Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 400-401

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Pliny: Natural History

lateribus, nec cum cadunt flavescentia ut fagi, pro differentia generum breviora vel longiora.

Ilicis duo genera. ex his in Italia folio non ita multum ab oleis distant milaces a quibusdam Graecis dictae; in provinciis aquifoliae sunt ilices. glans utriusque brevior et gracilior, quam Homerus aculon appellat eoque nomine a glande distinguit. masculas ilices negant ferre.


Glans optima in quercu atque grandissima, mox aesculo, nam robori parva, cerro tristis, horrida echinato calyce ceu castaneae. sed et in querna alia dulcior molliorque feminae, mari spissior. maxime autem probantur latifoliae ex argumento dictae: distant inter se magnitudine et cutis tenuitate, item quod aliis subest tunica robigine scabra, 21aliis protinus candidum corpus. probatur et ea cuius in balano utrimque ex longitudine extrema lapidescit duritia, melior cui in cortice quam cui in corpore, utrumque non nisi mari. praeterea aliis ovata, aliis rotunda, aliis acutior figura, sicut et colos nigrior candidiorve, qui praefertur. amaritudo in extremitatibus,


Book XVI

with wavy edges, and they do not turn yellow when they fall like beech leaves; they differ in length according to the variety of their kinds.

There are two classes of holm-oak. The Italian variety, called by some Greeks milax, has a leaf not very different from that of the olive, but the holmoak in the provinces is the one with pointed leaves. The acorn of both kinds is shorter and more slender than that of other varieties; Homer calls itOd. xi. 242. akylon and distinguishes it by that name from the common acorn. It is said that the male holm-oak bears no acorns.

The best and largest acorn grows on the common oak, and the next best on chestnut-oak, as that of Valonia oak is small, and that of the Turkey oak a rough, bristly thing with a prickly cup like that of the chestnut. But also in the case of the oak in general the acorn of the female tree is sweeter and softer, while that of the male tree is more compact. In the most esteemed variety called descriptively the broad-leaved oak, the acorns differ among themselves in size and in the thinness of their shell, and also in that some have under the shell a rough coat of a rusty colour, whereas in others one comes to the white flesh at once. Those acorns are also esteemed the kernel of which at each extremity taken lengthwise has a stony hardness, those having this in the husk being better than those with it in the flesh of the nut, but in either case it only occurs with a male tree. Moreover in some cases the acorn is oval, in others round, and in others of a more pointed shape, just as the colour also is blacker or lighter, the latter being preferred. The ends of acorns are bitter and the middle parts

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938