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Delphi Collected Works of Theophrastus

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The student and successor of Aristotle, Theophrastus of Eresus is the author of one of the most important botanical works to have survived antiquity. A polymath and enthusiast of many interests, his studies explored all aspects of human knowledge and experience, especially natural science. On a social level, Theophrastus’ famous ‘Characters’ is a collection of descriptive sketches, serving as the earliest example of character-writing and providing an engaging insight into daily life in the Hellenic world. Delphi’s Ancient Classics series provides eReaders with the wisdom of the Classical world, with both English translations and the original Greek texts. This comprehensive eBook presents Theophrastus’ collected works, with illustrations, informative introductions and the usual Delphi bonus material. (Version 1)

* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Theophrastus’ life and works
* Features the collected works of Theophrastus in English translation
* The complete extant Greek texts
* Concise introductions to the major works
* Includes Arthur F. Hort’s translation of ‘Enquiry into Plants’, previously appearing in the Loeb Classical Library
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* Easily locate the works you want to read with individual contents tables
* Includes Theophrastus’ rare works ‘On Stones’ and ‘On Winds’, first time in digital print
* Features two bonus biographies, including Diogenes Laërtius’ seminal ‘Life’ — discover Theophrastus’ ancient world
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres
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The Collected Works of


(c. 371 – c. 287 BC)


The Translations

Enquiry into Plants

On Characters

Treatise on Odours

Concerning Weather Signs

On Winds

On Stones

The Greek Texts

List of Greek Texts

The Biographies

Theophrastus by Diogenes Laërtius

Theophrastus’ Life and Works by Arthur F. Hort

The Delphi Classics Catalogue

© Delphi Classics 2019

Version 1

Browse Ancient Classics

The Collected Works of


By Delphi Classics, 2019


Collected Works of Theophrastus

First published in the United Kingdom in 2019 by Delphi Classics.

© Delphi Classics, 2019.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published.

ISBN: 978 1 78877 988 3

Delphi Classics

is an imprint of

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United Kingdom

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The Translations

Eresos, a village in Lesbos, Greece — Theophrastus’ birthplace

Enquiry into Plants

Translated by Arthur F. Hort

Theophrastus’ Enquiry into Plants is one of the most important books of natural history written in ancient times, which would be an influential work in the Renaissance. The text examines in detail plant structure, reproduction and growth, as well as describing the varieties of plants around the world and their various uses. Book 9, is of particular note, detailing the medicinal uses of plants, offering advice on how to gather and apply them.

Enquiry into Plants was written between c. 350 and c. 287 BC in ten volumes, of which nine survive. The text attempts to construct a biological classification based on how plants reproduce — a first in the history of botany. Theophrastus continually revised the manuscript and so it remained in an unfinished state on his death. The conden; sed style of the text, with its many lists of examples, indicates that Theophrastus used the manuscript as the working notes for lectures to his students, rather than intending it to be read as a unified work. It is believed that Theophrastus made use of a variety of sources for Enquiry into Plants, including Diocles’ work on drugs and medicinal plants. In the text, Theophrastus also claims to have gathered information from drug-sellers and root-cutters.

The treatise was first translated into Latin by Theodore Gaza in 1483. Johannes Bodaeus published a frequently cited folio edition in Amsterdam in 1644, complete with commentaries and woodcut illustrations. The first English translation was made by Sir Arthur Hort for the Loeb Classical Series, which was published in 1916.

Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Strato of Lampsacus. Part of a fresco in the portico of the University of Athens painted by Carl Rahl, c. 1888











Frontispiece to the illustrated 1644 edition of ‘Enquiry into Plants’


[1.1] In considering the distinctive characters of plants and their nature generally one must take into account their parts, their qualities, the ways in which their life originates, and the course which it follows in each case: (conduct and activities we do not find in them, as we do in animals). Now the differences in the way in which their life originates, in their qualities and in their life-history are comparatively easy to observe and are simpler, while those shewn in their ‘parts’ present more complexity. Indeed it has not even been satisfactorily determined what ought and what ought not to be called ‘parts,’ and some difficulty is involved in making the distinction.

[1.2] Now it appears that by a ‘part,’ seeing that it is something which belongs to the plant’s characteristic nature, we mean something which is permanent either absolutely or when once it has appeared (like those parts of animals which remain for a time undeveloped) — permanent, that is, unless it be lost by disease, age or mutilation. However some of the parts of plants are such that their existence is limited to a year, for instance, flower, ‘catkin,’leaf, fruit, in fact all those parts which are antecedent to the fruit or else appear along with it. Also the new shoot itself must be included with these; for trees always make fresh growth every’ year alike in the parts above ground and in those which pertain to the roots. So that if one sets these down as ‘parts,’the number of parts will be indeterminate and constantly changing; if on the other hand these are not to be called ‘parts,’ the result will be that things which are essential if the plant is to reach its perfection, and which are its conspicuous features, are nevertheless not ‘parts’; for any plant always appears to be, as indeed it is, more comely and more perfect when it makes new growth, blooms, and bears fruit. Such, we may say, are the difficulties involved in defining a ‘part.’

[1.3] But perhaps we should not expect to find in plants a complete correspondence with animals in regard to those things which concern reproduction any more than in other respects; and so we should reckon as ‘parts’ even those things to which the plant gives birth, for instance their fruits, although we do not so reckon the unborn young of animals. (However, if such a product seems fairest to the eye, because the plant is then in its prime, we can draw no inference from this in support of our argument, since even among animals those that are with young are at their best.)

[1.4] Again many plants shed their parts every year, even as stags shed their horns, birds which hibernate their feathers, four-footed beasts their hair: so that it is not strange that the parts of plants should not be permanent, especially as what thus occurs in animals and the shedding of leaves in plants are analogous processes.

[1.5] In like manner the parts concerned with reproduction are not permanent in plants; for even in animals there are things which are separated from the parent when the young is born, and there are other things- which are cleansed away, as though neither of these belonged to the animal’s essential nature. And so too it appears to be with the growth of plants; for of course growth leads up to reproduction as the completion of the process.

[1.6] And in general, as we have said, we must not assume that in all respects there is complete correspondence between plants and animals. And that is why the number also of parts is indeterminate; for a plant has the power of growth in all its parts, inasmuch as it has life in all its parts. Wherefore we should assume the truth to be as I have said, not only in regard to the matters now before us, but in view also of those which will come before us presently; for it is waste of time to take great pains to make comparisons where that is impossible, and in so doing we may lose sight also of our proper subject of enquiry. The enquiry into plants, to put it generally, may either take account of the external parts and the form of the plant generally, or else of their internal parts: the latter method corresponds to the study of animals by dissection.

[1.7] Further we must consider which parts belong to all plants alike, which are peculiar to some one kind, and which of those which belong to all alike are themselves alike in all cases; for instance, leaves roots bark. And again, if in some cases analogy ought to be considered (for instance, an analogy presented by animals), we must keep this also in view; and in that case we must of course make the closest resemblances and the most perfectly developed examples our standard; and, finally, the ways in which the parts of plants are affected must be compared to the corresponding effects in the case of animals, so far as one can in any given case find an analogy for comparison. So let these definitions stand.

[1.8] Now the differences in regard to parts, to take a general view, are of three kinds: either one plant may possess them and another not (for instance, leaves and fruit), or in one plant they may be unlike in appearance or size to those of another, or, thirdly, they may be differently arranged. Now the unlikeness between them is seen in form, colour, closeness of arrangement or its opposite, roughness or its opposite, and the other qualities; and again there are the various differences of flavour. The inequality is seen in excess or defect as to number or size, or, to speak generally, all the above-mentioned differences too are included under excess and defect: for the ‘more’ and the ‘less’ are the same thing as excess and defect, whereas ‘differently arranged’ implies a difference of position; for instance, the fruit may be above or below the leaves, and, as to position on the tree itself, the fruit may grow on the apex of it or on the side branches, and in some cases even on the trunk, as in the sycamore; while some plants again even bear their fruit underground, for instance arakhidna and the plant called in Egypt uingon; again in some plants the fruit has a stalk, in some it has none. There is a like difference in the floral organs: in some cases they actually surround the fruit, in others they are differently placed: in fact it is in regard to the fruit, the leaves, and the shoots that the question of position has to be considered.

[1.9] Or again there are differences as to symmetry: in some cases the arrangement is irregular, while the branches of the silver-fir are arranged opposite one another; and in some cases the branches are at equal distances apart, and correspond in number, as where they are in three rows.

[1.10] Wherefore the differences between plants must be observed in these particulars, since taken together they shew forth the general character of each plant.

[1.11] But, before we attempt to speak about each, we must make a list of the parts themselves. Now the primary and most important parts, which are also common to most, are these — root, stem, branch, twig; these are the parts into which we might divide the plant, regarding them as members, corresponding to the members of animals: for each of these is distinct in character from the rest, and together they make up the whole.

[1.12] The root is that by which the plant draws its nourishment, the stem that to which it is conducted. And by the ‘stem’ I mean that part which grows above ground and is single; for that is the part which occurs most generally both in amiuals and in long-lived plants; and in the case of trees it is called the ‘trunk.’ By ‘branches’ I mean the parts which split off from the stem and are called by some ‘boughs.’- By ‘twig’ I mean the growth which springs from the branch regarded as a single whole, and especially such an annual growth.

[1.13] Now these parts belong more particularly to trees. The stem however, as has been said, is more general, though not all plants possess even this, for instance, some herbaceous plants are stemless; others again have it, not permanently, but as an annual growth, including some whose roots live bevond the year. In fact your plant is a thing various and manifold, and so it is difficult to describe in general terms: in proof whereof we have the fact that we cinnot here seize on any universal character which is common to all, as a mouth and a stomach are common to all animals; whereas in plants some characters are the same in all, merely in the sense that all have analogous characters, while others correspond otherwise. For not all plants have root, stem, branch, twig, leaf, flower or fruit, or again bark, core, fibres or veins; for instance, fungi and truffles; and yet these and such like characters belong to a plant’s essential nature. However, as has been said, these characters belong especially to trees, and our classification of characters belongs more particularly to these; and it is right to make these the standard in treating of the others.

