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European Nettle Tree

European Nettle TreeThe European nettle tree (C. Australis) is supposed to have been the famous lotus of classical literature. Homer tells of the lotus eaters, who, when they tasted the sweet fruit, straightway forgot their native land, or could not be persuaded to return.

This innocent little tree, against which this charge has never been proved, bears a better reputation for the qualities of its wood. It is as hard as box or holly, and looks like satinwood when polished. Figures of saints and other images are carved out of it. Hay forks are made of its supple limbs. Rocky, worthless land is set apart by law for the growing of these trees. A seven-acre tract in the south of France yielded, according to Landon, 60,000 hay forks per annum, worth $5,000! Suckers from the roots, cut while small, make admirable ramrods, coach whip stocks, and walking sticks. Shafts and axle trees of carriages are made of the larger sticks; oars and hoops from these coppiced trees. This tree is widely scattered, from northern Africa through Europe, and on to India, where it is a shade tree and is planted for its leaves, which furnish fodder for cattle.