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The Egyptians have many other plants also, of little note; but they speak in the highest terms of the cnecos;1 a plant unknown to Italy, and which the Egyptians hold in esteem, not as an article of food, but for the oil it produces, and which is extracted from the seed. The principal varieties are the wild and the cultivated kinds; of the wild variety, again, the are two sorts, one of which is less prickly2 than the other, but with a similar stem, only more upright: hence it is that in former times females used it for distaffs, from which circumstance it has received the name of "atractylis"3 from some; the seed of it is white, large, and bitter. The other variety4 is more prickly, and has a more sinewy stem, which may be said almost to creep upon the ground; the seed is small. The cnecos belongs to the thorny plants: indeed, it will be as well to make some classification of them.

1 The Carthamus tinctorius of Linnæus, or bastard saffron. The seed of it is a powerful purgative to man, but has no effect on birds: it is much used for feeding parrots, hence one of its names, "parrot-seed."

2 Identified by Fée with the Atractylis of Dioscorides, the Carthamus mitissimus of Linnæus; the Carduncellus mitissimus of Decandolle.

3 From ἄτρακτος, "a distaff."

4 The Centaurea lanata of Decandolle, the Centaurea benedicta of Linnæus.

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