Letter from Dr. Charles Wilkins Short to Dr. Daniel Drake, 17 December 1816

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Short writes to see if Drake was aware of the two species of coffee nut tree. He includes a sketch of the tree's seed pod on the last page. He also asks about rumors he had heard concerning Drake's relocation to Lexington.

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15 Lexington Decr. 17.th 1816.

My dear Sir,

Was you aware that there were two different species, or at least strongly-marked varieties of the Gymnocladus (Coffee nut Tree) native in our county [?] I was accidently led to remark a difference in the tree which I had never before done and upon references to Michaux and other authors I find but one species designated viz. the G. Canadensis. From a number of trees which I have lately examined I am induced to believe that there exists difference enough to constitute two species or at least varieties. At the present season when neither the flower nor leafs is to be seen, we have only the general appearance of the tree and form of the seed, vessels to judge by of the latter I send you a rough sketch, representing the form of the two pods (legumens). Each contain from eight to ten seed imbedded in that peculiar sweet and viscid matter which fills the pods and divides it into cells. The seed of Fig 1. are generally smaller than those of the other. As to the general appearance of the two trees that from which the pod (fig 2) was taken exhibits comparatively a rough in aspects the external back being convoluted into thin tortuous scales like that of the Honey-locust while that bearing fig 1. is a smoother tree, its back resembling more nearly that of the dogwood. As to the altitude and general growth of the two trees I see no differences. Both are very common in the neighbourhood of this. The former perhaps more frequent.

Last edit about 2 months ago by MaryV
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These remarks are not the result of hasty and superficial examination but proceed from an attentive examination of a number of individuals. What does [?] say about it. His book is not to be seen in Lexington. In the notice which you take of the Forest trees of your counttry I see that you follow Marshall in calling that before us by the old Linneaus name of [Guidandina?]. It is now I believe more genereally known by [Lamark's?].

I have lately heard from some of my medical brethren, that there was a probability of Lexington's being enriched by the acquisition of yourself. In that case I assure you Sir, I should feel much greater reluctance in leaving it than I do now. But as neither in Cincinnati or Lexington I may enjoy the pleasures of your Society I feel the more indifferent about your removal. Selfish motives aside, however, I feel a wish that you would remove to this place on account of your amiable lady. Her health I am induced to hope would be better in this place, where from the facility of procuring servants ladies are not subjected to the hardships of domestic drudgery.

Be pleased to present my best respects to Mrs. Drake to whom also Mr. Short desires to be remember'd, and accept from my [?], dear Sir assurancies of the most unfeigned Esteem of Your H Servt C W. Short Dr Drake, Cincinnati,

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Gen. - Gymnocladus Lam: [Guclandina Lin.?]

Fig. 1 Fig 2d.

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