He has ventured, also, to represent a few trees, with scanty foliage; but I believe their existence at so early a period to be very problematical. Next comes the Carboniferous forest, with still pools of water lying between the Fern-trees, which, much as they affect damp, swampy grounds, seem scarcely able to find foothold on the dripping earth.
The sunlight falls in patches here and there, through the canopy of branches far overhead, and occasionally there occur little glades and dells and openings, quite open to the light. Below the great trees are many smaller ones, among which I notice nikau-palms, cabbage-palms, fern-trees, and tingahere, attracting the eye with their stranger forms.
Sounded the cries of the teamsters, the barking of dogs, the mingled murmur of speech English speech again; and the fresh wind, bearing away a fine, golden dust from the long roads, swayed the palm-tops and the fern-trees with a gentle and caressing touch.
He showed us how the fern-trees grew only in the still sheltered elbows facing northward, where the sun raised a warm steam from the river, and the cold south wind could not penetrate. He gathered for Mrs.
Where paradise-birds, macaws and paroquets had screamed and flitted, humming-birds darted with a whir of gauzy wings, serpents writhed, deer browsed, monkeys and apes swung chattering from the liana-festooned fern-trees, now all was silence, charred ashes, dust the universal, blank awfulness of death.
There are emerald feathery fern-trees, copper-tinted "lancewoods," with their hair-like tufts, the tropic strangeness of nikau palms, crested cabbage-trees, red birch and white ti-tree, stately kauri, splendid totara, bulky rimu, dark glossy koraka, spreading rata, and half the arboreal catalogue of the country besides.
A vast sedgy swamp with water in the middle, thin fringes of great fern-trees, and here and there a disconsolate tree like a weeping-willow, and at the end of this lake and swamp, which all together formed a triangle, was a barren hill without a blade of vegetation on it, and a sort of jagged summit Hazel did not at all like the look of. Volcanic!
Here, also, we find enormous trees, with a circumference of eighty feet near the ground, and a height of three hundred and fifty feet. Fern-trees, with their graceful palm-like formation, are frequently seen thirty feet in height. The country is well-wooded generally, and traversed by pleasant watercourses; it is singularly fertile, and rich in good harbors, especially upon the east coast.
Indeed, the immense fern-trees, shooting up their rough stems, like large oars, to the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and then suddenly putting forth leaves in every direction, four or five feet in length, and exactly like the leaf of the common fern, the different kinds of palms rising to the height of seventy or one hundred feet, and then forming large canopies of leaves; the cedars, the undergrowth of wild vines, creeping plants and shrubs, in rich abundance; all combine to remind the visitor of a tropical climate, of a more northern, or as Englishmen would naturally say, more southern, climate than that of Illawarra.
The enclosed space, bounded to east and west by the barrier which swung toward and touched the canyon, had all been cleared, save for a few palms and fern-trees left for shade. Beside drying-frames for fish and game and a well-smoothed plaza for public assemblies and the giving of the Law, it now contained Stern's permanent hangar.