Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 393: 220-221

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Book XXV

with white spots; the stem is short and hollow, the blossom purple, the root so broad that it might be taken for that of the turnip, and having a dark skin. It grows in shaded spots, is called by our countrymen tuber terrae,a and ought to be grown in every home if it is true that wherever it grows no evil spells do any harm. They call it “amulet”, and say that if it is added to wine intoxication comes at once. The root is also dried, cut up fine as is done with the squill, and then stored away. This is boiled down to the consistency of honey. It has however a poisonous quality of its own, and it is said that if a woman with child steps over this root she miscarries.

LXVIII. There is also another cyclamen with the surname of cissanthemos,b differing from the preceding one in that it has jointed stems of no value, winds itself round trees, and bears berries like those of ivy, only soft, and a handsome, white flower; the root is of no value. The berries only are used; these are sharp to the taste and sticky. They are dried in the shade, crushed, and cut up into lozenges.

LXIX. A third kind of cyclamen has been pointed out to me with the surname of chamaecissos,c which has only one leaf, and a branchy root fatal to fishes.

LXX. Among the most popular of plants isPeucedanum. peucedanum, the most esteemed kind of which grows in Arcadia; next to this comes the one growing in Samothrace. Its stem is slender, long, like fennel, and leafy near the ground; the root is dark, thick, juicy, and with a strong smell. It grows on shaded mountains and is dug up at the close of autumn. The tenderest and deepest roots are the favourites. These are cut up with bone knives into strips four

  • aThat is, “earth truffle.”
  • bThat is, “ivy-flowered.”
  • cThat is, “ground ivy.”
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938