[1.14] Trees moreover shew forth fairly well the other features also which distinguish plants; for they exhibit differences in the number or fewness of these which they possess, as to the closeness or openness of their growth, as to their being single or divided, and in other like respects. Moreover each of the characters mentioned is not ‘composed of like parts’; by which I mean that though any given part of the root or trunk is composed of the same elements as the whole, yet the part so taken is not itself called ‘trunk,’ but ‘a portion of a trunk.’ The case is the same with the members of an animal’s body; to wit, any part of the leg or arm is composed of the same elements as the whole, yet it does not bear the same name (as it does in the case of flesh or bone); it has no special name. Nor again have subdivisions of any of those other organic parts which are uniform special names, subdivisions of all such being nameless. But the subdivisions of those parts which are compound have names, as have those of the foot, hand, and head, for instance, toe, finger, nose or eye. Such then are the largest parts of the plant.

[2.1] Again there are the things of which such parts are composed, namely bark, wood, and core (in the case of those plants which have it), and these are all ‘composed of like parts.’ Further there are the things which are even prior to these, from which they are derived — sap, fibre, veins, flesh: for these are elementary substances — unless one should prefer to call them the active principles of the elements; and they are common to all the parts of the plant. Thus the essence and entire material of plants consist in these.

[2.2] Again there are other as it were annual parts, which help towards the production of the fruit, as leaf, flower, stalk (that is, the part by which the leaf and the fruit are attached to the plant) - and again tendril, ‘catkin’ (in those plants that have them). And in all cases there is the seed which belongs to the fruit: by ‘fruit’ is meant the seed or seeds,’ together with the seed-vessel. Besides these there are in some cases peculiar parts, such as the gall in the oak, or the tendril in the vine.

[2.3] In the case of trees we may thus distinguish the annual parts, while it is plain that in annual plants all the parts are annual: for the end of their being is attained when the fruit is produced. And with those plants which bear fruit annually, those which take two years (such as celery and certain others ) and those which have fruit on them for a longer time — with all these the stem will correspond to the plant’s length of life: for plants develop a stem at whatever time they are about to bear seed, seeing that the stem exists for the sake of the seed.

[2.4] Let this suffice for the definition of these parts: and now we must endeavour to say what each of the parts just mentioned is, giving a general and typical description.

[2.5] The sap is obvious: some call it simply in all cases ‘juice,’ as does Menestor among others: others, in the case of some plants give it no special name, while in some they call it ‘juice,’ and in others ‘gum.’ Fibre and ‘veins’ have no special names in relation to plants, but, because of the resemblance, borrow the names of the corresponding parts of animals. — It may be however that, not only these things, but the world of plants generally, exhibits also other differences as compared with animals: for, as we have said,2 the world of plants is manifold. However, since it is by the help of the better known that we must pursue the unknown, and better known are the things which are larger and plainer to our senses, it is clear that it is right to speak of these things in the way indicated: for then in dealing with the less known things we shall be making these better known things our standard, and shall ask how far and in what manner comparison is possible in each case. And when we have taken the parts, we must next take the differences which they exhibit, for thus will their essential nature become plain, and at the same time the general differences between one kind of plant and another.

[2.6] Now the nature of the most important parts has been indicated already, that is, such parts as the root, the stem, and the rest: their functions and the reasons for which each of them exists will be set forth presently. For we must endeavour to state of what these, as well as the rest, are composed, starting from their elementary constituents.

[2.7] First come moisture and warmth: for every plant, like every animal, has a certain amount of moisture and warmth which essentially belong to it; and, if these fall short, age and decay, while, if they fail altogether, death and withering ensue. Now in most plants the moisture has no special name, but in some it has such a name, as has been said -: and this also holds good of animals: for it is only the moisture of those which have blood which has received a name; wherefore we distinguish animals by the presence or absence of blood, calling some ‘animals with blood,’ others ‘bloodless.’ Moisture then is one essential ‘part,’and so is warmth, which is closely connected with it.

[2.8] There are also other internal characters, which in themselves have no special name, but, because of their resemblance, have names analogous to those of the parts of animals. Thus plants have what corresponds to muscle; and this quasi-muscle is continuous, fissile, long: moreover no other growth starts from it either branching from the side or in continuation of it. Again plants have veins: these in other respects resemble the ‘muscle,’but they are longer and thicker, and have side-growths and contain moisture. Then there are wood and flesh: for some plants have flesh, some wood. Wood is fissile, while flesh can be broken up in any direction, like earth and things made of earth: it is intermediate between fibre and veins, its nature being clearly seen especially in the outer covering’ of seed-vessels. Bark and core are properly so called, yet they too must be defined. Bark then is the outside, and is separable from the substance which it covers. Core is that which forms the middle of the wood, being third in order from the bark, and corresponding to the marrow in bones. Some call this part the ‘heart,’ others call it ‘heart-wood’: some again call only the inner part of the core itself the ‘heart,’ while others distinguish this as the ‘marrow.’

[2.9] Here then we have a fairly complete list of the ‘parts,’ and those last named are composed of the first ‘parts’; wood is made of fibre and sap, and in some cases of flesh also; for the flesh hardens and turns to wood, for instance in palms ferula and in other plants in which a turning to wood takes place, as in the roots of radishes. Core is made of moisture and flesh: bark in some cases of all three constituents, as in the oak black poplar and pear; while the bark of the vine is made of sap and fibre, and that of the cork-oak of flesh and sap. Moreover out of these constituents are made the most important parts,- those which mentioned first, and which may be called ‘members’: however not all of them are made of the same constituents, nor in the same proportion, but the constituents are combined in various ways.

[2.10] Having now, we may say, taken all the parts, we must endeavour to give the differences between them and the essential characters of trees and plants taken as wholes.

[3.1] Now since our study becomes more illuminating if we distinguish different kinds, it is well to follow this plan where it is possible. The first and most important classes, those which comprise all or nearly all plants, are tree, shrub, under-shrub, herb.

[3.2] A tree is a thing which springs from the root with a single stem, having knots and several branches, and it cannot easily be uprooted; for instance, olive fig vine. ‘A shrub is a thing which rises from the root with many branches; for instance, bramble Christ’s thorn. An under-shrub is a thing which rises from the root with many stems as well as many branches; for instance, savory-rue. A herb is a thing which comes up from the root with its leaves and has no main stem, and the seed is borne on the stem; for instance, corn and pot-herbs.

[3.3] These definitions however must be taken and accepted as applying generally and on the whole. For in the case of some plants it might seem that our definitions overlap; and some under cultivation appear to become different and depart from their essential nature, for instance, mallow when it grows tall and becomes tree-like. For this comes to pass in no long time, not more than six or seven months, so that in length and thickness the plant becomes as great as a spear, and men accordingly use it as a walking-stick, and after a longer period the result of cultivation is proportionately greater. So too is it with the beets; they also increase in stature under cultivation, and so still more do chaste-tree Christ’s thorn ivy, so that, as is generally admitted, these become trees, and yet they belong to the class of shrubs. On the other hand the myrtle, unless it is pruned, turns into a shrub, and so does filbert: indeed this last appears to bear better and more abundant fruit, if one leaves a good many of its branches untouched, since it is by nature like a shrub. Again neither the apple nor the pomegranate nor the pear would seem to be a tree of a single stem, nor indeed any of the trees which have side stems from the roots, but they acquire the character of a tree when the other stems are removed. However some trees men even leave with their numerous stems because of their slenderness, for instance, the pomegranate and the apple, and they leave the stems of the olive and the fig cut short. Indeed it might be suggested that we should classify in some cases simply by size, and in some cases by comparative robustness or length of life. For of under-shrubs and those of the pot-herb class some have only one stem and come as it were to have the character of a tree, such as cabbaore and rue: wherefore some call these ‘tree-herbs’; and in fact all or most of the pot-herb class, when they have been long in the ground, acquire a sort of branches, and the whole plant comes to have a tree-like shape, though it is shorter lived than a tree.

[3.4] For these reasons then, as we are saying, one must not make a too precise definition; we should make our definitions typical. For we must make our distinctions too on the same principle, as those between wild and cultivated plants, fruitbearing and fruitless, flowering and flowerless, evergreen and deciduous. Thus the distinction between wild and cultivated seems to be due simply to cultivation, since, as Hippon remarks, any plant may be either wild or cultivated according as it receives or does not receive attention.

[3.5] Again the distinctions between fruitless and fruitbearing, flowering and flowerless, seem to be due to position and the climate of the district. And so too with the distinction between deciduous and evergreen, fhus they say that in the district of Elephantine neither vines nor figs lose their leaves.

[3.6] Nevertheless we are bound to use such distinctions. For there is a certain common character alike in trees, shrubs, under-shrubs, and herbs. Wherefore, when one mentions the causes also, one must take account of all alike, not giving separate definitions for each class, it being reasonable to suppose that the causes too are common to all. .\nd in fact there seems to be some natural difference from the first in the case of wild and cultivated, seeing that some plants cannot live under the conditions of those grown in cultivated ground, and do not submit to cultivation at all, but deteriorate under it; for instance, silver-fir, fir, holly, and in general those which affect cold snowy country; and the same is also true of some of the under-shrubs and herbs, such as caper and lupin. Now in using the terms ‘cultivated’ and ‘wild’ we must make these on the one hand our standard, and on the other that which is in the truest sense ‘cultivated.’ Now Man, if he is not the only thing to which this name is strictly appropriate, is at least that to which it most applies.

[4.1] Again the differences, both between the plants’ wholes and between their parts, may be seen in the appearance itself of the plant. I mean differences such as those in size, hardness, smoothness or their opposites, as seen in bark, leaves, and the other parts; also, in general, differences as to comeliness or its opposite and as to the production of good or of inferior fruit. For the wild kinds appear to bear more fruit, for instance, the wild pear and wild olive, but the cultivated plants better fruit, having even flavours which are sweeter and pleasanter and in general better blended, if one may so say.

