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white. The harvest white plum is a base plum; and the verdoccio, and white date-plum, are no very good plums. The cause is, for that they are all over-watery; whereas a higher concoction is required for sweetness, or pleasure of taste; and therefore all your dainty plums are a little dry, and come from the stone; as the muscle-plum, the damascene-plum, the peach, the apricot, etc. yet some fruits, which grow not to be black, are of the nature of berries, sweetest such as are paler; as the cœur-cherry, which inclineth more to white, is sweeter than the red; but the egriot is more sour.
510. TAKE gilly-flower seed, of one kind of gillyflower, as of the clove-gilly-flower, which is the most common, and sow it, and there will come up gillyflowers, some of one colour, and some of another, casually, as the seed meeteth with nourishment in the earth; so that the gardeners find, that they may have two or three roots amongst a hundred that are rare and of great price; as purple, carnation of several stripes: the cause is, no doubt, that in earth, though it be contiguous, and in one bed, there are very several juices; and as the seed doth casually meet with them, so it cometh forth. And it is noted especially, that those which do come up purple, do always come up single: the juice, as it seemeth, not being able to suffice a succulent colour, and a double leaf. This experiment of several colours coming up from one seed, would be tried also in larks-foot, monks-hood, poppy, and holyoak.
511. FEW fruits are coloured red within the queen-apple is; and another apple, called the roseapple mulberries, likewise, and grapes, though most toward the skin. There is a peach also that hath a circle of red towards the stone: and the egriot cherry is somewhat red within; but no pear, nor warden, nor plum, nor apricot, although they have many times red sides, are coloured red within. The cause may be inquired.
512. THE general colour of plants is green, which is a colour that no flower is of. There is a greenish
primrose, but it is pale, and scarce a green. The leaves of some trees turn a little murry or reddish; and they be commonly young leaves that do so; as it is in oaks, and vines, and hazle. Leaves rot into a yellow, and some hollies have part of their leaves yellow, that are, to all seeming, as fresh and shining as the green. I suppose also, that yellow is a less succulent colour than green, and a degree nearer white. For it hath been noted, that those yellow leaves of holly stand ever towards the north or north-east. Some roots are yellow, as carrots; and some plants blood-red, stalk and leaf, and all, as amaranthus. Some herbs incline to purple and red; as a kind of sage doth, and a kind of mint, and rosa solis, etc. And some have white leaves, as another kind of sage, and another kind of mint; but azure and a fair purple are never found in leaves. This sheweth, that flowers are made of a refined juice of the earth, and so are fruits; but leaves of a more coarse and common.
513. It is a curiosity also to make flowers double, which is effected by often removing them into new earth; as, on the contrary part, double flowers, by neglecting and not removing, prove single. And the way to do it speedily, is to sow or set seeds or slips of flowers; and as soon as they come up, to remove them into new ground that is good. Inquire also, whether inoculating of flowers, as stock-gilly-flowers, roses, musk-roses, etc. doth not make them double. There is a cherry-tree that hath double blossoms; but that tree beareth no fruit: and it may be, that the same means which, applied to the tree, doth extremely accelerate the sap to rise and break forth, would make the tree spend itself in flowers, and those to become double: which were a great pleasure to see, especially in apple-trees, peach-trees, and almond-trees, that have blossoms blush-coloured.
514. THE making of fruits without core or stone, is likewise a curiosity, and somewhat better: because whatsoever maketh them so, is like to make them more tender and delicate. If a cion or shoot, fit to be set in the ground, have the pith finely taken forth,
and not altogether, but some of it left, the better to save the life, it will bear a fruit with little or no core or stone. And the like is said to be of dividing a quick tree down to the ground, and taking out the pith, and then binding it up again.
515. It is reported also, that a citron grafted upon a quince will have small or no seeds; and it is very probable that any sour fruit grafted upon a stock that beareth a sweeter fruit, may both make the fruit sweeter, and more void of the harsh matter of kernels or seeds.
516. It is reported, that not only the taking out of the pith, but the stopping of the juice of the pith from rising in the midst, and turning it to rise on the outside, will make the fruit without core or stone ; as if you should bore a tree clean through, and put a wedge in. It is true, there is some affinity between the pith and the kernel, because they are both of a harsh substance, and both placed in the midst.
