Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 410-411

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Pliny: Natural History

e glandiferis sola quae vocatur aegilops fert pannos arentes, muscoso villo canos, non in cortice modo verum et e ramis dependentes cubitali magnitudine, odoratos, uti diximus inter unguenta.


Suberi minima arbor, glans pessima et rara, cortex tantum in fructu, praecrassus ac renascens atque etiam in denos pedes undique explanatus: usus eius ancoralibus maxime navium piscantiumque tragulis et cadorum obturamentis, praeterea in hiberno feminarum calceatu. quamobrem non infacete Graeci corticis arborem appellant. sunt et qui feminam ilicem vocent atque, ubi non nascitur ilex, pro ea subere utantur in carpentariis praecipue fabricis, ut circa Elim et Lacedaemonem. nec in Italia tota nascitur aut in Gallia omnino.


XIV. Cortex et fagi, tiliae, abietis,1 piceae, in magno usu agrestium. vasa eo corbesque ac patentiora quaedam messibus convehendis vindemiisque faciunt atque proiecta2 tuguriorum. scribit in recenti ad duces explorator incidens litteras †a suco†;3 nec non et in quodam usu sacrorum religiosus est fagi cortex, sed non durat arbor ipsa.


Book XVI

acorn-bearing tree the one called the aegilops alone carries strips of dry clotha covered with white mossy tufts; this substance not only grows on the bark but hangs down from the branches in streamers eighteen inches long, and it has a strong scent, as wexii. 108. said when dealing with perfumes.

The cork is a very small tree, and its acorns areCork-tree. very bad in quality and few in number; its only useful product is its bark, which is extremely thick and which when cut grows again; when flattened out it has been known to form a sheet as big as 10 feet square. This bark is used chiefly for ships’ anchor drag-ropes and fishermen’sb drag-nets and for the bungs of casks, and also to make soles for women’s winter shoes. Consequently the Greek name for the tree is ‘bark-tree,’ which is not inappropriate.c Some people also call it the female holm-oak, and in places where the holm-oak does not grow, for instance in the districts of Elis and Sparta, use cork-tree timber instead of holm-oak, especially for wainwright’s carpentry. It does not grow all over Italy or anywhere in Gaul.

XIV. Also in the case of the beech, the lime, theBark of other trees used. fir and the pitch-pine the bark is extensively used by country people. They employ it for making panniers and baskets, and larger flat receptacles used for carrying corn at harvest-time and grapes at the vintage, and the roof-eaves of cottages. A scout writes reports to send to his officers by cutting letters on fresh bark from the sap;d and also beech bark is used for ritual purposes in certain religious rites, but the tree from which it is stripped does not survive.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938