RICE PAPER.

THE rice paper tree, one of the most interesting of the flora of China, has recently been successfully experimented with in Florida, where it now flourishes, with other subtropical and oriental species of trees and shrubs, say's the St. Louis Republic. When first transplanted in American soil the experimenters expressed doubts of its hardiness, fearing that it would be unable to stand the winters. All these fears have vanished, however, and it is now the universal opinion that it is as well adapted to the climate of this country as to that of the famed Flowery Kingdom.

It is a small tree, growing to a height of less than fifteen feet, with a trunk or stem from three to five inches in diameter. Its canes, which vary in color according to season, are large, soft and downy, the form somewhat resembling that noticed in those of the castor-bean plant. The celebrated rice paper, the product of this queer tree, is formed of thin slices of the pith, which is taken from the body of the tree in beautiful cylinders several inches in length.

     

The Chinese workmen apply the blade of a sharp, straight knife to these cylinders, and, turning them round either by rude machinery or by hand, dexterously pare the pith from circumference to center. This operation makes a roll of extra-quality paper, the scroll being of equal thickness throughout, After a cylinder has thus been pared it is unrolled, and weights are placed upon it until the surface is rendered uniformly smooth throughout its entire length.

It is altogether probable that if rice paper making becomes an industry in the United States these primitive modes will all be done away with.


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