517. It is reported, that trees watered perpetually with warm water, will make a fruit with little or no core or stone. And the rule is general, that whatsoever will make a wild tree a garden tree, will make a garden tree to have less core or stone.
Experiments in consort touching the degenerating of plants, and of the transmutation of them one into
518. The rule is certain, that plants for want of culture degenerate to be baser in the same kind; and sometimes so far as to change into another kind. 1. The standing long, and not being removed, maketh them degenerate. 2. Drought, unless the earth of itself be moist doth the like. 3. So doth removing into worse earth, or forbearing to compost the earth; as we see that water mint turneth into field mint, and the colewort into rape, by neglect, etc.
519. WHATSOEVER fruit useth to be set upon a root or a slip, if it be sown, will degenerate. Grapes sown, figs, almonds, pomegranate kernels sown, make the fruits degenerate and become wild. And again,
most of those fruits that use to be grafted, if they be set of kernels, or stones, degenerate. It is true that peaches, as hath been touched before, do better upon stones set than upon grafting; and the rule of exception should seem to be this: that whatsoever plant requireth much moisture, prospereth better upon the stone or kernel, than upon the graft. For the stock, though it giveth a finer nourishment, yet it giveth a scanter than the earth at large.
520. SEEDS, if they be very old, and yet have strength enough to bring forth a plant, make the plant degenerate. And therefore skilful gardeners make trial of the seeds before they buy them, whether they be good or no, by putting them into water gently boiled; and if they be good, they will sprout within half an hour.
521. It is strange which is reported, that basil too much exposed to the sun doth turn into wild thyme; although those two herbs seem to have small affinity; but basil is almost the only hot herb that hath fat and succulent leaves; which oiliness, if it be drawn forth by the sun, it is like it will make a very great change.
522. THERE is an old tradition, that boughs of oak put into the earth will put forth wild vines : which if it be true, no doubt, it is not the oak that turneth into a vine, but the oak-bough putrefying, qualifieth the earth to put forth a vine of itself.
523. It is not impossible, and I have heard it verified, that upon cutting down of an old timber tree, the stub hath put out sometimes a tree of another kind; as that beech hath put forth birch; which, if it be true, the cause may be, for that the old stub is too scant of juice to put forth the former tree; and therefore putteth forth a tree of a smaller kind, that needeth less nourishment.
524. THERE is an opinion in the country, that if the same ground be oft sown with the grain that grew upon it, it will in the end grow to be of a baser kind.
525. It is certain, that in very sterile years corn sown will grow to another kind.
Grandia sæpe quibus mandavimus hordea sulcis, Infelix lolium, et steriles dominantur avena. And generally it is a rule, that plants that are brought forth by culture, as corn, will sooner change into other species, than those that come of themselves; for that culture giveth but an adventitious nature, which is more easily put off.
THIS work of the transmutation of plants one into another, is inter magnalia nature; for the transmutation of species is, in the vulgar philosophy, pronounced impossible: and certainly it is a thing of difficulty, and requireth deep search into nature; but seeing there appear some manifest instances of it, the opinion of impossibility is to be rejected, and the means thereof to be found out. We see, that in living creatures, that come of putrefaction, there is much transmutation of one into another; as caterpillars turn into flies, etc. And it should seem probable, that whatsoever creature, having life, is generated without seed, that creature will change out of one species into another. For it is the seed, and the nature of it, which locketh and boundeth in the creature, that it doth not expatiate. So as we may well conclude, that seeing the earth of itself doth put forth plants without seed, therefore plants may well have a transmigration of species. Wherefore, wanting instances which do occur, we shall give directions of the most likely trials: and generally we would not have those that read this our work of Sylva sylvarum account it strange, or think that it is an over-haste, that we have set down particulars untried; for contrariwise, in our own estimation, we account such particulars more worthy than those that are already tried and known: for these latter must be taken as you find them; but the other do level point-blank at the inventing of causes and axioms.
526. FIRST therefore, you must make account, that if you will have one plant change into another, you must have the nourishment overrule the seed; and therefore you are to practise it by nourishments as contrary as may be to the nature of the herb, so