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Anacardus puto grecum est fructus arboris qui et pediculus elephantis a quibusdam vocatur arabice dicitur beladhar.


elephantis ABC efp | eleplãtis j
{arabice} uero add. f
beladhar B fjp | beladar AC | balahar ms. e


Anacardus is, I believe, Greek; it is the fruit of a tree, which is also called by some 'elephant louse’; in Arabic it is called beladhar.


also anacardia, anacardis, anacardium, is ultimately a word containing Greek elements consisting of ἀνα- /ana-/ {i.a. "in the manner of"} + a form of καρδία /kardía/ {"heart"} > "shaped like a heart", referring to the shape of the nut or fruit of the tree. cf. Genaust (1996: 59f), s.v. Anacárdium [[1]]. The word ἀνακάρδιον /anakárdion/ is not found in the literature of Antiquity, which explains Simon's puto {"I think, believe"}, but it is mentioned in later glossaries (cf. Carnoy 1959: 24 s.v. anacardion) and in the medieval literature, e.g. 17, ed. Goehl (2015: 39) Circa instans: De anacardis.
ANACARDI calidi sunt et sicci in quarto gradu. Sunt autem fructus cuiusdam arboris in India nascentis. Quidam dicunt, quod sunt pediculi elephantis, quod falsum est – "The anacardus nuts are hot and dry to the 4th degree. They are the fruit of a certain tree that grows in India. Some people say, that they are {called} elephant’s lice, which is wrong". A similar text is found in the Tractatus de herbis, ed. Ventura (2009: 236-7).

Concerning the etymology of this word Corominas (1980-91: A-CA, 249) under ANACARDO sees the word as a deformation of the Greek word ὀνοκάρδιον /onokárdion/, lit. “heart of donkey”, a plant name in Ps.-Dioscorides and Ps. Apuleius referring to a thistle-like plant. This interpretation is however doubted by Genaust, op.cit. At any rate the naming motive must have been the element κάρδιον /kárdion/, lit. “little heart”, most likely alluding to the heart-shaped nuts.

For pediculus elephantis see below.

For the Arabic name see Baladhar; for Stephanus’ version see Beledarum.

Botanical identification:

Most authors identify anacardus with Anacardium officinale Pritz. or Anacardium orientale Steud. both synonyms of Semecarpus anacardium L. "marking nut, ballataka or Bhilwa" [[2]], [[3]], [[4]]. S. anacardium is a native of South-East Asia.

The name pediculus elephantis, lit. 'elephant’s louse’, is given to the fruit of the tree because of some perceived similarity between the insect Haematomyzus elephantis Piaget [[5]] or "elephant louse", and the fruit of this tree [[6]].

The word anacardium has survived into modern botanical terminology as a specific epithet, cf. above Semecarpus anacardium, but more importantly as a genus name: Anacardium, a genus which also contains the closely related Anacardium occidentale L., the “cashew tree”, a native of Brazil, which became popular after the discovery of the Americas. This fact, of course, precludes it from any consideration in the context of Simon’s work, although the seeds of the cashew tree were later taken to Asia and much later to Africa by the Portuguese. The fruit of this tree had been called by the Tupí Indians by a name represented in many variant forms in the literature as eg.acâ-yú, acajú, etc., which entered Portuguese as (a)caju, the source leading ultimately to English “acajou; cashew”. In the Latin-writing Renaissance literature (a)caju was often replaced by anacard(i)um > early Spanish anacardio, anacardo, the latter variant being to this day the common name for the cashew nut in Spanish, cf. also the rarer English word anacard.

WilfGunther 27/02/2014

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