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Most remarkable shrubs and fruit-trees
The fruit-trees of Phoenicia are numerous, and grow most luxuriantly, but the majority have no doubt been introduced from other countries, and the time of their introduction is uncertain. Five, however, may be reckoned as either indigenous or as cultivated at any rate from a remote antiquity--the vine, the olive, the date-palm, the walnut, and the fig. The vine is most widely spread. Vineyards cover large tracts in the vicinity of all the towns; they climb up the sides of Carmel, Lebanon, and Bargylus, hang upon the edge of precipices, and greet the traveller at every turn in almost every region. The size of individual vines is extraordinary. "Stephen Schultz states that in a village near Ptolemaïs (Acre) he supped under a large vine, the stem of which measured a foot and a half in diameter, its height being thirty feet; and that the whole plant, supported on trellis, covered an area of fifty feet either way. The bunches of grapes weighed from ten to twelve pounds and the berries were like small plums." The olive in Phoenicia is at least as old as the Exodus, for it was said of Asher, who was assigned the more southern part of that country--"Let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil."Olives at the present day clothe the slopes of Lebanon and Bargylus above the vine region, and are carried upward almost to the very edge of the bare rock. They yield largely, and produce an oil of an excellent character. Fine olive-groves are also to be seen on Carmel,in the neighbourhood of Esfia. The date-palm has already been spoken of as a tree, ornamenting the landscape and furnishing timber of tolerable quality. As a fruit-tree it is not greatly to be prized, since it is only about Haifa and Jaffa that it produces dates, and those of no high repute. The walnut has all the appearance of being indigenous in Lebanon, where it grows to a great size, and bears abundance of fruit. The fig is also, almost certainly, a native; it grows plentifully, not only in the orchards about towns, but on the flanks of Lebanon, on Bargylus, and in the northern Phoenician plain.
The other fruit-trees of the present day are the mulberry, the pomegranate, the orange, the lemon, the lime, the peach, the apricot, the plum, the cherry, the quince, the apple, the pear, the almond, the pistachio nut, and the banana. The mulberry is cultivated largely on the Lebanon in connection with the growth of silkworms, but is not valued as a fruit-tree. The pomegranate is far less often seen, but it is grown in the gardens about Saida, and the fruit has sometimes been an article of exportation. The orange and lemon are among the commonest fruits, but are generally regarded as comparatively late introductions. The lime is not often noticed, but obtains mention in the work of Mr. Walpole. The peach and apricot are for the most part standard trees, though sometimes trained on trellises. They were perhaps derived from Mesopotamia or Persia, but at what date it is quite impossible to conjecture. Apples, pears, plums, cherries, quinces, are not unlikely to have been indigenous, though of course the present species are the result of long and careful cultivation. The same may be said of the almond and the pistachio nut. The banana is a comparatively recent importation. It is grown along the coast from Jaffa as far north as Tripolis, and yields a fruit which is said to be of excellent quality.
Altogether, Phoenicia may be pronounced a land of fruits. Hasselquist says, that in his time Sidon grew pomegranates, apricots, figs, almonds, oranges, lemons, and plums in such abundance as to furnish annually several shiploads for export, while D'Arvieux adds to this list pears, peaches, cherries, and bananas. Lebanon alone can furnish grapes, olives, mulberries, figs, apples, apricots, walnuts, cherries, peaches, lemons, and oranges. The coast tract adds pomegranates, limes, and bananas. It has been said that Carmel, a portion of Phoenicia, is "the garden of Eden run wild;" but the phrase might be fitly applied to the entire country.
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