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The clustered amomum1 is very extensively used; it grows upon a kind of wild vine that is found in India, though some persons have been of opinion that it is borne by a shrub, resembling the myrtle in appearance, and about the same height as the palm. This plant, also, is plucked along with the root, and is carefully pressed together with the hands; for it very soon becomes brittle. That kind is held in the highest esteem, the leaves of which bear a strong resemblance to those of the pomegranate, being free from wrinkles, and of a red colour. The second quality is that which is of a pallid hue. That which has a green, grassy appearance, is not so good, and the white is the worst of all; it assumes this appearance when old. The price of clustered amomum is sixty denarii per pound, but in dust it sells at only forty-nine. Amomum is produced, also, in that part of Armenia which is known as Otene; as, also, in Media and Pontus. It is adulterated with the leaves of the pomegranate and a solution of gum, which is employed in order to make the leaves adhere and form clusters, like those of the grape.

There is another substance, also, which is known by the name of amomis;2 it is not so full of veins as amomum, harder, and not so odoriferous; from which it would appear, either that it is altogether a different plant, or else that it is amomum gathered in an unripe state.

1 It is by no means settled among naturalists, what plant the Amomum of the ancients was; indeed, there has been the greatest divergence of opinion. Tragus takes it to be a kind of bindweed: Matthioli, the Piper Æthiopicum of Linnæus: Cordus and Scaliger, the rose of Jericho, the Anastatica hierocuntica of Linnæus. Gesner thinks it to have been the garden pepper, the Solanum bacciferum of Tournefort: Cæsalpinus the cubeb, the Piper cubeba of Linnæus: Plukenet and Sprengel the Cissus vitiginea, while Fée and Paulet look upon it as not improbably identical with the Amomum racemosum of Linnæus. The name is probably derived from the Arabic hahmâma, the Arabians having first introduced it to the notice of the Greeks.

2 Supposed to have been only the Amomum, in an unripe state, as Pliny himself suggests.

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