CHAP. 47.—THE CYTISUS.
is also a shrub, which, as a food for sheep; has
been extolled with wonderful encomiums by Aristomachus the
Athenian, and, in a dry state, for swine as well: the same
author, too, pledges his word that a jugerum of very middling land, planted with the cytisus, will produce an income
of two thousand sesterces per annum. It is quite as useful as
but is apt to satiate more speedily: very little of
it is necessary to fatten cattle; to such a degree, indeed, that
beasts of burden, when fed upon it, will very soon take a dislike to barley. There is no fodder known, in fact, that is
productive of a greater abundance of milk, and of better quality; in the medical treatment of cattle in particular, this
shrub is found a most excellent specific for every kind of malady. Even more than this, the same author recommends it,
when first dried and then boiled in water, to be given to nursing women, mixed with wine, in cases where the milk has
failed them: and he says that, if this is done, the infant will
be all the stronger and taller for it. In a green state, or, if
dried, steeped in water, he recommends it for fowls. Both
Democritus and Aristomachus promise us also that bees will
never fail us so long as they can obtain the cytisus for food.
There is no crop that we know of, of a similar nature, that
costs a smaller price. It is sown at the same time as barley,
or, at all events, in the spring, in seed like the leek, or else
planted in the autumn, and before the winter solstice, in the stalk.
When sown in grain, it ought to be steeped in water, and if
there should happen to be no rain, it ought to be watered
when sown: when the plants are about a cubit in height,
they are replanted in trenches a foot in depth. It is transplanted at the equinoxes, while the shrub is yet tender, and in
three years it will arrive at maturity. It is cut at the vernal
equinox, when the flower is just going off; a child or an old
woman is able to do this, and their labour may be had at a
trifling rate. It is of a white appearance, and if one would
wish to express briefly what it looks like, it is a trifoliated
with small, narrow leaves. It is always given to
animals at intervals of a couple of days, and in winter, when it is
dry, before being given to them, it is first moistened with water.
Ten pounds of cytisus will suffice for a horse, and for smaller
animals in proportion: if I may here mention it by the way,
it is found very profitable to sow garlic and onions between
the rows of cytisus.
This shrub has been found in the Isle of Cythnus, from
whence it has been transplanted to all the Cyclades, and more
recently to the cities of Greece, a fact which has greatly increased the supply of cheese: considering which, I am much
surprised that it is so rarely used in Italy. This shrub is proof,
too, against all injuries from heat, from cold, from hail, and
from snow: and, as Hyginus adds, against the depredations of
the enemy even, the wood4
produced being of no value whatever.