Saturday, 1 August 2009

Pineapples in Portugal 1723

For the Use of such as may propose the propagating or culture of the Pine-Apple in more southern Parts, the necessary Directions are given in the following Letter, which I drew up on Purpose for Mr. John Clark, an eminent Merchant at Oporto ; which, with that ingenious Gentleman's Answer to it, may be of good Use to help our Observations, and teach us to judge of the Difference of Climates ; and that the Management of a Plant in one Climate, should be different from the Management of it in another Latitude.

To Mr. John Clark, Merchant, Oporto.
London, Jan, 28, 1722/3.

S I R,

THE worthy Gentleman your Father acquaints me, that you have a Design of propagating the Ananas or Pine-Apple in Portugal the Method of doing which with us you will find in Mr. Telende's Account, and which I suppose Mr. Clark has sent you. But as your Climate has much the Advantage of ours in ripening Fruit of any sort, fo you must surely have extraordinary Success, though there must be some Alteration in the Way of Management.

In the first Place, your Sun is so hot in the Summer Months, that the Glasses of your hot Bed Frames would scorch and burn your Plants, if they were to be cover'd in the hot Time of the Day therefore I rather recommend Frames of Canvas to cover the Plants in the Time of the Sun's great Heats, and the Glasses only to be put over the Plants about an Hour before Sun set, to cover them a Nights, and keep a Body of warm Air in the Frame, till the Warmth of the following Day approaches ; so likewife in your hot Weather, the Plants will require more frequent Waterings than with us, but not more at a Time than we would allow them in our Climate.

Your Season of Spring, I suppose, is about six Weeks before us, and as much good Time for ripening of Fruit after us : But I would gladly know from you, how far I am right in my Conjectures concerning your Spring and Autumn Seasons ; and also when your great Rains fall, which will help to inform us how to cultivate Plants that come from the Country where you are.

We have got a Thermometer for you, whereby your Heats may be regulated; but it is rather, to direct your artificial Heat in Winter than in Summer ; for your Summer Heats will fling the Spirit so very high in the Glass, that it will be beyond Regulation ; and as the Summer Sun is a natural Heat, so it needs not be any otherwise regarded, than by keeping it from scorching the Plants.

This Instrument shews the Degrees of Heat or warm Air necessary for Plants which grow near the Equinoctial Line, and from thence is mark'd upon the Scale the several Degrees or Proportions of warm Air requir'd for Plants which are Natives of Climates in several Degrees of Latitude, as far as 40, which is as much or more than we have Occasion to use in or about the Latitude of London, which is 51 Deg. 30 Min. for we find by Experience, that the Plants of Virginia, whose Latitude in the most Northern Point is about 58 Degrees, will live Abroad, and defend themfelves against the Rigour of our Frofts. So likewife we have many Examples of Plants from the North of Carolina, whose Latitude is about 34 Degrees, that will generally bear our Winters without Shelter: But from about 34 Degrees, to about 26 or 27 Degrees, we must [298] shelter them every Winter in a common Greenhouse, so that no Frost may invade them.

After this, as we come nearer to the Tropicks, or the Line, we must be diligent to give the Plants the several Degrees of Watering natural to the respective Climates ; and for that end we should learn when the Seasons are that the Rains fall in Countries of different Latitudes. Nor should we too inadvertently attempt to harden Plants, but rather seek to increase their Strength, by making them grow and increase in their Bodies; for in the common Way of making them hardy, though they yet live with us, they lose their natural Intent of bearing Fruit, and so become useless.

In the Culture of Plants therefore, it is not enough only to give them such a Share of Warmth or Shelter, as will barely keep them alive ; but we must give them such Heat at proper Seasons, as may equal, if possible, that of their native Country, which in a particular manner should be regarded in the Culture of such Plants as grow between the Tropicks ; but that has remain'd an Uncertainty, till Mr. Tellende luckily discover'd the Degree of warm Air in Nevis and St. Chriftopher's, where the Pine-Apples chiefly delight themselves ; and as they succeed under the Influence of the Heat he gives them, so we may be sure, every other Plant growing in the same Degree of Latitude may be made to prosper with us, whether they come from the North or South Side of the Line.