[4.2] These then as has been said, are differences of natural character, as it were, and still more so are those between fruitless and fruitful, deciduous and evergreen plants, and the like. But with all the differences in all these cases we must take into account the locality ,2 and indeed it is hardly possible to do otherwise. Such differences would seem to give us a kind of division into classes, for instance, between that of aquatic plants and that of plants of the dry land, corresponding to the division which we make in the case of animals. For there are some plants which cannot live except in wet; and again these are distinguished from one another by their fondness for different kinds of wetness; so that some grow in marshes, others in lakes, others in rivers, others even in the sea, smaller ones in our own sea, larger ones in the Red Sea. Some again, one may say, are lovers of very wet places, or plants of the marshes, such as the willow and the plane. Others again cannot live at all in water, but seek out dry places; and of the smaller sorts there are some that prefer the shore.

[4.3] However, if one should wish to be precise, one would find — that even of these some are impartial and as it were amphibious, such as tamarisk, willow, alder, and that others even of those which are admitted to be plants of the dry land sometimes live in the sea, as palm, squill, asphodel. But to consider all these exceptions and, in general, to consider in such a manner is not the right way to proceed. For in such matters too nature certainly does not thus go by any hard and fast law. Our distinctions therefore and the study of plants in general must be understood accordingly. To return — these plants as well as all others will be found to differ, as has been said, both in the shape of the whole and in the differences between the parts, either as to Jiaving or not having certain parts, or as to having a greater or less number of parts, or as to having them differently arranged, or because of other differences such as we have already mentioned. And it is perhaps also proper to take into account the situation in which each plant naturally grows or does not grow. For this is an important distinction, and specially characteristic of plants, because they are united to the ground and not free from it like animals.

[5.1] Next we must try to give the differences as to particular parts, in the first instance speaking broadly of those of a general character, and then of special differences between individual kinds; and after that we must take a wider range, making as it were a fresh survey.

[5.2] Some plants grow straight up and have tall stems, as silver-fir, fir, cypress; some are by comparison crooked and have short stems, as willow, fig, pomegranate; and there are like differences as to degree of thickness. Again some have a single stem, others many stems; and this difference corresponds — more or less to that between those which have sidegrowths and those which have none, or that between those which have many branches and those which have few, such as the date-palm. And in these very instances we have also differences in strength thickness and the like. Again some have thin bark, such as bay and lime; others have a thick bark, such as the oak. And again some have smooth bark, as apple and fig; others rough bark, as ‘wild oak’ (Valonia oak) cork-oak and date-palm. However all plants when young have smoother bark, which gets rougher as they get older; and some have cracked bark, as the vine; and in some cases it readily drops off, as in andrachne, apple, and arbutus. And again of some the bark is fleshy, as in cork-oak, oak, poplar; while in others it is fibrous and not fleshy; and this applies alike to trees shrubs and annual plants, for instance to vines, reeds and wheat. Again in some the bark has more than one layer, as in lime, silver-fir, vine, Spanish broom, onions; while in some it consists of only as that of the silver-fir, while others are rather breakable, such as the wood of the olive. Again some are without knots, — as the stems of elder, others have knots, as those of fir and silver-fir.

[5.3] Now such differences also must be ascribed to the essential character of the plant: for the reason why the wood of silver-fir is easily split is that the grain is straight, while the reason why olive-wood is easily broken is that it is crooked and hard. Limewood and some other Moods on the other hand are easily bent because their sap is viscid. Boxwood and ebony are heavy because the grain is close, and oak because it contains mineral matter. In like manner the other peculiarities too can in some way be referred to the essential character.

[6.1] Again there are differences in the ‘core’: in the first place according as plants have any or have none, as some say is the case with elder among other things; and in the second place there are differences between those which have it, since in different plants it is respectively fleshy, woody, or membranous; fleshy, as in vine, fig, apple, pomegranate, elder, ferula; woody, as in Aleppo pine, silver-fir, fir; in the lastnamed especially so, because it is resinous.- Harder again and closer than these is the core of dog-wood kermes-oak, oak, laburnum, mulberry, ebony, nettletree.

[6.2] The cores in themselves also differ in colour; for that of ebony and oak is black, and in fact in the oak it is called ‘oak-black ‘; and in all these the core is harder and more brittle than the ordinary wood; and for this reason the core of these trees can not be bent. Again the core differs in closeness of texture. A membranous core is not common in trees, if indeed it is found at all; but it is found in shrubby plants and woody plants generally, as in reed ferula and the like. Again in some the core is large and conspicuous, as in kermes-oak, oak and the other trees mentioned above; while in others it is less conspicuous, as in olive and box. For in these trees one cannot find it isolated, but, as some say, it is not found in the middle of the stem, being diffused throughout, so that it has no separate place; and for this reason some trees might be thought to have no core at all; in fact in the date-palm the wood is alike throughout.

[6.3] Again plants differ in their roots, some having many long roots, as fig oak plane; for the roots of these, if they have room, run to any length. Others again have few roots, as pomegranate and apple, others a single root, as silver-fir and fir; these have a single root in the sense that they have one long one which runs deep, and a number of small ones branching from this. Even in some of those which have more than a single root the middle root is the largest and goes deep, for instance, in the almond; in the olive this central root is small, while the others are larger and, as it were, spread out crabwise. Again the roots of some are mostly stout, of some of various degrees of stoutness, as those of bay and olive; and of some they are all slender, as those of the vine. Roots also differ in degree of smoothness and in density. For the roots of all plants are less dense than the parts above ground, but the density varies in different kinds, as also does the woodiness. Some are fibrous, as those of the silver-fir, some fleshier, as those of the oak, some are as it were branched and tassel-like, as those of the olive; and this is because they have a large number of fine small roots close together; for all in fact produce these from their large roots, but they are not so closely matted nor so numerous in some cases as in others.

[6.4] Again some plants are deeprooting, as the oak, and some have surface roots, as olive, pomegranate, apple, cypress. Again some roots are straight and uniform, others crooked and crossing one another. For this comes to pass not merely on account of the situation because they cannot find a straight course; it may also belong to the natural character of the plant, as in the bay and the olive; while the fig and such like become crooked because they can not find a straight course.

[6.5] All roots have core, just as the stems and branches do, which is to be expected, as all these parts are made of the same materials. Some roots again have side-growths shooting upwards, as those of the vine find pomegranate, while some have no side-growth, as those of silver-fir, cypress and fir. The same differences are found in under-shrubs and herbaceous plants and the rest, except that some have no roots at all, as truffle, mushroom, bullfist ‘thunder-truffle.’ Others have numerous roots, as wheat, one-seeded wheat, barley and all plants of like nature, for instance,- .... Some have few roots, as leguminous plants. And in general most of the potherbs have single roots, as cabbage, beet, celery, monk’s rhubarb; but some have large side-roots, as celery and beet, and in proportion to their size these root deeper than trees. Again of some the roots are fleshy, as in radish, turnip, cuckoo-pint, crocus; of some they are woody, as in rocket and basil. And so with most wild plants, except those whose roots are to start with numerous and much divided, as those of wheat barley and the plant specially called ‘grass.’ For in annual and herbaceous plants this is the difference between the roots: — Some are more numerous and uniform and much divided to start with, but the others have one or two specially large roots and others springing from them.

[6.6] To speak generally, the differences in roots are more numerous in shrubby plants and pot-herbs; — for some are woody, as those of basil, some fleshy, as those of beet, and still more those of cuckoo-pint asphodel and crocus; some again are made, as it were, of bark and flesh, as those of radishes and turnips; some have joints, as those of reeds and dog’s tooth grass and of am-thing of a reedy character; and these roots alone, or more than any others, resemble the parts above ground; they are in fact like reeds fastened in the ground by their fine roots. Some again have scales or a kind of bark, as those of squill and purse-tassels, and also of onion and things like these. In all these it is possible to strip oft a coat.

[6.7] Now all such plants, seem, as it were, to have two kinds of root; and so, in the opinion of some, this is true generally of all plants which have a solid ‘head’ and send out roots from it downwards. These have, that is to say this fleshy or bark-like root. The squill, as well as the roots which grow from this. For these roots not only differ in degree of stoutness, like those of trees and pot-herbs; they are of quite distinct classes. This is at once quite evident in cuckoo-pint and galingale, the root being in the one case thick smooth and fleshy, in the other thin and fibrous. Wherefore we might question if such roots should be called roots ‘; inasmuch as they are under ground they would seem to be roots, but, inasmuch as they are of opposite character to other roots, they Mould not. For your root gets slenderer as it gets longer and tapers continuously to a point; but the so-called root of squill purse-tassels and cuckoo-pint does just the opposite.

[6.8] Again, while the others send out roots at the sides, this is not the case with squill and pursetassels, nor yet with garlic and onion. In general in these plants the roots which are attached to the ‘head’ in the middle appear to be real roots and receive nourishment,’ and this ‘head’ is, as it were, an embryo or fruit; Therefore those who call such plants ‘plants which reproduce themselves underground’ give a fair account of them. In other kinds of plants there is nothing of this sort. But a difficult question is raised, since here the ‘root’ has a character which goes beyond what one associates with roots. For it is not right to call al that which is underground ‘root,’ since in that case the stalk of purse-tassels and that of long onion and in general any part which is underground would be a root, and so would the truffle, the plant which some call puff-ball, the uingon, and all other underground plants. Whereas none of these is a root; for we must base our definition on natural function and not on position.

[6.9] However it may be that this is a true account and yet that such things are roots no less; but in that case we distinguish two different kinds of root, one being of this character and the other of the other, and the one getting its nourishment from the other; though the fleshy roots too themselves seem to draw nourishment. At all events men invert the roots of cuckoo-pint before it shoots, and so they become larger by being prevented from pushing through to make a shoot. For it is evident that the nature of all such plants is to turn downwards for choice; for the stems and the upper parts generally are short and weak, while the underground parts are large numerous and strong, and that, not only in the instances given, but in reeds dog’s-tooth grass and in general in all plants of a reedy character and those like them. Those too which resemble ferula have large fleshy roots.

