| "Notes" in
Nature (1875) includes this paragraph:
THE Acclimatisation Gardens in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, have received a rare collection of artificially coloured [sic] plants from China. The plants are exhibited in the great glass house of the gardens, and excite universal admiration. Among the collection is a dwarf-tree of half a metre in height, the trunk of which is as thick as a finger, and the root of which hardly fills the hollow of a man's hand; the specimen is about 100 years old, and is a species of oak. This, however, is not a natural phenomenon, but the result of Chinese horticulture, which finds its highest problem in the reduction of the natural size of plants. 1
1 "Notes," Nature, Vol. XI, April 15, 1875, pg. 475. The ninth paragraph in this section. It has not been determined what other "artificially coloured" plants were there or why this particular dwarf-tree should have been among them.
Appletons' journal: a magazine of general literature, Volume 13, Issue: 323, May 29, 1875, in the "Science, Invention, Discovery" section, third paragraph from the end, pg. 702 includes this version of the story:
IT appears that the Chinese are not satisfied with the artificial dwarfing of their women's feet, but have carried their experiments into the vegetable kingdom. There is now on exhibition at the Acclimatization Gardens in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, a dwarf-tree about two feet in height, with a trunk the thickness of a man's finger, and roots that would hardly fill the palm of the hand; and yet this tree is an oak one hundred years old. The dwarfing was effected by artificial means, and is the result of continued experiment in this grotesque branch of horticulture.