Actea

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Actea Plinius est herba gravi foliorum odore caulibus asperis geniculatis semine nigro ut edere bacis mollibus nascitur opacis et asperis et aquosis locis et cetera.


Apparatus:

Actea AC ef | Acrea BH ('t' misread as 'r')

graui ABCH f | grauis e

geniculatis ABC ef | geiculatis H

foliorum (-orum A e) odore AC e | odore foliorũ B | foliorum edere f

bacis ABC f | baccis H e

mollibus ACH e | molibus B f

asperis A | asperis BCH | speris e | aspera f

et cetera om. ef


Translation:

Actea according to Pliny is a herb with strong smelling leaves, with stems that are rough and jointed, seeds as black as those of edera {"ivy"} and with soft berries. It grows in places that are shady, rough and watery.


Commentary:

Simon's entry is a near verbatim quote from Pliny, Natural History, 27, 26, 43, ed. Rackham (1938-63: VII.414).

The plant is only recorded in Pliny, although there is a Greek plant name ἀκτέα /aktéa/, contracted ἀκτῆ /aktê/, mentioned in the Hippocratic Corpus, by Theophrastus and Dioscorides. Although there are some parallels in their descriptions, the relationship between actaea and ἀκτέα /aktéa/ is obscure.


Botanical identification:

Lewis and Short (1879) and André (1985) s.v. actaea mention Actaea spicata L., "baneberry" as a possible candidate. [[1]], [[2]]

Greek ἀκτέα /aktéa/, ἀκτῆ /aktê/ is usually identified as some species of Sambucus {"elder"}. Cf. Actis.

WilfGunther 01/10/2013

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