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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6



Already, during the Melbourne Exhibition in 1861, and the London Exhibition of 1862, Tea from plants of the Botanic Garden was placed before the public, and now again a fair sample is shown. In the Fern-tree page 36 gullies tea plantations are likely to luxuriate quite as much as in the favourable parts of China and in Assam. As an instance of the prolific growth and remunerative yield of this plant in Assam, it may be instanced that from Mimguldye 4000 lbs. of prepared Tea, realised on a plantation of 40 acres, were sent to England last year; the shrubs being planted only in 1863 by a former Victorian colonist, James Daniel Bruce, Esq., the son of Charles Alex. Bruce, who discovered the Assam variety in that locality as a spontaneous plant. The shrubs grew in two years six to eight feet. The Assam wild plant and the Chinese cultivated plant, when crossed, produce a very superior Tea. Both are mere forms of one species.

The only sample in the Exhibition is that prepared in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens from bushes which yielded their product already for the Exhibition of 1861. In the fern-tree gullies, and in other sheltered fertile valleys of our extensive mountain tracts, the plant would still more prosper; and if for the curling process steam rollers were employed, and thus manual labour saved, a new culture industry could be rendered, doubtless, remunerative, while it would give additional employment to the juvenile and infirm of the labouring classes, and a tea to some of the kinds now in ordinary use could be realised from Victorian soil.