« PreviousContinue »
Liquidambar styraciflua, in a great variety of soils, on the highest hills and deepest swamps, from thirty to forty feet high. Hornbeam. Holm oak. Hickery, or walnut; bitternut; swamp hickery; nutmeg hickery; black walnut; pignut hickery; shell-bark hickery. Holly, or Dohoon. Jessamine, yellow, Carolina, (Bignonia sempervirens.) Ironwood, or silver thorn. Locust, black locust. Musquito wood. White laurel. Linden tree. Red bay. Sassafras. Spicewood. Magnolia glauca, white bay. Mangrove, Conocarpus procumbens. Maple, red and black. * Misletoe. Mulberry, red and Spanish. Myrtle, candleberry, or wax tree. Oak, white, water, Spanish, + black jack, &c. Papaw. Passion thorn, a shrub covered with prickles in the shape of a cross. Palmetto. Persimon. Plane tree. Poplar. Wild plum. Pine, loblolly; pitch-pine. Sumac. Poison vine. Styrax, smooth leaved. Sycamore, or buttonwood. Swamp wood grows to the height of twelve or fifteen feet, in marshes where the roots are always under water. Tupelo. Black gum. Winterberry. † The vine is so common,
* The black maple or black sugar tree is not common. Some trees are seen on the borders of the bayou Sara, Thompson's, and Alexander's creeks; but it is rarely found south of the 31st degree of latitude.
+ Mr Darby remarks, that the Spanish oak indicates the transition from the recent to the more ancient alluvion, as this tree cannot live where the inundation exceeds twelve or fifteen inches.
Winterberry grows near the sea and elevated parts of Opelou. sas. The Indians make use of a decoction of its berries and leaves, which, owing to its inebriating qualities, is called the liquor of valour.
says Dupratz, that whatever way you walk from the sea coast to the distance of 500 leagues northward, you cannot proceed 100 steps without meeting with one.
Animals.-The bison, or buffalo, called by the Spaniards cebow, has nearly disappeared from within the limits of this state. Some few are yet seen in the south-western parts, in the prairies, to the west of Opelousas, and north of Red river. They were for. merly very numerous, and their flesh was the chief food of the Indians and of the French for a consider. able time after the colony was planted. Wild horses are often seen between Red river and the Sabine. Deer are no longer common, except in the county of Opelousas. Bears are not in plenty, except in the Washita county, where they are hunted by parties of twenty or thirty men, for the profit which they bring. Some of the fattest have given 120 French pots of oil. In winter this animal lodges in the trunks of trees, twenty or thirty feet high. Wolves are still numerous in the uninhabited parts; and, when hungry, they sometimes approach dwelling-houses. The coue gouar (called the tiger) is sometimes seen in the woods. His favourite prey is the deer, which he seizes as a cat does a inouse. The lynx, called tiger cat, is also 'rare. It kills the buffalo, by leaping from a tree on the neck of this animal, and tearing the nerves and blood-vessels asunder. The cat of the woods is not uncommon. The colour is a silver grey, its length about fifteen inches, and height eight or ten. It feeds on birds and shell-fish, sometimes on fruit and vege
tables. The flesh is an agreeable and wholesome food.
The beavers are not numerous. Some are found in the upper parts, which the Indians say are idlers, that have been expelled from the industrious society in Canada. The pole cat, or skunk, is here about the size of a common cat, and its fur is soft, and of a whitish colour. The wood rat is numerous. It feeds on nuts, acorns, Indian corn, and poultry. The flesh tastes like that of a sucking pig, and has often served as the only food of distressed travellers. The porcupine is seen in the woods. The rabbit, to avoid his numerous enemies, and the annual inundation, lodges in the highest part of the decayed trunks of trees. Of squirrels there are four distinct species. In the meadow ground, called Prairie Mamou, there is a species of mole, which throws up mounds of earth from twelve to eighteen inches in height, and from ten to twelve in diameter. At Sarcalouga a kind of mouse is often seen, all white, with red eyes. The green cantharides fly is as large as the common bee.
The fire-fly is very numerous; as is also the musquito, which is extremely troublesome, especially in the evenings and mornings, near the lakes and marshes. The wood louse, or Chigo, or Bete Rouge, ( Acanus sanguinis,) though so small as to be almost imperceptible, is also very troublesome; and particularly to the barefooted negroes. The winged insect, called Cerf volant, flies against the face, and is dangerous to the eye. The ravet destroys paper and clothes. The mahacat-vers palmiste of Martinico is here an inch in length, whitish, and transparent, with a brownish head. There is a venomous spider, of a large size, a light grey colour, with small white spots upon its limbs. There is also a venomous water-spider, which is seen on the sand of the lakes. Among the useful insects are the silk-worm and honey-bee. Among the noxious are the tobacco-worm and locust. Some of the last, which are seen in the meadows, are between two and three inches in length, with large purple wings. Numerous serpents infest the woods and low lands. The alligator, called by the Spaniards Corman, is found in all the waters, as high as the Arkansas river ; but they are most numerous in the bayous and lakes of the stagnant waters. The largest are nine or ten feet in length. Dupratz saw one which measured nineteen feet. It is not dangerous, except when attacked or wounded; but hogs and other domestic animals often become its prey. The Indians and blacks are fond of the tail of this horrible monster, which the unfortunate De La Salle and his companions were obliged to eat; and, to their great surprise, found it not disagreeable. There are several kinds of tortoises, one of which, that was seen at Baton Rouge, is described by French travellers to be of a monstrous size, and of such prodigious strength, as to be able to break a bar of iron with his paws. Dumont mentions, that, on the upper parts of the river Arkansaw, where they are most numerous, he saw 3000 assembled, on a piece of ground not more than sixty or eighty feet in length; and of so great a size, that one was sufficient for the repast of four or five persons. Frogs are numerous, but none are
so large as those seen by Dumont at the Arkansaw, which roared as loud as an ox, had eyes as large as that animal, and weighed thirty-two pounds.
Fishes. These are cat-fish, in the Mississippi river, weighing from 60 to 120 pounds. They are eatable, but not very palatable. Carp, called Buffalo-fish, from two to four feet in length. The best of these inhabit the lakes. The sturgeon are but about three feet in length, with a soft shelly covering, resembling in some sort a sea turtle. Sheep's head is also found; and a fish, called by the French La Barre, about five feet in length, and as thick as a man's waist, at the outlet of Pascagoula. Pearl fish, or Barble, called by the French La Barbue ; there are two kinds, the largest of which is from two to four feet in length; the other about half the size. It is wholesome, but rather insipid. The mullet is found in the lakes, and is about the size of a herring. It is dried and cured by some of the inhabitants. The Burgo Breaker, Casse Burgo, is more than a foot in length. It is a firm and delicate fish, and is eaten for breakfast. The old wife, or hickery shad, inhabits the waters near the Delta. The pike is about a foot in length, but is rarely caught. The sprat, sardine, or small pilchard, (Clupea sprata tus,) is about six or seven inches, and is common, as is the fresh water mullet, roach, or patassa. Eels of a large size are found in both the rivers and lakes. The thornback is found as high as New Orleans, near the limits of salt water. The armed fish, which is found only in the lakes, is about three feet in length, and is armed with long teeth and scales,