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The broom is used for making withes;1 the flowers of it are greatly sought by bees. I have my doubts whether this is not the same plant that the Greek writers have called "sparton," and of which, in those parts of the world, as I have already2 stated, they are in the habit of making fishing-nets. I doubt also whether Homer3 has alluded to this plant, when he speaks of the seams of the ships,—"the sparta" coming asunder; for it is certain that in those times the spartum4 of Spain or Africa was not as yet in use, and that vessels made of materials sown together, were united by the agency, not of spartum, but of flax.

The seed of the plant to which the Greeks now give the name of "sparton," grows in pods like those of the kidneybean. It is as strongly drastic5 as hellebore, and is usually taken fasting, in doses of one drachma and a half, in four cyathi of hydromel. The branches also, with the foliage, are macerated for several days in vinegar, and are then beaten up, the infusion being recommended for sciatica, in doses of one cyathus. Some persons think it a better plan, however, to make an infusion of them in sea-water, and to inject it as a clyster. The juice of them is used also as a friction for sciatica, with the addition of oil. Some medical men, too, make use of the seed for strangury. Broom, bruised with axle-grease, is a cure for diseases of the knees.

1 See B. xvi. c. 69. The kind here alluded to is the Spanish broom, Fée thinks.

2 In B. xix. c. 2. Vol. IV. p. 135.

3 Iliad, B. ii. 1. 135. See B. xix. c. 6, where Pliny states it as his opinion that in this passage Homer is speaking of flax

4 See B. xix. c. 7. Fée thinks that the plant under consideration in this Chapter is the Spanish broom, Genista juncea of Lamarck, the Spartium junceum of Linnæus, a different plant from the Spartum of B. xix. c. 7, the Stipa tenacissima of Linnæus. He is of opinion also, that Homer in the passage referred to alludes, not to flax, but to the Genista juncea. See this question further discussed, in the additional Note at the end of B. xxvii.

5 Fée says that the blossoms and seed of the junciform genista and other kinds are of a purgative nature; indeed, one variety has been called the Genista purgans by Lamarck. None of them, however, are so potent in their effects as Pliny in the present passage would lead us to suppose.

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