than in Genesee, near Lake Erie and Lake Ontario; but it is always a tree of the second or even of the third order, rarely equalling thirty-five or forty feet in height‘ and twelve or fifteen inches in diameter, and commonly not exceeding half these dimensions.
The leaves are alternate, oval-acuminate, and finely and unequally denticulated. The fertile and barreh flowers are borne at the extremity of different branches of the same tree, and the fruit is in clusters like hops. The small, hard, triangular seed is. contained in a species reddish, oval, inflated bladder, covered at the age of maturity with a fine down, which causes a violent irritation of the skin if carelessly handled.
In the winter this tree is recognised by a smooth, grayish bark, finely divided, and detached in strips not more than a line in breadth.
The wood is perfectly white, compact, fine-grained, and heavy. The concentric circles are closely compressed, and their number in a trunk of only four or five inches in diameter evinces the 1ength'of time necessary to acquire this inconsiderable size. To its inferior dimensions must be ascribed the limited use of a tree, the superior properties of whose wood are attested by its name. In the Northern States, and particularly in the district of Maine, the Iron Wood is used for the levers with which the trees felled in clearing the ground are transported to the piles on which they are consumed. Near New York, brooms and scrubbingbrushes are made of it, by shredding the end of a stick of suitable dimensions. Though its usesare unimportant, they might probably be more diversified: it seems well adapted for millcogs, mallets, &c.