[6.10] Many herbaceous plants likewise have such roots, as colchicum crocus and the plant called ‘partridge-plant’; for this too has thick roots which are more numerous than its leaves. (It is called the ‘partridge-plant’ because partridges roll in it and grub it up.) So too with the plant called in Egypt uingon; for its leaves are large- and its shoots short, while the root is long and is, as it were, the fruit. It is an excellent thing and is eaten; men gather it when the river goes down by turning the clods. But the plants which afford the most conspicuous instances and shew the greatest difference as compared with others are silphium and the plant called magydaris; the character of both of these and of all such plants is especially shewn in their roots. Such is the account to be given of these plants.

[6.11] Again some roots would seem to shew a greater difference than those mentioned, for instance, those of arakhidna, and of a plant which resembles arakos. For both of these bear a fruit underground which is as large as the fruit above ground, and this arakos has one thick root, namely, the one which runs deep, while the others which bear the ‘fruit’ are slenderer and branch in many directions at the tip. It is specially fond of sandy ground. Neither of these plants has a leaf nor anything resembling a leaf, but they bear, as it were, two kinds of fruit instead, which seems surprising. So many then are the differences shewn in the characters and functions of roots.

[7.1] The roots of all plants seem to grow earlier than the parts above ground (for growth does take place downwards). But no root goes down further than the sun reaches, since it is the heat which induces growth. Nevertheless the nature of the sod, if it is light open and porous, contributes greatly to deep rooting, and still more to the formation of long roots; for in such soils growth goes further and is more vigorous. This is evident in cultivated plants. For, provided that they have water, they run on, one may say, wherever it may be, whenever the ground is unoccupied and there is no obstacle. For instance the plane-tree by the watercourse in the Lyceum when it was still young sent out its roots a distance of thirty-three cubits, having both room and nourishment.

[7.2] The fig would seem, one may say, to have the longest roots, and in general plants which have wood of loose texture and straight roots would seem to have these longer. Also young plants, provided that they have reached their prime, root deeper and have longer roots than old ones; for the roots decay along with the rest of the plant’s body. And in all cases alike the juices of plants are more powerful in the roots than in other parts, while in some cases they are extremely powerful; wherefore the roots are bitter in some plants whose fruits are sweet; some roots again are medicinal, and some are fragrant, as those of the iris.

[7.3] The character and function of the roots of the ‘Indian fig’ (banyan) are peculiar, for this plant sends out roots from the shoots till it has a hold on the ground and roots again; and so there comes to be a continuous circle of roots round the tree, not connected with the main stem but at a distance from it.

[7.4] Something similar to this, but even more surprising, occurs in those plants which emit roots from their leaves, as they say does a certain herb — which grows about Opus, which is also sweet to taste. The peculiarity again of lupins is less surprising, namely that, if the seed is dropped where the ground is thickly overgrown, it pushes its root through to the earth and germinates because of its vigour. But we have said enough for study of the differences between roots.

[8.1] One may take it that the following are the differences between trees: — Some have knots, more or less, others are more or less without them, whether from their natural character or because of their position. But, when I say ‘without knots,’ I do not mean that they have no knots at all (there is no tree like that, but, if it is true of any plants, it is only of other kinds, such as rush bulrush galingale and plants of the lake side generally) but that they have few knots. Now this is the natural character of elder bay fig and all smooth-barked trees, and in general of those whose wood is hollow or of a loose texture. Olive fir and wild olive have knots; and some of these grow in thickly shaded windless and wet places, some in sunny positions exposed to storms and winds, where the soil is light and dry; for the number of knots varies between trees of the same kind. And in general mountain trees have more knots than those of the plain, and those that grow in dry spots than those that grow in marshes.

[8.2] Again the way in which they are planted makes a difference in this respect; those trees that grow close together are knotless and erect, those that grow far apart have more knots and a more crooked growth; for it happens that the one class are in shade, the others in full sun. Again the ‘male’ trees have more knots than the ‘female’ in those trees in which both forms are found, as cypress, silver-fir, hop-hornbeam, cornelian cherry — for there is a kind called ‘female cornelian cherry’ (cornel) — and wild trees have more knots than trees in cultivation: this is true both in general and when we compare those of the same kind, as the wild and cultivated forms of olive fig and pear. All these have more knots in the wild state; and in general those of closer growth have this character more than those of open growth; for in fact the ‘male’ plants are of closer growth, and so are the wild ones; except that in some cases, as in box and nettle-tree, owing to the closer growth there are no knots at all, or only a few.

[8.3] Again the knots of some trees are irregular and set at haphazard, while those of others are regular, alike in their distance apart and in their number, as has been said; wherefore also they are called trees with regular knots.’ For of some the knots are, i\s it were, at even distances, while in others the distance between them is greater at the thick end of the stem. And this proportion holds throughout. This is especially evident in the wild olive and in reeds — in which the joint corresponds to the knot in trees. Again some knots are opposite one another, as those of the wild olive, while others are set at random. Again some trees have double knots, some treble, some more at the same point; some have as many as five. — In the silver-fir both the knots and the smaller branches are set at right angles, as if they were stuck in, but in other trees they are not so. And that is why the silver-fir is such a strong tree. Most peculiar are the knots of the apple, for they are like the faces of wild animals; there is one large knot, and a number of small ones round it. Again some knots are blind, others productive; by ‘blind’ I mean those from which there is no growth. These come to be so either by nature or by mutilation, according as either the knot’ is not free and so the shoot does not make its way out, or, a bough having been cut off, the place is mutilated, for example by burning. Such knots occur more commonly in the thicker boughs, and in some cases in the stem also. And in general, wherever one chops or cuts part of the stem or bough, a knot is formed, as though one thing were made thereby into two and a fresh growing point produced, the cause being the mutilation or some other such reason; for the effect of such a blow cannot of course be ascribed to nature.

[8.4] Again in all trees the branches always seem to have more knots, because the intermediate parts have not yet developed, just as the newly formed branches of the fig are the roughest,’ and in the vine the highest shoots. (For to the knot in other trees correspond the ‘eye’ in the vine, the joint in the reed) In some trees again there occurs, as it were, a diseased formation of small shoots,- as in elm, oak, and especially in the plane; and this is universal if they grow in rough, waterless or windy spots. Apart from any such cause this affection occurs near the ground in what one may call the ‘head’ of the trunk, when the tree is getting old.

[8.5] Some trees again have what are called by some ‘excrescences’ (or something corresponding), as the olive; for this name belongs most properly to that tree, and it seems most liable to the affection; and some call it ‘stump,’ some Arotone, others have a different name for it. It does not occur, or only occurs to a less extent, in straight young trees, which have a single root and no side-growths. To the olive also, both wild and cultivated, are peculiar certain thickenings in the stem.

[9.1] Now those trees which grow chiefly or only in the direction of their height are such as silver-fir date-palm cypress, and in general those which have a single stem and not many roots or branches (the date-palm, it may be added, has no side-growths at all). And trees like these have also similar growth downwards. Some however divide from the first, such as apple; some have many branches, and their greater mass of growth high up, as the pomegranate: however training position and cultivation chiefly contribute to all of these characters. In proof of which we have the fact that the same trees which, when growing close together, are tall and slender, when grown farther apart become stouter and shorter; and if we from the first let the branches grow freely, the tree becomes short, whereas, if we prune them, it becomes tall, — for instance, the vine. This too is enough for proof that even some potherbs acquire the form of a tree, as we said of mallow and beet. Indeed all things grow well in congenial places. . . . For even among those of the same kind those which grow in congenial places have less knots, and are taller and more comely: thus the silver-fir in Macedon is superior to other silver-firs, such as that of Parnassus. Not only is this true of all these, but in general the wild woodland is more beautiful and vigorous on the north side of the mountain than on the south.

[9.2] Again some trees are evergreen, some deciduous. Of cultivated trees, olive date-palm bay myrtle a kind of fir and cypress are evergreen, and among wild trees silver-fir, fir, Phoenician cedar, yew, odorous cedar, the tree which the Arcadians call ‘cork-oak’ (holm-oak), mock-privet, prickly cedar, ‘wild pine’, tamarisk, box, kermes-oak, holly, alaternus, cotoneaster, hybrid arbutus (all of which grow about Olympus) andrachne, arbutus, terebinth, ‘wild bay’ (oleander). Andrachne and arbutus seem to cast their lower leaves, but to keep those at the end of the twigs perennially, and to be always adding leafy twigs. These are the trees which are evergreen.

[9.3] Of shrubby plants these are evergreen: — ivy, bramble, buckthorn, reed, kedris (juniper) — for there is a small kind of kedros so called which does not grow into a tree. Among under-shrubs and herbaceous plants there are rue, cabbage, rose, gilliflower, southernwood, sweet marjoram, tufted thyme, marjoram, celery, alexanders, poppy, and a good many more kinds of wild plants. However some of these too, while evergreen as to their top growths, shed their other leaves, as marjoram and celery; for rue too is injuriously affected and changes its character.

[9.4] And all the evergreen plants in the other classes too have narrower leaves and a certain glossiness and fragrance. Some moreover which are not evergreen by nature become so because of their position, as was said about the plants at Elephantine and Memphis, while lower down the Nile in the Delta there is but a very short period in which they are not making new leaves. It is said that in Crete in the district of Gortyna there is a plane near a certain spring which does not lose its leaves; (indeed the story is that it was under this tree that Zeus lay with Europa), while all the other plants in the neighbourhood shed their leaves. At Sybaris there is an oak within sight of the city which does not shed its leaves, and they say that it does not come into leaf along with the others, but only after the rising of the dog-star. It is said that in Cyprus too there is a plane which has the same peculiarity.

