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Next in affinity to these plants are the bulbs,1 which Cato, speaking in high terms of those of Megara,2 recommends most particularly for cultivation. Among these bulbs, the squill,3 we find, occupies the very highest rank, although by nature it is medicinal, and is employed for imparting an additional sharpness to vinegar:4 indeed, there is no bulb known that grows to a larger size than this, or is possessed of a greater degree of pungency. There are two varieties of it employed in medicine, the male squill, which has white leaves, and the female squill, with black5 ones. There is a third kind also, which is good to eat, and is known as the Epimenidian6 squill; the leaf is narrower than in the other kinds, and not so rough. All the squills have numerous seeds, but they come up much more quickly if propagated from the offsets that grow on the sides. To make them attain a still greater size, the large leaves that grow around them are turned down and covered over with earth; by which method all the juices are carried to the heads. Squills grow spontaneously and in vast numbers in the Baleares and the island of Ebusus, and in the Spanish provinces.7 The philosopher Pythagoras has written a whole volume on the merits of this plant, setting forth its various me- dicinal properties; of which we shall have occasion to speak more at length in the succeeding Book.8

The other species of bulbs are distinguished by their colour, size, and sweetness; indeed, there are some that are eaten raw even—those found in the Tauric Chersonesus, for instance. Next to these, the bulbs of Africa are held in the highest esteem, and after them those of Apulia. The Greeks have distinguished the following varieties: the bulbine,9 the seta- nion,10 the opition,11 the cyix,12 the leucoion,13 the ægilips,14 and the sisyrinchion15—in the last there is this remarkable feature, that the extremities of the roots increase in winter, but during the spring, when the violet appears, they diminish in size and gradually contract, and then it is that the bulb begins to increase in magnitude. Among the varieties of the bulb, too, there is the plant known in Egypt by the name of "aron."16 In size it is very nearly as large as the squill, with a leaf like that of lapathum, and a straight stalk a couple of cubits in length, and the thickness of a walking-stick: the root of it is of a milder nature, so much so, indeed, as to admit of being eaten raw.

Bulbs are taken up before the spring, for if not, they are apt to spoil very quickly. It is a sign that they are ripe when the leaves become dry at the lower extremities. When too old they are held in disesteem; the same, too, with the long and the smaller ones; those, on the other hand, which are red and round are greatly preferred, as also those of the largest size. In most of them there is a certain degree of pungency in the upper part, but the middle is sweet. The ancients have stated that bulbs are reproduced from seed only, but in the champaign country of Præneste they grow spontaneously, and they grow to an unlimited extent in the territory of the Remi.17

1 Under this general name were included, probably, garlic, scallions, chives, and some kinds of onions; but it is quite impossible to identify the ancient "bulbus" more closely than this.

2 It has been suggested that this was probably the onion, the Allium cepa of Linnæus.

3 The Scilla maritima of Linnæus, the sea-squill.

4 See B. xx. c. 39. He might have added that it renders vinegar both an emetic, and a violent purgative.

5 The leaves are in all cases green, and no other colour; but in one kind the squamæ, or bracted leaves, are white, and in another, red.

6 Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. vii. c. 11, gives it this name. As none of the sea-squills can be eaten with impunity, Fée is inclined to doubt if this really was a squill.

7 They still abound in those places. The Spanish coasts on the Mediterranean, Fée says, as well as the vicinity of Gibraltar, are covered with them.

8 In c. 39.

9 Fée thinks that this may be the Muscaria botryoïdes of Miller, Diet. No. I. See also B. xx. c. 41.

10 A variety, probably, of the common onion, the Allium cepa of Linnæus.

11 Some variety of the genus Allium, Fée thinks.

12 Fée queries whether this may not be some cyperaceous plant with a bulbous root.

13 A white bulb, if we may judge from the name. The whole of this passage is from Theopbrastus, Hist. Plant. B. vii. c. 11.

14 This has not been identified. The old reading was "ægilops," a name now given to a kind of grass.

15 The Iris sisyrinchium of Linnæus.

16 The Arum colocasia of Linnæus, held in great esteem by the ancient Egyptians as a vegetable. The root is not a bulb, but tubercular, and the leaf bears no resemblance to that of the Lapathum, dock or sorrel. It was sometimes known by the name of "lotus."

17 In Gaul. See B. iv. c. 31.

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