Ampelos leuce

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Ampelos leuce Dyascorides aut brionia sive ut latini vitis alba, astas et folia habet similia vitis nostrae, sed asperiora et minora caprioli similes sunt implicantes se, semen ipsius uve simile est botruosum rarum et fulvum et cetera hoc etiam in kiranide firmatur, hanc multi cucurbitam agrestem nominaverunt, radix eius grossa et magna et alba est. Et apud Avicennam fesire vocatur et est arabice karmbayde, ut apud Serapionem et infra in vite alba.


leuce ABCH e | louce f {'e' misread as 'o'}

aut om. e

astas ABC e | hastas H f

vitis nostre transp. H

caprioli AC | caprioli H ef | capreoli B

{semen} ipsius ABCH f | eius e

botruosum AC | botruosũ (-suʒ f) B f | et butruosuʒ H e

fuluũ ABCH f | fuluicũ e

et cetera om. e

hoc etiam in om. H

karanide AC | kirãida B | kyranida e | kyrainda f | kiranita H

agrestẽ ABC | -stã? f | -ste H e

magna BH ef | magra ACD {'n' misread as 'r'}

Et apud AC | apud BH e | apud f

fesire BH f | fosire e {'e' misread as 'o'} | fesite AC {'r' misread as 't'}

& ē AC | et eciã e | et eciam f | et et BH

karmbayde scripsi | kãbayde AC | kanbayde D | Charm baide e | karinbaide B | carinbaide f {'arm' misread as 'arin'} | katimbayde H


Ampelos leuce, according to Dyascorides is also called brionia {"bryony"} or as the Latin speakers say: vitis alba {"white bryony"}. It has stems and leaves similar to our vitis {"vine"} but rougher and smaller, and the tendrils are similar {to the vine's}, and they wind themselves {around things}. Its fruit is similar to the grape, it is bunched, small in numbers and reddish in colour, etc. And this is confirmed in the Kyranides. Many people have also called this plant the wild cucurbita {"gourd"}; its root is thick, big and white. And in Avicenna and in Serapio it is called fesire and in Arabic it is karmbayde. See entry below Vitis alba.


ἀμπελος /ámpelos/ in Greek means "any climbing plant with tendrils, esp. grape-vine, Vitis vinifera" (LSJ). λευκή /leukḗ/ means "white".

The bulk of Simon's passage up to fulvum is a near-verbatim quote from ultimately Dioscorides Longobardus 4, 177, ed. Stadler (1901: 87f) De ampelos leuce.

Simon is quite correct to say that in the Kyranides the Dioscoridean statement is confirmed, i.e. there is a very similar description; cf. Kyranides, 1, Frankfurt edition (1681: 12), (ELEMENTUM I, Α.), which says:

ἄμπελος λευκὴ {/ámpelos leukḗ/}, quod sonat vitis alba – "ἄμπελος λευκή {/ámpelos leukḗ/}, which translates into Latin as vitis alba {'white vine'}". And it continues on pp. 18/19: Duae sunt autem species ejus, prima quae vocatur Vitis alba, quam quidam bryoniam dicunt, alii verò serpentis uvam,..... Hujus palmites & folia & capreoli sunt similia domesticae viti, densiora vero & implicantur adjacentibus fructibus, apprehendens cum capreolis - "There are two kinds of this herb {i.e. ampelos), the first is Vitis alba, which some people call bryonia, others serpentis uva {'snake's grape'}, ... Its young branches and leaves and tendrils are similar to the domestic vitis {'vine'}, but denser and they are wound around the neighbouring fruits holding on with their tendrils".

Simon also alludes to statements by these authors:

[Goehl] Canonis Avicennae liber secundus Capitulum 269. De fesire.{followed by: id est viti alba}, and

[Goehl] Liber Serapionis aggregatus: Vitis alba, et est fesire.

The Arabic plant names Simon mentions are

fesire, i.e Siggel (1950: 55): ﻓﺎﺷﺮﺍ /fāširā/ Bryonia dioica (Cucurb.), and

karmbayde, i.e. Siggel (1950: 63): ﻛﺮﻣﺔ ﺑﻴﺿﺎﺀ /karma baiḍāʔ/ = ﻓﺎﺷﺮﺍ /fāširā/.

ibid. ﻛﺮﻡ /karm/ Vitis vinifera, Weinstock {i.e. "grapevine"}. ﺑﻴﺿﺎﺀ /baiḍāʔ/ "white".

Botanical identification:

The botanical identification of ἄμπελος λευκὴ {/ámpelos leukḗ/} shows a number of authors, including Siggel (1950), leaning towards Bryonia dioica Jacq. "red bryony" [[1]], [[2]], [[3]], [[4]], also confusingly named "white bryony" – see the paragraph below. The plant is a native of southern and central Europe. It has blue or white flowers, and it produces a red berry fruit.

In a recent article by Janick, Paris & Parrish (2007: 1441-57) [[5]], the illustrative images from the Juliana Anicia Codex in the Wiener Dioskurides (1998, 1999), were investigated together with the accompanying often defective descriptions. Their conclusion was that ampelos leuke was Bryonia alba L., which sometimes also runs under the English name "white bryony", B. alba is native to Europe and Northern Iran.

Both species of bryony are highly poisonous and were used medicinally as a powerful cathartic and purgative.

WilfGunther 07/10/2013

See also: Vitis alba, Carimbaide

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