[9.5] The fall of the leaves in all cases takes place in autumn or later, but it occurs later in some trees than in others, and even extends into the winter. However the fall of the leaf does not correspond to the growth of new leaves (in which case those that come into leaf earlier would lose their leaves earlier), but some (such as the almond) which are early in coming into leaf are not earlier than the rest in losing their leaves, but are even comparatively late.

[9.6] Others again, such as the mulberry, come into leaf late, but are hardly at all later than the others in shedding their leaves. It appears also that position and a moist situation conduce to keeping the leaves late; for those which grow in dry places, and in general where the soil is light, shed their leaves earlier, and the older trees earlier than young ones. Some even cast their leaves before the Iruit is ripe, iis the late kinds of fig and pear.

[9.7] In those which are evergreen the shedding and withering of leaves take place by degrees; for it is not the same leaves which always persist, but fresh ones are growing while the old ones wither away. This happens chiefly about the summer solstice. Whether in some cases it occurs even after the rising of Arcturus or at a quite different season is matter for enquiry. So much for the shedding of leaves.

[10.1] Now, while the leaves of all other trees are all alike in each tree, those of the abele ivy — and of the plant called kroton (castor-oil plant) are unhke one another and of different forms. The young leaves in these are round, the old ones angular, and eventually all the leaves assume that form. On the other hand in the ivy, when it is young, the leaves are somewhat angular, but when it is older, they become rounder: for in this plant too a change of form takes place. There is a peculiarity special to the olive lime elm and abele: their leaves appear to invert the upper surface after the summer solstice, and by this men know that the solstice is past. Now all leaves differ as to their upper and under surfaces; and in most trees the upper surfaces are greener and smoother, as they have the fibres and veins in the under surfaces, even as the human hand has its ‘lines,’but even the upper surface of the leaf of the olive is sometimes whiter and less smooth. So all or most leaves display their upper surfaces, and it is these surfaces which are exposed to the light. Again most leaves turn towards the sun; wherefore also it is not easy to say which surface is next to the twig; for, while the way in which the upper surface is presented seems rather to make the under surface closer to it, yet nature desires equally that the upper surface should lie the nearer, and this is specially seen in the turning back of the leaf towards the sun. One may observe this in trees whose leaves are crowded and opposite, such as those of myrtle.

[10.2] Some think that the nourishment too is conveyed to the upper surface through the under surface, because this surface always contains moisture and is downy, but they are mistaken. It may be that this is not due to the trees’ special character, but to their not getting an equal amount of sunshine, though the nourishment conveyed through the veins or fibres is the same in both cases. That it should be conveyed from one side to the other is improbable, when there are no passages for it nor thickness for it to pass through. However it belongs to another part of the enquiry to discuss the means by which nourishment is conveyed.

[10.3] Again there are various other differences between leaves; some trees are broad-leaved, as vine fig and plane, some narrow-leaved, as olive, pomegranate, myrtle. Some have, as it were, spinous’ leaves, as fir, Aleppo pine, prickly cedar; some, as it were, fleshy leaves; and this is because their leaves are of fleshy substance, as cypress, tamarisk, apple, among under-shrubs kneoros, and stoibe, and among herbaceous plants house-leek, and hulwort. This plant is good against moth in clothes. For the leaves of beet and cabbage are fleshy in another way, as are those of the various plants called rue; for their fleshy character is seen in the flat instead of in the round. Among shrubby plants the tamarisk has fleshy leaves. Some again have reedy leaves, as date-palm, doum-palm and such like. But, generally speaking, the leaves of these end in a point; for reeds galingale sedge and the leaves of other marsh plants are of this character. The leaves of all these are compounded of two parts, and the middle is like a keel, placed where in — other leaves is a large passage dividing the two halves. Leaves differ also in their shapes; some are round, as those of pear, some rather oblong, as those of the apple; some come to a sharp point and have spinous projections at the side, as those of smilax. So far I have spoken of undivided leaves; but some are divided and like a saw, as those of silver-fir and of fern. To a certain extent those of the vine are also divided, while those of the fig one might compare to a crow’s foot. Some leaves again have notches, as those of elm filbert and oak, others have spinous projections both at the tip and at the edges, as those of kermes oak, oak, smilax, bramble, Christ’s thorn and others. The leaf of fir, Aleppo pine, silver-fir and also of prickly cedar and kedris (juniper) has a spinous point at the tip. Among other trees there is none that we know which has spines for leaves altogether, but it is so with other woody plants, as akorna, drypis, pine thistle and almost all the plants which belong to that class. For in all these spines, as it were, take the place of leaves, and, if one is not to reckon these plants. It is peculiar to pot-herbs to have hollow leaves, as in onion and horn-onion.

[10.4] To sum up, the differences between leaves are shewn in size, number, shape, hollowness, in breadth, roughness and their opposites, and in the presence or absence of spinous projections; also as to their attachment, according to the part from which they spring or the means by which they are attached; the part from which they spring being the root or a branch or the stalk or a twig, while the means by which they are attached may be a leaf-stalk, or they may be attached directly; and there may be several leaves attached by the same leaf-stalk. Further some leaves are fruit-bearing, enclosing the fruit between them, as the Alexandrian laurel, which has its fruit attached to the leaves. These are all the differences in leaves stated somewhat generally, and this is a fairly complete list of examples.

[10.5] Leaves are composed some of fibre bark and flesh, as those of the fig and vine, some, as it were, of fibre alone, as those of reeds and corn. But moisture is common to all, for it is found both in leaves and in the other annual parts, leaf-stalk, flower, fruit and so forth but more especially in the parts which are not annual; in fact no part is without it. Again it appears that some leaf-stalks are composed only of fibre, as those of corn and reeds, some of the same materials as the stalks.

[10.6] Of flowers some are composed of bark veins and flesh, some of flesh only, as those in the middle of cuckoo-pint.’

[10.7] So too with fruits; some are made of flesh and fibre, some of flesh alone, and some of skin also. And moisture is necessarily found in these also. The fruit of plums and cucumbers is made of flesh and fibre, that of mulberries and pomegranates of fibre and skin. The materials are differently distributed in different fruits, but of nearly all the outside is bark, the inside flesh, and this in some cases includes a stone.)

[11.1] Last in all plants comes the seed. This possesses in itself natural moisture and warmth, and, if these fail, the seeds are sterile, like eggs in the like case. In some plants the seed comes immediately inside the envelope, as in date filbert almond (however, as in the case of the date, there may be more than one covering). In some cases again there is flesh and a stone between the envelope and th seed, as in olive plum and other fruits. Some seeds again are enclosed in a pod, some in a husk, some in a vessel, and some are completely naked.

[11.2] Enclosed in a pod are not only the seeds of annual plants, as leguminous plants, and of considerable numbers of wild plants, but also those of certain trees, as the carob-tree (which some call the ‘Egyptian fig’), Judas-tree, and the koloitiu of the Liparae islands. In a husk are enclosed the seeds of some annuals, as wheat and millet; and in like manner some plants have their seeds in a vessel, some have them naked. In a vessel are those of the poppy and plants of the poppy kind; (the case of sesame however is somewhat peculiar), while many pot-herbs have their seeds naked, as dill coriander- anise cummin fennel and many others. No tree has naked seeds, but either they are enclosed in flesh or in shells, which are sometimes of leathery nature, as the acorn and the sweet chestnut, sometimes woody, as almond and nut. Moreover no tree has its seeds in a vessel, unless one reckons a cone as a vessel, because it can be separated from the fruits.

[11.3] The actual seeds are in some cases fleshy in themselves, as all those which resemble nuts or acorns; in some cases the fleshy part is contained in a stone, as in olive bay and others. The seeds in some plants again merely consist of a stone, or at least are of stone-like character, and are, as it were, ‘dry’; for instance those of plants like safflower, millet and many pot-herbs. Most obviously of this character are those of the date, for they contain no cavity, but are throughout dry; — not but what there must be even in them some moisture and warmth, as we have said.

[11.3] Further seeds differ in that in some cases they are massed together, in others they are separated and arranged in rows, as those of the gourd and bottle-gourd, and of some trees, such as the citron. Again of those that are massed together some differ in being contained in a single case, as those of pomegranate pear apple vine and fig; others in being closely associated together, yet not contained in a single case, as, among annuals, those which are in an ear — unless one regards the ear as a case. In that case the grape-cluster and other clustering fruits will come under the description, as well as all those plants which on account of good feeding or excellence of soil bear their fruits massed together, as they say the olive does in Syria and elsewhere.

[11.5] But this too seems to be a point of difference, that some grow massed together from a single stalk and a single attachment, as has been said in the case of plants with clusters or ears whose seeds do not grow contained in one common case; while others grow otherwise. For in these instances, if one takes each seed or case separately, it has its own special point of attachment, for instance each grape or pomegranate, or again each grain of wheat or barley. This would seem to be least of all the case with the seeds of apples and pears, since these touch one another and are enclosed in a sort of skin-like membrane, outside which is the fruit-case. However each of these too has its own peculiar point of attachment and character; this is most obvious in the separation of the pomegranate seeds, for the stone is attached to each, and the connexion is not, as in figs, obscured by the moisture. For here too there is a difference, although in both cases the seeds are enclosed in a sort of fleshy substance, as well as in the case which encloses this and the other parts of the fruit. For in the pomegranate the stones have this moist fleshy substance enclosing each separate stone; but in the case of fig-seeds, as well as in that of grape stones and other plants which have the same arrangement, the same pulp is common to all. However one might find more such differences, and one should not ignore the most important of them, namely those which specially belong to the plant’s natural character.

[12.1] The differences in taste, shape, and form as a whole are tolerably evident to all, so that they do not need explanation; except that it should be stated that the case containing the fruit is never right-lined in shape and never has angles. Of tastes some are like wine, as those of vine mulberry and myrtle: some are like olive-oil, as, besides olive itself, bay, hazel, almond, fir, Aleppo pine, silver fir; some like honey, as fig, date, chestnut; some are pungent, as marjoram, savory cress mustard; some are bitter, as wormwood, centaury. Some also are remarkably fragrant, as anise and juniper; of some the smell would seem to be insipid,- as in plums; of others sharp, as in pomegranates and some kinds of apples. But the smells even of those in this class must in all cases be called winelike, though they differ in different kinds, on which matter we must speak more precisely, when we come to speak of flavours,- reckoning up the different kinds themselves, and stating what differences there are between them, and what is the natural character and property of each.

