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There are also as many varieties of thyme1 employed, the one white, the other dark:2 it flowers about the summer solstice, when the bees cull from it. From this plant a sort of augury is derived, as to how the honey is likely to turn out: for the bee-keepers have reason to look for a large crop when the thyme blossoms in considerable abundance. Thyme receives great injury from showers of rain, and is very apt to shed its blossom. The seed of thyme is so minute3 as to be imperceptible, and yet that of origanum, which is also extremely minute, does not escape the sight. But what matters it that Nature has thus concealed it from our view? For we have reason to conclude that it exists in the flower itself; which, when sown in the ground, gives birth to the plant —what is there, in fact, that the industry of man has left untried?

The honey of Attica is generally looked upon as the best in all the world; for which reason it is that the thyme of that country has been transplanted, being reproduced, as already stated, with the greatest difficulty, from the blossom. But there is also another peculiarity in the nature of the thyme of Attica, which has greatly tended to frustrate these attempts—it will never live except in the vicinity of breezes from the sea. In former times, it was the general belief that this is the case with all kinds of thyme, and that this is the reason why it does not grow in Arcadia:4 at a period when it was universally supposed, too, that the olive never grows beyond three hundred stadia5 from the sea. But, at the present day, we know for certain that in the province of Gallia Narbonensis the Stony Plains6 are quite overgrown with thyme; this being, in fact, the only source of revenue to those parts, thousands of sheep7 being brought thither from distant countries to browse upon the plant.

1 Under the head "Thymus," Fée thinks that both the Satureia capitata of Linnæus, headed savory, and the Thymus vulgaris, and Thymus zygis of Linnæus (varieties of thyme), should be included.

2 Fée thinks that in the expression "nigricans," he may allude to the deep red of the stalk of some kinds of thyme, more particularly at the end of summer. It is the Thymus zigis that has a white, downy stem.

3 From Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. vi. c. 2, and De Causis, B. i. c. 5. Fée suggests, that the seed, lying at the bottom of the calyx, may have escaped notice, and that in reality, when the ancients imagined they were sowing the blossoms, they were putting the seed in the earth. That, in fact, seems to agree with the view which Pliny takes of the matter.

4 Which lies in the interior of the Peloponnesus.

5 See B. xv. c. 1.

6 "Lapidei Campi." See B. iii. c. 5.

7 Similar to our practice of depasturing sheep on Dartmoor and other favourite moors and downs.

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