Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants

LCL 70: 24-25

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πολύκλαδον ὀζωτὸν οὐκ εὐαπόλυτον, οἷον ἐλάα συκῆ ἄμπελος· θάμνος δὲ τὸ ἀπὸ ῥίζης πολύκλαδον, οἷον βάτος παλίουρος. φρύγανον δὲ τὸ ἀπὸ ῥίζης πολυστέλεχες καὶ πολύκλαδον οἷον καὶ θύμβρα καὶ πήγανον. πόα δὲ τὸ ἀπὸ ῥίζης φυλλοφόρον προϊὸν ἀστέλεχες, οὗ ὁ καυλὸς σπερμοφόρος, οἷον ὁ σῖτος καὶ τὰ λάχανα.

2Δεῖ δὲ τοὺς ὅρους οὕτως ἀποδέχεσθαι καὶ λαμβάνειν ὡς τύπῳ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ πᾶν λεγομένους· ἔνια γὰρ ἴσως ἐπαλλάττειν δόξειε, τὰ δὲ καὶ παρὰ τὴν ἀγωγὴν ἀλλοιότερα γίνεσθαι καὶ ἐκβαίνειν τῆς φύσεως, οἷον μαλάχη τε εἰς ὕψος ἀναγομένη καὶ ἀποδενδρουμένη· συμβαίνει γὰρ τοῦτο καὶ οὐκ ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ ἀλλ᾿ ἐν ἓξ ἢ ἑπτὰ μησὶν, ὥστε μῆκος καὶ πάχος δορατιαῖον γίνεσθαι, δι᾿ ὃ καὶ βακτηρίαις αὐταῖς χρώνται, πλείονος δὲ χρόνου γινομένου κατὰ λόγον ἡ ἀπόδοσις· ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν τεύτλων· καὶ γὰρ ταῦτα λαμβάνει μέγεθος· ἔτι δὲ μᾶλλον ἄγνοι καὶ ὁ παλίουρος καὶ ὁ κιττός, ὥσθ᾿ ὁμολογουμένως ταῦτα γίνεται 3δένδρα· καί τοι θαμνώδη γέ ἐστιν. ὁ δὲ μύρρινος μὴ ἀνακαθαιρόμενος ἐκθαμνοῦται καὶ ἡ ἡρακλεωτικὴ καρύα. δοκεῖ δὲ αὕτη γε καὶ τὸν καρπὸν βελτίω καὶ πλείω φέρειν ἐὰν ῥάβδους τις ἐᾷ


Enquiry Into Plants, I. iii.

a single stem, having knots and several branches, and it cannot easily be uprooted; for instance, olive fig vine.1 A shrub is a thing which rises from the root with many branches; for instance, bramble Christ’s thorn. An under-shrub is a thing which rises from the root with many stems as well as many branches; for instance, savory2 rue, A herb is a thing which comes up from the root with its leaves and has no main stem, and the seed is borne on the stem; for instance, corn and pot-herbs.

These definitions however must be taken and accepted as applying generally and on the whole. For in the case of some plants it might seem that our definitions overlap; and some under cultivation appear to become different and depart from their essential nature, for instance, mallow3 when it grows tall and becomes tree-like. For this comes to pass in no long time, not more than six or seven months, so that in length and thickness the plant becomes as great as a spear, and men accordingly use it as a walking-stick, and after a longer period the result of cultivation is proportionately greater. So too is it with the beets; they also increase in stature under cultivation, and so still more do chaste-tree Christ’s thorn ivy, so that, as is generally admitted, these become trees, and yet they belong to the class of shrubs. On the other hand the myrtle, unless it is pruned, turns into a shrub, and so does filbert4: indeed this last appears to bear better and more abundant fruit, if one leaves

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.theophrastus-enquiry_plants.1916