Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 458-459


Pliny: Natural History

maturescit alia—sic dispensatur ut nullo non mense maturescant. quae se in arbore ipsa divisere azaniae vocantur, laeduntque ceteras nisi detrahantur.


XLV. Fructum arborum solae nullum ferunt—hoc est ne semen quidem—tamarix scopis tantum nascens, populus, alnus, ulmus Atinia, alaternus, cui folia inter ilicem et olivam; infelices autem existimantur damnataeque religione quae neque seruntur umquam neque fructum ferunt. Cremutius auctor est numquam virere arborem ex qua Phyllis se suspenderit. quae gummim gignunt post germinationem aperiunt1; gummis non nisi fructu detracto spissatur.


XLVI. Novellae arbores carent fructu quamdiu crescunt. perdunt facillime ante maturitatem palma, ficus, amygdala, malus, pirus, item punica, quae etiam roribus nimiis et pruinis florem amittit. qua de causa inflectunt ramos eius, ne subrecti umorem infestum excipiant atque contineant; pirus et amygdala, etiam si non pluat sed fiat austrinum caelum aut nubilum, amittunt florem, et primos fructus si 110cum defloruere tales dies fuerint. ocissime autem salix amittit semen, antequam omnino maturitatem sentiat, ob id dicta Homero frugiperda; secuta aetas scelere suo interpretata est hanc sententiam, quando semen salicis mulieri sterilitatis medicamentum

  • 1aperiuntur edd.

Book XVI

which ensures that there are cones ripening in every single month of the year. Pine-cones that split while still on the tree are called azaniae, and if they are not removed they injure the rest of the crop.

XLV. The only trees that bear no fruit—I mean notBarren species even seed—are the tamarisk, which is of no use except for making brooms,a the poplar, the alder, the Atinian elm and the alaternus, the leaves of which are between those of the holm-oak and the olive; but trees that never grow from seed nor bear fruit are considered to be unlucky and under a curse. Cremutius states that the tree from which Phyllisb hanged herself is never green. People open gum-producing trees after they have budded, but the gum does not thicken until after the fruit has been removed.

XLVI. Sapling trees have no fruit as long as theyVarying liability to damage of fruit. are growing. The trees most liable to lose their fruit before it ripens are the palm, the fig, the almond, the apple and the pear, and also the pomegranate, which excessive dew and frost cause to lose its flower as well. In consequence of this people bend down its branches, lest if they shoot straight upright they may receive and retain the moisture which is injurious to them. The pear and almond lose their blossom even if it does not rain but a south wind sets in or the sky is cloudy, and if that sort of weather has prevailed after they have shed their blossom, they lose their first fruit. But it is the willow that loses its seed most quickly, before it approaches ripeness at all. This is the reason why Homer gives it the epithet ‘fruit-losing’;c but succeeding ages have interpreted the meaning of the word in the light of its own wicked conduct, inasmuch as it is well known that willow seed taken as a drug produces

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938