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CHAP. 36. (14.)—THE LUPINE.

The lupine is the next among the leguminous plants that is in extensive use, as it serves for food for man in common with the hoofed quadrupeds. To prevent it from springing out of the pod1 while being gathered, and so lost, the best plan is to gather it immediately after a shower. Of all the seeds that are sown, there is not one of a more marvellous nature than this, or more favoured by the earth. First of all, it turns every day with the sun,2 and shows the hour to the husbandman, even though the weather should happen to be cloudy and overcast. It blossoms, too, no less than three times, and so attached is it to the earth, that it does not require to be covered with the soil; indeed, this is the only seed that does not require the earth to be turned up for sowing it. It thrives more particularly on a sandy, dry, and even gravelly soil; and requires no further care to be taken in its cultivation. To such a degree is it attached to the earth, that even though left upon a soil thickly covered with brambles, it will throw out a root amid the leaves and brakes, and so con- trive to reach the ground. We have already stated3 that the soil of a field or vineyard is enriched by the growth of a crop of lupines; indeed, so far is it from standing in need of manure, that the lupines will act upon it as well as the very best. It is the only seed that requires no outlay at all, so much so, in fact, that there is no necessity to carry it even to the spot where it is sown; for it may be sown the moment it is brought from the threshing-floor:4 and from the fact that it falls from the pod of its own accord, it stands in need of no one to scatter it.

This is5 the very first grain sown and the last that is gathered, both operations generally taking place in the month of September; indeed, if this is not done before winter sets in, it is liable to receive injury from the cold. And then, besides, it may even be left with impunity to lie upon the ground, in case showers should not immediately ensue and cover it in, it being quite safe from the attacks of all animals, on account of its bitter taste: still, however, it is mostly covered up in a slight furrow. Among the thicker soils, it is attached to a red earth more particularly. In order to enrich6 this earth, it should be turned up just after the third blossom; but where the soil is sandy, after the second. Chalky and slimy soils are the only ones that it has an aversion to; indeed, it will never come to anything when sown in them. Soaked in warm water, it is used as a food, too, for man. One modius is a sufficient meal for an ox, and it is found to impart considerable vigour to cattle; placed, too, upon the abdomen7 of children, it acts as a remedy in certain cases. It is an excellent plan to season the lupine by smoking it; for when it is kept in a moist state, maggots are apt to attack the germ, and render it useless for reproduction. If cattle have eaten it off while in leaf, as a matter of necessity it should be ploughed in as soon as possible.

1 In consequence of the brittleness of the pod.

2 This is an exaggeration of certain phænomena observed in the leaves of all leguminous plants.

3 In B. xvii. c. 6.

4 "Ex areâ." This reading is favoured by the text of Columella. B. ii. c. 10, who says the same. But "ex arvo," from the field, i. e. the "moment it is gathered"—seems preferable, as being more consistent with the context.

5 From Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. viii. c. 1. 11, &c.

6 It is still thought that the lupine enriches the soil in which it grows.

7 Marcellus Empiricus says, that boiled lupine meal, spread as a plaster, and laid on the abdomen, will destroy intestinal worms.

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