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The cratægonon1 is similar to an ear of corn in appearance. It is formed of numerous shoots, springing from a single root, and full of joints. It grows in umbrageous localities, and has a seed like that of millet, with a remarkably acrid taste. If a man and woman, before the evening meal, take three oboli of this seed in three cyathi of water, for forty days consecutively, before the conception of their issue, it will be sure to be of the male2 sex, they say.

There is another cratægonon, known also as "thelygonos,"3 and distinguished from the last mentioned plant by the mildness of the taste. Some persons assert that females, if they take the blossom of this plant in drink, will be sure to conceive before the end of forty days. These plants, used in combination with honey, are curative of black ulcers of a chronic nature; they also fill the concavities made by fistulous ulcers with new flesh, and restore such parts of the body as are wasted by atrophy. They act as a detergent upon purulent sores, disperse inflammatory tumours, and alleviate gout and all kind of abscesses, those of the mamillæ in particular.

Under the name of "cratægos"4 or "cratægon," Theophrastus5 speaks of the tree known in Italy as the "aquifolia."

1 Identified by Fée and Desfontaines with the Polygonum persicaria of Linnæus, the Spotted persicaria, red-shanks, fleawort, or lakeweed. Littré gives the Crucianella Monspeliaca of Linnæus, Montpellier petty madder.

2 Hence its name, signifying that it strengthens the generative powers.

3 See B. xxvi. c. 91.

4 See B. xxiv. c. 72. Littré remarks that Pliny is in error here, for that the Cratægos of Theophrastus is the Cratægos azarolia of Linnæus, the Parsley-leaved hawthorn, while the Aquifolia of Pliny is the Holly. As to the latter point, see B. xvi. cc. 8, 12.

5 Hist. Plant. B. iii. c. 15.

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