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Some trees are of a simple form, and have but a single trunk rising from the root, together with numerous branches; such as the olive, for instance, the fig, and the vine; others again are of a shrubby nature, such as the paliurus,1 the myrtle, and the filbert; which last, indeed, is all the better, and the more abundant its fruit, the more numerous its branches. In some trees, again, there is no trunk at all, as is the case with one species of box,2 and the lotus3 of the parts beyond sea. Some trees are bifurcated, while there are some that branch out into as many as five parts. Others, again, divide in the trunk but have no branches, as in the case of the elder; while others have no division in the trunk but throw out branches, such as the pitch-tree, for instance.

In some trees the branches are symmetrically arranged, the pitch-tree and the fir, for example; while with others they are dispersed without any order or regularity, as in the robur, the apple, and the pear. In the fir the branches are thrown out from the trunk straight upwards, pointing to the sky, and not drooping downwards from the sides of the trunk. It is a singular thing,4 but this tree will die if the ends of its branches are cut, though, if taken off altogether, no bad effect is produced. If it is cut, too, below the place where the branches were, the part of the tree which is left will continue to live; but if, on the other hand, the top only of the tree is removed, the whole of it will die.

Some trees, again, throw out branches from the roots, the elm for example; while others are branchy at the top, the pine for instance, and the lotus5 or Grecian bean, the fruit of which, though wild, resembles the cherry very closely, and is called the lotus at Rome, on account of its sweetness. For sheltering houses these trees are more particularly esteemed, as they throw out their branches to a considerable distance, from a short trunk, thus affording a very extensive shade, and very frequently encroaching upon the neighbouring mansions. There is no tree, however, the shade afforded by which is less long-lived than this, and when it loses its leaves in winter, it affords no shelter from the sun. No tree has a more sightly bark, or one which has greater attractions for the eye; or branches which are longer, stouter, or more numerous; indeed, one might almost look upon them as forming so many trees. The bark6 of it is used for dyeing skins, and the root for colouring wool.

The branches of the apple-tree have a peculiar conformation; knots are formed which resemble the muzzles7 of wild beasts, several smaller ones being united to a larger.

1 See B. xxiv. c. 71.

2 He means the garden or border-box mentioned in c. 28 of this Book.

3 See B. xiii. c. 17: the African lotus, probably; the Zizyphus lotus of Desfontaines.

4 This statement is entirely incorrect. If a tree loses the terminal bud, it will grow no higher, but it will not die if the extremities of the branches are cut. Such, in fact, is much more likely to happen when they are all cut off, from the extreme loss of juices which must naturally ensue at the several cicatrices united.

5 The Celtis australis of Linnæus. Pliny is in error in calling this tree the "Grecian bean." In B. xiii. c. 22, he erroneously calls the African lotus by the name of "celtis," which only belongs to the lotus of Italy; that of Africa being altogether different.

6 The bark, which is astringent, is still used in preparing skins, and a black colouring matter extracted from the root is employed in dyeing wool.

7 Quite an accidental resemblance, if, indeed, it ever existed.

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