In the neighbourhood of Paris much attention is paid to the culture of peach tree, and the fruit there is of excellent quality. The principal gardens which supply Paris are at Montreuil, a village nearby, and one tree there sometimes covers sixty feet of wall. The Montreuil peaches have afine flavour which is attributed to the care and attention they give to their culture. The espalier peaches of the Duc du Praslin, near Melun, are said in "Le Bon Jardinier", 1829, to be the finest in Europe.
All the peaches have in the kernel a flavour resembling that of noyau, which depends on the presence of prussic or hydrocyanic acid. The leaves have the same flavour, which they impart by infusion or in spirits.
The ease of raising peach trees from their stones has probably helped peaches spread throughout the world. This fruit has steadily followed the progress of civilization, and man, from China to Peru, has surrounded himself with this and the other stone fruits. There are still spots where ignorance prevents portions of the human race from enjoying the blessings of providence, and there are others where tyranny forbids the earth to be cultivated and produce its fruits. The inhabitants of the Haouran, who are constantly wandering, to escape the dreadful exactions of some petty tyrant, have neither orchards nor fruit trees, nor gardens for the growth of vegetables. "Shall we sow for strangers?" was the affecting answer of one of them to Burckhardt.
One of the greatest blessings that can be conferred on a backward people is to teach them how to cultivate foods which constitute the best riches of mankind. The traveller Burchell rendered this service to the Bachapins, a tribe in the interior of South Africa. He gave their chief a bag of fresh peach stones; about a quart of them, and impressed on him their value and nature. This is an interesting example of how much good a right-minded and active individual may do to help his humbler brethren of the human family. "Why have not everywhere the names been preserved?" says Humboldt, "of those who, in place of ravaging the earth, have enriched it with plants useful to the human race?"
Sickler, a distinguished naturalist of Germany who has paid particular attention to the cultivation of fruit trees, had, in the Duchy of Sax Gotha, formed three nurseries for fruit trees, one of which contained eight thousand grafted plants. In 1806 this nursery was entirely destroyed by the French after the Battle of Jena; Ney's corps bivouacked in it. After the battle of Leipsic, in 1814, another nursery, planted by the same eminent man, was destroyed by the Cossacks. Yet in 1817 he had planted and reared a third nursery with his own hand, in spite of the injuries which he had received in these dreadful contests - persevering to distribute his knowledge and his fine plants over the entire country. The labours of such a man will endure when the fame of conquerors is forgotten, or thought worthless, or only remembered to be hated as it deserves.
.....taken from "A Description and History of Vegatable Substances used in The Arts and in Domestic Economy; Timber Trees ; Fruits", by Charles Knight, Pall Mall East; pub. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, Paternoster Row. 1829.
Paraphrased by N.D. / Diversity website
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