Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 416-417

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Pliny: Natural History

exiguumque sudat aliquando contactu solis. e diverso materies, quae abieti pulcherrima, piceae ad fissiles scandulas cupasque et pauca alia secamenta.


XIX. Quinto generi est situs idem, facies eadem; larix vocatur. materies praestantior longe, incorrupta aevis,1 umori contumax, rubens praeterea et odore acrior. plusculum huic erumpit liquoris melleo colore atque lentore,2 numquam durescentis.


Sextum genus est taeda proprie dicta, abundantior suco quam reliqua, parcior liquidiorque quam picea, flammis ac lumini sacrorum etiam grata. hae, mares dumtaxat, ferunt et eam quam Graeci sycen vocant, odoris gravissimi. laricis morbus est ut taeda fiat.


Omnia autem haec genera accensa fuligine inmodica carbonem repente expuunt cum eruptionis crepitu eiaculanturque longe excepta larice quae nec ardet nec carbonem facit nec alio modo ignis vi consumitur quam lapides. omnia ea perpetuo virent nec facile discernuntur in fronde etiam a peritis, 46tanta natalium mixtura est; sed picea minus alta quam larix, illa crassior leviorque cortice, folio villosior, pinguior et densior mollius flexo; at piceae rariora


Book XVI

exudes a small quantity when exposed to the action of the sun. The wood, on the contrary, which in the case of the fir is extremely beautiful, in the pitchpine only serves for making split roof-shingles and tubs and a few other articles of joinery.

XIX. The fifth kind of resinous tree has the sameLarch. habitat and the same appearance; it is called the larch. Its timber is far superior, not rotting with age and offering a stubborn resistance to damp; also it has a reddish colour and a rather penetrating scent. Resin flows from this tree in rather large quantities, of the colour and stickiness of honey, and never becoming hard.

The sixth kind is the torch-pinea specially so called,Torch-pine. which gives out more resin than the rest, but less, and of a more liquid kind, than the pitch-pine; and it is agreeable for kindling fires and also for torchlight at religious ceremonies. These trees, at all events the male variety, also produce the extremely strong-smelling liquid called by the Greeks syce.b It is a disease of the larch to turn into a torch-pine.Properties of resinous trees.

All these kinds of trees when set fire to make an enormous quantity of sooty smoke and suddenly with an explosive crackle send out a splutter of charcoal and shoot it to a considerable distance—excepting the larch, which does not burn nor yet make charcoal, nor waste away from the action of fire any more than do stones. All these treesc are evergreen, and are not easily distinguishable in point of foliage even by experts, so closely are they interrelated; but the pitch-pine is not so tall as the larch, which has a thicker and smoother bark and more velvety and oilier and thicker foliage, the leaf bending more softly to the touch, whereas the foliage

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938