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Scented calamus also, which grows in Arabia, is common to both India and Syria, that which grows in the last country being superior to all the rest. At a distance of one hundred and fifty stadia from the Mediterranean, between Mount Libanus and another mountain of no note (and not, as some have supposed, Antilibanus), there is a valley of moderate size, situate in the vicinity of a lake, the marshy swamps of which are dried up every summer. At a distance of thirty stadia from this lake grow the sweet-scented calamus and rush. We shall here make some further mention of this rush as well, although we have set apart another Book for plants of that description, seeing that it is our object here to describe all the different materials used for unguents. These plants differ in appearance in no respect from others of their kind; but the calamus, which has the more agreeable smell of the two, attracts by its odour at a considerable distance, and is softer to the touch than the other. The best is the kind which is not so brittle, but breaks into long flakes, and not short, like a radish. In the hollow stalk there is a substance like a cobweb, which is generally known by the name of the "flower:" those plants which contain the most of it are esteemed the best. The other tests of its goodness are its being of a black colour—those which are white not being esteemed; besides which, to be of the very best quality it should be short, thick, and pliant when broken. The price of the scented calamus is eleven, and of the rush fifteen denarii per pound. It is said that the sweet-scented rush is to be met with also in Campania.

1 Fée remarks, that this must not be confounded with the Calamus aromaticus of the moderns, of which Pliny speaks in B. xxv. c. 100, with sufficient accuracy to enable us to identify it with the Acorus calamus of Linnæus. It is not ascertained by naturalists what plant is meant by Pliny in the present instance, though Fée is of opinion that a gramineous plant of the genus Andropogon is meant. M. Guibourt has suggested that the Indian Gentiana chirayta is the plant. From what Pliny says in B. xiii. c. 21, it appears that this calamus grew in Syria, which is also the native country of the Andropogon schœnauthus.

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