[12.2] Now the sap of the trees themselves assumes different kinds of tastes as was said; sometimes it is milky, as that of the fig and poppy, sometimes like pitch, as in silver-fir, fir and the conifers; sometimes it is insipid, as in vine pear and apple, as well as such pot-herbs as cucumber gourd lettuce; while others’ again have a certain pungency, such as the juice of thyme and savory; others have a fragrance, such as the juices of celery, dill, fennel, and the like. To speak generally, all saps correspond to the special character of the several trees, one might almost add, to that of each plant. For every plant has a certain temperament and composition of its own, which plainly belongs in a special sense to the fruits of each. And in niost of these is seen a sort of correspondence with the character of the plant as a whole, which is not however exact nor obvious; it is chiefly in the fruitcases that it is seen, and that is why it is the character of the flavour which becomes more complete and matures into something separate and distinct; in fact we must consider the one as ‘matter,’ the other — as ‘form’ or specific character.

[12.3] Again the seeds themselves and the coats containing them have different flavours. And, to speak generally, all parts of trees and plants, as root stem branch leaf fruit, have a certain relationship to the character of the whole, even if there is variation in scents and tastes, so that of the parts of the same plant some are fragrant and sweet to the taste, while others are entirely scentless and tasteless.

[12.4] For in some plants the flowers are more fragrant than the leaves, in others on the contrary it is rather the leaves and twigs which are fragrant, as in those used for garlands. In others again it is the fruits; in others it is neither of these parts, but, in some few cases, the root or some part of it. And so too with the flavours. Some leaves and some fruit-pulps are, and some are not good for food. Most peculiar is the case of the lime: the leaves of this are sweet, and many animals eat them, but the fruit no creature eats, (for, as to the contrary case, it would not be at all surprising that the leaves should not be eaten, while the fruits were eaten not only by us but by other animals). But concerning this and other such matters we must endeavour to consider the causes on some other occasion.

[13.1] For the present let so much be clear, that in all the parts of plants there are numerous differences shewn in a variety of ways. Thus of flowers some are downy, as that of the vine, mulberry and ivy, some are ‘leafy,’ as in almond, apple, pear, plum. Again some of these flowers are conspicuous, while that of the olive, though it is ‘leafy,’ is inconspicuous. Again it is in annual and herbaceous plants alike that we find some leafy, some downy. All plants again have flowers either of two colours or of one; most of the flowers of trees are of one colour and white, that of the pomegranate being almost the only one which is red, while that of some almonds is reddish. The flower of no other cultivated trees is gay nor of two colours, though it may be so with some uncultivated trees, as with the flower of silverfir, for its flower is of saffron colour; and so with the flowers of those trees by the ocean which have, they say, the colour of roses.

[13.2] However, among annuals, most are of this character — their flowers are two-coloured and twofold. I mean by ‘twofold’ that the plant has another flower inside the flower, in the middle, as with rose, lily, violet. Some flowers again consist of a single ‘leaf,’ having merely an indication of more, as that of bindweed. For in the flower of this the separate ‘leaves’ are not distinct; nor is it so in the lower part of the narcissus,’ but there are angular projections from the edges. And the flower of the olive is nearly of the same character.

[13.3] But there are also differences in the way of growth and the position of the flower; some plants have it close above the fruit, as vine and olive; in the latter, when the flowers drop off, they are seen to have a hole through them, and this men take for a sign — whether the tree has blossomed well; for if the flower is burnt up or sodden, it sheds the fruit along with itself, and so there is no hole through it. The majority of flowers have the fruit-case in the middle of them, or, it may be, the flower is on the top of the fruit-case, as in pomegranate apple pear plum and myrtle, and among under-shrubs, in the rose and in many of the coronary plants. For these have their seeds below, beneath the flower, and this is most obvious in the rose because of the size of the seed-vessel. In some cases again the flower is on top of the actual seeds, as in pine-thistle safllower and all thistle-like plants; for these have a flower attached to each seed. So too with some herbaceous plants, as anthemon, and among pot-herbs, with cucumber gourd and bottle-gourd; all these have their flowers attached on top of the fruits, and the flowers persist for a long time while the fruits are developing.

[13.4] In some other plants the attachment is peculiar, as in ivy and mulberry; in these the flower is closely attached to the whole fruit-case; it is not however set above it, nor in a seed-vessel that envelops each separately, but it occurs in the middle part of the structure — except that in some cases it is not easily recognised because it is downy.

[13.5] Again some flowers are sterile, as in cucumbers those which grow at the ends of the shoot, and that is why men pluck them off, for they hinder the growth of the cucumber. And they say that in the citron those flowers which have a kind of distaff growing in the middle are fruitful, but those that have it not are sterile. And we must consider whether it occurs also in any other flowering plants that they produce sterile flowers, whether apart from the fertile flowers or not. For some kinds of vine and pomegranate certainly are unable to mature their fruit, and do not produce anything beyond the flower.

[13.6] (The flower of the pomegranate is produced abundantly and is solid: in general appearance it is a substantial structure with a flat top, like the flower of the rose; but, as seen from below, the inferior lart of the flower is different-looking, being like a little two-eared jar turned on one side and having its rim indented.)

[13.7] Some say that even of plants of the same kind some specimens flower while others do not; for instance that the ‘male’ date-palm flowers but the ‘female’ does not, but exhibits its fruit without any antecedent flower. Such is the difference which we find between plants of the same kind; and the like may be said in general of those which cannot mature their fruit. And it is plain from what has been said that flowers shew many differences of character.

[14.1] Again as to the production of fruit trees differ in the following respects. Some bear on their new shoots, some on last year’s wood, some on both. Fig and vine bear on their new shoots; on last year’s wood olive pomegranate apple almond pear myrtle and almost all such trees. And, if any of these does happen to conceive and to produce flowers on its new shoots, (for this does occur in some cases, as with myrtle, and especially, one may say, in the growth which is made ater the rising of Arcturus) it can not bring them to perfection, but they perish halfformed. Some apples again of the twice-bearing kinds and certain other fruit-trees bear both on last year’s wood and on the new shoots; and so does the olynihos, which ripens its fruit as well as bearing figs on the new shoots.

[14.2] Most peculiar is the growth of fruit direct from the stem, as in the sycamore; for this, they say, bears fruit on the stem. Others say that it bears both in this way and also on the branches, like the carob; for the latter bears on the branches too, though not abundantly: (the name carob is given to the tree which produces what are called ‘Egyptian figs’). Again some trees, and some plants in general, produce fruit at the top, others at the sides, others in both ways. But bearing fruit at the top is less common in trees than in other plants, as among grains in those which have an ear, among shrubby plants in heath privet chaste tree and certain others, and among pot-herbs in those with a bulbous root. Among plants which bear both on the top and at the sides are certain trees and certain potherbs, as blite, orach, cabbage. I say trees, since the olive does this too in a way, and they say that, when it bears at the top, it is a sign of fruitfulness. The date-palm too bears at the top, in a sense, but this tree also has its leaves and shoots at the top; indeed it is in the top that its whole activity is seen. Thus we must endeavour to study in the light of the instances mentioned the differences seen in the various parts of the plant.

[14.3] But there appear to be the following differences which affect the plant’s whole being: some are cultivated, some wild; some fruitful, some barren; some evergreen, some deciduous, as was said, while some again have no leaves at all; some are flowering plants, some flowerless; some are early, some late in producing their shoots and fruits; and there are other differences similar to these. Now it may be said that such differences are seen in the parts, or at least that particular parts are concerned in them. But the special, and in a way the most important distinction is one which may be seen in animals too, namely, that some are of the water, some of the land. For of plants too there is a class that cannot grow except in moisture, while others will indeed grow on dry land, but they lose their character and are inferior. Again of all trees, one might almost say, and of all plants there are several forms to each kind; for hardly any kind contains but a single form.

[14.4] But the plants which are called respectively cultivated and wild shew this difference in the clearest and most emphatic way, for instance the cultivated and wild forms of fig olive and pear. In each of these pairs there are differences in fruit and leaves, and in their forms and parts generally. But most of the wild kinds have no names and few know about them, while most of the cultivated kinds have received names — and they are more commonly observed; I mean such plants as vine, fig, pomegranate, apple, pear, bay, myrtle and so forth; for, as many people make use of them, they are led also to study the differences.

[14.5] But there is this peculiarity as to the two classes respectively; in the wild kinds men find only or chiefly the distinction of male ‘and’ female,’ while in the cultivated sorts they recognise a number of distinguishing features. In the former case it is easy to mark and count up the different forms, in the latter it is harder because the points of difference are numerous. However we have said enough for study of the differences between parts and between general characters. We must now speak of the methods of growth, for this subject comes naturally after what has been said.


[1.1] The ways in which trees and plants in general originate are these: — spontaneous growth, growth from seed, from a root, from a piece torn off, from a branch or twig, from the trunk itself; or again from small pieces into which the wood is cut up (for some trees can be produced even in this manner). Of these methods spontaneous growth comes first, one may say, but growth from seed or root would seem most natural; indeed these methods too may be called spontaneous; wherefore they are found even in wild kinds, while the remaining methods depend on human skill or at least on human choice.

[1.2] However all plants start in one or other of these ways, and most of them in more than one. Thus the olive is grown in all the ways mentioned, except from a twig; for an olive-twig will not grow if it is set in the ground, as a fig or pomegranate will grow from their young shoots. Not but what some say that cases have been known in which, when a stake of olive-wood was planted to support ivy, it actually lived along with it and became a tree; but such an instance is a rare exception, while the other methods of growth are in most cases the natural ones. The fig grows in all the ways mentioned, except from root-stock and cleft wood; apple and pear grow also from branches, but rarely. However it appears that most, if not practically all, trees may grow from branches, if these are smooth, young and vigorous. But the other methods, one may say, are more natural, and we must reckon what may occasionally occur as a mere possibility.

