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Cassia1 is a shrub also, which grows not far from the plains where cinnamon is produced, but in the mountainous localities; the branches of it are, however, considerably thicker than those of cinnamon. It is covered with a thin skin rather than a bark, and, contrary to what is the case with cinnamon, it is looked upon as the most valuable when the bark falls off and crumbles into small pieces. The shrub is three cubits in height, and the colours which it assumes are threefold: when it first shoots from the ground, for the length of a foot, it is white; after it has attained that height, it is red for half a foot, and beyond that it is black. This last is the part that is held in the highest esteem, and next to it the portion that comes next, the white part being the least valued of all. They cut the ends of the branches to the length of two fingers, and then sew them in the fresh skins of cattle that have been killed expressly for the purpose; the object being that the skins may putrefy, and the maggots generated thereby may eat away the woody parts, and so excavate2 the bark; which is so intensely bitter, that it is quite safe from their attacks. That which is the freshest is the most highly esteemed; it has a very delicate smell, and is so extremely hot to the taste, that it may be said to burn the tongue, rather than gradually warm the mouth. It is of a purple colour, and though of considerable volume, weighs but very little in comparison; the outer coat forms into short tubes which are by no means easily broken: this choice kind of cassia, the barbarians call by the name of lada. There is another sort, again, which is called balsamodes,3 because it has a smell like that of balsam, but it is bitter; for which reason it is more employed for medicinal purposes, just as the black cassia is used for unguents. There is no substance known that is subject to greater variations in price: the best qualities sell at fifty denarii per pound, others, again, at five.

(20.) To these varieties the dealers have added another, which they call daphnoides,4 and give it the surname of isocinnamon;5 the price at which it sells is three hundred denarii per pound. It is adulterated with storax, and, in consequence of the resemblance of the bark, with very small sprigs of laurel. Cassia is also planted in our6 part of the world, and, indeed, at the extreme verge of the Empire, on the banks of the river Rhenus, where it flourishes when planted in the vicinity of hives of bees. It has not, however, that scorched colour which is produced by the excessive heat of the sun; nor has it, for the same reason, a similar smell to that which comes from the south.

1 There has been considerable doubt what plant it was that produced the cassia of the ancients. Fée, after diligently enquiring into the subject, inclines to think that it was the Laurus cassia of Linnæus, the same tree that produces the cassia of the present day.

2 There is little doubt that all this is fabulous.

3 Or, "smelling like balsam."

4 "Looking like laurel."

5 "Equal to cinnamon." Fée thinks that it is a variety of the Laurus cassia.

6 He probably alludes to the Daphne Cnidium of Linnæus, which, as Fée remarks, is altogether different from the Laurus cassia, or genuine cassia.

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