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Of the leaf, which is that of the nard,1 it is only right to speak somewhat more at length, as it holds the principal place among our unguents. The nard is a shrub with a heavy, thick root, but short, black, brittle, and yet unctuous as well; it has a musty smell, too, very much like that of the cyperus, with a sharp, acrid taste, the leaves being small, and growing in tufts. The heads of the nard spread out into ears; hence it is that nard is so famous for its two-fold production, the spike or ear, and the leaf. There is another kind, again, that grows on the banks of the Ganges, but is altogether condemned, as being good for nothing; it bears the name of ozænitis,2 and emits a fetid odour. Nard is adulterated with a sort of plant called pseudo-nard,3 which is found growing everywhere, and is known by its thick, broad leaf, and its sickly colour, which inclines to white. It is sophisticated, also, by being mixed with the root of the genuine nard, which adds very considerably to its weight. Gum is also used for the same purpose, antimony, and cyperus; or, at least, the outer coat of the cyperus. Its genuineness is tested by its lightness, the redness of its colour, its sweet smell, and the taste more particularly, which parches the mouth, and leaves a pleasant flavour behind it; the price of spikenard is one hundred denarii per pound.

Leaf4 nard varies in price according to the size; for that which is known by the name of hadrosphærum, consisting of the larger leaves, sells at forty denarii per pound; when the leaves are smaller, it is called mesosphærum, and is sold at sixty. But that which is considered the most valuable of all, is known as microsphærum, and consists of the very smallest of the leaves; it sells at seventy-five denarii per pound. All these varieties of nard have an agreeable odour, but it is most powerful when fresh. If the nard is old when gathered, that which is of a black colour is considered the best.

In our part of the world, the Syrian5 nard is held in the next highest esteem next to this; then the Gallic;6 and in the third place, that of Crete,7 which by some persons is called "agrion," and by others "phu." This last has exactly the leaf of the olusatrum,8 with a stalk a cubit in length, knotted, of a whitish colour, inclining to purple, and a root that runs sideways; it is covered, too, with long hair, and strongly resembles the foot of a bird. Field nard is known by the name of baccar.9 We shall have further occasion to mention it when we come to speak of the flowers. All these kinds of nard, however, are to be reckoned as herbs, with the exception of Indian nard. Of these, the Gallic kind is pulled up along with the root, and washed in wine; after which it is dried in the shade, and wrapped up in paper, in small parcels. It is not very different from the Indian nard, but is lighter than that of Syria; the price at which it sells is three denarii per pound. The only way of testing the leaves of all these varieties of nard, is to see that they are not brittle and parched, instead of being dried naturally and gradually. Together with the nard that grows in Gaul, there always10 springs up a herb, which is known by the name of hirculus, or the "little goat," on account of its offensive smell, it being very similar to that of the goat. This herb, too, is very much used in the adulteration of nard, though it differs from it in the fact that it has no stem, and its leaves are smaller; the root, too, is not bitter, and is entirely destitute of smell.

1 It is probable that the nard of the ancients, from which they extracted the famous nard-oil, was not the same plant which we know as the Indian nard, or Andropogon nardus of Linnæus. Indeed, it has been pretty conclusively established by Sir William Jones, in his "Asiatic Researches," that the Valeriana Jatamansi is the plant from which they obtained the oil. Among the Hindoos, it is known as djatâmansi, and by the Arabs under the name of sombul, or "spike," from the fact of the base being surrounded with ears or spikes, whence, probably, the Roman appellation. This species of valerian grows in the more distant and mountainous parts of India, Bootan and Nepaul, for instance.

2 From the Greek, ὅζαινα, "a putrid sore." Fée suggests that this may have been the Nardus hadrosphærum of the moderns.

3 Fée supposes that this is not lavender, as some have thought, but the Allium victorialis of modern naturalists, which is still mixed with the nard from the Andropogon. He doubts the possibility of its having been adulterated with substances of such a different nature as those mentioned here by Pliny.

4 Fée is of opinion, that the Greek writers, from whom Pliny copied this passage, intended to speak of the ears of nard, or spikenard.

5 According to Dioscorides, this appellation only means such nard as is cultivated in certain mountains of India which look toward Syria, and which, according to that author, was the best nard of all. Dalechamps and Hardouin, however, ridicule this explanation of the term.

6 Generally supposed to be the Valeriana Celtica of modern naturalists. See B. xxi. c. 79.

7 Probably the Valeriana Italica of modern naturalists.

8 See B. xix. c. 48.

9 Known in this country as fox-glove, our Lady's gloves, sage of Jerusalem, or clown's spikenard. See B. xxi. c. 16.

10 Not always, but very seldom, Brotier says. Clusius has established, from observation, that this plant is only a variety of the Valeriana Celtica.

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