previous next


Nearly all1 the garden plants have a single2 root only, radishes, beet, parsley, and mallows, for example; it is lapathum, however, that has the longest root of them all, it attaining the length of three cubits even. The root of the wild kind is smaller and of a humid nature, and when up it will keep alive for a considerable period. In some of these plants, however, the roots are fibrous, as we find the case in parsley and mallows, for instance; in others, again, they are of a ligneous nature, as in ocimum, for example; and in others they are fleshy, as in beet, and in saffron even more so. In some, again, the root is composed of rind and flesh, as in the radish and the rape; while in others it is jointed, as in hay grass3. Those plants which have not a straight root throw out immediately a great number of hairy fibres, orage4 and blite,5 for instance: squills again, bulbs, onions, and garlic never have any but a vertical root. Among the plants that grow spontaneously, there are some which have more numerous roots than leaves, spalax,6 for example, pellitory,7 and saffron.8

Wild thyme, southernwood, turnips, radishes, mint, and rue blossom all9 at once; while others, again, shed their blossom directly they have begun to flower. Ocimum10 blossoms gradu- ally, beginning at the lower parts, and hence it is that it is so very long in blossom: the same is the case, too, with the plant known as heliotropium.11 In some plants the flower is white, in others yellow, and in others purple. The leaves fall first12 from the upper part in wild-marjoram and elecampane, and in rue13 sometimes, when it has been injured accidentally. In some plants the leaves are hollow, the onion and the scallion,14 more particularly.

1 This passage, and indeed nearly the whole of the Chapter, is borrowed from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. i. c. 9.

2 Fée thinks that by the expression μονόῤῥιζα, Theophrastus means a root that strikes vertically, instead of spreading.

3 Gramen. See B. xviii. c. 67, and B. xxiv. c. 118.

4 Atriplex. See B. xx. c. 83.

5 See B. xx. c. 93.

6 Poinsinet suggests that this may mean the "mole-plant," ἀσπάλαξ being the Greek for "mole."

7 "Perdicium." See B. xxii. cc. 19, 20.

8 "Crocus." See B. xxi. c. 17, ct seq.

9 This is not the fact. All these assertions are from Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. B. vii. c. 3.

10 Fée thinks that the ocimum of Pliny is not the basil of the moderns, the Ocimum basilicum of the naturalists. The account, however, here given would very well apply to basil.

11 The Heliotropium Europæum of botany. See B. xxii. c. 19.

12 These assertions, Fée says, are not consistent with modern experience.

13 See c. 45 of this Book.

14 "Gethyum." The Allium schœnoprasum, probably, of botany, the ciboul or scallion.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: