This tree is cultivated for ornament in many parts of the United States, within the neighborhoods of Boston, Philadelphia, etc., where it attains considerable dimensions, sometimes reaching the height of thirty feet. Its deportment is somewhat restricted when fully grown, but is more loose and gracefully disposed when the tree is young. In color its bark is gray on old trees, but purplish-brown on young trees. Its leaves, which are spear-shaped and toothed on their edges, and smooth on their upper surface, are composed of eight or nine pairs of leaflets and an odd one terminating its length. Its flowers, which blossom in May and June, occur in large, fragrant white clusters, and are succeeded by berries of a brilliant scarlet color.
Of the many varieties of the mountain ash, the small-fruited variety is indigenous to the whole range of the Alleghanies, and is distinctively distinguishable by the dark-brown gloss of its young branches and by its scarlet berries.
Most of its varieties may be propagated by seed, which should be gathered as soon as ripe. Macerate in water before sowing, to separate the seeds from the pulp. Sow in beds of light, rich soil at two or three inches apart, and cover to the depth of half an inch. By the end of the first season the plants should average a height of eighteen inches. Separate and transplant the most thrifty to situations of permanency, after which their growth will be moderately rapid, and their attained height reach eight to ten feet at the end of the fifth year.
The mountain ash is subject to the attacks of several species of borers, one of which is specially noticed as its enemy by Browne in his "Trees of America." This beetle varies in length from a little more than one half to three fourths of an inch. The upper side of the-body of the perfect insect is marked with two longitudinal white stripes between three others of a light-brown color, while the face, the antennae, the under side of the body, and the legs are white. It comes forth from the trunks of the trees early in June, making its escape in the night, during which time only it uses its ample wings in passing from one tree to another in search of companions and of food. In the daytime it keeps at rest among the leaves of the plants on which it feeds.
In the months of June and July the females deposit their eggs upon the bark of the trees, near the roots, and the larvae or borers hatched from them consist of fleshy, whitish grubs, without legs, nearly cylindrical in their form, and tapering a little from the first ring to the end of the body. The head is small, horny, and of a brownish color. The first ring is much larger than the others, the next two very short, and, hke the first, are covered with punctures and very minute hairs. This grub with its strong jaws cuts a cylindrical passage through the bark, and pushes its castings backward out of the hole, while it bores upward into the wood. It continues in the larva state two or three years, during which it penetrates eight or ten inches into the trunk of the tree, its burrow at the end approaching to and being covered only by the bark. It is in this situation that its transformation takes place, which is completed about the first of June, when the beetle gnaws through the bark that covers the end of the burrow, and comes out of its place of confinement in the night. One of the oldest, safest, and most successful modes of destroying this borer is to thrust a wire into the hole it has made, or, what would probably answer as well, to plug it up with soft wood. The apple-tree, as well as quince, June-berry, and various specimens of thorns and aronias, are attacked by the larvae of this beetle.