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In the number of the most celebrated plants is the aristo- lochia, which would appear to have derived its name from females in a state of pregnancy, as being ἀρίστη λοχούσαιχ.1 Among us, however, it is known as the "malum terræ," or apple of the earth,2 four different varieties of it being distinguished. One of these has a root covered with tubercles of a rounded3 shape, and leaves of a mixed appearance, between those of the mallow and the ivy, only softer and more swarthy. The second4 kind is the male plant, with an elongated root some four fingers in length, and the thickness of a walking-stick. A third5 variety is extremely thin and long, similar to a young vine in appearance: it has the most strongly-marked properties of them all, and is known by the additional names of "clematitis," and "cretica." All these plants are the colour of boxwood, have a slender stem, and bear a purple flower and small berries like those of the caper: the root is the only part that is possessed of any virtues.

There is also a fourth6 kind, the name given to which is "plistolochia;" it is more slender than the one last mentioned, has a root thickly covered with filaments, and is about as thick as a good-sized bulrush: another name given to it is "polyrrhizos." The smell of all these plants is medicinal, but that of the one with an oblong root and a very slender stem, is the most agreeable: this last, in fact, which has a fleshy outer coat, is well adapted as an ingredient for nardine unguents even. They grow in rich champaign soils, and the best time for gathering them is harvest; after the earth is scraped from off them, they are put by for keeping.

The aristolochia that is the most esteemed, however, is that which comes from Pontus; but whatever the soil may happen to be, the more weighty it is, the better adapted it is for medicinal purposes. The aristolochia with a round root is recommended for the stings of serpents, and that with an oblong root * * * * But in this is centred its principal reputation; applied to the uterus with raw beef, as a pessary, immediately after conception, it will ensure the birth of male7 issue, they say. The fishermen on the coasts of Campania give the round root the name of "poison of the earth;" and I myself have seen them pound it with lime, and throw it into the sea; immediately on which the fish flew towards it with surprising avidity, and being struck dead in an instant, floated upon the surface.

The kind that is known as "polyrrhizos,"8 is remarkably good, they say, for convulsions, contusions, and falls with violence, an infusion of the root being taken in water: the seed, too, is useful for pleurisy and affections of the sinews. It is considered, too, to be possessed of warming and strengthening properties, similar to those of satyrion,9 in fact.

1 "Most excellent for pregnancy."

2 See B. xxvi. c. 56.

3 Identified by Fée with the Aristolochia rotunda of Linnæus, Rounded birthwort, a native of the south of France and the southern parts of Europe. Littré gives the Aristolochia pallida of Willdenow.

4 Most probably the Aristolochia longa of Linnæus, found in France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Littré gives as its synonym the Aristolochia parvifolia of Sibthorp.

5 The Aristolochia clematis of Linnæus, almost identical with the Aristolochia Cretica and Bætica.

6 The Aristolochia plistolochia of Linnæus, the Spanish branching stemmed birthwort. Fée thinks that these identifications, though probable enough, are not altogether satisfactory, and that the Greeks may have made these distinctions between varieties of the plant comparatively unknown to the rest of Europe. They are no longer held in any esteem for their medicinal properties.

7 See B. xxvi. c. 91.

8 "With many roots."

9 See B. xxvi. c. 62.

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