[1.3] In fact there are quite few plants which grow and are brought into being more easily from the upper parts, as the viae is grown from branches; for this, though it cannot be grovn from the head,’ yet can be grown from the branch, as can all similar trees and under-shrubs, for instance, as it appears, rue, gilliflower, bergamot-mint, tufted thyme, calamint. So the commonest ways of growth with all plants are from a piece torn off or from seed; for all plants that have seeds grow also from seed. And they say that the bay too grows from a piece torn off, if one takes off the young shoots and plants them; but it is necessary that the piece torn off should have part of the root or stock attached to it. However the pomegranate and ‘spring apple’ will grow even without this, and a slip of almond grows if it is planted. The olive grows, one may say, in more ways than any other plant; it grows from a piece of the trunk or of the stock, from the root, from a twig, and from a stake, as has been said. Of other plants the myrtle also can be propagated in several ways; for this too grows from pieces of wood and also from pieces of the stock. It is necessary however with this, as with the olive, to cut up the wood into pieces not less than a span long and not to strip off the bark.

[1.4] Trees then grow and come into being in the abovementioned ways; for as to methods of grafting and inoculation, these are, as it were, combinations of different kinds of trees; or at all events these are methods of growth of a quite different class and must be treated of at a later stage.

[2.1] Of under-shrubs and herbaceous plants the greater part grow from seed or a root, and some in both ways; some of them also grow from cuttings, as has been said, while roses and lilies grow from pieces of the stems, as also does dog’s-tooth grass. Lilies and roses also grow when the whole stem is set. Most peculiar is the method of growth from an exudation; for it appears that the lily grows in this way too, when the exudation that has been produced has dried up. They say the same of alexanders, for this too produces an exudation. There is a certain reed also which grows if one cuts it in lengths from joint to joint and sets them sideways, burying it in dung and soil. Again they say that plants which have a bulbous root are peculiar in their way of growing from the root.

[2.2] The capacity for growth being shewn in so many ways, most trees, as was said before, originate in several ways; but some come only from seed, as silver fir, fir, Aleppo pine, and in general all those that bear cones: also the date-palm, except that in Babylon it may be that, as some say, they take cuttings from it. The cypress in most regions grows from seed, but in Crete from the trunk also, for instance in the hill country about Tarra; for there grows the cypress which they clip, and when cut it shoots in every possible way, from the part which has been cut, from the ground, from the middle, and from the upper parts; and occasionally, but rarely, it shoots from the roots also.

[2.3] About the oak accounts differ; some say it only grows from seed, some from the root also, but not vigorously, others again that it grows from the trunk itself, when this is cut. But no tree grows from a piece torn off or from a root except those which make side-growths.

[2.4] However in all the trees which have several methods of originating the quickest method and that which promotes the most vigorous growth is from a piece torn off, or still better from a sucker, if this is taken from the root. And, while all the trees which are propagated thus or by some kind of slip seem to be alike in their fruits to the original tree, those raised from the fruit, where this method of growing is also possible, are nearly all inferior, while some quite lose the character of their kind, as vine apple fig pomegranate pear. As for the fig, no cultivated kind is raised from its seed, but either the ordinary wild fig or some wild kind is the result, and this often differs in colour from the parent; a black fig gives a white, and conversely. Again the seed of an excellent vine produces a degenerate result, which is often of quite a different kind; and at times this is not a cultivated kind at all, but a wild one of such a character that it does not ripen its fruit; with others again the result is that the seedlings do not even mature fruit, but only get as far as flowering.

[2.5] Again the stones of the olive give a wild olive, and the seeds of a sweet pomegranate give a degenerate kind, while the stoneless kind gives a hard sort and often an acid fruit. So also is it with seedlings of pears and apples; pears give a poor sort of wild pears, apples produce an inferior kind which is acid instead of sweet; quince produces wild quince. Almond again raised from seed is inferior in taste and in being hard instead of soft; and this is why men bid us graft on to the almond, even when it is fully grown, or, failing that, frequently plant the offsets.

[2.6] The oak also deteriorates from seed; at least many persons having raised trees from acorns of the oak at Pyrrha could not produce one like the parent tree. On the other hand they say that bay and myrtle sometimes improve by seeding, though usually they degenerate and do not even keep their colour, but red fruit gives black — as happened with the tree in Antandros; and frequently seed of a ‘female’ cypress produces a male tree. The datepalm seems to be about the most constant of these trees, when raised from seed, and also the ‘conebearing pine’ (stone-pine) and the ‘lice-bearing pine.’ So much for degeneration in cultivated trees; among wild kinds it is plain that more in proportion degenerate from seed, since the parent trees are stronger. For the contrary would be very strange, seeing that degenerate forms are found even in cultivated trees, and among these only in those which are raised from seed. (As a general rule these are degenerate, though men may in some cases effect a change by cultivation).

[2.7] Again differences in situation and climate affect the result. In some places, as at Philippi, the soil seems to produce plants which resemble their parent; on the other hand a few kinds in some few places seem to undergo a change, so that wild seed gives a cultivated form, or a poor form one actually better. We have heard that this occurs, but only with the pomegranate, in Egypt and Cilicia; in Egypt a tree of the acid kind both from seeds and from cuttings produces one whose fruit has a sort of sweet taste, while about Soli in Cilicia near the river Pinaros (where the battle with Darius was fought) all those pomegranates raised from seed are without stones.

[2.8] If anyone were to plant our palm at Babylon, it is reasonable to expect that it would become fruitful and like the palms of that country. And so would it be with any other country which has fruits that are congenial to that particular locality; for the locality is more important than cultivation and tendance. A proof of this is the fact that things transplanted thence become unfruitful, and in some cases refuse to grow altogether.

[2.9] There are also modifications due to feeding and attention of other kinds, which cause the wild to become cultivated, or again cause some cultivated kinds to go wild, such as pomegranate and almond. Some say that wheat has been known to be produced from barley, and barley from wheat, or again both growing on the same stool; but these accounts should be taken as fabulous. Anyhow those things which do change in this manner do so spontaneously,- and the alteration is due to a change of position (as we said happens with pomegranates in Egypt and Cilicia), and not to any particular method of cultivation.

[2.10] So too is it when fruit-bearing trees become unfruitful, for instance the persion when moved from Egypt, the date-palm when planted in Hellas, or the tree which is called ‘poplar’ in Crete,’ if anyone should transplant it. Some again say that the sorb becomes unfruitful if it comes into a very warm position, since it is by nature cold-loving. It is reasonable to suppose that both results follow because the natural circumstances are reversed, seeing that some things entirely refuse to grow when their place is changed. Such are the modifications due to position.

[2.11] As to those due to method of culture, the changes which occur in things grown from seed are as was said; (for with things so grown also the changes are of all kinds). Under cultivation the pomegranate and the almond change character, the pomegranate if it receives pig-manure and a great deal of river water, the almond if one inserts a peg and removes for some time the gum which exudes and gives the other attention required. In like manner plainly some wild things become cultivated and some cultivated things become wild: for the one kind of change is due to cultivation, the other to neglect: — however it might be said that this is not a change but a natural development towards a better or an inferior form; (for that it is not possible to make a wild olive pear or fig into a cultivated olive pear or fig). As to that indeed which is said to occur in the case of the wild olive, that if the tree is transplanted with its topgrowth entirely cut off, it produces ‘coarse olives,’ this is no very great change. However it can make no difference which way one takes this.

[3.1] Apart from these changes it is said that in such plants there is a spontaneous kind of change, sometimes of the fruit, sometimes of the tree itself as a whole, and soothsayers call such changes portents. For instance, an acid pomegranate, it is said, may produce sweet fruit, and conversely; and again, in general, the tree itself sometimes undergoes a change, so that it becomes sweet instead of acid, or the reverse happens. And the change to sweet is considered a worse portent. Again a wild fig may turn into a cultivated one, or the contrary change take place; and the latter is a worse portent. So again a cultivated olive may turn into a \sild one, or conversely, but the latter change is rare. So again a white fig may change into a black one. and conversely; and similar changes occur in the vine.

[3.2] Now these changes they interpret as miraculous and contrary to nature; but they do not even feel any surprise at the ordinary changes, for instance, when the ‘smoky’ vine, as it is called, produces alike white grapes instead of black or black grapes instead of white. Of such changes the soothsayers t-ake no account, any more than they do of those instances in which the soil produces a natural change, as was said of the pomegranate in Egypt. But it is surprising when such a change occurs in our own country, because there are only one or two instances and these separated by wide intervals of time. However, if such changes occur, it is natural that the variation should be rather in the trait than in the tree as a whole. In fact the following irregularity also occurs in fruits; a fig-tree has been known to produce i.s figs from behind the leaves, pomegranate and vines from the stem, while the vine has been known to bear fruit without leaves. The olive again has been known to lose its leaves and yet produce its fruit; this is said to have happened to Thettalos, son of Pisistratus. This may be due to inclement weather; and some changes, which seem to be abnormal, but are not really so, are due to other accidental causes; for instance, there was an olive that, after being completely burnt down, sprang up again entire, the tree and all its branches. And in Boeotia an olive whose young shoots had been eaten off by locusts grew again: in this case however the shoots had, so to speak, only been shed. But after all such phenomena are perhaps far from strange, since the cause in each case is obvious; rather is it strange that trees should bear fruit not at the places where it naturally forms, or else fruit which does not belong to the character of the tree. And most surprising of all is it when, as has been said, there is a change in the entire character of the tree. Such are the changes which occur in trees.

