The Diseases of Trees

January 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Like humans, trees can be attacked by maladies. Some afflictions are common for all trees, for instance, attacks by worms, or pain in the limbs. Trees can be afflicted with hunger or indigestion, as well as suffer from excessive fatness (and thus turning themselves into a torch-tree).We can also speak of their bodies as being mutilated.

Sideration, the ill effects caused by the heavens, inflict injuries upon trees. One instance of sideration is a certain heat and dryness that prevails at the rising of the Dog-star, and that causes grafts and young trees to pine away and die.

Both human beings and trees are subjects to diseases of the sinews. For both, the virulence shows itself in either the feet (the roots), or the joints of the fingers (the extremities of the branches that are most distant from the trunk). The first symptom is that the tree is suffering from pain, the affected parts becoming brittle and dry, then follows rapid consumption and ultimately death.

Injuries inflicted by the hand of man are productive of bad effects. Pitch oil and grease are highly detrimental if applied to trees. Trees may also be killed if a circular piece of the bark is removed from around them.  If the bark is removed from the fir and the pine, while the sun is passing through Taurus or Gemini, they will instantly die. In winter however, they are able to withstand the effects of it much longer. This is also the case for holm-oak, the robur and the quercus. If only a narrow circular strip is removed from these trees, there will be no visible injuries. But in the case of the weaker trees, the same operation, even if only performed on one side, will be sure to kill them.

When the roots of a tree are cut, the result should be death.

Trees will also kill one another. For example, by their shade, or density of their foliage. And ivy, by clinging to a tree, will strangle it. It is in the nature of some plants to injure other plants, for instance, the radish and its effect on the vine. It was from this observation that Androcydes used the radish in his antidote for drunkenness, recommending it to be eaten when drinking wine.

(Book 17, Chapter 37)

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