Flora and Faunx.-Although the vegetation of the Nicobars has received much desultory attention from scientific observers, it has not been subjected to a systematic examination by the Indian Forest Department like that of the Andamans, and indeed the forests are quite inferior in economic value to those of the more northerly group; besides fruit trees - such as the coco-nut (Cocos nucifera), the betel-nut (Areca catechu), and the mellori (Pandanus leeram) - a thatching palm (Nipa fruticans) and various timber trees have some commercial value, but only one timber tree (Myristica irya)would be considered first-class in the Andamans.
Palm-trees are abundant in great variety, including the nipah, which is much used for thatching, the cabbage, fan, sugar, coco and sago palms. The last two furnish large supplies of food to the natives, some copra is exported, and sago factories, mostly in the hands of Chinese, prepare sago for the Dutch and British markets.
It serves for the thatching of roofs, for a papermaking material, for ornamenting small surfaces as a "strawmosaic," for plaiting into door and table mats, mattresses, &c., and for weaving and plaiting into light baskets, artificial flowers, &c. These applications, however, are insignificant in comparison with the place occupied by straw as a raw material for the straw bonnets and hats worn by both sexes.
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