[4.1] Of other plants it appears that bergamot-mint turns into cultivated mint, unless it is fixed by special attention; and this is why men frequently transplant it; so too wheat turns into darnel. Now in trees such changes, if they occur, are spontaneous, but in annual plants they are deliberately brought about: for instance, one-seeded wheat and rice-wheat change into wheat, if bruised before they are sown; and this does not happen at once, but in the third year. This change resembles that produced in the seeds by difference of soil; for these grains vary according to the soil, and the change takes about the same time as that which occurs in one-seeded wheat. Again wild wheats and barleys also with tendance and cultivation change in a like period.

[4.2] These changes appear to be due to change of soil and cultivation, and in some cases the change is due to both, in others to cultivation alone; for instance, in order that pulses may not become uncookable, men bid one moisten the seed in nitre for a night and sow it in dry ground the next day. To make lentils vigorous they plant the seeds in dung; to make chick-peas large they bid one moisten the seed while still in the pods, before sowing. Also the time of sowing makes differences which conduce to digestibility and harmlessness: thus, if one sows vetches in spring, they become quite harmless and are not indigestible like those sown in autumn.

[4.3] Again in pot-herbs change is produced by cultivation; for instance, they say that, if celery seed is trodden and rolled in after sowing, it comes up curly; it also varies from change of soil, like other things. Such variations are common to all; we must now consider whether a tree, like animals, becomes unproductive from mutilation or removal of a part. At all events it does not appear that division is an injury, as it were, which affects the amount of fruit produced; either the whole tree perishes, or else, if it survives, it bears fruit. Old age however is a cause which in all plants puts an end to life.

[4.4] It would seem more surprising if the following changes occurred in animals naturally and frequently; some animals do indeed seem to change according to the seasons, for instance, the hawk the hoopoe and other similar birds. So also changes in the nature of the ground produce changes in animals, for instance, the water-snake changes into a viper, if the marshes dry up. Most obvious are certain changes in regard to the way in which animals are produced, and such changes run through a series of creatures; thus a caterpillar changes into a chrysalis, and this in turn into the perfect insect; and the like occurs in a number of other cases. But there is hardly anything abnormal in this, nor is the change in plants, which is the subject of our enquiry, analogous to it. That kind of change occurs in trees and in all woodland plants generally, as was said before, and its effect is that, when a change of the required character occurs in the climatic conditions, a spontaneous change in the way of growth ensues. These instances must suffice for investigation of the ways in which plants are produced or modified.

[5.1] Since however methods of cultivation and tendance largely contribute, and, before these, methods of planting, and cause great differences, of these too we must speak.

[5.2] And first of methods of planting: as to the seasons, we have already stated at what seasons one should plant. Further we are told that the plants chosen should be the best possible, and should be taken from soil resembling that in which you are going to plant them, or else inferior; also the holes should be dug as long as possible beforehand, and should always be deeper than the original holes, even for those whose roots do not run very deep.

[5.3] Some say that no root goes down further than a foot and a half, and accordingly they blame those who plant deeper. However there are many instances in which it appears that what they say does not hold good: a plant which is naturally deep-rooting pushes much deeper if it finds either a deep mass of soil or a position which favours such growth or again the kind of ground which favours it. In fact, a man once said that when he was transplanting a fir which he had uprooted with levers, he found that it had a root more than eight cubits long, though the whole of it had not been removed, but it was broken off.

[5.4] The slips for planting should be taken, if possible, with roots attached, or, failing that, from the lower rather than from the higher parts of the tree, except in the case of the vine; those that have roots should be set upright, while in the case of those which have none about a handsbreadth or rather more ot the slip should be buried. Some say that part even of those which have roots should be buried, and that the position should be the same as that of the tree from which the slip was taken, facing north or east or south, as the case may be. With those plants with which it is possible, shoots from the boughs should also, they say, be planted, some being set on the trees themselves, as with olive pear apple and ng, but in other cases, as in that of the vine, they must be set separately, for that the vine cannot be grafted on itself.

[5.5] If the slips cannot be taken with root or stock attached, as with the olive, they say that one must split the wood at the lower end and plant with a stone on top; and the fig and other trees must be treated in like manner with the olive. The fig is also propagated by sharpening a stout shoot and driving it in with a hammer, till only a small piece of it is left above ground, and then piling sand above so as to earth it up; and they say that the plants thus raised grow finer up to a certain age.

[5.6] Similar is the method used with vines, when they are propagated by the ‘peg’ method; for the peg makes a passage for that sort of shoot on account of its weakness; and in the same manner men plant the pomegranate and other trees. The fig progresses more quickly and is less eaten by grubs, if the cutting is set in a squill-bulb; in fact anything so planted is vigorous and grows faster. All those trees which are propagated by pieces cut from the stem should be planted with the cut part downwards,’ and the pieces cut off should not be less than a handsbreadth in length, as Mas said, and the bark should be left on. From such pieces new shoots grow, and as they grow, one should keep on heaping up earth about them, till the tree becomes strong. This kind of propagation is peculiar to the olive and myrtle, while the others are more or less common to all trees.

[5.7] The fig is better than any other tree at striking roots, and will, more than any other tree, grow by any method of propagation. We are told that, in planting the pomegranate, myrtle or bay, one should set two trees close together, not further than nine feet apart, apples a little further, pears and wild pears still further, almonds and figs further still, and in like manner the olive. Again the distance apart must be regulated by the nature of the ground, being less — in hilly parts than in low ground.

[5.8] Most important of all, one may say, is it to assign to each the suitable soil; for then is the tree most vigorous. Speaking generally, they say that low ground is most suitable for the olive fig and vine, and the lower slopes of hills for fruit trees. Nor should one fail to note what soil suits each variety even of those closely related. There is the greatest difference, one may say, between the different kinds of vine: for they say that there are as many kinds of vine as there are of soil. If they are planted as their nature requires, they turn out well, if otherwise, they are unfruitful. And these remarks apply almost equally to all trees.

[6.1] The method of propagating date-palms is peculiar and exceptional, as also is their subsequent cultivation. They plant several seeds together, putting two below and two above, which are fastened on; but all face downwards. For germination starts not, as some say, from the ‘reverse’ or hollow side, but from the part which is uppermost; wherefore in joining on the seeds which are placed above one must not cover up the points from which the growth is to come; and these can be recognised by experts. And the reason why they set several together is that a plant that grows from one only is weak. The roots which grow from these seeds become entangled together and so do the first shoots from the very start, so that they combine to make a single stem.

[6.2] Such is the method of growing from the fruits. But propagation is also possible from the tree itself, by taking off the top, which contains the ‘head.’ They take off about two cubits’ length, and, splitting it, set the moist end.- It likes a soil which contains salt; wherefore, where such soil is not available, the growers sprinkle salt about it; and this must not be done about the actual roots: one must keep the salt some way off and sprinkle about a gallon. To shew that it seeks such a soil they offer the following proof; wherever date-palms grow abundantly, the soil is salt, both in Babylon, they say, where the tree is indigenous, in Libya in Egypt and in Phoenicia; while in Coele-Syria, where are most palms, only in three districts, they say, where the soil is salt, are dates produced which can be stored; those that grow in other districts do not keep, but rot, though when fresh they are sweet and men use them at that stage.

[6.3] The tree is likewise very fond of irrigation; as to dung there is a difference of opinion: some say that the date-palm does not like it, but that it is most injurious, others that it gladly accepts it and makes good growth thereby, but plenty of water should be given, after manuring, as the Rhodians use. This then is matter for enquiry; it may be that there are two distinct methods of cultivation, and that dung, if accompanied by watering, is beneficial, though without it it is harmful. — When the tree is a year old, they transplant it and give plenty of salt, and this treatment is repeated when it is two years old, for it delights greatly in being transplanted.

[6.4] Most transplant in the spring, but the people of Babylon about the rising of the dog-star, and this is the time when most people propagate it, since it then germinates and grows more quickly. As long as it is young, they do not touch it, except that they tie up the foliage, so that it may grow straight and the slender branches may not hang down. At a later stage they prune it, when it is more vigorous and has become a stout tree, leaving the slender branches only about a handsbreadth long. So long as it is young, it produces its fruit without a stone, but later on the fruit has a stone.

[6.5] However some say that the people of Syria use no cultivation, except cutting out wood and watering, also that the date-palm requires spring water rather than water from the skies; and that such water is abundant in the valley in which are the palm-groves. And they add that the Syrians say that this valley extends through Arabia to the Red Sea, and that many profess to have visited it, and that it is in the lowest part of it that the date-palms grow. Now both accounts may be true, for it is not strange that in different soils the methods of cultivation should differ, like the trees themselves.

[6.6] There are several kinds of palm. To begin with, to take first the most important difference; — some are fruitful and some not; and it is from this latter kind that the people of Babylon make their beds and other furniture. Again of the fruitful trees some are ‘male,’ others ‘female’; and these differ from one another in that the ‘male’ first bears a flower on the spathe, while the ‘female’ at once bears a small fruit. Again there are various differences in the fruits themselves; some have no stones, others soft stones; as to colour, some are white, some black, some yellow; and in general they say that there is not less variety of colour and even of kind than in figs; also that they differ in size and shape, some being round like apples and of such a size that four of them make up a cubit in length, ... while others are small, no bigger than chick-peas; and that there is also much difference in flavour.

[6.7] The best kind alike in size and in quality, whether of the white or black variety, is that which in either form is called the royal palm ‘; but this, they say, is rare; it grows hardly anywhere except in the park of the ancient Bagoas, near Babylon. In Cyprus there is a peculiar kind of palm which does not ripen its fruit, though, when it is unripe, it is very sweet and luscious, and this lusciousness is of a peculiar kind. Some palms again differ not merely in their fruits but in the character of the tree itself as to stature and general shape; for instead of being large and tall they are low growing; but these are more fruitful than the others, and they begin to bear as soon as they are three years old; this kind too is common in Cyprus. Again in Syria and Egypt there are palms which bear when they are four or five years old, at which age they are the height of a man.

[6.8] There is yet another kind in Cyprus, which has broader leaves and a much larger fruit of peculiar shape; in size it is as large as a pomegranate, in shape it is long; it is not however juicy like others, but like a pomegranate, so that men do not sw