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The foremost feature of disease in wheat is the oat.1 Barley, too, will degenerate into the oat; so much so, in fact, that tile oat has become an equivalent for corn; for the people of Germany are in the habit of sowing it, and make their porridge of nothing else. This degeneracy is owing more particularly to humidity of soil and climate; and a second cause is a weakness in the seed, the result of its being retained too long in the ground before it makes its appearance above it. The same, too, will be the consequence, if the seed is decayed when put in the ground. This may be known, however, the moment it makes its appearance, from which it is quite evident that the defect lies in the root. There is another form of disease, too, which closely resembles the oat, and which supervenes when the grain, already developed to its full size, but not ripe, is struck by a noxious blast, before it has acquired its proper body and strength; in this case, the seed pines away in the ear, by a kind of abortion, as it were, and totally disappears.

The wind is injurious to wheat and barley, at three2 periods of the year in particular: when they are in blossom, directly the blossom has passed off, and just as the seed is beginning to ripen. In this last case, the grain wastes away, while in the two former ones it is prevented from being developed. Gleams of sunshine, every now and then, from the midst of clouds, are injurious to corn. Maggots, too, breed3 in the roots, when the rains that follow the seed-time are succeeded by a sudden heat, which encloses the humidity in the ground. Maggots make their appearance,4 also, in the grain, when the ear ferments through heat succeeding a fall of rain. There is a small beetle, too, known by the name of "cantharis,"5 which eats away the blade. All these insects die, however, as soon as their nutriment fails them. Oil,6 pitch, and grease are pre- judicial to grain, and care should be taken not to let them come in contact with the seed that is sown. Rain is only beneficial to grain while in the blade; it is injurious to wheat and barley while they are in blossom, but is not detrimental to the leguminous plants, with the exception of the chick-pea. When grain is beginning to ripen, rain is injurious, and to barley in particular. There is a white grass7 that grows in the fields, very similar to panic in appearance, but fatal to cattle. As to darnel,8 the tribulus,9 the thistle,10 and the burdock,11 I can consider them, no more than the bramble, among the maladies that attack the cereals, but rather as so many pests inflicted on the earth. Mildew,12 a malady resulting from the inclemency of the weather, and equally attacking the vine13 and corn, is in no degree less injurious. It attacks corn most frequently in localities which are exposed to dews, and in vallies which have not a thorough draught for the wind; windy and elevated spots, on the other hand, are totally exempt from it. Another evil, again, in corn, is over-luxuriance, when it falls to the ground beneath the weight14 of the grain. One evil, however, to which all crops in common, the chick-pea even, are exposed, is the attacks of the caterpillar, when the rain, by washing away the natural saltness of the vegetation, makes it15 all the more tempting for its sweetness.

There is a certain plant,16 too, which kills the chick-pea and the fitch, by twining around them; the name of it is "orobanche." In a similar manner, also, wheat is attacked by darnel,17 barley by a long-stalked plant, called "ægilops,"18 and the lentil by an axe-leafed grass, to which, from the resemblance19 of the leaf, the Greeks have given the name of "pelecinon." All these plants, too, kill the others by entwining around them. In the neighbourhood of Philippi, there is a plant known as ateramon,20 which grows in a rich soil, and kills the bean, after it has been exposed, while wet, to the blasts of a certain wind: when it grows in a thin, light soil, this plant is called "teramon." The seed of darnel is extremely minute, and is enclosed in a prickly husk. If introduced into bread, it will speedily produce vertigo; and it is said that in Asia and Greece, the bath-keepers, when they want to disperse a crowd of people, throw this seed upon burning coals. The phalangium, a diminutive insect of the spider genus,21 breeds in the fitch, if the winter happens to be wet. Slugs, too, breed in the vetch, and sometimes a tiny snail makes its way out of the ground, and eats it away in a most singular manner.

These are pretty nearly all the maladies to which grain is subject.

1 He borrows this notion of the oat being wheat in a diseased state, from Theophrastus. Singularly enough, it was adopted by the learned Buffon.

2 From Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. viii. c. 10.

3 This but rarely happens in our climates, as Fée remarks.

4 The grains are sometimes, though rarely, found devoured on the stalk, by a kind of larvæ.

5 Some coleopterous insect, probably, now unknown, and not the Can- tharis vesicatoria, or "Spanish fly," as some have imagined. Dioscorides and Athenæus state to the same effect as Pliny.

6 The proper influence of the humidity of the earth would naturally be impeded by a coating of these substances.

7 This plant has not been identified; but none of the gramineous plants are noxious to cattle, with the exception of the seed of darnel.

8 Lolium temulentum of Linnæus.

9 See B. xxi. c. 58.

10 "Carduus." A general term, probably including the genera Centaurea (the prickly kinds), Serratula, Carduus, and Cnicus. The Centaurca solstitialis is the thistle most commonly found in the south of Europe.

11 Gallium Aparine of Linnæus.

12 Barley, wheat, oats, and millet have, each its own "rubigo" or mildew, known to modern botany as uredo.

13 The Erineum vitis of botanists.

14 This rarely happens except through the violence of wind or rain.

15 See c. 32 of this Book.

16 The Cuscuta Europæa, probably, of Linnæus; one of the Convolvuli.

17 "Æra." It is generally considered to be the same with darnel, though Pliny probably looked upon them as different.

18 The Ægilops ovata, probably, of Linnæus. Dalechamps and Hardouin identify it with the barren oat, the Avena sterilis of Linnæus.

19 To the Greek πελέκυς, or battle-axe. It is probably the Biserrula pelecina of Linnæus, though the Astragalus hamosus and the Coronilla securidaca of Linnæus have been suggested.

20 Pliny has here committed a singular error in translating from Theophrastus, de Causis, B. iv. c. 14, who only says that a cold wind in the vicinity of Philippi makes the beans difficult to cook or boil, ἀτεράμονες. From this word he has coined two imaginary plants, the "ateramon," and the "teramon." Hardouin defends Pliny, by suggesting that he has borrowed the passage from another source, while Fée doubts if he really understood the Greek language.

21 More probably one of the Coleoptera. He borrows from Theophrastus, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 10.

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