Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 118-119

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Pliny: Natural History

tantura cacuminis1 filo adhaeret. caro maturescit anno; quibusdam tamen in locis, ut in Cypro, quamquam ad maturitatem non perveniat, grato sapore dulcis est. folium ibi latius, fructus quam reliquis rotundior, nec ut devoretur corpus, verum ut expuatur 34suco modo expresso. et in Arabia languide dulces traduntur esse palmae, quamquam Iuba apud Scenitas Arabas praefert omnibus saporibus quam vocant dablan. cetero sine maribus non gignere feminas sponte edito nemore confirmant, circaque singulos plures nutare in eum pronas blandioribus 35comis; illum erectis hispidum adflatu visuque ipso et pulvere etiam reliquas maritare; huius arbore excisa viduvio2 post sterilescere feminas. adeoque est veneris intellectus ut coitus etiam excogitatus sit ab homine e maribus flore ac lanugine, interim vero tantum pulvere insperso feminis.

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VIII. Seruntur autem palmae et trunco duum cubitorum longitudine a cerebro ipso arboris fissuris diviso atque defosso. et ab radice avolsae vitalis est satus et ramorum tenerrimis. in Assyria ipsa quoque arbor strata in solo umido tota radicatur, sed in frutices,

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Book XIII

only attached by a thread at its top end. The flesh takes a year to ripen, though in some places, for instance, Cyprus, it has a pleasant sweet flavour even though it does not reach maturity. In Cyprus the leaf is broader and the fruit rounder than it is elsewhere, though people there do not eat the body of the fruit, but spit it out after merely squeezing out the juice. Also in Arabia the palm is said to have a sickly sweet taste, although Juba states that he prefers the palm that grows in the territory of the Tent-dweller Arabs, which they call the dablas, to all other kinds for flavour. For the rest, it is stated that in a palm-grove of natural growth the female trees do not produce if there are no males, and that each male tree is surrounded by several females with more attractive foliage that bend and bow towards him; while the male bristling with leaves erected impregnates the rest of them by his exhalation and by the mere sight of him, and also by his pollen; and that when the male tree is felled the females afterwards in their widowhood become barren. And so fully is their sexual union understood that mankind has actually devised a method of impregnating them by means of the flower and down collected from the males, and indeed sometimes by merely sprinkling their pollen on the females.

VIII. Palms are also propagated by layering, thePropagation of palms by layering and other methods. trunk for a length of three feet from the actual brain of the tree being divided by incisions and dug into the ground. Also a slip torn off from the root makes a hardy growth when planted, and so does one from the youngest of the branches. In Assyria the tree itself, too, is laid in a moist soil and throws out roots along its whole length, but these grow into shrubs

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938