Imágenes de páginas

3. Folio oleæ, Pl. vel papaveris Heraclei, Th. 4. Caule ferulaceo, tenui, lanuginoso, eduli, Pl. 5. Radice magna, acri, medicinali, Pl. D. spumescente, Luc.

6. Floret æstate, Th. Pl. sed semen nullum, Pl. 7. Nascitur saxosis et asperis locis, Pl. 8. Sponte, præcipue in Asia Syriaque; trans Euphratem laudatissima; sativa ubique,


9. Radix conditur ad lanas lavandas, Th. Pl. D. Col. et alii.

10. Herba ovibus lac auget, Pl.*

The above is all that the ancients have told us respecting this plant. The information is indeed

* Pl. here stands for Pliny; Th. for Theophrastus, D. for Dioscorides; Luc. for Lucian; and Col. for Columella. The following are the passages alluded to:

Plin. xix. 3. sect. 18, p. 161, xxiv. 11, p. 341; and 17, p. 352. xxix. 3, p. 500.

Theophrasti Hist. plant. vi. 7, p. 679. ed. Stap. vi. 3, p. 588. ix, 13, p. 1093. In the first passage it is said: Herba lanaria dicta; flos aspectu pulcer, sed caret odore. According however to the common reading of the original, it ought to be: Struthium dictum; flos adspectu pulcer, et est odoratus autumno. Scaliger's emendation is: Struthium dictum, flos adspectu pulcer, sed sine odore. Autumni floret lilii alterum genus. This is the more probable, as Pliny says in the same order: Grata adspectu, sed sine odore.

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Lucianus, in Alexand. cap. xii. edit. Bipont. v. p. 75.
Columella, xi. 2, 35, p. 753: Radix lanaria.

It would appear that the ancients were acquainted with dif ferent kinds of struthium; for Celsus, vi. 5, p. 346, names in a receipt struthium album.

very scanty, and at the same time it is not altogether certain; but even if it were, it would be sufficient only to confute some conjectures, but not to establish the systematic name of the plant. I call the properties of it described to us uncertain: First, because I do not know whether Pliny did not mean to distinguish the wild plant from that which was cultivated, and many have understood as alluding to the former that which I have applied to both. Secondly, because the words of Theophrastus, being in one passage evidently corrupted, will admit of various constructions; and because in another, on account of some exceptions, of which he speaks, they appear at least to me unintelligible. Thirdly, because Pliny, who gives us the best account of it, is the only author who calls the struthium or soap-plant radicula, a name by which is rather to be understood a dye-plant of the same kind as madder. We have reason therefore to suspect that he has confounded the properties of the two plants, especially as the fourth property was ascribed by others to a rubia, asperula, or galium, which was cultivated in Syria, and named often radicula Syriaca. On the other hand, this diminutive is very ill suited to a root which Pliny himself calls large.

The words of that author, tingenti, quicquid sit cum quo decoquatur, have been by some explained, as if he meant that the struthium was a dye-plant, though as a soapy plant it must have been destitute

of colour; and they have hence deduced a proof that Pliny confounded the struthium with the radicula used in dyeing. On the other hand, Hardouin reads unguentis instead of tingenti. He assures us that he found the former in manuscripts, and is of opinion that the sap of the struthium was used also for ointments.

In my opinion, however, tingenti must be retained; and the meaning is that when cloth was to be dyed it was necessary to prepare it for that purpose by soaking it and washing it with the sap of this plant. This he expressly tells us himself: tingentibus et radicula lanas præparat. It is probable that the ancient dyers mixed their dye-liquors with the juice of the struthium, for the same purpose as bran and the seeds of fenugreek are added to dye-liquors at present; that is, to render them thicker and slimier, in order that the colouring particles may be longer and more equally suspended in or diffused through them.* The words quidquid sit cum quo decoquatur will now become intelligible. Whatever may be employed for dyeing, says the author, the addition of the juice of the struthium is serviceable.

As what has been said contains nothing that can enable us to determine the genus of the struthium according to the rules of botany, we may be allowed to conjecture that it was one of those plants

* Porners Anleitung zur Farbekunst, p. 31.

still used for the like purpose in Italy and other neighbouring countries. Fuchs thinks it must have been the saponaria officinalis (soap-wort), the roots of which indeed contain a saponaceous juice that readily changes the saliva into froth. The root was employed for that purpose by the impostor in Lucian; and the juice is used at present for cleaning "wool and cloth. In the Helvetian Alps, the sheep, before they are shorn, are washed with a decoction of the plant and its roots; and with a mixture of ashes it serves for cleaning linen.* The taste of it is so sharp, that it is compared by some to that of the small burnetsaxifrage. †

This saponaria officinalis, however, differs too much from the remaining properties of the struthium. Its root is as thick only as a quill, or at most as one's finger. The stem, which is three feet in height, throws out many branches, and cannot be called caulis ferulaceus, tenuis. It is not rough and prickly, and, instead of growing in poor, rocky soil, it is rather fond of deep ground, and the borders of corn-fields.

We may, therefore, conjecture with more pro

* Bock, Kräuterbuch, p. 296. Storr. Alpenreise, ii. p. 185. Bergius, Mater. med. p. 371. Böhmers Technische geschichte der pflanzen, i. p. 774.

+ Cartheuser, Dissertat. de radice sapon. 1760.

Those numbered 3, 4, 5, 6.

bability that the gypsophila struthium LINN.* a plant still used for washing in the lower part of Italy and Spain, is the struthium of the ancients. This opinion acquires some strength by its being adopted among the Italians and Spaniards; and because the plant, as Pliny says, grows in a rocky

soil and on the mountains. It is also still called lanaria by the Calabrian peasants. It has a tender stem; its leaves are so like those of the olive-tree, that they might be compared to them by those who are not botanists; and its root is large, but it is neither rough nor prickly. This contradiction may be accounted for by supposing that Pliny, through a mistake, of which I have already accused him, ascribed falsely to the soap-plant the prickly or rough leaves of the dye-plant which had an affinity to madder. But even after this explanation

* This plant belongs to those European vegetable productions which have not yet been completely described, and of which accurate figures have not been given. It was sent by Imperati to Casp. Bauhin, under the name of lanaria veterum; and the latter made it first known in his Pinax plant. iv. p. 206. The former described it himself, and gave a bad engraving of it, in Hist. nat. p. 871. Löfling found this plant on the Spanish mountains, as well as in the neighbourhood of Aranjues; and he relates, that in the province of la Mancha the people boil clothes that are to be washed, with the root of this plant instead of soap. (The three last words, however, appear to have been added by his translator.) Reisebeschreibung, p. 105. Linnæus did not hesitate to declare the struthium of the ancients and the struthium of his system to be the same plant; and he gave his countrymen reason to hope that their gypsophila fastigiata, which has a great resemblance to it, might be employed in the like manner. Amanitat. Academ. v. p. 329. R


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