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Theophrastus, in his book on Plants, writes thus: "The bean in Egypt grows in marshes and swamps; and its stalk is in length, when it is at the largest, about four cubits; but in thickness, it is as thick as one's finger: and it is like a long reed, only without joints. But it has divisions within, running through the whole of it, like honeycombs. And on this stalk is the head and the flower, being about twice the size of a poppy; and its colour is like that of a rose, very full coloured; and it puts forth large leaves. But the root is thicker than the thickest reed, and it has divisions like the stalk. And people eat it boiled, and roasted, and raw. And the men who live near the marshes eat it very much. It grows, too, in Syria and in Cilicia, but those countries do not ripen it thoroughly. It grows, too, around Torone in Chalcidice, in a marsh of moderate size, and that place ripens it, and it brings its fruit to perfection there. But Diphilus the Siphnian says, "The root of the Egyptian bean, which is called colocasium, is very good for the stomach, and very nutritious, but it is not very digestible, being very astringent; and that is the best which is the least woolly. But the beans which are produced by the plant called ciborium, when they are green are indigestible, not very nutritious, easily pass through one, and are apt to cause flatulence; but when they are dry they are, not so flatulent. And from the genuine ciborium there is a flower which grows which is made into garlands. And the Egyptians call the flower the lotus; but the Naucratitans tell me, says Athenæus, that its name is the melilotus: and it is of that flower that the melilotus garlands are made, which are very fragrant, and which have a cooling effect in the summer season.

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