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The broadest leaves are those of the fig, the vine, and the plane; while those of the myrtle, the pomegranate, and the olive are narrow. The leaf of the pine and the cedar is fine and resembles hair, while that of the holly and one variety of the holm oak1 is prickly-indeed, in the juniper, we find a thorn in place of a leaf. The leaf of the cypress and the tamarisk2 is fleshy, and that of the alder is remarkable for its thickness.3 In the reed, the willow, and the palm,4 the leaf is long, and in the latter tree it is double as well: that of the pear is rounded, and it is pointed in the apple.5 In the ivy the leaf is angular, and in the plane divided.6 In the pitch-tree7 and the fir the leaf is indented like the teeth of a comb; while in the robur it is sinuous on the whole of the outer margin: in the bramble it has a spiny surface. In some plants the leaf has the property of stinging, the nettle for instance; while in the pine,8 the pitch-tree, the fir, the larch, the cedar, and the holly, it is prickly. In the olive and the holm-oak it has a short stalk, in the vine a long one: in the poplar the stalk of the leaf is always quivering,9 and the leaves of this tree are the only ones that make a crackling noise10 when coming in contact with another.

In one variety of the apple-tree11 we find a small leaf protruding from the very middle of the fruit, sometimes, indeed, a couple of them. Then, again, in some trees the leaves are arranged all round the branches, and in others at the extremities of them, while in the robur they are found upon the trunk itself. They are sometimes thick and close, and at others thinly scattered, which is more particularly the case where the leaf is large and broad. In the myrtle12 they are symmetrically arranged, in the box, concave, and, upon the apple, scattered without any order or regularity. In the apple and the pear we find several leaves issuing from the same stalk, and in the elm and the cytisus13 they are covered with ramified veins. To the above particulars Cato14 adds that the leaves of the poplar and the quercus should not be given to cattle after they have fallen and become withered, and he recommends the leaves of the fig,15 the holm-oak, and the ivy for oxen: the leaves, too, of the reed and the laurel are sometimes given them to eat. The leaves of the service-tree fall all at once, but in the others only by degrees. Thus much in reference to the leaves.

1 "Genere ilicum." It is not improbable that he here refers to the variety of the holm-oak which he has previously called "aquifolia," apparently confounding it with the holly. See c. 8 of this Book.

2 See B. xiii. c. 37.

3 This must be understood of the young leaf of the alder, which has a sort of thick gummy varnish on it.

4 B. xiii. c. 7.

5 B. xv. c. 15. Pliny is not correct here; the leaf of the pear is oval or lanceolated, while that of the apple is oval and somewhat angular, though not exactly "mucronata," or sharply pointed.

6 Not exactly "divided," but strongly lobed.

7 If this is the case, the pitch-tree can hardly be identical with the false fir, the Abies excelsa of Decandolles. See c. 18 of this Book, and the Note.

8 This passage would be apt to mislead, did we not know that the leaves of the coniferous trees here mentioned are not prickly, in the same sense as those of the holly, which are armed with very formidable weapons.

9 More particularly in the Populus tremula, the "quivering" poplar.

10 Crepitantia.

11 See B. xv. c. 15. Not a species, but an accidental monstrosity.

12 See B. xv. c. 37, where he speaks of the Hexastich myrtle.

13 The leaves of the elm and the tree supposed to be identical with the cytisus of the ancients have no characteristics in common. See B. xiii. c. 47, and the Notes.

14 De Re Rust. cc. 5, 30, 45.

15 Very inappropriate food for cattle, it would appear: the fig leaf being charged with a corrosive milky juice; the leaf of the holm oak, hard and leathery; and that of the ivy, bitter and nauseous in the highest degree.

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