It is necessary likewise to observe the Course of the Sun, in the Culture of Plants which come from any of those Latitudes mark'd in the Thermometer, and apply to them the strongest
Heats [299] of their respective Countries, at the Time when the Sun is nearest those Places which they were brought from ; and when we receive Plants from Countries where the Sun passes over twice in a Year, our artificial Heats should at such Times be chiefly supported.

Thus, Sir, I have mention'd what I think will be necessary for your Use at this Time, with regard to the Thermometer ; but when I know the State of your Climate, can say more: In the mean while, though I am unknown to your Person, I am no Stranger to your Merits, and conclude,

Your most humble Servant,
to command,


Mr. Clark of Oporto's Answer to the foregoing Letter.

To Mr. Bradley, F. R. S. London.

Oporto, April 16, 1713.


I Am extreamly oblig'd to you for your Favour of the 28th of January, and the Advice you give me concerning the Culture of the Ananas : I have had much Trouble to preserve the two Plants my Father sent me, through the little Care Masters of Ships generally take in [300] bringing Plants ; and besides, I have not had the Opportunity to mind their Propagation so well as to expect Fruit from them this Season, but am fully bent upon all Diligence for to have it the next.
The Ananas is a Plant very common in the Portugueze Colonies in Brazil, so that few Seafaring Persons and Factors who have been there, are unacquainted with it.

Doubtless, the Thermometer you have contriv'd, to shew the proper Degrees of Heat natural to each Plant, will render their Culture prodigiously easy ; I impatiently expect that which you have been pleas'd to finish [sic] me, for which I give you my hearty Thanks.

We are situated here within a League of the Sea, in a hilly, rocky Country ; few Grounds are improv'd, but what are humid, or else have little Springs of Water near them, to moisten in Summer Time. In our Wine Country, which is about sixty Miles distant, Eastward, the Heat and Cold is more excessive than with us, by reason the Mountains are much higher and steeper. The Summer Western Sea-Breezes do not reach that Country ; and the Reverberation of the Sun from those rocky Hills heat the Air to such a Degree, that the Night in the Summer Season is as hot as the Day.

We have our Spring sooner about a Month than in your Climate, and the same Continuance of good Weather longer in Autumn. The Winter Air is very sharp and piercing to Plants,, though we feel little or no cold Weather ; but I suppose the Reason is, that our Air is more subtle, and not so condens'd as yours is. I have known in Winter a continual Rain for six [301] Weeks, but some Years we escape without any. Our worst Months are from the middle of December to the middle of February; for in the latter End we reckon Spring begins.

I obferv'd, in fome of your Writings, the Experiment of cutting or laying the Branches of a Tree in the Ground, and the next Seafon raising the Roots into the Air, which will do the Office of the former Branches. It is the Practice here to do so in the Increase of the Fig-tree, because they find it very tedious before it will bear from Suckers. Their Method is laying the top Boughs of any Branch into the Ground, and in the new Seafon sawing off the Branch, and staking it as upright as possible ; which top Stump in the Air will shoot vigorously, and quickly give Fruit: I am told, that the China Orange may be us'd so ; and then, they say, the Fruit of the new made Tree is without Kernels.

A Fryar has promis'd to graff me this Seafon the Carnation upon Fennel; he iays, the Flower will be entirely green, as well as the Plant ; and, he assures me, the Colour will keep two or three Years the same, and after that, changes to the Colours common to that Flower. He adds, that in this Country the best Stock for graffing Stone Fruit upon, is the Peach, for its Flavour is communicated into the Fruit of the Graff ; as likewise, if you graff a Peach upon a Mulberry, the Fruit will have the purple Dye to the Stone, and the pleasant acid Flavour. If I can make any Observations here worth your Notice, I shall communicate them to you with Pleasure: The Natives are the least curious in Gardening of any Nation in Europe; any Thing uncommon [302] is in the Convents, where they seldom part with it. I am,


Your moft humble Servant,


A general treatise of husbandry & gardening: containing a new system of vegetation: illustrated with many observations & experiments

Richard Bradley, Professor of Botany in the University of Cambridge and F.R.S.

Vol. II


Printed for T. Woodward at the Half-Moon over against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleetstreet, and J. Peele at Locke's Head in Pater-noster Row


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