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Dragon-tree Of Orotava

( Originally Published 1851 )



Near the town of Orotava, in the island of Teneriffe, there is an enormous many-headed palm of the species called the Dragon-Tree (in French, Dragonnier), which has been described by the scientific traveller Humboldt, and more recently Dy Maria Graham. This tree is situated in the garden of M. Franqui. There are existing documents, which show that the trunk of this tree had attained its present vast size in the fifteenth century. Its height is about 60 feet; its circumference near the root is 48 feet. At the height of ten feet above the soil, Sir George Staunton ascertained that its diameter was 12 feet. The trunk divides into a great number of branches which rise in the form of a candelabra, each of which is terminated by a bunch of leaves. It still bears flowers and fruit. Humboldt has given, in the Atlas to his large work, a plate from a drawing of this palm, taken in 1776; —the above wood-cut is copied from a sketch in Maria Graham's " Journal of a Voyage to Brazil," made after one-half of the crown of the tree had fallen in 1819. This remarkable tree is considered by Humboldt to be one of the oldest inhabitants of this globe. The species is of very slow growth; and it is judged that a thousand years must have elapsed before this specimen had attained maturity.

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