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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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So far six thousand small tea seedlings are planted, three feet apart, in rows. The climate seems to be favorable to its growth; It blooms from July to September, and the seeds ripen perfectly. This example also confirms, in addition to other attempts to cultivate Asian plants in America, that above all the equality of latitude suits the prosperity of the seedlings. The tea is thus perfectly cultivated, as in China itself, planted, harvested and dried. The Portuguese Government pays special attention to the cultivation of this plant, whose product from China is annually transported to England worth one million escudos. The former minister, Count de Linhares, ordered some 100 Chinese settlers to come to promote the advantage of cultivating and preparing tea. These Chinese were not such coastal inhabitants, who miserably exile themselves from their homeland to Java and the surrounding islands, and there, like the Galicians of Spain and Portugal, look for work; they were chosen people from the countryside, perfectly trained in the cultivation of tea. Most of these Chinese do not currently live in the Botanical Garden, but on the outskirts of the royal farm, Santa Cruz. A few live there, who, under the direction of C. Abreu, are employed in the care of tea seedlings, harvesting and leaf preparation. The harvest is done three times a year, the leaves are taken to clay ovens, of low heat, where they dry and are rolled up. The director of the establishment gave us tea of different species to taste. The taste was strong, but far from being so finely flavored like that of the best Chinese species, it was rather rough and earthy. This unpleasant property must not, however, discourage this whole branch of incipient culture, for it is a natural consequence of the on-going acclimation. In addition to the tea tree, we were also shown several plants from East India, the cinnamon (Laurus cinnamomum), the Indian carnation or cloves (Caryophyllus aromaticus), the

Cloves, caryophyllus aromaticus

pepper (Piper nigrum), the gneto (Gnemon Gneton), the nutmeg (Mirystica moschata), the star fruit (Averrhoa Carambola), whose acidic fruits taste very

Averrhoa carambola

good in soup, etc. Although some of these trees are only one year old, most have already borne fruit. Careful and persevering treatment will acclimate all these plants, because the New Continent was prepared by nature to host the products of all the climates and to perfect them such as they were in their native country.

The gunpowder factory in the neighborhood of Jardim Botanico is the only one in Brazil, in addition to a small private establishment in Minas that was also created by royal decree. Their production cannot however boast of being the best quality you would desire.

 

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