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Democritus has regarded the nyctegreton1 as one of the most singular of plants. According to that author, it is of a dark red colour, has leaves like those of a thorn, and creeps upon the ground. He says that it grows in Gedrosia2 more particularly, and that it is taken up by the roots immediately after the vernal equinox, and dried in the moonlight for thirty days; after which preparation it emits light by night. He states also, that the Magi and the kings of Parthia employ this plant in their ceremonies when they make a vow to perform an undertaking; that another name given to it is "chenomyche,"3 from the circumstance that, at the very sight of it, geese will manifest the greatest alarm; and that by some persons, again, it is known as the "nyctalops,"4 from the light which it emits at a considerable distance by night.

1 The "night-watcher." According to Sprengel, this is the Cæsalpina pulcherrima of Linnæus. But, as Fée says, that is entirely an Indian plant, and has only been introduced but very recently into Europe. Hardouin identifies it with a plant called "lunaria" by the naturalists of his day, which shines, he says, with the moon at night.

2 The Cæsalpina pulcherrima is not to be found in or near Gedrosia (in ancient Persia), but solely on the shores of the Bay of Bengal.

3 From χῆνες, "geese," and μύχος, a "corner;" because geese run into a corner on seeing it.

4 As to the meaning of this word, see B. xxviii. c. 47.

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