previous next

CHAP. 11. (8.)—CACHRYS.

The robur bears cachrys,1 too; such being the name given to a small round ball that is employed in medicine for its caustic properties. It grows on the fir likewise, the larch, the pitch-tree, the linden, the nut-tree, and the plane, and remains on the tree throughout the winter, after the leaves have fallen. It contains a kernel very similar to that of the pinenut, and increases in size during the winter. In spring the ball opens throughout, and it finally drops when the leaves are beginning to grow.

Such is the multiplicity of the products borne by the robur in addition to its acorns; and not only these, but mushrooms2 as well, of better or worse quality, the most recent stimulants that have been discovered for the appetite; these last are found growing about its roots. Those of the quercus are the most highly esteemed, while those of the robur, the cypress, and the pine are injurious.3 The robur produces mistletoe4 also, and, if we may believe Hesiod,5 honey as well: indeed, it is a well-known fact, that a honey6-like dew falling from heaven, as we have already mentioned,7 deposits itself upon the leaves of this tree in preference to those of any other. It is also well known that the wood of this tree, when burnt, produces a nitrous8 ash.

1 This word, as employed by Theophrastus, means a catkin, the Julus amentum of the botanists; but it is doubtful if Pliny attaches this meaning to the word, as the lime or linden-tree has no catkin, but an inflorescence of a different character. It is not improbable that, under this name, he alludes to some excrescence.

2 These were the "boletus" and the suillus;" the last of which seem only to have been recently introduced at table in the time of Pliny. See B. xxii. c. 47.

3 He alludes clearly to fungi of radically different qualities, as the nature of the trees beneath which they grow cannot possibly influence them, any further than by the various proportions of shade they afford. The soil, however, exercises great influence on the quality of the fungus; growing upon a hill, it may be innoxious, while in a wet soil it may be productive of death.

4 See cc. 93, 94, and 95, of this Book.

5 Works and Days, 1. 230.

6 Pliny seems to have here taken in a literal sense, what has been said figuratively by Virgil, Eel. iv. 1. 26: "Et duræ quercus sudabunt roscida mella;"
and by Ovid, in relation to the Golden Age, Met. i. 113: "Flavaque de viridi stillabant ilice mella."
Fée remarks, that we find on the leaf of the lime-tree a thin, sugary deposit, left by insects; and that a species of manna exudes from the Coniferæ, as also the bark of the beech. This, however, is never the case with the oak.

7 B. xi. c. 12.

8 By this word, Fée observes, we must not understand the word "nitre," in the modern sense, but the sub-carbonate of potash; while the ashes of trees growing on the shores of the sea produce a sub-carbonate of soda.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: