Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 486-487

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Pliny: Natural History

autem necat candida omnemque sucum auferendo tanta crassitudine augetur ut ipsa arbor fiat. signa eius folia maxima atque latissima, mammae rigentes1 quae sunt ceteris inflexae, racemi stantes ac subrecti. et quamquam omni2 hederarum generi radicosa bracchia, huic tamen maxime ramosa ac robusta, ab 152ea nigrae. sed proprium albae quod inter media folia emittit bracchia utrimque semper amplectens, hoc et in muris quamvis ambire non possit. itaque etiam pluribus locis intercisa vivit tamen duratque, et totidem initia radicum habet quot bracchia, quibus incolumis et solida arbores sugit ac strangulat. est et3 in fructu differentia albae nigraeque hederae, quoniam aliis tanta amaritudo acini ut aves non attingant. est et rigens hedera quae sine adminiculo stat sola omnium generum, ob id vocata orthocissos, e diverso numquam nisi humi repens chamaecissos.

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LXIII. Similis est hederae e Cilicia quidem primum profecta sed in Graecia frequentior quam vocant smilacem, densis geniculata caulibus, spinosis frutectosa ramis, folio hederaceo, parvo, non anguloso, a pediculo emittente pampinos, flore candido, olente 154lilium. fert racemos labruscae modo, non hederae, colore rubro, conplexa acinis maioribus nucleos ternos, minoribus singulos, nigros durosque, infausta

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Book XVI

it is the white ivy that kills trees, and by taking from them all their sap grows so thick a stalk as itself to become a tree. Its characteristics are very large, very broad leaves, fat stiff buds, which in the other kinds are bent, and clusters standing up erect; and although in every kind of ivy the arms take root, yet this kind has the most spreading and powerful arms, those of the black ivy coming next. But it is a peculiarity of the white ivy that it throws out arms among the middle of its leaves, with which it always embraces things on either side, this being the case even on walls, although it is unable to go round them. Consequently even though it is cut apart at several places nevertheless it lives and lasts on, and it has as many points to strike root with as it has arms, which make it safe and solid while it sucks and strangles trees. There is also a difference in the fruit of the white and the black ivy, since in some cases it is so bitter that birds will not touch it. There is also a stiff ivy, which is the only kind thatStanding ivy and ground ivy. will stand without a prop, and which consequently has the name in Greek of ‘straight ivy’; while on the other hand the one called in Greek ‘groundivy’ is never found except creeping on the ground.

LXIII. Resembling ivy is the plant called smilax,aSmilax. which first came from Cilicia, but is now more common in Greece; it has thick jointed stalks and thorny branches that make it a kind of shrub; the leaf resembles that of the ivy, but is small and has no corners, and throws out tendrils from its stalk; the flower is white and has the scent of a lily. It bears clusters of berries like those of the wild vine, not of the ivy; they are red in colour, and the larger ones enclose three hard black stones but the smaller a single

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938