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No less esteemed, too, in the same country, is a certain kind of thorn,1 though only the black variety, its wood being imperishable, in water even, a quality which renders it particularly valuable for making the sides of ships: on the other hand, the white kinds will rot very rapidly. It has sharp, prickly thorns on the leaves even, and bears its seeds in pods; they are employed for the same purposes as galls in the preparation of leather. The flower, too, has a pretty effect when made into garlands, and is extremely useful in medicinal preparations. A gum, also, distils from this tree; but the principal merit that it possesses is, that when it is cut down, it will grow again within three years. It grows in the vicinity of Thebes, where we also find the quercus, the Persian tree, and the olive: the spot that produces it is a piece of woodland, distant three hundred stadia from the Nile, and watered by springs of its own.

(10.) Here we find, too, the Egyptian2 plum-tree, not much unlike the thorn last mentioned, with a fruit similar to the medlar, and which ripens in the winter. This tree never loses its leaves. The seed in the fruit is of considerable size, but the flesh of it, by reason of its quality, and the great abundance in which it grows, affords quite a harvest to the inhabitants of those parts; after cleaning it, they subject it to pressure, and then make it up into cakes for keeping. There was formerly3 a woodland district in the vicinity of Memphis, with trees of such enormous size, that three men could not span one with their arms: one of these trees is remarkable, not for its fruit, or any particular use that it is, but for the singular phænomenon that it presents. In appearance it strongly resembles a thorn,4 and it has leaves which have all the appearance of wings, and which fall immediately the branch is touched by any one, and then immediately shoot again.

1 See B. xxiv. c. 67. This is, no doubt, the Acacia Nilotica of Linnæus, which produces the gum Arabic of modern commerce.

2 This is from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. iv. c. 3. Fée suggests that it may have been a kind of myrobalanus. Sprengel identifies it with the Cordia sebestana of the botanists.

3 "Fuit." From the use of this word he seems uncertain as to its existence in his time; the account is copied from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. iv. c. 3. Fée suggests that he may here allude to the Baobab, the Adansonia digitata, which grows in Senegal and Sennaar to an enormous size. Prosper Alpinus speaks of it as existing in Egypt. The Arabs call it El-omarah, and the fruit El-kongles.

4 The Mimosa polyacanthe, probably. Fée says that the mimosæ, respectively known as casta, pudibunda, viva, and sensitiva, with many of the inga, and other leguminous trees, are irritable in the highest degree. The tree here spoken of he considers to be one of the acacias. The passage in Theophrastus speaks of the leaf as shrinking, and not falling, and then as simply reviving.

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