Demise of 300 year old Cedar from Garden and Forest


       "A remarkable dwarf Cedar, known to be three hundred years old, was sent some time ago to the Chicago Fair by the Emperor of Japan.  It seems strange to learn that it was prepared for transportation by being taken from its pot and wrapped in paper; and not at all strange that when it reached Jackson Park it should have been nearly dead.  Every effort was used to resuscitate it, but a few days ago it died.  Nevertheless, its defunct form will be carefully set in a pot and exhibited in the Horticultural Building.  It is described as a remarkable example of the skill of the Japanese in retarding the growth of trees and yet preserving, in miniature, the aspect of an ancient, weather-worn specimen.  It is larger than the most interesting of these dwarfs which were shown at the Paris Exhibition, being about three feet in height." 1


1    Garden and Forest, Vol. VI, No. 264, March 15, 1893, pg. 128.  In a general section with the small heading "Notes."  Tenth paragraph, not otherwise separately marked; quoted without page citation by Constance Dederian in a letter to the editor, Journal, ABS, Vol. 10, No. 4, Winter 1977, pg. 92.

A longer version of the story is found in the sixth paragraph of "Recent Progress in Science" by Ernest Ingersoll, in The American Magazine, Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly (New York: Frank Leslie's Publishing House; May 1893, Vol. XXXV, No. 5, pp. 636-637):

       "The Japanese dwarf cedar is dead (says the Chicago Inner Ocean).  This famous tree, 300 years old was sent to [637] the Columbian Fair by the Emperor of Japan, but it was taken from its soil and wrapped in brown paper.  When it reached Jackson Park the Department of Horticulture discovered that it would take heroic measures to restore it to strength and bloom, even if life were not extinct.  Hot pipes were laid around and about it, but yesterday the time limit was reached and the famous old tree was declared to be dead wood.  This cedar, about three feet in height and 300 years old, was considered to be probably the best specimen in existence of the celebrated dwarf trees of Japan.  For three centuries its growth had been checked and held down by the process known to the clever Japs [sic], until in appearance it was a burlesque or miniature imitation of a noble and massive cedar tree.  There is much mourning among the Japanese in Jackson Park over the demise of the wonderful tree, but it will be retained in the Horticultural Building and given a place of prominence in the Japanese exhibit.  The tree now stands in a large flower pot, and is covered with its foliage, which, however, is plainly dead and almost ready to fall off.  The gnarled and rugged trunk and branches seem to tell a sad tale of suppressed vigor and growth; and now that the ancient tree is dead, it looks more than ever like a dwarf, stunted and blighted, but at the same time a marvelous specimen of what time and patience and close attention to the end desired may accomplish."

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