Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 116-117

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Pliny: Natural History

30homine subeuntem. coma omnis in cacumine et pomum est, non inter folia hoc ut in ceteris sed suis inter ramos palmitibus racemosum, utraque natura uvae atque pomi. folia cultrato mucrone lateribus in sese bifida tabellas primum demonstravere geminas, nunc ad funes vitiliumque nexus et capitum levia umbracula finduntur.


Arboribus, immo potius omnibus quae terra gignat herbisque etiam utrumque esse sexum diligentissimi naturae tradunt, quod in plenum satis sit dixisse hoc in loco, nullis tamen arboribus manifestius. mas in palmite floret, femina citra florem germinat tantum spicae modo. utrisque autem prima nascitur pomi caro, postea lignum intus; hoc est semen eius: argumentum quod parvae sine hoc reperiuntur in eodem 32palmite. est autem oblongum, non ut olivis orbiculatum, praeterea caesum a dorso pulvinata fissura, et in alvo media plerisque umbilicatum: inde primum spargitur radix. seritur autem pronum et bina iuxta composita semina superque totidem, quoniam infirmae1 singulis plantae,2 quaternae coalescunt. 33multis candidisque lignum hoc a carnibus discernitur tunicis, aliis corpori adhaerentibus, laxeque distans

  • 1infirma e Mayhoff.
  • 2Ian: planta est.


noose goes up with the man at an astonishingly rapid speed. All the foliage is at the top of the tree, and so is the fruit, which is not among the leaves as in all other trees, but hanging in bunches from shoots of its own between the branches, and which has the nature of both a cluster and a single fruit. The leaves have a knife-like edge at the sides and are divided into two flanges that fold together; they first suggested folding tablets for writing, but at the present day they are split up to make ropes and plaited wicker-work and parasols.

The most devoted students of nature report thatSex of palms, Reproduction from seed. trees, or rather indeed all the products of the earth and even grasses, are of both sexes, a fact which it may at this place be sufficient to state in general terms, although in no trees is it more manifest than in the palm. A male palm forms a blossom on the shoot, whereas a female merely forms a bud like an ear of corn, without going on to blossom. In both male and female, however, the flesh of the fruit forms first and the woody core afterwards; this is the seed of the tree—which is proved by the fact that small fruits without any core are found on the same shoot. The seed is oblong in shape and not rounded like an olive-stone, and also it is split at the back by a bulging cleft, and in most cases shaped like a navel at the middle of the bulge: it is from here that the root first spreads out. In planting the seed is laid front-side downward, and a pair of seeds are placed close together with two more above them, since a single seed produces a weak plant, but the four shoots unite in one strong growth. This woody core is divided from the fleshy parts by a number of white coats, others clinging closely to its body; and it is loose and separate,

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938