Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 28-29

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Pliny: Natural History

suavitate inenarrabili, pomum lupino simile, propter asperitatem intactum omnibus animalibus. eiusdem insulae1 excelsiore suggestu lanigerae arbores alio modo quam Serum; his folia infecunda quae, ni minora essent, vitium poterant videri. ferunt mali cotonei amplitudine cucurbitas quae maturitate ruptae ostendunt lanuginis pilas ex quibus vestes 39pretioso linteo faciunt.

XXII. arborem2 vocant gossypinum, fertiliore etiam Tyro minore, quae distat p. Iuba circa fruticem lanugines esse tradit, linteaque ea Indicis praestantiora, Arabiae autem arborem2 ex qua vestes faciant cynas vocari, folio palmae simili. sic Indos suae arbores vestiunt. in Tyris autem et alia arbor floret albae violae specie, sed magnitudine quadruplici, sine odore, quod miremur in eo tractu.


XXIII. Est et alia similis, foliosior tamen, roseique floris, quem noctu conprimens aperire incipit solis exortu, meridie expandit: incolae dormire eum dicunt. fert eadem insula et palmas oleasque ac vites et cum reliquo pomorum genere ficos. nulli arborum folia ibi decidunt; rigaturque gelidis fontibus et imbres accipit.


Book XII

an indescribably sweet scent and the fruit resembles a lupine, and is so prickly that no animal can touch it. On a more elevated plateau in the same island there are treesa that bear wool, but in a different manner to thoseb of the Chinese, as the leaves of these trees have no growth on them, and might be thought to be vine-leaves were it not that they are smaller; but they bear gourds of the size of a quince, which when they ripen burst open and disclose balls of down from which an expensive linen for clothing is made.

XXII. Their name for this tree is the gossypinus; it also grows in greater abundance on the smaller island of Tyros, which is ten miles distant from the other. Juba says that this shrub has a woolly down growing round it, the fabric made from which is superior to the linen of India. He also says that there is an Arabian tree called the cynasc from which cloth is made, which has foliage resembling a palm-leaf. Similarly the natives of India are provided with clothes by their own trees. But in the Tyros islands there is also another treed with a blossom like a white violet but four times as large; it has no scent, which may well surprise us in that region of the world.

XXIII. There is also another tree which resemblesAn evergreen tree. this one but has more foliage and a rose-coloured blossom, which it closes at nightfall and begins to open at sunrise, unfolding it fully at noon: the natives speak of it as going to sleep. The same island also produces palm-trees, olives and vines, as well as figs and all the other kinds of fruit-trees. None of the trees there sheds its leaves; and the island is watered by cold springs, and has a considerable rainfall.

  • aCotton-trees.
  • bSerica, silk.
  • cPerhaps Bombas ceiba.
  • dTamarind.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938