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Reading17-1 (dragged) 4

Reading17-1 (dragged) 4 - treatice Enquiry into Plants of...

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Reading 17-1 5 of the stalk and the celery-like nature of the leaves. It seems clear that silphion is a member of the Umbelliferae or carrot family and probably a Ferula but with more opposite branching in the in fl orescence and a predominantly ribbed stem. Compare the silphion of the Greek coins, the giant fennel of Portugal, and the 19th century drawing of asafoetida ( Ferula narthex Boiss., Ferula asa-foetida Faloner (Fig. 7), a resinous relative, and fi nally Ferula tingitana (Fig. 8), a native ferula of North Africa with which silphion has been identi fi ed by a number of botanists in the last century. Clearly these plants represent closely related species. Note that the representation of Ferula tingitana sug- gests a ribbing of the stem and the fl owering stalk resembles that of the silphion on the coins. The description contained in the writings of the Greek authors of antiquity provides further clues. The earliest detailed description comes from the
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Unformatted text preview: treatice Enquiry into Plants of Theophras-tus of Eresus (372–288 BC), the student and successor of Aristotle. The botanical writings of Aristotle are lost but Aristotle himself may be the source of this most famous of ancient botanical documents. Theophrastus devotes an inordinate amount of attention to silphion and re-fers to it more than a dozen times. From Theophrastus (after the translation of Sir Arthur Hort, VI, III, 1-3) we learn that he thought of silphion as a “ferula-like” plant. He continues: Fig. 6. A beautiful coin from the Cyrenaic city of Barce, ca. 420 BC, portraying silphion on the obverse and the head of Zeus Ammon on the reverse. Fig. 8. Ferula tingitana , a native plant of Northern Af-rica, probably a close relative of silphion, from Curtis’ Botanical Magazine, volume 118, plate 7267, 1892. Fig. 7. Ferula narthex Boiss. ( Ferula asafoetida Falconer) from a 19th century drawing....
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