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Among all the plants, however, there is none of a more marvellous nature than the lithospermum,1 sometimes called "exonychon," "diospyron,"2 or "heracleos." It is about five inches in height, with leaves twice the size of those of rue, and small ligneous branches, about the thickness of a rush. It bears close to the leaves a sort of fine beard or spike, standing by itself, on the extremity of which there are small white stones, as round as a pearl, about the size of a chick-pea, and as hard as a pebble. These stones,3 at the part where they adhere to the stalk, have a small cavity, and contain a seed within.

This plant is found in Italy, no doubt, but that of Crete is the most esteemed. Among all the plants, there is none that I ever contemplated with greater admiration than this; so beauteous is the conformation, that it might be fancied that the hand of an artist4 had arranged a row of lustrous pearls alternately among the leaves; so exquisite too the nicety in thus making a stone to grow upon a plant! The authorities say that this is a creeping plant, and that it lies upon the ground; but for my own part, I have only seen it when plucked, and not while growing. It is well known that these small stones, taken in doses of one drachma, in white wine, break and expel urinary calculi,5 and are curative of strangury. Indeed, there is no plant that so instantaneously proclaims, at the mere sight of it, the medicinal purposes for which it was originally intended; the appearance of it, too, is such, that it can be immediately recognized, without the necessity of having recourse to any botanical authority.

1 Identified by Fée and Desfontaines with the Lithospermum officinale of Linnæus, Gremil, gromwell, or stone-crop. Littré mentions the Lithospermum tenuifiorum of Linnæus.

2 "Jove's wheat," or the "plant of Hercules."

3 This description applies to the variety of Gremil, known as the Coix lacryma of Linnæus, Job's tears, originally an Indian plant; but it may have been known in Italy in Pliny's time.

4 A poor compliment to Nature, as Fée remarks.

5 It has in reality no medicinal properties to speak of; but its name, "stone seed," and its appearance, would, of course, ensure its reputation as an efficient cure for calculus.

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