Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 392: 230-231


Pliny: Natural History


LVI. Carduus et folia et caules spinosae lanuginis habet, item acorna, leucacanthos, chalceos, cnecos, potyacanthos, onopyxos, helxine, scolymos. chamaeleon in foliis non habet aculeos. est et illa differentia quod quaedam in his multicaulia ramosaque sunt, ut carduus, uno autem caule nec ramosum cnecos. quaedam cacumine tantum spinosa sunt, ut erynge. quaedam aestate florent, ut tetralix 95et helxine. scolymos quoque sero floret et diu. acorna1 colore tantum rufo distinguitur et pinguiore suco. idem erat atractylis quoque, nisi candidior esset et nisi sanguineum sucum funderet, qua de causa phonos vocatur a quibusdam, odore etiam gravis, sero maturescente semine nec ante autumnum, quamquam id de omnibus spinosis dici potest. verum omnia haec et semine et radice nasci possunt. 96scolymus carduorum generis ab his distat quod radix eius vescendo est decocta. mirum quod sine intervallo tota aestate aliud floret in eo genere, aliud concipit, aliud parturit. aculei arescente folio desinunt pungere. helxine rara visu est neque in omnibus terris, a radice foliosa, ex qua media veluti malum extuberat contectum sua fronde. huius


Book XXI

LVI. The thistle has both leaf and stem coveredThistles. by a prickly down, and so have acorna, leucacanthos, chalceos, cnecos, polyacanthos, onopyxos, helxine, scolymos. The chamaeleon has no prickles on its leaves. There is however this difference also, that some of these plants have many stems and branches, the thistle for instance, while the cnecos has one stem and no branches. Some are prickly only at the head, the erynge for instance; some, like tetralix and helxine, blossom in summer. Scolymos too blossoms late and long. The acorna is distinguished (from cnecos)a only by its reddish colour and richer juice. Atractylis too would be just the same, were it not whiter and did it not shed a bloodlike juice that has caused some to call it phonos;b it also has a badc smell, and its seed ripens late—in fact not before autumn, though this can be said of all prickly plants. All of these however can be reproduced either from seed or from the root. Scolymus, one of the thistle group, differs from these in that its root is edible when boiled. It is a strange thing that in this group,d without intermission throughout the whole summer,e part blossoms, part buds, and part produces seed. As the leaves dry the prickles cease to sting.f Helxine is not often seen, and not in all countries; it shoots out leaves from its root, out of the middle of which swells up as it were an apple, covered with foliage of

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938